Solar System Sunday

First…the number of views for It Was The Best Of Days, It Was The Worst Of Days was a little more than half the number for An Extraordinarily Significant Day. In all honesty, that proportion is a little disappointing to me, but I thank those of you who viewed the earlier post.

When I include a hyperlink in this blog, it looks like this and I will never include a link to a site whose URL begins only with http and not https. Please feel free to click on hyperlinks; that’s part of the Internet. Thanks.


OK, to the astronomy buffs in the audience. I live in metro Phoenix (really?, I had no idea!). At this time of year in the southeast sky before sunrise, a bright object appears. Is it Venus? Here is an attempt to show you and no, I am not referring to the moon, wiseguys.



If you look very closely just above and just to the right of the tall cactus, you can see the object. I woke up too late this morning to get a better picture. Anyway, anyone who can tell me what that is will receive major kudos.

More from the solar system:



That is, supposedly, the last photograph Cassini captured before it was vaporized by Saturn’s atmosphere. The Cassini mission (more accurately, the Cassini-Huygens mission, Huygens was the name given to the probe that landed on Saturn’s giant moon, Titan) was the result of a collaboration between NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency.

Here are some of the discoveries made during the mission:


  • Showed Titan to be an Earth-like body with seasonal cycles, wind and rain
  • Discovered a watery ocean beneath the surface of Enceladus, one of Saturn’s moons
  • Observed previously unknown structures, which were named “propellors,” in Saturn’s rings
  • Showed giant hurricanes at Saturn’s poles, including an hexagonal jet stream



This article is about NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity, which has spent more than 3,000 Martian days on the surface of the Red Planet. A country/society that spends most of its time gazing at its collective navel instead of exploring is doomed to mediocrity. Here are some photos from NASA/JPL-Cal Tech/MSSS via the BBC:


Curiosity's Dusty Selfie at Duluth

Earth and Venus



Missions like the incredible Voyagers I and II, Curiosity, and Cassini-Huygens have increased our knowledge of our cosmic neighborhood by orders of magnitude and given us strong hints that extra-terrestrial life might be our neighbors. The day when political correctness squashes efforts at exploration is the day when we will become less human.







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12 thoughts on “Solar System Sunday

  1. I have had a love for astronomy for many decades. I used to be a regular reader of Astronomy magazine. I kept the old issues and my son developed his own love for the stars reading and rereading them. The University of Arizona had a week long summer Astronomy camp for high school kids, which Matthew attended twice. On the second one he met this wonderful girl who is now his wife. Both of our kids and their spouses have star parties occasionally. The culmination of my love for astronomy was my last job before I retired and which prompted our move to Tucson in 2009 when I took the position of Plant Engineer for the University of Arizona’s Steward Observatory Large Binocular Telescope on Mt. Graham.


      1. My daughter-in-law just responded by text, that she is 99% sure it is Venus. More verification will be forthcoming.


  2. For a couple more days, there are 3 planets visible if you are in the right place at the right time.

    I have long been interested in space exploration, the history of the universe and what, if any, other life might be “out there”. It’s a big universe, endless actually, and if we think we are the only life in it, I feel we are mistaken.

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