Thursday, October 15, 2009

Big Week in Astronomy

I'm taking one week off from mythology to talk about the big week Astronomy had in the news last week.

1) A new, gigantically huge and diffuse ring was discovered around Saturn. Astronomers with the Spitzer Space Telescope discovered this ring by detecting its heat (just barely hotter than absolute zero). The ring ranges from 3.7 to 7.4 million miles from the planet technically making it the largest thing in the solar system. See:

2) President Obama held the first ever Star Party on the White House lawn. Dozens of amateur astronomers brought telescopes to the White House and the first family saw Jupiter and other objects through the telescopes. The President delivered a great speech on the importance of science. Hopefully this will be the first of many such Star Parties.

3) Our attempt to blow up the Moon did not work out. The LCROSS mission slammed a rocket into the south pole of the Moon to see what water might come up. Although the event was not seen from Earth as expected, astronomers are still poring over the data and expect to share their findings soon. See: It wasn't nearly as destructive as when the evil Chairface Chippendale tried to write his name on the Moon in an animated episode of the Tick.

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