Archive for the Objects in Space Category

MSNBC reports: Even the Maya are Getting Sick of 2012 Hype

Posted in Nature gone amok, Objects in Space, The Unexplained on July 2, 2010 by Eric S.

A Google search for 2012 yields 367 million results. For frame of reference, Jesus turns up 202 million, while The Beatles wrack up scant more than 35 million (intoallthat, interestingly enough, pulls up an impressive 914 results). Apparently, nobody learned their lesson last time we had a calendar-related fear fest in the final six months of 1999. Good times, good times. But much like summer blockbuster season or commercials for cellphone service providers, the hype may be more than the masses are willing to put up with.

Apolinario Chile Pixtun, courtesy of MSNBC

MSNBC tracked down Mayan elder Apolinario Chile Pixtun, who they report to be “tired of being bombarded with frantic questions about the Mayan calendar supposedly ‘running out’ on Dec. 21, 2012.” Says the article:

But most archaeologists, astronomers and Maya Indians say the only thing likely to hit Earth is a meteor shower of New Age philosophy, pop astronomy, Internet doomsday rumors and TV specials — such as one on the History Channel that mixes predictions from Nostradamus and the Maya and asks: “Is 2012 the year the cosmic clock finally winds down to zero days, zero hope?”

I have to confess that I’m a little behind on 2012 paranoia, but I’m trying to catch up as I type. On the one hand, there seems to be a general fear of the end of the Mayan long cycle calendar. I’m having trouble chalking the End of Times up to the Mayans planning a calendar without a next page to flip forward to, so let’s just agree that this hold about as much water as fears that the Y2K bug was going to cause elevators to start dropping people to their deaths at midnight on 12/31/99. Next, there’s some sort of hooha with the transverse of Venus and a solar eclipse happening at even ‘Mayan month’ intervals leading up to 12/21/12. Admittedly, that’s pretty nifty. But where does the End of Times aspect come into play? Seems it could just as easily indicate a good day for a White Sale at JC Penney. And lastly, it seems that on that exact day the solstice sun will align with the supermassive black hole at the center of the galaxy, thusly reversing the planet’s magnetic field. Which would also be really nifty, if it weren’t for the fact that the alignment with the galactic center tactually took place back in 1998 when everyone was too worried about Y2K to give this Mayan calendar business a second glance.

Still, if we’ve learned one thing from the TSA, it’s that we’re better off scared than sorry. Just because there’s nothing logical to be afraid of, it never hurts to be a little scared just as an insurance policy, right? Says the MSNBC article:

At Cornell University, Ann Martin, who runs the “Ask an Astronomer” Web site, says people are scared.

“It’s too bad that we’re getting e-mails from fourth-graders who are saying that they’re too young to die,” Martin said. “We had a mother of two young children who was afraid she wouldn’t live to see them grow up.”

It’s a big scary world out there, so it’s probably a good thing these fourth graders are learning that lesson early. But long can you possibly be scared? Seems like it would wear off after a while. You know, like our collective fear of skin cancer, coronary artery disease and/or global warming.


Jupiter caught in blatant attempt to increase its own popularity

Posted in Objects in Space, Randomalia with tags , , on September 16, 2008 by Eric S.

First it was Saturn with it’s nifty rings. Then those other outer planets, some with names that were especially funny if you were a middle school student. And the whole is-it-a-planet-or-not kerfuffle with Pluto. Jupiter, arguably the most important non-solar/uninhabited object in the solar system appears to have finally had enough of not being the number one topic of conversation at local astronomy conventions and rural telescope parties. Thankfully, its chosen add to its headline value with something less drastic than fusing its core and transforming into a star, as seen in 2010. No, instead the planet has recently developed two more of the giant red spots that in large part define the Jupiter™ brand.

Which, honestly, might not give Jupiter the jolt it’s looking for. I mean, sure, more is better when you’re talking chocolate or kittens. But red spots? It’s kinda been done before. Next time the Jupiter Public Stunts Committee gets together, they should really consider finding a way to pull off that 2010 star thing.

Just because it’s pretty IV

Posted in Objects in Space with tags , , , on August 23, 2008 by Eric S.

(photo courtesy of the Hubble Telescope)

Honestly, I feel like I could pass some of the photographic wisdom I’ve earned with three Art School photography class C’s to whomever it is pulling the shutter up there on the Hubble. But when it comes down to subject matter, the Hubble has me not only outclassed, it has me outschooled. Outhoused, even, if you’re down with the potty humor.

Yes, yes, it’s true: I like to watch things smash into each other. The bigger the better. Which I know is wrong, insofar as wrong means think about all of the people that might’ve been hurt in that 17-car pileup you’re gawking at during this otherwise uneventful trip up the Garden State Parkway. Which is the beauty of videos like the one I posted back in March depicting the forthcoming merger of the Milky Way and Andromeda galaxies. Sure, it may spell the end of life as we know it, but anyone at a safe watching distance (and, as the event will take the better part of a billion years to run its course, with a considerable attention span) will be in for quite a show.

Anyway, returning to topic. Me. Big things. Smash. Whoa. Imagine my euphoria at finding the Hubble photobug had similar leanings, as catalogued in the 2008 multimedia collection Cosmic Collisions Galore! It’s like a drive thorugh New Jersey on a whole new level. Enjoy.

Just because it’s pretty, pt III

Posted in Objects in Space, Roadside attractions with tags , on August 2, 2008 by Eric S.

Here’s a photo of yesterday’s eclipse, as captured by someone on the National Geographic payroll:


Shame the orchestrators of the event couldn’t’ve coordinated a little better with the Olympics Committee. That’s bureaucracy for you.

Waves. In a large, free sphere of water.

Posted in Objects in Space with tags , , on June 10, 2008 by Eric S.

Though spot on in terms of summing up this video’s subject matter and content, the title of this video filmed at the International House of Pancakes aboard the International Space Station somehow fails to express the intriguing awesomeness of the video itself:

 “This is an example of heterogeneous nucleation,” says the narrator during the [spoilers alert] extra special antacid experiment. I mean, geez. Do these guys know how to party, or what? Rawk on, space dudes!

Which is interesting, because you’d think Zero Gravity Cat, listed by YouTube as a related video, would be, I don’t know, more better than this:


Who’d ever guess an astronaut blowing bubbles would be more interesting than a cat freaking out in 0-G? Not me, that’s for sure. Maybe it’s the production quality.

Peculiar atmospheric disturbance, Singapore

Posted in Mysterious origins, Objects in Space, Sighting!, Signs, The Unexplained with tags , , , on May 28, 2008 by Eric S.

This newscast from Singapore (conveniently broadcast in English) reports on this “unidentified flying object that some Singaporeans saw”:

Not one to quibble, I’d suggest describing this… whatever not as an Unidentified Flying Object, but rather as a Peculiar Atmospheric Disturbance, henceforth to be known as a PAD.

Here’s a longer video from a different angle, sans commentary:

Which provides a handy segue into the second biggest issue facing investigators of the strange and unusual (the first being that, by definition, the strange and unusual don’t happen every day, creating a need to spackle holes in New Inexplicable Phenomena (hereafter known as NIPs) calendar with old news). That issue being difficulty in describing certain NIPs. What exactly is this PAD?

A Google search for “ring of fire” gave 3.8MM responses, mostly Johnny Cash fan sites, Johnny Cash tribute band fans sites, and paeons to the geologically active ring around the Pacific Ocean. I don’t have time to sift through 3.8MM search results. Or anything after the first 2 pages for that matter. New search: “unforgettable fire” yielded 14,000 results, mostly fanboi sites for some Irish band the kids all seem to be in to. What the hell? Maybe I was being too literal with the whole flame angle. I tried “spirit in the sky”, finding 345,000 results for 1969 one-hit wonder Norman Greenbaum.

At that point, I threw in the towel. If anyone has any idea what this thing might be, feel encouraged to toss your 2¢ in.

Meteor streaking through the skies above Guadalajara

Posted in Objects in Space with tags , , on May 27, 2008 by Eric S.

A YouTube search for ‘meteor’ turns up 30,000 responses, many of the genuine of which you might recognize from educational TV specials on the extinction of the dinosaurs, the dangers posed to mankind by the universe at large, and/or doomsday scenarios. This is my favorite, courtesy of a photographer whose name I haven’t been able to locate. If it’s yours, kudos on a fine piece of footage.