celestial neighbors

The future is amazing.

I haven’t been writing much because my free time has been utterly consumed by a new toy.  I bought a HTC Vive.  Normally I am not an early adopter of technology.  I get on the curve early, but not this early.  However, after trying a VR headset for myself, I broke with my tradition of waiting for the next generation.

You see, it is the most immersive experience I’ve ever had.  When I held a sword after defeating my enemies and a dragon flew overhead, I felt like a hero.  When murderous robots flew out of the dark at me I panicked and called my brother to get on his headset and play multiplayer with me so I had someone to watch my back.  And when three flying buzzsaw drones came at me I emptied my assault rifle at one, threw the empty gun at the other instead of reloading, and then screamed and hid under the table with my eyes closed until I died and it all went away.

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Ahgmahdon! Or more specifically what’s inside and around Ahgmahdon.

The Core is all nice and snugg buried in, well, the core of the planet. She’s the one that actually started life there, and the source of all the magical energies present on the planet. She turned the two moons into little guardians against nasty celestial neighbors that would wanna snack on either her or the life she nurtures.

She’s suuuuper magical, but good-willed. I call her Space Mom.

IC 1848: The Soul Nebula : Stars are forming in the Soul of the Queen of Aethopia. More specifically, a large star forming region called the Soul Nebula can be found in the direction of the constellation Cassiopeia, who Greek mythology credits as the vain wife of a King who long ago ruled lands surrounding the upper Nile river. The Soul Nebula houses several open clusters of stars, a large radio source known as W5, and huge evacuated bubbles formed by the winds of young massive stars. Located about 6,500 light years away, the Soul Nebula spans about 100 light years and is usually imaged next to its celestial neighbor the Heart Nebula . The featured image appears mostly red due to the emission of a specific color of light emitted by excited hydrogen gas. via NASA

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Apollo 8, the Moon, and the first 'Earthrise'

All the romance and credit go to Apollo XI and Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins, but please don’t forget Apollo 8 and the amazing contribution made by these Astronauts: Commander Frank Borman, Command Module Pilot James Lovell, and Lunar Module Pilot William Anders, who circled the Moon ten times exactly 45 years ago today on Christmas Eve 1968.

Do not underestimate the technical achievement or ambition of Apollo 8:  the mission had originally been scheduled as an Earth orbit only mission for early 1969 but was bumped up in the schedule and re-designed to travel to the moon months earlier as the Lunar Module was not ready for flight.  Apollo 8 took three days to travel to the Moon, then spent 20 hours making 10 orbits, taking the famous ‘Earthrise’ photo  on its fourth orbit, after Borman turned the craft to face the lunar surface.  Apollo 8 would return safely to Earth for splash down on December 27, 1968.  Lovell would later fly the near disastrous Apollo 13 mission, while Borman and Anders were on their last flight.  Go out tonight and pause to remember these three men, travelling over half a million miles to take a photo-a photo that re-defined the way we look at the Earth. 

The Earth’s moon holds a special place in the human heart:  it exists not only as our nearest celestial neighbor, it is also one of the richest sources of metaphor and poetry.  Despite Shakespeare’s denigration that “the moon’s an arrant thief, And her pale fire she snatches from the sun,” the moonhas a long history in literature, poetry and song.  The word itself comes from Old English mona, from Proto Germanic *mænon- (cf. Old Saxon, Old High German mano, Old Frisian mona, Old Norse mani, Dutch maan, German Mond, Gothic mena all meaning moon), from Proto Indo European *me(n)ses- meaning moon, month (cf. Sanskrit. masah meaning moon, month; Avestan ma, Persian. mah, Armenian mis month; Ancient Greek. mene moonmen month; L. mensis “month;” O.C.S. meseci, Lith. menesis meaning  moon, month; Old Irish mi, Welsh mis, Breton miz  month), probably from base *me- meaning to measure, in reference to the moon’s phases as the measure of time. In Greek, Italic, Celtic, Armenian the cognate words now mean only month.  First used to describe the satellites of other planet’s 1665.

Shakespeare quote from Timon of Athens.

All Images courtesy NASA in the public domain.  Earthrise photo by William Anders.

Pluto Is a Planet Again. Sorta.

Pluto’s inbox is filling up with awkward NASA apology emails today.

After an eight year exile from the list of technical planets in our solar system, Pluto might be making its way back as our ninth celestial next-door neighbor…Standing behind the logic that “Even though a dwarf fruit tree is still a small fruit tree, and a dwarf hamster is still a small hamster,” The Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics recently decided to revisit the IAU’s ruling by hosting a discussion on the definition of a planet.”

Read more from mashable.

The magnificent constellation Orion may be seen at various times, during most of the year. For example, we may glimpse the celestial giant low in the eastern sky a half hour before sunrise on August 1, its rise may be noted at midnight October 1, and we may enjoy its splendor low in the west in the evenings of early spring. However, for most sky viewers the colossal celestial hunter is most associated with sparkling winter nights.

For those unfamiliar with this magnificent stellar display, I recommend a quick sky tour on the next clear evening. Mark your starting line at the unique array of three stars marking Orion’s Belt. The symmetry of this trio, with nearly equal stellar separation and brightness, is eye-catching even though the group doesn’t comprise the most vivid members of Orion’s realm. Nevertheless, the Belt stars’ location halfway between bright yellow-orange star Betelgeuse and brilliant white Rigel provides an unmistakable centerpiece for our winter evening stargazing.

Arrayed from east to west the Belt stars’ names are: Alnitak, Alnilam, and Mintaka. Each appears white with brightness rankings of the second magnitude; however, they have disparate distances from the solar system of approximately 800, 2,000, and 900 light years. Therefore, the Belt’s striking relationship is a lovely coincidence—not an actual physical association. Orion’s boxy figure is completed with two additional second magnitude stars, Bellatrix and Saiph, complementing brighter Betelgeuse and Rigel. Both appear white, with Bellatrix to the northwest of the Belt and Saiph to the southeast.

Learn more about the constellation Orion and its celestial neighbors from the Sky Reporter.

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A Japanese drink company is putting the first billboard on the moon

Japanese beverage maker Otsuka is sending a 1 kilogram titanium can filled with powdered sports drink and children’s dreams to the moon. The specially designed canister, which contains a shipment…

“The canister will be carried to the lunar surface aboard the first planned private moon-landing mission, set to take place in October 2015. Otsuka says it hopes that the stunt will inspire young people to become astronauts, so they can travel the 380,000 kilometers (236,121 miles) to our closest celestial neighbor, crack open the can, and consume the powder inside.

OTSUKA HOPES SOMEONE WILL EVENTUALLY BE ABLE TO DRINK THE MOON POWDER”

Stars are forming in the Soul of the Queen of Aethopia. More specifically, a large star forming region called the Soul Nebula can be found in the direction of the constellation Cassiopeia, who Greek mythology credits as the vain wife of a King who long ago ruled lands surrounding the upper Nile river. The Soul Nebula houses several open clusters of stars, a large radio source known as W5, and huge evacuated bubbles formed by the winds of young massive stars. Located about 6,500 light years away, the Soul Nebula spans about 100 light years and is usually imaged next to its celestial neighbor the Heart Nebula (IC 1805). The featured image appears mostly red due to the emission of a specific color of light emitted by excited hydrogen gas.

Object Name: The Soul Nebula

Image Type: Astronomical

Credit: Roberto Colombari

Time And Space