NASA has some nice historical comet stuff up on its Deep Impact Mission page ("Pope Calixtus III excommunicated Halley's Comet as an instrument of the devil"), and I really like this: a 2300-year-old piece of Chinese silk upon which astronomers documented the difference between cometary forms ("long-tailed pheasant stars," "broom stars," etc) and linked them to specific types of disaster. It's part of the Mawangdui Silk Texts, which were sealed in a tomb from 168 B.C. and not discovered until the '70s: don't you wish there was some way to do that with everything we're fussing about now?
Via the Atlantic, a wonderfully reliable fountain of space news, here is the audio evidence that convinced scientists that Voyager 1, the spacecraft launched 36 years ago, has finally sailed past Uranus and out of the solar system altogether.
The atmosphere in the "interstellar medium" is different than the atmosphere marked by our sun's solar winds, and so, when the audio of a March 2012 explosion on the sun reached the Voyager in April (traveling 12 billion miles to do so), NASA noticed that the pitch was different; they concluded that "spacecraft was bathed in plasma more than 40 times denser than what [...]
Today is Diwali, the midpoint of the five-day Hindu festival of lights, and if you're not planning to celebrate, please at least look at this stunningly beautiful photograph of India from outer space. Ah! [Thanks, David!]
A study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science has found that we have something like 8.8 billion more earth-like planets in our galaxy, or enough for every person on this planet to have her own planet to ruin, and then some:
Space is vast, but it may not be so lonely after all: A study finds the Milky Way is teeming with billions of planets that are about the size of Earth, orbit stars just like our sun, and exist in the Goldilocks zone — not too hot and not too cold for life.
Astronomers using NASA data have calculated for the first time that in [...]
30 years ago today, 32-year-old Sally Ride became the first American woman to go to space as well as the youngest astronaut in our nation's history. During her first press conference, journalists asked some really good questions:
…like these: Will the flight affect your reproductive organs? The answer, delivered with some asperity: "There's no evidence of that." Do you weep when things go wrong on the job? Retort: "How come nobody ever asks Rick those questions?" Will you become a mother? First an attempt at evasion, then a firm smile: "You notice I'm not answering."
After NASA, Ride worked as a physics professor at UC San Diego [...]
A futile attempt to become smart by reading The Economist resulted in these 10 extremely dumb thoughts:
1. Why is that article about German Prime Minister Angela Merkel illustrated with a photo of her hands (presumably her hands?) in the same shape teenagers make to indicate a vagina, which is also, in the world of yoga, referred to as "Yoni Mudra?"
2. Should I write that professor at the University of Versailles who wrote a letter to the editor about tourist noise in Paris and say, "Hey, I also hate noise?" Will that make him feel supported or stalked?
3. Is there really, as an article in this issue claims, [...]
"Did you know you can see the International Space Station from your house? As the third brightest object in the sky, after the sun and moon, the space station is easy to see if you know where and when to look for it." —Uhh, no!? Well, did you know you can sign up for NASA to email you if it's a good day for a sighting in your town? Did you know your flying car and vacation home on Mars are never coming? Did you know we're alone in the universe?
HP: OMG tell me about yourself!
AA: Welllllll, I've been living in Mono Lake forever basically.
HP: Wait like literally forever?
AA: Hahaha, ummm.
AA: Hahahaha, LOLOLOL.