April 2, 2020

January 2011: Life in the Astro-Blogosphere.

The month of January sees the first month of the first year of the second decade of the 21st century. While we continue to review and bring you the best in astronomy, science, and science fiction, some would argue that we’re already living it… shouldn’t we have jet packs by now?

Coming to a Sky Near You: The year in observational astronomy kicks off as a busy one, with a close conjunction of Jupiter and Uranus on the 2nd. The next day sees the peak of the Quadrantid meteor shower, one of the best of 2011 with a ZHR of around 100. Our planetary home reaches perihelion, or its closest approach to the Sun on the same day, although try telling this to citizens of the northern hemisphere. The next day, a partial solar eclipse occurs for old world residents…whew! And that’s just the first week of 2011! On January 8th, both inner worlds Mercury and Venus reach greatest morning elongation simultaneously, a rarity indeed. Finally, on the 20th, an obscure shower known as the Ursa Minorids may put on a surprise show. Also, don’t miss the chance to spot a dual moon transit on the cloud tops of Jupiter on the 24th!

This Month in Science: This month is disaster month at Astroguyz, as we look at the danger posed by NEOs and ways to mitigate the threat. We also continue to end civilization in ways you might not see it coming as we look at death by gamma ray. On the review front, we touch on the recent releases Wonders in the Sky & How Old is the Universe?

This Month in Science Fiction: This month we step back into the weird west with a review of The Buntline Special by Mike Resnick. Also due out from Pyr Books in January are Cowboy Angelsby Paul McAuley and Demonstorm: Legends of the Raven 3 by James Barclay.

Launches in January: The first launch scheduled in the new year is on the 17th, with a Delta 4-Heavy carrying the NROL-49 satellite from Vandenberg, followed on the  20thby a Zenit 3F rocket & Electro-L1 satellite from Baikonur. On the 28th, a Soyuz Progress 41P departs for the ISS, also from Baikonur. TBA launches for January include the PSLV Resourcesat 2 from Satish Dhawan in India & a Soyuz Glonass from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in Russia. Be sure to follow all the launch action updates by following @astroguyz on Twitter!

Astro Bloopers: A golden goof came our way on a re-watch of the otherwise fairly decent Space Cowboys via Netflix… talk is repeatedly made of using the Shuttle to boost an errant spy satellite back into Geosynchronous Earth Orbit… but the space shuttle cannot operate at such distances; it’s a low Earth orbit vehicle only!

This Month in Astro-History: Eris was discovered January 5th, 2005 by Mike Brown and crew at Caltech, and the outer solar system has never been the same. Eris has ridden the roller coaster ride of planet/not a planet controversy, and was recently observed to be slightly smaller than Pluto during a 2010 stellar occultation. Could the remote outer solar system get any weirder?

Astro Quote of the Month: On curiosity; “You know, if you think about it, if the universe came from a big bang there should be matter and antimatter in equal amounts at the beginning. Where is the universe made up of antimatter? There are many theories which say no, the antimatter universe does not exist. Actually the theory started in ’67 by Andre Sakharov. But in physics if you do not do the experiment, you will never know.”

-Samuel Ting, Nobel Prize recipient & Principal Investigator for the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer scheduled for installation in 2011 on the International Space Station.



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