Tag Archive | Astronomy

Caturday’s Astrophenia | Tonight: Doctor Madblood’s Halloween Scream 2016

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This evening at 10:00 p.m. EDT airs the annual Doctor Madblood’s Halloween Scream at whro.org/madblood. This year’s movie will be the director’s cut of the original Night of the Living Dead.

Zombies! The Shambling Dead! How cool is that??



To me, the skits involving the Madblood gang are the best part, but the movie is okay as well if you like the quintessential film by George Romero! The skits take place at Madblood Manor, the home of retired mad scientist Doctor Maximillian Madblood and his monsters.

Pungo Virginia’s resident vampire, Count Lacudra (Dracula spelled sideways 🙂 ) makes an appearance, as Madblood characters lighten the movie segments with humor.

A certain Ninth Doctor impersonator does not appear in the skits, only during the costume party scenes, which are very brief. There are Daleks though, thankfully not encountered by said Ninth Doctor impersonator, as being exterminated by an angry Dalek with only the Sonic as a defense would have been unpleasant. They were made of wood, and the Sonic doesn’t work on wood!

The other cosplayers, though, were brilliant, funny, and very nice people who made the early evening of September 25 enormously fun and memorable.

Enjoy the movie!

Cylindrical Mountains on Venus

An Atlas V Rocket Launches OSIRIS REx

The Antlia Cluster of Galaxies

M45: The Pleiades Star Cluster

The Tulip in the Swan

Full Moon in Mountain Shadow

Cerro Tololo Trails

Eagle Aurora over Norway

HI4PI: The Hydrogen Sky

Clouds Near Jupiter’s South Pole from Juno

Propellor Shadows on Saturn’s Rings

A Giant Squid in the Flying Bat

Haunting the Cepheus Flare

Moonset at Whitby Abbey

Zoom into The Center of Our Galaxy:

The Astrognuz:

MIT Programs Humanoid Robots to Explore Mars

MRO Sees Impact Site of ESA Mars Lander

New Horizons: Possible Clouds on Pluto, Next Target Reddish

Historical Records May Underestimate Sea Level Rise

Seasonal Change on Titan is Dynamic Business

September 2016 is 12th Month in a Row for Record Breaking Temperatures

Space Station Crew Gets Special Delivery from Virginia

Big Picture Science Radio Show | Moral’s Law

Can We Get Space-Madness?

Three Stars Illuminate NGC 6188

Evidence Mounts for Planet Nine

Colliding Galaxies, Black Holes in X-Rays

xkcd: Rosetta

Caturday’s Astrophenia | Fortnight and Half Again Edition: Oct. 2016

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Welp, I’m a week off for this, as life issues and events prevented posting over the weekend, and the diabolical Mister Eccles is not happy with me!  I had a game last Caturday, while this last Sunday, the cosplay event happened. There, I discovered that I’m not camera-shy even with nigh-crippling stage-fright. There’s something about not seeing the audience directly that allays the terror. I had an awesome time, and both the set crew and other cosplayers were “…fantasic, absolutely fantastic…”* Recording lasted only about 90 minutes, and the Ninth Doctor’s duster I wore was just right for the room temperature, adjusted downward to protect the equipment from overheating. The camera crew was stellar, and all on set got exactly the right instructions to minimize the number of retakes. I’ll post links to the show on this blog and other social media when it airs later this month. So now, I’m back to study, and there is much catching up to do. Please have a glorious October. I have something special planned for the 31st of this month, with posts in between, and I’ll see you between now and then.

Tf. Tk. Tts.

*a partial quote from Chris Eccleston’s Ninth Doctor near the end of the 2005 season finale episode, “The Parting of the Ways,” as Nine says his goodbyes to Billie Piper’s character Rose Tyler just before regenerating into Dave Tennant’s Tenth Doctor. Time Lords do that.

All the Water on Planet Earth

Philae Lander Found on Comet 67P

NGC 1672: Barred Spiral Galaxy from Hubble

The North and South of Jupiter

Retrograde Mars and Saturn

Full Moon over Brno

M33: Triangulum Galaxy

Starry Night Scavenger Hunt

50000 Kilometers over the Sun

The Helix Nebula in Infrared

Zooming in on Star Cluster Terzan 5

Sunset at Edmontonhenge

Harvest Moon Eclipse

Heart and Soul and Double Cluster

Saturn from Above

Gaia: Here Comes the Sun

Jupiter’s Europa from Spacecraft Galileo

NGC 3576: The Statue of Liberty Nebula

Five Hundred Meter Aperture Spherical Telescope

Lynds Dark Nebula 1251

Rosetta’s Farewell

The Moving Stars of the Southern Hemisphere

The Astrognuz

Musk Reveals Plans to Colonize Mars

First Photo of the Sun, Taken in 1845

Judy Schmidt Image of Dust Complex Cyg X

No, NASA Didn’t Change Your Astrological Sign

Time Lapse Animation of the Night Sky

Kilauea Volcano: Active and Wonderful

Mount Pinatubo Only Briefly Slows Global Warming, Sea Level Rise

August 2016: The Hottest August on Record

The Largest Galaxy in the Universe

Climate Change: Already Changing Our Weather

Retro Posters for Fighting Infectious Disease

Blue Origin to Test a Capsule Abort System

Like the American Southwest: Sandstone Deposits on Mars

Presidential Candidates Answer Science Questions

Optical Illusion: The Dots Disappear When You Look Away

Evolution: Video Shows Bacteria Developing Drug Resistance

xkcd: Earth Temperature Timeline

Xkcd Takes on Global Warming

Xkcd Takes on Global Warming: Partial View

Aryabhata: Ancient Icon of Science

This is my first submission for the online eZine Agnishatdal, created by the awesome Sharmishtha Basu. The content is verbatim, and my own writing, and only the title of the permalink has been changed from the original in Agnishatdal’s  first issue for the Bengali month of Shravan. Agnishatdal is soon to be in its fourth issue for the month of Kartik. Do check it out!

Aryabhata (आर्यभत in Sanskrit). Astronomer and mathematician, he lived during the Gupta empire’s waning years, as the fierce Hunas swept down from the North.

Given the sobriquet “Asmakiya,” he’s thought to have been born in the area of South Gujarat and North Maharashtra, then Asmaka country. By his own reckoning, some 3600 years into the Kali Yuga, about 499 CE at the age of only 23, he had composed his only known surviving work. He studied and lived much of his life in Pataliputra, the imperial capital, now Patna, then in Magadha country, now Bihar.

Aryabhata has been mentioned as teaching at university there, and has been mentioned as kulapa (head of institution) at least once. He may have supervised the University of Nalanda at Pataliputra perhaps until his death at 74 in 550 CE. In his illustrious career in teaching and research, he was the author of several other works, none confirmed as having lasted to the present day except through the commentary, quotations, or criticisms of his contemporaries and those who followed in the intervening centuries.

The Aryabhatiya (not his own title): A text on astronomy and mathematics, it’s also known as Asmakatantra (“the Asmaka’s treatise”) by Bhaskara I, or Aryasatasasta, “Aryabhata’s 108” for its number of main verses. The text, composed in Sanskrit poetic meter for mnemonic purposes, is minimal but expanded on by commentary since then.

There are four chapters:

Gitikala: Offers a cosmology and units of deep time, kalpa, manvantra, and yuga; gives a table of sines (“half-chords”) in one verse.

Ganita: Here are place value numbers from 1 to 9 given; geometric progressions; rules for square and cube roots; quadratic, simultaneous, and indeterminate equations; an approximation of pi given as 3.1416.

Kalakriya: This gives the length of year, month, day, smaller units of time; Aryabhata in this chapter seems to suggest the rotation of the earth on its axis rather than the revolution of the celestial sphere about the earth; he gives a seven-day week, each day named.

Gala: Here are given matters of the celestial sphere; features of the ecliptic; day and night’s causes; shape and composition of the earth; He uses the term “Lanka” in this chapter for a point on the earth’s equator, not the island of Sri Lanka. “Ujjain” here is given as the location 23 degrees directly north of this.

So accurate was Aryabhata’s mathematical paradigm that an 18th century visitor to Pondicherry, Guillaume Le Gentil, found that his own figures for the duration of the August 30, 1765 eclipse exceeded it by 68 seconds, while Aryabhata’s methods were short by only 41 seconds, a difference in results of 107 seconds with greater error using Le Gentil’s calculations!

Conclusion: Some of Aryabhata’s earliest commentary comes from the work of his contemporary Varahamihira, his 7th century disciple Bhaskara I, and those who would follow in centuries after, like Brahmagupta and Al-Biruni. A statue of him stands at the front of IUCAA at Pune, and India’s first commercial orbital satellite was named after him. As first in a long line of famous Indian scientists and mathematicians, born in a golden age of learning and scholarship, few of his era have achieved lasting renown as he has. I consider him, not to be the Isaac Newton of ancient India, but rather Newton to be the Aryabhata of the early Modern age. That, I think, is the better comparison.

Content copyright Troy David Loy ©2016


Aryabhata: His Name, Time and Provenance (K.V. Sarma: Indian Journal of History of Science) (https://web.archive.org/web/20100331152303/http://www.new.dli.ernet.in/rawdataupload/upload/insa/INSA_1/20005b67_105.pdf)

The Aryabhatiya of Aryabhata (Clark, 1930) (https://archive.org/details/The_Aryabhatiya_of_Aryabhata_Clark_1930)

Aryabhata (Wikipedia) (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aryabhata)

Caturday’s Astrophenia | 2016.08.13

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This week was the time for the Perseid meteor showers, an event I sadly missed from the profoundly annoying persistence of cloudy night skies, and the resident inebriated from the local pub. But all was not lost: as I type this, I’m involved in a GURPS game with the gang as our characters engage in a bit of literal rocket science, with a super-tech edge. It’s all part of our diabolical plan…Heh, heh, heh!

Beside that, I’ve been importing more video posts over to the new blog venue over the last couple of evenings, and have saved as drafts this site’s pages over there as well. I’ll publish those after editing and updating them for their new home. Have an excellent weekend as Sunday rears its dire head, and as (almost) always…

Tf. Tk. Tts.

A Huge Solar Filament Erupts

Behind Saturn

A Rocket Booster Falls Back to Earth

Behold the Universe

M63: Sunflower Galaxy Wide Field

Apollo 15 Panorama

Los Campanas Moon and Mercury

Io: Moon over Jupiter

Perseid Meteors over Mount Shasta

Mars at Closest Approach 2016

Colliding Galaxies in Stephen’s Quintet

Perseid, Aurora, and Noctilucent Clouds

The Easter Bunny Comes to NGC 4725

Perseid from Torralba del Burgo

Star Cluster in Nebula NGC 3603

The Astrognuz

How Far is the Asteroid Belt from Earth?

VLT Photo of Orion Nebula Unveils a Mystery in How Stars are Born

Sage III to Look Back at Earth’s Atmospheric Sunscreen

Big Picture Science Radio Show | Skeptic Check: After the Hereafter

Kepler Watches Stellar Dancers in the Pleiades Cluster

Why Haven’t We Found any Aliens Yet?

Exoplanet Moons May Be Visible in 2017

New CO2 Sounder Nearly Ready for Prime Time

Seeking Signs of Life in an Ancient Martian Hot Spring

Cassini Finds Flooded Canyons on Titan

What are Magnetars?

Sen. Ron Johnson Repeats Standard Global Warming Denial Talking Points

NASA Climate Modeling Suggests Venus May Have Been Habitable

Can We Avoid the Same Fate as the Dinosaurs?

Astronomers Catalogue Planets that May Be Earthlike

Tabby’s Star Mystery Continues to Intrigue

Rosetta’s Complex Trajectory Around a Comet

Historical Records Miss a Fifth of Global Warming

Danger, Will Robinson!

What’s Inside Ceres? New Findings from Gravity Data

xkcd: Time Travel Thesis