Saturday, November 15, 2008


Fomalhaut b. It's the first visible light image of an extrasolar planet. Though it's just a speck in this image, it's an incredible milestone. Fomalhaut itself is one of the brightest stars in the sky, located about twenty-five light years from earth in the constellation Piscis Austrinus. I'm not sure the toroidal dust disk surrounding Fomalhaut, imaged here, really counts as a nebula, as such; being apparently an analog of the Kuiper belt surrounding the Sun. However, this is such a cool discovery that bending the definition to be sure it's included in this feature seems perfectly justified. The sharp definition of the inner boundary of the cloud was one of the clues that led to the conclusion that there was a planet here to be found. The planet itself is thought to be three times the size of Jupiter, with a much larger ring system than Saturn - which might, in fact be what was actually imaged here.

This is an APOD image. Click away.

Saturday, November 8, 2008


Just when I think the good images of galaxies are starting to dry up, this comes along. For those who aren't aware, the Hubble Space Telescope had been offline. After having been brought back online, this was one of the first images (within the first couple of days, at any rate) captured - a pair of gravitationally interacting galaxies known as ARP 147. A spectacular pair of ring-shaped galaxies, one face on, one nearly perpendicular to our viewpoint. This is an APOD image, you can click through for more explanation and a higher resolution view, as always.

Thursday, November 6, 2008


I've only recent started reading Rick Moran's Right Wing Nut House. I was surprised by several judicious posts and had decided that Moran was somebody I could agreeably disagree with. However, his reaction to Erik's fit of utter lunacy is hardly reassuring. If the Republican party is going to recover, (and that's a goal for which I really do have sympathy) they're going to need to recognize the difference between partisanship and self-parody.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Operation Paranoia

Erick Erickson sure does think he's an Important Person. The anonymous McCain aids he seems so put out with are quaking in their boots, I'm sure. Malkin and Ace seem to be polishing their own batons. Jeebus. These folks need to take a breath. At least as long a K-Lo reigns at The Corner, Erik can't really be considered competitive for the title of Dumbest Political Blogger of any note. (Of course there's always plenty of competition on that score.)


Less than fifty years after the Civil Rights Act was passed. What more needs to be said?

Saturday, November 1, 2008


Ok, in an effort to broaden this feature, since distinctive pictures of galaxies aren't an infinite resource, I'm rechristening (and retiming) it as Saturnebula. Yeah, it's a slightly goofy construction, but it's distinctive, and it's probably easier to post on Saturdays anyway - plenty of Friday Galactic Blogs went up on Saturdays in any case. I'll be pretty broad in my definition of "nebula," to encompass any cool galactic photos I find, consistently with older definitions like that of Messier.

This particular beauty is a depiction of the Veil Nebula, the leftovers from a supernova in the direction of the constellation Cygnus at an approximate distance between 1400 and 2600 light years. It spans three degrees in the night sky (six times the apparent size of a full moon) but is notoriously difficult to see in visible light, despite an apparent magnitude of about seven, which nearly as bright as the dimmest naked eye stars (corresponding to an apparent magnitude of about six.)

It's an APOD image, and you know the drill.