|How to make a grown astronomer cry|
[Posted by Adam Forrest on Tuesday, 12/10/13 5:28 pm] [Permalink] [Full Blog] [Tweet This]
Comet ISON, once optimistically called the comet of the century, has been officially pronounced dead, the victim of a way-too-close brush with the sun. It was barely a year old.
The comet, which excited astronomers and the media as it zipped within 730,000 miles of the sun on Thanksgiving Day, was declared as having bit the cosmic dust at a scientific conference today. Astronomers who had followed the ice ball mourned the loss of the sky show that had promised to dazzle the northern hemisphere during December.
Astronomers had hoped it would survive because while most comets do not make it past close approaches with the sun, some do survive the ordeal. But unlike comets that are "hardened" by several trips around the sun, it seems ISON just couldn't survive its maiden voyage.
As the comet neared its closest approach to the sun, astronomers said they felt a sense of loss. Naval Research Lab astronomer Karl Battams, who headed the observing campaign for the comet, called watching it in those final hours "a process of heartbreak."
Astrophysicist discovers the planet Krypton
[Posted by Adam Forrest on Saturday, 12/08/12 2:20 pm] [Permalink] [Full Blog] [Tweet This]
Neil deGrasse Tyson, director of the American Museum of Natural History's Hayden Planetarium in New York City, says he has discovered the exact location of the planet Krypton.
|The planet Krypton (artist's conception)|
According to Mr. Tyson, Krypton orbits the red dwarf star LHS 2520, which is cooler and smaller than our sun, 27.1 light-years from Earth, in the constellation Corvus the raven, in the southern sky not far from Virgo and Hydra.
DC Comics, the publisher of the Superman series, says, "By applying real-world science to this story Neil deGrasse Tyson has forever changed Superman's place in history. Now fans will be able to look up at the night's sky and say, that's where Superman was born."
Mr. Tyson said, "As a native of Metropolis (New York City), I was delighted to help Superman, who has done so much for my city over all these years."
Leggo my Jupiter probe
[Posted by Adam Forrest on Friday, 08/05/11 7:10 pm] [Permalink] [Full Blog] [Tweet This]
This morning, NASA successfully launched its Juno probe, meant to explore Jupiter, the largest and most massive planet in the solar system. News coverage of the event today mentions the probe is carrying some unusual passengers this time, three Lego minifigures.
Made by Lego especially for the Juno mission, these figures are made of aluminum to withstand the extreme conditions of space flight and cost $5,000 each to make.
One of the figures is Jupiter himself, the Roman thunder god, the second is Juno, the sister of Jupiter and namesake of the mission, and Galileo, who first observed Jupiter's moons. Galileo was also the name of the last probe NASA sent to explore Jupiter in 1995.
But, am I the only one who thinks including these Lego minifigures on the Juno probe might not be such a good idea?
What if the probe is intercepted some day by some alien space travelers, or it eventually lands on some other inhabited planet? Might not these extraterrestrials believe we really look like this, with hook hands, square feet and a knob on the top of our head which our removable hair helmet fits onto?