Bad Astronomy

Astro quickies!

A few things to tide you over for the weekend:

1) The Indian lunar probe Chandrayaan-1 is getting ready for launch on October 22. It is equipped with a fleet of instruments to map out the geological history the Moon, and its low orbit will mean high-quality data. That in turn will be very useful when it comes time to put more footprints on the dusty regolith.

2) The Stardust capsule which fell to Earth containing bits of cometary material will be put on display at the Smithsonian. That’s awesome. The Faint Object Spectrograph, a Hubble instrument I worked with for my PhD, is there at the National Air and Space Museum as well. I love that they’re collecting important bits of space science history like this.

3) The current Carnival of Space is being hosted by my e-friend (though we’ve met, briefly, IRL) Jennifer Ouellette at Twisted Physics. It’s a good batch this week; I even learned of a new astroblog called Simostronomy, where amateur Mike Simonsen tells observing stories. This week it’s animals encountered while observing. I have a bunch of those stories myself. I’ll have to share them sometime.

4) Speaking of space, China just launched three taikonauts into space, and has completed the country’s first space walk. I’m glad to see other folks joining in the fun. And while I don’t think we need another space race – that tends to focus people on short sighted splashy goals rather then long-term occupation of space – I hope it does light some sort of fire under other countries. The more the merrier… as long as it’s done correctly.