Star Crossed Stars Doomed…An Astronomical Love Story For Valentines Day.

Just like a Shakespearian play, the two white dwarf stars in Henize 2-428 are circling each other toward a deadly embrace.

Stellar partnership doomed to end in catastrophe

Each of the white dwarf stars have a little less mass than the Sun.

In about 700 million years the stars will merge into a Type 1a supernova, destroying both stars in a fiery final embrace.

Normally at the end of the life of a star like our Sun, the white dwarf stage is fairly permanent.   However, these two are doomed to produce another spectacular event.

A tragedy worthy of the Bard’s ballad:

Two households, both alike in dignity,
In fair Verona Henize, where we lay our scene,
From ancient grudge break to new mutiny,
Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.
From forth the fatal loins of these two foes
A pair of star-cross’d lovers take their life;
Whose misadventur’d piteous overthrows
Doth with their death bury their parents’ strife.

Romeo And Juliet Prologue, 1–8

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +, or by email.

Norman

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JPL Open House Part 1.

Among the many, many other events this past weekend, there was the can’t miss event…the JPL open house.  Restored after the sequester and budget cuts, this event should be on top of NASA’s outreach budget.  Although there is no advertising (except for a few emails and social media posts), the last event drew more than 400,000 people.

2_Waiting

Although I don’t have and numbers for this years event, the staff people that I talked too said that Saturday had more visitors than the facility had ever had.  I was there on Sunday, and it was packed as well.  We arrived 40 minutes early and were still in line over 1/4 mile from the entrance.  There were so many people waiting that they actually opened up early to avoid problems.  When I left at noon (for another event that I needed to attend), the line of cars waiting to get in was backed up over a mile on the 210 freeway!

1_Entrance

This year I started at the front of JPL.  There are two lanes of traffic, one takes you to the rear parking lot and one takes you to the front.  Last year we went to the rear parking lot.

3_Rover

At the entrance is the rover exhibit.  Above is a copy of the Spirit/Opportunity rovers that JPL uses to help them understand what is happening on Mars.

4_Rover_bottom

A scale model of the wheels for Curiosity. Just to the left of the picture is another booth where JPL staffers line children up and roll over them with a set of Spirit/Opportunity wheels.  It was great fun if the squeals of delight were any indication.  I have a (not so good) video, but I had to reach over three people deep to even try and get that.  It was VERY popular for kids and parents alike.

5_Plank

In one pavilion scale models of several satellites were on display.  The Plank spacecraft is shown above.

6_Wise

A mockup of the instruments on WISE and what they do was being explained to a young lady that was very interested.  It really does help that many of the staffers at JPL are women.  I think it helps overcome some of the biases that society pressures young girls to believe about themselves.  This is a concrete example of what a smart woman is capable of achieving in science.

This is just the first part.  I have a lot more pictures that I will be posting this week so you can see what you missed.

FYI, according to people at JPL, NASA is trying to get this event back on its regular schedule.  So due to the date this event was held (the beginning of the fiscal year), the next open house probably won’t be held until the  March-May 2016 time frame.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman

Its PI Day!

If you are mathematical geek like me, today is a special day.   March, 14th of every year, 3-14, or 3.14, or fully expanded below..

Pi actually goes on for quite a while, infintity actually.  It has no discovered repeating pattern.

Pi is the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter.

reflections-on-pi

Pi has many different properties, as shown in the Robert Deupree Jr. design above.  Who knew that math (or maths if you are English) could make you hungry?

congress

In 2009, Congress officially recognized 3.14 as National Pi Day to encourage math and science in schools.

You can even find your birthday in pi here, or have pie for your birthday.  Both will work!  My birthday position in pi starts at 5301.

The official Pi Day website (www.piday.org) has all sorts of fun filled activities related to pi for you.  If you like math or are just intrigued by this number, you should check it out.

As for me, I started a Pi(e) day event at work.  Tasty and educational.  The recipe for the dessert pi above can be found here.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman

Looking Up For A Change.

High-altitude scientific balloons have been used for years by scientists for a variety of studies including hauling telescopes to near space for observations.  However, planetary scientists haven’t been able to use them. That’s because they needed a highly stable system to accurately point their instruments and track planetary targets as they move.

Now NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Wallops Island, Va., has designed a new pointing system — the Wallops Arc Second Pointer (WASP) — that can point balloon-borne scientific instruments at targets with sub arc-second accuracy and stability. A full scale test is scheduled later this year.


“Arc-second pointing is unbelievably precise,” said David Stuchlik, the WASP project manager. “Some compare it to the ability to find and track an object that is the diameter of a dime from two miles away.”


WASP is designed to be a highly flexible, standardized system capable of supporting many science payloads and frees scientists from having to develop their own pointing systems. Now, they can focus on creating the instruments.
– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman

Herschel Finds Water On Ceres.

Scientists using the Herschel space telescope have made the first definitive detection of water vapor on Ceres.

Ceres is the largest and roundest object in the asteroid belt and is classified as a dwarf planet, a solar system body bigger than an asteroid and smaller than a planet.

Photo : CNRS

Scientists think that plumes of water vapor shoot up from Ceres when parts of its surface are warmed by the Sun.

 

In 2015 the Dawn spacecraft will be able to provide more information, hopefully confirming and expanding the data, when it arrives at Ceres next year.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman

Commercial Space Programs Expand.

It comes as no surprise that commercial space programs are expanding at an ever increasing pace.  Now the government and NASA are putting unused space program assets to use helping these enterprises along.

NASA will turn over one of its unused space-shuttle launch pads to Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) so that they can set up a second site in Florida.

SpaceX current sends routine re-supply missions to the ISS using its Dragon spacecraft.

SpaceX won out over protests from rival space company Blue Origin, founded by Amazon’s  Jeff Bezos.

The Government Accountability Office dismissed Blue Origin’s protest.  However, the GAO said NASA could consider renting the launch pad under exclusive or multi-use arrangements for the launch pad.

NASA spends around $100,000 a month to maintain the site, so this agreement will help both NASA and SpaceX.

SpaceX is already launching its Falcon rockets from a leased launch pad at Cape Canaveral and it has a launch pad at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

SpaceX’s locations are a little different from other commercial space enterprises that are basing their operations out of the New Mexico spaceport.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman