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Posts Tagged ‘moon’

Moon Motion Movie Madness!

June 15, 2011 Leave a comment

Alliteration is fun.

Anywhooo…a lot of people know that only one side of the moon faces the Earth. That is because the moon rotates on its axis at roughly the same rate that it orbits the Earth.

The side of the moon which faces away from the Earth is commonly referred to as the Dark Side of the Moon (also one of the best album’s of all time).

In actuality, through the course of a year we see about 59% of the Moon’s surface. That is because the moon tilts and wobbles a bit, so sometimes we get a little more moon for our buck.

This video by the Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio shows one whole year of moon motion in a 2.5 minute time lapse video.

Pretty cool stuff!

Also, don’t forget to check out today’s Google Doodle, which is a nifty little animation showing today’s total lunar eclipse.

 

The Great Moonbuggy Race

April 4, 2011 Leave a comment

NASA's 2011 Great Moonbuggy Race (April 1-2, 2011) - Photo: NASA's Marshall Spaceflight Center

This past weekend in Huntsville, Alabama, the 18th Annual Great Moonbuggy race was held.

The fact that this has been going on for 18 years and I’ve only just learned about it, makes me sad.

The competition was inspired by the challenges which faced the designers of NASA’s first moonbuggy, which was shipped to the moon on Apollo 15.

Each Moonbuggy will be human powered and carry two students, one female and one male, over a half-mile simulated lunar terrain course including “craters”, rocks, “lava” ridges, inclines and “lunar” soil…

As a part of the competition, and prior to course testing, the un-assembled Moonbuggy entries must be carried to the course starting line, with the unassembled components contained in a volume of 4’x 4’x 4′ (dimension requirements similar to those for the original Lunar Roving Vehicle).

The College division was won for the second year in a row by racers from the University of Puerto Rico. Teodoro Aguilar Mora Vocational High School Team II of Yabucoa, Puerto Rico, also won in the High School division.

More than 70 teams from 20 countries all over the world took part in the race this year; the largest turn out ever.

Pseudoscience and the Japan Earthquake

March 11, 2011 3 comments

Japan has suffered from a major natural disaster, and my thoughts are with all those who have lost family members and friends because of this terrible event.

Which is why I’m sickened to see that one of Canada’s national newspapers, The Globe and Mail, has an article today entitled “Japan Tsunami: Was ‘Supermoon’ to Blame?”

Here’s the deal. The moon orbits the Earth in an ellipse. When it is furthest from the Earth (about 405,000 km) it is called apogee and when it is closest to the Earth (about 355,000 km) it is called perigee . This time is special, however, because the moon will actually be closer than it has been in 18 years…by 2 percent.

So some astrologers and other dead-heads are claiming that it was the moon that caused the Japan earthquake.

This is complete and utter bullplop. BULLPLOP!

Phil Plait of course wrote about this on his blog as well. So tidal forces caused by the moon are extremely weak, and even though the moon will be slightly closer to the Earth at perigee, they are not powerful enough to affect the Earth in any way other than the sea tides moving in and out. There is no correlation between major earthquakes and moon phases.

And guess what? The so-called ‘supermoon’ won’t happen until March 19. The moon was 400,000 km away when the earthquake happened, which is actually farther than it usually is on average (about 384,000 km).

I give The Globe and Mail a hard time quite often, but it is only because they deserve it. Peddling this nonsense in the wake of a major disaster like this is extremely disheartening and shows poor journalistic integrity.

 

Our Glorious Planet: As Seen From Mercury

August 20, 2010 3 comments

I never ceases to amaze me just how massive the universe is.

Take for example, this photo of the Earth and our moon, taken from roughly 114 million miles away.

Image Courtesy of NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington

Click on the image to wonderfully aggrandize (thank you Thesaurus.com).

The image was taken from a NASA mission called MESSENGER (MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry and Ranging). MESSENGER was launched in 2004 and has done 3 flybys of Mercury, on its way to be in a permanent orbit to study the planet in 2011.

It is truly humbling to see our planet as a tiny speck in the vastness of space.

As Carl Sagan would say: “One voice in the cosmic fugue.”

Easter Island Solar Eclipse

July 16, 2010 Leave a comment

Easter Island is famous for its giant moai statues.

Moai Statue on Easter Island

But on July 11th 2010, the island was in a small corridor on the Earth from which a total solar eclipse was visible. This absolutely fantastic picture was captured by Stephane Guisard

Click the photo for high-res version

With the moai statues in the foreground, this is one the coolest photos I’ve seen in a long, long time.

This photo was truly a once in a lifetime opportunity. As can be seen in the diagram below, the total eclipse is always only visible from a very small region.

Totality is visible in the dark blue region. From: NASA

I love solar eclipses. Too bad the next one where I live won’t be coming around for another 30 years or so.