Another Big Asteroid will Fly Past Earth: Why does this keep Happening?

It seems that in recent years, asteroids have been flying past Earth with increasing frequency.  Does it mean that more asteroids are coming around? Is it the beginning of the end? Will one of them hit us soon and doom us all? Probably not, but there’s always a chance. It’s almost certain that the reason we’ve been able to find so many new asteroids, and especially near-Earth asteroids, is because of the technology increase in Astronomy the past few years.  New telescopes and tracking methods exist with the sole purpose of finding near-Earth asteroids, somewhat of an early warning system...

ISS Emergency: Potential Ammonia Leak has led to Partial Evacuation

This morning at 4am EST on the International Space Station, an Ammonia leak alarm went off, leading the crew to perform an emergency evacuation from the American capsule of the ISS.  All of the astronauts are currently safe and secure in the Russian capsule of the ISS. The hatch between the two capsules has been sealed, and any non-essential equipment has been powered down. Mission Control is in the process of assessing whether the alarm was the result of an actual leak or a malfunction, though recent reports from NASA TV suggest that the alarm was due to computer glitch...

Two Supermassive Black Holes are Merging

A vast number of Galaxies in the Universe have a central black hole that is incredibly massive.  The Black Hole at the centre of the Milky Way, dubbed Sag A*, is estimated to have a mass as high as three Million Suns.  We generally can’t see black holes, but when they start to pull in matter from surrounding gas and dust clouds, the material forms a disk around the star.  This accretion disk can heat up to incredible temperatures and emit X-rays and other high energy light, allowing us to see where the black holes are.  Sometimes the light from...

Observers Delights for the Week: Venus, Mercury, Comet Lovejoy

For Christmas I was given a green 200 mW laser! A couple of AAA batteries later and the laser can point out any star or object in the night sky, with the beam clearly visible the entire way up to infinity.  Its the epitome of an Astronomer’s toolkit, at least in my eyes, and it got me thinking about all the amazing things you can see in the sky right now.  It also makes me feel like I’m brandishing a light saber, and sadly it’s about as close as I’ll ever get. First off, Venus is back in the evening...

SpaceX Launch: Successful! SpaceX Landing: Needs Work!

Saturday Morning, 4:47am, Launch: Confirmed.  SpaceX launched another successful resupply mission to the International Space Station this morning.  The successful launch comes in the wake of the Orbital Sciences Antares rocket explosion back in late October, and is the fourth mission as part of a 12+ Mission contract with NASA worth 1.6 Billion dollars.  The Dragon capsule is expected to rendezvous with the ISS early Monday morning, where Astronauts will use the Canada arm to grab it and connect. The capsule will remain connected to the ISS for more than four weeks as ISS astronauts unpack supplies and repack completed experiments...

The Pillars of Creation: Hubble’s 25th Anniversary

The Hubble Space Telescope’s just had its 25th Anniversary of bringing us the greatest Astronomical images the world has ever seen.  To celebrate, the Hubble team revisited one of Hubble’s most iconic images by pointing the cameras at the Eagle nebula once more.  The image, dubbed the ‘Pillars of Creation’ show columns of star forming gas and dust, where the proverbial ‘magic’ happens. But let’s begin with the old image, taken in 1995, so we can compare the differences between then and now. And now the newest image. Quite a striking difference.  Like a fine wine, Hubble has only gotten...

Exoplanets are Hot! Travel plans and 1 Million new Destinations!

NASA is sure to start selling trips to these fabulous space destinations! The only problem is that we have no way of getting there, or more importantly, back home.  Still the posters give a great homage to the ‘see America’ posters of the 1920s, and they sure make me want to visit. Kepler 186f is a habitable zone planet around a red dwarf star, meaning it could support liquid water.  If any plant life forms on this planet, it would photosynthesize differently, potentially giving it a red colour palette. HD 403007g is a planet with 8 times the mass of Earth....

2 Million Kph Wind from the Milky Way Core!

I thought Hurricanes had powerful winds.   The strongest wind ever recorded was a gust up to 400 Kph near a tropical cyclone in Australia.  But Earthbound wind has nothing on Galactic wind. Around the time when our ancestors were just learning to walk upright, the core of the Milky Way Galaxy unleashed a blast of gasses and material at 2 Million Kph. Millions of years later, we see the aftermath of this eruption as two massive bubbles of material blown out above and below the galactic centre, at least 30,000 Light Years tall! The lobes were discovered by the...

Moon Rhea Transits Saturn Beautifully

A lot of the data that comes from Space can be called art.  Though if you’ve ever seen raw Astronomical data, it’s anything but.  It takes a talented artist to bring out the detail in the photo and make it truly beautiful!  In the case of large missions like the Cassini Spacecraft, there are a plethora of scientists and artists alike making the most of the data. Especially with Cassini, I always get the feeling it’s a professional photographer taking the photos.  The lighting, composition, and other photographic buzzwords are all exceptional, as if it was staged by someone saying...

Simulating the Universe and Everything in it

You might think simulating the entire Universe is difficult, and it is, but not for the reasons you would think.  The Physics is actually somewhat straightforward.  We know the math behind star formation, Gravity, and fluid dynamics, and throwing in a few other effects is not too bad.   The hard part is finding a computer powerful enough to do the calculations in a reasonable amount of time. Think about it.  Imagine having a universe of 100 Billion ‘particles’ used for a simulation.  Each particle has a starting point, and that it pretty easy to do.  But then for every...