Category Archives: space

New Phase of the Moon

NASA has been back in the news with the announcement that a return trip to the moon is in the works for 2024. And this means that Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa is back in the news with HIS announcement that he wants to bankroll 6-8 artists to go with him on a SpaceX flight affectionately named “Dear Moon”. He says that taking artists to space would allow them to “communicate their experiences to the masses in new ways”.

Of course, this project is just in the offing and we’ll have to see if it comes to fruition by 2024.

Would you want to travel to the moon? Or Mars?  Or beyond?

That Ole Devil Moon

The last couple of mornings, I’ve had to head to work a little early and thanks to Daylight Savings Time, in the dark. I go pretty much straight west on 494 and have been graced both mornings by a huge, supermoon.

According to Wikipedia “A supermoon is a full moon or a new moon that nearly coincides with perigee—the closest that the Moon comes to the Earth in its orbit—resulting in a slightly larger-than-usual apparent size of the lunar disk as viewed from Earth.”

And it turns out that there is an opposite phenomenon – a micromoon.  And sadly, the supermoon this week is the last one of 2019.

What do you see when you look at the moon?

Surfing Pluto

It’s amazing what happens sometimes when you’re surfing the internet. I started with my daily dose of Sci Show Space, which led me to Gustav Holst’s Suite of Planets.  I realized that Holst wrote The Planets before Pluto was discovered, so he can’t be blamed that after 1930, he was missing a planet (of course now he’s OK again if you want align yourself with the Astronomer’s Union).  Over the years composers have “added” to Holst’s work with various songs about Pluto.

There are serious attempts like Pluto, the Renewer by Colin Matthews):

and very silly (yet funny) pieces, like For the Planet Pluto by the Music Tapes:

And I particularly like this one, Plutonian Nights by Sun Ra:

Then my lunch break was up and I had to get back to work!

Any unsung heroes in your life?

Riled Up by Language

Yesterday I got all worked up (again) when “pescatarian” defined as a vegetarian who eat fish. If you eat fish you are not any kind of vegetarian.

So I was happy to read this footnote in Death From the Skies by astronomer Phil Plait:

“One of the best ways to tick off an astronomer – and it can be fun sometimes just to see how he reacts – is to mix up the terms meteor, meteoroid, and meteorite.  The very best way to tick off an astronomer is to call him an astrologer.”

Guess I’m not the only one who gets riled up by language.

What are you NOT?

New Year’s Fly-by

A little over three years ago, Dale wrote a piece when NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft approached and photographed Pluto. He included several nice photos and gave us an update on the PTA (Pluto Tourism Association) about groups wanted to book some serious vacation time on the planet (or whatever Pluto is categorized as this week).

Today, after 3 years, New Horizons is doing a flyby of 2014 MU69; it will be the most distant object every visited by a spacecraft. Even NASA realizes that 2014MU69 is a terrible name – they have nicknamed the object, an icy Kuiper Belt object, Ultima Thule, which means “distant places beyond the known world”.

Scientists are not sure if Ultima Thule is one object or two objects circling each other and are hoping this flyby, which will happen at a whooping 31,500 mph, will clear up that mystery. After the New Year’s flyby, it will take a full 6 hours for the radio signals to arrive back at earth.

It’s amazing to me that just 117 years after our first machine-powered flight, we will be waiting for signals from a spacecraft that has traveled a billion miles since it passed Pluto three years ago. I wonder if we’ll still be getting signals in three more years when it is a billion miles farther from Earth and if we will be vacationing on 2014 MU69 by that point?

Have you ever had a speeding ticket?

Moon Tourist

It made big news yesterday that Elon Musk has chosen tech billionaire, Yusaku Maezawa, as the first moon tourist for his company, SpaceX. Maezawa is 42 and made his fortune in e-commerce, music and online fashion. He will be taking 10 other artists with him on the journey that should take 4-5 days. The SpaceX rocket won’t actually land on the moon, it’s called a slingshot trip around the Moon and is currently on track for 2023.

Maezawa seems very excited about his adventure but I say “to each his own”. Letting tons of rocket fuel go up in flame under my keester just doesn’t seem like a good idea. And, of course, I couldn’t go that far from my library!

Shot up into space
In a really small tin can?
Leave it to others.

Would you like to visit another planet (or moon)? Extra points for haiku or rhyming!

Siblings

It’s been three years since the New Horizons spacecraft whizzed by Pluto, but the non-planet is still in the news. And the latest news is that Pluto has a lot more in common with our own planet than was previously thought.

Pluto has dunes; they’re made of methane ice grains but are sculpted by winds that reach 24 miles per hour. This may not seem like much but since Pluto has less gravity, the wind doesn’t need to be as strong as here at home.  Pluto also has a wide variety of landforms like we do on Earth: plains, trenches and mountain ranges.  Pluto has snow-capped peaks of methane and Pluto may have an icy sea beneath its frozen surface.  Who knew?

If you could choose ANYONE to be your twin, who would it be?