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Category: Astronomy

Dizzneeland, The Happiest Hell on Earth

Dizzneeland, The Happiest Hell on Earth

Last week’s episode of the Simpsons titled The Man Who Came To Be Dinner had just a little bit of everything to keep me entertained.  I actually saved it on my Tivo which I haven’t done with a Simpsons episode in ages.   Not since the Simpsons visited EFCOT Center have I been so enchanted.

1.  They go to Dizzneeland – there are a VARIETY of nods to the park that make the episode worth watching.

640px-Cooling_off_at_Diz-Nee-Land

2. They make numerous references to Star Wars and “Dizznee’s” relationship in having attractions related to it in the park.

storm trooper

3. Their version of the Enchanted Tiki Room combines Start Wars with Jabba The Tiki Hut!

jabba the tiki hut

4.  They go into OUTER SPACE and visit the planet Rigel VII.  Not to be confused with the real life Rigel, a star found in the constellation Orion.

space

 

This episode also didn’t follow the typical [insert guest star voice and one time character here] formula.   Definitely worth seeing.

Attn Google Chrome Users – 100,000 Stars!

Attn Google Chrome Users – 100,000 Stars!

100,000 Stars is an interactive visualization of the stellar neighborhood created for the Google Chrome web browser. It shows the location of 119,617 nearby stars derived from multiple sources, including the 1989 Hipparcos mission. Zooming in reveals 87 individually identified stars and our solar system. The galaxy view is an artist’s rendition based on NGC 1232, a spiral galaxy like the Milky Way.

Who is this Theia broad?

Who is this Theia broad?

The name of a hypothesized protoplanet that hit the Earth to create the moon is derived from the mythical Greek titan Theia, who gave birth to the Moon goddess, Selene. Is Selene in any relation to Hina? I’m going to go ahead and doubt that but I would love to hang out with them both and have a cocktail.

The Harvard Gazette reports – “As part of their dynamic model, Ćuk and Stewart found that a resonance between Earth’s orbit around the sun and the moon’s orbit around Earth can pass angular momentum to the sun. Furthermore, Ćuk and Stewart showed that if the Earth was fast-spinning before the impact, then a giant collision could eject enough Earth material into orbit to make the moon.”

[movie deleted]

In the animation, Earth and the smaller planet that hit Earth, named Theia, are represented by many particles with a fixed mass, shown as small balls. The color of the ball indicates the material: iron cores and rocky mantles. Before the impact, Earth’s shape is an oblate spheroid because the day is only 2.3 hours long. Video by Sarah T. Stewart

Disney’12 Trip Report – EPCOT

Disney’12 Trip Report – EPCOT

FINALLY to my “home” at EPCOT at the Beach Club.   It just doesn’t seem right till I get my greeting in the lobby and a grilled cheese at Beaches and Cream.

Day 3

Since we were coming from Bay Lake we took the monorail to EPCOT.  That ride through the park with the tour of Future World is just plain magical and has to happen at least once per trip.  We walked through the park looking at the Flower and Garden Festival landscaping and went straight through to Beaches and Cream for an early lunch.

It was SO HOT so we stopped for some Grand Marnier slushies on our way to hanging out in the Mitsukoshi Department Store.

It happened to also be the opening day for Tutto Gusto at the Italy pavilion.  It was FANTASTIC for a small bite and we had grappa, soda water with bitters, espresso and a cocktail.

I actually went into the American Pavilion for the first time ever so that I could see the Robert McCall painting in the back of the lobby.  After walking around the rest of the countries we had dinner at La Hacienda for one of my favorites – vegetarian empanadas.


Reaching for the Stars, Robert McCall

Day 4

Why do the restaurant pagers look like tasers?

I started coming down with a cold.  Are you supposed to feed a cold?  Cause that’s what I did.  Germany’s Biergarten, the place I avoided for so many years because of my strong distaste for sauerkraut has won my heart and fat ass over.   There was some especially good spaetzle this year that when combined with apple sauce – was epic.  The desserts suck though.

After eating that much, all you can do is lounge really and so that’s exactly what we did at the HP Red Planet Lounge at Mission Space.  You couldn’t pay me to go on that ride but since its sacred ground I at least thought we should spend some time there.   What’s cool is that the Lunar Rover is parked just outside the windows of the lounge so you can see it up close.

There was still more digesting and lounging to do so went went to The Land where I was happy to see they don’t allow strollers near the door.   Once in there we went “exploring” then rode the boat ride.

After another day of hot Florida sun and merciless concrete we went to Beaches and cream for dinner and dessert.

Its good to be home.

The Scale of the Universe 2

The Scale of the Universe 2

Get ready for the best powers of ten trip ever. This one goes from 10^-35 (Planck Length) to 10^27 (the observable Universe)! Just when I think I know how small a neutrino is – this comes along and shows me I had no idea.

Please do yourself a favor and check out this interactive flash animation available on APOD.  Screen shots of the art to entice you are below.   Next time you are having a bad day go through this for some perspective on life.

 

 

Voyager – The Interstellar Mission

Voyager – The Interstellar Mission

My favorite NASA Mission is Voyager for a variety of reasons including – it goes where nothing from Earth has gone before, has  historical significance, and it still works. Two satellites named Voyagers 1 and 2 launched in 1977 and STILL send us their data.

These twin satellites did such a good job on their first assignment, to explore Jupiter and Saturn – and subsequently Uranus and Neptune (and moons) from 1977-1989 that they got the biggest accolade that exists – TO GO WHERE NO THING FROM OUR PLANET HAS GONE BEFORE – the Interstellar Mission.

The interstellar medium is the matter that exists in the space between star systems in our galaxy.   In this case, the star system is what we know as our solar system and these satellites are heading to the edge where the Sun’s influence (magnetic field) is diminished  (outside the heliosphere) – about 9 billion miles from Earth.

Its what happens at the edge of the solar system that is surprising astrophysics and luckily we have Merav Opher on the case.  I say this because she is sassy and smart and can even make a novice understand the research that she is conducting.

If you aren’t yet sold on how awesome this mission is take a look at this artifact on board.    The Golden Record  – a Voyager message carried by a phonograph record-a 12-inch gold-plated copper disk containing sounds and images selected to portray the diversity of life and culture on Earth put together by a committee chaired by Carl Sagan.