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NEW ALERT! December 22, 2004:
ALERT! December 17, 2004:
December 7, 2004:
[Oops! I originally said here that small meteors fall straight down by the time they hit the ground. Ron Baalke informed me I was wrong; the Nakhla and Peekskill meteorites were both known to hit at an angle. So some do hit at an angle... but that still doesn't mean this streak is from a meteor!]
[Oops again! May 18, 2005: Chris Peterson of the Denver Museum of Nature and Science tells me that most meteorites do indeed fall straight down, and not at such a great angle. Ron Baalke pointed me to a paper that indicates some can, but now I am not convinced. Wind can blow a small meteorite, giving it a horizontal component, but that would have to be small compared to the much larger vertical descent velocity.]
This is being discussed on SlashDot as well, and one person came to the conclusion that it's a bug flying across the image. It's close to the camera, so it's out of focus. The camera flash lit the bug at the end of the exposure, creating the burst of light. It happens to lie coincidentally near the lamp, but has nothing to do with it. I concur; this is the most likely explanation.
We're also discussing this on my own bulletin board. Join the fun!
October 20, 2004:
October 5, 2004:
October 4, 2004:
It's a big day. In the past, only governments have had the ability to get manned rockets into space, but the key phrase there is "in the past". This opens up a new realm of adventure for humans, a new way to journey into the sky. This flight was sub-orbital, not fast enough to actually achieve orbit around the Earth. Certainly, an orbital flight is a huge step from this, and still a technological challenge of high order. But we must take these challenges one at a time, and this one is surely cause for celebration.
You can find out more about all this at:
September 28, 2004
So I'll keep this brief:
If you want real info on this asteroid and its near-Earth pass, try these sites:
August 17, 2004
July 20, 2004
35 years ago today, Neil Armstrong did something no one in the history of the Earth ever did: he placed his foot on another world. It was the culmination of the work of 400,000 people directly involved in the project, and the confluence of technology, science, politics, and both the best and worst of human nature. But it led to that one moment, a point in time at which we can divide all of history. When Armstrong's boot touched the lunar surface, the human race was no longer bound by the Earth's gravity. We can choose to be a multi-planet race, and at that time, the choice was made.
To keep up your Apollo spirits, go take a look at the organization that made it happen: NASA. Then go peruse some pictures from the lunar surface, and then roam the rich imagery at Kipp Teague's astonishing Apollo Archive.
To everyone, past, present, and future who ever dreamed of going to the Moon, and especially to those who made it happen, and will one day make it a reality again, I say: thank you.
ALERT! July 5, 2004In honor of being on the Coast to Coast AM radio show again tonight, I have added several new pages to the site!
I have decided to debunk the nonsensical astronomy from one James McCanney, a man whose theories are so wrong I have to get down to some very basic basics just to start.
I also added a page about debating pseudoscientists, or, more accurately, why I tend not to debate them.
I am right now on the Coast to Coast AM radio show. Here is the page of topics we're discussing. You can also talk about the show in real time on the Bad Astronomy Bulletin Board.
June 23, 2004
June 21, 2004
Sigh. No astronomical event can pass without someone making a weird claim about it. The most recent: The transit of Venus causes the Yellow River in China to flood. Guess what? I don't think so.
June 20, 2004
Happy Solstice Day! At 12:57 a.m. Greenwich time (8:57 p.m. Eastern US time) tonight the Sun will be as far north as it gets during the year, and then starts its slow sinking to the south. For people in the northern hemisphere, this marks the Summer Solstice (what some people mistakenly call the first day of summer). Well, it's the summer solstice everywhere, but for people in the southern hemisphere it's really wintertime. Confused? Then read about why we have seasons. And check out the US Naval Observatory page to find out all about time.
June 10, 2004
June 2, 2004
I will be doing a series of live television interviews about the transit on the 8th. I have created a webpage with information about the transit and the times I will be on the air. Check for your local listings. Note: the listings were updated on June 7, and should be complete, unless there are last-minute changes. I won't be updating the page any more, becuase there isn't time!
May 6, 2004:
The Mars rovers are getting a lot of attention, but we shouldn't forget the
Mars Orbiter Camera
onboard the Mars Global Surveyor. It's still returning really cool pictures...
like this one.
At the bottom of the crater in that image is what looks like... A HUMAN BRAIN
(cue creepy music). For those with slow links, I show the picture here, next to a
real human brain (not actual size).
May 2, 2004:
March 8, 2004:
FALLOUT PART I (March 13, 2004): Hoagland discussed these pages on a recent interview on "Coast to Coast AM", and said several incorrect things. I have a transcript of the interview here, along with my comments.
FALLOUT PART II (March 15, 2004): After my pages about Mars went up, Space.com reporter Rob Roy Britt interviewed me, Hoagland, and others about this for an article which is now online at Space.com.
February 25, 2004:
I will have a webpage written about the topics as well, to help you find more and better information than you might otherwise get. It should be ready by the time the show airs.
February 7, 2004:
January 28, 2004:
January 25, 2004:
January 22, 2004: On the eve of the landing of the second NASA Mars rover, Opportunity, I am quoted briefly in "USA Today" about it. The quotation and more information can be found on the Bad Astronomy Bulletin Board.
January 14, 2004: ALERT! The President of the United States just announced an initiative that will increase our presence in space, including unmanned probes to the Moon with the eventual landing of manned missions. The goal is to establish a permanent presence on the Moon.
I am not sure how I feel about this. I would dearly love to see a bigger and better, a more ambitious space program. A moonbase would be an amazing, fantastic achievement! However, I have my doubts about the President's motivations. He has not been exactly a big supporter of science (read about his stance on creationism, for example). Also, with the amount being spent in Iraq, the timing seems odd to announce such an expensive endeavor. Certainly, the money allocated for now is not much; "seed money" as NASA Chief Sean O'Keefe called it. That is appropriate, and a good sign. But going to the Moon will cost many tens or hundreds of billions of dollars. Where will it come from?
I would guess that in 1961 or so, people asked the same thing when Kennedy announced the drive to the Moon. His motivations were political as well; beating the Soviets was a big impetus.
So I am cautious about this. Going to the Moon is a good idea, for lots of reasons. I won't belabor them here; see The Artemis Project for some of those reasons. But I do want us to go back for the right reasons this time.
I will no doubt be writing more about this as the news matures. Stay Tuned.
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