What’s Up for October 2016?

What’s Up for October? Moon phases, Astronomy Day, meteors and Saturn!

The new moon phase starts the month on October 1. Of course, the new moon isn’t visible, because it’s between Earth and the sun, and the unlit side is facing Earth. 

Night by night the slender crescent gets bigger and higher in the sky and easier to see just after sunset. On the 3rd and 4th, the moon will pass just above Venus!

A week later on the 9th the moon has traveled through one quarter of its 29-day orbit around Earth, and we see the first quarter phase. Also look for Mars just below the moon.

Join us in celebrating International Observe the Moon Night Saturday, October 8th, with your local astronomy club or science center. Conveniently, the 8th is also Fall Astronomy Day, celebrated internationally by astronomy clubs since 1973.

One week later on the 16th the moon reaches opposition, or the full moon phase, when the moon and the sun are on opposite sides of Earth. And the sun completely illuminates the moon as seen from Earth. 

During this phase, the moon rises in the east just as the sun is setting in the west. Overnight, the moon crosses the sky and sets at dawn.

A week later, on the 22nd of October, the last quarter moon rises at midnight. Later, the pretty and bright Beehive Cluster will be visible near the moon until dawn.

To wrap up the month, 29 days after the last new moon we start the lunar cycle all over again with another new moon phase on October 30th. Will you be able to spot the one-day old moon on Halloween? It will be a challenge!

There are three meteor showers in October–the Draconids, the Taurids and the Orionids. Try for the Draconids on October 8th.  

See the Taurids on October 10th. 

The Orionids will be marred by the full moon on the 21st, but all three meteor showers will offer some possible bright meteors.

Finally, you’ll have an especially pretty view of Saturn, when it forms a straight line with Venus and the red star Antares on the 27th.

You can catch up on NASA’s lunar mission, the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, the Cassini Mission to Saturn and all of our missions at www.nasa.gov.

Watch the full October “What’s Up" video for more:

Make sure to follow us on Tumblr for your regular dose of space: http://nasa.tumblr.com.

How Space Travel Works, According to the Scooby-Doo Animators

We start out decently enough – ok, sure, the moon is actually, on average, 238,855 miles away from the earth, but rounding up a bit is understandable. No big deal.

However, shortly after, they claim to have reached a “top speed of 50,000 MPH.” 

Now, the fastest speed a manned ship has ever traveled was 24,791 MPH (for a brief time), according to basic researching… but hey, these are cartoon ships! Whatever, we’ll give ‘em a pass here as well.

At this point, however, things start to get tricky. Less than a minute later (while huddling around a TARDIS control module) the show claims they’re “halfway to the moon.”

Let’s do some reeeaaaally basic math, shall we? According to the show, these ships are moving at 50K MPH, and have 250K miles to go. This would mean the trip would take 5 hours – which is definitely not 2 minutes.

Even if we ignore the fact that the actual moon mission took around 3 days, and say that these magical cartoon ships travel at their top speed endlessly, their own numbers don’t add up. 

In order to travel that distance in the span of two minutes, they wouldn’t have to be going at 50,000 MPH… they’d have to travel at 7,500,000 MPH. 150x faster.

It only gets worse from here. Before landing, they slow down using drag chutes… which don’t do anything in space because there’s no air resistance in a vacuum. Those silly newtonian mechanics are always getting in the way.

And then, to top it all off,

Snagglepuss interviews a giant banana.

And I start to question whether it’s worth analyzing the scientific content of this show.

The universe we live in may not be the only one out there. In fact, our universe could be just one of an infinite number of universes making up a “multiverse.”

Though the concept may seem crazy , there’s good physics behind it. And there’s not just one way to get to a multiverse — numerous physics theories independently point to such a conclusion. In fact, some experts think the existence of hidden universes is more likely than not.

Here are the five most plausible scientific theories suggesting we live in a multiverse:

It’s the dream we carry in secret
that something miraculous will happen,
that it must happen –
that time will open
that the heart will open
that doors will open
that the mountains will open
that springs will gush –
that the dream will open,
that one morning we will glide into
some little harbour we didn’t know was there.

 — Olav H. Hauge (”It’s the Dream”, translated from the Norwegian by Robin Fulton)


A disc shape UFO  has been captured by NASA cameras as it entered the Earth’s atmosphere.

The latest sighting of space activity has been shared online as a large UFO in a disc shape appears to drift by the camera. The craft appears to have an indentation at its rear. Is this clear evidence of an out-of-this-world close encounte from NASA’s international space stations live feed?

Edgar Mitchell – Doctor of Science in Aeronautics and Astronautics from MIT, accomplished pilot, and later an astronaut – was the sixth person to walk on the Moon, as part of the Apollo 14 mission. (You know the one – it’s when Alan Shepard whacked a few golf balls from the lunar surface and probably accidentally bashed out a window of the Justice League’s Watchtower satellite). That’s about the last person you’d expect to be overflowing with more alien conspiracy theories than a Roswell gift shop, but Mitchell had a pocketful of goddamned moon rocks to pelt at anyone who spouted off at him about failed expectations.

Mitchell was absolutely convinced that we are not alone in the Universe. But plenty of people would own up to that belief – considering the staggering number of galaxies, stars, and planets that we know to exist, that’s called playing the odds. Mitchell, however, took it one step further. He was an avid devourer of UFO sightings and any and all speculation of alien activity. Furthermore, he was 100-percent convinced that the sheer volume of such reports was concrete evidence that not only have we been visited on multiple occasions by otherworldly tourists, but also that the fact that said visitations were not common public knowledge indicated a government cover-up on a massive scale.

Slap a multi-million-dollar spacesuit on Fox Mulder, and you’ve got yourself a pretty good approximation of Edgar Mitchell. Except replace the crippling obsession with uncovering evidence with a crippling reliance on batshit supposition.

5 Icons Who Believed The Exact Opposite Of What You’d Guess


Paul Hertz, Director of the Astrophysics Division of NASA, shared at IMGUR this statement about aliens on, Sept 29,

We are never going to discover aliens, aliens are going to discover us and when they do it won´t be pretty. You can take that to the bank. There certainly wont be enought time for press conferences about it. You probaly wont have the time to blink. “Be carefull what you wish for. if you guys knew even a fraction of the stuff we do, you will never sleep again. I promise you that" 

Paul Hertz Director of the astrophysics divison at nasa. Paul Hertz was named Director of the Astrophysics Division in the Science Mission Directorate at NASA in March 2012. He is responsible for the Agency’s research programs and missions necessary to discover how the universe works, explore how the universe began and developed into its present form, and search for Earth-like planets. Paul Hertz Statement here, WTF!

Back in 1979, NASA’s Voyager 1 spacecraft flew past Jupiter and its moons. The images in this mosaic, featuring the moon Io against a background of gas giant Jupiter’s diffuse swirling cloud bands, were recorded by Voyager’s camera from a distance of about 8.3 million kilometers. The Io image from this mosaic may be the first to show curious round features on Io’s surface with dark centers and bright rims more than 60 kilometers across. Now known to be volcanic in origin, these features were then thought likely to be impact craters, commonly seen on rocky bodies throughout the Solar System. But as Voyager continued to approach Io, close-up pictures revealed a bizarre world devoid of impact craters, frequently resurfaced by volcanic activity. Earlier this year a new robotic spacecraft, NASA’s Juno, began to orbit Jupiter and last week made a pass within 5,000 kilometers of Jupiter’s clouds. During the next two years, it is hoped that Juno will discover new things about Jupiter, for example what’s in Jupiter’s core.
Image Credit: NASA, JPL-Caltech, Voyager 1; Processing: Alexis Tranchandon, Solaris

One of 7 ways a trip to Mars could kill you

1) Your rocket could blow up before leaving Earth

Elon Musk’s plan to go to Mars involves strapping a giant spaceship atop the biggest rocket that humanity has ever built. Because any rocket launch basically involves a long, controlled explosion, it’s inherently precarious — no matter how many safety tests are done beforehand. If anything goes wrong, if the explosion gets out of control, the people strapped to that big container of fuel don’t stand a chance.

For context, NASA’s space shuttle program carried 833 passengers between 1981 and 2011. Of those, 14 people died in explosions on two high-profile accidents (Challenger and Columbia), a fatality rate of 1.6 percent. That’s vastly more dangerous than driving and a bit riskier than climbing Mount Everest. (The fatality rate for the Apollo program to the moon was even higher, at 9 percent.)

But, of course, SpaceX would be using newer, more complex, and yet-untested rockets to get to Mars. So it’s tough to say what the actual odds of death would be. Possibly much higher! Note that a couple of SpaceX’s smaller Falcon 9 rockets have either exploded on the launchpad or blown up mid-flight. Engineers and rocket scientists can improve that, but it’s unlikely that the risk will be zero.


Over the past year, the guy behind the music project Owl City, Adam Young, has worked on a series of ‘film scores’ based on various events in history from Apollo 11 to Omaha Beach and Project Excelsior, a different one released every month as part of an ongoing project spanning over a year.

Since I run a sci-fi/space blog, it’d seem only right that I share with you October’s score based on the Voyager 1 space probe which, on the 25th August 2012, became the first spacecraft to enter interstellar space. ‘The space between the stars’.