Alpha Centauri has a planet

http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/2012/10/16/alpha-centauri-has-a-planet/
This article was particularly relevant to the exoplanet detection methods we have been studying. It’s nice to know that if we ever send a probe to Alpha Centauri it will have a planet to orbit. This is indeed a very well-known system, and if we ever do travel to another star this will likely be our destination. 

It was interesting when the article explained the Doppler Shift and how it was used to detect the planet. I suspected that this would be the method they used, as it seems to be quite effective. Here is a graph of Alpha Centauri’s Doppler shift itself.

http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/2012/10/16/alpha-centauri-has-a-planet/
This article was particularly relevant to the exoplanet detection methods we have been studying. It’s nice to know that if we ever send a probe to Alpha Centauri it will have a planet to orbit. This is indeed a very well-known system, and if we ever do travel to another star this will likely be our destination. 

It was interesting when the article explained the Doppler Shift and how it was used to detect the planet. I suspected that this would be the method they used, as it seems to be quite effective. Here is a graph of Alpha Centauri’s Doppler shift itself.

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Curiosity Discovery Highlights Methods for Exploration

http://www.csmonitor.com/Science/2012/1011/NASA-rover-Curiosity-finds-a-rock-not-seen-before-on-Mars-video?cmpid=addthis_reddit#.UHepd4caxPg.reddit

I enjoyed this article because it gave me insight on just how the Curosity rover works, and the general procedures of NASA that allow them to come to accurate conclusions about their observations. I don’t understand all the technical details of the Curiosity rover, but it seems like a very intricate machine that those who worked on it should be proud of. It’s amazing that finding something as simple as a rock can provide information about the entire formation process of Mars. With science in general, I’ve always been amazed at how many inferences can be drawn from one simple observation. This article made me much more excited for more Curiosity discoveries, as I had pessimistic hopes before.

Asteroids and Impact

http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2012/10/12/asteroid-2012-tc4-zips-past-us-at-59000-miles-from-earth-inside-moons-orbit-139551

This article interested me because it shows just how helpless we are against potential threats. Dealing with a large asteroid on a collision-course with Earth would likely not involve more than contingency plans after impact. The fact that this asteroid missed Earth is pure luck, which we rely on perpetually in regard to asteroid strikes. It is fascinating how easy it is for humans to lose themselves in the illusion that we have control. Even with all the modern advances in science, we would still be helpless against the simple phenomenon of two rocks hitting each other. I’m glad this one avoided an impact, it’s fortunate for us that the odds of one actually hitting are quite low.


T
his is a compiled photo of a star-forming nebula in the Milky Way. The red light has been made blue, hence the tinting on the bottom right. I created it by combining three images from three different wavelengths; blue, green and red. Again, I changed the red into blue and the blue into yellow, so you can see that the blue regions of this photo are the hottest, the yellow regions the coolest. I liked this contrast as it goes against the “typical” color coding for making Hubble’s images beautiful.

http://www.nyti…

Effectively Alone in the Universe

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/25/opinion/alone-in-the-void.html?_r=2

I wish more people understood what this guy is talking about. There is a lot of focus on “progress” and such, many people forget that as far as the long run goes the human race isn’t helping itself with increased population and whatnot. Many people think science could “rescue” us, but the bottom line is Earth is the only planet we will ever have.

It makes me much more humbled when studying astronomy and looking at the stars after knowing just how far away and unreachable they are.

Full Map of the Milky Way

http://djer.roe.ac.uk/vsa/vvv/iipmooviewer-2.0-beta/vvvgps5.html

I stumbled upon this a couple of months ago, and it really helped me understand the scale of the Milky Way. On the top right you can see what percentage of the galaxy your view is taking up. The amount of stars in the galaxy is inconceivable. And to think that there is an entire galaxy for every star in the Milky Way, probably even more than one.

And then one remembers that Earth itself is a very small rock orbiting just one star. It amazes me that we use microscopes to study the same physics that also governs things on that scale. As in, you have to use a microscope to know enough to understand your observations of the Milky Way.

Looking at things like this make me excited for the James Webb telescope, which will hopefully give us more accurate assessments of the galaxy and universe.