Thursday, March 31, 2011

ScienceCast: The Superfluid Core of a Dead Star

Spring is Fireball Season

Source - NASA Science News for March 31, 2011

For reasons researchers do not understand, the rate of midnight fireballs increases during the weeks around the vernal equinox. It's a beautiful display, but where do they come from? NASA's growing network of fireball cameras is scanning the heavens for answers.


SOMETHING NEW: The Science@NASA team is pleased to announce a new product: the ScienceCast. Every week, we produce a short video highlighting a topic in breaking science news. This week's episode is "The Superfluid Core of a Dead Star." See it on Youtube:

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Vesta--Is it Really an Asteroid?

Source - NASA Science News for March 29, 2011

As NASA's Dawn spacecraft closes in on Vesta, researchers are wondering if the behemoth space rock is just an asteroid--or something more?


Vesta (model, 550px)

(Image copyright NASA)

Monday, March 28, 2011

Are We Alone for 03/28/11 - ¡A.I. Caramba!

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Are We Alone - ¡A.I. Caramba!

When the IBM computer, Watson, snatched the “Jeopardy” title from its human competition, that raised the question of just how smart are machines? Could artificial intelligence ever beat humans at their own game… of being human?

Hear why an A.I. expert says it’s time to make peace with your P.C.; the machines are coming. Also, why technology is already self-evolving, and presenting its own demands. Find out what technology wants.

And, a man who went head-to-chip with a computer and says machines will never beat the human mind. Plus, we take a voyage into “2011: An Emotional Odyssey.”


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.

Solar Radio Storm

Source - Space Weather News for March 28, 2011:

SOLAR RADIO STORM: A profusion of emerging sunspots has kicked off a days-long radio storm on the sun. VHF receivers on Earth are picking up loud bursts that sound like waves crashing on a beach. This ongoing event continues a recent trend of increasing activity as Solar Cycle 24 heats up. Check for audio and images of the instigating sunspots.

OUT-OF-THE-BOX SOLAR TELESCOPE: is pleased to offer an affordable solar telescope that allows you to safely observe sunspots with minimal setup or previous experience. Unlike other solar telescopes, this one works at night, too! Visit the Space Weather Store for details:

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Are We Alone for 03/21/11 - Skeptic Check: Monsters, Magic, and Music

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Are We Alone - Skeptic Check: Monsters, Magic, and Music

If Bigfoot walks through a forest and no one sees him, does he exist? It’s the job of paranormal investigator Joe Nickell to find out! Discover whether eyewitness accounts are reliable when it comes to tracking down the hirsute big guy and other monsters.

Also, on the subject of “seeing is believing”: how magic fools the brain.

Plus, in our potpourri show: can music boost brain power? A new study says listening to music makes brains happy. Does this support the dubious “Mozart Effect,” that claims listening to Wolfie’s compositions boosts IQ?

And, skeptic Phil Plait on why the so-called “super moon theory” doesn’t predict devastating earthquakes.

It’s Skeptic Check… but don’t take our word for it.


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.

South African bid for the Square Kilometre Array

The following is posted on behalf of Rod Marcel of the SKAAfrica Project:

Africa is bidding to host the world's most powerful radio telescope, the Square Kilometre Array (SKA). When constructed, in 2025, it will have 50 times greater sensitivity than any other radio telescope on Earth. The SKA will probe the edges of our universe, even before the first stars and galaxies that formed after the Big Bang. This telescope will contribute to answering fundamental questions in astronomy, physics and cosmology, including the nature of dark energy and dark matter.

South Africa is leading the African bid and has already legislated to create 12.5 million hectares of protected area - or radio astronomy reserve. This area is also referred to as the Karoo Central Astronomy Advantage Area, offering low levels of radio frequency interference, very little light pollution, basic infrastructure of roads, electricity and communication.

The human story began in Africa and it can also be the place where we find answers to the story of our universe. I've created a comprehensive resource that you're welcome to explore:

Thank you,

Rod Marcel

Friday, March 18, 2011

Historic First: A Spacecraft Orbits Mercury

Source - NASA Science News for March 18, 2011

NASA’s MESSENGER spacecraft successfully achieved orbit around Mercury at approximately 9 p.m. EDT on March 17th. This marks the first time a spacecraft has orbited the solar system's innermost planet.


Orbit Mercury (orbit Mercury, 550px)
(Image copyright NASA)

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Super Full Moon - March 19, 2011

Source - NASA Science News for March 16, 2011

On March 19th, a full Moon of rare size and beauty will rise in the east at sunset. It's a super "perigee moon"--the biggest in almost 20 years.


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Finally! NASA Prepares to Orbit Mercury

Source - NASA Science News for March 15, 2011

It's not easy to visit Mercury, but NASA is about to settle in for a long stay. The MESSENGER probe enters orbit around the innermost planet on March 17th.


MESSENGER Poised to Orbit Mercury (inorbit, 200px)

(Image copyright NASA)

Monday, March 14, 2011

See Mercury at Sunset

Source - NASA Science News for March 14, 2011

This week, sky watchers have a rare opportunity to see Mercury at its best as NASA's MESSENGER probe prepares to enter orbit around the innermost planet.


Sunday, March 13, 2011

Final Colas For The Cosmos Giveaway: Five Pair of 4-in-1 Digital Binocular Camera

This will be the final giveaway for my Colas For The Cosmos project. I meant to give these 4-in-1 Digital Binocular Cameras away last year before Christmas but "stuff" got in the way.

Here is a brief description of the binocular cameras from the Coke Rewards site:

"The unique 4-in-1 Digital Binocular Camera features a specially designed 5X telescopic lens. That, combined with its high-speed shutter, lets the built-in digital camera produce amazing freeze-frame action pictures. It stores 75 images in VGA (640 x 480 resolution) or 300 images in CIF (352 x 288 resolution). Finally, you can document the view through your binoculars so you and others can experience it for years to come. These binoculars record video clips (up to 13fps), too. Images easily download to your computer via included USB cable and software disc. 4-in-1 Capability: Binoculars + Digital Camera + Digital Video + PC Camera."

Here is the URL for the complete description and picture of the binocular cameras:

I would prefer to give these to children, or teachers who know of children who have an interest in astronomy and live in the Puget Sound region.

Please email me using the link include in the "Welcome" section on the left hand side of this blog.

As to why this is the final giveaway, well to be honest quality of the items Coke is giving away via the rewards program is declining, and I am burning out. Entering all those codes is hard on my eyes.

Cheers, and happy star gazing ~ Jim Cox

UPDATE: 04/10/11:

All five pair of binoculars have been given away. One pair for a friends son, another for a Settle Astronomical Society member's daughter, and three were donated to to the Pacific Science Center for the space camp-in that was held this weekend:

Are We Alone for 03/14/11 - Who's on First?

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Are We Alone - Who's on First?

ENCORE Being first counts in science. Land that coveted spot and you’ll make history, whether it’s with the first steam engine or the discovery of our earliest human ancestor.

But what does “first” mean when technological invention so heavily builds on what’s come before… and evolution represents continuous change?

Find out how “publish or perish” made Darwin famous… why we’ll never find the first human fossil… and how powerful new telescopes are allowing us to see the earliest galaxies.

Plus, the chicken and egg battle it out in line.


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 11, 2011

Auroras Invade the USA

Source - Space Weather News for March 11, 2011:

AURORAS IN THE USA: A coronal mass ejection (CME) hit Earth's magnetic field on March 10th. The impact set off a G1-class geomagnetic storm and sent Northern Lights rippling over the US-Canadian border into states such as Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Michigan. Sky watchers who hadn't seen auroras in years captured beautiful photos of green and purple streamers. This is another sign that Solar Cycle 24 is heating up. Check for photos and updates.

GEOMAGNETIC STORM ALERTS: Would you like a call when geomagnetic storms erupt? Sign up for Space Weather PHONE ( or Space Weather TEXT ( and never miss another aurora surprise.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

X-class Solar Flare

Source - Space Weather News for March 10, 2011:

X-CLASS SOLAR FLARE: March 9th ended with a powerful solar flare. Less than an hour before midnight (UT), Earth-orbiting satellites detected an X1.5-class explosion from behemoth sunspot 1166. First-look data suggest that the blast did hurl some material toward Earth. Check for movies of the flare and updates on its possible effects.

SOLAR FLARE ALERTS: Would you like a call when the next X-flare erupts? Sign up for Spaceweather PHONE: . (Text alerts are available, too, from .)

Monday, March 07, 2011

Discovery-ISS Double Flyby Alert

Source - Space Weather News for March 7, 2011:

DOUBLE FLYBY ALERT: This morning, March 7th, space shuttle Discovery undocked from the International Space Station. This sets the stage for a spectacular series of double flyby sighting opportunities. The station and shuttle will be flying over parts of the United States and Europe tonight and tomorrow, appearing in the night sky as a closely-spaced pair of bright lights. This is also a last chance to see Discovery in flight, because the orbiter will be retired after landing in Florida on Wednesday, March 9th.

Check the Simple Satellite Tracker ( or download our smartphone flybys app ( to find out when to look. If you'd like a phone call when the ISS is about to fly over your location, sign up for Space Weather Phone: .

Hoot Gibson and Pluto protest top week's astro calendar

Here's a shout out from Greg Scheiderer's blog:

Dueling space fun Saturday: The fourth annual Pluto is a Planet Protest and a talk by astronaut Hoot Gibson blast off at the same hour this weekend, so you can only choose one.

Also, Monday is freebie day at the Pacific Science Center, thanks to Freddy.

More at:*

Greg Scheiderer

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Are We Alone for 03/06/11 - Eureka!

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Are We Alone - Eureka!

ENCORE From the double-helix to the expansion of the universe, great scientific discoveries reshape our understanding of who we are and how things work. But great discoveries require more than just a great mind. We tour brainy breakthroughs from Archimedes to Darwin, and find out what made their revolutionary insights possible.

Also, why you need more than a stratospheric I.Q. to be a super-achiever. And how the invention of reading re-directed the course of civilization and re-wired our brains in the process.


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.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Mystery of the Missing Sunspots, Solved?

Source - NASA Science News for March 2, 2011

When solar activity recently plunged into a century-class minimum, many experts were puzzled. Now a group of researchers say they have cracked the mystery of the missing sunspots.


Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Geomagnetic Storm on March 1st

Source - Space Weather News for March 1, 2011:

GEOMAGNETIC STORM: A solar wind stream hit Earth's magnetic field during the early hours of March 1st. The impact sparked a polar geomagnetic storm that was, at first, minor, but the storm has been intensifying throughout the day. If the trend continues, high-latitude sky watchers will likely witness bright auroras after nightfall on March 1-2. Northern-tier US states such as Maine, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Washington could be favored with photographic and/or visual displays. Check for updates.

AURORA ALERTS: Would you like a call when geomagnetic storms erupt in your area? Sign up for (phone) or (text).

What's Hitting Earth?

Source - NASA Science News for March 1, 2011

Have you ever seen a fireball streak through the night sky and gone to bed wondering, "What was that?" NASA is deploying a network of smart cameras that could have an answer waiting for you when you wake up.