A Heavenwide Blast of Light

I’ve been taking in all the news and video about the meteor explosion over Russia this morning. Amazing stuff. It just goes to show just how vulnerable we are as a planet and as a species.

Neither of these videos are “new” or anything. I just wanted to post them here for posterity (and research).

And the tremendous shockwave:


More detailed information from the ever informative Phil Plait at Bad Astronomy.

[The title of this post is from the episode covering the 1908 Tunguska Event in Thomas Pynchon’s Against the Day.]

Guess What I Saw Today

It’s a less than perfect cell phone photo, but here is the highlight of my day:

Endeavour on its last flight. I had worried that I might not catch sight of it today. To me space flight and exploration is an incredibly powerful symbol of what we are capable of as a species when we put our minds to it. Sure, we’ve got a lot of problems on Earth, but we can also strive and reach and (as the saying goes) dare mighty things. Seeing one of those triumphs of humanity come home to rest was a exhilarating moment for me.

Light to Matter

I wanted to post a few links I’ve come across today. Sadly (due to lack of equipment and a fairly cloudy day) I’ll be watching this online. Still, I’m endlessly fascinated by this sort of thing. In another life (one where I was actually decent at math) I’d be an astronomer.

Everything you need to know about the transit according to Io9

Everything you need to know about the transit according to Bad Astronomy

A look back at the 1882 transit at Bad Astronomy

Also, because I’m a fan of Thomas Pynchon, I couldn’t help but turn to this passage from Mason & Dixon this morning:

“ – You’ve seen her in the Evening Sky, you’ve wish’d upon her, and now for a short time will she be seen in the Day-light, crossing the Disk of the Sun, – and do make a Wish then, if you think it will help. – For  Astromers, who usually work at night, ‘twill give us a chance to be up in the Day-time. Thro’ our whole gazing-lives, Venus has been a tiny Dot of Light, going through phases like the Moon, ever against the black face of Eternity. But on the day of this Transit, all shall suddenly reverse, – as she is caught, dark, embodied, solid, against the face of the Sun, – a goddess descended from light to Matter.”

Charles Mason in Thomas Pynchon’s Mason & Dixon