the seven planets

Largest Batch of Earth-size, Habitable Zone Planets

Our Spitzer Space Telescope has revealed the first known system of seven Earth-size planets around a single star. Three of these planets are firmly located in an area called the habitable zone, where liquid water is most likely to exist on a rocky planet.

This exoplanet system is called TRAPPIST-1, named for The Transiting Planets and Planetesimals Small Telescope (TRAPPIST) in Chile. In May 2016, researchers using TRAPPIST announced they had discovered three planets in the system.

Assisted by several ground-based telescopes, Spitzer confirmed the existence of two of these planets and discovered five additional ones, increasing the number of known planets in the system to seven.

This is the FIRST time three terrestrial planets have been found in the habitable zone of a star, and this is the FIRST time we have been able to measure both the masses and the radius for habitable zone Earth-sized planets.

All of these seven planets could have liquid water, key to life as we know it, under the right atmospheric conditions, but the chances are highest with the three in the habitable zone.

At about 40 light-years (235 trillion miles) from Earth, the system of planets is relatively close to us, in the constellation Aquarius. Because they are located outside of our solar system, these planets are scientifically known as exoplanets. To clarify, exoplanets are planets outside our solar system that orbit a sun-like star.

In this animation, you can see the planets orbiting the star, with the green area representing the famous habitable zone, defined as the range of distance to the star for which an Earth-like planet is the most likely to harbor abundant liquid water on its surface. Planets e, f and g fall in the habitable zone of the star.

Using Spitzer data, the team precisely measured the sizes of the seven planets and developed first estimates of the masses of six of them. The mass of the seventh and farthest exoplanet has not yet been estimated.

For comparison…if our sun was the size of a basketball, the TRAPPIST-1 star would be the size of a golf ball.

Based on their densities, all of the TRAPPIST-1 planets are likely to be rocky. Further observations will not only help determine whether they are rich in water, but also possibly reveal whether any could have liquid water on their surfaces.

The sun at the center of this system is classified as an ultra-cool dwarf and is so cool that liquid water could survive on planets orbiting very close to it, closer than is possible on planets in our solar system. All seven of the TRAPPIST-1 planetary orbits are closer to their host star than Mercury is to our sun.

 The planets also are very close to each other. How close? Well, if a person was standing on one of the planet’s surface, they could gaze up and potentially see geological features or clouds of neighboring worlds, which would sometimes appear larger than the moon in Earth’s sky.

The planets may also be tidally-locked to their star, which means the same side of the planet is always facing the star, therefore each side is either perpetual day or night. This could mean they have weather patterns totally unlike those on Earth, such as strong wind blowing from the day side to the night side, and extreme temperature changes.

Because most TRAPPIST-1 planets are likely to be rocky, and they are very close to one another, scientists view the Galilean moons of Jupiter – lo, Europa, Callisto, Ganymede – as good comparisons in our solar system. All of these moons are also tidally locked to Jupiter. The TRAPPIST-1 star is only slightly wider than Jupiter, yet much warmer. 

How Did the Spitzer Space Telescope Detect this System?

Spitzer, an infrared telescope that trails Earth as it orbits the sun, was well-suited for studying TRAPPIST-1 because the star glows brightest in infrared light, whose wavelengths are longer than the eye can see. Spitzer is uniquely positioned in its orbit to observe enough crossing (aka transits) of the planets in front of the host star to reveal the complex architecture of the system. 

Every time a planet passes by, or transits, a star, it blocks out some light. Spitzer measured the dips in light and based on how big the dip, you can determine the size of the planet. The timing of the transits tells you how long it takes for the planet to orbit the star.

The TRAPPIST-1 system provides one of the best opportunities in the next decade to study the atmospheres around Earth-size planets. Spitzer, Hubble and Kepler will help astronomers plan for follow-up studies using our upcoming James Webb Space Telescope, launching in 2018. With much greater sensitivity, Webb will be able to detect the chemical fingerprints of water, methane, oxygen, ozone and other components of a planet’s atmosphere.

At 40 light-years away, humans won’t be visiting this system in person anytime soon…that said…this poster can help us imagine what it would be like: 

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

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EARLY CONCEPT ART BROUGHT TO LIFE

I have made 5 of these now, so I guess it´s a series now. :D

CHARACTERS: Marina, Mata, Ariel, Jane, Amelia

WATCH HOW I MADE ALL OF THESE ;)

OBS: I do not own the backgrounds, characters or the original sketches that these drawings are based on. For more information, please check out the description boxes under the “Watch Me Draw” videos. 

pidge: guys holy SHIT NASA just found like seven new planets and three of them potentially have oceans do you guys realize what this means????? 

keith: oh… oh holy shit, pidge, pidge there might be-

together: ALIENS!!!!! WE MIGHT!!! FIND!!!!!! ALIENS!!!!!!!!!!!!!

hunk: um. guys? this is all really cool, and i don’t mean to burst your bubble, but, 

hunk: (gestures to coran and allura & the castle in general)

pidge: (visibly deflating) oh. yeah. i almost forgot about that.

keith: same :/

hunk: how can you forget- keith, you are literally part alien we found this out like last week

It’s May the 4th: Are Star Wars Planets Real?

Look at what we’ve found so far.

Is your favorite Star Wars planet a desert world or an ice planet or a jungle moon?

It’s possible that your favorite planet exists right here in our galaxy. Astronomers have found over 3,400 planets around other stars, called “exoplanets.”

Some of these alien worlds could be very similar to arid Tatooine, watery Scarif and even frozen Hoth, according to NASA scientists.

Find out if your planet exists in a galaxy far, far away or all around you. And May the Fourth be with you!

Planets With Two Suns

From Luke Skywalker’s home world Tatooine, you can stand in the orange glow of a double sunset. The same could said for Kepler-16b, a cold gas giant roughly the size of Saturn, that orbits two stars. Kepler-16b was the Kepler telescopes’s first discovery of a planet in a “circumbinary” orbit (that is, circling both stars, as opposed to just one, in a double star system). 

The best part is that Tatooine aka Kepler-16b was just the first. It has family. A LOT of family. Half the stars in our galaxy are pairs, rather than single stars like our sun. If every star has at least one planet, that’s billions of worlds with two suns. Billions! Maybe waiting for life to be found on them.

Desert Worlds

Mars is a cold desert planet in our solar system, and we have plenty of examples of scorching hot planets in our galaxy (like Kepler-10b), which orbits its star in less than a day)! Scientists think that if there are other habitable planets in the galaxy, they’re more likely to be desert planets than ocean worlds. That’s because ocean worlds freeze when they’re too far from their star, or boil off their water if they’re too close, potentially making them unlivable. Perhaps, it’s not so weird that both Luke Skywalker and Rey grew up on planets that look a lot alike.

Ice Planets

An icy super-Earth named OGLE-200-BLG-390Lb reminded scientists so much of the frozen Rebel base they nicknamed it “Hoth,” after its frozen temperature of minus 364 degrees Fahrenheit. Another Hoth-like planet was discovered last month; an Earth-mass icy world orbiting its star at the same distance as Earth orbits the sun. But its star is so faint, the surface of OGLE-2016-BLG-1195Lb is probably colder than Pluto.

Forest worlds

Both the forest moon of Endor and Takodana, the home of Han Solo’s favorite cantina in “Force Awakens,” are green like our home planet. But astrobiologists think that plant life on other worlds could be red, black, or even rainbow-colored!

In February 2017, the Spitzer Space Telescope discovered seven Earth-sized planets in the same system, orbiting the tiny red star TRAPPIST-1.

The light from a red star, also known as an M dwarf, is dim and mostly in the infrared spectrum (as opposed to the visible spectrum we see with our sun). And that could mean plants with wildly different colors than what we’re used to seeing on Earth. Or, it could mean animals that see in the near-infrared.

What About Moons?

In Star Wars, Endor, the planet with the cute Ewoks, is actually a habitable moon of a gas giant. Now, we’re looking for life on the moons of our own gas giants. Saturn’s moon Enceladus or Jupiter’s moon Europa are ocean worlds that may well support life. Our Cassini spacecraft has explored the Saturn system and its moons. Watch the video and learn more about the missions’s findings.

And Beyond

The next few years will see the launch of a new generation of spacecraft to search for planets around other stars. TESS and the James Webb Telescope are slated to launch in 2018, and WFIRST in the mid-2020s. That’s one step closer to finding life.

You might want to take our ‘Star Wars: Fact or Fiction?’ quiz. Try it! Based on your score you may obtain the title of Padawan, Jedi Knight, or even Jedi Master! 

You don’t need to visit a galaxy far, far away to find wondrous worlds. Just visit this one … there’s plenty to see.

Discover more about exoplanets here: https://exoplanets.nasa.gov/

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

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A small, faint star relatively close by is home to seven Earth-size planets with conditions that could be right for liquid water and maybe even life.

The discovery sets a record for both the most Earth-size planets and the most potentially habitable planets ever discovered around a single star.

The strange planetary system is quite compact, with all of these worlds orbiting their star closer than Mercury orbits the sun, according to a newly published report in Nature.

“If you were on the surface of one of these planets, you would see the other ones as we see the moon, or a bit smaller,” says Michaël Gillon, an astronomer at the University of Liège in Belgium. “The view would be very impressive.”

Astronomers Find 7 Earth-Size Planets Around A Nearby Star

Images: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Solar System: 10 Things to Know This Week...Halloween Edition!

This week, we’re getting into the Halloween spirit with 10 spooktacular things to let your imagination run wild. 

It’s not Halloween without our favorite scary characters, but what if they could stop bothering us Earthlings and go far, far away? We begin with where Dracula, Frankenstein, and other creepy creatures might choose to live if the galaxy were theirs to claim…

1. The dark (k)night.

The prince of darkness himself, Dracula, can finally seek sweet respite from the Sun. We think he’d love to live on a rocky planet named YZ Ceti d that orbits so close to its red star that it’s tidally locked keeping one side of the planet in perpetual nighttime and the other side in perpetual daytime, with a brilliant red sky (though we can guess which side Dracula will prefer). 

2. Where art thou, werewolves? 

Home sweet home for our furry Full Moon friends might just be on Trappist-1, a planetary system with seven planets—and where standing on one planet would mean the other planets look like six moons (some as big as our Moon in the sky). 

3. Left in the dust. 

We couldn’t think of anyone better to live on Proxima b than The Mummy. Hopefully this ancient monster can finally rest in peace on an exoplanet that scientists theorize is a desert planet once home to ancient oceans. 

4. Cloudy with a chance of Frankenstein.

One scientific experiment we’d like to conduct: whether Frankenstein would rather live on HAT-P-11b or Kepler-3b, theorized to have fierce thunderstorms and lightning. 

5. The walking dead. 

We’re pretty confident that if zombies were to pick a planet, they’d want one that shares their love of death and destruction. We think they’d feel right at home on one of the pulsar planets, which are scorched by radiation because they orbit a dead star. 

6. Rest your weary bones. 

Skeletons need look no further: Osiris, an exoplanet that’s so close to a star that it’s “losing its flesh” as the star destroys it, seems like a perfect match. 

7. Enough of the scary stuff. 

For kids out there, turn pumpkin decorating into an out-of-this-world activity with space-themed stencils, from Saturn to the Sun. 

8. Spooky sounds. 

Cassini’s radio emissions from Saturn could give creaky doors and howling winds a run for their money. Listen to the eerie audio recordings here and find more HERE.

9. Pumpkin-carve like a NASA engineer. 

NASA engineers design and build robots that can fly millions of miles to study other planets for a living—so on Halloween, they can’t help but bring that creative thinking to the grand old tradition of pumpkin carving. Take a cue from their creations with these insider tips.

10. Detective for a day. 

From blades of ice on Pluto to a fuzzy, white “bunny” photographed on Mars, become a solar system sleuth and see if you can solve the stellar mysteries in this slideshow (then compare with how scientists cracked the case). 

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

Let’s talk about the elements!

I’ve written a lot about the seven classical planets and celestial/cosmic witchcraft. I think it’s time to bring things a bit more down to earth, though!

This is a new two-part series! It will focus on the natural elements as understood by the Western Magical Tradition.

In today’s article, I’ll be explaining a bit about the history of these concepts and how I see them. I hope you find this interesting and informative!

Thinking About the Elements

Elements are one of the first concepts I learned when beginning a journey into witchcraft. 

But! How do we view the elements as concepts? Lets consider how they relate to us and the whole universe. Here’s my views!

Some believe the elements are simply words for natural phenomena.
In other words, Fire is fire - the burning of a campfire or candle, or another flame. Water would always be something like a stream, the ocean or other liquid. I don’t see it this way. They’re far more complex than that!

The four elements stem the observations of ancient philosophers. These thinkers guessed that these substances were the building blocks of physical reality. Of course, they were wrong! In reality, atoms comprise matter. Matter and energy, then, make up the physical universe. 

We could associate four classical elements with the four states of matter. These are solid, liquid, gas, and plasma. They’d correspond to earth, water, air, and fire in turn. This is a very simplified view, though!

These concepts were fundamental to the ancients. A wealth of lore has developed around them. They have grown into complex metaphors for aspects of the human condition. The physical manifestations of the elements have become potent symbols. 

They represent various mental and emotional phenomena. Symbols are important in witchcraft. The way I see it, all tools of the Craft are symbols used to connect with larger forces that work within the universe.

The elements themselves, and their attributions, are in fact, somewhat arbitrary. This means that each of us will have a different idea of what each element represents!

There’s nothing wrong with this, though. The point is to use them as symbols. What they symbolize to you is your own business!

Qualifying the Elements

In the Western Magical Tradition, there are four core (classical) elements: Earth, Air, Fire, and Water.  

Some traditions do posit a fifth element called the quintessence, also known as Spirit or Aether. This fifth element stands apart from the other four, as it doesn’t behave in the same way.  

I’ll be focusing on these four, not on the quintessence. Spirit as an element is a very large topic best suited for its own series of articles.

Alchemical thinkers have placed these four into categories. . They’re quite useful for understanding the system. 

Each element is either “hot” or “cold,” as well as either “dry,” or “wet.”

This doesn’t describe the physical qualities of the phenomena in question. Rather, these terms are metaphors. They refer to the roles taken by the concepts each element embodies.

Hot and Cold Elements

Hot elements are active in human existence. 

They stand for concepts that penetrate and alter the world around them.
An outdated way of putting this would be to describe them as “masculine.” This comes from historical stereotypes about gender. I tend to use the term “active” to describe hot elements. That’s Fire and Air.

Cold elements are passive and receptive. 

They represent concepts from which we draw nourishment. They are the structure or substance that forms our mental landscape. The hot elements tend to be the essence or organizing principle. 

Cold elements are often stereotyped as “feminine.“  They are Water and Earth, both of which play a nourishing role in human existence.

Wet and Dry Elements

Dryness as a concept within the Western Magical Tradition refers to a fixed state. In other words, the dry elements are things that don’t often change. These elements are full of stability. 

The key feature of a dry element is lack of intense motion. We can depend on the stable parts of our existence, represented by these elements.

The dry elements are Fire and Earth. It may seem strange to call fire stable, but it is a reliable source of warmth to us. It represents a constant feature of human life.

When we speak of wet elements, we mean the two elements that aren’t fixed. In other words, elements that flow ,change and transform. It is the concepts associated with these elements that drive the changes. They are reliable, but only insofar as change, itself, is something to rely on! 

The wet elements are Air and Water. Both are natural features that shift and flow through our lives. The inclusion of Air as a wet element shows that these are metaphorical, not literal terms.

Much more could be said about how people have described the elements throughout time. The above image shows the alchemical view of how the elements can combine to create secondary principles. 

As you might guess, “fixed” and “volatile” here stand for what we’ve been calling “passive” and “active.” If you want to know more about these further topics, I recommend Robert Bartlett’s book, True Alchemy. 

The entire concept of the elements is a metaphor, though. It’s a metaphor that can work for you. It can help with your Craft, and help you connect with the universe. I’ll be posting the next article tomorrow! In that, I’ll be discussing each element in detail.

pidge: HOLY FUCK YOU GUYS NASA FOUND SEVEN EARTH-LIKE PLANETS ORBITING A STAR

lance: HOLY SHIT

coran: why is this such big news to you? you’re already in space. you’ve seen - and saved! - many different earth-like planets already.

lance: [completely unaware of what coran just said] THE ALIENS ARE COMING, PIDGE.

pidge: FUCK YES

13 Reasons to Have an Out-of-This-World Friday (the 13th)

1. Not all of humanity is bound to the ground

Since 2000, the International Space Station has been continuously occupied by humans. There, crew members live and work while conducting important research that benefits life on Earth and will even help us eventually travel to deep space destinations, like Mars.

2. We’re working to develop quieter supersonic aircraft that would allow you to travel from New York to Los Angeles in 2 hours

We are working hard to make flight greener, safer and quieter – all while developing aircraft that travel faster, and building an aviation system that operates more efficiently. Seventy years after Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier in the Bell X-1 aircraft, we’re continuing that supersonic X-plane legacy by working to create a quieter supersonic jet with an aim toward passenger flight.

3. The spacecraft, rockets and systems developed to send astronauts to low-Earth orbit as part of our Commercial Crew Program is also helping us get to Mars

Changes to the human body during long-duration spaceflight are significant challenges to solve ahead of a mission to Mars and back. The space station allows us to perform long duration missions without leaving Earth’s orbit.

Although they are orbiting Earth, space station astronauts spend months at a time in near-zero gravity, which allows scientists to study several physiological changes and test potential solutions. The more time they spend in space, the more helpful the station crew members can be to those on Earth assembling the plans to go to Mars.

4. We’re launching a spacecraft in 2018 that will go “touch the Sun”

In the summer of 2018, we’re launching Parker Solar Probe, a spacecraft that will get closer to the Sun than any other in human history. Parker Solar Probe will fly directly through the Sun’s atmosphere, called the corona. Getting better measurements of this region is key to understanding our Sun. 

For instance, the Sun releases a constant outflow of solar material, called the solar wind. We think the corona is where this solar wind is accelerated out into the solar system, and Parker Solar Probe’s measurements should help us pinpoint how that happens.  

5. You can digitally fly along with spacecraft…that are actually in space…in real-time!

NASA’s Eyes are immersive, 3D simulations of real events, spacecraft locations and trajectories. Through this interactive app, you can experience Earth and our solar system, the universe and the spacecraft exploring them. Want to watch as our Juno spacecraft makes its next orbit around Juno? You can! Or relive all of the Voyager mission highlights in real-time? You can do that too! Download the free app HERE to start exploring.

6. When you feel far away from home, you can think of the New Horizons spacecraft as it heads toward the Kuiper Belt, and the Voyager spacecraft are beyond the influence of our sun…billions of miles away

Our New Horizons spacecraft completed its Pluto flyby in July 2015 and has continued on its way toward the Kuiper Belt. The spacecraft continues to send back important data as it travels toward deeper space at more than 32,000 miles per hour, and is ~3.2 billion miles from Earth.

In addition to New Horizons, our twin Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft are exploring where nothing from Earth has flown before. Continuing on their more-than-37-year journey since their 1977 launches, they are each much farther away from Earth and the sun than Pluto. In August 2012, Voyager 1 made the historic entry into interstellar space, the region between the stars, filled with material ejected by the death of nearby stars millions of years ago.

7. There are humans brave enough to not only travel in space, but venture outside space station to perform important repairs and updates during spacewalks

Just this month (October 2017) we’ve already had two spacewalks on the International Space Station…with another scheduled on Oct. 20. 

Spacewalks are important events where crew members repair, maintain and upgrade parts of the International Space Station. These activities can also be referred to as EVAs – Extravehicular Activities. Not only do spacewalks require an enormous amount of work to prepare for, but they are physically demanding on the astronauts. They are working in the vacuum of space in only their spacewalking suit. 

8. Smart people are up all night working in control rooms all over NASA to ensure that data keeps flowing from our satellites and spacecraft

Our satellites and spacecraft help scientists study Earth and space. Missions looking toward Earth provide information about clouds, oceans, land and ice. They also measure gases in the atmosphere, such as ozone and carbon dioxide and the amount of energy that Earth absorbs and emits. And satellites monitor wildfires, volcanoes and their smoke.

9. A lot of NASA-developed tech has been transferred for use to the public

Our Technology Transfer Program highlights technologies that were originally designed for our mission needs, but have since been introduced to the public market. HERE are a few spinoff technologies that you might not know about.

10. We have a spacecraft currently traveling  to an asteroid to collect a sample and bring it back to Earth

OSIRIS-REx is our first-ever mission that will travel to an asteroid and bring a sample of it back to Earth. Currently, the spacecraft is on its way to asteroid Bennu where it will survey and map the object before it “high-fives” the asteroid with its robotic arm to collect a sample, which it will send to Earth.

If everything goes according to plan, on Sept. 24, 2023, the capsule containing the asteroid sample will make a soft landing in the Utah desert.

11. There are Earth-sized planets outside our solar system that may be habitable

To date, we have confirmed 3,000+ exoplanets, which are planets outside our solar system that orbit a Sun-like star. Of these 3,000, some are in the habitable zone – where the temperature is just right for liquid water to exist on the surface.  

Recently, our Spitzer Space Telescope revealed the first known system of SEVEN Earth-size planets around a single star. Three of these plants are firmly in the habitable zone, and could have liquid water on the surface, which is key to life as we know it.

12. Earth looks like art from space

In 1960, the United States put its first Earth-observing environmental satellite into orbit around the planet. Over the decades, these satellites have provided invaluable information, and the vantage point of space has provided new perspectives on Earth.

The beauty of Earth is clear, and the artistry ranges from the surreal to the sublime.

13. We’re building a telescope that will be able to see the first stars ever formed in the universe

Wouldn’t it be neat to see a period of the universe’s history that we’ve never seen before? That’s exactly what the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) will be able to do…plus more!

Specifically, Webb will see the first objects that formed as the universe cooled down after the Big Bang. We don’t know exactly when the universe made the first stars and galaxies – or how for that matter. That is what we are building Webb to help answer.

Happy Friday the 13th! We hope it’s out-of-this-world!

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

Gemstone Divination Technique

There are many forms of divination, as outlined in the below image. This article focuses particularly on sortilege.

Sortilege is the practice of divining information through choosing objects “at random.” This form of divination includes Tarot, runic practices, and many other practices that witches commonly use. 

The thing is, while it is without a doubt traditional to use cards, runestones, or other similar paraphernalia for sortilege, it can really be done with most anything. In other words, to practice sortilege, all you really need is a small bag of objects, each with a particular significance.

I’ve had several witches write to me asking how they might use a gemstone collection for divination. Sortilege is an ideal way to do this. 

To practice sortilege with gemstones, I recommend a collection of at least ten small or medium-sized stones. Chips work well, provided they’re not too small, and I personally use chips when I do this. 

You also need something to hold (and hide) the stones. An opaque cup or small bag works well for this. I use a small jewelry bag, because the chips I use are quite small.

To do this with gemstones, or any other object, you must both a) be able to identify each object by sight, and b) have an existing understanding of the object’s symbolism. 

In the case of gemstones, it is important that you know, for example, what the rose quartz looks like so that, if you draw it, it is not confused for the sunstone, etc. You’ll also need to know what it symbolizes - you should know that rose quartz (again, as an example) is associated with love, whereas sunstone is more aligned with personal power, etc. 

Naturally, your own associations for the stones will vary, and of course, that’s okay. The point is, you need to have an assigned meaning for each gemstone or object. It’s good to write them down, too, just to help solidify them in your memory or, if necessary, refer back to the written meaning.

To begin, place all the gemstones in the bag and give it a gentle, but thorough shake. This is, in my experience, best done while focusing on the question you wish to answer via the divination. 

If you’ve worked with runic divination, you can likely guess what to do next. Reach into the bag, and draw out a “random” gemstone! Or several. Then, you interpret your results based on the existing meanings you have for the stones.

I’m not going to list a bunch of gemstone meanings, though, because those tend to be highly personal to the individual, and also, the traditional associations are well-documented elsewhere. 

If you’d like to learn more about gemstone lore and traditions, I recommend the book Dunwich’s Guide to Gemstone Sorcery to get you started. I will, though, include the image below, which outlines my own approach to certain gemstones magically. 

It’s based on the seven classical planets, like a lot of the work I do.

This form of sortilege is a good way to familiarize yourself with gemstones and get the most out of the stones you might run across. It’s also a good thing to do if you’re a witch that typically uses gemstones, but haven’t leapt into divination yet and want to try. 

I hope you enjoyed this article and that it inspires you to give this a try! I promise, it’s quite fun and useful! I’m working on a second article on this subject, which features a sort of techwitch riff on the concept!

10

Paused at the Right Moment, part 8

I thank TheNight130 for the “The Road To ElDorado” one! His hand lags a lot in this shot! ;D

1. Sinbad; Legend of the Seven Seas (2003) 2. Treasure Planet (2002) 3. Lilo and Stitch (2002) 4. The Road to ElDorado (2000) 5. Atlantis; The Lost Empire (2001) 6. The Scarecrow (2000) 7. Aladdin (1992) 8. Mulan (1998) 9. Frozen (2013) 10. Thumbelina (1994)

Part 1 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5 , 6 , 7

Solar System: Things to Know This Week

Reaching out into space yields benefits on Earth. Many of these have practical applications — but there’s something more than that. Call it inspiration, perhaps, what photographer Ansel Adams referred to as nature’s “endless prospect of magic and wonder." 

Our ongoing exploration of the solar system has yielded more than a few magical images. Why not keep some of them close by to inspire your own explorations? This week, we offer 10 planetary photos suitable for wallpapers on your desktop or phone. Find many more in our galleries. These images were the result of audacious expeditions into deep space; as author Edward Abbey said, "May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view.”

1. Martian Selfie

This self-portrait of NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover shows the robotic geologist in the “Murray Buttes” area on lower Mount Sharp. Key features on the skyline of this panorama are the dark mesa called “M12” to the left of the rover’s mast and pale, upper Mount Sharp to the right of the mast. The top of M12 stands about 23 feet (7 meters) above the base of the sloping piles of rocks just behind Curiosity. The scene combines approximately 60 images taken by the Mars Hand Lens Imager, or MAHLI, camera at the end of the rover’s robotic arm. Most of the component images were taken on September 17, 2016.

2. The Colors of Pluto

NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft captured this high-resolution, enhanced color view of Pluto on July 14, 2015. The image combines blue, red and infrared images taken by the Ralph/Multispectral Visual Imaging Camera (MVIC). Pluto’s surface sports a remarkable range of subtle colors, enhanced in this view to a rainbow of pale blues, yellows, oranges, and deep reds. Many landforms have their own distinct colors, telling a complex geological and climatological story that scientists have only just begun to decode.

3. The Day the Earth Smiled

On July 19, 2013, in an event celebrated the world over, our Cassini spacecraft slipped into Saturn’s shadow and turned to image the planet, seven of its moons, its inner rings — and, in the background, our home planet, Earth. This mosaic is special as it marks the third time our home planet was imaged from the outer solar system; the second time it was imaged by Cassini from Saturn’s orbit, the first time ever that inhabitants of Earth were made aware in advance that their photo would be taken from such a great distance.

4. Looking Back

Before leaving the Pluto system forever, New Horizons turned back to see Pluto backlit by the sun. The small world’s haze layer shows its blue color in this picture. The high-altitude haze is thought to be similar in nature to that seen at Saturn’s moon Titan. The source of both hazes likely involves sunlight-initiated chemical reactions of nitrogen and methane, leading to relatively small, soot-like particles called tholins. This image was generated by combining information from blue, red and near-infrared images to closely replicate the color a human eye would perceive.

5. Catching Its Own Tail

A huge storm churning through the atmosphere in Saturn’s northern hemisphere overtakes itself as it encircles the planet in this true-color view from Cassini. This picture, captured on February 25, 2011, was taken about 12 weeks after the storm began, and the clouds by this time had formed a tail that wrapped around the planet. The storm is a prodigious source of radio noise, which comes from lightning deep within the planet’s atmosphere.

6. The Great Red Spot

Another massive storm, this time on Jupiter, as seen in this dramatic close-up by Voyager 1 in 1979. The Great Red Spot is much larger than the entire Earth.

7. More Stormy Weather

Jupiter is still just as stormy today, as seen in this recent view from NASA’s Juno spacecraft, when it soared directly over Jupiter’s south pole on February 2, 2017, from an altitude of about 62,800 miles (101,000 kilometers) above the cloud tops. From this unique vantage point we see the terminator (where day meets night) cutting across the Jovian south polar region’s restless, marbled atmosphere with the south pole itself approximately in the center of that border. This image was processed by citizen scientist John Landino. This enhanced color version highlights the bright high clouds and numerous meandering oval storms.

8. X-Ray Vision

X-rays stream off the sun in this image showing observations from by our Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or NuSTAR, overlaid on a picture taken by our Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO). The NuSTAR data, seen in green and blue, reveal solar high-energy emission. The high-energy X-rays come from gas heated to above 3 million degrees. The red channel represents ultraviolet light captured by SDO, and shows the presence of lower-temperature material in the solar atmosphere at 1 million degrees.

9. One Space Robot Photographs Another

This image from NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter shows Victoria crater, near the equator of Mars. The crater is approximately half a mile (800 meters) in diameter. It has a distinctive scalloped shape to its rim, caused by erosion and downhill movement of crater wall material. Since January 2004, the Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity has been operating in the region where Victoria crater is found. Five days before this image was taken in October 2006, Opportunity arrived at the rim of the crater after a drive of more than over 5 miles (9 kilometers). The rover can be seen in this image, as a dot at roughly the “ten o'clock” position along the rim of the crater. (You can zoom in on the full-resolution version here.)

10. Night Lights

Last, but far from least, is this remarkable new view of our home planet. Last week, we released new global maps of Earth at night, providing the clearest yet composite view of the patterns of human settlement across our planet. This composite image, one of three new full-hemisphere views, provides a view of the Americas at night from the NASA-NOAA Suomi-NPP satellite. The clouds and sun glint — added here for aesthetic effect — are derived from MODIS instrument land surface and cloud cover products.

Discover more lists of 10 things to know about our solar system HERE.

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