Sunday, March 31, 2019
Saturday, March 30, 2019
Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day is a anaglyph (three-dimensional) image of Comet 1969 67P Churyumov-Gerasimenko, courtesy of the ESA's Rosetta probe. Want more? There's a catalog of 1400 such images. Break out your red-green glasses!
Friday, March 29, 2019
Thursday, March 28, 2019
Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day peers into Messier 15, a globular cluster in the constellation of Pegasus. Look carefully. Do you see the sparkles? The animated image highlights so-called RR Lyrae stars, variable stars with shifts in brightness (sometimes quite dramatic shifts) of less than a day.
Wednesday, March 27, 2019
Tuesday, March 26, 2019
Monday, March 25, 2019
Sunday, March 24, 2019
Saturday, March 23, 2019
Friday, March 22, 2019
As we move into spring in the northern hemisphere (and fall in the southern), today's Astronomy Picture of the Day brings us the winter skies over Lake Superior. Zodiacal light, auroral activity, far galaxies and the arch of our own home galaxy are on display.
Thursday, March 21, 2019
Wednesday, March 20, 2019
Tuesday, March 19, 2019
A look at using wargames to think about hypothetical situations: an invasion by Russia into the Baltic. The article focuses on "professional" wargames (exercises by governments), but does mention some possible uses of commercial games as a source of research.
The problem that I see here is that professional wargames comes with professional price tags. They also take a long time to roll out. Maybe a better approach would be a combination of large-scale professional wargames plus easily obtainable commercial games?
Commercial games can be a valuable teaching tool. Not only do you (by a process of osmosis) learn history, but you can learn to think about hypothetical situations (such as the one that opens the above article). Rather than get stuck in an endless development cycle to try and attain the standards listed in the above article, maybe use something like this game to get leaders at all levels thinking about the implications of actions at a tactical, strategic or operational level?
Here's a review of one such commercial game, Empire of the Sun, designed by Mark Herman and published by GMT Games. One interview with the designer spoke about how he played the game with an actual practitioner (at around one hour, three minutes) of the naval craft. The admiral in question may have been mystified by the game at first (cardboard counters), but knew how to play the "game" of running fleets and implementing a strategy.
Monday, March 18, 2019
Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day focuses on one of my favorite things in the winter sky of the northern hemisphere: the Orion Nebula, Messier 42, in the constellation of Orion. Nestled within the larger complex is a dark nebula known as the Horsehead. Also can be seen the Flame Nebula, the Running Man Nebula. Can you find any shapes?
Sunday, March 17, 2019
Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day brings us Messier 106, a spiral galaxy in the constellation of Canes Venatici. M106 is a good example of a Seyfert Galaxy, an island universe with high levels of activity.
Saturday, March 16, 2019
Friday, March 15, 2019
Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day is entry 101 in the Messier Catalog, found in the constellation of Ursa Major. It is particularly well situated for observing this time of year in the northern hemisphere.
One famous observer in the northern hemisphere was the Leviathan of Parsontown. If you get a chance, look up some of the drawings by Lord Rosse.
Thursday, March 14, 2019
From May 13, 2018, some of the final images transmitted by MSL Opportunity. A panoramic view of Perseverance Valley, Mars.
Addendum: It appears that this is also today's Astronomy Picture of the Day!
Wednesday, March 13, 2019
Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day brings us the highlights of the Spring 2019 for the Northern Hemisphere. Early spring, during the dark of the Moon is when amateur astronomers lose sleep and try to tick off as many items as they can for the Messier Marathon. (If you don't think sitting outside for an entire night of a northern hemisphere early spring isn't an endurance test, give it a try!).
A view from the southern hemisphere is below.
Tuesday, March 12, 2019
Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day is a short video (in the link) of JAXA's Hayabusa2 landing (well, touching down and bouncing off of) on asteroid 162173 Ryugu. The vehicle has already fired a "bullet" into the asteroid to see if it is possible that a larger "bullet" will be able to collect a sample, has extensively imaged the asteroid, may land again, and will hang around for most of the year before meandering back to Earth with the collected samples.
Exciting times for robotic exploration!
Monday, March 11, 2019
Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day combines images from the SOFIA airborne observatory, the Kitt Peak National Observatory on the ground and the orbiting Spitzer Space Telescope to study the inner workings of Messier 82, the Cigar Galaxy. Signs of the galactic magnetic field are captured here, linked to the "galactic wind", showing how both help the circulation of newly created stars from where they are created and out into the rest of the galaxy.
Sunday, March 10, 2019
Over at Nature, Jamie Morin talks about traffic...in spaaaaaaccceee!
It's actually becoming a serious problem. There are more than hundreds of thousands artificial objects in space. Many are working satellites, ranging from scientific platforms (Hubble) to communications satellites (channeling everything from what you read on the internet to what you watch on your television) to GPS providers (getting you around strange places).
In addition to working vehicles, there are many pieces of debris. These pose a serious hazard as they could not only knock a hole in a crewed vehicle, but could knock out a vital piece of global infrastructure. The nightmare scenario would be the so-called Kessler Effect/Syndrome, where a cascade of debris creates more debris, and further more debris...until the orbital infrastructure is seriously compromised and the ability to launch (or service what is left) may not happen.
What can we do? There are solutions (but they will require serious plans and serious funds). Will we ever be able to send up the Toybox?
Saturday, March 9, 2019
Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day brings us Saturn's moon Enceladus in crescent phase. Is there life under those plains of ice? There certainly seems to be a ocean under the ice, what else lies beneath?
Friday, March 8, 2019
Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows Messier 78, dust clouds and nebula found in the constellation of Orion, one of my favorite regions to explore in the winter night skies of the northern hemisphere.
Thursday, March 7, 2019
Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day focuses on the region of the constellation Gemini, riding high in the northern hemisphere skies this time of the year. Sharpless 249 is on the left and cosmic sea inhabitant IC 443, the Jellyfish Nebula, is on the right. IC 443 is related in origin to Messier 1, The Crab Nebula in that not only do both have oceanic nicknames but both were born from supernova events.
Wednesday, March 6, 2019
Tuesday, March 5, 2019
Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows bubbles in the structure of galaxy NGC 3079. What created them? One theory is interaction with a supermassive black hole within the galaxy. "Mouseover" the image in the link to see how everything lines up.
Monday, March 4, 2019
Sunday, March 3, 2019
Saturday, March 2, 2019
Friday, March 1, 2019
Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows Comet Iwamoto (C/2018 Y1) in the constellation of Auriga, the Charioteer. The greenish color is from the presence of diatomic carbon molecules (but I still opt for a more sinister reason).