The Great Conjunction

We are hoping we’ll be able to see The Great Conjunction tonight. If we do, I won’t have my Nikon with me. It’s in the closet that Santa used to stash the gifts he got for me, so it’s off limits (hehehe). It isn’t going to matter though, I don’t think. The two planets are hanging out in the South Western sky and we have cloud cover in that direction. I went out about half an hour ago to see if there was anything viewable. Even without the clouds, they would have been hidden behind the trees. We’ll try again after work (about half an hour from now) and if need be we might drive to another location. A park or a field or something. Someplace reasonably close that doesn’t have all the trees or the sick light pollution that we have in our neighborhood.

In closing, here is Astronomy Domine by The Pink Floyd. Syd Barrett knew this thing was coming all the way back in 1967…

Lime and limpid green, a second scene
Now fights between the blue you once knew
Floating down, the sound resounds
Around the icy waters underground
Jupiter and Saturn, Oberon, Miranda and Titania
Neptune, Titan, stars can frighten

Venus

A European/Japanese probe, on it’s way to Mercury, took a few quick shots of Venus as it flew by this week. Is there life in those clouds? Maybe. Will this probe give us an answer? Nope. Are the pictures awesome? Very much so.

Life on Venus? Hell Yes!

Is there life on Venus? You wouldn’t think so…

UNTIL NOW!!!

Well… it’s probably not life. I haven’t read the article yet, but I’ve read the author’s tweet storm where he talks it through. It’s probably just something that on Earth is biological, but elsewhere is just some goofy chemistry that we haven’t seen in these parts yet.

Still… even though this isn’t even close to evidence that there is life on another planet, I am going to choose to error on the side of massive overreaction and say, WOOOHOOO! Life on Venus, babie!

We Know What Ceres Looks Like

Finally, we can say that we know what the Dwarf Planet Ceres looks like! No longer are we only able to view blurry images from Hubble. Now we can see a clear enough image to actually make out surface features!

Click on the image to read the article from which I stole the pic (sorry about that). This is cool. The Dawn probe will be orbiting Ceres in March, and doing actual research in April How fricken cool is that!?

Distant Vacation Home?

Did you read this? They found what is probably a rocky planet inside a star’s habitable zone!

What do they know about it? It orbits a red dwarf, so I would guess the year would be much shorter than Earth’s. They know it’s size is comparable to Earth. They don’t know jack else except that it’s something like 500 light years away, so don’t be planning your vacation quite yet. Even the Millennium Falcon would need hundreds of years to get there (as she only makes 0.5 past light speed).

What they do know, is that if the atmosphere (assuming [hoping] there is an atmosphere) and the pressure play nicely water could exist as a liquid on the surface. They’ve found planets in the habitable zone before, but none of them had a size similar to Earth. Some of the others might be rocky, but they were all big enough that there was a good chance they’d be gas.

So what does this mean? Honestly? For your every day life it means squat. For the potential of finding a second planet to live on if we somehow manage to create a propulsion system that wouldn’t require 1000 years of travel? It’s pretty freakin’ huge news.

Now they need to try and figure out what it’s made of, what it has for an atmosphere, and if maybe it might have some water on the surface, and if there might be some algae living in the water.

Science RULES!