April 3, 2020

March 2010: Life in the Astro-Blogosphere.

This month, spring and the vernal equinox are in the air in the northern hemisphere; time for warmer temps, shortening nights and hopefully, a buffer between the cold of winter and the eventual swarms of summer mosquitoes that are the bane of many an observer. What follows is a brief rundown of all things astronomical that are floating through our respective transom here at Astroguyz HQ;

Astro-Events for March: This month we kicked things off with T Pyxidis, a little known recurrent nova that could make a very big splash. Spring is prime evening viewing time for this enigmatic object, so if you live south of the +40°, we urge you to take a look.  And speaking of latitude, the Vernal Equinox, heralding a much anticipated northern hemisphere spring, occurs on March 20th at 17:32 Universal. This means that the Full Worm Moon that occurs on March 29th at 10:25PM EDT is also the Easter Moon, which falls on the proceeding Sunday on April 4th, the earliest that an Orthodox Easter can fall (The two don’t always coincide). The New Moon occurs on March 15th at 5:03 PM EDT… notice the time switch? That’s because Daylight Savings, another bane of many an astronomical observer, rears its ugly night-consuming head on March 14th at 2 AM. Time to either spring forward or move to Arizona…

This Month in Science: This month, expect after-action exclusives from our February Astroguyz roadtrip, including an inside look at LIGO, the Laser Interferometer Gravitational wave Observatory, and our tour of the Johnson Space Flight Center as seen through the eyes of 80+ Twitter fans…On the expose front, we make an argument in defense of the Farmer’s Almanac, and delve into the off-topic world of Adventures in Amazon sales!

This Month in Sci-Fi: Gardens of the Sun, by Paul McAuley, the long anticipated (and recently reviewed in this space) sequel to The Quiet War is out on the 23rd courtesy of Pyr Books; on the tube, we review Big Bang Theory, a TV tribute to all things geek-like. And in the podcasting realm, we review the Drabblecast, a flash fiction podcast that’s rapidly becoming one of our faves.

Launches for March: One of the most interesting events of note is the March 22nd 11 A.M. EDT launch out CCAFS of Space X Falcon 9, the certification flight for the Dragon Spacecraft which will eventually perform resupply missions to the International Space Station. With the shuttle program coming to an end this year, it is vital that civilian agencies can demonstrate a low-earth orbit capability. Elsewhere on the globe, ESA’s CryoSat 2 will launch out of Baikonur on a TBD date this month. CryoSat 2 is a Earth monitoring satellite, designed to track changes in the Earth’s poles. And coming right up this week on March 3nd at 6:18 EST, Delta 4 GOES P is set to launch out of CCAFS, in what could be a spectacular dusk launch. Keep up with these and other launches at SpaceFlightNow.

Astro-Blooper of the Month: One thing has always bugged us concerning the ecology portrayed in Frank Herbert’s otherwise awesome Dune saga…just what do Sandworms eat? Such large predatory creatures would suggest a huge ecological niche… and they couldn’t subsist merely on the Spice!

This month in Astro-History: March 18, 1965, Cosmonaut Alexei Leonov becomes the 1st human to conduct a space walk. The mission was Voskhod 2, and the total spacewalk time lasted 12 minutes and 9 seconds. The Voskhod space craft deployed an inflatable Volga airlock, and spanned an orbit from Gibraltar to the Caspian Sea. During this time, Leonov was nearly unable to re-enter the spacecraft, much like Ed White on the first U.S. EVA. He flirted with both heat stroke and decompression sickness, and revealed in later years that he did indeed possess a “suicide pill” in the event that he couldn’t re-enter the spacecraft. Leonov is also an accomplished space artist of some note!

Astronomy Quote of the Month: “I don’t even remember my first reaction, but it has been recorded. I said: ‘Wow! The Earth is round.’ You believe it when you are told, but when you see it for yourself, it is a unique experience.”

Cosmonaut Alexei Leonov, on his ground breaking EVA.

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