Label: Space

May 1, 2012

NASA has released this photograph of a flaming meteor that unleashed a powerful sonic boom last week, rattling houses in California and Nevada. The meteor broke up as it traveled through our atmosphere, releasing the same amount of energy as if there had been a 5-kiloton explosion!

A sonic boom is an explosive sound caused by the shock wave of an object traveling faster than the speed of sound. The explosion was big enough to rattle windows, causes many Californians to think they had had an earthquake.

"An event of this size might happen about once a year," said Don Yeomans from NASA. "But most of them occur over the ocean or an uninhabited area, so getting to see one is something special."


Who can tell me why most of these meteor explosions happen over the ocean, rather than over land where we can see them? Hint: Think about the big, blue ball that is our Earth…...

Answer: Brian B., one of our readers, was onto the right idea. Most meteors explode over the ocean because oceans make up 71% of Earth’s surface. That means that most atmospheric events are likely to happen over the ocean, simply because there is so much of it.


Photo: Lisa Warren / NASA-JPL via AP

Posted by: Seymour Simon

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

February 13, 2012

This image from the Hubble space telescope shows two galaxies, NGC 4038 and 4039, experiencing a galactic collision. They will eventual merge into a single galaxy. As they go through this process, billions of stars are being born!



Image Credit: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)-ESA/Hubble Collaboration

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(5) Comments  •   Labels: space   •  Permalink (link to this article)

February 9, 2012


Did you know that Seymour Simon’s SCIENCE DICTIONARY is available on his website for you? Here is an interesting definition from the Science Dictionary that may have come up in the research that many of you have been doing this week for your contest entries. Have you come across these words - Kuiper Belt? This is what the Kuiper Belt looks like.

Now click here for Seymour’s definition, to help you understand what Kuiper Belt means. 

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(2) Comments  •   Labels: space, Solar System, Science Dictionary, Pluto   •  Permalink (link to this article)

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

(3) Comments  •   Labels: space, Oceans   •  Permalink (link to this article)

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

(6) Comments  •   Labels: space, Cool Photo, Mars   •  Permalink (link to this article)

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, 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, space, Video, Space Travel, Exploration, 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: space, Astronomy, space books, moon, 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: space, Cool Photo, Contests, Aurora Borealis, Space Travel   •  Permalink (link to this article)

September 23, 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

(2) Comments  •   Labels: space, Aurora Borealis, Video, Space Weather   •  Permalink (link to this article)

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