Tuesday, January 11, 2005

So Why A Blog?

It seemed so obvious at the time. Blogs are all the fashion. So why shouldn't we take advantage of one of the most fashionable Internet fads and use it for a good and noble purpose, like ranting, raving, and informing.

Now that's the reason I'm going to tell the administrators, but the real reason is that I'm a closet writer. I've written a few things here and there, even published a few stories (both fiction and nonfiction), but I've always wanted to do a little, weekly newspaper column about something I'm very passionate about -- astronomy. This blog is the outlet for that dream. But I realize my writin' ain't that great, so I wanted others to share in my embarrassment; thus, I have invited the whole Hudnall Crew to be contributors to this blogging adventure. I figure if I can con them into contributing too it might lessen my personal shame. Secretly I'm hoping you might mistake my bad writing for actually being someone elses. Oh, if only I could rely upon that false hope!

Anyway, this is an excellent week to begin such an astronomy blog because there are so many interesting astronomy happenings that this entry almost writes itself. Just check this out....

1. Beginning Friday, 14 Jan 2005 the Huygens probe will begin its descent into the atmosphere of Saturn's moon Titan. Will it be a splashdown, a crashdown, or a failure? Who knows! But I'm going to be watching the Science Channel on Friday evening to find out which. I hope you will be watching too.

2. Deep Impact is scheduled to launch very soon. The current launch is scheduled for tomorrow, 12 Jan 2005 at 1:something (Eastern Time) in the afternoon. Watch the news because they'll be talking about this one. The Deep Impact mission is currently scheduled to literally blast a hole in Comet Temple 1 on July 4th 2005. It's gonna be cool!

3. If you wanna see a comet you don't have to wait until the fireworks occur on the Fourth of July, you can just go outside and look up. Literally! Comet Machholz is very close to the Pleiades in Taurus. If you go outside at about 9:00 PM Tyler Time, you'll spot the Pleiades almost straight overhead. You can't miss it, because it looks like a tiny little, Little Dipper. It's actually an association of young stars, but that's another blog. Comet Machholz will be just north of the Pleiades, and as January progresses, Machholz will move farther north into Perseus. If you live in the city you might want to use a pair of binoculars, but if you can get away from the city lights, you should be able to spot it with only your naked eye. Go find it now, because the moon will start to interfere with the sky brightness soon. As the sky brightens due to the moon's presence, the comet appears relatively dimmer and becomes harder to spot. So go now!

There's lots more I could mention, but I'll save it for a later time. Until then keep looking up!
Tom Hooten
Director, Hudnall Planetarium