Browsing Posts in Ministry of Astronomy

Spaceweather.com has reported that the 3 meter diameter asteroid 2008TC3 hit the earth’s atmosphere over the Sudan. Impact speed was calculated to be about 12 km per second which is fairly slow. While asteroids this size hit the earth a few times a year and result in a bright fireball, this is the first time […]

In last month’s Olympics, if Usain Bolt hadn’t slowed down in his world record-breaking 100 meter dash he would have had an even more amazing time. Some astrophysicists calculated his time. This paper was submitted to the American Journal of Physics. Abstract: Since that very memorable day at the Beijing 2008 Olympics, a big question […]

Many of the actions that affect endangered species occur either on Federal lands or are the actions of federal agencies. Whether changes in logging rules in a National Forest, permitting oil and gas leases on BLM land, or even building a new visitor center in a National Park, Federal agencies are required by law to […]

Tonight, I’ve been playing with Stellarium, a very cool planetarium program. It’s an open source program so it’s free and has a lot of features. I really like the view where you can have different culture’s constellations and asterisms portrayed on the stars. It has a night mode if you want to take your laptop […]

My biggest goal in my life right now is to have a species named after me. Stephen Colbert just demanded and got a spider named after him and I think it is my turn. I’m not against other things being named after me. The most “honorable” way would be to discover a comet. The first […]

Today is the 100th anniversary of the Tunguska explosion. For those of you who weren’t in remotest Siberia 100 years ago, this was the most recent large meteor impact on earth (link) (illustration). It is very interesting that no meteorite fragments were found but searches for fragments continue. A column of bluish light as bright […]

Beyond UFOs

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I just finished reading an excellent book by Jeffrey Bennett called Beyond UFOs: The Search for Extraterrestrial Life and Its Astonishing Implications for Our Future. This book details on a layman’s level, the state of the science and technology being used to search for life beyond earth. Bennett does an excellent job explaining the process […]

The space program is one of the few things in my life that thrills me. I get an indescribable rush of emotion when I watch a Shuttle launch or one of our robots sends back an amazing image. It makes me proud to be an American; and, even more so, proud to be an inquisitive […]

The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter which was acting as a radio relay for yesterday’s landing of the Mars Phoenix Lander snapped this amazing picture of the Lander under a fully-unfurled parachute. From a JPL press release: Camera pointing for the image from HiRISE used navigational information about Phoenix updated on landing day. The camera team and […]

After a flawless landing, Mars Phoenix Lander has begun to send back images from the martian arctic. The first images were engineering images to look at parts of the lander such as the landing legs, the unfurled solar arrays, and to test the cameras and computers. So far everything looks great and after several days […]