I have a feeling that silk scarves printed with NASA satellite and Hubble images are a thing that some of you might need, in a “shut up and take my money” way.
Check ‘em out at Slow Factory.
Dust (the zodiacal light) pointing at dust (the Milky Way band)
One is the remnants of our solar system’s birth, and the other holds the seeds for solar systems dead and yet to come. Some more dusty goodness to go along with this week’s dusty episode of IOTBS on YouTube.
Photo by the superbly talented Cory Schmitz (Flickr, used with permission)
The Moon Goes Red Tonight
Are you in North, Central, or South America? Do you like staying up late and staring up at the sky? Yes? Then I have good news!
You can catch a total lunar eclipse Monday night, in all of its dusty-red glory, from just about anywhere in North America with a clear view of the night sky. The moon will enter the darkest part of Earth’s shadow (the “umbra”) at 1:58 AM ET, and remain there until 4:24 AM ET. At 3:06 ET, the moon will be completely darkened by the Earth’s shadow!
Except that the moon won’t be completely dark. During a lunar eclipse, the moon turns a dusty shade of red. Why is that? You can thank Earth’s atmosphere.
To understand the red color of a lunar eclipse, it’s best to see how Earth would look from the moon. Check out the image of Earth eclipsing the sun (it’s not a real photo, btw. It was created from several images taken by Apollo astronauts):
(via Astro Bob)
See that halo of light around Earth? Our diffuse shell of air and dust bends and reflects a portion of the eclipsed sun’s light around the planet and onto the obscured moon. And since only the longest wavelengths of light make it through our atmosphere without being scattered away by the air molecules (the same reason that sunsets are red), the moon is bathed in crimson! Here’s a video I made about that atmospheric color show:
Check out more eclipse goodness at Bad Astronomy. Top image via Wikipedia.
A technical glitch causes the Hubble Space Telescope, which ordinarily captures magnificently crisp scientific imagery of the cosmos, to lose balance and create this inadvertent piece of modern art.
It is suspected that in this case, Hubble had locked onto a bad guide star, potentially a double star or binary. This caused an error in the tracking system, resulting in this remarkable picture of brightly colored stellar streaks. The prominent red streaks are from stars in the globular cluster NGC 288.
Come Fly With Me…
Through the southern and equatorial skies, thanks to this gorgeous animation from the Galaxy and Mass Assembly (GAMA) project. You can read more about this project, including some interesting findings about how galaxies are organized in our universe, at No Place Like Home, Nadia Drake’s wonderful new space blog at National Geographic.
Ahh, ain’t it grand? Galaxy after galaxy, each dot a world of worlds, stacked stellar swirls extending deep into the reaches of deepest space. There so much muchness out there.
Check out the full GAMA fly through video below:
If you want to take your moon-map love to the next level, check out CosmoQuest’s MoonMappers citizen science project and help map the moon. CosmoQuest recently proved that amateur mappers can do just as good a job as the pros, from the comfort of their own homes. Everyone can science!
I throw my plumes up into space sometimes, sayin’ Io…
This has to be the most breathtakingly awesome eruption since Eddie Van Halen dipped the whammy bar down back in 1978.
NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft captured this blast spewing up from Jupiter’s moon Io back in 2007, as it passed by on its way to Pluto (which it will reach next summer … it’s really far away). That plume rises more than 330 kilometers (200+ miles) into space, nearly the altitude that the International Space Station orbits above Earth!
Io is the most volcanically active body in the solar system. So many eruptions take place on Io that no impact craters survive, they are constantly filled in by fresh material from the moon’s interior. In fact, Io holds the title for “most powerful eruption ever recorded in the solar system”, back in 2001.
So … Y-IO U SO MAD?
Next to the sun, Jupiter is the most massive object in the solar system. Jupiter’s gravity, combined with the gravitational influence of Io’s fellow moons Europa and Ganymede, tugs and pulls on Io, causing it to be squished and squeezed to the extreme during an orbit around its home planet.
This massive tidal force causes Io’s crust to distort by as much as 100 meters in either direction. Imagine a 100 meter-high tide! Made of land! This causes an extreme amount of friction and tidal heating beneath the crust, essentially cooking Io via squeezing and tugging. As a result, it regularly blows its top in spectacular fashion.
Just another day in the continuing evolution of our solar system!
I don’t want to alarm anyone, but on Saturday, the moon ate Saturn.
I guess it finally got tired of it showing off those rings.
Sky Tapestry, by Cordella Lackey
A tapestry jewelled hangs over the night;
Have you looked up to see where it gleams?
There are rubies and sapphires and diamonds white
Interwoven with mists of lost dreams.
This tapestry ancient was hung up for you
Before Time tried to reckon with Space;
And for ages to come it will hang in the blue,
Starry jewels each one in its place.
Each star has a story, each mist is alight;
If you seek to know each priceless fold
You will treasure this tapestry hung up at night
By the Weaver of tapestries old.
I'm Joe Hanson, Ph.D. biologist and host/writer of PBS Digital Studios' It's Okay To Be Smart.
Check out my "Episode Extras" here. There's a lot of amazing science out there. Let's learn something together.
"Everyone's favorite Feynman of the Tumblr era" - Maria Popova
Joe's science book recommendations, from brains to biology to space to art to physics.
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