The scale of the solar system

Thanks to Vox, I discovered this site with some of the coolest images I’ve seen.  A whole series of images by John Brady showing the scale of objects in our solar system.  Here’s two– definitely check them all out.  So, so cool.  Can’t wait to show this to my boys.

Jupiter

North America and Canada is dwarfed by the immensity of Jupiter

Size of Mars

How the United States and Canada would measure up to Mars

 

Video of the day

Time lapse from the ISS.  Cool!

Photo of the day

Was totally excited that we had a beautiful clear day to see the partial solar eclipse yesterday.  The downside is that it did not last long at all before sunset hit in central, NC.  Also, was excited to discover this awesome website to help me figure out a good viewing location– the problem in this area is a good view of the horizon unblocked by trees.  Suncalc.net showed me that the eastern edge of Lake Crabtree was perfect.  Here’s where I watched yesterday.

Of course, other people figured that out, too, so despite nothing but a basic pinhole setup I got some great views from friendly people with great camera set-ups– one guy had an 800mm lens the size of my thigh.  Here’s the view  from his camera.

IMG_3740

 

And here’s a great shot I found in a Flickr eclipse gallery:

Solar Eclipse October 2014

Solar Eclipse October 2014

Map of the day

Love this animated gif of today’s partial solar eclipse.  And pretty bummed that where I live there’s only a bit of it before sunset.  Throw in all the trees on the horizon (which I am grateful for 99.9% of the time) in the Raleigh area and I’m not sure I’ll be able to see it all despite beautiful, clear weather today.  Nice feature on the eclipse at Vox.  The image shows the shadow of the moon on the earth intersecting with the setting sun (which is why the West coast of the US gets it way better).

eclipse animation

 

I shall be hoping fervently for clear weather on August 21, 2017, as a very narrow band for a total eclipse will actually cut through NC.

total eclipse map

Photo of the day

From a Telegraph photos of the week gallery:

Butterfly death throes. Many celestial objects are beautiful – swirling spiral galaxies or glittering clusters of stars are notable examples. But some of the most striking scenes are created during the death throes of intermediate-mass stars, when great clouds of superheated gas are expelled into space. These dying breaths form planetary nebulas like NGC 6302, captured here.<br />
Known perhaps more appropriately as the Bug or Butterfly Nebula, this complex nebula lies roughly 3800 light-years away from us within the Milky Way. It was formed when a star around five times the mass of our Sun became a red giant, ejected its outer layers, and became intensely hot. Its distinctive shape classifies it as a bipolar nebula, where fast-moving gas can escape more easily from the poles of the dying star than from around its equator. This creates a lobed structure reminiscent of an hourglass or, as in this case, a giant cosmic butterfly.” /></p>
<p><em>Butterfly death throes. Many celestial objects are beautiful – swirling spiral galaxies or glittering clusters of stars are notable examples. But some of the most striking scenes are created during the death throes of intermediate-mass stars, when great clouds of superheated gas are expelled into space. These dying breaths form planetary nebulas like NGC 6302, captured here. Known perhaps more appropriately as the Bug or Butterfly Nebula, this complex nebula lies roughly 3800 light-years away from us within the Milky Way. It was formed when a star around five times the mass of our Sun became a red giant, ejected its outer layers, and became intensely hot. Its distinctive shape classifies it as a bipolar nebula, where fast-moving gas can escape more easily from the poles of the dying star than from around its equator. This creates a lobed structure reminiscent of an hourglass or, as in this case, a giant cosmic butterfly.<span class=Picture: NASA/ESA/Hubble

Quick hits (part I)

1) The New Yorker’s Maria Konnikova on Walter Mischel (the marshmallow self control guy)

2) Really interesting NYT profile of super-far-right Kansas Secretary of State, Kris Kobach

3) That would be so awesome if the ability to effectively grow Alzheimer’s brain cells in the lab actually leads us much more quickly to a cure or effective prevention.

4) So there was a Wire reunion and you can watch it.

5) Vox says this attack ad makes the Willie Horton ad look tame.  I think they are right.  To add insult to injury, the Republicans actually put this policy in place.

6) On what grade level of reading ability are presidents’ speeches over time.

7) Did the pro-life movement actually lead to more single moms?  Maybe.

8) Interesting Ozy piece on how cancer may ultimately be an ineradicable part of life.  Actually reminded me of one of my favorite science fiction works ever, Robert Sawyer’s Calculating God, in which the nature of cancer plays a fundamental role.

9) The keyboards from early IBM PC’s (my dad had one) were simply the awesomest.

10) James Surowiecki on the capitalism and streaming entertainment services.

11) Loved this description of Curb Your Enthusiasm from a recent Larry David appearance:

“ ‘Curb’ is about what’s beneath the surface of social intercourse, the things we think about and can’t say,” David told Remnick. “I’m normal. If I said the things he does”—he, of course, being the Larry David who goes around eating his in-laws’ manger scene, inviting a sex offender to a Seder, and teaching kids how to draw swastikas—“I’d be beaten up. He’s a sociopath!” A pause. “But I’m thinking them!”

So is everyone else, and that’s the brilliance of “Curb.” The show exists to prove how thin the veneer of social custom and courtesy really is, and to reveal the inner sociopath that we are supposed, at all costs, to suppress.

12) 538 looks at which diet will help you lose the most weight.  Easy, the one that is easiest for you to stay on.

13) How to get the right kind of sleep depending upon what your test the next day will be on.  Seriously.

14) Really liked this TNR piece on how judges should respond to burdensome laws on the right to vote and the right to abortion when legislators are so clearly lying about their actual intent:

But if courts cannot, and should not, prove deliberate discrimination, they can still apply objective balancing tests, to weigh the benefits of a law against its costs. When they do, the relevant question changes: judges no longer ask whether a legislature’s motivation was to limit abortion or to protect patient safety, but whether such a law can be justified by a reasonable person who takes both values seriously. In an important sense, this inquiry is far less fraught and far more coherentno mind-reading necessary.

15) Andrew Sullivan on the latest out of the Vatican

Photo of the day

Super-typhoon Vongfang as seen from space:

View image on Twitter

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