Label: Space

December 22, 2011

As school winds down and we head into the winter holiday, I want to share two great natural images for the Christmas season.

 

 

First, the Christmas Tree worm (Spirobranchus giganteus).These festive-looking creatures are found throughout the world’s tropical oceans. The "trees" are almost like crowns - each worm has two, and they are used for both eating and breathing. Look at them again - they are almost like a fish’s gills.

 

 

 

The second image comes from the Hubble Telescope, which captured this photograph of a Christmas ornament in space! It is actually a huge wave of energy from a supernova - the explosion of a star in the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC), a small galaxy about 160,000 light-years from Earth.

 

 


For those of you receiving iPads or Nook Color/Tablets this season, Seymour Simon has many quality eBooks available for purchase, some discounted as much as 50% for the holidays. If you are adding reading material to a tablet, please consider making Seymour Simon’s exceptional nonfiction for children part of your collection. Happy holidays to all!

 

Posted by: Seymour Simon

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December 20, 2011

Tonight is the first night of Hanukkah, the traditional Festival of Lights, celebrated by Jewish people all over the world. Do you know that Hanukkah was once celebrated onboard the Space Shuttle Discovery by astronaut Jeff Hoffman? Click here to see video of what happens when you spin a dreidel in a low gravity environment!

Happy Hanukkah    to all my Jewish readers! 

 

 


For those of you receiving iPads or Nook Color/Tablets this season, Seymour Simon has many quality eBooks available for purchase, some discounted as much as 50% for the holidays. If you are adding reading material to a tablet, please consider making Seymour Simon’s exceptional nonfiction for children part of your collection. Happy holidays to all!

 

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(0) Comments  •   Labels: space, Space Travel   •  Permalink (link to this article)

December 6, 2011

Sunset colors on Mars are the opposite of what we see here on earth. When the fading sunlight filters through Earth’s atmosphere, the yellow sunlight gradually appears to be various shades of red and orange. When the Martian atmosphere filters the sunlight, the sunset glows blue. The rest of the sky looks red because Mars’ atmosphere is full of powdery dust that reflects the sun’s light, giving the planet the distinctive red color that we see from here on Earth.

Isn’t this a magnificent image? It is the work of multimedia artist Michael Benson, who takes images captured in deep-space by NASA and the European Space Agency, and digitally processes them to create beautiful pictures like this one. 

He is going to publish a book of all his work next year, called PLANETFALL. I can’t wait to see it!

Posted by: Seymour Simon

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December 1, 2011

Thursday is COOL VIDEO OF THE WEEK day on the Seymour Science blog. Since we’ve been talking about Mars all week long, we thought our video should continue that theme.

This video is a little different than the ones we usually choose. In this case, you have to look really hard to spot a tiny light, moving quickly upward through the night sky (in the center of the screen).

See it?

This video shows the newest Mars explorer craft departing Earth shortly after its launch on November 26. 

The spacecraft is carrying a car-sized robot rover named Curiosity. Scientists hope that information sent back by Curiosity will help them learn a lot more about Mars. They will also be getting critical information that will help them plan for an eventual human mission to the Red Planet.

I love watching the sky and seeing manmade spacecraft passing overhead. Every time I see the International Space Station (ISS) move across the night sky, I applaud as it exits my field of vision. The thought that there are brave human beings far overhead, exploring space and the possibilities of our Solar System, just thrills me. Do you think that one day that we’ll be able to look up in the sky and know that there are humans on their way to Mars? I hope so!

By the way, if you are as interested as I am in seeing the ISS and other satellites in orbit, SpaceWeather.com has an easy-to-use page where you enter your zip code and get schedule for when you can spot these magnificent flybys. You don’t even need a telescope - just clear skies and your own two eyes! 

Video: Gerhard Dangl

Photo: An artist’s concept illustrates what the Mars rover Curiosity will look like on Mars. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech. 

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(1) Comments  •   Labels: science news, Video, space, Exploration, Space Travel, Space Weather   •  Permalink (link to this article)

November 9, 2011

  Did you notice a very bright, silvery "star" just to the left of the moon last night? You were looking at Jupiter. This gas giant, the largest planet in our solar system, appears to be larger and brighter in the sky than it has since 1999 (last century!), and it won’t look this big and bright again until 2023.

 

It will be an equally spectacular sight all night tonight, with Jupiter on the right side of the moon. If you have binoculars, you will also be able see Jupiter’s four moons (Ganymede, Callisto, Io and Europa).

We will continue to be able to observe Jupiter all the way until April, although its light will gradually become fainter and it will be visible for a shorter time each night. Then, its orbit will carry it into the glare of the sun, and it will be awhile before we can spot Jupiter again from Earth.

I love standing out in the fresh air, tilting my head back and looking at the stars….don’t you? 

This sky map shows how Jupiter and the moon appeared in the night sky on Nov. 8, 2011. 

CREDIT: Starry Night Software  


 Read more about the largest planet in our Solar System in Seymour Simon’s DESTINATION: JUPITER.

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(2) Comments  •   Labels: Astronomy, space books, moon, space, Jupiter, Sky Watching   •  Permalink (link to this article)

November 1, 2011

  Today’s "Cool Photo of the Week" is a nighttime view of the Midwestern United States, captured from the International Space Station. From space, astronauts can see many different kinds of lights in the night skies.

The artificial light created by humans is easily recognizable by its yellowish tone. The burst of bright white light in the upper right hand corner of the photograph is probably lightning. And the green glow rimming the edge of the planet is the Aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights.

If you look closely, there is even more that you can see in this view. Look at Chicago. Just to the right of Chicago’s big patch of lights, there is a completely dark section. Why do the lights stop so suddenly? Because you are looking at one of the Great Lakes, Lake Michigan.

 

  Can anyone tell me what the very faint, dark orange shape is at the top of the photograph, above Earth? The first person to answer correctly, by clicking "Comments" at the bottom of this blog entry, will win an autographed copy of my book SPACE TRAVELERS. Be sure to include your email address (and check it to be sure you have spelled it correctly!), so that we can contact you if you are the winner.

Good Luck!

 

Photo courtesy of Cloud Imaging and Particle Size Experiment data processing team at the University of Colorado Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics.

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(11) Comments  •   Labels: Aurora Borealis, Contests, Cool Photo, space, Space Travel   •  Permalink (link to this article)

September 22, 2011

Look at this magnificent video of the aurora australis, captured by cameras mounted on the belly of the International Space Station. These flickering, colored lights in the atmosphere are caused by electrons trapped in Earth’s magnetic field. We call the flickering lights the aurora borealis, or "northern lights" here in the northern hemisphere. But the space station was flying over the south pole when it recorded this video, and when seen over Antarctic regions they are called the aurora australis, or "southern lights." NASA says that it may be the best video ever captured of this ghostly phenomenon.

The sun is never at rest, but the amount of solar activity changes over eleven-year cycles in which the sun is alternately very quiet, and the years it has many storms. We are entering a new, active cycle, and the aurora you see in this video was caused by a geomagnetic storm on the sun that launched a blazing hot coronal mass ejection (CME) toward the earth. No one has a better view of its effect on Earth than the crew of the International Space Station. The lights are so bright that you can see the underside of the space station grow green in the reflected light. 

Video: Taken over the southern Indian Ocean, the movie spans a 23-min period from 17:22:27 to 17:45:12 GMT on Sept. 17. Courtesy NASA.


Posted by: Seymour Simon

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September 20, 2011

Today’s Cool Photo of the Week is a detailed image of Saturn’s rings, captured by the Hubble Telescope, using ultraviolet light. The rings are made up of many small particles of ice, with some dust and small bits of rock, that have formed into clumps and orbit around Saturn. Some of the particles are as small as your fingernail; others are bigger than a car! Seen from afar, they blend together and appear to be rings around the giant planet. 

Saturn is the second biggest planet in our solar system, after Jupiter. How big is Saturn? About 75 Earths could fit inside of Saturn. Although it is not the only planet with rings (Uranus and Neptune have rings, too), Saturn’s rings are the largest and most visible.  

This image of Saturn was taken when the planet’s rings were at their maximum tilt of 27 degrees toward us. Saturn experiences seasonal tilts away from and toward the sun, much the same way Earth does, over the course of its 29.5-year orbit. That means that every 30 years, we Earth observers can catch our best glimpse of Saturn’s south pole and the southern side of the planet’s rings. 

Isn’t this a magnificent image of Saturn?

       

Photo: NASA and E. Karkoschka (University of Arizona)


Look for a digital version of my book SATURN, coming out as a Read and Listen™ eBook later this year.

 

 

 

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(0) Comments  •   Labels: space books, Cool Photo, planets, space   •  Permalink (link to this article)

September 13, 2011

Since soccer season is starting, we decided that today’s Cool Photo of the Week should be of a soccer ball in space! NASA’s planet-hunting Kepler Space Telescope captured this image of Kronberger 61, known as the "Soccer Ball" Nebula.

A nebula is a cloud of gas and dust in outer space. They occur when a star starts to die because it has run out of fuel. The outer layers of the star explode, giving off layers of gas that form a planetary nebula around the dying star. It gives off a fluorescent glow because of the intensity of the radiation from the star.

The Soccer Ball Nebula was discovered by an amateur astronomer over the summer, and scientists plan to watch it in hope of learning more about how planetary nebulas are formed.

Photo: Gemini Observatory / AURA

P.S. Do they call this the "Football Nebula" outside the United States? British, Canadian, Australian readers - someone comment and let me know! 

 


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(3) Comments  •   Labels: science news, Cool Photo, space   •  Permalink (link to this article)

September 12, 2011

Just after school started, I received a question from a fifth grade study group asking me: "Is the moon just a big rock?" Of course, that is exactly what the moon is, but being a former teacher, I never give a simple answer like that. Instead, I asked them if they would please do some research and write back to me with interesting information that they learned about the moon.

Well, they did a great job! I received this email from Angela, Diana, Martin and Andres, who are a science study group in Mrs. Williamson’s Fifth Grade class at Wolf Canyon Elementary School, in California.

Dear Seymour Simon:

Our science group found two great, interesting facts about the moon.

1)    The moon is the fifth largest satellite in the solar system.

2)     It is thought to be formed some 4.5 million years ago.

Thank you for your great science books!

Good work by Mrs. Williamson’s science group! They did their homework and found some very interesting facts about the moon.

 

Soon, we are going to learn all sorts of new information about the moon. On Saturday, NASA launched a new moon research mission called GRAIL (Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory). We are not sending human beings this time - there won’t be any new footprints on the moon - but we are using advanced photography techniques to learn much more about how the moon was formed. And in particular, we are going to get a much clearer look at the "dark side of the moon," which faces away from our planet Earth.

 

GRAIL consists of two satellites, which will separate from the rocket that is carrying them into space and become lunar orbiters (satellites that orbit around the moon). They will photograph the surface of the moon as they pass over it, and scientists will be able to accurately measure various formations and moonscapes based on how far apart the satellites are. The project will study how the moon was formed, what its interior consists of, and why the side seen from Earth looks so different from the lighter-colored "far side." We know that the far side is covered with hardened rock from lava flows, but there is much more we can learn.

Most exciting to me is that for the first time, NASA has put a camera onboard that is strictly for classroom use. Called the MoonKAM, teachers can register their classes and middle-school students can request photography of lunar targets for classroom study. Sally Ride, the first American woman to fly in space, is heaing up the project. Imagine, allowing students to take their own pictures, so that they can study the surface of the moon. I wish that opportunity had happened when I was a middle school science teacher!

 Photos: NASA

 


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