Titan (or Saturn VI) is the largest moon of Saturn. It is the only natural satellite known to have a dense atmosphere, and the only object other than Earth for which clear evidence of stable bodies of surface liquid has been found. In 1981, Voyager 1 made the first detailed observations of Titan’s atmosphere, revealing that its surface pressure was higher than Earth’s, at 1.5 bars. Actually, the atmosphere is so thick and the gravity so low that humans could fly through it by flapping “wings” attached to their arms.

deliaopran:

#Pluto and its moon #Charon, two very fascinating presences in the Solar System. Here are some interesting facts about them:

* Some astronomers call Pluto and Charon a “double planet”. Charon is almost half the size of Pluto, and the distance between them is 19,640 km (12,200 miles).

* Because Pluto and Charon are tidally locked to each other, Charon appears to stand still in Pluto’s sky and the same sides of Pluto and Charon always face each other.

* Every 124 years, for several years it is mutual-eclipse season, when Pluto and Charon each eclipse the Sun for the other, at intervals of 3.2 days.

* For 20 years of its almost 248-year orbit, Pluto is closer to the Sun than Neptune because of its off-center and highly inclined orbit. From 1979 to 1999, Pluto was the eighth planet and Neptune was the ninth. Now Pluto is back to being the ninth planet (though dwarf), and it will be closer to the Sun again on April 5, 2231.c

* Pluto actually has three moons. Charon is the largest. Nix and Hydra are the other two.

* A person who weighs 45 kg on Earth would weigh only 3 kg on Pluto.

* Like Uranus and Venus, Pluto spins in the opposite direction as Earth, which means the Sun rises in the west and sets in the east.

* 248 Earth years is the time that Pluto takes to orbit around the Sun. Charon’s orbit around Pluto takes 6.4 Earth days, and one Pluto rotation (a Pluto day) takes 6.4 Earth days, so the sun rises and sets once a week

* Pluto’s distance from the Sun is from 4.4 to 7.4 billion kilometers. Light takes between from 4.1 hours and 6.8 hours to travel from the Sun to Pluto. Yet, the Sun is still very bright, giving roughly 150 to 450 times the light of the full Moon from Earth.

* While Pluto was downgraded from a planet to a dwarf planet, or “plutoid,” several astronomers argued that Pluto and other small objects similar to Pluto should all be classified as planets because they have cores, geology, seasons, moons, atmospheres, clouds, and polar caps in many cases.

deliaopran:

Planetary Alignment Tonight: Mars, Earth and the Sun

A rare celestial events occurs tonight, when Mars, Earth and the Sun will align in a straight line. For the fortunate sky gazers who live outside the city, the event would be directly observable around sunset, when the Sun will set in the west, in the constellation of Pisces, and Mars will rise in the opposite direction, in the east, in the Virgo constellation, around the same time. Mars and the Sun are on directly opposite sides of the Earth, or ‘at opposition’, an event which happens every 26 months.

The closer a planet is to the Sun, the faster it moves on the orbit. Compared to Mars, Earth is closer to the Sun, hence it takes a shorter time to complete one orbit around the star. To put it more simple: Earth makes two trips around the Sun in about the same amount of time that Mars takes to make one trip. Sometimes the two planets are on opposite sides of the Sun, very far apart, and other times, Earth catches up with its neighbor and passes relatively close to it. If Earth and Mars would move along perfect circles, once in 780 days, Mars would be in the same position, regarding to Earth. But because we move on elliptical orbits - and Mars even more than Earth - in 6 days, on April 14, same night when the Moon eclipse will happen, Mars will be even closer to Earth than it is now.

Around these weeks you can view Mars for the entire night, in the Virgo constellation. It rises at sunset and sinks into the other hemisphere at sunrise. Its color is bright red and it outshines all the other stars in the night sky. Through binoculars you can even distinguish some of its most prominent features, but don’t expect to see its moons, Phobos and Deimos, which are visible only through powerful telescopes.

For those who can not witness the opposition through their own eyes, there are several sites which provide live streaming: http://events.slooh.com/stadium/mars-opposition, or http://www.virtualtelescope.eu/webtv/.

NASA’s 3 minutes video on the opposition of Mars: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xngUpUyyT70

The Moon, Jupiter & The Winter Circle | Mars & Saturn

Tonight, as darkness falls, the Moon and Jupiter will lie in the sky very close to each other, in the constellation Gemini the Twins.
The Moon is almost half-lit, while Jupiter is the most brilliant ‘star’ in the sky. The Moon takes 27.3 days to complete its sidereal orbit, so it stays for about 2.5 days in each of the twelve zodiacal constellation, while Jupiter, which completes an orbit around the Sun every 12 years, spends about one year in each constellation.
The two celestial bodies will be in the midst of the Winter Circle, or Winter Hexagon asterism, formed by the most dazzling winter stars: Capella (Auriga), Castor (Gemini), Pollux (Gemini), Procyon (Canis Minoris), Sirius (Orion), Rigel (Orion) and Aldebaran (Taurus).

A very red Mars rises in the East, in the constellation of the Virgo, and is soon followed by Saturn, which resides in the Libra segment. In two days, on April 8, the Sun, Earth and Mars will be on a straight line, with the Earth in the middle. This event happens once in a Mars synodic period (780 days), and it is called Mars-Earth opposition. When Mars is at opposition, it is in the middle of its retrograde loop and the distance between the two planets will be relatively small; its disk appears larger and it has a negative magnitude. This is the most favorable time for viewing Mars.

For the entire month of April, Mars will stay bright and big in the sky, from dusk till down, but circle the night of Tuesday, April 8, when the Earth will be closer to Mars than it has come for almost six-and-a-half years.

The Secret Garden

American photographer Janelle Pietrzak creates hauntingly beautiful long-exposure photographs of magical landscapes and ghostly female forms. All of them are actually self-portraits of the photographer and the series is called ‘The Secret Garden’.

You can find more photos on her webpage: http://exploredexposure.com/

It’s spring, the season of #sakura, a sight which I hope you all enjoy. The japanese term “sakura” means cherry blossom, or the flower of any of several trees of genus Prunus. Sakura have long been revered in Japan, with the practice of holding cherry blossom viewing parties, or hanami, said to date back to at least the 8th century. As such, many of the most beautiful specimens have been lovingly cared for over hundreds of years. A few reach an even more advanced age, such as the Miharu Takizakura, which is over 1,000 years old.

Cherry blossoms also symbolize an enduring metaphor for the ephemeral nature of life, an aspect of Japanese cultural tradition that is often associated with Buddhistic influence, and which is embodied in the concept of ‘mono no aware’, meaning the awareness of impermanence, literally “the pathos of things”, and also translated as “an empathy toward things”, or “a sensitivity to ephemera”.

Extraterrestrial skies: Mars

What would you be able to see if you were standing on the surface of Mars and look at the sky?

First of all, Mars has a very thin atmosphere, but being extremely dusty, there is much light that is scattered about. In many cases the astronomical phenomena from the surface of Mars are similar to those seen from Earth, but sometimes they can also be different. For example, because the atmosphere of Mars does not contain an ozone layer, it is also possible to make UV observations from the surface of Mars.

For a stargazer on the surface of Mars, Earth can easily be seen with the naked eye, as the evening and the morning star - just as Venus is as seen from our world. Both the Earth and the moon would appear starlike, and you could also see Earth’s moon orbiting around Earth once each month. From Earth, we can’t see any other planets’ satellites with the unaided eye, but this amazing sight on Mars would be visible to the eye alone. Since Earth is an inner planet, observers on Mars can occasionally view transits of Earth across the Sun. The next one will take place in 2084.

Aside from having Earth visible in the night sky, Venus would appear as a bright star close to the Sun. Jupiter and Saturn are also visible the night sky, and it should be possible to see Jupiter’s four major moons. The average distance from Mars to Uranus is 2.8 billion km which is about the same as the average distance from Earth to Saturn, so you would be able to see Uranus from Mars - if you know where to look.

Mars’ north pole points to a spot in the sky that’s about midway between Deneb, the brightest star in the constellation Cygnus the Swan, and Alderamin, the brightest star in the constellation Cepheus the King. Meanwhile, in the southern sky as seen from Mars, Kappa Velorum – a fairly bright star in the constellation Vela – is near the martian south celestial pole at about three degrees away.

The Sun as seen from Mars appears to be 5/8 the size as seen from Earth (0.35°), and sends 40% of the light, approximately the brightness of a slightly cloudy afternoon on Earth. The color of the Martian sky during the day is a scarlet or bright orangeish-red color, which comes from the presence of iron-rich dust particles. Around sunset and sunrise, the sky is rose in color, but in the vicinity of the setting Sun it is blue. This is the opposite of the situation on Earth. Twilight lasts a long time after the Sun has set and before it rises, because of all the dust in Mars’s atmosphere. At times, the Martian sky takes on a violet color, due to scattering of light by very small water ice particles in clouds.

Sources: wikipedia | earthsky.org | physics.stackexchange.com | www.universetoday.com |

#FragileOasis

"When we look down at the #earth from #space, we see this amazing, indescribably beautiful planet. It looks like a living, breathing organism. But it also, at the same time, looks extremely fragile.

… Anybody else who’s ever gone to space says the same thing because it really is striking and it’s really sobering to see this paper-thin layer and to realize that that little paper-thin layer is all that protects every living thing on Earth from death, basically. From the harshness of space.”

Ron Garan, Shuttle/ISS astronaut

#FragileOasis

"When we look down at the #earth from #space, we see this amazing, indescribably beautiful planet. It looks like a living, breathing organism. But it also, at the same time, looks extremely fragile.

… Anybody else who’s ever gone to space says the same thing because it really is striking and it’s really sobering to see this paper-thin layer and to realize that that little paper-thin layer is all that protects every living thing on Earth from death, basically. From the harshness of space.”

Ron Garan, Shuttle/ISS astronaut

Earth from Space: Fly-by.

#Solipsism is the philosophical idea that only one’s own mind is sure to exist. #Astronauts and #cosmonauts on long-term missions, who have to deal with periods of extended isolation, are predisposed to a syndrome called ‘solipsism’, which refers to a psychological state in which a person feels that the world is not external to his or her mind. The syndrome is characterized by feelings of loneliness, detachment and indifference to the outside world, but is not regarded as a psychiatric disorder, though it shares some similarities with depersonalization disorder.

Solipsism syndrome is distinct from solipsism, which is not a psychological state but rather a philosophical position, namely that nothing exists or can be known to exist outside of one’s own mind; advocates of this philosophy do not necessarily suffer from solipsism syndrome, and sufferers do not necessarily subscribe to solipsism as a school of intellectual thought.

#Hybrids: The deep #ocean - #space connection

Photos & manipulations by Alexander Semenov

Fascinating Macro Timelapse of Coral, Sponges and Other Aquatic Organisms Created from 150,000 Photographs
(via thisiscolossal.com)

#Jellyfish come from #space!

These out of this world images, that capture the breathtaking beauty and mystery of our planet’s sea life, prove that “the surface of the Earth is the shore of the cosmic ocean.”

Their author, Alexander Semenov, is a zoologist specialized in the study of invertebrate animals. While his career has led him around the world, many of the shots in his portfolio (and below) are from his work at the WSBS which is located near the Polar Circle on the coast of Kandalaksha Bay of the White Sea.

The location is remote and the waters are frigid but the biological diversity speaks for itself. Many of the creatures he captures are rare and uncommon so his work has a tremendous value.

#Earthshine and Da Vinci

This photo shows an outstanding example of earthshine, as observed from Almada, Portugal. This sliver of the crescent Moon, looking very much like a Cheshire grin, was snapped on February 1, 2014, at 7:17 p.m. 

The phenomenon known as earthshine was described and drawn for the first time by the great Leonardo Da Vinci, nearly 500 years ago in his book Codex Leicester. Da Vinci realized that both the Earth and the Moon reflected sunlight at the same time. Light is reflected from the Earth to the Moon and back to the Earth as earthshine. 

Photographer: Miguel Claro | http://epod.usra.edu

#Earthshine and Da Vinci

This photo shows an outstanding example of earthshine, as observed from Almada, Portugal. This sliver of the crescent Moon, looking very much like a Cheshire grin, was snapped on February 1, 2014, at 7:17 p.m.

The phenomenon known as earthshine was described and drawn for the first time by the great Leonardo Da Vinci, nearly 500 years ago in his book Codex Leicester. Da Vinci realized that both the Earth and the Moon reflected sunlight at the same time. Light is reflected from the Earth to the Moon and back to the Earth as earthshine.

Photographer: Miguel Claro | http://epod.usra.edu

Cherry Blossom Milky Way by Masahiro Miyasaka

Because it’s spring!

deliaopran:

Equinox 

Cusp momentum: today, the center of the Sun will be directly above the Earth’s equator at approximately at 16:57 UTC, marking the vernal equinox. On the equinox, night and day are nearly exactly the same length – 12 hours – all over the world. This is the reason it’s called an “equinox”, derived from Latin, meaning “equal night”. In the northern hemisphere is the first day of spring, while in the southern it is the first of autumn. In the northern hemisphere the March equinox marks the start of spring and has long been celebrated as a time of rebirth. 

The equinoctial point, where the celestial equator and the Earth’s ecliptic intersect, is not stable. It shifts around the ecliptic continuously, during one cosmic year, otherwise known as Platonic year, which is about 25.920 Julian years. Each Platonic year is divided into 12 parts, each of 2160 years ( Messianic cycle ).

The equinoxes are mystical times since the ancient worlds, when initiations and great mysteries were celebrated. It is believed that on the night of equinox, heavens open for contemplation of that state of existence beneath the observable.

So we shall close our eyes to see and shut the ears to hear ✩

deliaopran:

Equinox

Cusp momentum: today, the center of the Sun will be directly above the Earth’s equator at approximately at 16:57 UTC, marking the vernal equinox. On the equinox, night and day are nearly exactly the same length – 12 hours – all over the world. This is the reason it’s called an “equinox”, derived from Latin, meaning “equal night”. In the northern hemisphere is the first day of spring, while in the southern it is the first of autumn. In the northern hemisphere the March equinox marks the start of spring and has long been celebrated as a time of rebirth.

The equinoctial point, where the celestial equator and the Earth’s ecliptic intersect, is not stable. It shifts around the ecliptic continuously, during one cosmic year, otherwise known as Platonic year, which is about 25.920 Julian years. Each Platonic year is divided into 12 parts, each of 2160 years ( Messianic cycle ).

The equinoxes are mystical times since the ancient worlds, when initiations and great mysteries were celebrated. It is believed that on the night of equinox, heavens open for contemplation of that state of existence beneath the observable.

So we shall close our eyes to see and shut the ears to hear ✩