Astronomy Picture of the Week – Northern Summer on Titan

Another one from Cassini’s Grand Finale. And yeah, I’m a day late.

NASA’s Cassini spacecraft sees bright methane clouds drifting in the summer skies of Saturn’s moon Titan, along with dark hydrocarbon lakes and seas clustered around the north pole.

Compared to earlier in Cassini’s mission, most of the surface in the moon’s northern high latitudes is now illuminated by the sun. (See here for a view of the northern hemisphere from 2007.) Summer solstice in the Saturn system occurred on May 24, 2017.

The image was taken with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on June 9, 2017, using a spectral filter that preferentially admits wavelengths of near-infrared light centered at 938 nanometers. Cassini obtained the view at a distance of about 315,000 miles (507,000 kilometers) from Titan.

As usual, click on the image for the .tif download…

[Read more…]

Great Guitar Solos – Porcupine Tree Plays The Sound of Muzak Live

I’ve highlighted Steven Wilson before, as well as Porcupine Tree. At this point, it’s safe to say Porcupine Tree is done, despite many fans desperately wanting a reunion.

Admittedly, I feel quite different about modern music today then I did when I first heard this song. When I first heard it, I was definitely the worst kind of music snob, and so this became a sort of anthem to me. Now, I accept that there’s no accounting for taste, and that love of music is subjective. I’m not so sure that music is “going down” so much as it, by nature, cyclical. The genres and styles may change and/or evolve, but the way music is produced, performed, and made popular doesn’t ever really change… it just goes in circles…

That said, I do still enjoy this song immensely, especially for the guitar solo, which is another brilliant one played by Steven Wilson himself… it starts at 2:44 and ends at 3:38.

[Read more…]

Astronomy Picture of the Week – Puzzled Iapetus

Yet another one from Cassini’s Grand Finale. Yup, it’s still going

Iapetus is a world of contrast, with light and dark regions fitting together like cosmic puzzle pieces.

Cassini Regio on Iapetus (914 miles or 1,471 kilometers across) is covered in a layer of dark, dusty material creating a stark contrast to the much brighter region that surrounds it. This leads to the moon’s distinctive, two-toned appearance. To learn more about the cause of the contrast between regions, see Encountering Iapetus.

This view looks toward Saturn-facing hemisphere of Iapetus. North on Iapetus is up and rotated 20 degrees to the right. The image was taken in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on March 11, 2017.

The view was obtained at a distance of approximately 1.6 million miles (2.6 million kilometers) from Iapetus. Image scale is 9 miles (15 kilometers) per pixel.

[Read more…]

Great Guitar Solos – Heart Plays Even It Up

About time I included Nancy Wilson. She really is such a great guitarist. This solo here is, honestly, very short and quite simple. But I’m including it because it works. It’s absolutely perfect for the song, itself a short and simple song.

That’s the thing about great solos… what makes them great isn’t necessarily how complicated they are. You can have a great guitarist playing an amazing solo, but if the solo doesn’t fit with the song, then it’s just not going to sound good. And short, simple solos can sound pretty darn amazing when they fit perfectly into the song. This one is a great example of that.

So…

The solo starts at 2:34 and ends at 2:48…

[Read more…]

Astronomy Picture of the Week: Mimas Dwarfed

We continue with images from Cassini’s Grand Finale. This time, it’s an image from over Saturn’s north pole, with a teeny tiny dot, Mimas, in the upper right

From high above Saturn’s northern hemisphere, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft gazes over the planet’s north pole, with its intriguing hexagon and bullseye-like central vortex.

Saturn’s moon Mimas is visible as a mere speck near upper right. At 246 miles (396 kilometers across) across, Mimas is considered a medium-sized moon. It is large enough for its own gravity to have made it round, but isn’t one of the really large moons in our solar system, like Titan. Even enormous Titan is tiny beside the mighty gas giant Saturn.

This view looks toward Saturn from the sunlit side of the rings, from about 27 degrees above the ring plane. The image was taken in green light with the Cassini spacecraft wide-angle camera on March 27, 2017.

The view was acquired at a distance of approximately 617,000 miles (993,000 kilometers) from Saturn. Image scale is 37 miles (59 kilometers) per pixel. Mimas’ brightness has been enhanced by a factor of 3 in this image to make it easier to see.

[Read more…]

Great Guitar Solos – Glen Campbell and Carl Jackson Play Dueling Banjos in 1973

Well, technically, guitar and banjo, but still…

I decided to include this, but I didn’t want to go for the clip from Deliverance because that would be too obvious and pretty much everyone’s seen it.

Instead, I want to highlight this performance from 1973. It features Carl Jackson on banjo and Glen Campbell on acoustic guitar, and it’s really, really good.

I’ve always enjoyed the song (no, I haven’t seen the movie, and I honestly don’t want to; that’s not a judgement call or anything, I’m just not interested), though sadly never really tried to play it because I’m really a terrible finger-picker (although hopefully that’ll be changing as I start learning Bron-Y-Aur Stomp).

Anyways… since this is an instrumental, just listen to, and watch the whole thing…

[Read more…]

So This is Why Alamo Drafthouse is Doing a Women’s-Only Showing of Wonder Woman…

h/t PZ Myers

This is likely what all those people angry that Alamo Drafthouse will be doing women-only showings of Wonder Woman on opening night believe is actually going to happen

We at the Alamo Drafthouse would like to officially apologize for our role in the end of mankind as we knew it, and the ascendant Gynocracy that followed. We didn’t know our women-only screening of Wonder Woman would result in the overthrow of all world governments and the total subjugation of men, but in hindsight we probably should have seen it coming.

“Why can’t women have one night to enjoy a character that’s meant so much to them over the years?” asked the Shadowy Figure. The woman came into our offices in a cloak as black as the grave, followed by three wild-looking dogs. Her voice had no age, or every age, it was hard to tell. Sometimes it sounded like more than one woman was talking. The Shadowy Figure made good points about Representation Mattering and Safe Spaces as she idly flicked raw flesh to her dogs. Around her swirled plumes of sickly sweet incense from a source unknown, but this is Austin, so we figured she was just keeping it weird. How naive we were.

About halfway into the film, Gal Gadot put down her sword and shield and turned to the camera.

“Who has hurt you?” she asked. “Who denied you, violated your person? Who has defiled your temple? Name them now.”

[Read more…]

Astronomy Picture of the Week: The Keeler Gap

Another one from Cassini’s Grand Finale mission

Here’s the text from the photo page; the image is below the fold (and, as usual, you can click on it for the tiff download)…

Before Cassini entered its Grand Finale orbits, it acquired unprecedented views of the outer edges of the main ring system. For example, this close-up view of the Keeler Gap, which is near the outer edge of Saturn’s main rings, shows in great detail just how much the moon Daphnis affects the edges of the gap.

This image was part of a mosaic that included Daphnis (The Realm of Daphnis).

Daphnis creates waves in the edges of the gap through its gravitational influence. Some clumping of ring particles can be seen in the perturbed edge, similar to what was seen on the edges of the Encke Gap back when Cassini arrived at Saturn in 2004.

This view looks toward the sunlit side of the rings from about 3 degrees above the ring plane. The view was acquired at a distance of approximately 18,000 miles (30,000 kilometers) from Daphnis and at a Sun-Daphnis-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 69 degrees. Image scale is 581 feet (177 meters) per pixel. The image was taken in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on Jan. 16, 2017.

[Read more…]