Geostationary Revolution

For 4.5 billion years, life evolved on planet Earth.  Not once were the inhabitants of this tiny blue mote of dust able to gaze upon their home as one entity.  To them it had always been an endless land without borders and an endless supply of food and resources.  Most of them were blissfully unaware that they could ever venture further, and so they accepted the boundaries of their existence unquestionably.  Once humans started making tools, we were taken down a path of discovery that would let us escape the bounds of our shrinking world. Finally, just over 70 years...

The Unpopular Meteor Shower

Everyone in Canada looks forward to the Perseid meteor shower each August.  The weather is warm, the skies are clear, and they have a high zenithal hourly rate (ZHR).  But once they are done, it’s not long before the weather starts to cool down, Canada moves into Autumn and eventually the deep freeze of winter sends our fine nation into hibernation.  But if you do feel like coming out of your fort this weekend, in an unseasonably warm December, you will be treated to what has often been the best meteor shower of the year: The Geminids. Under ideal conditions,...

Which Way is Earth Moving in Space?

Our planet orbits the Sun.  365.25 days to go full circle (ellipse actually) and bring the seasons to Earth.  But the Sun is not really stationary, it’s actually moving through space.  It’s orbiting the center of the Milky Way, along with the rest of the galaxy.  It actually has a periodic motion as it moves around the Galaxy, slowly moving up above the galactic plane then being pulled back down below by the disk stars. Currently, the Sun is moving toward the constellation Hercules at a speed of around 72,000 Km/h.  It is also moving up to the top of the...

1000 Things You Didn’t Know About The Universe #1: The Universe is Huge

Welcome to a new series of posts that will characterize 1000 amazing facts about the Universe.  There is so much out there that we have yet to learn, and every day, astronomers across the globe are using their research to reveal the deepest secrets of the cosmos.  This series will look at the strangest, coolest, most exciting facts that we have discovered in hundreds of years of modern science. Fact #1: The Universe is Far Larger than you Can Possibly Imagine Let’s start with the fastest speed ever travelled by a human being, about 11 Km/s (40,000 Km/h).  This is incredibly fast...

Star Blasting Hydrogen off a Planet

If there’s one true fact about every single gas giant planet ever observed, around the Sun or other stars in the Galaxy, it’s that they all are mainly composed of Hydrogen.  Even though the giants of our solar system such as Neptune and Jupiter seem very different, it is Hydrogen that primarily composes them.  The difference is in the details though.  The blue colour of Neptune is due to the presence of Methane, and even then it only makes up 1.7% of Neptune’s mass. But Hydrogen is light.  Wouldn’t giant planets like hot Jupiters lose their Hydrogen from being blasted...

Lonely Galaxy in an Empty Void

Stars are far apart, especially compared to the everyday distances in human experience.  The fastest a human being has ever travelled is just shy of 40 Km/s, and even at that incredible speed it would take 30,000 years to reach the closest star.  That is an incredible distance no matter how you slice it.  Taking it a step further, most stars in the sky are 20-200 times further away, and that’s just the population of stars we can see.  So if we go beyond and talk about galaxies and the distances between them, we are literally talking astronomical quantities.  Yet even with...