A friend sent along this very entertaining and informative video featuring Neil deGrasse Tyson, an American astrophysicist and director of the Hayden Planetarium in New York City. The topic is one everyone’s interested in: UFOs. He educates as he entertains, adding humor to make a point. I think you’ll enjoy it.
The odometer on the Mars Opportunity Rover recently rolled past the 15 1/2 mile mark as the sturdy robotic explorer continues on its way to the next big target, a 14-mile diameter crater named Endeavour. Last month it stopped to take photos at a much smaller crater, which mission scientists named Intrepid, after the lunar module of NASA’s Apollo 12 mission, which landed on the moon Nov. 19, 1969. Intrepid carried astronauts Alan Bean and Pete Conrad to the surface of Earth’s moon while crewmate Dick Gordon orbited overhead in the mission’s command and service module, Yankee Clipper. Rover scientists name Martian craters after historic ships of exploration. In addition to Intrepid, there are craters for the Yankee Clipper and Eagle (Apollo 11). Intrepid was selected because it was the 41st anniversary of its landing in November.
Opportunity has plenty of Martian sand and rock ahead before it reaches Endeavour Crater sometime next year. The bigger the crater – and this one would be the largest explored to date – the bigger the impact and the deeper the excavation. Scientists hope to learn more about the structure of Mars’ rocky crust from the exposed rocks around and within Endeavour.
Tonight Jupiter’s Great Red Spot will be in good view for telescopic observers between about 6 and 7:30 p.m. CST. That’s also when the moon Io will be passing in front of the planet and leaving its easily visible shadow on the planet’s cloud tops. The shadow will enter at the east side of Jupiter at 6:24 p.m. and exit at its west edge at 8:38 p.m. Jupiter will be high in the southern sky during the entire transit.
Finally, I want to remind everyone of two BIG upcoming events: the Geminid meteor shower, one of the most reliable of the year, will peak next week on December 13-14. Then, on the morning of the 21st, the first day of winter, a total eclipse of the moon will be visible across the entire western hemisphere. Can’t wait!