Updates and Twitter

March 20, 2009

Hello all readers.

I know it’s been months since an update, but I promise to “get back on the horse” and maintin this site more faithfully. With this being the International Year of Astronomy, there is much going on.

In the meantime, I want to make everyone aware that the astronomy club now has a Twitter feed. With that, we will be giving more up-to-date reports in addition to our website and this blog.We believe it will especially come in handy during our public night season, as we make “go/no-go” decisions in case of “iffy” weather conditions.

So if you would like to check us out on Twitter, please follow the link below, or on the side menu.

GRAAA on Twitter


The Universe (Light Speed)

November 25, 2008

Season Three of the amazing series The Universe continues tonight. The new episode is called “Light Speed.” Here’s a preview…

According to the laws of physics we can never travel faster than the speed of light…or can we? Light speed allows us to see things instantly here on Earth, and shows us the entire history of the universe going back nearly 14 billion years. Learn all about light speed, the ultimate constant in the universe and discover ways scientists envision breaking the “light barrier” which may be the only way the star travel of our imaginations ever comes to reality.

Check local listings for the time of the show.

The Universe (Parallel Universes)

November 18, 2008

The new season of the amazing series The Universe continues tonight. The new episode is called “Parallel Universes.” Here’s a preview…

Some of the world’s leading physicists believe they have found startling new evidence showing the existence of universes other than our own. One possibility is that the universe is so vast that an exact replica of our Solar System, our planet and ourselves exists many times over. These Doppelganger Universes exist within our own Universe; in what scientist now call “The Multiverse.” Today, trailblazing experiments by state of the art particle colliders are looking for evidence of higher dimensions and Parallel Universes. If proof is found, it will change our lives, our minds, our planet, our science and our universe.

Check local listings for the time of the show.

The Universe (Deep Space Disasters)

November 11, 2008

Wow! Season 3 of the amazing series The Universe continues tonight. The new episode is called “Deep Space Disasters.” Here’s a preview…

In space travel there is a saying that the first 50 miles and the last 50 miles are the most dangerous. Explore the controlled explosion of launch, the fiery crucible of reentry and everything in between. See how a single spark inside a spacecraft or a micrometeoroid less than an inch wide hitting a space station can turn a routine mission into a lethal nightmare. As the missions become longer, venturing to Mars and beyond, the potential disasters will only become bigger. What would happen if a spacecraft ventured too close to a black hole or was hit by a gamma ray burst?

Check local listings for the time of the show.

NASA Hits the Big Five-Oh

October 1, 2008

Well, technically NASA is a little older than that, but as they “started business” on October 1, 1958 we’re calling it their fiftieth anniversary. In actuality it was July 29, 1958 that President Eisenhower who signed the National Aeronautics and Space Act which created NASA.

NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) basically took over the operations of NACA (National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics)to be the “official” agency of exploration of space and aviation. The first administrator of NASA was T. Kenneth Glennan, who served in that capacity from August 19, 1968 until January 20, 1961. The current administrator is Michael Griffin.

It would be hard to list the many varied and vast achievments that have happened over the past fifty years, or the leaps in technology that have been brought to the mainstream populace due to the ingenuity, courage, and intelligence of the people who have worked for NASA over the years. Suffice it to say the world would be a vastly different place without their efforts.

If you head over to the main NASA site, they have a wide variety of images and stories regarding their anniversary.

Hubble Trouble

September 29, 2008

Word has come down that the Hubble Space Telescope has a serious problem. Apparently the SICDHS (The Science Instrument Command and Data Handling System) – which commands the detectors on the telescope – had a failure of the Science Data Formatter. This means that the telescope cannot send data back to earth. HST has been put into a “sleep mode” as NASA engineers attempt to turn on the backup for the system, which has never needed to be used in the 18+ years the telescope has been in orbit.

This means that the planned Hubble Servicing Mission, which was scheduled to launch on October 14th, is going to be postponed until sometime early next year, in order for a new SICDHS unit to be carried up and installed.

Dr. Phil Plait has more details on his Bad Astronomy blog.

Fall “Equals” Autumn

September 22, 2008

So here we go again, proceeding to a new season. At 11.44am ET, the season of Autumn officially begins in the Northern Hemisphere of good old planet Earth. At that time, the sun is directly over the equator.

“Equinox” means “equal night” (from the Latin). In theory, on the equinoxes you have equal amounts of day and night, but it actually varies because of a few factors, some of which being the orbit of the earth, the way the atmosphere bends light (refraction), and your actual position on the earth. But the common understanding is that we have equal amounts of daylight and nighttime on this date.

So here in the Northern Hemisphere, the days grow cooler, the nights crisper. Leaves fall from the trees. It’s time to harvest. And for a few days, it’s really hard to drive east/west at sunrise and sunset, as the sun appears directly in front of you.

If you are one of the people who love the soon-to-be-past summer (like me), you have my condolences. It will return, but there’s months to go, so you might as well enjoy the change of seasons.