Friday, June 20, 2008

Astronomy Lesson

NASA intends to return to the Moon by the year 2020, and begin the process of setting up a human colony there.

But you can already purchase your own little chunk of lunar real estate, thanks to Lunar Embassy. They're also selling ".moon" and ".mars" domain names so you can be the first on your block to set up a web page on celestial servers not located here on Earth.



Q. What is a comet?
A. Comets have been described as dirty snowballs, snowy dirtballs, and everything in between. Comets are a cold mixture of frozen water, dry ice, and bits of dusty material left over from the formation of the solar system. They're like "cosmic refrigerators," keeping all those elements "on ice."

Q. What is the most famous comet?
A. Halley's Comet, of course. It returns to our solar system every 76 years, approximately. It came through in 1835, the year Mark Twain was born. Twain said he hoped to be alive when it came around again in 1910, and he was. He died the day after the comet reached perihelion. (The closest point to the sun an object will get.)

Q. What is an asteroid?
A. Asteroids are snowy dirtballs - without the snow. They're typically made of iron and nickel or just a stony blend of rock-like stuff. Most orbit the sun between Mars and Jupiter. Some say they are parts of planets that never formed, and some say they are parts of planets that formed, but broke apart later.

Q. What is a meteor?
A. Meteors are fragments that break off from both comets and asteroids and enter Earth's atmosphere. The intense heat generated by the friction of entering our atmosphere at high speed vaporizes most of them, and you'll see a "shooting star." Any bits that actually make it all the way to the ground are labeled meteors. The largest meteor ever found in the United States landed in a Nebraska wheat field and weighed 2,360 pounds.

Q. Has anyone ever been hit by a meteorite?
A. Yes, at least two. Annie Hodges of Sylacauga, Alabama, was napping on her couch on November 30, 1954, when an eight-pound meteorite crashed through the roof and hit her. Although her leg was badly bruised, she was more shocked than hurt. On June 21, 1994, Jose Martin and his wife, Vicenta Cors, were driving from Madrid to Marbella in Spain when a three-pound meteorite smashed through their windshield and broke the little finger on Martin's right hand.

Q. Has anyone ever been killed by a meteorite?
A. There is no recorded or proven case.

Q. How about hailstones?
A. Yes. In the Gopalganj region of Bangladesh in 1986, 92 people died after being hit by huge hailstones weighing more than two pounds.

[taken with my appreciation from Knowledge News]


Here's your mission for this weekend: Find a spot somewhere far away from city lights. The darker, the better. Bring a blanket and lay back on it, watching the sky. Just look at the stars. Within minutes, if not moments, you will see little streaks of light flash. They're so quick, you might think your eyes are playing tricks on you, but they're not. You're seeing meteors burn up as they fall through our atmosphere. On any given night, you can do this. The last time I did it I counted over 40 in less than an hour. Ah, good memories.

Hey, my band has another gig this weekend, so I've got to go practice. I'll see you on Monday.



WEB SITE of the WEEK: Keep the kids busy this summer by teaching them how to "finger knit." You can use your fingers to knit scarves, headbands, and a few other things without having to use knitting needles at all. Truly. See Just be sure the kiddies don't wrap the yarn too tightly and cut off their circulation.


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WORDS for YOUR WEEKEND: "Nothing we do changes the past; everything we do changes the future." (Source Unknown, and I spent quite some time looking.)

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