Makemake Moon

Hubble just discovered the newest moon in the solar system, a tiny rock orbiting the dwarf planet Makemake, far beyond the orbit of Neptune. The new moon is about 250 Km across, compared to the 1,400 Km wide Makemake.  It orbits in approximately 12 days, and has an edge on orbit, making it difficult to spot. “Our preliminary estimates show that the moon’s orbit seems to be edge-on, and that means that often when you look at the system you are going to miss the moon because it gets lost in the bright glare of Makemake,” said Alex Parker of...

Five Planet Alignment Starts This Weekend!

When were the planets discovered? Uranus and Neptune were definitely not found until modern science began, since a telescope was required to see them.  The other five planets were not actually discovered per se.  Since they are visible to human eyes, they have been observed since prehistoric times, and we see examples of cultures across the ancient world who observed them.  The five visible planets are Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn.  Starting this weekend, you can see them all across one part of the sky, a visual alignment that hasn’t occurred since 2005. Planets are so-named because of the Greek...

Christmas on Mars

Christmas on Mars is like most other days on Mars: Dry, cold, and dusty.  However, as the Curiosity rover works its way across the ancient Martian surface, it sees changes in the terrain that are very interesting to investigate.  It’s at 1200 sols (Martian days) of roving around the planet as of Monday, and it continues to make its way to the primary target, Mount Sharp.  a Christmas photo shows how far the rover still has to go, but proves that it still has it’s sights set on the lonely mountain. The rover has travelled far since it’s landing, and...

We could see Star Wars happening right now!

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…. Not just the star wars intro, but a true statement if you’re an astronomer.  You see, once we start to look deep in space at the more distant objects in the universe, we are actually looking deep in time as well.  It all begins with a light year. A light year is not a measure of time, it’s a measure of distance.  When you turn on the light in a dark room, the light appears to fill the room instantly.  But it actually takes a small amount of time, as light has...

Motivation Monday: The Make or Break Cliff

There is a pattern I’ve noticed in the last few years.  As much as I have gotten better at setting goals and carrying them out, there are times when those goals come to a head, and then slowly fade away, whether I achieve them or not.  A good example of this is running.  After running a big race, which for me is a 5 Km or 10 Km run in a goal time, I find that the next few days are sluggish and slow and I have little focus and energy.  In the past this would sometimes derail my progress...