Orionid Meteor Shower of 2012
Through crimson stars and silent stars and tumbling nebulas like oceans set on fire, through empires of glass and civilizations of pure thought and a whole terrible wonderful universe of impossibilities.
Like A Falling Apple
Formulated in 1687, Newton’s Law of Universal Gravitation was a turning point in physic. While the legend of the apple falling on his head is an exaggeration of the truth, Newton did have a brilliant insight: that every object in the universe attracts every other object. The force of attraction between two objects depends on only two things: the mass of the objects, and the distance between them. So, more massive objects exert a stronger force, while more distant objects exert a weaker force. Newton was able to formulate a simple equation to describe this, pictured above: force is equal to Newton’s gravitational constant, multiplied by masses of the objects, then divided by the square of the distance between the objects. What’s remarkable is that the law truly is universal—not only can it predict how things move here on Earth, but it can also the movements of the moon, planets, stars and even galaxies millions of lightyears away. Newton believed that the movement of every object in our universe could be predicted, but we know now that while his theory generally holds true, it is not precise. Einstein’s theory of general relativity had to step in to fill the holes.
(Image Credit: The Wonders Collection)
Milky Way by Phil Hart
Planets Series by Colin Nichols
Big Theological Questions that Science Fiction Should Answer
We love it when science fiction gets cosmic. And some of science fiction’s greatest creators have proved, over the years, that science fiction doesn’t have stay away from big religious topics — as long as you avoid some basic mistakes. In fact, science fiction can say things about the nature of the universe, and the Divine, that plain old theological texts just can’t.
We asked five theologians what questions they would like to see science fiction tackle — and here’s what they told us.
A Planetary Nebula Gallery
This gallery shows four planetary nebulas from the first systematic survey of such objects in the solar neighborhood made with NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory. The planetary nebulas shown here are NGC 6543, also known as the Cat’s Eye, NGC 7662, NGC 7009 and NGC 6826. In each case, X-ray emission from Chandra is colored purple and optical emission from the Hubble Space Telescope is colored red, green and blue.
A New View Of The Solar System by Michael Benson
1. Mists of Mars
The Valles Marineris on Mars is the largest canyon in the solar system: 2,500 miles long and up to four miles deep. In this image, based on 18 photographs taken by the ESA orbiter Mars Express in 2004, morning fog fills one of its western arms. Benson combined the photos into six composites, then composed them together into a single image.
2. Jovian Moon
In January 2001, Cassini swept past Jupiter en route to Saturn. As it did, scientists directed the unmanned craft to take a series of photos, some of which captured the transit of the volcanic moon Io at Jupiter’s limb. Benson combined 27 frames into nine composites, which he then stitched together.
3. Night on Saturn
This image, a mosaic of photographs captured by the Cassiniorbiter in 2006, shows the dark side of Saturn. The planet’s rings, made mainly of ice, are thousands of miles wide but only a mile deep; here they are shown from below. Sunlight filtering through the rings faintly illuminates Saturn’s lower hemisphere, while the upper one is brightly lit by sunlight reflected off the rings’s surface.
4. Solar Flare
This set of images, also based on the SDO, show a coronal mass ejection. The SDO uses a UV filter. UV light is invisible to the eye, so NASA translated the different wavelengths into colors, which Benson enhanced.
Solar System by Luke Minner and Naomi Wilson
(Source: National Geographic)
Did Slow Space Rocks Seed Life on Earth?
In the illustration: Planets coalesce and rocky bodies collide in an artist’s conception of a young planetary system.
If microorganisms could survive a journey through space inside meteoroids, could life from Earth be transferred to planets in other solar systems—or even vice versa? A new study suggests the possibility is much higher than scientists once thought.