Ceres and Photoshop

NASA has been zeroing in on certain features of dwarf planet Ceres and looked at them in more detail.  Here are the most surprising as well as what we know so far. There are a few other great videos in this playlist, but the first one gives a great summary of what has been seen so far.  The most surprising and interesting feature of Ceres in my opinion has been the Occator crater.  With the enigmatic bright spots that have been observed since the Dawn spacecraft approached Ceres, we are seeing them in finer detail than ever before, and we...

Universe Radio on Repeat

Looking at the universe in radio waves is a fascinating sight.  For one, the radio sky is very weak; If you placed your cellphone on the Moon facing back at Earth, it would be brighter than all other radio sources in the entire sky by a factor of a million.  But as with every other part of the electromagnetic spectrum, it has scientific value in studying the sky.  Over the past decade, astronomers have been identifying several Fast Radio Bursts (FRB), short bursts of radio waves from different places in the universe that last for a few short seconds.  These are...

Motivation Monday: Situation Variation

Why is it hard to keep a long term goal? Logically, if you complete 1/365th of a task every single day of a year, you will complete your goal.  When I started my year of blogging, I thought it would be easy to commit 30 minutes every day, in the morning, to writing a post, and then after a year I would have 365 posts.  How it actually happened was a few weeks of consistency, a few days of nothing, a few days of double, triple, or even quadruple posting to catch up or get ahead, and no regularity or discernible...

First Light For Black Hole Observatory

A newly installed instrument on the European Southern Observatory’s (ESO) Very Large Telescope (VLT) has just taken it’s first images, what we call ‘first light’ in the astronomy world.  The instrument, called GRAVITY, uses four different 8m telescopes to perform what we call ‘Baseline Interferometry.’  It is expected that tis is the instrument that will allow humanity to take the first ever direct picture of a black hole. Interferometry is a technique that uses multiple small telescopes all collecting light at a specific wavelength.  These telescopes form a line that we call the baseline.  The combination of these telescopes and...

Motivation Monday: Fail Better

We’re more than a week into the new year, and I’m sure some of you have already given up on your new year’s resolutions and goals.  It happens, so don’t beat yourself up, especially since I consider failure part of the process.  In fact, failure is a necessary step to reaching success. So often we see failure as the end, the stopping point in our goal, so we have to bring our effort to a halt and start again.  But if there is one important lesson I’ve learned in the last few years, it’s that failure can’t stop anyone from succeeding. ...

Motivation Monday: Keeping Your 2016 Resolution

With the coming of the new year, it’s time to work on all those resolutions that we just made a few days ago. Some of them may have been made after a few drinks and are just unrealistic, others were made with a vision of a great future and are optimistic. Either way, they are hard to keep. It’s easy to see the end point of a difficult task, to imagine how we will feel if we succeed, and when we do this, it’s easy to forget how difficult the road will be. We often overestimate our ability to make...

What is in Occator Crater?

The short answer is….we don’t know.  It could still be a lot of different things, but take a look for yourself and see if you can figure it out. Here are the possibilities: Ceres is soon to make a descent to its lowest orbit for final mapping, and will be orbiting only 375 Km above the surface.  This will give the highest resolution data yet, and hopefully shed some light on the mystery of Occator crater. What do you think?

More Pluto Images to Blow Your Mind

I’m over-stimulated.  I literally can’t take it anymore.  These images from Pluto are mind-blowing, but with so many incredible photos released over the past week, I have reached my limit.  I can no longer contain my excitement(not that I have in the past). Here are the newest images showing a Pluto we have never seen before. This second image is my favorite. It shows so much depth and detail, and reveals Pluto to be a world, far more than just a boring rock occupying the outer reaches of our solar system. Visible in the image is the layered atmosphere, mountain...

The Close-Up View of Ceres’ Mystery Bright Spot

The mysteries of the Occator crater on Ceres have continued to puzzle astronomers and the public, even as we have seen increasing resolution in recent photos.  The latest photos show a resolution of 140 meters per pixel and reveal striking details, though the jury is still out on what exactly the bright material is and where it came from. It seems incredibly likely that the bright spots are ices of some sort, maybe even water ice, since Ceres is a water-rich body, and may have more water than Earth!  One hypothesis is that Ceres has a subsurface layer of water,...

Ceres Full Maps

Since the Dawn spacecraft arrived at Ceres in March of this year, it has slowly been taking high resolution maps of the surface from several different altitudes. After each successive mapping run it moves into a closer orbit of the icy world for a higher resolution glimpse. After two successful mapping runs, we finally have a full high resolution topographic map of Ceres, revealing its cratered surface in unprecedented detail. With a quick look at the map, a couple of things become apparent immediately.  For one, the surface craters are quite deep, and consistent with an icy crust.  The size...