ramblings from the noisedoctor

March 26, 2009

way better than my school science projects

Filed under: geeky stuff, kudos, space — noisedoctor @ 7:49 am

I found this news story about a group of students: “Teenagers armed with only a £56 camera and latex balloon have managed to take stunning pictures of space from 20-miles above Earth.” And, to me, the photos they got are quite impressive. My inner geek is quite happy.


October 2, 2007

great world-wide star count

Filed under: geeky stuff, space — Tags: , , , — noisedoctor @ 12:57 pm

I’ve always loved gazing at the stars. As a child, my father took me to programs at a local college’s planetarium. I can remember annoying my elementary school teachers by knowing more about the earth’s movements, the moon, and the stars than they did.

Anyway, there’s a great program to encourage interest in astronomy: Great World-Wide Star Count. It’s also a program to help gather more information about light pollution. SiliconValley.com has a good article about it. I’m going to participate. I have seen more light pollution in my area over the past 5 years and am a little bummed about it.

August 28, 2007

must be august

Filed under: humor, space, useless junk — noisedoctor @ 8:20 am

I normally don’t pay too much attention to my blog statistics. But, I just glanced at them, and see a huge spike in traffic over the last few days. Then I remembered… it must be August. And, the annual influx of people researching how it could be that “Mars will appear as big as the moon” email. At least I give people credit for researching it, rather than just looking up into the sky wondering why they don’t see a moon-sized Mars beaming down at them.

Welcome to the annual August visitors. Sorry that you got “taken in” by that email hoax.

November 15, 2006

here comes leonid

Filed under: space — noisedoctor @ 7:48 am

This weekend is the annual Leonid meteor shower. The peak will be at 11:45 EST this Saturday.

September 15, 2006

adopt an orbit

Filed under: space — noisedoctor @ 9:05 am

This week’s space walkers at the International Space Station accidentally contributed a few items of “space junk” when a few spare bolts were dropped. This sort of orbiting debrit is dangerous to the station, space walkers, and space craft.

NASA and the air force now track 9,925 items in orbit over 4” in size, but there are over 90,000 smaller items out there. Oh, yeah, and all this stuff is moving at 15,000 mph. It must look like some of our roads around here–littered with trash.

Guess we’ll someday need to have folks adopt parts of Earth orbit, huh?

August 24, 2006

sorry Pluto

Filed under: space — noisedoctor @ 9:38 am

Pluto got demoted today. The group of Astronomers gathering in Prague reversed their previous plan to keep Pluto and add 3 additional planets. Guess we have to revise some textbooks, huh?

August 18, 2006

moon and three planets

Filed under: space — noisedoctor @ 8:37 am

If you care to get up just before dawn, there’s an interesting sight in the sky. The moon, Mercury, Venus, and Saturn all appearing to be close together in the sky. Almost worth waking up for, huh?

August 16, 2006

quick, how many planets are there?

Filed under: space — noisedoctor @ 8:05 am

Do you know how many planets there are in our solar system? Well, you may know that answer now (hint: it’s somewhere between 8 and 10), but there’s no way to be sure what that number is going to be in the near future.

The members of the International Astronomical Union are meeting in Prague to propose upping that number to 12. The current proposal maintains Pluto as a planet and adds three other objects to the “family.”

If the resolution is approved, the 12 planets in our solar system listed in order of their proximity to the sun would be Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Ceres, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto, Charon, and the provisionally named 2003 UB313. Its discoverer, Michael Brown of the California Institute of Technology, nicknamed it Xena after the warrior princess of TV fame, but it likely would be rechristened something else later, the panel said.

The galactic shift would force publishers to update encyclopedias and school textbooks, and elementary school teachers to rejigger the planet mobiles hanging from classroom ceilings. Far outside the realm of science, astrologers accustomed to making predictions based on the classic nine might have to tweak their formulas.

Of course, that could all change. I hope you’re not in business of selling models, stickers, or other stuff that has to do with the solar system. Oh, and apparently rejigger is our vocabulary word for the day.

August 15, 2006

it was around here somewhere

Filed under: humor, space — noisedoctor @ 8:01 am

It appears that NASA has somehow misplaced the original video tape of the first moon landing. This from the organization that has insanely detailed written processes for just about everything they do. Yet, they somehow seem to have a tiny problem with keeping track of things. Not that the tape of the first humans to land on the moon was like, oh, important or anything…

August 12, 2006

Mars as big as the Moon?

Filed under: space — noisedoctor @ 7:06 am

Have you seen this email? My lovely, supportive, and intelligent wife came home from work all excited, telling me that tonight that Mars was going to appear as big as the Moon. Wow. Sounds incredible, huh?

The Red Planet is about to be spectacular! This month and next, Earth is catching up with Mars in an encounter that will culminate in the closest approach between the two planets in recorded history. The next time Mars may come this close is in 2287. Due to the way Jupiter's gravity tugs on Mars and perturbs its orbit, astronomers can only be certain that Mars has not come this close to Earth in the Last 5,000 years, but it may be as long as 60,000 years before it happens again.
The encounter will culminate on August 27th when Mars comes to within 34,649,589 miles of Earth and will be (next to the moon) the brightest object in the night sky. It will attain a magnitude of -2.9 and will appear 25.11 arc seconds wide. At a modest 75-power magnification Mars will look as large as the full moon to the naked eye. Mars will be easy to spot. At the beginning of August it will rise in the east at 10p.m. and reach its azimuth at about 3 a.m.
By the end of August when the two planets are closest, Mars will rise at nightfall and reach its highest point in the sky at 12:30 a.m. That's pretty convenient to see something that no human being has seen in recorded history. So, mark your calendar at the beginning of August to see Mars grow progressively brighter and brighter throughout the month. Share this with your children and grandchildren. NO ONE ALIVE TODAY WILL EVER SEE THIS AGAIN

Problem #1: this is from 2003. Problem #2: People can’t read the sentence correctly. Look again:

At a modest 75-power magnification Mars will look as large as the full moon to the naked eye. [emphasis mine]

Do we get it now? If you were looking at the Moon without a telescope, then look through a telescope at 75x at Mars, they would appear the same size. It does not come close to implying that Mars will appear the same size as the Moon. I just don’t see how people keep ignoring the first part of that sentence.

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