Thursday, December 31, 2009

"Once In a Blue Moon"

I just found out that today is a blue moon day. According to an article in Sky and Telescope magazine, What's a Blue Moon?, by by Roger W. Sinnott, Donald W. Olson, and Richard Tresch Fienberg, the popular definition of a blue moon as a full moon that occurs twice in one month is inaccurate, as it originally refers to a third full moon in a season of four. However, as the article points out, the term "blue moon" as used to refer to two full moons in a month has been in use for over two decades. Far from causing any harm, it actually encourages interest in astronomy.

The year 2009 has been a hard one for a lot of people, my family included. Sometimes I've forgotten the blessings when the difficulties pressed down upon my spirits. It's been helpful to do the "Seven Kicks" Sunday check-in at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast as an exercise in gratitude. In brief, here are seven astronomy-based items for which I am glad:

1. A newly discovered exoplanet is made mostly of boiling water. As a friend said, "Now, we need to figure out how to send the Earth's biggest teabag to that planet."

2. At this time, I can see all of Carl Sagan's Cosmos online.

3. There are only 4 1/2 years to go before New Horizons reaches Pluto.

4. I'm glad for every time Jupiter's gravitational pull deflects an asteroid or comet from heading toward Earth a la Deep Impact.

5. I appreciate seeing the Orion constellation in the sky of the northern hemisphere during the winter season. (One of the reasons I want to visit the southern hemisphere someday is to be able to see a completely different array of constellations.)

6. The Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity are still functioning, though it appears that Spirit is still stuck.

7. This year, I got to see Jupiter through a telescope for the first time. The telescope wasn't very strong, but I did see the bands!


Lone Star Ma said...

Very cool. No tea bags on Steam, though - it has a delicate ecosystem! (In my imagination....)

Happy New Year!

Saints and Spinners said...

LSM: It's just as well. We'd get all the way to Steam and then discover that we'd forgotten the milk.

Lone Star Ma said...

We still should go, though. I want to immigrate.

tanita davis said...

For a book I'm fiddling with, I've been researching newly discovered planets and their properties. I love the idea of Steam... may have to borrow that...

Saints and Spinners said...

Tanita: What I can't wrap my mind around is that "Steam" is solid boiling water. It's a solid! No, it's a liquid! No, it's a gas. As I read in an article recently the universe is stranger than we can imagine.

Lone Star Ma said...

Let's GO.