ISON: something may have survived!


The streak at about ten o’clock


By this time yesterday I was absolutely certain ISON was cooked, literally. It was tiny to start with, even by comet nucleus standards, and within a million miles of the sun for hours where insolation would heat any normal material to several thousand degrees by any scale, plenty hot enough to boil most metals. Let alone ices and bits of rock. But right now it appears that something might — and we have to stress might — have survived that will slingshot back into cooler solar climes and be visible in December with a small scope.

One can almost picture the spirit of Engineer Scotty working to pull off the miraculous. Oh, and the UFO-alien conspiracy theorists are being oddly quiet, which is fine. Let’s not disturb them.


Comet ISON still alive & moving at about 200 miles/sec

ISON entering the sun’s outer plasma atmosphere on 27 Nov 2013 as seen by NASA’s SoHo spacecraft.
Reports of Comet ISON’s suicide by sun have been premature. The plucky little nucleus, now thought to be less than a mile across, is streaking closer to its perihelion tomorrow at about 1:37 EDT. The next two days are the time of greatest danger for ISON. If it survives there’s a chance residents in the northern hemisphere will have a clear view of the comet in the first half of December, stretching across as much as a degree or two of arc, as it passes above the earth’s orbital plane at warp speed on its way out of the solar system forever: [Read more…]

The moment of truth approaches for ISON

Thanks to some generous readers yesterday, this will be the last day before Thanksgiving Week I’ll have to bleg for money. The fact is blogging pays about a tenth what it did before the Great Recession and atheist activism isn’t exactly, as The Jerk would say, a profit deal. I’ll have a snail mail address soon for those of you who don’t use Paypal. For the rest, please send small dollar donations to DarkSydOtheMoon-at/aol-com. No amount is too small or too large. For an update on deep space visitors, go below. [Read more…]

New Titan porn


False-color mosaic courtesy of NASA’s Cassini spacecraft shows differences in the composition of surface materials around hydrocarbon lakes at Titan, Saturn’s largest moon. Kraken Mare, which is Titan’s largest sea and covers about the same area as Earth’s Caspian Sea and Lake Superior combined, can be seen spreading out with many tendrils on the upper right. The orange areas are thought to be the Titan equivalent of salt flats on Earth. Click image for more info at National Geographic online. Image via NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona/University of Idaho

Comet set Egypt alight millions of years ago


Cancer/crud fund Paypal email is

The mind reels when speculating how creationists and other Old Testament literalists might spin this one. For the rest of us, it’s just fascinating scientific detective work: geo-astronomers have confirmed a healthy sized comet lit Egypt on fire millions of years ago. If they’re right it would have made the 1908 Tungaska Event look like a shoe-bomb: [Read more…]