The illions Of Carl Sagan

In 1980 Carl Sagan took humanity to the Cosmos. In honour of Sagan’s  dedication to bring wonder and thought provoking insight to the masses – a clip for those who share my regard for one of the greatest minds in history.  Ponder Millions, Billions and Trillions, all the illions of Cosmos taken in order.

Still beaming from Cosmos illions, I can’t resist offering – We Humans Are Capable of Greatness…


December 3, 2017 Supermoon

Over thirty years ago astrologer Richard Nolle coined the term Supermoon, he defined it as –

… a new or full moon which occurs with the moon at or near (within 90% of) its closest approach to Earth in a given orbit.

Once each month the Moon is full (opposite Earth from the Sun), once a month new (between Earth and the Sun). The closest point of orbit is called perigee, farthest point, apogee. By definition Supermoon occurs at perigee, this happens 4 – 6 times a year. All perigee moons are Supermoons, not all Supermoons are full moons. On December 3 the first and only full supermoon of 2017 happens worldwide at 15:47 UTC. (Translate to your time zone at – )

Image result for dec 3 2017 supermoon

December’s full moon is known as the long night or wolf moon in native American folklore. Ponder all things moon courtesy Eartsky astronomy essentials at –

Poor weather needn’t squelch inclination to howl at the super wolf moon. Linked below, the Virtual Telescope Project in Rome, access to remote robotic telescopes and live streaming of astronomical events.

15 Days Of Darkness

According to conspiracy websites skies will go dark at 3 am November 15, 2017, Earth will languish in darkness until 4:45 pm on November 30, 2017. 15 ominous black days, supposedly confirmed by former NASA administrator Charles Bolden in a “1,000 page document” presented to Barack Obama’s White House. Conspiracy isn’t fazed by the fact no such document exists, or that 15 days of darkness is utter nonsense. Much as my intent is to assure trembling masses they have nothing to fear, it’s hard not to guffaw in the face of absolute ignorance – faced with a preposterous media hoax void of grade school scientific reason, a horse barn of manure served warm to countless millions of robotic nincompoops incapable of  connecting cosmic dots, an obligation exists to ponder conspiracy rationale behind 15 days of darkness..

In a nutshell – a conjunction of Venus and Jupiter results in proximity separated by one degree. Venus then moves slightly southwest of Jupiter, now Venus shines ten times brighter than Jupiter. Light from bright Venus heats gases of Jupiter releasing unfathomable levels of hydrogen. At 2:50 am November 15 rogue Jupiter hydrogen reaches the Sun causing a behemoth explosion, facilitating a heat generated eruption so powerful it will change the Sun’s colour to blue. Earth is plunged into total darkness. For the next 14 days the Sun cools enough to regain normal temperature and colour. Conspiracy urges calm and civil obedience, quick to point out 14 days of darkness is harmless, no different than winter at the North Pole.

As conspiracy goes this hoax is hardly remarkable. Most days I wouldn’t give vacant jibber-jabber the time of day – tonight it frosts me to ponder how ridiculous millions of supposedly educated people can be.

Help NASA Name MU69

Launched January 19, 2006 NASA’s New Horizons probe began a mission to explore Pluto and the Kuiper Belt. New Horizons made headlines in July 2015, fulfilling mission goals beyond our wildest dreams.Five billion kilometers from Earth, it took four and a half hours for messages to reach home, transmissions containing exquisite images of our solar system’s petticoat.

NASA issued fresh orders – cross 1.6 billion kilometers beyond Pluto to intercept asteroid 2014 MU69 on New Year’s Day 2019.

Artist’s concept of NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft streaking past 2014 MU69 – which might be 2 objects orbiting each other – on January 1, 2019. Image via Carlos Hernandez/ NASA.

Mu69 is minuscule by cosmic standards. One, perhaps two oddly shaped binary objects no more than 20 kilometers across. Barely noticed until passing in front of a few stars last summer, now the focus of New Horizons and a NASA contest open to anyone interested in giving MU69 a nickname. The link below takes you to the contest home page – read existing entries, vote or nominate one of your own.

Earth Has An Asteroid Buddy

In 2016 planetary astronomers at the University of Arizona Lunar and Planetary Laboratory discovered a small ( 100 meter ) object moving with Earth around the Sun. Dubbed 2016 OR3, initial science speculation wondered if it might be a piece of space junk, perhaps a rogue rocket booster caught in wobbly orbit occasionally intersecting Earth orbit.

Last week at the annual Division For Planetary Sciences  meeting in Provo, Utah Vishnu Reddy from University of Arizona laid speculation to rest, identifying 2016 OR3 as an asteroid, stating in part –

“2016 HO3 is a small near-Earth object (NEO) measuring no more than 100 meters (330 feet) across that, while orbiting the sun, also appears to circle around the Earth as a quasi-satellite. Only five quasi-satellites have been discovered so far, but 2016 HO3 is the most stable of them. The provenance of this object is unknown. On timescales of a few centuries, 2016 HO3 remains within 38 to 100 lunar-distances from us.”

“One way to visualize HO3’s orbit is by picturing a hula hoop dancer — the sun in this analogy — twirling two hoops around the hips at the same time, ever so slightly out of sync. While it orbits the sun, the object makes yearly loops around the Earth.

As a result, the object appears to orbit the Earth, but it is not gravitationally bound to our planet.”

2016 HO3 is seen at the top left corner of this animation made of ten 2mn long exposures in I band using MODS1 on the left side of LBT – The telescope is tracking the moving asteroid, so background stars (and even a couple of galaxies) are trailed. Image via LBTO.

Asteroid 2016 OR3 is hardly a harbinger of doom – orbiting politely at 38 – 100 lunar distance from Earth, it is a cosmic companion which now bears official designation of quasi-satellite. NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory said –

The asteroid’s orbit also undergoes a slow, back-and-forth twist over multiple decades. “The asteroid’s loops around Earth drift a little ahead or behind from year to year, but when they drift too far forward or backward, Earth’s gravity is just strong enough to reverse the drift and hold onto the asteroid so that it never wanders farther away than about 100 times the distance of the moon,” said Chodas. “The same effect also prevents the asteroid from approaching much closer than about 38 times the distance of the moon. In effect, this small asteroid is caught in a little dance with Earth.”

“Caught in a little dance with Earth” makes me smile. Not for knowing Earth has an asteroid buddy, but for affirmation everything in our universe is caught in a little dance.