Monday, March 30, 2009

Volcanic Clouds in Motion

Source - Space Weather News for March 30, 2009:

MT. REDOUBT: Alaska's Mt. Redoubt volcano has erupted at least 19 times since March 22nd, and several of the most powerful blasts have spewed clouds of ash and sulfurous gas into the lower stratosphere. The last time an Alaskan volcano blew its top (Kasatochi in August 2008), similar clouds caused fantastic sunsets around the Northern Hemisphere. Today's edition of features satellite maps of Mt. Redoubt's sulfur dioxide emissions. Using these maps, we can track the volcanic clouds as they drift around the globe and be alert for unusual sunsets and other phenomena when they pass nearby. Visit for more information and updates.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Are We Alone for 03/30/09 - Speaking Klingon

Are We Alone - "Speaking Klingon"
Ever try talking to an alien? In the movies, they always speak perfect English. But what if we really made contact? Could we just whip out a universal translator - or even a babelfish - to understand one another?

Let's say we do learn to communicate: what to say, what to say? We'll hear the protocol for just how to reply to ET. And, from Klingon to Esperanto: the recipe for creating a language from scratch.

Plus, get ready to babble with your Blackberry: how computers are learning to recognize - and respond - to human speech.

Q1=B4t'.f:t'.ql. P4&=tr'w.k*.k*n.=D5^Q5=P4^B5 P4&=D1>s'.t*.ql.=B5
What does this mean? Listen to the show to find out!

  • Terrence Deacon - Professor of anthropology and neuroscience, University of California, Berkeley
  • Douglas Vakoch - Director of Interstellar Message Composition, SETI Institute
  • Donald Boozer - Librarian, Coordinator of Cleveland Public Library's recent exhibit "Esperanto, Elvish, and Beyond...The World of Constructed Languages"
  • Jim Glass - Director of the Spoken Language Systems Group at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory Systems.
    Ask MIT's Jupiter about the weather!
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.

Details of a past incident involving the Space Shuttle Atlantis just released

Eastside Astro-Blog has an excellent post regarding an incident (to put it mildly) from the late 1980's involving the Space Shuttle Atlantis.

This is really scary stuff! To find out more, take a look at: Details of a near shuttle disaster released.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Mars Rover Update

Source - NASA Science News for March 26, 2009

Back in 2004, most experts would have said this story is impossible. No rover could possibly survive long enough on Mars for a five-year update. Yet here it is. Mission scientists reveal what Spirit and Opportunity are up to on the Red Planet today--and what their prospects are for the future.


Sunday, March 22, 2009

Are We Alone for 03/23/09 - Skeptical Sunday: Take a Number

Are We Alone - "Skeptical Sunday: Take a Number "
Pick a number, any number. Got it? Good. Is it a lucky or unlucky? Is it a code that gives you a clue to the future? A lot of people assign all sorts of magical significance to numbers. From Friday the 13th to lucky number 7 – we’ll find out whether the idea of digits of destiny adds up. Plus, 666 and 616: find out what famous figures these figures code for.

Learn the numbers that do have significance in math and nature: how a honey bee’s lineage is an example of the Fibonacci series.

Meanwhile, Brains on Vacation quashes satellite fireball rumors, and our Hollywood skeptic gives a “how to” for faking UFO photos.

It’s Skeptical Sunday.. but don’t take our word for it!

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, March 21, 2009

ISS Gets New Solar Wings

Source - Space Weather News for March 21, 2009

ISS GETS NEW WINGS: The International Space Station's solar arrays are the largest deployable space assemblies ever built. Yesterday, astronauts unfurled a pair on the starboard side of the outpost, adding more than 8000 sq. feet of light-collecting surface area to the station's profile. Hours after the new wings were deployed, the ISS flew over Europe where amateur astronomers photographed the changes. Their movies and photos are featured on today's edition of

SOLAR CONJUNCTION OF JUPITER'S MOONS: Another must-see movie comes from NASA's STEREO-B spacecraft. On March 15th and 16th, the solar observatory watched Jupiter and its moons converge on the sun just as a coronal mass ejection was exploding "overhead." Visit for footage.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Spacewalkers Test Planetary Protection Concept

Source - NASA Science News for March 20, 2009

Yesterday, astronauts onboard the International Space Station checked themselves for microbes before stepping outside on a space walk. It was a first-ever test of planetary protection technology that, one day, could keep humans from contaminating the sands of Mars.


Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Small Asteroid Buzzes Earth Tonight

Source - Space Weather News for March 17, 2009

ASTEROID BUZZES EARTH: Newly-discovered asteroid 2009 FH is flying past Earth tonight only 85,000 km (0.00057 AU) away. That's a little more than twice the height of a geosynchronous communications satellite. Experienced amateur astronomers in North America can photograph the 20-meter-wide space rock racing through the constellation Gemini after sunset on March 17th. It should be about as bright as a 14th magnitude star. Please visit for an ephemeris and updates.

This is the second time in March that an asteroid has flown so close to Earth. On March 2nd, 2009 DD45 passed by only 72,000 km away. Measuring some tens of meters in diameter, 2009 DD45 and 2009 FH are approximately Tunguska-class objects, meaning they pose no global threat but could cause local damage if they actually hit Earth. In years past, asteroids of this size often passed unnoticed, but recent improvements in asteroid surveys have resulted in growing numbers of space rocks caught in the act of near-Earth flybys.

Space Station Construction Visible Through Backyard Telescopes

Source - NASA Science News for March 17, 2009

Space shuttle Discovery launched Sunday, March 15th, on a construction mission to the International Space Station. Perfect timing for sky watchers! The mission coincides with a series of ISS flybys over North American towns and cities. People who go outside after sunset can see the shuttle-station combo with their naked eyes and view the changing outlines of the ISS through backyard telescopes.


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Monday, March 16, 2009

Shuttle-Space Station Flyby Alert

Source - Space Weather News for March 16, 2009:

FLYBY ALERT: In a twilight launch of stunning beauty, space shuttle Discovery left Earth last night on a two week construction mission to the International Space Station (ISS). Discovery is now approaching the ISS for docking on March 17th. The timing of this mission favors sky watchers in North America and Europe who will be able to see the two spacecraft flying over many towns and cities in the evenings ahead. Tonight, March 16th, is extra-special because the not-yet-docked duo will appear as distinct points of bright light flying one after the other through the twilight sky--a rare "double flyby." Check the Simple Satellite Tracker for flyby times: .

Would you like a phone call from Dr. Tony Phillips to alert you when the ISS is about to fly over your back yard? Sign up for SpaceWeather PHONE:

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Are We Alone for 03/16/09 - You've Been Slimed!

Are We Alone - "You've Been Slimed!"
Hollywood horror flicks have captivated us with alien blobs, but the slime slithering on our own planet is as beguiling. From microscopic machines to life on ocean floors, new research reveals how essential slime is to life on Earth, and possibly other worlds.

Discover the new materials made from hagfish slime… the social life of a slime mold… and the threat posed by the gray goo of self-replicating nanobots.

Plus, it’s been 50 years since it first oozed across the screen: why there’s no escape from The Blob!

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, March 13, 2009

Ares Super-chute

Source - NASA Science News for March 13, 2009

NASA and U.S. Air Force test pilots have dropped a 50,000-pound "dummy" rocket booster on the Arizona desert--and stopped it before it crashed. It's all part of NASA's plan to return to the Moon.


Video: Confessions of an Alien Hunter

Check out this interesting video featuring Seth Shostak of the SETI Inistitute as he talks about the search for extraterrestrial civiliztions, and the possibility of discovering an extraterrestrial civiliztion in the near future.

You can find out about Seth's new book "Confessions of an Alien Hunter: A Scientist's Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence" at both National Geographic and Be sure to check out the Are We Alone? internet radio show as well as it's companion blog Are We A Blog?

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Satellite Debris Begins to Reenter Earth's Atmosphere

Souce - Space Weather News for March 10, 2009:

SATELLITE DEBRIS UPDATE: The first catalogued fragments of shattered satellite Cosmos 2251 are about to reenter Earth's atmosphere. According to US Strategic Command tracking data, reentries will occur on March 12th, 28th and 30th, followed by more in April. Radar cross sections are not available for all of the reentering pieces; they are probably centimeter-class fragments that pose no threat to people on the ground. Visit for more information.

WORM MOON: Tonight's full Moon has a special name--the Worm Moon. It signals the coming of northern spring, a thawing of the soil, and the first stirrings of earthworms in long-dormant gardens. Step outside tonight and behold the wakening landscape. "Worm moonlight" is prettier than it sounds.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Are We Alone for 03/09/09 - Building Better Brains

Are We Alone - "Building Better Brains"
Forgot your own birthday? Misplaced your Shih Tzu? Did you put the milk in your backpack and the iPod in the fridge? Age may bring wisdom but - alas - not a boost in RAM. But there's hope - scientists are discovering that the brain is more malleable than thought. We'll hear about the science of neuroplasticity and what you can do to slow that cerebellum slide. Ever been to a brain gym?

Plus, why the brains of London cabbies are bigger than those of your average commuter.

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, March 07, 2009

Kepler Mission Rockets to Space in Search of Other Earths

Source - NASA Science News for March 6, 2009

In a night launch of stunning beauty, NASA's Kepler spacecraft lifted off from Cape Canaveral on Friday night, March 6th, on a mission to find Earth-like planets circling other stars.


Check out our RSS feed at

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Small Asteroid Buzzes Earth

Source - Space Weather News for March 2, 2009:

ASTEROID FLYBY: There's no danger of a collision, but newly-discovered asteroid 2009 DD45 will come close enough today when it flies by our planet 72,000 km (0.00048 AU) away. That's only twice the height of a geostationary communications satellite. The asteroid measures 30 to 40 meters across, similar in size to the Tunguska impactor of 1908. Closest approach occurs at approximately 1340 UT (5:40 am PST) on March 2nd. Experienced amateur astronomers may be able to photograph the space rock shining like an 11th magnitude star as it races through the constellations Hydra and Virgo. The timing favors observers in Hawaii, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and east Asia.

Visit for updates and ephemerides.

Are We Alone for 03/02/09 - A Man, A Planet, A Tenal: Panama!

Are We Alone - "A Man, A Planet, A Tenal: Panama!"
While the Kepler spacecraft hunts for habitable planets outside our galaxy, we’ve let one of our own planets slip away! Find out why Pluto’s demotion to dwarf status created a public uproar as astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson reads us his hate mail. From third-graders!

Also, how we might find Earth-like planets… the possibility of life on Saturn’s moon Titan… and TED Prize winner Jill Tarter’s vision for finding E.T.
And, the man who made it all possible: 400 years of Galileo and the telescope. Part of our series for the International Year of Astronomy.

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.

Seattle area astronomy swap meet

Free Astronomy Swap meet March 29th Sunday 10am to 4pm.

Clean out the garage get rid of that eyepiece you never use and turn it into cash or trade it for that other guys treasure or use your new found wealth to snag that new Ethos eyepiece you always wanted.

Besides swap meet there will be BBQ with Astro Hot Dogs, drinks, solar viewing, and raffle of Meade 8.8mm UWA eyepiece a $199 value.

I will provide some tables for swap meet and folding chairs. Please email or call if you are going to trade and if you can bring a solar telescope let me know ahead of time.

See you there.

Jim Bielaga-owner
Aurora Astro Products
11419 19th Avenue SE #A102 in Silver Lake Plaza
Everett, WA 98208
Web site: