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Tag Archive: NOVA Science Now


cernan-2017

Yesterday the last man to walk on the Moon, Apollo 17 commander Capt. Eugene Cernan, passed away at age 82.  Of the 24 men who visited the Moon and the 12 that walked on its surface Cernan leaves only six remaining men who actually walked on the Moon’s surface: Buzz Aldrin (Apollo 11), Alan Bean (Apollo 12), Dave Scott (Apollo 15), John Young (Apollo 16), Charlie Duke (Apollo 16), and Harrison Schmitt (Apollo 17).  A three-time space traveler, Cernan was the pilot on Apollo 10 and had previously flown on a Gemini mission.  He served as backup crew for Gemini 12, Apollo 7, and Apollo 14.

“Curiosity is the essence of human existence and exploration has been part of humankind for a long time.  The exploration of space, like the exploration of life, if you will, is a risk.  We’ve got to be willing to take it,”  Cernan said.  Cernan passed away on the annual day America observed the contributions of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and he, too, recently recounted a dream.  “I was just a young kid in America growing up with a dream.  Today what’s most important to me is my desire to inspire the passion in the hearts and minds of future generations of young men and women to see their own impossible dreams become a reality.”

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The best tribute to Cernan and his contemporaries is the continuing exploration and discovery missions of NASA, which will be the subject of several documentaries this year on PBS.  In particular, August will be a big month for space aficionados.

The documentary The Farthest will celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Voyager space program.  As discussed extensively previously here at borg.com, the Voyager probes continue their role as the farthest humans have stretched their technology into space.  The only objects to ever enter interstellar space are Voyager 1 and Voyager 2.  Voyager 2 was the first to launch forty years ago, on August 20, 1977.

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periodic-table-duvet

WELCOME TO EARTH-4

A Weekly Column with J. Torrey McClain

There are combinations of nerddom or geekdom or awesomedom (however you’d like to describe persons with passionate interests in a given subject) that are simple.  A love of chess and a love of The Lord of the Rings can lead to buying a Lord of the Rings-themed chess set.  A love of Chuck, Alien Nation, and cosplay can lead to Tenctonese Buy More employees Alien and Predator can lead to Batman: Dead End. (AK47, gone, not forgotten.)

Then, there are combinations that have built on each other for hundreds of years, as a love of science fiction can lead to a love of sciences and exploring that interest through reading books on astronomy, physics or chemistry (or vice versa).  I can’t remember why I came upon Disappearing Spoon And Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements by Sam Kean, but its combination of history, familiar names of the past and the ability to summon up the image of the corner of my high school chemistry class, made it enthralling to me every morning and evening during my subway commute.  It may not be as obvious as a Star Wars Monopoly set, but in this book and contained in those stories are links to older wonders that we Knights of Wonderfulness, we Kings and Queens of Comic-Con explore.

Disappearing Spoon

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Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson is a superhero of sorts to science fans everywhere.  He’s one of the best scientists anywhere at explaining the mysteries of science in a way anyone can understand.  Now he’s helped Superman find the possible location of his home planet, Krypton in a great mash-up of science fiction meets science fact.  Dr. Tyson, longtime star of borg.com favorite TV series NOVA Science Now on Public Television, teamed up with DC Comics to locate a star close enough to Earth that could fall under all the criteria published over the years about the place where Superman’s parents sent him on the voyage that ultimately led to a cornfield outside Smallville, Kansas.  Tyson will make his debut comic book appearance in Action Comics Issue #14, released this week.

Red dwarf LHS 2520 fit the bill, and can be located via telescope in the southern sky in the constellation Corvus the crow, 27.1 light years from Earth at the following coordinates:

J2000
Right Ascension: 12 hours 10 minutes 5.77 seconds
Declination: -15 degrees 4 minutes 17.9 seconds
Proper Motion: 0.76 arcseconds per year, along 172.94 degrees from due north

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