Caturday’s Astrophenia | 2016.02.06

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I’m listening as I type this to a fractal music piece, Eyesight, by Fractovia. What’s fractal music? It’s a series of musical tones generated to be self-similar, having roughly the same audible structure no matter the playing speed. It’s something I occasionally listen to, though it can sometimes sound random and even jarring and takes some getting used to at first.

This week, I’ve added a new page to this blog, one sorely needed, I regret since the creation of this site on December 28, 2008. It’s Reason & Purpose… and it lays out in broad terms what could be called this blog’s mission statement. I make no secret of my religious nonbelief, and there exists on this site previously posted material discussing religion or politics, but henceforth I’ll restrict that to scientific claims made by religious leaders and politicians, those that are in principle testable. The God question is, I believe, inherently unsolvable. As it is possible to conveniently define God in any way, even those ways that cannot be disproven, the issue can never be definitively affirmed or refuted by evidence, and so is outside the realm of science. And it is science, not religion or politics, which is one of the rightful foci of this blog. Believe or vote however you like. You will anyway.

Thus do I bring you this edition of the Astrophenia on a fine winter fortnight’s morning. There’s a chill in the air and the stars are out. I hope you’ve brought your viewing instrument of choice along for the ride.


Star Cluster R136 Bursts Out

Where Your Elements Came From

A Candidate for the Biggest Boom Yet Seen

An Airglow Fan from Lake to Sky

Elliptical M60, Spiral NGC 4647

Hidden Galaxy IC 342

A Five Planet Dawn

MWC 922: The Red Square Nebula

Find the Man in the Moon

Comet 67P from Spacecraft Rosetta

Galaxy Wars: M81 versus M82

Dwarf Planet Ceres

Massive Stars in NGC 6357

Five Planets at Castell de Burriac

Image of the Week:

Image Credit: HubbleSite

Weekly Astrognuz:

China Shares Stunning New Moon Photos with the World

Smith Cloud due to collide with our galaxy in 27 million years.

“Creative Class” Featuring Jill Tarter

NASA’s Juno Spacecraft Burns for Jupiter

50 Years ago We Got Our First Picture from the Moon

Images from Mars via Mars Express give a planetary overview.

Planet Nine: Are We Not That Special?

Small Asteroid to Pass Close to Earth March 5

Astronomy Cast Ep. 401: Predictions for 2016 and Beyond

Original Star Trek Enterprise model undergoing conservation.

Big Picture Science Radio Show | Skeptic Check: Glutenous Maximus

Six CubeSats with JPL Contributions Chosen for SLS Flight

A Cataclysmic Collision Formed the Moon, but Killed Theia

Climate change denier claims 2015 wasn’t the hottest year.

Airborne Asteroid Impact Chasers Release Findings On Space Junk Object WT1190F

Saturn’s Rings: Less Than Meets the Eye?

What Are Alien Megastructures?

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Caturday’s Astrophenia | 2016.01.23

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I’ll be minimalist on the text this fortnight, as #Snowzilla dumps ice crystals on the American northeast while I type this. I’m hoping that you are all comfortable and doing well wherever you are in the world, and whatever the weather. From my end, may you have a good morning and a happy Caturday. I’ll try the same, though still missing my fluffy old Rockykins terribly…


Sun Storm: A Coronal Mass Ejection

A Colorful Solar Corona over the Himalayas

The California Nebula

Reflections on the 1970s

Infrared Portrait of the Large Magellanic Cloud

Wright Mons in Color

The View Toward M106

The Galactic Center in Infrared

Proxima Centauri: The Closest Star

A Dark Sand Dune on Mars

Stars and Globules in the Running Chicken Nebula

The View Toward M101

International Space Station Transits Saturn

Big Dipper, Deep Sky

Image of the Week:

Weekly Astrognuz:

NASA Eyes Powerful Winter Storm Spreading Into Atlantic

xkcd: Possible Undiscovered Planets

What Haven’t We Heard from All the Aliens? Because They’re Dead!

Crash Course Astronomy: Everything, the Universe, and Life

Planet Nine: Are We Not That Special?

Weekly Space Hangout: Jan. 22, 2016

Evidence Found of a Possible Planet in the Outer Solar System

‘Creative Class,’ featuring Jill Tarter

NASA’s Great Observatories Weigh Massive Young Galaxy Cluster

NASA, NOAA Analyses Reveal Record-Shattering Global Temperatures in 2015s

Pretty Pictures: Bittersweet Goodies from Cassini at Titan, Enceladus, and Telesto

And Mercury Makes Five: See All Naked-Eye Planets in the Sky at Once

Alpha Centauri Planet is almost Certainly Not Real

Big Picture Science Radio Show: Winging It

Videos | What’s Up?

Hubble Spies a Rebel

Updates on China’s Lunar Missions

NASA Completes Welding on Lunar Orion EM-1 Pressure Vessel

Space Images | Enceladus Dalmatian Terrain Closeup

Space Oddity

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Caturday’s Astrophenia | 2015.12.05

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vanakkam, namaste, namaskar, as-salam-alaikum. This post’s essay deals with something other than astroscience, so please bear with me. As I type this, I’m listening to podcasts, and the thought had occurred that my early work with fractals, especially from my middle period from 2012-2013 has been…less than optimal. There was much that looking back I think could have been done better, images better realized, better actualized than was the case — in short, I sometimes think of my work in less than favorable terms, sometimes to the point of hating some of the early images — but also noting that much of that work, though retained in my archives, sometimes posted online, was experimental. I was still trying out the basics of navigating the apps, all but one of which I can still use.

I’m looking at you, Mandelbulber… *glares* :-)

Sure. There are things I could have done more ambitiously, things I would have done better had I thought of it. But this is counterproductive, and the reality is that the Hindsight bias is not doing me any favors, so I’ll just continue to develop my technique, make better use of the technology, and with little doubt I’ll regard much recent work with the same misgivings as fractals past. Much of my early work, on this blog and elsewhere, seems stillborn, failed, to me.

But I’m fine with that. I consider that many of the truly failed experiments have never been published, their files never rendered or saved, that what I’ve put out to be seen online was probably the best possible given my level of skill at the time.

So, I’ll continue as I am, no problem with that, continue experimenting, working things out, and working them through.

I’m currently involved in playing with transparency settings for Mandelbulb3D, on a new City of Glass project like I did a few times with Mandelbulber. The objective is to create new images, better done, on an app which still functions on my current OS and like it, creating fractals that look like stained glass cities and other glassy structures. Here’s hoping that turns out well, though with allowances for possible failure. I must at least try, Jedi Master Yoda quotes to the contrary.

So it goes. I hypothesize that I can get this worked out, and the best test of a hypothesis is to test it against the real world, be the results success or failure.

Let’s see how this turns out.

Phobos: Doomed Moon of Mars

A 212 Hour Exposure of Orion

Aurora over Clouds

Unusual Pits Discovered on Pluto

Planets of the Morning

Gravity’s Grin

Rosetta and Comet Outbound

Dark Sand Cascades on Mars

In the Center of Spiral Galaxy NGC 3521

Nebula in Auriga

Golden Gate Sunset: Green Flash

Enceladus: Ringside Water World

Cygnus: Bubble and Crescent

Kepler Orrery IV

Image of the Week:

Weekly Astrognuz:

New Horizons Takes Closest Image Yet of a Kuiper Belt Object

Climate Week Part 3: Extreme Weather Linked to Global Warming

Climate Week Part 4: Global CO2 levels reach 400 ppm forever

Climate Week Part 5: There Is Still Hope.

To Jupiter with JunoCam!

Newborn Planet Being Kicked out of the Nest

Weekly Space Hangout, Dec. 4, 2015

Mars Mission Team Addressing Vacuum Leak in Key Science Instrument

Big Picture Science Radio Show: Happily Confused

What Are The Earth’s Layers?

Pareidolia: Artificial Face Made from Morphing Inanimate Objects

LISA Pathfinder Carries Advanced NASA Thruster Tech

Gemini Planet Imager Exoplanet Survey – One Year Into the Survey

Should We Go to Mars, Or Back to the Moon?

Loss of Carbon in Martian Atmosphere Explained

NASA’s Big Mars Story

Is Space Travel Worth It? Spoken Word with Mark Grist

via The Royal Institution‘s YouTube channel

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Caturday’s Astrophenia | 2015.11.21

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namaskar. This week, I’m rolling out graphic headers for all themed posts, and this installment’s features my favorite diabolical psycho fluffy furniture-destroyers Mr. Eccles and Rockykins.

The week has been good, with much accomplished but less study than I’d have liked, but that’s my only complaint – I’ll live.

This post from here on out will be published biweekly, so I’m featuring the Astronomy Picture of the Day links for the previous two weeks.

Thanks to twitterer @Ravenpenny for the inspiration to make and use graphic headers, and to Sharmishtha Basu for a huge portion of the inspiration to keep blogging.

I’m woefully behind in my studies, so there are Bengali books calling my name this morning and coming afternoon.

A Quadruple Sky over Great Salt Lake

Assembly of The International Space Station

AE Aurigae and the Flaming Star Nebula

An Unexpected Rocket Plume over San Francisco

Kenya Morning Moon, Planets and Taurid

The Tadpoles of IC 410

Wright Mons on Pluto

Leonids over Monument Valley

A Blazing Fireball between the Orion Nebula and Rigel

The Pelican Nebula in Gas, Dust, and Stars

A Sudden Jet on Comet 67P

Centaurus A

Leonids and Friends

Recycling NGC 5291

Image of the Week:

Veil Nebula Supernova Remnant

Weekly Astrognuz:

NASA Orders SpaceX Crew Mission to International Space Station

Watch the entire Cassini mission image catalogue as a movie

Weekly Space Hangout: November 20, 2015

Galaxies: Two photos of nearby spirals

Big Picture Science Radio Show — Skeptic Check: Paleo Diet

Partners in Science: Private Companies Conduct Valuable Research

Two JAXA mission updates: Akatsuki Venus orbit entry and PROCYON Earth flyby

It’s Finally Here: Comet Catalina Greets Dawn Skywatchers

Bobby Jindal: Anti-science GOP candidate mocked on The Tonight Show

Pluto’s Moons Spinning Wildly

Third Rock Radio | NASA

Planetary Radio | The Planetary Society

Curiosity Mars Rover Nears First Study Site of Active Sand Dunes Beyond Earth

Canada: New government appears to be pro-science

Gemini Planet Imager Exoplanet Survey — One Year Into The Study

Humans Orbiting Mars | A Website of The Planetary Society

Cinematic Mars

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Caturday’s Astrophenia | 2015.10.17

G’day, and happy Caturday! This week, I begin setup for next month’s blogging schedule for this site, preparing posts for November and afterward. I’ll announce plans and details in tomorrow’s Weekly Roundup along with the blog items, news, sciencey stuffs, and links. I’ll be going on blogcation for two weeks, then resuming posting next month on the new schedule, as announced elsewhere, with from one to two entries posted on this site alone every other day along with this post, the fractal entries, and the Weekly Gnuz & Lynx Roundup. Posting for Wordless Weekday and Cat Thursday entries is a bit more iffy, as they may not be needed much of the time on the upcoming updating schedule.

Good news: I’ve located and set up a new version of MB3D for my laptop OS, and can once again generate Mandelboxes and their corresponding Julia sets for more fractal fun, and especially to further explore untried fractal types, so I’ve been busy making new images, like this one using MB3D…

Platform V

…and this one via UF5…


So while I probably won’t be doing any more Mandelbulber tutorials barring acquisition of a superior update of it for my OS, those for the apps I still use, especially MB3D and UF5, can and shall be posted in future.

There’s also study, as I will continue to make time for that. Lately, I’ve got Bengali phrases getting stuck in my head, sort of linguistic earworms, but that’s cool. It means I’m assimilating them more effectively, like the oncoming vehicle warning, “Thamo! Thamo! Gari ashche!” and others less easy to accurately transcribe in Roman letters.

Stay cool, or warm, as the case may be in your part of the world this time of year, may your weekend be festive, your days bright, and as always, in proper Soruggon,

Talotaa frang, talotaa kas, talotaa tranga suulat.

In the Center of the Trifid Nebula

Galaxy, Stars, and Dust

The Elephant’s Trunk in IC 1396

A Gegenschein Lunar Eclipse

M16 and the Eagle Nebula

Night Hides the World

Bright Spiral Galaxy M81

Image of the Week:

Weekly Astrognuz:

ExoMars Heads to the Red Planet in 2016

Stephan’s Quintet: Huge Shockwave in a Small Galaxy Group

Big Picture Science Radio Show: Space for Everyone

Space Images: A Fractured Pole

Scott Kelley Becomes U.S. Astronaut to Spent the Most Time Living in Space

Jupiter’s Moon Ganymede

Weird Star: Strange Dips in Brightness are a bit Baffling

Lakes on Mars

“Hedgehog” Robots Hop, Tumble in Microgravity

Remembering George Mueller: Leader of Early Human Spaceflight

Why do Red Giants Expand?

51 Eri b: Direct Photo of an Exoplanet

Dunes, Dust Devils, and the Martian Weather

Curiosity’s Seven Minutes of Terror

New Horizons Publishes First Research Paper in Science

Cassini’s Close Flyby of Enceladus Yields Surprising, Perplexing Imagery

Asteroids and Volcanoes: Both May have Caused the Dinosaurs’ Extinction

Protecting Both Mars and Earth

Saturnian Snowman

The Real Martians

Curiosity Snaps Drill Site Selfie at Martian Mountain Foothill

Crash Course Astronomy: Clusters of Stars

Beautiful Photos of Mars

Jupiter Global Map from Hubble OPAL Data

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Caturday’s Astrophenia | 2015.10.03

Geometry of a Lunar Eclipse

Geometry of a Lunar Eclipse (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This last Sunday night was the time of a rare supermoon and total lunar eclipse, and I was happy to see it, even with cloudy local skies — through live video feed elsewhere! Of course there were “Dawn of the Dead” jokes galore and other references to a zombie apocalypse that night, but what a spectacle it was, even when not visible outside my own window – There’s concern about inebriated troublemakers outside at that time of night as well(Not a safe neighborhood for nighttime viewing out of doors.). We (humans) got some new pics and details of Pluto’s moon Charon, The announcement (a BIG one!) of the discovery of liquid briny water on Mars, and the successful 100th launch of an Atlas V rocket with a new satellite into orbit. I’m on a new project, to figure out the full range of planetary data for some of my fictional worlds using the math from GURPS Space from GURPS 4th Edition, though I’m not saying which worlds they will be for now.

Stay warm, stay dry, and stay safe for those of you on the Northeast US coast, and as always,


A Supermoon Lunar Eclipse

Total Lunar Eclipse over Waterton Lake

Supermoon Total Lunar Eclipse and Lightning Storm

Seasonal Streaks Point to Flowing Liquid Water on Mars

Eclipsed in Southern Skies

Charon, Moon of Pluto

A Blue Blood Moon

Image of the Week:

Weekly Astrognuz:

Mobile Launcher Upgraded to Launch NASA’s Massive “Journey to Mars” Rocket

Lunar Eclipse: Photos & Videos of the September 2015 Event

Jupiter’s Moon Europa

Water on Mars | Evidence of Flowing Liquid

Videos: Buoyant Rover for Under Ice Exploration

Can You Kill a Star with Iron?

Space Images | Recurring “Lineae” on Slopes at Horowitz Crater

ISS Photo: Denver and Boulder

Crash Course Astronomy: Black Holes

Liquid Water on Mars is BIG News!

Big Picture Science Radio Show | Skeptic Check: What, Me Worry?

Comet Feature Named After Late NASA Scientist Claudia Alexander

Atlas V Streaks to Orbit in 100th Successful Mission

Charon: New Close-Up Color Photos

Rosetta’s First Peek at the Comet’s Dark Side

Life on Titan: Is There a Kraken in Kraken Mare?

GOP Candidates on Climate Change: Denying Reality in Every Possible Way

What’s Up? October 2015

Weekly Space Hangout: October 2, 2015

Phytoplankton Bloom: Two Satellites, Two Views

Mount Sharp Comes in Sharply

Magnetism and The Search for Life

Rockykins: On Ur Printr…Scannin’ Mai Fluffy Butt!


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Caturday’s Astrophenia | 2015.09.26

approximate trajectory of New Horizons after P...

approximate trajectory of New Horizons after Pluto flyby (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

G’day! This Caturday, there’s been a bit to glom on in astroscience, with NASA’s announcement of an upcoming solution to a Martian mystery, China’s plan to send a mission to dear old Luna’s far side within the next five years or so, US presidential candidate Ben Carson’s absurd anti-science views, and the bizarre “snakeskin” terrain of Pluto discovered in pics sent back by New Horizons as it ventures deeper into the Kuiper belt.

I’ve been informed of the upcoming total lunar eclipse on the 27th by the awesome Sharmishtha Basu (With one of her many wonderful blogs here.). I’ve been reading further, and will be watching it live via webcast if the sky is cloudy in my region as it has been so far this week (grumble…). This will be extremely cool, as it is a relatively rare occurrence, but NOT a sign of the End Times as is trendy and hysterical to claim during these astronomical events.


Global Ocean Suspected on Saturn’s Enceladus

Spiral Galaxy M96 from Hubble

Milky Way over Bosque Alegre Station in Argentina

Antarctic Analemma

LDN 988 and Friends

Pluto’s Snakeskin Terrain

M31 versus M33

Image of the Week:

The Carina Nebula: Star Birth in the Extreme

Weekly Astrognuz:

Carnival of Space #424

Pluto: Stunning Full Disc Color Image

September 27: Watch a Total Eclipse of the Moon

Weekly Space Hangout | Sept 25 2015

Ben Carson: Anti-Science

Completing the Census of Exoplanetary Systems by Microlensing

Astonishing “Snakeskin” Textured Mountains Discovered on Pluto

Earth Without Water: Nope

Big Picture Science Radio Show | No Face to Hide

Is the Universe Dying?

NGC 1783: An LMC Globular Cluster

Could We Really Find ET?

Dramatic Imagery from NASA of Supersonic Shockwaves

Microburst: Sudden Downpour

Integrating Planetary Protection in Human Missions

China Plans Lunar Far Side Landing by 2020

VLT: Lightning over the Observatory

Jill Tarter Elected President of California Academy of Sciences

NASA to Announce Mars Mystery Solved

Hubble’s Pluto Mission

Caturday’s (Big) Cat


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