End of the Cassini mission

October 15, 1997. Cassini made a beautiful and perfect launch. I had just met my wife-to-be. I had no kids of my own.

January 14, 2005: Cassini drops Huygens probe on Titan. One of my all-time favoritest moments:

September 15, 2017: Cassini’s fuel has finally run out. It will take an intentional dive into the atmosphere of Saturn. Taking pics and measurements along the way, it will very doubtfully reach anything resembling a surface. Instead it will burn up and disintegrate along the way, just barely scraping the highest of Saturn’s mostly Hydrogen, incredibly windy atmosphere. I just celebrated my 16th anniversary, my son is fourteen years old.

What a remarkable mission it’s been.

Eclipse protective gear

August 21, 2017 is coming.  I can’t wait.  However, I still see a lot of people asking this:

The very simple answer is yes, it will damage your eyes looking into the eyes of the sun, even if that’s where the fun is.

The very simple solution is this:

These are very simply welder’s goggles.  Get them now, they are getting more expensive every single day getting closer to August 21.  August 22 I imagine they’ll be next to free.


That Green Moon meme

First of all, let me get this off my chest, I hate memes. 99% of them are bogus. 99% of them are only there as click bait. If you you think you’re on top of the game because you forward every meme you stumble across, step away from the Webdream, this ain’t the place for you. Now that that’s clear, let’s move on to the latest garbage infesting Facebook, the green moon meme.

Now, according to this one,

“several planets are going to align”……

Let’s stop there for a second, shall we?  “Several” planets align every single day.

“Which will cause the Earth’s Moon”…….

How, pray tell, will tiny little dots in the sky, most of which are well beyond the Earth’s orbit, affect our Moon?  Get a pencil and paper, draw them real quick, then show us how they possibly could interfere with light that is coming directly from the Sun and hitting the Moon.  And remember basic physics still apply, NONE of those “several” planets actually emit any light whatsoever.  So, it’s got to bounce of that unnamed planet, reflect billions of miles back the Moon, and be strong enough to affect the wavelengths coming from the Moon.  That’s all.

Do yourself, and more importantly, all of us, a big favor, and fact-check your memes before pushing them on us.

And if you can’t seem to stop yourself from doing that, at least hold off on the planets aligning bull.  That will never, ever, impact anything.  All nine could align and nothing would happen.

But if you really want to look smart, DON’T SHARE MEMES.

March 17, 2016 Jupiter impact

This is just cool:

Jupiter is basically the solar sweeper.  We keep pondering what would happen to Earth after a major impact, Jupiter gets them all the time.  Although you’ll see some discoloring in the Jovian atmosphere, it never seems worse for the impact.  If it weren’t for Jupiter, Earth would get hit a LOT more often.  Life wouldn’t exist as we know it.  So, when you think astronomy’s not important, think again.

BTW, that video was shot by an amateur, John McKeon.  Pretty dang cool.

Comet P/2016 BA14

An insignificant, but fairly close asteroid, turned into a 3,000 foot wide comet, grazing Earth at a record close distance. Actually close enough for ground based telescopes to get some pretty neat images of it:

Which always makes me wonder, if we can’t really detect a half-mile wide comet grazing the Earth with any real idea of how big it is, which directly determines how big a threat it is to us, then MAYBE we should invest in technology that would allow us to do a better job doing that than, oh, guessing at life on planets billions of miles away.

Edgar Mitchell

Edgar Mitchell was the first man to set foot on the Moon after the near disastrous Apollo 13 mission.  Their trip to the Moon re-assured a rather nervous country that space travel could be fairly safe.  Within a few years after their return to the Moon, the Apollo mission was cancelled without fanfare and no man has stepped on the Moon since.  The Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo astronauts have always been my biggest idols.  Nothing to me defined guts more than leaving your planet in a tiny, tiny, metal can.

Sea water on Enceladus?

Enceladus has always been my #1 favoritist place to look for life.  It’s not all that far away, and it seems to have a rather active geology.

Now, we get this:

Data from Cassini’s cosmic dust analyzer show the grains expelled from fissures, known as tiger stripes, are relatively small and predominantly low in salt far away from the moon. But closer to the moon’s surface, Cassini found that relatively large grains rich with sodium and potassium dominate the plumes. The salt-rich particles have an “ocean-like” composition and indicate that most, if not all, of the expelled ice and water vapor comes from the evaporation of liquid salt water.

That little moon just keeps getting cooler and cooler all the time.  Wonder when Virgin Galactic will start taking vacation trips there?

Really big CME

This is just too cool:

They didn’t see it coming, it was totally unexpected.  Leads me to believe we still don’t have a whole lot of a clue what’s going on up there.  It’s also on the “way” side which means it probably won’t affect Earth much.  By the time it spins back around it’ll be largely diminished most likely.  However, people are put on warning to look up in the sky tomorrow and the day after.  Most likely won’t be anything there where I live, but I’ll be looking just in case.

Cassini Iapetus Flyby

This is getting cooler than I really thought it would. Check out this incredibly ugly little Saturnian moon, Iapetus.

JPL has a lot more pics. It’s getting really close now. However, unlike Io or Europa, the closer it gets to Iapetus, the uglier it gets. This poor little moon has obviously been battered hard by meteor strikes. It’s little spine circling the moon is the source of a lot of speculation. However, my completely uneducated guess is those two really large strikes on the same side have something to do with it. If you’ve ever squeezed a pingpong ball really hard you’d know what I’m referring to. That’s just a guess tho. I’ll leave the hard science up to those who get paid to do it. I’m in the boat of those people who just LOVE seeing this for no other reason than curiosity.

Do sunspots foretell heavy rains?

Well, apparently someone read my blog:

Periodic peaks in the number of visible sunspots may help predict heavy rains and subsequent disease outbreaks in East Africa, according to a controversial new study. Although previously questioned, the sunspot-rainfall link suggests that many of East Africa’s wettest rainy seasons during the 20th century were closely associated with highpoints in the mysterious solar cycle that yields the sun’s large dark blotches.

The take-home message, researchers concluded in the latest issue of the Journal of Geophysical Research, is that careful scrutiny of past climatic conditions may generate better long-term predictions of destructive weather events in the future.

There’s a lot more reading to that article, and it’s interesting.  I’ve been “guessing” there is a connection here for a long time.  Other cycles just correlate to closely to the hurricane cycles for a long time.  Hurricanes involve lots of rain.  So, apparently J. Curt Stager noticed this as well.

I really like the part that I think explains all the doubt of why such a simple correlation could exist:

“The weak part,” Stager conceded, “is we don’t know exactly why it works.”

That has always been a weakness of man.  When he doesn’t understand, he either dismisses it or attacks it.  My request is this learned field of scientists just simply try to figure why this COULD happen.  If, in the process of trying to figure out why this COULD work, no explanation is found, then I’d be a lot more comfortable in believing that it doesn’t work.  But, to dismiss something as simple as violent solar activity affecting a very close planet while at the same time telling me there is stuff out there that they can neither find or fully explain just never has flown with me.  There’s a connection, it’s just a matter of figuring out how much of an impact that connection truly is.