Last month’s “old school” Blue Moon…(Photo by Author).
We’re back… December 2010 sees us here at Astroguyz wrapping up our 3-year plus quest for an online science teaching degree and a return to full-bore content creation. And none too soon, as December is generally our busiest (and most intriguing!) month of the year…
Coming to a Sky Near You: The month kicks off with a difficult to observe occultation of the planet Mars on the 6th, which also passes through M8 on the 8th with the Sun only 14 degrees away. We’ll also explore the realm of the curious double star 61 Cygnus. Two major meteor showers occur in December, the Geminids on the 13th and Ursids around the 23rd… and to cap it all off, don’t forget the very special total lunar eclipse on December 21st winter solstice! We’ll also be working like Santa’s little helpers to bring you a peek at the yearly Astro-events for 2011.
This Month in Science: December 1st generally brings the Darwin awards honoring those who select themselves out of the gene pool. We’ll also look at viewing from the ‘Hood: good targets for bright skies. With the dwarf planet controversy still in full swing, we’ll also look at the discovery of Eris and its implications. Finally, on the 17th we take our look back at the year in science.
This Month in Science Fiction: The month kicks off with a retro- look and review of the classic 2001: A Space Odyssey. We’ll also uncover a book that’s been kicking around our nightstand entitled The Martians by Kim Stanley Robinson. And don’t forget our yearly look at 2010: the year in science fiction and a look at the year ahead.
Launches in December: This month, all eyes are on the Kennedy Space Center and whether the Space Shuttle Discovery will make its penultimate voyage on December 17th. Also on tap is the launch Falcon 9 on December 7th from the Cape, followed by Baikonur launches of a manned Soyuz on December 15th, Dnepr 16th, and Zenith 3F 25th. To Be Announced launches include Ariane 5/Hispasat 1E & Koreasat 6 from French Guiana, a GSAT 5 & Resourcesat 2 launch from Satish Dhawan Space center India, a Glonass K navigation satellite from Plesetsk Cosmodrome, and KA-SAT with another trio of Glonass satellites out of the Baikonur Cosmodrome. Follow the latest updates from SpaceFlightNow and our beloved twitter feed at @Astroguyz.
Astro Bloopers: Last month, news was abuzz with such sensational headlines as “Nearest Black Hole to Earth Discovered!” The discovery of SN 1979C and its subsequent black hole in birth was fascinating, but was also located in a separate galaxy 50 million light years from Earth. Let’s not forget that we’ve got black holes much closer in our own galaxy, such as the monster that resides in our galactic core… the news articles made it sound as if the beastie was inbound through the Oort cloud!
This Month in Astro-History: December 24th, 1968 saw the journey of Apollo 8, the first crewed mission to orbit the Moon. This mission was somewhat of a surprise jump ahead, as intelligence suggested that the Soviets were going to attempt a Moon shot the next spring. In some ways, Apollo 8 was the most dramatic of the missions, as it was the first time that humans departed Low Earth Orbit, a technology that we don’t have sitting on the pad today!
Astro Quote of the Month: “All of the concerted SETI efforts over the last 40 some years are equivalent to scooping a single glass of water from the oceans, and no one would decide that the ocean is without fish on the basis of one glass of water.”