Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Comments

top

Skydiver's Helmet Cam Captures a Falling Meteor

The Bad Astronomer Re:Ummm, probably not (142 comments)

That analysis was done here: http://norskmeteornettverk.no/... (it's not in English, but google translate does a decent job). He makes a distance estimate based on speed, which itself is based on the assumption it's a falling rock at terminal velocity. But the distance, speed, and time it takes to cross the FOV are related, and if you make a stab at speed you can get distance and vice versa.

about 7 months ago
top

Skydiver's Helmet Cam Captures a Falling Meteor

The Bad Astronomer Re:Ummm, probably not (142 comments)

Yes, the apparent speed is the biggest argument against it being something packed in the 'chute, I'd think. If the skydiver were still decelerating hard after the parachute opened, the rock could appear to move rapidly, but even then it appears to come from farther away than the parachute. I'm still looking into this, and will have my own thoughts posted tomorrow on my blog.

about 7 months ago
top

Massive Exoplanet Discovered, Challenges Established Planet Formation Theories

The Bad Astronomer headline isn't quite correct (129 comments)

The headline as submitted isn't really correct. The planet is not the biggest found; there are several whose mass may be larger, like the exoplanets announced just last week (and this planet has 11 times the mass of Jupiter; we don't know its actual size). The real issue with HD 106906 b is that it is so far out from its parent star, much farther out than planets with that ass should form. Either it formed farther in and got tossed out (which is unlikely) or it formed where it was, which current theories say is difficult; usually objects forming that far out have much higher mass. I explain all this in my own blog post about it.

about 10 months ago
top

No, the Earth (almost Certainly) Won't Be Hit By an Asteroid In 2032

The Bad Astronomer Math. Sigh. (142 comments)

Folks- Please note a couple of math errors in the article (and in the headline I submitted here at /.). 1) The chance of it missing is 99.998%, and not 99.99998%. I misplaced a parenthesis when I did the math and wound up essentially getting 100 - 1/63000 instead of 1 - 1/63000. D'oh. 2) Also, the original circle I drew in the article was too big. This one makes me smile wryly: I first drew up the analogy as the circular cross-sectional area of a target region in space versus the cross-section of the Earth. Both are circles. However, a pixel is square! So my circle was too wide by a factor of the square root of pi, since the radius of the circle is the sqrt(area/pi). Put in 63,000 pixels for the area and the radius is 141. I corrected the article, sent a note to TPTB at Slashdot, and beg the forgiveness of math pedants everywhere. :)

1 year,4 days
top

Astronaut Chris Hadfield Performs Space Oddity On the ISS

The Bad Astronomer Re:If this is what we currently have on our task l (212 comments)

"National pride"? He's Canadian, you know. Which nation do you mean? Do you also know they don't work 24 hours per day? And on their off time, ISS astronauts still breathe? Of course, he did use up a lot of electrons saving the files and transmitting them to Earth, so I'll make sure NASA or the CSA reimburses you per Coulomb.

about a year and a half ago
top

'Amateur' Astronomer Snaps Pic of Planet-Forming Disk

The Bad Astronomer Quoth the "raven" (59 comments)

The reason I use quotation marks for "amateur" is that a lot of people think amateur means beginner, or not very good at what they're doing. In astronomy the meaning is harder to pin down; a lot of amateurs are doing amazing work. David Levy (of Shoemaker Levy 9) is sometimes referred to as an amateur, meaning not professional. But even then, what does it mean? Unpaid? He gets paid. Untrained? That's silly; he's a great astronomer. So I put the word in quotation marks as a way to poke gentle fun at the way people perceive the word.

more than 2 years ago
top

Predicting When Space Junk Will Come Home To Earth

The Bad Astronomer hey, I know that guy! (43 comments)

So I'm reading that quotation about modeling the atmosphere, thinking, "That sounds familiar". When I get halfway through I realize, hey! I said that! That's when I finally look at the source and realize it's NPR, the interview I did on Science Friday. That made me LOL.

more than 2 years ago
top

Comet May Have Missed Earth By a Few hundred Kilometers

The Bad Astronomer I'm thinking no (265 comments)

I'll be blunt: I'm not buying it. I give details on my blog, but I think there are too many holes in the idea. For one thing, comets aren't that small; passing within a few thousand klicks of one would put us inside the debris field. We'd have seen vast numbers of meteors. For another, no one else saw it? At all? Comets can be visible during broad daylight - I've seen one myself - yet there's not a single other observation of a comet that close from any other person on Earth. So I am very, very, very skeptical.

about 3 years ago
top

Atlantis' Final Reentry Over Cancun, Mexico

The Bad Astronomer Re:Re-entry in 3D (26 comments)

Dagnabbit. I should've logged in first. :) That's my post, and I meant to say it is an anaglyph of the amazing re-entry plume image seen from the space station.

more than 3 years ago
top

Can the US Still Lead In Space Despite Shuttle's End?

The Bad Astronomer Obama didn't cancel the Shuttle, Bush did (365 comments)

Oh for Pete's sake. Obama did NOT cancel the Shuttle program, George W Bush did! Obama canceled Constellation, the rocket program to followup on the Shuttle, but he did so because it was overbudget and behind schedule. I have a long-ish article about this in the New York Post today. NASA has some serious problems right now, mostly due to lack of a strong vision and the ridiculous turf wars between the White House and Congress. Most of these problems aren't hard to solve in theory, but in practice, with the rabid partisonship going on right now? Hmph.

more than 3 years ago
top

Making the Case For Microscopic Life In Meteorites

The Bad Astronomer Re:be very, very skeptical (103 comments)

D'oh! I wasn't logged in, but this comment above is from me, Phil Plait. :)

more than 3 years ago
top

Collision of Two Asteroids Spotted For the First Time

The Bad Astronomer Re:Old News (31 comments)

Yup. Hubble captures picture of asteroid collision! :) I think the news here is that the scientists have now had time to look into this more and have confirmed it. HOWEVER, I'm not sure of that. I'm thinking Emily Lakdawalla at The Planetary Society Blog will have something on this...

about 4 years ago
top

Virginia AG Ken Cuccinelli's AGW Witch Hunt Continues

The Bad Astronomer Re:I Left Out The Best Part (341 comments)

Except that it's been shown time and again that Mann has been working above board all along. Even when Cuccinelli was trying again and again to persecute -- I'm sorry, prosecute -- Mann, it was already clear Mann had been cleared of wrongdoing.

about 4 years ago
top

Virginia AG Ken Cuccinelli's AGW Witch Hunt Continues

The Bad Astronomer Re:Somewhat off topic here, but... (341 comments)

I prefer a .50 caliber over a bazooka. But yeah, the rest is pretty spot on. Oh yeah: ;) And thanks!

about 4 years ago
top

Exoplanet Reports Exaggerated

The Bad Astronomer Re:What is this "exaggerated" bs? (55 comments)

Well, it's not insulting. I've written for both magazines! :) However, my source was the news release from Gemini, as well as a few previous articles I had written on this topic as well as this particular object.

more than 4 years ago
top

Exoplanet Reports Exaggerated

The Bad Astronomer Re:What is this "exaggerated" bs? (55 comments)

Well, the link first posted by /., to an article on space.com, called this the first ever direct image of an exoplanet. That is factually incorrect, so it's not really the tabloids or Fox.

more than 4 years ago
top

First Direct Photo of Exoplanet Confirmed

The Bad Astronomer Re:This submission is inaccurate (189 comments)

Oh-- I submitted my own writeup as a followup. Hopefully it will be added to this to make it more accurate.

more than 4 years ago

Submissions

top

Earth Gets Another Quasi-Moon

The Bad Astronomer The Bad Astronomer writes  |  about three weeks ago

The Bad Astronomer (563217) writes "Astronomers have found a new asteroid, 2014 OL339, that is a quasi-moon of the Earth. Discovered accidentally earlier this year, the 150-meter asteroid has an orbit that is more elliptical than Earth's, but has a period of almost exactly one year. It isn't bound to Earth like a real moon, but displays apparent motion as if it did, making it one of several known quasi-moons."
top

New Mars crater spotted in before-and-after pictures

The Bad Astronomer The Bad Astronomer writes  |  about 5 months ago

The Bad Astronomer (563217) writes "The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter spotted a new crater on the surface of Mars, and, using before-and-after pictures, the impact date has been nailed down to less than a day — it happened on or about March 27, 2012. The crater is 50 meters or so in size, and surrounded by smaller craters that may have been caused by smaller impacts due to the incoming meteoroid breaking up. Several landslides were spotted in the area as well, possibly due to the shock wave of the impact."
top

Astronomers determine the length of day of an exoplanet

The Bad Astronomer The Bad Astronomer writes  |  about 6 months ago

The Bad Astronomer (563217) writes "Astronomers have just announced that the exoplanet Beta Pic b — a 10-Jupiter-mass world 60 light years away -— rotates in about 8 hours. Using a high-resolution spectrometer and exploiting the Doppler shift of light seen as the planet spins, they measured its rotation velocity as 28,000 mph. Making reasonable assumptions about the planet's size, that gives the length of its day. This is the first time such a measurement has been achieved for an exoplanet."
top

Astronomer discovers nearby brown dwarf literally as cold as ice

The Bad Astronomer The Bad Astronomer writes  |  about 6 months ago

The Bad Astronomer (563217) writes "Using data from the orbiting WISE and Spitzer infrared space telescopes, an astronomer has discovered a brown dwarf that is just 7.2 light years away, making it the seventh closest known interstellar object to the Sun. Not only that, it's cold ; its temperature is likely 240-260 Kelvin, well below the freezing point of water. It's literally as cold as ice."
top

Earth-sized planet discovered in its star's habitable zone

The Bad Astronomer The Bad Astronomer writes  |  about 6 months ago

The Bad Astronomer (563217) writes "Astronomers have announced the discovery of Kepler-186f, a very nearly Earth-sized planet in its star's habitable zone. The planet is the fifth in a system of five orbiting a red dwarf star 500 light years away, and is located in the region where liquid water could exist on its surface. It's not know if this planet is Earth-like — that is, with water and air and the potential for life — but it's the closest we've yet seen where one could be like our own planet."
top

New supernova seen in nearby galaxy M82

The Bad Astronomer The Bad Astronomer writes  |  about 9 months ago

The Bad Astronomer (563217) writes "A new and potentially bright supernova was just discovered in the nearby galaxy M82. This is a Type Ia supernova, the catastrophic explosion of a white dwarf. It appears to be on the rise, and may have been caught as much as two weeks before peak brightness. It's currently already brighter than magnitude 12, and may get to mag 8, easy to see in small telescopes. The galaxy is less than 12 million light years away, so this may become one of the best-studied supernovae in recent times. Type Ia supernovae are used to measure dark energy, so seeing one nearby is a huge boon to astronomy."
top

Exoplanet camera now online

The Bad Astronomer The Bad Astronomer writes  |  about 9 months ago

The Bad Astronomer (563217) writes "The Gemini Planet Imager is a camera that is designed to take direct photos of exoplanets, alien worlds orbiting other stars. In a test run last November it spotted the exoplanet Beta Pictoris b, a dusty ring around a nearby star, and even snapped a portrait of Jupiter's moon Europa. Up to now, only about a dozen exoplanets have been directly imaged; GPI is expected to find dozens more in the next few years."
top

How astronauts took the most important photo in space history

The Bad Astronomer The Bad Astronomer writes  |  about 10 months ago

The Bad Astronomer (563217) writes "On December 24, 1968, the Apollo 8 astronauts saw the Earth rising over the limb of the Moon. The photo they took of this moment — dubbed Earthrise —has become an icon of our need to explore, and to protect our home world. NASA has just released a video explaining how the astronauts were able to capture this unique moment, which included a dash of both coincidence and fast teamwork."
top

Three new exoplanets seen in direct photographs

The Bad Astronomer The Bad Astronomer writes  |  about a year ago

The Bad Astronomer (563217) writes "Planets orbiting other stars are usually found indirectly (by blocking their stars' light or inducing a Doppler shift in the light as they orbit, for example), but direct images of exoplanets are extremely rare. However, using the 10-meter Keck telescope in Hawaii, astronomers have taken photographs of three nearby exoplanets, all young, massive, and hot. One may be massive enough to count as a brown dwarf, but the other two are more likely in the planet-mass range. All three are very far from their stars, which means they may have formed differently than the planets in our solar system."
top

Chelyabinsk-sized asteroid impacts may be more common than we thought

The Bad Astronomer The Bad Astronomer writes  |  about a year ago

The Bad Astronomer (563217) writes "Using data from the Feb. 15, 2013 asteroid impact over Russia, scientists have determined that we may be hit by objects in this size range (10 — 50 meters across) more often than we previously thought, something like once every 20 years. They also found the Chelyabinsk asteroid was likely a single rock about 19 meters (60 feet) across, had a mass of 12,000 tons, and was criss-crossed with internal fractures which aided in its breakup as it rammed through the Earth's atmosphere."
top

One in five Sun-like stars may have an Earth-like planet

The Bad Astronomer The Bad Astronomer writes  |  about a year ago

The Bad Astronomer (563217) writes "A new study, looking at over 40,000 stars viewed by the Kepler spacecraft, indicates that 22% of stars like the Sun should have Earth-like planets orbiting them — planets that are similar in size to our home world and with a surface temperature hospitable for liquid water. There are some caveats (they don't include atmospheric issues like the greenhouse effect, which may reduce the overall number, or at cooler stars where there may be many more such planets) but their numbers indicate there could be several billion planets similar to Earth in the Milky Way alone."
top

No, the Earth (almost certainly) won't be hit by an asteroid in 2032

The Bad Astronomer The Bad Astronomer writes  |  1 year,4 days

The Bad Astronomer (563217) writes "Last week, astronomers discovered 2013 TV135, a 400-meter wide asteroid that will swing by the Earth in 2032. The odds of an impact at that time are incredibly low — in fact, the chance it will glide safely past us is 99.99998%! But that hasn't stopped some venues from playing up the apocalypse angle. Bottom line: we do not have a good orbit for this rock yet, and as observations get better the chance of an impact will certainly drop. We can breathe easy over this particular asteroid."
top

Saturn in all its glory

The Bad Astronomer The Bad Astronomer writes  |  1 year,6 days

The Bad Astronomer (563217) writes "On Oct. 10, 2013, the Cassini spacecraft took a series of wide-angle pictures of Saturn from well above the plane of the rings. Croatian software developer and amateur astronomical image processor Gordan Ugarkovic assembled them into a stunning mosaic (mirrored on Flickr), showing the planet from a high angle not usually seen. There's a lot to see in this image, including the rings (and the gaps therein), moons, and the planet itself, including the remnants of a monstrous northern hemisphere storm that kicked off in 2010. It's truly wondrous."
top

Russian missile test seen and photographed by ISS astronauts

The Bad Astronomer The Bad Astronomer writes  |  1 year,11 days

The Bad Astronomer (563217) writes "It sounds like a scene from "Gravity": Astronauts aboard the International Space Station Thursday saw a weird, glowing cloud of light in the distance, most likely caused by a fuel dump or leaking fuel from a Russian missile launch. The extended life of a Topol missile was being tested in a ballistic launch to a test target in Kazakhstan, and the astronauts were able to take pictures of both the launch vapor trail and the glowing cloud. This event is similar to the eerie spiral lights seen over Norway in 2009 caused by a Russian missile launch as well."
top

Can a 4K TV fool people into thinking they're about to get hit by an asteroid?

The Bad Astronomer The Bad Astronomer writes  |  about a year ago

The Bad Astronomer (563217) writes "A video is going viral showing people in a job interview. What they think is a window in the room is actually a new 4K (3840x2160 pixel) TV, and when it shows an asteroid screaming in over the city and impacting nearby, hilarity (more or less) ensues. It may seem unlikely, but it turns out the TV pixels really are small enough that from a short distance away, they can fool people into thinking they're seeing reality and not a video on a TV."
top

Watch the Crab Nebula expand over a 13 year period

The Bad Astronomer The Bad Astronomer writes  |  about a year ago

The Bad Astronomer (563217) writes "A thousand years ago, the light from the explosion of a massive star reached the Earth. We now call this supernova remnant the Crab Nebula, and a new image of the Crab taken by astronomer Adam Block shows the physical expansion of the debris, made obvious in a short video comparing his 2012 observations with some taken in 1999. The outward motion of filaments and knots in the material can be easily traced even over this relatively short time baseline."
top

Lowest mass exoplanet ever directly imaged. Probably.

The Bad Astronomer The Bad Astronomer writes  |  about a year ago

The Bad Astronomer (563217) writes "Astronomers announced today that they have taken a direct image of the lowest mass exoplanet ever seen. HD 95086 b has a mass about 4 — 5 times that of Jupiter, and orbits a star 300 light years away that is slightly more massive and hotter than the Sun. The planet is not 100% confirmed, but it appears very likely to be real. If so, it's a hot gas giant, still cooling from its formation less than 20 million years ago. The picture, taken in the infrared, clearly shows the planet, making it one of fewer than a dozen such planets seen in actual telescopic images."
top

Missile test creates huge expanding halo of light over Hawaii

The Bad Astronomer The Bad Astronomer writes  |  about a year and a half ago

The Bad Astronomer (563217) writes "A Minuteman III missile launch from California early Wednesday morning created a weird, expanding halo of light seen from the CFHT observatory on Hawaii's Mauna Kea. The third stage of the missile has ports that open and dump fuel into the near-vacuum. This cloud expands rapidly as a spherical shell, shock-exciting the air molecules and causing them to glow, creating the bizarre effect."

Journals

The Bad Astronomer has no journal entries.

Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?