The First End of the Year for this Blog

INTRODUCTION to My End of the Year Blog 2017

Dated 12/9/2017


I must discuss all the changes that have occurred in the space. Did space change? Not more than usual I don’t think. This blog why such a moronic title? It’s the end of the year and all writers thrown everything that didn’t get printed during the year into one big garbage dump at year end. Or maybe not? Hmm


The First Year End of the Deep Education Blog

helix nebulae is a dying star
Helix Nebula discovered in 1824 by Ludwig Harding. This planetary nebula is in actuality a dying star similar to our sun. This bright object is 650 light years away.

One thing that struck me as a bit unusual that occurred this year is the new or potentially new findings of life on other worlds. More on that in a minute.

Introducing the Dark “Hole” in the Sun

the dark "hole" in the sun
The Dark “Hole” in the Sun

This image of the sun is rendered in Ultra Violet by NASA’s  Solar Dynamics Observatory. This particular dark hole appeared because the star has an always-on magnetic field so it can get kinks and bends which can then cause sunspots and solar flares. They can also open the corona of the sun, the plasma that surrounds all-stars. These holes allow solar winds to rush into space. This may be an ordinary occurrence but it sure is spectacular. On the other hand, they can cause disturbances to satellite and power grids. They also supercharge the planets auroras, the northern and southern lights. Last month the Northern Aurora Borealis was seen as far south as Nebraska.

As it moves to its minimum of the 11-year cycle in 2019 the holes will become longer lasting and longer lasting. These holes can last several sunny days which is about 27 earth days.

Thanks to LiveScience for the image and information.

Hubble is Going Away

Did you know it is being replaced? In the spring of 2019, the James Webb Space Telescope will lift off. It will do so much more than Hubble did. I don’t know how that is going to be possible. From day 1 when the images were less than stellar (pun intended), I have blown away. I wish I could spend every day, all day long going thru images or roses and space. They are both magically enthralling.

The James Webb Space Telescope, JWST for short, will support thousands of scientists around the world with its new technologies. It is a collaboration of NASA, ESA (the European Space Agency), and CSA (the Canadian Space Agency. It will be managed by the Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland just as Hubble is. The industrial partner is Northrup Grumman.  I was caught in a moment of introspection when this article said that the name JWST was arrived at in 2003. Imagine that this has been in the works for more than fourteen years.

Introducing the First Alien Moon

During the week of July 28, 2017, astronomers were teased by a discovery of great magnitude. They or actually the Kepler Space Telescope, found what may be the first exomoon. An exomoon is a name given to objects that revolve around exoplanets. Now isn’t that helpful? ‘Exo’ means that the objects from outside of our solar system.

This is a huge moon, named Kepler 1625b since it revolves around planet Kepler 1625. This pair is 4,000 light years from earth.  A lightyear if I remember correctly from grade school (yes since was around back then!) is the time that light traveling in a vacuum to travel can travel in one Julian year, about 365.25 days. The actual computation is about 5.9 trillion miles!

kepler space telescope renditon by an artist
An artists rendition of how the Kepler Space telescope may look today.

The Wonder of Kepler

Kepler hunts for planets by looking for a telltale dip in a star’s brightness as another object passes in front of it. To find a moon is the same process but much more difficult. I looked for more current information but it is not yet available. The Hubble Space Telescope had been booked for examining and confirming the existence of this moon during the month of October that just passed.

This moon is BIG. Much bigger than Ganymede that revolves our Jupiter. The really big deal of this discovery (fingers crossed) is that it will be the first moon detected in orbit around an alien planet. This marks a new chapter in the astronomer’s study of the cosmos. I would have loved to hear Carl Sagan narrate this story. He had such a great way of transferring his excitement of these incomparable discovery’s that are so far away seem, not really intimate, but close to home, I guess. He maintained his awe in spite of the drab scientific jargon.

These quests are not just to find objects, these massively smart space telescopes look back into time when the universe was just beginning. Kepler has been a massively successful telescope. In June astronomers used data gathered by Kepler, to identify 219 alien candidates that may be habitable by scientific standards like earth. How do we earthlings get off thinking that we are superior beings? I am utterly humbled by these discoveries. I understand we are heading back to the moon.

I assume that the age-old arguments regarding what path to take still continues. Werhner von Braun, the German scientist turned American Citizen had his path squarely in mind. First a shuttle, then a space station and then the moon and then Mars. Obviously, we didn’t take that path. I guess I can understand how reaching the moon would have more PR power than building a shuttle. What amazes me, is that von Braun was so clear-minded about the future. He died at 65 years of age four years before the first shuttle flew. What a remarkable man.

The Cassini Space Telescope just complete its 13 years of examining Saturn and the neighborhood. It took Cassini 7 years to reach Saturn.

Galileo Space Telescope was the first of Earth's close-up looks of Jupiter
Galileo Space Telescope that was the first Earth closeup look at Jupiter. It crashed in 2003
Juno, the newest telescope to study Jupiter in 2016
Juno, the newest space telescope to study Jupiter 2016 Image by NASA/JPL/Cal-tech.
Jupiter's Blues caught by Juno Space Telescope in 2016
Jupiter’s Blues caught by the Juno Space Telescope captured at 11,747 miles. Its mission will end in 2018.

The other hand of wonder must be an assessment. Maybe it is just that time. Cassini flew from the earth in 1997 and ended this year. Maybe I am just gauging success by how many things are left flying by the time I fall to earth. Doesn’t make much sense does it.? But there has to be an answer in there somewhere…

The CEO of Boeing and Elan Musk are getting competitive. Denis Muilenberg is probably betting on the fact that Mr.Musk and his Space X rockets is always a bit overoptimistic.

What thoughts bend your brain waves? Are you an explorer or a scientific man. One item that seems to augur well for the scientific man is the photo that an astronaut took on his last day in Space, as he departed the Space Station.

last day on International Space Station NASA astronaut caputured this view of the sun over the earth. June 11, 2015
NASA astronaut Terry Verts captured this view of the sun over the earth on his last day at the International Space Station. June 11, 2015

Introducing The Last Space Piece for the Year 2017

It seems scientists, specifically astronomer’s can’t get enough of Kepler. The artist’s illustration of how Kepler might look today is courtesy of Reuters.

In June 2017 astronomers confirmed that Kepler has found 10 new Earth-size planets.That brings the total to 50 is what impressive? Wait there’s more: Kepler has already discovered 4,034 potential exoplanets of which 2,335 have been confirmed by other telescopes as actual planets. Now, which students are not going into astronomy or astrophysics, or evening someday composing a hit song like “Stardust”.

“And now the purple dusk of twilight time

Steals across the meadows of my heart

High up in the sky little stars climb

Always reminding me that we’re apart

You wander down the lane and far away

Leaving me a song that will not die

Love is now the stardust of yesterday

The music of the years gone by.

Sometimes I wonder, how I spend

The lonely nights

Dreaming of a song

The melody

Haunts my reverie

And I am once again with you.

When our love was new

And each kiss an inspiration

But that was long ago

And now my consolation is in the stardust of a song

Beside the garden wall, when stars are bright

You are in my arms

The nightingales

Tells his fairy tale

Of paradise, where roses grow

Though I dream in vain

In my heart it will remain

My stardust melody

The memory of love’s refrain.

1927 Hoagy Carmichael, Stardust Lyrics 1929 by Mitchell Parish

Hit song by Nat King Cole and by Natalie Cole, Willie Nelson and many more

Thank you for the past year