April 7, 2020

June 2011: Life in the Astro-Blogosphere.

Awaiting darkness… (Photo by Author).

June is “hump month” here at Astroguyz HQ, as we approach the solstice, hurricane and thunderstorm season begins, and we slowly begin to start taking back the darkness. Now’s the time to overhaul that scope, align those mirrors, and await the return of dark skies. Here’s a brief look what’s up and coming from ye ole’ Astroguyz;

Coming to a Sky Near You: After an eclipse drought, 3x eclipses occur in the span of just over a month; June 1st, 15th, & July 1st. The 1st of the month eclipses are both partial solar, and target the polar regions, while the 15th eclipse is a very deep Total Lunar and will be seen throughout the Eurasian hemisphere. This month, we’ll also take a look the great southern hemisphere globular of Omega Centauri, a fine object I bet you didn’t know you could see from the southern part of the lower 48. On the 11th, Saturn will pass just ¼ of a degree from the close binary star Porrima, and a day later on the 12th the ISS enters a phase of its orbit where it is under continuous illumination for several days. Finally, the Summer Solstice occurs this year on June 21st at 1:16PM EDT.

This Month in Science: This month, we’re going to take a look at the true tale of Project Orion, and how we could get to the stars using current technology. In the astronomical controversy department, we’ll review How I Killed Pluto, by astronomer Mike Brown. We’ll also take a journey into inner space, take a look at the Earth’s Interior, and step back in time with a view of ye’ ole early astronomers.

This Month in Science Fiction: In the cutting edge sci-fi department, we’ll review the Ghosts of War & Black Halo, both forthcoming from Pyr Books. As for retro reviews, we’ll take a look back at Larry Niven’s outstanding a World out of Time. Also, if history holds true, the Bulwer-Lytton Awards for the very worst in fiction should be out June 1st!

Launches in June: The month of June in spaceflight kicks off on the 7th, with a Soyuz launch carrying the next expedition crew to the ISS. The big launch for the month in unmanned spaceflight will be a Delta 2 carrying the SAC-D/Aquarius Earth observing satellite which is to map the salt concentration in the planet’s oceans on June 9th. Action heats up at Wallops Island Virginia with a Minotaur 1 launch on June 18th carrying ORS 1. At the end of the month, expect another scheduled launch out of Baikonur on the 21st with an unmanned Progress resupply craft headed towards the ISS. To Be Determined launches include a Long March 3B carrying China-sat 10 and a multi-payload Dnepr rocket out of Yasny, Russia follow all the last minute updates at SpaceFlightNow.

Astro-Atta-Boy: While folks on the web may have joked that Natalie Portman used a stunt double to film the astrophysics exposition points in the recent comic book blockbuster movie Thor, I’d like to point out that she and the writers got a fundamental point right about the universe that many a science fiction piece ignores. Yes, the star patterns would look vastly different from another vantage point in our galaxy, and would get progressively unrecognizable the farther you go from Earth. This would hold true for the residents of distant Asgard, and was largely ignored by the purported star maps related by Betty & Barney Hill post- abduction. Kudos to princess Leia’s mom for pointing this fact out!

Astro Bloopers: Alas, May 21st came and went and the end of the world didn’t come to pass… at least no one took the message serious enough to commit another Jim Jones/Heaven’s Gate atrocity. Rumblings are that now October is the “true” end… can we not wait for 2012, or is this now going to be a web-inspired monthly thing? Have we run out of plausible ideas for doomsday scenarios, or will it simply become another recyclable part of our culture like the Mars Hoax? Perhaps, it’s time to face up to reality, and get down to solving the problems of the world rather than simply run away from them and hope for termination… that’s the true harm in doomsday talk!

This Month in Astro-History: Note: Starting this month, we’re moving this segment of the column exclusively to our Twitterfeed. We’ve been doing #onthisday Tweets for some time now, and the response has been much better than with the monthly round up…you spoke, and we listened!

Astro Quote of the Month: “Our two greatest problems are gravity and paper work. We can lick gravity, but sometimes the paperwork is overwhelming.” -Werner von Braun


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