Thursday, March 20, 2003

It's, like, cosmic baby
Happy Equinox Day! - The word "Equinox" means "equal night," and it refers to a time when the period of daylight and the period of darkness are equal, amounting to 12 hours each. In reality it refers to an instant in time at which the Earth is tilted neither toward nor away from the Sun. Since the Earth's tilt relative to the Sun is constantly changing, the 12-hour symmetry can be only approximately true anywhere. However, if you look at the sunrise sunset times for your location, you find that it is several minutes off on this date! The date on which there is closest to 12 hours of daytime and 12 hours of dark is several days earlier. Why? It's because the refracting or bending effects of the Earth's atmosphere alters the observed time of sunrise and sunset. The sun rises a little earlier and sets a little later due to this effect, causing the observed equinox to precede the true equinox by a few days in Spring. (In the fall it follows it by a few days.)

New observations suggest the birth of a black hole is messy- "The almost instant detection of a powerful deep-space energy burst, and the rapid follow-up by 33 telescopes around the world, has provided compelling evidence for the explosive birth of a black hole. The aftermath appeared to be very messy, said astronomers who watched the event's energy output decline more slowly than had ever been seen before. The observations were the most detailed ever made of a faraway explosive event known as a gamma-ray burst, or GRB. A study of the data, collected over several weeks, strengthens the connection between mysterious GRBs and even more mysterious black holes." Find more on this here too.

Predicting the weather by looking at the Moon, Sun or stars?- This article separates fact from fiction. Some cool stuff.

Moon Mechanics- A cool article about the Moon and how it effects life on this blue orb we call home.

Searchers discover key Columbia data recorder- "A spokeswoman for the board, Laura Brown, said the ship's recorder was intact but sustained some heat damage. Officials are hoping that temperature and aerodynamic pressure data can be retrieved from its magnetic tape, she said. Brown compared the recorder to an airplane's black box. "We have no way of knowing whether the data can be recovered,'' she said. But she added that if it can, "it will give us, hopefully, a lot of information about what was going on with the orbiter.''

Catch up on space news and discoveries- from coronal holes on the sun to brown dwarf discoveries, it's some cool stuff.

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