Give This Man an Award

I recently came across this from one of Phil Plait’s posts on Bad Astronomy, and let me tell you it’s fantastic!

Except for getting a one-on-one experience with our galaxy stowed away in some remote part of Arizona at night, this is the best view of the night sky you will ever have. This man, Nick Risinger, has made a 5,000 megapixel image of the ENTIRE night sky. Not just what you can see in the northern hemisphere, but what you can see in the southern, as well.

This mosaic is a result of more than 37,000 exposures. Can you imagine going on a vacation and taking over 37,000 photos? I certainly can’t. Risinger managed to travel around the world, twice, in order to get all of the shots that he needed. Naturally, different stars are up at different times of the year, so he had to wait for the right time to collect photos of the tens of millions of stars captured forever in this amazing work.

Not only does this mosaic capture the complete view of the Earth’s peephole into the center of our galaxy, but you can zoom in to get a closer look of whatever you like! I personally enjoyed zooming in on the area located to the right below the central plain where I saw a great collection of nebulae; the Horsehead, Orion, and Flame Nebula together in an area small enough to fit on my computer screen. It’s absolutely amazing.

Hands down, this man deserves an award. I don’t care if it’s for art or for science. Frankly, he deserves both because he has given humanity a treasure that is both beautiful and insightful.

Nick Risinger's Mosaic of the Night Sky

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The Big Leagues

I came across a photo gallery in Science news offering a magnificent collection of galaxy collisions. When two galaxies collide with each other a lot can happen such as increased star formation rates and an intense volume of heat release.

When Galaxies Collide

Anyone who enjoys amusing themselves with ludicrous doomsday scenarios knows about the inevitably, colossal collision that will happen within the next 3 to 5 billion years. This collision is so well known and guaranteed in scientific predictions that it has even earned its own Wikipedia page.

Colliding galaxies are rather common in the universe. As you’re reading this, our Milky Way Galaxy is feasting on a scrumptious plate of miniature galaxies. Of course the larger the two galaxies involved in the collision, the better. And, how lucky we are to get a chance to see, in detail, some amazing galactic collisions and have the knowledge to analyze and understand what exactly is going on.

Update

A new photo gallery in New Scientst provides seven gorgeous photos informing its readers of the most recent updates in astronomical research. It starts off with the largest Moon the Earth has witnessed since 1933. On Saturday of mid-March of this year, the Moon’s perigee (when it is closest to the Earth) was the closest it has been for nearly eighty years. I remember seeing its gorgeous presence looming in the sky a couple of weeks ago. Now, we must sit and watch our massive satellite shrink as it moves along its elliptical orbit towards apogee (when the Moon is furthest from the Earth). The variation in our Moon’s angular size is due to its elliptical orbit. All satellites follow elliptical orbits, which can be expressed through Kepler’s Second Law. Before Johannes Kepler, astronomers/astrologers believed that any satellite revolved on circular paths. Kepler gets the credit for discovering satellite’s elliptical paths, but this counterintuitive behavior was not explained until Isaac Newton and his apple came into the physics scene.

Photo Gallery for the up and coming inflatable space station

How many generations until we send our children to space?


The New York Times has recently featured a photo gallery of the Bigelow Aerospace’s privately owned space station. What makes this space station so interesting is that it is inflatable. This structural design holds many practical applications, the most prominent being its compact storage capabilities. The station can be fit into a far smaller area during launching, and then once in space it can be inflated to its full capacity. For photos and descriptions of Bigelow’s Inflatable Space Station click here.

Privately owned space stations and relatively low cost rides into space is a fast approaching reality. For more information on the future of commercial aerospace flight visit this New York Times article.

Dooms Day Just a Click Away!

Click on this link and you’ll be launched to Popular Science’s Archive gallery of doomsday predictions.

Since the idea first sprouted, who knows how long ago, people have been terrified for the day that the world will end. More specifically, they fear the end of the human race. Honestly, what majority of people truly care if cock roaches are the only living things one billion years from now? I’m sure they will keep robots of the future, like Disney’s Wall-E, company, but this thought probably does not comfort many people in today’s generation. Or even future generations for that matter.

So, why are doomsday ideas so popular? In the early twentieth century doomsday scenarios received an extra boost of the Oh-no-it’s-for-real factor by using science to support its claims. Science’s ability to render the impossible, plausible gave an extra zing that made the imminent day of doom seem more realistic. Early twentieth century ignorance of the technology behind phones, radios, and televisions was particularly disturbing to the public.

However, I must say that my favorite doomsday freak out is not included in this gallery. Of course, I’m talking about the 1938 Orson Welles broadcast of H.G. Wells War of the Worlds adapted for radio. Argumentativley, the best end-of-the-world story simply due to the mass hysteria that erupted. People were literally searching forests for the alien landing site, ready with their shot guns if the death-ray should appear.

Well, anyways this humorous collection of ten different end-of-the-world scenarios from Earth’s shrinking crust to the death of the Sun, certainly make me feel safer. When I am reassured that humans have survived every new doomsday scenario of the decade since the 1930’s, it makes me smile to think of the awesome birthday party I will be hosting on December 21, 2012.

Possible Invitation Card Cover

When you’re in D.C. do as the Swedish do

As an aspiring undergraduate aiming for a career in science writing, I was easily persuaded to attend the American Association for Advanced Science annual meeting. The AAAS meeting is currently being held in Washington D.C. at the Convention Center in downtown. There are additional special events taking place at a couple of hotels one or two blocks away; however, these “special events” are geared towards members of the National Association of Science Writers and not the presenting scientists for the AAAS meeting. NASW members come from across the country to this meeting to mingle, connect with other professionals in the field, and attend sessions on various science topics such as the religious issues involved if life were to be found on another planet.

As a member of NASW I was given not only a name tag with my name on it, but a name tag with the notorious/prestigious (depending on who you’re talking to and what about) title of “Press”. This little name tag has not only given me the opportunity to meet some renowned professionals within the science writing field, but it has also served as my meal ticket for the past two days. Not to mention, this is some of the best food I’ve ever eaten. Anything from salty soft pretzels to lumpy crab cakes and mushroom bisque.

I recently returned from a magnificent party held at the House of Sweden in Georgetown. The first thing I noticed as I walked up the lit pathway were the entrance doors that had a cascading waterfall trapped within them. I’m sure it’s not difficult to place some mini hoses across the top of a door and continuously run water through it, but it is a very unique idea and an even more unique image. This party embodied what every party should: fantastic food, dance floor, and open bar. Not to mention the inside of the building was stunning. The walls were glass overlooking the Potomac River while the downstairs area had a two inch deep, ten foot long by two foot wide (approximately) water pool. I say pool because I can’t think of any other way to describe it. But, if you’re wondering if people got tipsy and jumped in, although I left early, I can almost assure that is impossible simply due to the lack of depth this lovely decoration held.

So, after eating a plate full of food, drinking a couple drinks, then eating a plate full of desserts I was perfectly content. I highly recommend the House of Sweden, which also houses the Embassy of Sweden and the Embassy of Iceland, as a place for a party. If you ever get the chance, it’s a once in a lifetime experience. I just kind of wish I hadn’t drank that test tube with the green sugar coated rim.

Snazzy