Summer is the season for Noctilucent Clouds

Full Moon and Perigee Moon converge for a Supermoon

Track down two asteroids, Ceres and Vesta

Planetary pairings of Saturn and Mars, Jupiter and Venus

The Perseid meteor shower peaks

The Equinox restores balance to days and nights

Mars meets its rival, Antares

An early Harvest Moon occurs in September

Look out for Noctilucent Clouds
Full details in the Sky Guide » »

Earth’s Axial Shift Change

Posted by BC on March 18th, 2010

Earth Axis Shift Map - USGSThe big news about Earth’s axial shift, caused by the Chilean earthquake, sounded amazing. The quake not only shifted the axis, but it also shifted the length of a day on Earth. But the “normal” shifts are so much greater.

Since Earth is not a perfect sphere, it has axial shifts all of the time to try to find spherical equilibrium. How do the big earthquakes affect things? “The Chilean quake shifted enough material to change the mass balance of our entire planet,” said Richard Gross, JPL. The shift in material caused the wobble in Earth’s axis to increase by about three inches. The wobble changes as Earth’s mass progresses toward being a perfect sphere. A normal axial shift is about 10 centimeters per year, but the 8.8 magnitude quake hurried it along this year.
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More Solar Discoveries

Posted by BC on March 18th, 2010

Solar Conveyor Belt - NASAThe current solar cycle has proved to be different from what was predicted. We have not seen the many sunspots and other activity we hoped to see, but new discoveries have been made to help in find out what is going on.

It seems that the Sun’s “conveyor belt”, the activity that moves plasma from the lower areas to the visible surface and back around, has been speeding up. The “conveyor belt” not only moves material around, but it seems that it also disrupts forming features like sunspots.

The motion moves solar plasma from the equatorial region to the polar region, and the speeding up of the motion may be what is causing a solar cycle that is much quieter than expected. Research is continuing to find out more information to help put the pieces of the puzzle together.

Astronaut Mike Massimino on the Craig Ferguson Show

Posted by Lydia on March 13th, 2010

Astronaut Mike Massimino In case you missed it, here is a short video of Astronaut Mike Massimino’s appearance (July 16, 2009) on the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson. Although only ten minutes in duration,  he quickly describes his personal experience during his space journeys.

Mike was selected as an astronaut candidate by NASA in May 1996. He traveled on STS-109 (March 1-12, 2002) and STS-125 (May 2009) and has logged over 571 hours in space with 30 hours 4 minutes of that on four spacewalks. He has served as CAPCOM  (spacecraft communicator) in Mission Control and as the Astronaut Office Technical Liaison to the Johnson Space Center EVA Program Office.
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Vernal Equinox

Posted by BC on March 9th, 2010

Vernal Equinox-Date and TimeVernal Equinox occurs Saturday, 20 March 2010, 17:32 UT. Springtime! (For the Northern Hemisphere and Autumn for the Southern Hemisphere.)

“Equinox” comes from the Latin “equal night”. An equinox occurs when Sun crosses the celestial equator, making the length of time of daylight equal to (or nearly equal to) the length of time of night. Days are longer than nights the farther from the equator you observe daylight on an equinox. It all has to do with sun angles and paths across the sky. I found a good explanation at the Date and Time web site.


Posted by BC on March 9th, 2010

ClockDaylight Saving Time begins again on Sunday (14 March 2010). “Spring forward” is the phrase being shared all across the parts of the world where DST is practiced.

Seventy countries practice DST, which originated with Benjamin Franklin in 1784. The idea was that people who rose before sunrise used more electricity in the morning than they would if they rose an hour later in the summer. So, the hour hand on the clocks are shifted forward an hour in the spring and shifted back an hour in the fall.
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Editorial: Dancing Astronaut

Posted by BC on March 3rd, 2010

Buzz Aldrin - Ashly CostaThe second human to set foot on the Moon is going to appear on Dancing with the Stars, a (somewhat) popular “reality” television show in the USA. Buzz Aldrin, 80 years old, is going to be a contestant on the show.

I had a hard time believing it when I heard it, thinking that “it must be a different Buzz Aldrin!” I had to search online to confirm what I had heard.

One question comes to my mind …”why?” A comment he made during an interview with Zap2it, according to, might help to answer that question: “Living on Air Force retirement and Social Security, I’m forced to go out and sing for my supper quite a bit.”

It is regrettable that a national hero feels the pinch to the extent that he participates in a show that he might not otherwise have considered.

Great Resource for Moon Studies

Posted by BC on February 24th, 2010

Whether you are a classroom instructor or have a passing interest, a great resource for Moon studies is now available. You can see information on Moon missions, lunar landing sites, cultural stories, physical characteristic, and much more. You can also see a map that includes an atlas that allows you to click on a section and see it up close.

Many organizations have contributed to the educational site. It is free and available for use online through the ASP (Astronomical Society of the Pacific).

Iphone Users; 3D Sun

Posted by BC on February 24th, 2010

Iphone App - NASAFor hard core Sun followers, and for Iphone users, here is something just for you. NASA developed an application of a “…live global view of the sun.”

Using real time images of Sun, you can fly around it to see the side away from Earth, zoom in and out to inspect features, and do many other things, right in your hand. You can have real time images of sunspots, coronal holes, and flares. If a flare occurs, your phone will jingle and let you know.  You can have alerts to let you know when other types of events occur, as well.

If you just have to have this app for your Iphone, check it out. Let me know how you like it.

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