Bright, shining astronomy day

So, last weekend, last Sunday more specifically, it snowed here in Charlottesville, Virginia. We had quite a few inches by Monday morning, and I was kind of surprised to get into work at the NRAO and find it… closed, along with area schools. (I have a key, that didn’t stop me.) Today, it’s well on it’s way to 80. (Yes, I’m using Fahrenheit, boo.) Yesterday I spent outside all day learning how to change my oil, change a tire, fix my taillights (wish I had a voltmeter with me though), and take apart my door to attempt to fix the automatic windows (we got the driver’s side working!) That was fun, and I love learning hands-on things like that*. And it gave me an excuse to be outside all day and still be productive. And I was told I looked like Kaylee with a big smile on my face, covered in grease. Total win.

Anyway, while I catch up on indoor, computer related things, here’s the 93rd Carnival of Space by Emily Lakdawalla at the Planetary Society blog. Emily keeps us up to date on all things planetary, and she even joined Twitter in the midst of the of the Kepler Launch!

So, unless you’ve been living under a space rock, you may have heard about the launch of Kepler, which will do a three-year search for transiting exoplanets, hopefully finding Earth-like planets and estimating their numbers in the galaxy. Of course, if we are serious about finding life in the galaxy, we need to consider all kinds of possibilities for life, from the familiar to the foreign. But it helps to start with something we know. And besides, if we are to colonize the galaxy, Trantorian Empire-style, we need to know how many planets we might be able to inhabit.

I was watching the third-to-last episode of Battlestar Galactica at a friend’s house while the launch was on, so I kept up with the updates via Twitter on my iPod. I *heart* social media. You can read all about the launch, and the role of Twitter, at Wired’s blog and see the NASA-TV launch footage on YouTube.

The announcer’s comments at the moment of launch made me… um… get something in my eye. Yeah. That was it. Allergies… or something. Actually, as usual, the Bad Astronomer encapsulates the moment well on Twitter with, “We launch spacecraft! To look for planets! AROUND OTHER STARS!! Humans are so cool.”

We have a long way to go. But, we rock.

*Thanks, Howard! And you thought I was going to be all “girly” about it.

3 comments for “Bright, shining astronomy day

  1. Sarah
    March 9, 2009 at 13:58

    Yay for learning to fix your car! Isn’t it awesome to know things about your car besides the color?

  2. Nicole
    March 9, 2009 at 14:17

    Well, I can also pump my own gas. I didn’t grow up in Jersey!


  3. Richard Drumm The Astronomy Bum
    March 10, 2009 at 00:33

    Not only that but we’re going to look to see how many planets there are in the galaxy! We’re eliminating the error bars in the frakkin’ Drake equation! The Kepler mission isn’t just cool, it’s intensely cool!
    Richard Drumm The Astronomy Bum

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