It happens once in a blue moon (and that’s this Friday)

The moon orbits around the earth every 29.5 days and since our months typically have 30-31 days that leaves some leftover time (0.5-1.5 days). Eventually that adds up and we get an extra cycle in one month, and that means an extra full moon. Typically, months only get one full moon and so having two is pretty rare, happening every 2.7 years.

Hence, the phrase, “once in a blue moon,” which is a lot like saying “once in about 3 years”.

I love this stuff (orbits, planets, stars) and have been a star-gazer since I was a kid. If you are too, then you can enjoy the “blue moon” this Friday, August 31, 2012.

Yep, it’s been around three years since the last one (2.67 years to be exact, the last blue moon was on New Year’s Eve – Dec 31, 2009). I also think you should try, at whatever the cost, to say “once in a blue moon” about something. Think of something you know you won’t do or won’t happen until July 2015 (the next blue moon).

Also, the moons aren’t actually blue.

 

**Source: Space.com & Infoplease

 

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Photos – parachutist breaks speed of sound in free-fall, planets in the sky, glaciers

Pictured over Chile’s Atacama desert, the blue star cluster to the left is the Pleiades, also known as the Seven Sisters. Second from left is Jupiter, followed by Venus and the star Aldebaran. Jupiter and Venus remained large and bright in the early morning through the rest of July.

 

Continue reading Photos – parachutist breaks speed of sound in free-fall, planets in the sky, glaciers

All 786 known planets, to scale

All 786 known planets, to scale.

“This” (tiny gray box) is our solar system. The rest of these orbit other stars and were only discovered recently. Most of them are huge because these are the kind we learned to detect first, but now we’re finding that small ones are actually more common.

We know nothing about what’s on any of them. With better telescopes that would change.

This is an exciting time.

 

 

Find the original graphic on XKCD.

Voyager I – about to leave our Solar System

Last week, in the corners of the Internet devoted to outer space, things started to get a little, well, hot. Voyager 1, the man-made object farthest away from Earth, was encountering a sharp uptick in the number of a certain kind of energetic particles around it. Had the spacecraft become the first human creation to “officially” leave the solar system?

It’s hard to overstate how wild an accomplishment this would be: A machine, built here on Earth by the brain- and handiwork of humans, has sailed from Florida, out of Earth’s orbit, beyond Mars, beyond the gas giants of Jupiter and Saturn, and may now have left the heliosphere — tiny dot in the universe beholden to our sun. Had it really happened? How would we know?

We’re not quite there yet, Voyager’s project scientist and former head of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab, Edward Stone, told me. The spacecraft is on its way out — “it’s leaving the solar system” — but we don’t know how far it has to go or what that transition to interstellar space will look like.

 

Keep readingGet Ready, Because Voyager I Is *This Close* to Leaving Our Solar System

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