Water Ice Found on Mars…and You Thought I Was Crazy

Get ready for the alien invasion! As I twittered the breaking news the other day, there is without a doubt water ice on Mars.

Those who know me well know that I believe in alien civilizations, dragons, and other (what some may consider) whimsical myths.

For the record, I believe in alien civilizations largely because to me it seems incredibly arrogant to assume that we are the only physical expressions of Life in the great big universe with millions of stars and hundreds of thousands of galaxies.

I sent the news to my friend Rick (a non believer in aliens ;-) ) via StumbleUpon when I first saw it. The caption I gave it was something like, “water=life. i told you aliens existed…even in our own galactic neighborhood.”

To that he replied something like, “dude, it’s just water.”

Of course he’s just busting my chops, but it got me thinking about the long time held understanding that water=life. But does it?

True, physical human life requires water to sustain itself. Does alien life require it?

How do you define life? Physical breath in your body? What if Life is something more than the container of flesh and bone simply having physical function?

Sure, many of us would say, “oh yes, it definitely does…there’s life after death isn’t there?”

Look at that phrase, life after death. Most people mean that they enter into a new life after they (or their bodies) die. But what if your life truly CONTINUES long after (and existed long before) the animation of your humanity?


Sure, for our human bodies it does, but to me water is simply an expression of Life, of Truth, as are all things in physical existence.

…but aliens still exist, and i’m sorry you’re so closed-minded to believe it. Grow up.

Supernova Explosion

artist rendition of supernova explosionThere’s something about a star 150 times the size of our sun exploding that makes me wonder about a great many things, both big and small.

CNN Space & Science released images of supernova SN 2006gy’s explosion yesterday. It is believed to be the brightest stellar explosion on record, and exploded in such a way that only the very first generation of stars in the universe are believed to have exploded. (*Note that the image at right is an artist’s rendition of what the explosion of supernova SN 2006gy might have looked like.)

Is that intriguing and mysterious to anyone else but me?

Before astronomers observed SN 2006gy’s explosion, such a stellar death existed only in theory.

“A huge star in the Milky Way, Eta Carinae, has already erupted in a similar fashion. So if it explodes as a supernova, it could present the best light show seen, because it is a mere 7,500 light years away from our planet”, says the CNN.com story.

So what thoughts does such an event birth in my twisted mind?

Some are simple, some complex. Some shall not be mentioned in such a forum as this…yet.

For now, however, I will share that I wonder if we are “alone” in the universe. I wonder if we are, then why does such a great expanse exist? If the life and the physical cosmos exist only as we experience it with our senses, then what would the death of such a star mean to us here and now? In the same vein, If life and the physical cosmos are merely shadows of a greater, more real, existence that many of us have yet to wake up to, what does the death of such a great star mean? Anything?

I suppose that is all the rambling I shall do for one day. Does the explosion of such a great, bright, and old star invoke any questions in you? If so, care to share?

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Venus Passing by the Moon

Here’s my capture of the moon and Venus’ conjunction this evening. There’s nothing fancy or artsy about this shot to be sure, but it is a spectacle nonetheless.

From SkyTonight.com:

“Conjunctions of the Moon and the brightest planet can be appreciated on many levels. Because Venus never strays far from the Sun, they’re best seen in the twilight glow of sunrise or sunset, which are magnificent in their own right. The full Moon would overwhelm Venus if the two could ever appear side by side, but in fact the Moon is always in a thin crescent phase during these events, reducing its brightness so that it’s comparable to Venus’s.”

Pretty cool huh? Maybe I’ll head out to one of my favorite astronomical observing points to get a nice planned out shot of the next conjunction on May 19th.

“Pillars of Creation Topple”

Via CNN Space & Science:

They helped open the public’s eyes to the wonders of space when they were first photographed in 1995, but a new study suggests the famous Pillars of Creation in the Eagle Nebula might have already been toppled long ago, and that what the Hubble Space Telescope actually captured was only a ghost image.A new picture of the Eagle Nebula shot by NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope, presented at the 209th meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Seattle, Washington, show the intact pillars next to a giant cloud of glowing dust scorched by the heat of a massive stellar explosion known as a supernova.

“The pillars have already been destroyed by the shockwave,” said study leader Nicolas Flagey of The Institut d’Astrophysique Spatiale in France.

Astronomers think the supernova’s shock wave knocked the pillars down about 6,000 years ago. But because the Eagle Nebula is located some 7,000 light years away, the majestic pillars will appear intact to observers on Earth for another 1,000 years or so.

The supernova blast is thought to have occurred between 6,000 and 9,000 years ago, so what astronomers see now is evidence of the blast just before its destructive shock wave reached the pillars.

Just when you think something is stable enough to trust in, a damn supernova comes and blows it away… [sarcasm].

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Care for a Geminid?

Well, one of my favorite meteorologists, News 2′s Justin Bruce, just beat me to the punch on this, but here ya go anyway. If you’re not doing anything between about 10:00pm and midnight this evening, you should consider finding a nice, dark spot to set up camp for a while and gaze into the night sky. That’s right, tonight is the peak of arguably the best meteor shower of the year, the Geminids. Oh and just so you know, the forecast is perfect for optimal viewing–not a cloud in the sky.Space.com writes,

“The Geminid event is known for producing one or two meteors every minute during the peak for viewers with dark skies willing to brave chilly nights…The Geminids are a very fine winter shower, and usually the most satisfying of all the annual showers, even surpassing the Perseids. Studies of past displays show that this shower has a reputation for being rich both in slow, bright, graceful meteors and fireballs as well as faint meteors, with relatively fewer objects of medium brightness. Many appear yellowish in hue. Some even appear to form jagged or divided paths.”

SkyTonight.com writes,

“The Geminid meteor shower, possibly the year’s best, should peak late tonight in the moonless dark sky. The best time should be from about 10 p.m. until moonrise before dawn.”

Finally, the American Meteor Society (AMS) writes,

“The Geminid shower is the favorite of most experienced observers. While most showers wax and wane throughout the years, the Geminids almost always provide an impressive display of celestial fireworks…Near maximum activity this shower can produce over 100 shower members per hour as seen from rural locations…”

There ya have it, grab some blankets and coffee, brave the chill, and wonder at the beauty of the evening.

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Do These Pics Make Up for My Absenteeism?

Once again I was unable to make it to a Nashville blogger meet up. I was really hoping to make this Christmas one today, but couldn’t do it. I swear I’m gonna make it to one some day. Anyway, I hope these pics keep me in good standing with my Nashville blog buds ;-) . I snapped them this morning at J. Percy Priest Dam while Rick and I were trying to catch the Mars, Jupiter, & Mercury grouping this morning. (We were unsuccessful in viewing the planets, but will try again tomorrow morning.)

By the way, the official weather news said it was seventeen degrees this morning at Nashville’s airport. With the wind and cooler temps coming off the water, we speculate that we stood outside for over an hour in single digits. I have never been that cold in my life!! My lips actually went so numb that I was unable to speak.

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