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...

Post to promote blog + New Career Developments

Technocrati claim token VVY3PGW9WXGJ Okay to Actually make this a post sort-of worth viewing, I’ll quickly talk about a couple of new ideas and developments on my end. 1. In preparation for this blog and my usual astronomy related activities, I’ve been reading and paraphrasing one astronomy article every day, faithfully, since February. In the spirit of sharing and still getting practice, I’m going to blog about many of these articles with the goal of ‘making them accessible to the public.’ So I’ll take each article and talk about the concepts, to give me some practice in my ability to communicate...

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...

The first Podcast of ‘What’s the Latest?’

Over the past month I’ve been developing a new podcast entitled ‘What’s the Latest?’  Each show a particular topic in Astronomy is discussed from its discovery, through history, all the way up to the latest news and developments.  Also at the end some big questions are asked and future developments are discussed. The first podcast will air Monday, April 15th, on Astronomy FM after York Universe, but if you’d like to hear the show before then, it is live here on RyanMarciniak.com.  You can find it by clicking on ‘Podcasts.’ The podcast will air on a biweekly basis. If there...

Spring Workout or ‘My Pain’

Since I’m done Ultimate Frisbee for the next 6 weeks, during that magical time between winter indoor and the long summer outdoor league, I decided to do my annual spring conditioning.  It gives me a break from the usual workout, and lets me work all those muscles I ignore all year. Plus the weather starts to get nice and it gives me a great excuse to get outside. If you are looking for pictures of the exercises, let me know in the comments!! Here is the workout Schedule: Day 1: Stretching plan Hold each for 30 seconds minimum -Achilles tendon...

Earth Hour should be called ‘Amateur Astronomy Hour’

On Saturday, March 23rd, I arrived home before 8pm, and proceeded to power down all my electronics and turn off all my lights, before heading over to my friend’s place to watch the Leafs game.  Since it was the Earth Hour event, I wanted to contribute to the power down for the entire night. While walking along St.Clair Avenue W in Toronto, I noticed that the night sky was particularly clear, and as I walked a bit further it dawned on me that I couldn’t see all of the buildings in the downtown core, usually visible from St.Clair. It seems...

Age of the Universe off by 100 million years

Okay so 100 million years seems like a big mistake on the part of Astronomers, but in the astronomical community its a small adjustment. Today the most detailed map of the CMBR ever captured was released by the Planck telescope group at the ESA.  Based on 15.5 months of data, it shows the tiny temperature variations that were present when the universe had a temperature of 2700 degrees Celsius and an age of just 380,000 years (trust me that’s small on astronomical scales).  This is the point when the dense soup of protons and electrons formed hydrogen atoms, and the universe became transparent. As...

Closest Stellar System Chills Out

Alpha Centauri.  Not only is it an alien in Dr.who, a strategy game released in 1999, and an album released by the German electronic band tangerine dream, but it’s the brightest star in our closest stellar system.  Named for being the brightest star in the constellation Centaurus in the southern sky, its a little over 4 light years away from Earth, and is very similar to our sun in terms of size, age, mass, composition, and temperature. Here is a great infographic from Space.com. Scientists have recently discovered that Alpha Centauri shares yet another resemblance to our home star: It has a strange, cooler...

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...