Carnival of Space #137

The Carnival of Space has finally made it’s appearance this week.

When the carnival players first showed up, I was lost in a beautiful, idyllic world called Pandora, inhabited by those tall, blue Na’vi and lots of fantastic (and fluorescent) creatures. But as I stepped out of the theatre labeled “Avatar”, leaving my 3-D glasses at the door, I came back to the real world (and my inbox) to remember that our universe is pretty wonderful as well. And this is exactly the point made at Martian Chronicles, our first stop at the carnival, who tells us How to Cure the Avatar Blues; so head there to take some time to wonder at Earth’s own beauty to start.

Our planet itself is by far not the only source of wonder. Go outside on a clear night and just gaze up at the treasures of the universe. The objects may be distant, but the beauty can be experienced first-hand. How big is space, really? Get a bit of a feel for it at Astroblog, where you can see The Southern Cross in Stereo and find out what it would look like if you “hopped over” to Alpha Centauri.

Humans have begun to reach out into this vast ocean of space. Kentucky Space takes us to a new center at Morehead State University which is Creating Kentucky’s Future in Space”. As NASA’s space shuttle approaches retirement, you can celebrate its achievements by participating in a Fan’s Choice Poll for Space Shuttle Commemorative Patch at collectSPACE. The lovely Astropixie celebrates human spaceflight as well as we wait for Hubble in 3-D to obliterate Avatar 3-D’s box office performance. (Well, we can hope!) But in order to get the public in general to care as much about spaceflight as we do here at the carnival, it’ll take some marketing savvy, as discussed in TED Friday: Rebranding Space and Education at Habitation Intention. We should just be sure to avoid any Risks of Manmade Sun Explosions as described at Next Big Future as we move along.

There is one man that we have been celebrating pretty specifically for a year now who realized the beauty and grandeur of our solar system: Galileo Galilei. Revisit Galileo’s Discovery of the Moons of Jupiter at Steve’s Astro Corner. Today, we know much more about those tiny points of light as they are extreme, and sometimes violent, worlds of their own. Visit volcanic Io in great detail with a paper on Verifying a new model of Io’s atmosphere by simulating multi-spectral observations at the Gish Bar Times. And once you are bowled over by that, check out Another dose of Martian awesomeness by the Bad Astronomer, with some truly breathtaking, high-resolution images of sand dunes from a neighboring world. Go explore Mars from the ground through the camera of Opportunity with The Road to Endeavor as she says Farewell, Marquette. Don’t forget to break out your red/blue 3-D glasses for the full experience!

Like the characters of Avatar, let us take our journey through our fantastic and awe-inspiring universe to the stars. You can fly to Messier 80 with Simostronomy, where we re-discover T Scorpii, Our Long Lost Friend. Just watch out for supernovae on your journey, as We Are All in the Gutter tells us about
A new, bigger kind of boom. Nevertheless, a supernova is still a pretty thing from a safe distance. We’re reminded that the universe is truly large enough to entertain us for a very long time as the Spacewriter shows us A Cosmos of Galactic Content. Our universe can be entirely bizzare with even just A Simple Look at Black Holes and Their Affect on Light and Mass at Weirdwarp. But it’s not so weird, as the Q & A of the Day at ChandraBlog reassures us that we’re not actually inside a black hole.

Don’t forget to share the wonders of the universe with those around you. One great way to do this is through astrophotography. tells us about the Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2010 contest, which is sure to serve up even more wonderous astronomical goodness. Another way to share the cosmos is actually with humor! The Angry Astronomer is starting a series on Astronomer Humor, so do check that out. (Are you taking submissions, Jon?) And finally, get a chuckle at an amusing out-take from next week’s Cheap Astronomy podcast. Someone with audio skills really needs to auto-tune/remix that for some real fun.

I hope you enjoyed this week’s tour of the cosmos and realize just a bit that the real world is often more marvelous than anything we can dream up with our fiction.

Photo credits: The Suss-Man on Flickr, Kara Allyson on Flickr,,, NRAO/AUI, Space Ritual on Flickr

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