Solar Eclipse | NASA-TV Coverage

NASA plans thorough coverage of the 21 August solar eclipse according to this announcement. Highlights will be broadcast live from unique locations coast-to-coast, aircraft, spacecraft, and the International Space Station. So, if you are unable to put yourself in the centerline, you can still see this life-changing event. Streaming can be viewed at this page.

In the announcement linked above, there is a listing of NASA app sites, social media links, NASA-TV feeds, and streaming links. Coverage begins at noon EDT with pre-eclipse programming. The main event begins at 1 pm and covers the eclipse from Oregon to South Carolina.

APOD | Miloslav Druckmüller (Brno U. of Tech.), Martin Dietzel, Peter Aniol, Vojtech Rušin | 2008

Dark Energy Survey | Year 1 Results

Dark Matter and Dark Energy have again been in the news. They can be confusing concepts as I pointed out in a previous post. The recent news is important, especially to cosmologists and astrophysicists, because it provides very strong evidence that previous studies and theory are in close agreement with this new evidence. It adds confidence in our understanding of the structure and behavior of the universe since the Big Bang.

The Dark Energy Survey team of over 400 scientists from 25 institutions in 7 countries reported results from the first year of a five year study of 26 million galaxies which cover 1/30th of the sky. Their map shows the distribution of the dark matter. Red shows regions of more dark matter while blue indicates less than average.

Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory | Click to embiggen

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Bug Sex

Bug 1: OK. Now what are we supposed to do?

Bug 2: I don’t know!

Bug 1: You told me this was going to be fun. I’m not feeling it.

Bug 2: I thought it would be. Everyone else is doing it. Let’s see if we can fly.

Bug 1: Nope. I’m staying right here.

Mantis | Grasshopper Devoured

💢 Warning for the squeamish: This post is about insects eating each other.


Friends of ours live on an acreage several miles out of town which includes prairie, trees, a pond, and many kinds of wildlife. There are mantises and grasshoppers. One day, he found a mantis which captured a grasshopper and started to eat it. He recorded many photographs of the events to share with me. Here are but a few selected ones. It’s kind of gruesome. But, as Melanie has often said, “Hey, everybody has to eat.”

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Pluto | Virtual Flyovers | New Horizons Future

The New Horizons spacecraft was launched in January 2006. It coasted by Pluto 14 July 2015 giving us our first close views of the dwarf planet and its moons. The largest moon is named Charon. Previous posts highlighting events of the mission are found here.

NASA released two virtual flyovers of Pluto and Charon on 14 July 2017. They were made using data and elevation models from the mission. Digital mapping and rendering were performed by Paul Schenk and John Blackwell of the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston. From the press release of the Pluto flyover:

“This dramatic Pluto flyover begins over the highlands to the southwest of the great expanse of nitrogen ice plain informally named Sputnik Planitia. The viewer first passes over the western margin of Sputnik, where it borders the dark, cratered terrain of Cthulhu Macula, with the blocky mountain ranges located within the plains seen on the right. The tour moves north past the rugged and fractured highlands of Voyager Terra and then turns southward over Pioneer Terra — which exhibits deep and wide pits — before concluding over the bladed terrain of Tartarus Dorsa in the far east of the encounter hemisphere.”

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Solar Eclipse | Protect Your Eyes

The first time I viewed a total solar eclipse was in 1999. We traveled to London, took the trains to Edinburgh, Glasgow, then Oban. Rode the ferry to the island of Barra for a few days. We came back to London and then to Dover for a couple of days. We boarded the high speed train to Paris. It went through the Chunnel and emerged in France going 185 mph. Another train from Paris got us to Stuttgart Germany in time for the total eclipse.

You need to have proper eye protection leading up to and following the total eclipse on August 21 in the United States. During the minute or two of totality, it is ok to view without eye protection. But, not before or after. Inexpensive viewers are available from many sources. Talk to a person from your local astronomy club. They will be happy to help.