naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (bright dreams nasa)
Thanks to [livejournal.com profile] montyy0 for the reminder... it's today!

http://www.exploratorium.edu/transit/index.html
http://science.nasa.gov/headlines/y2006/20oct_transitofmercury.htm
http://stardate.org/feeds/gallery/664/
http://stardate.org/feeds/radio/2006-11-06/
http://stardate.org/feeds/radio/2006-11-07/
http://stardate.org/feeds/radio/2006-11-08/
http://sunearth.gsfc.nasa.gov/eclipse/OH/transit06.html

James Cook and the Transit of Venus

I'll likely watch one of the webcasts linked above, or I might possibly bring my binoculars, duct tape, and a couple pieces of white cardboard to work to build an optical projector on my lunch hour (instructions are here).

That reminds me... I discovered a new-to-me podcast just now which I've added to my subscriptions in iTunes: 60-Second Science is by the folks at Scientific American magazine. It's now on my list of science-related or environmental-related podcasts that includes:

Nature Podcast
NOVA scienceNOW
NPR: Environment
Science @ NASA Feature Stories Podcast
Science Friday - Making Science Radioactive
StarDate

What podcasts do you listen to?

And yes, thanks to LOPSA I'm also now adding In The Trenches, a podcast by sysadmins for sysadmins hosted by Kevin Devin and George Starcher. Yay LOPSA!

Edited to add: It's about 1:20pm here and I took my binoculars and a piece of white cardboard (and a few bemused coworkers) outside. We didn't have a tripod so the image was wobbly, but we were able to spot the tiny black dot on the image of the sun projected onto the cardboard. Cool!
naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (Default)
I made a really hearty bean/lentil/barley/onion/chicken soup/stew last night (with garam masala seasoning! I'd never before thought to try that in soup!).

Work was really, really busy yesterday. There's just so, so, so much to do.

Oci seems to be doing better, but she's still drinking more water than she should need.

The petunias and geranium I planted last weekend seem to be doing OK. The pepper plants are still under siege by those blasted whiteflies. I sprayed them again. I'm considering buying a canister of ladybugs, since they supposedly would eat the little bastards.

Somehow we have a cricket taking up residence on our back patio, even though it's a few stories off the ground. I salute that little critter's determination...

I never thought I would be considering writing to my elected representatives about a bill concerning suborbital tourism, but... here is some information about HR 3752. I want to research it further. Googling a bit turns up:
http://www.spacepolitics.com/
http://www.transterrestrial.com/archives/004386.html#004386
http://www.hobbyspace.com/AAdmin/archive/RLV/2004/RLVNews2004-10.html#Oct.8.04
http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/D?c108:4:./temp/~c108704rOV::
http://www.universetoday.com/

Off to work...
naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (together with earth usgs)
[livejournal.com profile] sclerotic_rings linked to Astrobiology's article about the asteroid Toutatis, which will pass within four Earth-to-Moon distances of Earth on Wednesday. Cool stuff if you've got a telescope or set of binoculars handy.

And the harvest moon is tonight. Last night I caught a moonbeam shining into our living room. The moon was just beautiful. I should find my binoculars before dusk tonight.

Folks over in the [livejournal.com profile] geology community are talking about recent and ongoing earthquakes up at Mount St. Helens. They've linked to a Yahoo! News article with some pretty pictures, and the USGS Earthquake Hazards site has a special bulletin about recent activity, and the USGS Volcano Hazards site is also full of interesting stuff.

On the political front, [livejournal.com profile] yesthattom excerpts from The Unfeeling President, an article by E.L. Doctorow.

And now, some tea, because I'm having trouble getting vertical this morning. It's been steeping while I've been catching up on my LJ reading. MMmmm, Fiji, from Infusions of Tea, with orange honey from Bill's Bees. Mmmmmmmmm...

Last night I read the first section of a book of Robert Frost's poetry my Mom gave me. A few of the poems in A Boy's Will (published in 1913) really resonate with me. I think I'll be posting some of them here. I woke up this morning with fragments of John Greenleaf Whittier's In School-Days running through my mind, too.
naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (bright dreams nasa)
Lots of errand-running and tidying and more settling-in at the apartment to do, but... ahhhhhhhh...

I'm still annoyed somewhat with my allergies, but other than really dry eyes, and a headache first thing when I wake up until I've been vertical for a bit, the Claritin has them under control. And I'm not uncontrollably drowsy now. Yay.

The mollies had another little batch of baby fish, but two of them didn't make it. Cripes. I cleaned the tank's glass and filter and they all look much happier. I need to do a full water change real soon now, and start marking them on the calendar so I can remember to do them regularly since the move craziness is settling.

Reminder to self about work: the last oddments of the two user access charts, for groups and for shells, must be done ASAP. I came close, but didn't quite finish them last week. And then I need to finish the mindterm docs, rather than having them abysmally half-done.

I keep telling myself that I'm making headway, but it's easy to forget progress when items drop off a lengthy to-do list -- out of sight, out of mind.

Oh, while I'm thinking about it... congratulations to the Cassini-Huygens team! This is just so darned awesome... http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/
naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (bright dreams nasa)
The robotic Mars rovers have friends. Lots of friends. They still seem to be trying to decide what to call their nonterrestrial blogspace, but they're very entertaining. Some of the long-range probes are very lonely, some of the satellites are flirting with each other, the earlier rovers are fangirling the newer models, the Hubble is posting art rather than poetry, and it all started with [livejournal.com profile] spiritrover and [livejournal.com profile] opportunitygrrl. If you're curious, check out my friendslist; I've friended all of them that I've found.

Also, as I just mentioned to a friend this past weekend, I used to be able to remember which planets were in the night sky at various times. I kept up with it, you know? And it's been ages since I've done that. Living in Los Angeles means that I see fewer stars than I'm used to, but the planets are usually visible even with all the extra light around. And yes, even though I've been here pretty much constantly since 1992, I still expect the sky to look like the sky I grew up with.

[livejournal.com profile] sclerotic_rings links to an article here that caught my attention just in time... next Sunday, all five of the visible planets will be visible in the evening sky at the same time. That's cool.

And I am quite amused that the Sumerian Word of the Day over at [livejournal.com profile] sumerianwotd (which is now dutifully written on the back of my hand) is "mul" -- constellation.
naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (bright dreams nasa)
Sometimes I really love working at Caltech. I picked up a flyer in the coffee shop this morning, and I just have to share it with you... my Mom highly recommends the book and its author, and the actors... well, you'll recognize the names. *grin*

There was a miniseries made of another of the author's works, which I have on DVD: Longitude, which starred Jeremy Irons, Michael Gambon, and Ian Hart (you might recognize him as Professor Quirrel from the first Harry Potter movie). If you get the chance to read any of the author's books, or to watch Longitude, I highly recommend all of them.


A one-time only special performance!

An Evening With Galileo and His Daughter
to benefit The Planetary Society and celebrate the Galileo Mission and its Team

starring John Rhys-Davies & Linda Purl
directed by Robert Picardo
written by Dava Sobel

Monday, September 22, 2003 at 7:30 pm

The Pasadena Playhouse
39 South El Molino Avenue
Pasadena, California

Help honor the Galileo Team

At the reading, Claudia Alexander, John Casani and Torrence Johnson will accept a special award on behalf of the Galileo Team

On September 21, 2003, the Galileo spacecraft will plunge into Jupiter on a targetted trajectory of self-destruction, ending a remarkable voyage of discovery. The Planetary Society will pay tribute to the mission and to the team that made it possible with a special theatrical event - a one time reading based on Dava Sobel's best selling book, Galileo's Daughter.

"An Evening with Galileo and His Daughter" explores the dynamic relationships among science and religion, reason and faith, and father and child. Dava Sobel bases her story of Galileo's scientific discoveries and subsequent battle with the Inquisition in letters written to him by his daughter, Suor Maria Celeste, a cloistered nun since the age of 13.

John Rhys-Davies is best known for his roles in the three Lord of the Rings films and Raiders of the Lost Ark. Linda Purl is known for her stage and television roles, including Getting and Spending and Happy Days. Star Trek actor and director Robert Picardo will direct the reading.

Reserve your tickets now!
Tickets for the reading only are $60 for standard seating and $75 for premier seating.
Tickets for the reception only are $100.
Tickets for the reading and reception are $150.

Buy online at http://planetary.org/ or call Barbara Rayworth at (626) 793-5100.
naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (bright dreams nasa)
Google News links to a bunch of articles about the black hole humming B-flat, 57 octaves below middle-C.

NASA's press release about it
Photos

Wow.

ETA: Yahoo News followup: Sounds in Space: Silencing Misconceptions
naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (bright dreams nasa)
Tonight's total lunar eclipse (from 8:14pm Pacific time, reaching totality at 8:40pm Pacific time) has me thinking about other space news items...

You can send your name to a comet. NASA's JPL has a project called Deep Impact which is sending a list of names on a disc attached to the impactor spacecraft, which will collide with comet Tempel 1 as part of its research mission.

Last Friday a Japanese rocket launched with the world's first probe designed to bring back samples from the surface of an asteroid.

http://www.space.com/ is a great site to get the latest space-related news, by the way. They have a whole subsection about the moon, with gorgeous images, scientific information and lunar lore.

The next lunar eclipse with be visible from North and South America in November.

Also in November, believe it or not, you can view a total solar eclipse over Antarctica on a charter flight that will also fly over the South Pole. I'm betting that if you have to ask how much it costs, you can't afford it...
naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (bright dreams nasa)
Two mirrors of the same article:
here and here. Go read.

This woman is the essence of coolness.
naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (bright dreams nasa)
http://www.themoscowtimes.com/stories/2003/02/05/011.html

I am bit amused that the Russians said that they will manage to keep the station "permanently staffed" at least until the end of this year. Perhaps something was lost in translation?

In any case, this is good news.
naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (bright dreams nasa)
I listened to some of it here at work via a live web stream. What technology we have nowadays... and the NASA webmasters have my unending adoration for doing an awesome job with every website I've ever seen affiliated with their organization. There's a whisper of professional envy and motivation to join that team in the back of my mind somewhere at the moment.

I wish I could more coherently convey my thoughts on the service and the amazing community of people assembled there, but here is a start:

Strength in grief. Solidarity of purpose, if not details. Beauty and nobility and diversity and dedication. Exploration and glory and bravery and daring and discovery. Idealism and and commitment. Community and children and the future.

Yeah.
naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (bright dreams nasa)
It has been percolating in my mind this morning that in my ideal world, our space program not only includes an international scientific and cooperative effort like the ISS, but also piloted and robotic exploration of cutting-edge frontiers. We need projects which are highly visible in the public eye.

This stuff is not easy. It is, in fact, rocket science! And the world has had setbacks before.

This is an interesting article which includes some budget information about Japan's space program as well as the ISS and European Union member space budgets. I wish I knew of a comprehensive site about all of the space program budgets worldwide, and what their major scientific projects are...

With information as readily available as the internet and cable/satellite TV make it, we ought to be able to tell with a considered glance the status of the world's exploration beyond our planet, right? So far, the only thing that's come close is http://www.space.com/ and it's not really what I'm looking for.

http://www.scipoc.msfc.nasa.gov/ - ISS Science Operations News site
http://spaceflight.nasa.gov/station/ - NASA's Human Space Flight ISS site
naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (bright dreams nasa)
I'm a science geek. I've always been a science geek, and the heroes of my childhood are the women of NASA's astronaut program. My parents kept me home from school for a partial day so that I could watch the first launch of Columbia back in 1981. My parents had posters from the moon landings, a moon globe... I had two little die-cast shuttles, I remember that one of them had openable payload bay doors. I had the Lego Moon Lander, and a bunch of the Lego space sets... the little red Lego people were pilots and drivers, the white Lego people were mission specialists, and the yellow Lego people were mission commanders. I had a few whole space programs developed to explore various places in the house. And yes, I was also a Star Wars and Star Trek geek, but that's a whole 'nother topic.

Young people today (and some older ones, probably) don't realize what the space shuttle program meant to folks like me. The manned space program had pretty much stagnated since 1971, starved for funding and recognition. Columbia was a gleaming symbol of our hope for ourselves and our world. It was step along the way to our collective brighter future. It meant a return to the path of innovation and discovery and exploration which had previously slipped into disrepair and drifted from the willful focus of the American people, and our government, since the moon landing goal had been reached.

For many in this modern world, scientific discovery is our quest, our challenge, the highest calling we can imagine. Space is the greatest unknown that captures our imagination, because while medicine and sub-atomic physics are incredible, no one can travel those frontiers, we can only observe them. Those who choose to risk their lives toward this purpose have our utmost respect and thanks, and some envy... their dedication and daring and qualification for such elite jobs sanctifies them on some level deep in our psyche. If scientific endeavor is our faith, then researchers, scientists and astronauts are our shamans, our priests, our wisewomen, our saints... and some become our martyrs.

For women and girls, the fact that the shuttle program had the United States' first group of female astronauts in training to reach for the heavens was such a significant milestone... the first woman to undergo the same testing as the Mercury astronauts, Jerrie Cobb, passed with flying colors back around 1960, but the program was not opened to women until 1978.

I was born in 1973, and yet I remember clearly when the first women were accepted into the program. I have vivid memories of my childhood back to younger than age two, in case you're disbelieving me at this point...

If you are unfamiliar with the progression that women have made, check out this page and this page (there's another mirror with similar content here). The profile stories are very inspiring.

There for a while, I followed every launch, every mission payload, every astronaut's life story. I had photos of the first women to complete the astronaut program hanging on the wall of my room, encouraging me to reach for my own type of excellence, whatever it might turn out to be.

Part of the reason that the loss of Challenger was so hard on me was that it was the ship that carried Sally Ride into space for the first time. The loss of Columbia, the ship that revitalized our space program, that hosted Peterson and Musgrave's first spacewalks... it has hit me hard, especially during a time when I have been trying to accomplish a lot of lofty goals with little resources at my workplace.

It is a tragedy to lose seven of the world's best and brightest, and my heart goes out to their families and loved ones, as well as the large behind-the-scenes teams on the ground who are grieving. It is a tragedy that some of the science experiments on board Columbia cannot be completed. It is a tragedy that the delay caused by grounding the remaining three shuttles (Discovery, Atlantis and Endeavour) will further impact the already-stressed International Space Station program.

But more than that, it is a tragedy that it takes a disaster to bring our space program to nationwide attention.

It is a cold fear wrapped around my heart that Congress may try to further cut funding to the space program. Beyond the technical advances of both manned and unmanned space flight, our space program is a symbol of hope for the future and a celebration of our country. I'll be writing my representatives in Washington, D.C., to that effect, and I urge you to do the same.

Columbia flew its first mission in 1981, and though it's been overhauled, it's basically reconditioned 1970's technology. We owe ourselves more than that. We owe our dreams more than that. And we owe the smart, hard-working folks at NASA more than that.

This article says that it costs $435 million for each shuttle flight, and that there are 1.2 million separate procedures required to prepare a shuttle for launch. What we are attempting with the space program has a huge scope, and the shuttle program was supposed to be merely a step, not the final effort.

Feel free to use these icons wherever you like.





I am so thankful to have lived now, when we have a space program. I am so thankful to have had real live heroes when I was a child. What heroes will today's children look to for inspiration in the coming decades?

Without our dreams, without our heroes, without our inspirations, will we fail to solve the more earthbound problems facing our world, which are no less important than reaching for the stars? Hunger, violence, intolerance, inequality of opportunity and education... these are problems with solutions, but only if we have the spirit, the intellect, and the intestinal fortitude to deal with them.

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