Happy Independence Day

Happy Fourth of July everyone. Here are some all-American sights here in Malden:

A monument giving the founding date of the city:

A public library  (the Converse Memorial)

A fire station:

The Malden Public High School:

You might notice that there are US flags in front of each. Happy Independence Day.

Cassini flies close to Saturn

Here are some pictures that Cassini took a few days ago (Credit: Courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech):

As you can see, they’re not all that impressive … except:

NASA’s Cassini spacecraft is giving earthlings their closest-ever views of Saturn’s swirled atmosphere and its massive hurricane, beaming a trove of images and data back to Earth after the craft made its first dive between Saturn and its rings Wednesday.

This is part of Cassini’s Grand Finale and the first of its dives close to Saturn. The pictures aren’t impressive but they give new information on Saturn.

Out with a bang

In some ways this has been a pretty bad year. but with a President Trump I expect the next few years to be worse. Therefore, let me put up some nice pictures of what the world under Trump might look like. First it’s NGC 6357 (Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/PSU/L. Townsley et al; Optical: UKIRT; Infrared: NASA/JPL-Caltech) :

Astronomers call NGC 6357 and other objects like it “HII” (pronounced “H-two”) regions. An HII region is created when the radiation from hot, young stars strips away the electrons from neutral hydrogen atoms in the surrounding gas to form clouds of ionized hydrogen, which is denoted scientifically as “HII”.

Donald Trump will certainly strip some pretty important things from our country. Anyway, it’s a pretty picture:


Next is megamaser (Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA, Acknowledgement: Judy Schmidt (geckzilla)):

Megamasers are intensely bright, around 100 million times brighter than the masers found in galaxies like the Milky Way. The entire galaxy essentially acts as an astronomical laser that beams out microwave emission rather than visible light (hence the ‘m’ replacing the ‘l’).

This galaxy has a far more exciting and futuristic classification than most — it is a megamaser. Megamasers are intensely bright, around 100 million times brighter than the masers found in galaxies like the Milky Way. The entire galaxy essentially acts as an astronomical laser that beams out microwave emission rather than visible light (hence the ‘m’ replacing the ‘l’).  This megamaser is named IRAS 16399-0937, and is located over 370 million light-years from Earth. This NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image belies the galaxy’s energetic nature, instead painting it as a beautiful and serene cosmic rosebud. The image comprises observations captured across various wavelengths by two of Hubble’s instruments: the Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS), and the Near Infrared Camera and Multi-Object Spectrometer (NICMOS).  NICMOS’s superb sensitivity, resolution, and field of view gave astronomers the unique opportunity to observe the structure of IRAS 16399-0937 in detail. They found that IRAS 16399-0937 hosts a double nucleus — the galaxy’s core is thought to be formed of two separate cores in the process of merging. The two components, named IRAS 16399N and IRAS 16399S for the northern and southern parts respectively, sit over 11 000 light-years apart. However, they are both buried deep within the same swirl of cosmic gas and dust and are interacting, giving the galaxy its peculiar structure. The nuclei are very different. IRAS 16399S appears to be a starburst region, where new stars are forming at an incredible rate. IRAS 16399N, however, is something known as a LINER nucleus (Low Ionization Nuclear Emission Region), which is a region whose emission mostly stems from weakly-ionised or neutral atoms of particular gases. The northern nucleus also hosts a black hole with some 100 million times the mass of the Sun!


Happy New Year.

Tour the solar system

These tour guide like posters are pretty good, like this one of Europa (Courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech):


Ok, I’m off to Europa. Have fun on stuffy old Earth.

Spit take

Scientists have found more evidence that Jupiter’s moon Europa has water plumes erupting from the service (Credit: NASA/ESA/W. Sparks (STScI)/USGS Astrogeology Science Center):


This backs up evidence found in 2012, but I have a different theory. I think Europa is a sentient being and every once in a while it takes a peak at Earth and is so astounded by what’s going on that it spits out the water it was drinking.

In other news, the first Presidential debate is toning so expect an extra large plume if Europa is looking our way.

Cul de Sac by Richard Thompson, September 10, 2007 Via @GoComics

Richard Thompson, the creator of Cul de Sac, has died. It was one of my favorite comics until he was forced to quit because of Parkinson’s disease. He was also the favorite of people like Bill Watterson

Thompson “has this huge range of cartooning skills … ,” Watterson says. “Richard draws all sorts of complex stuff — architecture, traffic jams, playground sets — that I would never touch. And how does he accomplish this? Well, I like to imagine him ignoring his family, living on caffeine and sugar, with his feet in a bucket of ice, working 20 hours a day.

“Otherwise, it’s not really fair.”

Pat Oliphant,

“You would never suspect it by looking at him, but behind the quiet, mild-mannered Richard Thompson exterior lurks the real Richard Thompson,” Oliphant says now. “I know he would hate to be termed a genius, but that is exactly what he is.”

and Garry Trudeau

“Of all the new comics I’ve read, only two registered as winners immediately — literally within a strip or two,” Trudeau says. “The first was ‘Calvin and Hobbes.’ Nineteen years later, it was ‘Cul de Sac.’ A distinctive, fully evolved style married to consistently funny, character-driven wit — we don’t see this often.”

Go read, they start here:

Cul de Sac by Richard Thompson, September 10, 2007 Via @GoComics

Juno in orbit about Jupiter

The Juno spacecraft is now in orbit about Jupiter. It was launched in 2011 and went into orbit yesterday. Here is the last picture Juno took before it went into orbit when it was 3.3 million miles away (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS):


Juno will orbit Jupiter for 20 months and then be sent down to the planet in February 2018.

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