The Sun has been going Insane lately!

The sun is definitely hitting its usual ‘rebellious’ phase on its 11 year sunspot cycle, where it flares up at literally everything. The biggest sunspot observed in 24 years has been releasing huge amounts of energy, in the form of X-class solar flares. In the past week this sunspot, designated AR 12192, has released 3 X-class flares, including a huge X-3.1 on Friday.  NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) has been watching the light show. Okay so the Sun is blowing up, what does all this mean? Let’s start with Sunspots.  A sunspot is a place on the sun where there...

The Highest Skydive Record is Broken Again!

I’m sure a lot of us remember the stratospheric skydive of Felix Baumgartner two years ago (I know, I can’t believe it’s been two years either).  It gathered a lot of media attention and the live webcast put on by Red Bull made it an amazing event.  He jumped from a height of 39km, accelerating to a speed of 1,357 km/hr, breaking the sound barrier and a world record in the process. Well they say nothing lasts forever, and this record only lasted about two years, because on Friday, Alan Eustace jumped from 7000 ft higher, an altitude of 41.4 km, to...

Post Eclipse breakdown – Quickest DIY Pinhole Camera ever

Yesterday’s post had me discuss the partial Solar Eclipse that occurred around sunset for most of North America.  The one thing I neglected to mention was regarding safe viewing of it. In reality if you saw the sun with your bare eyes during a partial eclipse, it looks like the sun any other time of day – its bright. Don’t damage your eyes. I found a bit of time in the afternoon to build a pinhole camera, which basically consists of a tube or box with a pinhole in one end and a film or ‘viewing area’ at the other...

Partial Solar Eclipse Today!

Tonight, right around sunset, there will be a partial eclipse of the sun, visible from most of North America.  As the sun sets, skywatchers will get to see the moon gradually cover about half of the sun, before it disappears below the horizon. A map of the viewing area shows that the best spot to see it will be all the way up in the Canadian arctic. If you don’t live in the Arctic circle, you can certainly see the eclipse in the South-West near the horizon as it sets.  The moon will start to cover the sun around 5:45 EDT,...

Top 5 comet breakups in History

When comets breakup it can be an emotional time for Astronomers, amateur and professional alike.  Though not like a breakup with a significant other, we get our hopes up that the next comet will be a comet of the century.  We do this because comets are very unpredictable, and any given close approach to Earth could be spectacular….or terrible. Comet ISON is about to pass behind the sun on November 28th, and could potentially break into pieces from the sun’s incredible tidal forces.  In honour of a new potential breakup, here are the top 5 comet breakups in history: #5...

An Explosive new Podcast

A Commander Chris Hadfield returns home tonight, the York Universe crew will be focusing on his voyage with a special show, featuring talk of the incredible and inspiring exploits of the first Canadian commander of the International Space Station.  Featured in this episode will be an interview with one of the newest Canadian Astronauts, Jeremy Hansen.  I was lucky enough to be a part of this interview, and am excited that it will finally reach air time tonight! Also debuting tonight after the York Universe episode, will be my second ‘What’s The Latest?’ podcast, entitled ‘Supernova part 1.’  Find it in...

Fairwell fair Herschel

The Hershel Observatory, an ESA telescope for which NASA helped build instruments and process data, has stopped making observations as it has finally run out of its liquid Helium coolant, as expected.  This is a good time to remember the multitude of data that a space based telescope can churn out, and the incredible scientific advancement that comes from such missions. On the heels of the NASA proposed budget, it reminds us how important scientific funding and advancement are, especially for countries that have a good standard of living.  The high end technology that comes from developing missions like this...

Productivity, YorkUniverse 150, and Leftover comet water on Jupiter

Rather than post a bunch of simple tiny posts, I decided to go for the gusto and post something a bit more massive.  I realized recently that I blog barely once a week, which would be fine for an astronomy-only blog, but I also want to blog about interesting things in my life, which are slightly more common than ‘weekly.’ So to productivity, which for me has been lacking as of late.  I spend plenty of time doing valuable things, but not many of those things are valuable to me in the long term.  I get to work out a...

Return of the Dragon

This morning was the launch of the second SpaceX dragon capsule mission, officially designated mission CRS-2.  It launched at 10:10am today, Friday, March 1st from Cape Canaveral space launch complex 40. A bit of background on Dragon:  The two-stage rocket uses 9 engines to power the first stage out of the atmosphere, before the single rocket stage 2 takes the capsule the rest of the way.  The 14.4 foot tall dragon capsule is capable of carrying more than 7000 lbs of cargo split between pressurized and unpressurized sections. On March 2nd, Astronauts will use the CanadaArm 2 to grab onto the capsule...