Posts Tagged ‘Astronomy’

Recently, my community newsletter printed a small sidebar article offering advice to gardeners on how to use the phases of the moon to their advantage when planting their gardens during the coming month. The article stated how different phases of the moon exhibit different gravitational effects on plants, and offered planting and fertilizing tips to take advantage of this.

The lovely and talented Dr. Wife™ spotted it first and brought it to my attention saying something like “this sounds like bunk, but you’re the space nerd. Does this make any sense?”

No. No it did not.

I hiked my pants up to my rib cage, told the neighbour kids to stay off my lawn, and sat down to write a sternly worded letter to the editor to correct these scientific inaccuracies.

“Dear Sir,” I began, “I am not a crank…”

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A young lady named Kathryn Aurora Gray in Fredericton, New Brunswick has become the youngest person to date to be credited with the discovery of a supernova.

Supernovae occur when large, massive stars reach the end of their fuel supply and collapse in on themselves, causing a massive ejection of the star’s outer layers.  Supernovae are extremely luminous and cause a burst of radiation that often briefly outshines an entire galaxy, before fading from view over several weeks or months. During this short time, a supernova can radiate as much energy as the Sun is expected to emit over its entire life span. 

The supernova was imaged on New Year’s Eve, and the discovery was made on the following Sunday when the image was compared to a previous image of the constellation Camelopardalis.  Katheryn noticed a bright spot on the new image that had not been there before, indicating a supernova.

Katheryn shares the discovery with David Lane, who took the images at his observatory in Stillwater Lake, Nova Scotia and emailed them to Katheryn’s astronomer father Paul.  Katheryn said she spotted the supernova on her first ever attempt to find one and in the fourth of 52 images she examined. The discovery was soon verified by amateur astronomers in Illinois and Arizona.

Congratulations, Katheryn!

(When I was 10, I built jet-pack for GI Joe out of Lego, duct tape and match heads.  It was pretty awesome.  I’m just saying.)

My dear Canadian friends, I bring you good news.

Recently, the American Discovery Channel aired the first of a three-part series called Phil Plait’s Bad Universe wherein our friend Dr. Phil discusses the real science around asteroid impacts, and how we might prevent one.  No Canadian air date had been announced, and frozen geeks like me had to make do with just this little sniff on YouTube:

Well, word on the intertoobs is that Discovery Canada has confirmed that we will finally get to see Phil’s explody goodness in our own living rooms on October 3, at 9:00pm Eastern!  Huzzah!

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