"I think you feel smaller. It’s such an incredible expanse that you can see. It’s an overwhelming experience when you have time to look out, especially on your first flight. Space is more than just dark, it’s a void. You really get the sense of Earth hanging in the void. It’s amazing." —BoingBoing asks an astronaut if looking at Earth makes him feel smaller or larger, among other things, while future-President Gingrich makes an unexpected promise to colonize the moon. ("By the end of my second term, we will have the first permanent base on the moon and it will be American.") About that second piece of [...]
Hey! There's a super-short meteor shower happening for an hour tonight. Can you find a dark place to park your car at 1 A.M. Eastern, lie on the hood with your honey, and be very quiet because, shhh, don't scare the meteors? It'll be easier to catch close to 100 shooting stars per hour (plenty!) the farther east you live in North America, but give it a shot out west too. What's the worst that could happen, you end up with a few hickeys? Disgusting.
"What if we forget about the current theories about the non-existence of life on Venus, let's boldly suggest that the objects' morphological features would allow us to say that they are living." —A Russian scientist boldly suggests that there are or at least were alien scorpions living on Venus 30 years ago, although just as likely that's a sideways Nosferatu.
"NASA's Kepler mission has confirmed its first planet in the "habitable zone," the region where liquid water could exist on a planet’s surface… The newly confirmed planet, Kepler-22b, is the smallest yet found to orbit in the middle of the habitable zone of a star similar to our sun. The planet is about 2.4 times the radius of Earth. Scientists don't yet know if Kepler-22b has a predominantly rocky, gaseous or liquid composition, but its discovery is a step closer to finding Earth-like planets. " —NASA found a new planet sorta like ours. What are you naming your plot? (We all get new plots of land in this made [...]
"What is great about the [black hole] in the center of the Milky Way is that [it is] big enough and close enough." —Astronomer has terrifying personal definition of the word "great."
"There's no way the public should have to remember these names," said Francois Fressin of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, lead author of the study announcing the discovery of Kepler-20e and Kepler-20f. "I'm working like 15 hours a day on Kepler, and I'm not sure I could tell you which one is each of the Kepler planets."
Exoplanet researchers could work together to develop a coherent naming system, one with consistent rules or guidelines, Fressin suggested. As an example of such a system, he pointed to the planets of our own solar system, all of which except Earth are named for Greek or Roman gods.
"If we start doing [...]