Blog Archives

Transformers, Kandaharian Beasts, & Hexagons

Saw three great posts this evening in my Google Reader:

V22 In AfPak

First, the V-22 Osprey has finally taken flight in combat. The good folks over at The Danger Room has some pics of the tilt-rotor hover-to-plane transforming craft over in AfPak. I remember seeing the first flights of the Osprey and then reading about the tragic crashes that followed. It’s good to see that enough progress has been made to make the ship combat-worthy.

The now-not-so-secret RQ-170 Sentinel

Also from The Danger Room, a sharp-eyed French photog caught the above image of a “mystery” plane also in use in AfPak. Dubbed the Beast of Kandahar, the Air Force recently confirmed that the image is of a new unmanned stealth reconnaissance plane, the RQ-170 Sentinel. The question on everyone’s lips is why do you need a stealth drone for use against guys running around the mountains with Kalashnikov’s. Anything to do with Iran being right next door? Hmmmm? Inquiring minds want to know.

The Hexagon @ Saturn's North Pole

And finally over on Bad Astronomy, Phil Plait highlights a great picture from the Cassini team of Saturn’s north pole. If you have not seen the above image, then be amazed! Yes, for some reason the storm raging at the top of Saturn rotates in the form of a hexagon! Wow! Scientists are still working to explain this one. I’m baffled! I can’t wait to read the theories they develop.

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A Little Inspiration

A picture is worth a thousand words. Or a thousand little shards of inspiration and dreams! For those of you that have space or astronomy geeklets, then this site will definitely do the trick: http://www.nasaimages.org/index.html

Here is one of my favorite pics:

The Sombrero Galaxy

The Sombrero Galaxy

Big ups to BA for the link to this great site!

Will Somebody Please Buy Me A New Telescope!?!?!

So I can shoot pictures like this! Very cool! Now remember kids, this was taken from the ground and the ISS is about 215 miles up!

iss_sts_vandebergh

Gracias senor BA!

2012 Is Coming!

Sorry for playing into the hype, but this viral ad for a fictitious company featured in the new movie is pretty slick. BA says he’s gotten email from people thinking that the ad is real. The trailer for 2012 rocks, I can’t wait until we go see it!

Via Bad Astronomy

Spectacular!

BA recently featured a picture of the space shuttle from The Boston Globe’s Big Picture series. I like this shot. Then I realized that I had only clicked through through 1 set out of 3. After looking through the rest (warning: there are some very tough-to-look-at images in the bunch, the most difficult requiring an extra click-through), I found this beauty.

milkyway

I hate to admit it, but like most city dwellers I have never seen the Milky Way with my own eyes (upper right cloudy looking area of the picture above). There is just too much light pollution to make out that wispy cloud in the sky where the bulk of our galaxy shines down upon our pale blue dot.

I’m going to make it a goal to make my way to a dark sky site somewhere in the next year. Is there anything more beautiful?

Asteroids, CMEs, and GRBs, Oh My!

sun_layers

If I were going to write a book, I would probably tease it on my well-read blog and keep the public guessing and salivating for its release. BA did this for his new book, Death From The Skies. And I was pretty well stoked when it came out. I had a few other books in the pipeline to finish first, but I should have put this one at the head of the class.

In my opinion, this book rocks! I finished it in under three days. It uses the perfect blend of scientific detail and witty humor in describing the many scenarios of space-based disaster that could affect our little pale blue dot. It does not overwhelm the reader with hard to read or understand jargon. I’m a big nerd, so delving into the details of the life cycle of stars and how they eventually run out of fuel was right up my alley. Walking back through time to the Big Bang (and coming to understand that it was not really a bang) was equally fascinating.

I came to understand a lot more about things I’d only scraped the surface on up until now; for example, CMEs (why they occur) and GRBs (where they originate from). Just a month ago I was playing around with the Sky mode of Google Earth and stumbled on a layer that plotted the most recent GRBs across the visible sky. Reading the chapter on GRBs gave me whole new perspective on the word devasting!

I would recommend this book for the casual person that may be interested in space science, as well as to the hard-core tech heads like myself. It is always nice to be able to come across someone that can explain something so profoundly technical and scientific in terms that are readily understood by the masses. Now if we can only get these types of materials as required reading in high school to help stimulate the next generation of scientists.

Great job Phil!