Slugger O'Toole

Conversation, politics and stray insights


“an unforgettable journey across the Red Planet.”

Mon 28 October 2013, 10:24pm
HRSC on Mars Express - Valles Marineris

Tweet Curiosity may have been on the surface of Mars for over a year, but ESA’s Mars Express has been in orbit around the Red Planet for almost a decade.  It’s one of a number of ways Mars is being observed, up close and personal.  And, like the Hi-RISE camera on Nasa’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, Mars Express has some […] more »

“There’s no place like home…”

Wed 24 July 2013, 3:48pm
Cassini image of Earth in Saturn's rings

Tweet I didn’t ‘Wave at Saturn’ on 19 July when the Cassini probe, orbiting the gas giant, was taking a high-definition image of the view back home.  I don’t think it encouraged a proper sense of perspective…  But the resultant image is stunning. [Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute] It’s not the first time Cassini has looked home.  […] more »

“A major difference between the hurricanes is that the one on Saturn is much bigger…”

Wed 1 May 2013, 6:42pm
Cassini - Saturn north pole The Rose

Tweet As I mentioned previously, Saturn doesn’t get the love some of our other gas giants do.  [All hail our friend and lord, Jupiter!  Keeping Ogdy at bay… - Ed]  Indeed… [new link]  But, with the help of Cassini, Saturn does provide some wondrous images.   In some of its first sunlit images of Saturn’s north pole, Cassini has looked […] more »

Solar Dynamics Observatory: Three years in three minutes

Mon 22 April 2013, 9:56pm

Tweet What it says on the tin.  Three years after First Light, Nasa’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) has released three stunning minutes of images compiled during its virtually unbroken coverage of the sun’s rise toward solar maximum.  Enjoy!  [Video from NasaExplorer on YouTube. Credit: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center/SDO] As they note in the associated text […] more »

The ALMA Inauguration

Sat 16 March 2013, 7:05pm

Tweet As the BBC reported on Wednesday, having opened its eyes in 2011, and with 57 of its 66 antennas now ready to receive data on the Chajnantor Plateau in the Atacama desert, Chile, the Atacama Large Millimetre/Sub-millimetre Array (ALMA) was officially inaugurated on March 13.  Here’s the associated ESOcast 55: The ALMA Inauguration. Credit: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO). Editing: […] more »

“comets are like cats: they have tails, and do whatever they want to do”

Tue 1 January 2013, 11:25pm
Comet C/2012 S1 Oct04 2012

Tweet In the BBC’s science news preview of 2013, reporter Jason Palmer highlights a couple of astronomical events worth keeping an eye out for. In mid-February we will get another reminder we live in a (potentially) violent cosmos – asteroid 2012 DA14 will make a harmless but attention-grabbing pass near the Earth, at a distance just a […] more »

Titan’s Nile River Valley

Thu 13 December 2012, 2:52pm
Cassini Titan River Valley sideways

Tweet Fascinating image from Nasa’s Cassini probe at Saturn, where we’ve previously watched the weather on Titan.  [Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASI.]  North is to the right in this view. From the JPLnews press release “Titan is the only place we’ve found besides Earth that has a liquid in continuous movement on its surface,” said Steve Wall, […] more »

“damn, what a sky…” – redux

Thu 15 November 2012, 8:17pm
Panoramic photograph of night sky above ESO's VLT during lunar eclipse

Tweet [Image credit: ESO/Y. Beletsky]  Another stunning time-lapse video of the wondrous night sky above the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope [VLT] array on top of Cerro Paranal in Chile’s Atacama Desert.  This time presented as ESO Cast 50: Chile Chill 1.  [Marvel at the solar system in motion... - Ed]  Or, indeed, the galaxy.  Stay with it […] more »

“We stared at this patch of sky for about 22 days…”

Wed 26 September 2012, 6:53pm
Hubble 2012 eXtreme Deep Field

Tweet As the BBC’s spaceman, Jonathan Amos, notes, the Hubble Space Telescope team have released an updated version of their stunning Ultra Deep Field image – the eXtreme Deep Field (XDF) – and they have seen further than ever.  [Image credit: NASA, ESA, G. Illingworth, D. Magee, and P. Oesch (University of California, Santa Cruz), R. Bouwens (Leiden University), and […] more »

Dwarf Planet Gains Fifth Moon…

Tue 17 July 2012, 8:08pm
Hubble image of Plutonian system

Tweet Not that it didn’t already have five moons.  At least.  ANYhoo…  As I was saying this time last year, when Hubble spotted a fourth moon orbiting Pluto.  The Hubble Space Telescope has been looking at the twin dwarf planet system of Pluto and Charon ahead of Nasa’s New Horizons mission expected arrival in the […] more »

Transit of Venus 2012: The Movie

Wed 6 June 2012, 2:39pm

Tweet Were your skies not favourable for viewing?  Did you miss the live online coverage of the last transit of Venus until 2117?  Well, there’s a Flickr group.  Or you could take in the stunning views from Nasa’s Solar Dynamics Observatory.  Video from NasaExplorer.  [Credit: Data courtesy of NASA/SDO, HMI, and AIA science teams].  Enjoy! […] more »

Transit of Venus 2012: “marvel at the solar system in motion”

Tue 5 June 2012, 3:33pm

Tweet As I mentioned back in March, tonight one of the rarest predictable astronomical events will occur – a transit of Venus.  [I'm washing my hair! - Ed]  What hair?  ANYhoo… Since the invention of the greatest human innovation, the telescope, at the beginning of the 17th century, not by Galileo, there have been only 7 […] more »

“A billion stars revealed”

Sun 1 April 2012, 4:25pm
Galactic plane with close-up on centre

Tweet A stunning image was unveiled last week at the UK-Germany National Astronomy Meeting NAM2012 in Manchester. [All images courtesy of Mike Read (WFAU), UKIDSS/GPS and VVV] The BBC’s Spaceman, Jonathan Amos, helpfully provides this combination image, with a partial zoom-in on the Galactic center. But to really appreciate the scale and detail of the image […] more »

“…and marvel at the solar system in motion”

Thu 22 March 2012, 7:24pm

Tweet Here’s a date to mark in your diary [really? - Ed].  On the 5/6 June this year one of the rarest predictable astronomical events will occur – a transit of Venus.  [Can't wait... - Ed]  Since the invention of the greatest human innovation, the telescope, at the beginning of the 17th century, not by […] more »

The Universe at a glance…

Sat 17 March 2012, 6:20pm
WISE mosaic of entire infrared sky

Tweet Well, several glances actually…  As spotted by the Guardian blog’s Tom McCarthy, NASA has released a new atlas and catalog of the entire infrared sky “showing more than a half billion stars, galaxies and other objects captured by the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) mission.”  And an impressive view it is. [Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA] […] more »

Stargazing, and [exo]planet hunting…

Thu 19 January 2012, 8:41pm
Panoramic photograph of night sky above ESO's VLT during lunar eclipse

Tweet The last three nights saw the return to BBC2 of popular astronomy show Stargazing Live – presented by Brian Cox and Dara O’Briain.  Hopefully it will become, at least, an annual fixture. [Image credit: ESO/Y. Beletsky] The three hour-long programmes are still available, for now, on the iPlayer.  The entertaining ‘after-show’ shows, Back to Earth, appears […] more »

Sleigh Ride over the Red Planet

Thu 22 December 2011, 3:19pm

Tweet A short seasonal diversion from JPLnews, using images of the real landscapes of Mars taken by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.   more »

Kepler-22b: “This is a major milestone on the road to finding Earth’s twin”

Mon 5 December 2011, 7:43pm

Tweet By the time its last catalogue of exoplanet candidates was released in February,  Nasa’s Kepler space observatory, launched in March 2009, first light in April 2009, had identified 1,235 planetary candidates – and 54 candidates within the habitable zone. The Kepler team have now identified 2,326 planet candidates – of those, 207 are approximately Earth-size, 680 are super […] more »

“An aircraft carrier-sized asteroid will make a safe, close flyby of Earth…”

Tue 8 November 2011, 3:03pm
Radar image of asteroid 2005 YU55

Tweet If the calculations are correct, the 400m-wide asteroid 2005 YU55 will make a safe, close flyby of Earth at around half past eleven tonight (11.28pm GMT).  [If?! - Ed]  If not, we’ll have a wondrous new scar to boast about!  Radar image of asteroid 2005 YU55 obtained on Nov. 7, 2011, at 11:45 a.m. PST (2:45 […] more »

ALMA opens its eyes

Mon 3 October 2011, 6:26pm
Composite of ALMA and Hubble observations Antennae Galaxies

Tweet As the BBC report, and see here also, the European Southern Observatory (ESO) have released the first image obtained by their new telescope, the Atacama Large Millimetre/Sub-millimetre Array (ALMA) – even though the array isn’t expected to be completed until 2013.  It’s the focus of the latest ESOcast 36 – ALMA opens its eyes. And here’s […] more »

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