Thursday, December 30, 2010

Asteroid Itokawa Sample Return

Source - NASA Science News for Dec. 30, 2010

It was one of the most compelling space stories of 2010: The Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency's Hayabusa spacecraft returned to Earth with tiny pieces of asteroid Itokawa. In today's article from Science@NASA, a NASA specialist on the Hayabusa science team describes the nail-biting sample return and hints at new results from the ongoing analysis.


Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Storms on Saturn and Earth

Source - Space Weather News for Dec. 28, 2011:

BIG STORM ON SATURN: Got a telescope for Christmas? Point it at Saturn. A giant storm even brighter than Saturn's rings is raging through the planet's cloudtops. Amateur images and sky maps are featured on today's edition of

GEOMAGNETIC STORM IN PROGRESS: At the time this alert is being written (mid-day UT on Dec. 28), a polar geomagnetic storm is in progress (Kindex=5). Observers report electric currents in the ground and intensifying Northern Lights over Scandinavia. High-latitude sky watchers should be alert for auroras: .

LRO: Two interesting articles on NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter

NASA and CNet posted two articles recently about the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO). Both articles are very interesting and are worth a read if you have the time:

NASA: NASA's LRO Creating Unprecedented Topographic Map of Moon

CNet: NASA's LOLA maps the moon (photos)

Ejoy reading them and feel free to comment ~ Jim

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Are We Alone for 12/27/10 - Seth's Storage Locker

Image for Are We Alone weekly radio show
Are We Alone - Seth's Storage Locker

ENCORE It’s always an adventure to go digging in Seth’s storage locker – who knows what we’ll find …

In this imposing pile of paraphernalia, tucked between boxes of socket wrenches and old 45s, we stumble upon the hunt for extrasolar planets, the evidence for water on moons of the solar system, theories of language, a controversial hypothesis for the peopling of the Americas, and a new dinosaur fossil.


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.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Invitation: Astronomy Symposium - Jan 28, 2011

Posted on behalf of Astrolink member - Farnaz Ghadaki:

The Astronomy & Space Exploration Society (ASX) would like to invite you to its signature event, the annual Symposium. This event has attracted up to 1400 attendees in a single event, and has featured world-renowned speakers including: Chris Hadfield (Canadian Astronaut), Anousheh Ansari (First Female Private Space Explorer), Dr. Carolyn Porco (Space Science Institute), Prof. Mike Brown (Discoverer of the 10th planet), Dr. Firouz Naderi (NASA JPL), Prof. Peter Schultz (Brown University/NASA LCROSS), Dr. Bob Richards (Odyssey Moon; ISU Co-Founder), and Dr. Darlene Lim (NASA Ames).

Please see below for the event details, and feel free to share this information with others.

ASX’s 8th Annual ‘Expanding Canada’s Frontiers’ Symposium
"Unravelling The Universe"

The Astronomy & Space Exploration Society (ASX) at the University of Toronto invites you to this exciting event!

* Prof. Alexei V. Filippenko, University of California at Berkeley
* Dr. Michel Lefebvre, Professor at University of Victoria, Deputy Team Leader of ATLAS detector at LHC
* Prof. Gilbert Holder, McGill University; Canada Research Chair in Cosmological Astrophysics

DATE & TIME: Friday, January 28, 2011, 7:00 PM
(Doors open at 6:00 PM, reception at 10 PM)

LOCATION: Convocation Hall, University of Toronto (31 King’s College Circle, Toronto)

Students: FREE* (with pre-registration), via:
* From ANY University, College, or School (with ID)
General Public: $20 ($15 until Jan 6, 5pm) from UofT TIX: Phone #: (416) 978-8849

ABOUT: The quest to understand the universe has been an endeavour of humans for centuries. In recent years, scientific research and discoveries in the astrophysics and particle physics arena have been increasing in numbers and gaining much popularity. Recognizing this, ASX is pleased to present a line-up of prominent speakers and relevant talk topics relating to the 'unraveling of the universe'. The talks feature phenomenon relating all the way from quarks to quasars - from latest particle physics research at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), to Galaxy clusters and gravitational lensing, to supernovae, dark energy, and black holes.

More info:

Are We Alone for 12/20/10 - Skeptic Check: Cell Phone Danger

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Are We Alone - Skeptic Check: Cell Phone Danger

Every ten microseconds, someone places a cell phone call. These portable gadgets are ubiquitous, and increasingly a take-for-granted part of everyday life.

But could cell phones be dangerous? Could holding a microwave transmitter up to your head for hours each day substantially increase the risk of cancer?

We investigate some of the latest thinking on the danger of cell phones, and also explain that everyone – even you – is a radio transmitter.

It’s Skeptic Check on Are We Alone. And we’ve got your number.


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, December 18, 2010

Total Eclipse of the Moon

Source - Space Weather News for Dec. 19, 2010:

LUNAR ECLIPSE: For the first time in many years, northern winter is beginning with a total lunar eclipse. On Dec. 21, 2010, the date of the northern winter solstice, the full Moon will pass through Earth's shadow, turning the lunar orb a delightful shade of coppery-red. Sky watchers in North America are favored with an overhead view as the eclipse unfolds on Tuesday morning between 02:41 am and 03:53 am EST. Visit for full coverage of the event including live webcasts, observing tips, and a look at the surprising connection between lunar eclipses and Earth's climate.

SOMETHING NEW: is proud to announce SpaceWeather TEXT, an innovative alert service that turns your cell phone into a real-time space weather monitoring system. Subscribers receive text messages announcing X-class solar flares, geomagnetic storms, and CME impacts as they are happening. Learn more at .

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Solstice Lunar Eclipse

Source - NASA Science News for Dec. 17, 2010

Northern winter is beginning in a special way. On Dec. 21st, the winter solstice, a lunar eclipse will be visible across all of North America.


Monday, December 13, 2010

Global Eruption Rocks the Sun

Source - NASA Science News for Dec. 13, 2010

A global eruption on the sun has shattered old ideas about solar activity. Researchers presented their surprising findings at a press conference today at the American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco.


Sunday, December 12, 2010

Geminid Meteors and a "Spiral Asteroid"

Souce - Space Weather News for Dec. 12, 2010:

GEMINID METEOR SHOWER: The Geminid meteor shower peaks this year on Dec. 13th and 14th. Forecasters say meteor rates could exceed 100 per hour for observers under dark rural skies. For best results, start your meteor watch on Monday night, Dec. 13th, around midnight. Keep an eye out for Geminids until sunrise on Tuesday, Dec. 14th. There's no special trick to seeing the Geminids. Bundle up for maximum warmth, go outside, lie down and look up. Geminids can appear in any part of the sky, but all their tails will point back to the radiant in the constellation Gemini. Check for updates, images and a sky map.

SPIRAL ASTEROID: Put this in the "weird" category. Main belt asteroid (596) Scheila has suddenly developed an apparently spiral-shaped tail. The surprising structure might be a result of a recent asteroid-asteroid collision, or perhaps a sign that this asteroid is really a comet. An image of Scheila is featured on today's edition of

UNIQUE CHRISTMAS GIFT: Would you like to put friends and family in closer touch with the night sky? SpaceWeather PHONE makes a unique Christmas gift for the stargazer in your life. More information at ...

Are We Alone for 12/13/10 - Method to Our Mathness

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Are We Alone - Method to Our Mathness

The language of science is mathematics. As incredible as it seems, the universe seems to run according to laws we can write down on chalkboards.

But it’s not just lab-coated researchers who wield the tool of math: Madison Avenue knows that if they tell you that a shampoo is 32 percent better, you’re likely to buy it.

Also, how scientists of the early twentieth century were forced to invent entirely new mathematical paradigms to describe the cosmos on big scales and small – the theories of general relativity and quantum mechanics.

Plus, what about everyday arithmetic? Have pocket calculators and digital cash registers dumbed down the populace?


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.

Video: New SETI strategies - Seth Shostak (SETI Talks)

A friend from Facebook recently posted a link to this video of Seth Shostak speaking of new strategies for SETI, and I found it so interesting and entertaining that I decided to repost it here. The video is approximately 53 minutes long so set some time aside to watch:

The setiinstitute channel on YouTube has a lot of interesting videos and I plan to repost some of them on this blog in the future.

Cheers ~ Jim Cox
PS: I am always interested in meeting other astronomy enthusiasts, so if you happen to be on Facebook then look me up at:

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

NASA SDO - Filament eruption on December 6, 2010

Here is a video courtesy of NASA of the huge magnetic filament that erupted from the Sun on 12/06/2010:

You can find other interesting videos from NASA at the NASA Little SDO HMI channel on YouTube.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Geminid Meteors Defy Explanation

Source - NASA Science News for Dec. 7, 2010

The annual Geminid meteor shower peaks this year on Dec. 13th and 14th. Researchers don't fully understand the Geminids, and new measurements, they say, make it more mysterious than ever.


Solar Mega-filament

Source - Space Weather News for Dec. 6, 2010:

A spectacular filament of magnetism is snaking around the sun's southeastern limb. From end to end it stretches more than 700,000 km--a full solar radius or almost twice the distance from Earth to the Moon. The massive structure is an easy target for backyard telescopes (monitoring is encouraged) and it has the potential for an impressive eruption if it happens to collapse in the hours or days ahead. Check for pictures and updates.

SPACE WEATHER ALERTS: Would you like a call when solar storms hit Earth? Sign up for Space Weather Phone:

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Are We Alone for 12/06/10 - Early Adapters

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Are We Alone - Early Adapters

You are one-of-a-kind, unique and indispensible. Oh, wait … never mind! It seems that computer over there can do what you do … only faster and with greater accuracy.

Yes, it’s silicon vs. carbon as intelligent, interactive machines out-perform humans in tasks beyond data-crunching. We’re not only building our successors, we’re developing emotional relationships with them. Find out why humans are hard-wired to be attached to androids.

Also, the handful of areas where humans still rule… as pilots, doctors, and journalists. Scratch that! Journalism is automated too – tune in for a news story written solely by a machine.


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, December 02, 2010

Discovery of "Arsenic-bug" Expands Definition of Life

Source - NASA Science News for Dec. 2, 2010

Astrobiologists have discovered the first known microorganism on Earth able to thrive and reproduce using the toxic chemical arsenic. The microorganism, which lives in California's Mono Lake, substitutes arsenic for phosphorus in the backbone of its DNA.