Scenes from Space #6

I've never personally seen the Northern Lights, but I'd love to someday. The Northern Lights - also called the Aurora Borealis - are caused by the interaction of solar flares from the the Sun with the Earth's magnetic field. They look like they are really close, but they actually occur 100 kilometers or more above the Earth's surface. September has been a great month for Northern Lights, because the Sun has been particularly active lately.

Scenes from Space #5

Of the four major moons of Jupiter, Io is the innermost. The most interesting thing about Io is that it is the most volcanically active body in the solar system. But these aren't Earth-type lava-spewing volcanoes. Volcanoes on Io emit sulfur dioxide and molten sulfur, which is what gives Io it's amazing coloration.

Scenes from Space #4

This image of the Helix Nebula was taken by the Hubble Space Telescope. This image has always freaked me out. It's like a great big scary eyeball staring at us from outer space! In actuality, its just the gaseous envelope ejected by a dying star. This image always reminds me that the universe is a beautiful place, and is always full of surprises.

Scenes from Space #3

This image was taken by the Mars robotic rover Opportunity. It was taken two miles south of Endurance Crater, at a site named Rub al Khali. This image is actually nearly 100 individual images stiched together to create a 360 panorama. The coolest part about this image is that you can see the rover's tracks receding off into the distance in the center of the frame.

In other Mars news, I may get the opportunity to do some work on an instrument that will be on an upcoming Mars rover. How cool is that?! I'll keep you posted.

Scenes from Space

Enjoy the second installment of "Scenes from Space"!

This image was taken by Hubble in June of this year, when Mars was ~43 million miles from Earth — the closest it's been since 1988. Speaking of Mars being close to the Earth - there is a rumor going around about Mars. There has been an email circulating that on August 27th, 2005, Mars will be so close to the Earth that it will be as big in the sky as the full moon. This is just ridiculous! While Mars will be closer than it has been in a LONG time, The actual difference distance is only about 1%. So Mars will look about 1% bigger in the sky than on a normal approach. If Mars were to actually be close enough to look as big as the full moon, its gravity would throw earth out of its normal orbit and raise huge, terrible tides. So be sure to check out Mars this fall, but don't buy into this hoax!

Scenes from Space

Enjoy the first installment of "Scenes from Space". Every Friday, I will post a space-related image and a little description of it. I frequent a lot of space-related websites, and this is a way that I can share some of the neat things I find with you guys!

This first image is one taken during the Perseid meteor shower last August. The photographer is the astronomer Fred Bruenjes. He recorded a series of 30 second exposures spanning six hours during the meteor shower. This year, the Perseids meteor shower will peak in the early morning hours on Friday, August 12 - but can also be seen during the wee hours of the morning on Saturday. If you're interested in this meteor shower, be sure to catch it this year. Next year there will be a full moon during the peak of the shower, making it too bright to see any meteors.