Comet ISON Illustrates the Beauty of the Unknown

Absolutely the most wonderful thing about science is the unknown.  When the universe throws us a curve ball, and displays something unexpected, we gain an opportunity to learn and grow.  Over the past two days the primordial comet ISON has keep our attention as it screamed past the sun, appearing first to perish in the Sun’s unyielding power, and then surprise and delight us with it’s triumphant return on the other side.  For the time being it seems that this time, Icarus braved the Sun and came through with wings intact.

It remains to be seen how much of ISON has survived, and how bright it may or may not be in our sky as it travels back away from the Sun.  But these are just more mysteries for us to solve, and that is what makes science a truly satisfying endeavor.  The fact that we don’t know the details, that ISON surprised us with changes hour by hour yesterday and today, makes the comet a perfect example of the beauty of science.  It is the unknown that keeps us excited and on the edge of our seats waiting for the mystery to unravel.  Whatever the outcome, ISON will have much to teach us about the outermost reaches of our solar system.

The solar system, and indeed the whole of the universe, is full of wondrous things waiting to be discovered.  The universe has a way of disrupting our confidence in our knowledge, keeping us humble in the face to the vast unknown, and that is what makes the whole experience worthwhile.

-Josh

 

© Josh Elliott and Stellar Aperture, 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Josh Elliott and Stellar Aperture with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Crowd Funded CubeSat Space Missions Taking Off for Deep Space

This is an exciting time for citizen science and the new world of crowd funded space exploration.  Following closely on the heels of the recent KickStarter campaign from Planetary Resources to launch the first publicly funded space telescope, two new KickStarter projects aim to send CubeSat class spacecraft into deep space.

Continue reading “Crowd Funded CubeSat Space Missions Taking Off for Deep Space”

Earth Portraits from Cassini and Messenger Released

The portrait of Earth taken from the Cassini during the world wide Wave At Saturn event last Friday has been released! In addition, over the weekend, a similar portrait from the Messenger spacecraft was taken of the Earth-Moon system. Official images are shown below. Click on the images below for the official photos and other content. Continue reading “Earth Portraits from Cassini and Messenger Released”

Smile for the #Cassini, and don’t forget to #WaveAtSaturn

This Friday is a very special day for Saturn fans everywhere, and especially those who follow the Cassini mission, because the Cassini spacecraft will take a picture of our home world from 1.44 billion kilometers away. Citizens of the planet Earth are invited to “Wave at Saturn” during this rare photo opportunity. Also in view will be the beautiful planet Saturn as it eclipses the sun, allowing Cassini to view our beautiful world from afar. The portrait will be taken this Friday at 2:27pm PDT. For more information, including viewing times in your time zone and links to the event’s Facebook page, click here. Continue reading “Smile for the #Cassini, and don’t forget to #WaveAtSaturn”

Kepler Down But Not Out, ESO Nabs a 7 Planet System, and the Search for Earth Like Worlds

Exoplanetary research is booming these days.  It is a truly exciting field that is generating even more exciting results.  Several ground based and space based observatories around the world are actively engaged in the pursuit of earth like planets orbiting their respective stars at just the right distance to allow for the possibility of liquid water, know as the habitable zone. Continue reading “Kepler Down But Not Out, ESO Nabs a 7 Planet System, and the Search for Earth Like Worlds”