Posts belonging to Category Space

The Size of the Earth Compared to Other Objects in Space

Here are some great pictures showing the size of the earth in comparison to other objects in space. I shared these in church yesterday as part of a sermon on Psalm 8. You can click on the pictures to see a larger version.

“When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?” (Psalm 8:3-4)

1. Earth compared to the smaller planets (Venus, Mars, Mercury and Pluto):

Earth compared to smaller planets (Venus, Mars, Mercury and Pluto)

2. Earth compared to the larger planets (Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune):

Earth compared to larger planets (Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune)

3. The larger planets compared to the Sun:

The larger planets compared to the Sun

4. Our Sun compared to Sirius, Pollux and Arcturus:

Our Sun compared to Sirius, Pollux and Arcturus

5. Sirius, Pollux and Arcturus compared to Rigel, Aldebaran, Antares
    and Betelgeuse:

Sirius, Pollux and Arcturus compared to Rigel, Aldebaran, Antares, and Betelgeuse

                     Recommended Books on Astronomy


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2007 Astronomy Pictures of the Year

Markarian’s Eyes

I have posted a number of pictures from the Astronomy Picture of the Day site (APOD) throughout the year. Now APOD has posted APOY: Astronomy Pictures of the Year!

Looking back over the past year, the editors of the Astronomy Picture of the Day (APOD) have decided to list 12 of the more memorable images that have been posted to APOD in 2007. There was certainly no shortage of breathtaking images to choose from — with robotic cameras orbiting Mars and rolling around its surface, the Cassini spacecraft at Saturn, space telescopes exploring the cosmos, and ground-based imaging with increasingly sophisticated hardware and software … Hopefully, you will recognize at least one of your own favorites here!

Click here for more posts on astronomy.

Sputnik 50th Anniversary Today

Today marks the 50th anniversary of the launching of Sputnik 1 on October 4, 1957. Here is an interesting article on Sputnik from the New York Times.

Fifty years ago, before most people living today were born, the beep-beep-beep of Sputnik was heard round the world. It was the sound of wonder and foreboding. Nothing would ever be quite the same again — in geopolitics, in science and technology, in everyday life and the capacity of the human species.

The Soviet Union had launched the first artificial satellite, a new moon, on Oct. 4, 1957. Climbing out of the terrestrial gravity well, rising above the atmosphere and into orbit, Sputnik crossed the threshold into a new dimension of human experience. People could now see their kind as spacefarers . . .

A simple sphere weighing just 184 pounds and not quite two feet wide, it had a highly polished surface of aluminum, the better to reflect sunlight and be visible from Earth. Two radio transmitters with whiskery antennas issued steady signals on frequencies that scientists and ham operators could pick up, and so confirm the achievement . . .

Full Moon Rising over Saguaro National Park

Here is an incredible picture of the full moon rising over Saguaro National Park near Tuscon, Arizona. The picture was taken by astronomy photographer Stefan Seip on the evening of May 31, 2007 (June 1, 2007; 3:23 UT).

Full Moon Rising over Saguaro National Park

This is also an example of a “Blue Moon,” the second full moon to occur in a single calendar month. As viewed from the Americas, there were two full moons in May 2007 – one on May 2, and this one on the evening of May 31. Blue moons are infrequent, as in the expression, “Just once in a blue moon.” There will not be another one until the end of December 2009.

You can see more of Seip’s amazing space photos at his AstroMeeting website.


Click links below for more Moon related posts:

Click here for more Space related posts.

News and Notes 8/29/2007

A whole lot of nothing. “University of Minnesota astronomers have found an enormous hole in the Universe, nearly a billion light-years across, empty of both normal matter such as stars, galaxies and gas, as well as the mysterious, unseen ‘dark matter.’ While earlier studies have shown holes, or voids, in the large-scale structure of the Universe, this new discovery dwarfs them all.”

Red on the way out? National Geographic magazine reports that redheads are becoming rarer and could be extinct in 100 years. Best chance to preserve redheadedness? Move to Scotland where an estimated 40 per cent of Scots carry the red gene and 13 per cent actually have red hair.

Rumor police. Police in east China have arrested or warned 60 people for spreading rumors or threats through text messages and the Internet since the beginning of the year. “Rumors spread by modern means of communication can be a greater menace to society than those spread by word of mouth,” said Xia Cunxi, spokesman of the Jiangsu Provincial Public Security Department. If they arrested people in the United States for spreading internet rumors, half of us would be in jail.

Google Earth Looks to the Sky

From today’s New York Times:

Google is unveiling within Google Earth today a new service called Sky that will allow users to view the skies as seen from Earth. Like Google Earth, Sky will let users fly around and zoom in, exposing increasingly detailed imagery of some 100 million stars and 200 million galaxies.

“You will be able to browse into the sky like never before,” said Carol Christian, an astronomer with the Space Telescope Science Institute, a nonprofit academic consortium that supports the Hubble Space Telescope.

While other programs allow users to explore the skies, they typically combine a mix of representations of stars and galaxies that are overlaid with photographs, Ms. Christian said. “These are really the images of the sky. Everything is real.”

The Sky imagery was stitched together from more than one million photographs from scientific and academic sources, including the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, the Palomar Observatory at the California Institute of Technology and the NASA-financed Hubble.

The Sky service features different layers showing the various constellations, a user’s guide to the galaxies, as well as the future position of planets and the moon. There is even a “backyard astronomy” layer which highlights stars, galaxies and nebulae that are visible to the naked eye, with binoculars or with small telescopes.

Here is a video of Sky in action:

(Video length: 1:05)

Viewing Tips for the Perseid Meteor Shower

George Varros shot this amazing photo during the Perseid Meteor shower, in Mount Airy, Maryland, on Aug. 12, 2006.

The 2007 Perseid meteor shower will peak this Sunday night, August 12. Depending on light and weather conditions, you should be able to see 90-100 meteors per hour during the late hours of the night. This year’s Perseids coinciding with the new moon should yield especially spectacular results.

“It’s going to be a great show,” said Bill Cooke of NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama. “The Moon is new on August 12, which means no moonlight, dark skies and plenty of meteors.”

Here are some suggestions from for best viewing:

  1. Find a comfortable spot with a clear view of the northeast horizon, away from local lights. A dark rural location is best.
  2. Lie back on a blanket or lounge chair and scan the entire sky. In the late evening, starting around 9 p.m. local time, sharp-eyed observers might see “earthgrazing” meteors that skim the northeast horizon.
  3. Later and during the overnight hours, the shooting stars will be higher in the sky as Perseus rises.
  4. Telescopes and binoculars are no help, as the meteors move too swiftly and are best observed with the naked eye.

Of additional interest:

Hubble Takes Photo of Veil Nebula

Hubble Photo of the Veil Nebula

Astronomers released photos today from the Hubble Space Telescope of the Veil Nebula (also known as the Witch’s Broom Nebula) – the distant remains of a star that went supernova some 1,500 light-years away from Earth.

The Hubble close-ups reveal the rope-like filaments of gas in the nebula, which resulted from enormous amounts of dusty debris plowing into gaseous surroundings. Thicker filaments of material result from viewing the supernova’s shock wave edge-on, while more wispy and diffuse views correspond to a face-on view of other parts of the shock wave from Earth. (from )

International Space Station Photos

Here are two great recent photos of the International Space Station (ISS). The first was taken by the STS-117 Shuttle Crew while in space. The second was taken by astronomers at a Boston-area high school from the ground.

International Space Station - June 19, 2007
The International Space Station Expands Again
Credit: STS-117 Shuttle Crew, NASA

Explanation: The developing International Space Station (ISS) has changed its appearance again. During the past week, the Space Shuttle Atlantis visited the ISS and added pieces of the Integrated Truss Structure that mirrored those added in September 2006, including a second impressively long array of solar panels. The entire array of expansive solar panels are visible at the edges of the above image taken by the Shuttle Atlantis Crew after leaving the ISS to return to Earth. The world’s foremost space outpost can be seen developing over the past several years by comparing the above image to past images. Also visible above are many different types of modules, a robotic arm, another impressive set of solar panels, and a supply ship. Construction began on the ISS in 1998.

International Space Station - A Visit from Atlantis
A Visit from Atlantis
Credit & Copyright: Ron Dantowitz, Marek Kozubal, Clay Center Observatory
Dexter and Southfield Schools

Explanation: This remarkable image of the space shuttle orbiter Atlantis docked with the International Space Station (ISS) was taken at a range of 190 nautical miles. To record the fast moving pair, last week astronomers at Clay Center Observatory, near Boston, Massachusetts, planet Earth, used a satellite tracking system and 25-inch diameter telescope in combination with a digital video camera. In the sharp picture, Atlantis is below and left of center. The aft view shows three main engines just below its vertical tail glinting in the sunlight. With the Sun shining from below, the body of the orbiter casts a long shadow across the ISS itself and impressive details of the ISS solar arrays used for power generation are easily visible. The large set of solar arrays installed at the lower right was delivered during this visit from Atlantis.

Recommended Books on the Space Station:


News and Notes – 6/16/2007

Baby Monitor Plays Space Shuttle Video Space baby monitor. Natalie Meilinger’s baby monitor is acting strangely. Instead of monitoring her children, the baby monitor is picking up live video from inside NASA’s space shuttle Atlantis. The mother of two is fascinated with the video feed. “I’ve been addicted to it and keep waiting to see what’s next,” Meilinger said.

World wide web. More than 1.1 billion of the world’s estimated 6.6 billion people are now online. Nearly 300 million people, almost a third of those online, access the internet on high-speed lines. The US has the most broadband users with more than 60 million subscribers. China is in second place with with more than 56 million and quickly closing the gap. South Korea has the world’s greatest percentage of broadband users with nearly 90% of households online. Internet usage in developing countries, especially in Africa, lags behind the rest of the world. Many of these emerging economies lack basic telephone service, never mind access to the internet.

News and Notes – 5/29/2007

Monster PigBig pig. Talk about bringing home the bacon! 11-year old Jamison Stone shot and killed what may be the biggest pig on record. The Alabama boy was hunting in the woods with his father on May 3 when he came upon the wild pig. The giant boar measured 9 feet 4 inches in length and weighed in at 1,051 pounds. That is even bigger than the famous 800-pound Hogzilla killed in Georgia back in 2004.

Found bees. Remember the vanishing bees story from last month? Well, it looks like they found some of them: in an attic, in a jet engine, and at a fundraiser.

Space trip. Do you want to take a trip into space? Virgin Galactic hopes to start testing it’s space passenger ship in 2008 and begin passenger flights in 2010. Can’t afford the $200,000 price tag? Not to worry. Virgin Galactic’s chief operating officer, Alex Tai, said the costs should drop to $100,000 or even lower in later years.

2007 Lyrid Meteor Shower Coming on Sunday

I love meteor showers. I once was driving through the state of Colorado at night when the sky positively erupted with falling stars. I pulled my car over into a nearby cornfield, lay on top of the roof, and enjoyed God’s light show for over an hour before things calmed down again.

The Lyrid Meteor Shower will be observable in the sky this weekend. Although the Lyrids have not been particularly strong in recent years, they are notably unpredictable and can sometimes offer up a spectacular show. offers the following facts about the Lyrids Meteor Shower:

The Lyrid meteor shower has been observed for more than 2,000 years; Chinese records say “stars fell like rain” during the shower of 687 BC … In 1982 the rate unexpectedly reached 90 for a single hour — and 180 to 300 per hour for a few minutes. A brief outburst of 100 per hour was also seen in 1922. And on April 20, 1803, residents of Richmond, Virginia, upon being rousted out of bed by a fire bell, were startled to see great numbers of meteors in all parts of the sky.”

In the United States the Lyrids are due to peak this year during the daylight hours at 6 p.m. EDT (22h Universal Time) on Sunday, April 22, but they can still be seen up to 15 hours before and after the peak. Your best time for viewing if you live in the U.S.? The early morning hours of Sunday April 22nd and Monday April 23rd.

                              Lyrid Meteor Shower

Note: Sky & Telescope has an interactive sky chart where they show you the position of the stars in the sky for any date, time and viewing location on the planet.