Caturday’s Astrophenia | A Most Mercurial Week!

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Getting ready for study this weekend, focusing on vocabulary and lectures, so I’ll be minimal on text here. I’m still recovering from the coolness and yummy food of Friday’s Greek Fest celebration, and seeing Marvel’s Civil War movie in the theatre immediately afterward. I’m enjoying a new video lecture course, on Indian history, by the Great Courses. I’ll post a review of it when I’m done. Enjoy the weekend, and I’ll try likewise!


Contemplating the Sun

Crossing Mars

Aurora over Sweden

A Mercury Transit  Sequence

The SONG and the Hunter

NGC 7023: The Iris Nebula

Three Worlds for TRAPPIST 1

Mercury’s Transit: An Unusual Spot on the Sun

Webb Telescope Mirror Rises after Assembly

Saturn and Mars visit Milky Way Star Clouds

A Mercury Transit Music Video from SDO

A Transit of Mercury

ISS and Mercury Too

Falcon 9 and Milky Way

Image of the Week:

The Astrognuz:

1st Boeing Starliner Hull Assembled as 1st Crew Flight delays to 2018

Eleanor Lutz Created a Medieval-Style Map of Mars

Climate Change: Plankton and You: the Science of How We’re All connected to Climate

Expose-R2 Photochemistry on the Space Station

Second Cycle of Martian Seasons Completing for Curiosity Rover

Astronomy Cast Ep. 414: Navigating Far

Reminder: Science Luau 2016

Climate Change: Power Play: Envisioning a Wind, Water, and Solar World

A Martian Dustup

2007 OR10: The Largest Unnamed World in the Solar System

Super-Secret X-37B Nears One Year in Orbit Doing???

Creationist Ken Ham’s Attempt to Debunk Science with Science Goes Hilariously Awry!

Climate Change: Effects

Kepler Verifies 1284 New Planets!

When Can I Die on Mars?

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Caturday’s Astrophenia | 2016.04.16

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This week I’m engaged in working on my study skills and putting them to use at the same time, and we are still getting Rickmeister Fluffington used to my parental unit and to Gorgeous, the most sedate and least scary cat in the house. Ricky is getting on wonderfully with Eccles, which is good given Eccles’ aggressively kittenish playfulness. No jumping on other cats’ heads or attacking fluffy tails for you, Doctor Eccles! The objective of the next week is to get pictures of Ricky trying to hide, either behind the couch, or in my spare room, amusingly in plain sight while thinking himself invisible. He reminds me of old Rocky, who used to try his cloaking device technique of jumping onto my desk and slowly creeping up to me, which of course never worked:-)

I know that officially I’m supposed to be on a self-imposed spring break until the next study semester, but preparation is needed. I must catch up with practice on earlier material, lots of immersion in the subject, including speaking the language(s) however badly at first. Learning languages is not easy, especially three of them, and you cannot succeed if you are not willing to accept and exploit setbacks. It’s important to use “break time” to ready myself for more advanced material, to make demonstrable progress whatever the subject once study officially resumes. It’ll be fun, and it has been so far.

Tf. Tk. Tts.

Close up of the Bubble Nebula

Lucid Dreaming

Cancri 55 e: Climate patterns on a Lava World

Auroras and the Magnetosphere of Jupiter


Lapland Northern Lights

A Green Flash of Spring

Cassini Approaches Saturn

The Comet and the Star Cluster

Combined Solar Eclipse Corona from Earth and Space

Orion in Read and Blue

Full Venus and Crescent Moon Rise

Mercury and Crescent Moon Set

Heliopause Electrostatic Rapid Transit System

Image of the Week: Evaporating Peaks in 3D: Pillars in the Monkey Head Nebula

Weekly Astrognuz:

Bigelow and ULA Partner to Launch Commercial Space Habitat by 2020

KELT-4Ab is a Jupiter-Like Planet Orbiting in a Triple Star System

NASA Invests in Two-Dimensional Spacecraft, Reprogrammable Microorganisms

NASA Discovers 72 New Asteroids Near Earth

Robert De Niro Defends Anti-Vax Documentary, Parrots Long-Debunked Claims

Video: Two Years of NEOWise Asteroid Data

Hawking Supports Tiny Spacecraft to Alpha Centauri

Three Jupiters: A Jupiter Analog Orbits Another Star

Space Images: The Great Divide

Pluto Reveals More Secrets

The Laws of Cosmology May Need a Re-Write

Rogelio Bernal Andreo Photo of Faint Wispy Dust Between the Stars

A Space Spider Watches over Young Stars

April 12, 1961: The First Human in Space

Three Jupiters: Young Rogue Exoplanet Found in Sun’s Galactic Neighborhood

Saturn Spacecraft Samples Interstellar Dust

Big Picture Science Radio Show | Surfeit of the Vitalest 

xkcd: Stargazing

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Caturday’s Astrophenia | 2016.04.02

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G’day! I’ve good news this Caturday: We have a new play-buddy for Eccles, a new cat we named Ricky! He’s part Maine Coon and part Tabby, but looks Maine Coon though a bit on the small size. At four years of age, he’s in Eccles’ peerage, and though a bit skittish around other cats, once the two get used to each other they should get on famously. Ricky was brought home from the shelter just yesterday, and can hide like a ninja. I’ll update this post with pics of the new arrival once they’re available, when he’s used to being here and accustomed to the other cats…and oh, not hiding like a ninja!

Tf. Tk. Tts.

(Update: 2016.04.05) I finally have pics of Ricky!





A Picturesque Equinox Sunset

Alaskan Moondogs

Rainbow Airglow over the Azores

The Great Nebula in Carina

Hickson 91 in Piscis Austrinus

Close Comet and the Milky Way

Solstice to Equinox Cubed

NGC 6357: Cathedral to Massive Stars

Orion’s Belt and Sword over Teides Peak

NASA’s Curiosity Rover at Namib Dune (360 View)

NGC 6188 and NGC 6164

Big Dipper to Southern Cross

Europa: Discover Life Under the Ice

Pluto’s Bladed Terrain in 3D

Image of the Week: Vibrant gaseous ribbons: The veil supernova remnant

Weekly Astrognuz:

Mars Colony Will Have to Wait, Say NASA Scientists

55 Cancri e Surface Temperature Mapped for the First Time

New Search for Signals from 20,000 Star Systems Begins

NASA Satellite Images Uncover Underground Forest Fungi

Jupiter Just Got Nailed by Something

Arctic Sea Ice Hits Record Low Maximum Extent in 2016

RIP Kenneth Souza

Investigating the Mystery of Migrating ‘Hot Jupiters’

Japan’s Black Hole Telescope is in Trouble

Tribeca Pulls Anti-Vax Documentary by Andrew Wakefield from Its Lineup

Big Picture Science: Skeptic Check: How Low  Can You Go?

NASA Announces Astronomy and Astrophysics Fellows for 2016

Carl Sagan on Extraterrestrials | Blank on Blank

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Caturday’s Astrophenia | Winter Blogcation’s End: 2016

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Welp. This morning, I resume regular posting on the Call, and a bit on the Checkerboards next week with some new 13 word stories I’ve come up with.

And it’s about time, I’d say.

I’ve a few useful and for the most part reliable ways of generating ideas; on days when the weather permits, I go for a twenty-minute walk and pay attention to what happens with my thoughts as I go. If I can, I walk for up to an hour or so a day when feeling in need of inspiration.

But actually getting ideas like this requires that I really turn a problem, question, or goal, over in my mind before just letting the brain’s diffuse network handle the workload via the subconscious.

Other times, I may listen to music, though it’s important to listen to tunes that take minimal subconscious processing, with the same general requirements and effects as walking. These and other methods tend to work more often than not, and at the very least I get some useful exercise out of the deal.

I’m still on a study break on new material for at least another month, but am catching up nicely on overlearning what’s already been covered in previous units. I’m tempted to translate some of the wordplay I’ve come up with into Bengali, and will when I make the time to.


I’m posting from here on every other day or every third day on this site, and more than I have lately on others. I’ve got a lot of stuff to show you all now that I’ve caught up on business in life!

May your days be bright and full of joy, and your nights full of cool things to gaze up at.

It was a long wait, and it’s good to be back.

Tf. Tk. Tts.*

*(“Be well. Be safe. Be brilliant as the stars.”)

A Solar Prominence Eruption from SDO

Mystery Feature Now Disappears in Titan Lake

Solar Eclipse Shoes in the Classroom

Edge On Galaxy NGC 5866

Dark Sun over Ternate

Lunar Show Transit

The Flash Spectrum of the Sun

Neon Saturn

Dark Nebulas across Taurus

Cheering a Total Solar Eclipse

A Phoenix Aurora over Iceland

Close Comet and Large Magellanic Cloud

The W in Cassiopeia

3D Ahuna Mons

Image of the Week: celestial Lightsabers:  Stellar Jets in hh24

Weekly Astrognuz:

The Milky Way Galaxy’s Dark Halo of Star Formation

Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Celebrates 10 Years in Orbit Around Mars

Big Picture Science: Who’s Controlling Whom?

Messier 7 (M7): The Ptolemy Cluster

Global Warming Took Another Big Jump in February 2016

On This International Womens’ Day

ExoMars Spacecraft Launches to Red Planet Searching for Signs of Life

Ahuna Mons: A Mountain on Ceres

NASA Selects Educators to Fly with Astronomers on SOFIA Airborne Observatory

What are the Different Kinds of Supernovae?

DSCOVR Satellite Sees Total Eclipse From Space

Activity Report of the Carl Sagan Center for February 2016

xkcd: Gravitational Waves

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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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