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Amazing time lapse video November 14, 2011

Posted by Marie in Bad Astronomy, ISS, Photography, Space shuttle.
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Just take 5 minutes of your time to watch our planet in this time-lapse video made from footage taken by astronauts on the International Space Station.  Best if you maximise.  It’s am-a-zing!

Thanks to @badastronomer for tweeting it.

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The bad news and the good news October 17, 2011

Posted by Marie in Asteroids, Bad Astronomy, TED talk.
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Bad news – an asteroid is heading for earth.

Good news – we can do something about it!

I’ve watched several TED talks in the past, and this one – featuring @BadAstronomer Phil Plait – is just as informative and entertaining.  It’s a bit of a shame the audience was either too far away or not properly microphoned as you can’t always hear their response very well.

But if Phil Plait says it’s going to be OK, then I’m happy!

Ophiuchus – the ‘new’ zodiac sign? January 29, 2011

Posted by Marie in Astrology, Astronomy, Bad Astronomy, Constellations.
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As it’s my birthday today, I thought I would reflect on the effect the stars have on me because of the day I was born.  So here is my conclusion:

NOTHING

Earlier this month, I noticed that the word Ophiuchus was trending on Twitter.  Now aside from it being a strange word to see,  I also thought it odd because of what it was.

With my (still) limited knowledge of astronomy, I at least know that Ophiuchus is a constellation in the night sky.  Wikipedia tells me its name is from the Greek meaning serpent-bearer,  and that it was one of the 48 constellations originally listed by the 2nd-century astronomer Ptolemy.

2nd century? Hardly counts as new, then.  So why the fuss?

Well, my research (sounds good doesn’t it, but basically I googled it!) uncovered this:

Ophiuchus is a constellation lying between Scorpius and Sagittarius, but it’s not counted as a zodiac sign.  The sun’s path takes it through the constellations which are recognized as the 12 zodiac signs (Aquarius, Pisces etc).  The sun also passes through Ophiuchus, but because Ophiuchus is much fainter than Scorpius next to it, it’s not included in the zodiac.  On top of that, it wouldn’t have been good to have 13 constellations – too unlucky!

So Ophiuchus got bumped.

If you’re interested to know why the ‘new zodiac sign’ began trending in the first place, Phil Plait explains it much better than I ever could in this article.

If you’re interested in knowing what your ‘new’ horoscope will be, you can look here.

I was also amused to read these people reacting to the fact that they are now a different star sign.

Apparently I’m no longer an Aquarian, I’m a Capricorn.  Whatever that means.  As I said:

NOTHING

One thing’s for sure though – I now know how to spell Ophiuchus!

A week of two halves January 9, 2011

Posted by Marie in Bad Astronomy, BBC Stargazing Live, ISS, Look up, Sun.
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I’m choosing the above as my title for this post because my first full week of astronomy in 2011 has been exactly that – the first half inspiring and packed full of new things, the second half totally washed out. 😦

Or maybe that should be clouded out!  Although the moon made a brief appearance yesterday evening (Saturday 8th Jan), for most of the week the sky was actually covered in cloud, and there was nary a star or a planet to be seen.  Most disappointing.

Particularly as I, like many millions across the country, had been inspired by BBC’s Stargazing Live, three nights of live programming from just up the road at Jodrell Bank.  I loved watching this (except for the parts with Jonathan Ross :-D) to such an extent that, on Thursday at 8pm, I felt strangely bereft that there was no programme!

The programme advised of a partial solar eclipse, meteor shower, and planets in the sky, but as I couldn’t see any of them, instead I enjoyed images produced by others.  The most amazing one for me was of the International Space Station passing in front of the sun at the time of the eclipse.  I’d love to put the picture on here because it did make me go WOW!  But I don’t want to infringe any copyright, so here’s the link to the Bad Astronomy blog where I first saw the image – I do urge you to have a look, because it’s a-ma-zing!

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