March 31, 2020

January 2010: Life in the Astro-Blogosphere.

Ahhhh…. Another decade is upon us. It’s hard to believe that only ten brief years ago, we had yet to land a probe on Titan, only a handful of exo-planets were known, cell phones were bricks, and a “Gig” was still the pinnacle of computing power. As 2010 is upon us, we realize that we have yet to travel in air locks or have phasers at ready on our hips. Of course, science has made some of our futuristic dreams come true; we now routinely don more computing power on our ears than sent man to the moon, and everything is made of plastic…

but enough of this minor rant; here’s what’s coming up in astronomy and on the Astroguyz radar for January 2010;

The Month in Astronomy: The month opens with the Earth at perihelion, or its closest approach to the Sun on the 2nd-3rd. But just try to convince anyone of that fact who is enduring the depths of a northern hemisphere winter! The 3rd also sees an upswing in activity for the Quadrantid meteors, perhaps the only remaining shower named after a now defunct constellation of yore. In New England skies, an occultation of the bright star Antares occurs on the 11th. But the big ticket event this month is a spectacular (and exceptionally long) annular eclipse of the Sun centered on India on the 15th. An annular can occur when two factors fall into place, as they do this month; an Earth at perihelion (think large visual sun), and an occulting Moon at aphelion (think small new moon). As a result, the full moon on the 30th will be the closest of the year. Farther out in our galaxy, we visit 51 Pegasi, the first star confirmed to have an exo-planet companion.

The Month in Science: In 2009 the Cassini space probe orbiting the planet Saturn completed its extended Equinox Mission as the rings reached their twice every 29 year orbit edge on position. But the question remains; will there be extended life for Cassini? Also, the Kepler spacecraft will be ramping up observations for exo-planets this year…will 2010 close with thousands of new worlds known? On the Astroguyz expose front, we take you back a century ago to the Great Comet of 1910. Also, we reveal the tips and tricks to that latest trend: Satellite Spotting. Do I sense a movie/TV series based on renegade amateur astronomer turned heroin junkies in the works?

The Month in Science Fiction: 2010…hey, wasn’t there a book/movie of that same name? We’ll be taking a look at this sequel to 2001: A Space Odyssey to see how well it stacks up with reality. Also, Kay Kenyon’s final opus in the Entire and the Rose saga entitled Prince of Storms is out from Pyr Books this month. Also, expect a review of Book two of The Twilight Reign by our ace Sci-Fi reviewer Sabrina. On the tube, the much anticipated resumption of Caprica gears up on SyFy this month. Will the fans warm to this Galactica turned prequel?

This month in Astro-history: On January 7th, 1610, Galileo first turned his telescope on the planet Jupiter and began his ground breaking observations of the giant planet and its moons. Of course, astronomy afterwards was never the same…Galileo wasn’t the first one to place one chunk of glass in front of another and admire its magnification capacity, but he was the first to turn it skyward and begin recording what he saw. And yes, these epochal observations began in 1609 (remember the year of astronomy last year?) but his first notes on Jupiter date from 1610!

Astro-blooper of the Month: We here at Astroguyz HQ have recently had the pleasure of catching up on the excellent late Farscape series via ye’ ole Netflix… but a concept presented in one episode (Season 1 episode “DNA: Mad Scientist,” to be precise) deserves further attention. Contrary to the evil protagonist’s statements, evolution does not strive towards a “perfect organism…” Homo sapiens and your local brand of cockroach are both very different evolutionary solutions to the same environmental dilemma. And to this end, I’ll leave it up to you to decide which one is more effective!

Astro- Quote of the Month;

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