BAN #187: Ariel in Antarctica, 2020 astronomical calendars

27 January 2020   Issue #187

[Spiral Galaxy M81 image credit: Adam Block/Mount Lemmon SkyCenter/University of Arizona]


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A Bit o’ Science

The entirety of science is too much for one sitting. Here’s a morsel for you.

Way back in BAN Issue 43, I told you about my pal Ariel Waldman, a science communicator who does terrific and unusual work to talk to the public about science.

I also talked about an expedition to Antarctica she went on, where she made videos of her exploration (and even sent postcards to people from the bottom of the world).

That was about a year ago. And now she has done something very, very cool: She took images and video made through a microscope of various life forms under the ice, and created an interactive webpage showcasing them, explaining what they are and where they were found.

[An Antarctic tardigrade. It’s considerably cuter when you see it wiggling around on Ariel’s webpage. Credit: Ariel Waldman]

It starts with a tardigrade, but you can drag the page around to center some other odd-to-our-brains microlife, and then click a button to get more info. She also has videos about the expedition and her exploits in Antarctica. It’s really well done and fun to play with.

I’m glad she did this… and I’m glad she even thought of doing something like this. It’s very clever and, like I said, unusual. It helps her work stand out and get the attention it deserves, and of course I’m happy to add to that.

You should follow her on Twitter, too, to keep track of what she’s doing. Your brain will thank you.



Astro Tidbit

A brief synopsis of some interesting astronomy/science news that may be too short for the blog, too long for Twitter, but just right (and cool enough to talk about) for here.

2020 (yes, the new decade) is now well underway, with the holidays behind us. At this time of year, if you, like me, get in this weird miasma of not knowing the day or what day of the week it is then do I have a couple of cosmic calendar links for you!

First, the Hubble Space Telescope Hidden Gems 2020 calendar is available for downloading.

[The cover of the Hubble 2020 calendar. Credit: ESA/Hubble]

The calendar has a gorgeous Hubble image for every month and a description of the object in question. The objects were picked by popular vote recently, culled from a list of spectacular but in general lesser-known astronomical targets. The calendar is not available for order; instead you can download it as a PDF and then either print it yourself or keep it handy on your computer. Caveat: It weighs in at a hefty 386 Mb! If your connection isn’t great or traffic is high it may take a few minutes to download.

The targets chosen are really good ones. I’ve written about many of them in the past, including the bizarre V838 Monocerotis, dying star Sharpless 2-106, colliding galaxies NGC 3256, and the ultraviolet Hubble Deep Field (note: Due to some issues when the blog moved to SYFY, the formatting on some of those articles is wonky; I’m in the process of cleaning up the archive). 

[The ALMA 2020 calendar (in Spanish; this was sent to me by the good folks there. Credit: Phil Plait]

Second, if radio waves are more your thing, how about the 2020 ALMA calendar, available in both Spanish and English?

ALMA is the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array in Chile, and takes high-resolution observations of the sky at wavelengths far longer than our eyes can see. The calendar has splashy images of familiar objects like Jupiter, spiral galaxies, and even the Sun, but at these wavelengths they look different yet still recognizable. The calendar has some surprises in it too… like September’s photo. You don’t usually see a vicuña in an astronomy calendar, but the high desert of Atacama has lots of interesting in it besides a phenomenal array of cutting-edge antennae.

To be honest I don’t know if calendars are still a thing with people or not. I always use my computer or tablet or phone to look things up, but having a physical hardcopy of a calendar can still be useful, especially ones with such ridiculously beautiful imagery in them.

What do you think? Do you still use a physical calendar, or is that sooooo 20th century?


Blog Jam

What I’ve recently written on the blog, ICYMI

[The Earth may have gone through episodic global ice ages, and one of them may have ended due to a huge asteroid impact. From Thursday’s article. Credit: NASA ]

Monday 20 January, 2020: Where does the interstellar comet 2I/Borisov come from?

Tuesday 21 January, 2020: Hey, maybe the dinosaur-killer asteroid really *did* act alone!

Wednesday 22 January, 2020: Stunningly beautiful time-lapse storm video: Mike Olbinksi's 'Reverent'

Thursday 23 January, 2020: Did a two-billion-year-old monster impact save the Earth from being a snowball?

Friday 24 January, 2020: Chewing over Gum 15: A gorgeous nebula in a much larger setting


Et alia

You can email me at thebadastronomer@gmail.com (though replies can take a while), and all my social media outlets are gathered together at about.me. Also, if you don’t already, please subscribe to this newsletter! And feel free to tell a friend or nine, too. Thanks!