Category Archives: General

Cosmic Butterfly – NGC 2346


This new image of NGC 2346 located in the constellation Monoceros showing unprecedented resolution of the molecular hydrogen gas. The image is about 1 arc minute on a side: north is up, east is to the left. In contrast, the size of the full moon is 30 arc minutes.

Credit: NOAO

From the National Optical Astronomy Obersvatory (NOAO):
NOAO scientists, using the Gemini Observatory 8-meter telescope in Chile, have obtained the highest resolution image ever obtained for the planetary nebula NGC 2346. Shaped like a butterfly, or an hourglass, but known scientifically as a bipolar planetary nebula, this object is at a distance of 2300 light years from our sun in the constellation Monoceros.

Continue reading


NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center recently upgraded the foam fire suppression system for their aircraft support hangar – this shows the system being tested.

In another life, seems like it anyway, I was an emergency medical responder. We participated in drills involving aircraft fire when the fire suppression teams deployed foam, it was amazing but nothing this dense.

I was at a fire where a virtual mountain of tires was on fire, thousands of tires. The heat was incredible, the fire department hit the fire with foam and almost instantly the fire was out, you’d have to see it to believe it. Again the foam was not as what is depectied in the video seems to be so I bet the system will work great, even though I hope it never has to.


Earth At Aphelion


We will reach our farthest distance from the Sun today 06 July 2015 at 19:41 UTC / 15:41 EDT.

Notice that the June solstice was 15 days ago. Why doesn’t aphelion occur on the solstice? That all has to do with the way the Gregorian calendar fixes the dates so there isn’t too much variation. Thanks to variations in the elliptical orbit the time of year Aphelion and Perihelion does change. The change is according to about a day every 58 years. In fact they did concide in the year 1246 and will again sometime around the year 6430.

Another explanation in video form is here.

And while I’m at it here’s a nice look at A Walk though Time.

Happy Solstice!


Today the Sun reaches its most northern point in the sky in the northern hemisphere and the lowest in the southern hemisphere.

Put another way,  for the northern hemisphere: the June solstice is when the subsolar point or that point where the sun is perceived to be directly over head, is at the northern most latitude it will attain before due to the tilt of the Earth on its axis and is on the Tropic of Cancer (23.44 deg). After the June Solstice the Sun will day by day become lower in the northern sky until the December solstice when it rises to its lowest point of the year.

The southern hemisphere experiences the opposite, so today the Sun is at its lowest point and after today will gradually reach higher in sky until the December solstice.

The moment of the June Solstice occurred  today concurrent with the publishing of this post at 16:38 UTC.  US Naval Observatory.

Note: I am going by the USNO time, it’s being reported in other media the time is 16:39 UTC – see

My typical June solstice tradition is to take a nice long walk at sunrise, heavy rain made me skip the walk.


Image: Creative Commons

Did You Miss Towel Day

Gee, 25 May was Towel Day and I completely missed it. Sad.

A towel, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have. –  “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” (Doug Adams)

Wait until next year :mrgreen: