Thursday, January 29, 2009

Hila Science Video: Orion and M42

I happened across this video on YouTube and thought I'd post it here. It's a nice short description of Orion and M42.

Check out the Hila site for more information.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Curious Asteroid Flyby

Source - Space Weather News for Jan. 25, 2009:

CURIOUS ASTEROID FLYBY: Newly-discovered asteroid 2009 BD is slowly passing by Earth today only 400,000 miles away. The approximately 10 meter-wide space rock poses no significant threat, but it merits attention anyway: The orbit of 2009 BD appears to be almost identical to the orbit of Earth. 2009 BD may be a rare "co-orbital asteroid," circling the sun in near-tandem with our planet. If current measurements of the asteroid's orbit are correct, 2009 BD will remain in Earth's neighborhood for many months and possibly years to come. Visit to view the asteroid's curious orbit.

SOLAR ECLIPSE WEBCASTS: At the time this email is being sent, an annular solar eclipse is just hours away. In support of the 2009 International Year of Astronomy, astronomers in the eclipse-zone have set up a network of cameras stretching from South Africa to Indonesia. Live webcasts will begin around 0600 UT on Monday, Jan. 26th. Follow the links at

Are We Alone for 01/26/09 - Carbon Your Enthusiasm

Are We Alone - "Carbon Your Enthusiasm"
Bond it to oxygen and it’s the scourge of climate change. But earthly life wouldn’t be possible without carbon, and maybe that’s true for alien life, too.

And carbon has other exciting forms: tiny diamonds may be evidence of a catastrophic comet impact 13,000 years ago. And, chalky carbonates may point to a once-habitable Mars.
So get cozy with carbon. Find out if you could swap it for silicon in DNA. Plus, the conundrum of calculating a carbon footprint.

Guests: You can listen to this and other episodes at, and be sure to check out Are We A Blog?, the companion blog to the radio show.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Ring of Fire Solar Eclipse

Source - Space Weather News for Jan. 23, 2009:

SOLAR ECLIPSE: On Monday, Jan. 26th, the Moon will pass in front of the sun producing an annular "ring of fire" eclipse. This is not a total eclipse; the Moon will cover only 93% of the sun's surface. Nevertheless, the Moon's dead-center transit across the solar disk will produce a sight of rare beauty for observers along the "path of annularity." Best views are to be had from islands in Indonesia where the ring of fire will appear to sink into the ocean at sunset. Meanwhile, in Australia, southeast Asia, southern parts of India and South Africa, observers will experience an off-center partial eclipse. Crescent-shaped sunbeams will dapple the ground while high overhead the Moon takes a curved bite out of the sun.

Please visit for eclipse maps, timetables and photos.

BLUE-SKY FIREBALL: Last week a meteoroid of unknown size hit Earth's atmosphere over Denmark and exploded with a flash so bright it turned the nighttime sky daytime blue. A video of the remarkable fireball and eye-witness reports may be found at Spaceweather's fireball sighting page:

NASA Sees the Dark Side of the Sun

Source - NASA Science News for January 23, 2009

NASA's twin STEREO spacecraft are giving astronomers an over-the-horizon look at the 'dark side' of the Sun. This new perspective could lead to important advances in space weather forecasting and solar physics research.

Check out our RSS feed at

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Severe Space Weather--Social and Economic Impacts

Source - NASA Science News for January 21, 2009

A new NASA-funded study details what might happen to our modern, high-tech society in the event of a 'super solar flare' followed by an extreme geomagnetic storm. Some of the conclusions might surprise you.


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Sunday, January 18, 2009

Are We Alone for 01/19/09 - You Animal!

Are We Alone - Encore Presentation "You Animal!"
Maybe Dr. Doolittle was on to something; animals are smarter than we think. Birds, apes, and dolphins are all clever problem solvers with a rich vocabularly and - in some cases - self-awareness. Find out what you can learn from our furry, finned and feathered friends. Also, why you are so much an animal yourself, all the way down to the bare bones.

Plus, enter the locked vaults that hold extinct and newly-discovered animal species. And why B-movie critters steal the show.
(A new species? This is a grey-faced sengi. Click here for another photo.)

Guests: You can listen to this and other episodes at, and be sure to check out Are We A Blog?, the companion blog to the radio show.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Just doing a little house cleaning.

You may or may not have noticed the changes to the blog feeds on the left hand side, but I decided to consolidate all of the blog feeds into a single reader application that will help clean up the sidebar just a bit.

An now that there is more room, even more blog feeds can be added, so if you have some suggestions just drop me a line, or leave a comment.

I also hope to add more links and possibly move some of the content off to the Cloudymidnights' site, but that's down the road a bit.

If you have any thoughts, comments, suggestions, or the like, please feel free to contact me.

Cheers! ~ Jim Cox

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Discovery Reveals Mars Is Not a Dead Planet

Source - NASA Science News for January 15, 2009

A team of NASA and university scientists has discovered 'substantial plumes' of methane floating through the atmosphere of Mars. The discovery indicates Mars is either biologically or geologically active.


Check out our RSS feed at

Winter Wonder Rocket Movie

Source - NASA Science News for January 15, 2009

The last place you'd expect to find icicles is around the rim of a scalding hot and thundering rocket engine. Yet an engine being used by NASA to develop technologies for next-generation lunar landers has been caught producing icicles of unlikely beauty. Watch the process in action in today's story from Science@NASA.


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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Fantastic Ice Halos Observed in Finland

Source - Space Weather News for Jan. 14, 2009:

FANTASTIC ICE HALOS: Researchers in Finland have discovered a new way to create luminous ice halos in the night sky. Their tools are as simple as a bright lamp and icy, blowing air. Some of the arcs they routinely photograph were previously seen only in remote parts of Antarctica. Sample photos and must-see movies are featured in today's edition of

HOURS OF VENUS: Today and for the rest of the week, Venus is at maximum elongation (greatest apparent distance) from the sun. This means the silvery planet is "up" for more than three hours after sunset. Go outside after dark, face south, and take a long look. Venus is so bright it outshines city lights and even pierces thin clouds. The view through a backyard telescope may surprise you. Check for images and more information.

Giant Rockets Could Revolutionize Astronomy

Source - NASA Science News for January 14, 2009

NASA's next great Moon rocket promises to do more than land astronauts on the Moon. In its spare time, it could revolutionize the science of astronomy.


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Sunday, January 11, 2009

Are We Alone for 01/12/09 - Scoping Out Astronomy

Are We Alone

Are We Alone - "Scoping Out Astronomy"
A loud radio hiss is coming from the cosmos. Is it the swan song of the first giant stars of the universe?

Find out from stargazers attending the American Astronomical Society meeting in California... the brightest flash in the universe illuminates how a galaxy grows up... a planet hunter closes in on Earth-size prey. Also, find out how to spy on the universe from the comfort of your living room. Plus, the four-century-old history of the telescope... and Galileo didn't invent it!

It's the kick off to the International Year of Astronomy - so scope it out!

Guests: You can listen to this and other episodes at, and be sure to check out Are We A Blog?, the companion blog to the radio show.

Friday, January 09, 2009

A Comet Approaches

Source - Space Weather News for Jan. 9, 2009:

APPROACHING COMET: Comet Lulin (C/2007 N3), discovered in 2007 by a collaborative team of Taiwanese and Chinese astronomers, is swinging around the sun and approaching Earth. The photogenic comet has a bright tail and an "anti-tail" visible in mid-sized backyard telescopes. At closest approach in February, Comet Lulin is expected to brighten to naked-eye visibility. Visit for sky maps, pictures and more information.

NEW SUNSPOTS: For the second time this week, a sunspot is coalescing on the surface of the sun. The spot's high latitude and magnetic polarity identify it as a member of new Solar Cycle 24; its appearance continues a recent trend of gradually intensifying new-cycle solar activity. The spot is growing rapidly and may soon provide a nice target for backyard solar telescopes.

FULL MOON ALERT! This weekend's full Moon is the biggest and brightest of 2009. It's a "perigee Moon" as much as 50,000 km closer to Earth than other full Moons we'll see later this year. Perigee moonlight shining through icy winter air can produce beautiful halos, coronas, moondogs and other atmospheric optics phenomena. Sample photos are featured on today's edition of

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Sixteen Tons of Moondust

Source - NASA Science News for January 7, 2009

Sledgehammer-toting scientists are "bustin' rocks" to make the finest possible simulated lunar regolith (a.k.a. fake moondust) in support of NASA's return to the Moon.


Find out about the Science@NASA Podcast feed at

The Biggest Full Moon of the Year: Take 2

Source - NASA Science News for January 8, 2009

The biggest full Moon of 2009 is coming this weekend. It's a 'perigee Moon' as much as 30% brighter than lesser Moons we'll see in the months ahead. Get ready for moonlight!


Check out our RSS feed at:

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Are We Alone for 01/05/09 - Sex: From Beginning to End

Are We Alone

Are We Alone - Encore Presentation "Sex: From Beginning to End"
We all know how sex begins: a dimly-lit room, a come-hither smile, and a surfeit of parasol-shaded cocktails. But long before all that, the gentle currents of the ancient sea floor set the mood. It was there, 570 million years ago, that two ropy sea creatures found each other and changed the course of evolution.

Hear how sex began and where it's headed: if you think your love life is mechanical now, just wait until you're cozying up to titanium skin and the latest emotion software.

Plus, everything you always wanted to know about modern sex research, but were afraid to ask.
Guests: You can listen to this and other episodes at, and be sure to check out Are We A Blog?, the companion blog to the radio show.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

First Meteor Shower of 2009

Source - Space Weather News for Jan. 2, 2009:

FIRST METEORS OF 2009: The annual Quadrantid meteor shower peaks on Jan. 3rd when Earth enters a stream of debris from shattered comet 2003 EH1. The timing of the encounter favors observers in western North America and across the Pacific Ocean who could see dozens to hundreds of meteors during the dark hours before sunrise this Saturday morning. Visit for a sky map and more information.

SOMETHING NEW: For the new year, is pleased to announce a new service: Space Weather Radio, broadcasting live "sounds from space" around the clock. Today you can listen to the Air Force Space Surveillance Radar in Texas. When a meteor passes over the facility--ping!--there is an audible echo. (Activity should be high during the Quadrantid meteor shower this weekend.) In the near future we'll be adding broadcasts of solar radio bursts and VLF signals from the ionosphere. The streams are punctuated by Daily Space Weather Updates from Dr. Tony Phillips. Click here to begin listening: