Month: October 2013

Another very spooky nebula.

Another very spooky nebula.

SH2-136 is a an illuminated dark nebula, about 1200 light-years away, towards the constellation Cepheus. Look in the upper-lefthand corner. Little ghosts or demons? Maybe! OooooOOOOooooo,,,


A nod to Halloween, one of my favorite days for several reasons!

A nod to Halloween, one of my favorite days for several reasons!

The Witch Head Nebula, formally known as IC 2118, is an extremely faint reflection nebula believed to be an ancient supernova remnant or gas cloud illuminated by nearby supergiant star Rigel in Orion. It lies in the Eridanus constellation, about 900 light-years from Earth.

Looks exactly like a witch’s profile, eh?

Telescope musings: Venus

Telescope musings: Venus

Saturn and Jupiter are real treats in the sky with high enough magnification.. but so is Venus, for entirely different reasons. It does’t have the moons and amazing surface features of Jupiter, nor rings like Saturn. Venus is brilliant mainly due to it’s comparatively close distance to Earth, and also because it is towards the interior of our orbit. What does this mean? Venus, like our Moon, has phases. Right now, it’s a crescent (just shy of half).

Due to how our two orbits interact, it is fully illuminated when it is on the opposite side of the Sun from Earth. The more it catches up to our orbit, the larger it appears, and hence, brighter is becomes. However, it’s interesting to note that the larger and brighter it gets, the slimmer the crescent becomes. So, even if we only see a crescent Venus, it appears way brighter due to the fact it’s obnoxiously closer than it is when fully illuminated.

My 11/55 binoculars cannot make out the crescent, however the Bushnell Voyager in my possession sure as hell does. It’s such an amazing feeling to focus Venus from a bright ball of light down to the half-circle it currently is. I’m not sure why.. the word that keeps popping into my head is “tangible”..

It’s there. Every evening, like a diamond in the sky, when no other star is visible (in most locations). When it comes to it’s brightest point in this 1.7 year dance (cycle) with Earth, it will be mid-December (2013). It will be no more than a slim crescent, but will only be a third of an astronomical unit (around 30 million miles, which is “nothing”).. so it will be brilliant. A celestial Christmas present for anyone willing to open it.



I made Jupiter a bit more tangible (for myself) by finally looking at it through a decent scope. I highly suggest doing it yourself.

I won’t lie, though.. as large as Jupiter is, it is a mega-bitch to get it perfectly centered in the telescope.

Worth it, though.

Dark matter could be colliding with your body 275+ times per day.

Dark matter could be colliding with your body 275+ times per day.

I was thinking yesterday that if our bodies are so loosely packed that billions of particles pass through, or collide with us, then dark matter must as well. This stuff is just about anywhere a galaxy is, and also acts like a river that carries them from where they were to where they are going.

Well, apparently I never have original thoughts because MIT posted work that upped dark matter collisions with our bodies from the previously predicted “few times per year” to over 100,000 times per year for the average human mass (around 150 lbs). I am roughly 50% larger than that, so for myself I guess the dark matter collisions would also go up 50% for myself.

Great article. I don’t know what it means because it’s literally one of the greatest scientific mysteries of our time.