A Mess(y)ier Marathon.

The weekend started out with a bang.  A jolt actually.  We felt the eathquake out here (barely), but it wasn’t enough to stop our intrepid Marathoner’s.

IMG_2005

The clouds, however, did stop us.

IMG_2015

So, as darkness fell, I decided to take some photos anyway.    Children playing in the dark, nothing seems to phase them.

IMG_2003

IMG_1999

IMG_1997

IMG_1990

IMG_1989

IMG_1986

It is the time of the year when the desert blooms and this year was actually pretty good with the rain we received.

IMG_2023

A group of students came out to explore our site.  I hope they can come back when it is clear!  Next month we have a Girl Scout troop and two different high school field trips!  Lots of activity.

IMG_2018

Even with little hope of a break in the clouds, people set up and tested equipment.  Sometimes a cloudy night can be very productive.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman

Doomed To Fail?

The ESA and Russia’s Roscosmos space agency have joined forces to land a rover on Mars.

The ExoMars project is similar to the Mars Curiosity rover that NASA successfully landed.

ESA_NASA_D_v2_H

The ExoMars mission has several stages.  The ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) and a EDM stationary lander called ‘Schiaparelli’ are planned for 2016.

The TGO would deliver the ESA-built stationary lander and then proceed to map the sources of methane on Mars and other gases.

That mapping will be used to help select the landing site for the ExoMars rover to be launched on 2018 on a Russian heavy lift Proton launch vehicle.

This of course is provided that the EU and Russia are still talking to one another.  The political issues between Russia and the West don’t show any signs of lessening.  This could jeopardize the launch and several other projects.

Perhaps it is time that the international community come together an designate a neutral site for all the launching and retrieval missions for space that is away from any political upheavals.  A dream, I’m sure, but it would make me feel better about the future of space exploration.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman

Why Don’t We Have Rings?

This is almost embarrassing.  Saturn has rings, Jupiter has rings, Uranus, Neptune all have rings…and now even some asteroids have rings.

File:Comparechariklo2.jpg

Scientists have discovered that the asteroid Chariklo, all 258km wide asteroid Chariklo, has a ring system (the graphic above is old, the 258km is correct).

Artist's impression of of Chariklo and rings

In fact Chariklo has at least two ring that were observed when it occulted a star recently.

Image credit Zane B. Stein

Chariklo is about 1AU inside the orbit of Uranus and is estimated to have an orbital half-life of about 10.3 Million years.

Moon

So the question still remains: Why doesn’t the Earth have rings.  Well, some believe that we can blame it on the Moon.  The gravitational interaction between the Earth and Moon would make any ring material unstable and, eventually, all the particles would fall to the surface of one or the other.  Dang you Moon!  I could have had a view that would have been spectacular!

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman

Plasma Protection From Sun Burn.

I was just reading an MIT article on how the Earth has a plasma shield that protects it from Solar storms

Scientists and MIT and NASA where observing the magnetosphere when they noticed that when the Earth’s magnetic field comes into contact with the sun’s magnetic field the protection gets even stronger.
This  region scientists call the “merging point,” forms an extra barrier around us and slows the harmful radiation from the Sun and forces it into a plasma river.
Every time I read something like this is just makes me realize how beautifully fragile our little planet is.  A delicate balance of cosmic forces keeping us alive an self destructive as every.  It makes you wonder if everyone knows how close to catastrophe the Earth is every day.
I think Griffith Jenkins Griffith, famous in Los Angeles for donating Griffith Park and creating the Griffith Observatory in the park, stated it best when he said “Man’s sense of values ought to be revised. If all mankind could look through that telescope, it would change the world!”

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman

The Way It Began.

Scientists have been flexing their biceps, actually their BICEP2.  BICEP2 is a small aperture telescope design with polarized sensitive bolometer detectors made from a pair of transition edge sensors coupled to orthogonal phased antenna arrays.

 

BICEP2 was operated from the Dark Sector Lab at Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station from January 2010 through December 2012.

BICEP data

BICEP2 was looking at the light from the Big Bang with a slight twist.  The cosmic microwave background radiation was scanned using BICEP2’s polarized sensors.

cosmic_history_2

Scientists are looking for inflation.  The idea is that about a trillionth of a trillionth of a trillionth of a second after the Big Bang, the universe had a super-rapid expansion.  This inflation is where space-time came from.  Starting out very small and expanding outward.  Until now, it was just speculation.  Now, with a lot more scrutiny to come, the BICEP2 team thinks they have found the evidence.

So we may have found the way it began…it being everything.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman

Ten Things You May Not Know About The Solar System.

 Ten Things You May Not Know About The Solar System.

Planets

Here’s a collection of 10 unexpected and intriguing facts about our solar system – our sun and its family of planets – you probably did not know, or maybe have forgotten about!

10 ) The hottest planet isn’t closest to the sun
Many people know that Mercury is the closest planet to the sun, well less than half of the Earth’s distance. It is no mystery, therefore, why people would assume that Mercury is the hottest planet. We know that Venus, the second planet away from the sun, is on the average 30 million miles farther from the sun than Mercury. The natural assumption is that being farther away, it must be cooler. But assumptions can be dangerous.

For practical consideration, Mercury has no atmosphere, no warming blanket to help it maintain the sun’s heat. Venus, on the other hand, is shrouded by an unexpectedly thick atmosphere, about 100 times thicker than our own on Earth. This in itself would normally serve to prevent some of the sun’s energy from escaping back into space and thus raise the overall temperature of the planet. But in addition to the atmosphere’s thickness, it is composed almost entirely of carbon dioxide, a potent greenhouse gas.

The carbon dioxide freely lets solar energy in, but is far less transparent to the longer wavelength radiation emitted by the heated surface. Thus the temperature rises to a level far above what would be expected, making it the hottest planet. In fact the average temperature on Venus is about 875 degrees F, hot enough to melt tin and lead. The maximum temperature on Mercury, the planet closer to the sun, is about 800 degrees F. In addition, the lack of atmosphere causes Mercury’s surface temperature to vary by hundreds of degrees, whereas the thick mantle of carbon dioxide keeps the surface temperature of Venus steady, hardly varying at all, anywhere on the planet or any time of day or night!

9 ) Pluto is smaller than the USA
The greatest distance across the contiguous United States is nearly 2,900 miles (from Northern California to Maine). By the best current estimates, Pluto is just over 1400 miles across, less than half the width of the U.S. Certainly in size it is much smaller than any major planet, perhaps making it a bit easier to understand why a few years ago it was “demoted” from full planet status. It is now known as a “dwarf planet.”

8 ) George Lucas doesn’t know much about “Asteroid Fields
In many science fiction movies, spacecraft are often endangered by pesky asteroid fields. In actuality, the only asteroid belt we are aware of exists between Mars and Jupiter, and although there are tens of thousands of asteroids in it (perhaps more), they are quite widely spaced and the likelihood of colliding with one is small. In fact, spacecraft must be deliberately and carefully guided to asteroids to have a chance of even photographing one. Given the presumed manner of creation, it is highly unlikely that spacefarers will ever encounter asteroid swarms or fields in deep space.

7 ) You can make volcanoes using water as magma
Mention volcanoes and everyone immediately thinks of Mount St. Helens, Mount Vesuvius, or maybe the lava caldera of Mauna Loa in Hawaii. Volcanoes require molten rock called lava (or “magma” when still underground), right? Not really. A volcano forms when an underground reservoir of a hot, fluid mineral or gas erupts onto the surface of a planet or other non-stellar astronomical body. The exact composition of the mineral can vary greatly. On Earth, most volcanoes sport lava (or magma) that has silicon, iron, magnesium, sodium, and a host of complicated minerals. The volcanoes of Jupiter’s moon Io appear to be composed mostly of sulfur and sulfur dioxide.

But it can be simpler than that. On Saturn’s moon Enceladus, Neptune’s moon Triton, and others, the driving force is ice, good old frozen H20! Water expands when it freezes and enormous pressures can build up, just as in a “normal” volcano on Earth. When the ice erupts, a “cryovolcano” is formed. So volcanoes can operate on water as well as molten rock. By the way, we have relatively small scale eruptions of water on Earth called geysers. They are associated with superheated water that has come into contact with a hot reservoir of magma.

6 ) The “edge” of the Solar System is 1,000 times farther away than Pluto
Most people have been taught that the solar system just goes out to the orbit of Pluto. Today we don’t even consider Pluto a full-fledged planet, but the impression remains. Still, we have discovered numerous objects orbiting the sun that are considerably farther than Pluto. These are “Trans-Neptunian Objects” (TNOs), or “Kuiper Belt Objects” (KBOs). The Kuiper Belt, the first of the sun’s two reservoirs of cometary material, is thought to extend to 50 or 60 astronomical units (AU, or the average distance of the Earth from the sun). An even farther part of the solar system, the huge but tenuous Oort comet cloud, may extend to 50,000 AU from the sun, or about half a light year – more than a thousand times farther than Pluto.

5 ) Almost everything on Earth is a rare element
The elemental composition of planet Earth is mostly iron, oxygen, silicon, magnesium, sulfur, nickel, calcium, sodium, and aluminum. While such elements have been detected in locations throughout the universe, they are merely trace elements, vastly overshadowed by the much greater abundances of hydrogen and helium. Thus Earth, for the most part, is composed of rare elements. This does not signify any special place for Earth, however. The cloud from which the Earth formed had a much higher abundance of hydrogen and helium, but being light gases, they were driven away into space by the sun’s heat as the Earth formed.

4 ) There are Mars rocks on Earth (and we didn’t bring here)
Chemical analysis of meteorites found in Antarctica, the Sahara Desert, and elsewhere have been shown by various means to have originated on Mars. For example, some contain pockets of gas that is chemically identical to the martian atmosphere. These meteorites may have been blasted away from Mars due to a larger meteoroid or asteroid impact on Mars, or by a huge volcanic eruption, and later collided with Earth.

3 ) Jupiter has the biggest ocean of any planet
Orbiting in cold space five times farther from the sun than Earth, Jupiter retained much higher levels of hydrogen and helium when it formed than did our planet. In fact, Jupiter is mostly hydrogen and helium. Given the planet’s mass and chemical composition, physics demands that way down under the cold cloud tops, pressures rise to the point that the hydrogen must turn to liquid. In fact there should be a deep planetary ocean of liquid hydrogen. Computer models show that not only is this the largest ocean known in the solar system, but that it is about 40,000 km deep – roughly as deep as the Earth is around!

2 ) Even really small bodies can have moons
It was once thought that only objects as large as planets could have natural satellites or moons. In fact the existence of moons, or the capability of a planet to gravitationally control a moon in orbit, was sometimes used as part of the definition of what a planet truly is. It just didn’t seem reasonable that smaller celestial bodies had enough gravity to hold a moon. After all, Mercury and Venus have none at all, and Mars has only tiny moons. But in 1993, the Galileo probe passed the 20-mile wide asteroid Ida and discovered its one-mile wide moon, Dactyl. Since then moons have been discovered orbiting nearly 200 other minor planets, further complicating the definition of a “true” planet.

1 ) We live inside the sun
Normally we think of the sun as being that big, hot ball of light 93 million miles away. But actually, the sun’s outer atmosphere extends far beyond its visible surface. Our planet orbits within this tenuous atmosphere, and we see evidence of this when gusts of the solar wind generate the Northern and Southern Lights. In that sense, we definitely live “inside” the sun. But the solar atmosphere doesn’t end at Earth. Auroras have been observed on Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and even distant Neptune. In fact, the outer solar atmosphere, called the “heliosphere,” is thought to extend at least 100 A.U. That’s nearly 10 billion miles. In fact the atmosphere is likely teardrop shaped due to the sun’s motion in space, with the “tail” extending tens to hundreds of billions of miles downwind. Source: Earth & Sky by Larry Sessisons.

Reblogged from AstroSpace News

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman

Anitmatter Galaxies?

Apparently, the Sorbonne University has confirmed the detection of antimatter galaxies via a Santilli telescope with concave lenses.

Antimatter is material composed of antiparticles that have the same mass as regular particles but have an opposite charge.  If an antimatter particle and a matter particle meet, they are both destroyed.

So the question has been, how do you detect antimatter?  It turns out that antiparticles are created everywhere in the universe where high-energy particle collisions take place.  So they can be reproduced in colliders.  And it seems that there is a giant cloud of antimatter surrounding the center of our own galaxy.

In 2009, NASA sent the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS) cosmic ray detector to the ISS to look for antimatter galaxies (among other things).  The experiments are still continuing and the search continues.

So the new concave telescope design that was apparently used to find these antimatter galaxies uses new principles and math that I am not ashamed to say I don’t understand.  However, having said that I would like confirmation from other scientists that do understand the math before I sign on to this as a fact.  If it holds, then I need to buy another telescope to help hunt for antimatter!

This wouldn’t be too far afield for me as some of my friend have said that I can be very contrarian at times

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman

Stanford’s Veteran’s Accelerator.

Please help me get the word out to our young vets in the community colleges.

Stanford has a summer program for vets called  “Stanford 2 to 4: A Veteran’s Accelerator.”

The 8-week program (June 21 – Aug 17, 2014) aims to partner with and build on a Veteran’s vast experience with a goal to provide important academic skills needed to thrive in a competitive 4-year university.

The online application deadline is March 31.  It looks like there’s no need to use up benefits because the program will  accept 20 students on scholarships that “will cover tuition
and fees, private bedroom accommodations  in a shared campus suite, a 14-meal per week dining plan and a $400 book stipend.” The program will take place from
June 21 to Aug. 17.  College credits for the course work.

Here’s come links:
Presser – http://news.stanford.edu/news/2014/march/veterans-summer-program-031414.html
Online application: http://summer.stanford.edu/veterans-accelerator-application/
Website: http://summer.stanford.edu/veterans/
Awesome YouTube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sXVJIM3AVfw

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman

Happy Birthday Hubble.

Can you believe that the Hubble Space Telescope was launched 24 years ago!

File:Hubble Probes the Early Universe.jpg

It seems like yesterday that we knew everything about the universe…and then Hubble rewrote (and continues to rewrite) our understanding of the universe.

The Hubble Ultra Deep Field and others showed us that what we thought was empty space, was actually quite busy.  Everything in that image above is another galaxy.

Considering the size of the field of view (shown above) of the Hubble for those deep field views, there is an amazing amount of places in the universe to explore.

Using the Hubble, astronomers where able to find dark matter and fill in about 5% of the matter that is missing from the universe.

So how much longer can Hubble last?  There are no more service missions scheduled for the Hubble and the last mission was in 2009.  Eventually, the giant space telescope will run out of gas.  It’s last command will be to crash down into the Pacific Ocean in a fiery death.  That will be a sad day.  But the data and pioneering efforts of the world’s first space-based optical telescope will be around for years to come.

http://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/styles/800x600_autoletterbox/public/heic1406a.jpg?itok=_iijvPZx

In honor of the 24th anniversary of the Hubble, NASA announced that it will release an infrared image of a nearby star factor known as the Monkey Head Nebula (or known as NGC 2174 and Sharpless Sh2-252).

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman

Its Not Real…Really Its Not.

Planet-X, Niburu, whatever your local conspiracy theorist wants to call it, does not exist.

After decades of astronomical observations and data, there is NO trace of a 12th planet (yes, counting Pluto).

The believer’s in Niburu believe that this rouge planet will come smashing through the solar system sometime in the 21st century to destroy the Earth.

These believers also think the the asteroid belt was made from one on Niburu’s moons destroying a planet between Mars and Jupiter.  Scientifically, we know that this isn’t the case, the gravitational tug between Jupiter and the rest of the inner solar system (including the Sun) would prevent any planet from forming in this region.

Please don’t confuse Niburu/Planet X with the other crackpot ideas like: Hercolubus, Nemesis, Comet Elenin, Tyche, Sedna or Eris or any of the other bizarre doomsday scenarios that these charlatan’s devise.  Any and all of these types of bodies would have already destroyed all life on Earth.  Also, the disruptions to the solar system would still be evident.  Asteroids flying all out of orbit, planets careening about. None of this has happened or will happen.

NASA - WISE Mission patch

NASA announced last week that the data from the WISE mission study shows that Niburu will  never be found, because it doesn’t exist.  Please stop the madness.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman