These two photos were taken before and after a supernova explosion. The first image (a) shows the location of the star before the explosion, and the second images shows (b) the flash of light emitted by the supernova explosion. This explosion was photographed in 1987, but actually took place about 170,000 years earlier (it took 170,000 years for the flash of light to reach Earth). Supernova explosions occur in large stars. The energy released by these explosions can synthesize elements with up to 92 protons. (via Physical Geology Today – Origin of the Chemical Elements)

Watch on

It vexes me when they would constrain science by the authority of the Scriptures, and yet do not consider themselves bound to answer reason and experiment.

Nature is relentless and unchangeable, and it is indifferent as to whether its hidden reasons and actions are understandable to man or not.

By denying scientific principles, one may maintain any paradox.

Facts which at first seem improbable will, even on scant explanation, drop the cloak which has hidden them and stand forth in naked and simple beauty.

I think that in the discussion of natural problems we ought to begin not with the Scriptures, but with experiments, and demonstrations.

Galileo Galilei


thelxiepeia: Clouds on Mars, photographed by Mars Express, 23rd October 2010.

37 to 45°S, 207 to 210°E on the Terra Sirenum. The crater at bottom center is Hipparchus, 95 km across. The terrain seen here slopes up from north to south - a change in elevation of about 5,000 m - which may be what constrains the thicker clouds. There appears to be a strong wind at top left; this may be blowing downslope from highlands out-of-frame left.

Animation of 5 monochrome images, colourized with 3 visible light images. Colour balance adjusted to remove much of a very strong yellow cast to the composite image.

Image credit: ESA. Animation: AgeOfDestruction.

Comet Jacques, Heart and Soul

On July 13th, a good place to watch Comet Jacques was from Venus. Then, the recently discovered visitor (C/2014 E2) to the inner solar system passed within about 14.5 million kilometers of our sister planet. Still, the outbound comet will pass only 84 million kilometers from our fair planet on August 28 and is already a fine target for telescopes and binoculars. Two days ago, Jacques’ greenish coma and straight and narrow ion tail were captured in this telescopic snapshot, a single 2 minute long exposure with a modified digital camera. The comet is flanked by IC 1805 and IC 1848, also known as Cassiopeia’s Heart and Soul Nebulae. If you’re stuck on planet Earth this weekend you can hunt for Comet Jacques in evening skies, or spot a Venus, Jupiter, crescent Moon triangle before the dawn.

Image credit & copyright: Dominique Dierick