Feb 222017

OK, now this *is* interesting…

Wonderful Potentially Habitable Worlds Around TRAPPIST-1

Seems a full *seven* roughly Earth-mass/size planets have been detected around the terribly small, dim, cool star TRAPPIST-1 (so named because of the TRAPPIST telescope in Chile). And three or four of them are  in roughly the “Goldilocks zone” where liquid water can exist.

TRAPPIST-1 is 12.1 parsecs away. Which means two things:

1) Go ahead and get those Kessel Run jokes out of your system

2) We won’t be sending crews there anytime soon.

At just 8% the mass of Sol, TRAPPIST-1 is a tiny little thing. The planets are tucked in *close…* closest is at 0.01 AU, the furthest at 0.06 AU. This will probably have two effects:

1) Tidal locking. Chances are good the planets will always keep on face to the star. Through the plaents are close enough to each other that some sort of resonance might be at play.

2) Depending on how well behaved TRAPPIST-1 is, the Goldilocks Zone might still be a nightmare region of solar flares and X-Ray bursts, as was recently shown with Proxima b. TRAPPIST-1 *seems* relatively well behaved, but the star itself was only recently discovered so there isn’t that much data on it long-term.


Planetary data from Wiki:

The TRAPPIST-1 planetary system[4][19]
(in order from star)
Mass Semimajor axis
Orbital period
Eccentricity Inclination Radius
b 0.85±0.72 M 0.01111 1.51087081 ± 0.00000060 < 0.081 89.65 ± 0.25° 1.086 ± 0.035 R
c 1.38±0.61 M 0.01522 2.4218233 ± 0.0000017 < 0.083 89.67 ± 0.17° 1.056 ± 0.035 R
d 0.41±0.27 M 0.021 ± 0.06 4.049610 ± 0.000063 < 0.070 89.75 ± 0.16° 0.772 ± 0.030 R
e 0.62±0.58 M 0.028 6.099615 ± 0.000011 < 0.085 89.86 ± 0.11° 0.918 ± 0.039 R
f 0.68±0.18 M 0.037 9.206690 ± 0.000015 < 0.063 89.680 ± 0.034° 1.045 ± 0.038 R
g 1.34±0.88 M 0.045 12.35294 ± 0.00012 < 0.061 89.710 ± 0.025° 1.127 ± 0.041 R
h unknown M 0.063+0.027
unknown 89.80 ± 0.07° 0.755 ± 0.034 R


TRAPPIST-1 is about half a billion years old, which means that if life has arisen on one or more of its planets it *probably* hasn’t had time to evolve great complexity yet. But on the other hand, the star is so cool and slow burning that its lifespan is expected to be on the order of a *trillion* years. Long before this star reaches adolescence, the rest of the universe will have grown into a pretty dark, uninteresting place. Unless a Giant Green Space Hand swats it, TRAPPIST-1 will be one of the last stars burning in the universe.

 Posted by at 4:02 pm
Feb 222017

The Orion nebula lies real close to the celestial equator, which means that satellite sin geostationary orbt will tend to pass quite close to it. Here are some videos some people shot that show just that happening. It seems that the satellite I managed to photograph gong through the nebula was probably a geo-sat. Which is honestly rather astonishing… my new camera, a bog-standard commercial model that is a few years past being brand new, was capable of capturing a chunk of human engineering from a distance of more than twenty two thousand miles.





 Posted by at 3:00 am
Feb 222017

Weather began moving in a couple nights back, which added some variety to the night sky. As always, 1/10 scale panoramas from Thatcher, Utah.

Looking west:


Looking south, with the lights from Salt Lake City at center (behind Little Mountain) and Ogden at left.


 Posted by at 2:35 am
Feb 212017

NASA set to make major exoplanet announcement

All data about the announcement embargoed until 1 PM Eastern on Wednesday. The only hint:

CNET said that it had seen the research in an article published Monday, adding that “while we can’t share details yet, let’s just say it could very easily provide us with new settings for many future works of science fiction.”

Let’s just hope it’s better than some other recent NASA announcements that turned out to be busts… arsenic life forms, anyone?

 Posted by at 9:57 pm
Feb 212017

Here are two more images to haunt your dreams and harrow, yes, your very soul. Two ads from the early 70’s that demonstrate not only tragic notions of what makes good mens fashions, but also incomprehensible notions of how to sell said fashions. I’m guessing that this was a result of the fetish for “machismo” that filled the 70’s… not so much actual masculinity as a theatrical parody of it.

Pictures after the break to protect fragile minds.

Continue reading »

 Posted by at 1:41 am
Feb 192017

So, John Glenn was Americas first astronaut into orbit. For a time he was Hero Number One, and apparently considered so important for PR that he was essentially blackballed from going back into space for fear that were he to die it would’ve trashed national morale. The end result was that he didn’t get to fly into space again until he was an old man.

But consider another course of events. He flies to orbit, comes back a hero… and stays a flying astronaut. In that case, chances are good he would’ve gone up on Gemini and an Apollo (not necessarily the first lunar lander, but one of ’em).

My question to ponder: let’s say on his first mission to the moon – call it “Apollo 4,” because “Apollo 1” didn’t burn up on the pad Because Reasons – something goes wrong and the crew is lost. America’s Greatest Hero dies in the course of the mission, out in deep space.

OK, we can all agree that this would be a bad thing on a human level. But from a *political* point of view… would losing the Great Hero and two Red Shirts out in space, rather than a trio of Red Shirts, have *necessarily* trashed the space program? When Challenger was lost, the crew were, as far as the public was concerned, a bunch of folks nobody knew (and one supercargo teacher that a lot of folks knew). Certainly not mid-60’s John Glenn level of celebrity. But even so, they all became national heroes instantly, and their memory helped to keep the Shuttle program going. So it seems to me that losing a national hero on the level of Glenn would *not* be an inevitable death knell to the program, but perhaps a *spur* to the program.


 Posted by at 3:06 pm
Feb 182017

Here’s a shocker:

Catoosa restaurant fires 12 workers for not showing up on ‘Day Without Immigrants’

In short, the restaurant has a strict “no show/no call” policy, which means if you don’t show up for work and you don’t call in to give them some sort of explanation and chance to bring in a replacement, then they fire you. And this is not an unreasonable policy for a place that can be thrown into chaos if someone just plain doesn’t show up. And these twelve employees apparently didn’t bother to call in. So… there it is.

Now, if you perhaps feel some sort of sympathy for these poor workers, consider this:

“They feel like they’ve been unfairly terminated,” said a friend, translating for the employees.


“(They’ve) been working there for almost two years since the restaurant opened,” said the friend.

Two years these folks have been there, and they need someone to translate simple statements into simple English. It was perhaps unwise to hire them in the first place. It’s never good to reply on people who don’t understand the language.

 Posted by at 5:09 pm
Feb 182017

‘Blind sheikh’ convicted in 1993 World Trade bombing dies in U.S. prison

Omar Abdel-Rahman has died at the excessive age of 78 due to complications from diabetes.

There are those who say that no matter how horrible the actions of a person or persons, they take no joy in those people’s deaths. To these presumed moral superiors I say:

You try to kill a bunch of folks because you got some crazy ideas from a crazy book written millenia ago by some crazy semi-literate monster who headed a death cult? Yeah… we don’t need you.


 Posted by at 11:11 am