November 22, 2019

February 2011: Life in the Astro-Blogosphere.

The shortest month of the year is upon us. The month of February brings with it some curious moon alignments, a possible shuttle launch, and some rip roarin’ good Sci-Fi;

Coming to a Sky near You: February 1st kicks off with Jupiter’s moons arranged in 1-2-3-4 visual order. The 3rd sees a good occultation of a bright star by asteroid Irmintraud for the central Florida peninsula (re: Astroguyz HQ), and the 8th sees Saturn’s moons in order. On the 9th, an odd three way conjunction occurs in dawn skies, (more to come), and on the 11th, the famed Lunar Straight Wall might just be visible to dedicated observers. February 15th sees a Zeta Geminorum lunar occultation, one of the finest of the year. Will the zodiacal light be visible become visible in February from your locale? Will Epsilon Aurigae come out of eclipse? Stay tuned as we cover these in depth and more!

This Month in Science: This month we review Seeing Further, a look at British science, and the true tale of A Professor, a President, and a Meteor. We also look at how you can measure a building with a barometer, and expose some tricks to use at the eyepiece. Close to home, the Florida Fringe Festival (a sort of Deep South Stellafane) kicks off on the 25th, and on 14th, Stardust NeXT will approach comet Tempel 1. And oh yes, the world has one more science teacher in the fight against woo, as we graduate on February 12th!

This Month in Science Fiction: February 1st is traditionally the time of The Razzies, when we celebrate all that was bad in cinema in the past year. We’ll also review The Cowboy Angels by Paul McAuley, and look a Sci-Fi short poetry with a review of Dwarf Stars: 2010.

Launches in February: Launches for the month start on the 5th with a Minotaur 1 rocket carrying a classified payload out of Vandenberg, followed on the 15th with a Soyuz Glonass launch out of Plesetsk & Ariane 5 ATV from French Guiana. Another Vandenberg launch follows on the 23rd with a Taurus rocket carrying the Glory satellite. The big ticket launch, however, will be on the 24th as Shuttle Discovery will soar into orbit one last time and just might end what’s become the longest Tweetup of all time. TBA launches for February include India’s PSLV Resource Sat2 & a multi-payload Dnepr rocket out of Yasny, Russia. Be sure to follow the @astroguyz Twitter feed for the latest updates!

Astro Bloopers: Countless news outlets got the scale of the universe tremendously wrong last month when reporting the discovery of supernova 2010It by 10-year old Kathryn Gray. Many decided to chop off the millions and simply publish the supernova was 240 light years away. Ummm… that’s close, nearly on the edge of the 200 light year radius hazard zone! What’s interesting is that it only takes one news outlet to publish an error like this, and then it promptly infects other sites. What do you think, guys, time to re-hire some of those science journalists?

This Month in Astro-History: February 20th, 1962: Friendship 7 carried astronaut John Glenn, the first American to orbit the Earth. During his 4 hour 55 minute mission, Glenn completed 3 orbits. The tiny one man Mercury capsule was often referred to by the astronauts as “worn rather than flown.” The original Friendship 7 capsule is now on display at the Smithsonian.

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.”

-Jill Tarter



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