Carnival of Space 88: Welcome to the Big Top

Number 88!

Welcome to TheSpacewriter’s Ramblings. It’s my pleasure to host this week’s Carnival of Space. There are lots of entries this week, so grab some cotton candy, popcorn, coffee, herbal tea, hot chocolate, ice cream or whatever you like to nosh on at a carnival — and let’s get started!


Wanna be an amateur astronomer and fall in love with the sky each night?  Your first step, as Sean Welton over at Visual Astronomy points out, is to find a dark sky site.  Check out his handy tips and suggestions for finding that perfect place to stargaze.

What amateur astronomer hasn’t fallen prey to the peculiar affliction called “aperture fever”? Devoted stargazer Mike Simonsen gives us a light-hearted look at the progression of this condition on his Simostronomy blog, complete with pictures of what the “cure” looks like at each stage.

If your stargazing dreams include piloting a space telescope, hop on over to Mang’s Bat Page for a look at learning how to plan an observation on Canada’s MOST (Microvariability and Oscillations of Stars) observatory.


The last week of January and first of February is a solemn time in the history of U.S. spaceflight, marking the loss of the Apollo 1 crew in 1967, the Challenger and its crew in 1986, and the Columbia shuttle and her crew in 2003. In Remembering Past Tragedies… and Shaping the Future, Stu over at Cumbrian Sky puts it into perspective, along with a look at NASA’s future under the new administration and juxtaposed against a discussion of what could have been if NASA had gone a slightly different direction in the past.

In Remembering Apollo 1, Challenger and Columbia, Mark Whittington at Associated Content tells the tale of America’s space tragedies from his perspective at the ages of 9, 29, and 46 and what he thinks it means for our future in space.

At Space Video of the Day, you can view a replay of then-President Ronald Reagan’s address to the nation following the Challenger disaster.

Humanity’s Future in Space and a Nod to Our Past Efforts

The folks at Morehead State University in Kentucky have posted an interesting podcast on their Kentucky Space blog about the development of an S-band communications system for KySat-1. Go take a listen and amaze yourself at what’s happening in space sciences in the Bluegrass State!

Over at 21st Century Waves, Dr. Bruce Cordell has a fascinating article called Long Waves and the Future of Human Space Flight. It’s a detailed look (via an abstract for a paper on the future of space exploration) at the policy implications for the Vision for Space Exploration. He looks at possible trends beginning under President Obama’s administration,and extending his view of the causes and effects of an upcoming international space race in the decade beginning in 2015. He also talks about some fascinating historical trends that may bear on what humans do next about space exploration.

Ion drives for space exploration are the subject of a nice article called Electric Rockets 101 by Flying Singer over at Music of the Spheres. There’s also a link to an ion drive simulator you can play with to help you understand these systems.

In the market for a mammoth starship?  One aspect of star ship design that gets people talking is what we’ll be powering our future long-haul spacecraft with. Starship fusion gets a closer look — specifically Friedhardt Winterberg’s work on inertial confinement fusion — in a piece by Adam Crowl over at Centauri Dreams. This one has implications for fast interplanetary travel and eventually interstellar trips.

Launching things into space is a big-technology venture and several approaches keep coming up for discussion. Over at The Next Big Future, an entry called Laser Array Space Launch is an insightful look at a roadmap to creating one way to loft things into space.

In the mood for a clandestine blast-off? Head on over to and let Ian O’Neill give you a behind-the-scenes peek at secret launches and tell you why they’re so sexy.

Writer David S. F. Portree writes about the moon and the future of NASA over at Altair VI. He suggests some possible directions for lunar exploration technology that could have major benefits for international cooperation. He also shares a look at past lunar exploration plans in an entry about a proposed lunar landing mission suggested not long after the fatal Apollo 1 fire.

The exploration theme continues over at Out of the Cradle with Ken Murphy’s review of The International Atlas of Lunar Exploration by Philip Stooke. It’s an extensive tome that begins with our earliest plans to explore the Moon and ends at the most recent missions.

Oh Moon, Lovely Moon

The Moon was in the news this week as millions of eclipse gazers turned their attention to an annular eclipse on the 26th. Blogger Ian Musgrave wrote about seeing the Sun partially eclipsed by the Moon from his back yard in Australia at Astroblog, complete with a series of images of the Sun with a bite taken out of its side. He also included some shots taken with his mobile phone.

The eclipse wasn’t the only attention lunar explorers gave to our neighbor in space. The C1XS X-ray Camera aboard the Chandrayaan lunar orbiter successfully detected the Moon’s x-ray signature. Read about it in Alexander Declama’s report over at Potentia Tenebras Repellendi.

Megan Watzke over at the Chandra Blog muses about the Chandra X-ray Satellite and Chandrayaan spacecraft orbiting the Moon (similar-sounding names, but different missions) and how they’ve both studied the Moon.

If past lunar missions are your bag, there’s a new documentary about the Apollo Missions called “Live from the Moon.”  The folks at CollectSpace have blogged about it, featuring insights from astronaut Joe Allen and the documentary’s director Mark Gray.

Astronomy News and Exploration Technology

Although we’ve been exploring Mars since as long as we’ve been able to point telescopesa at it, our way of looking at it changed dramatically when the Mars Global Surveyor assumed a “standard parking orbit” around the Red Planet. The first big publication of data and images from that mission, called the MOC Book is the subject of an insightful discussion over at The Martian Chronicles.

Farther out in the solar system, things are happening at Saturn — particularly on Titan. Paul Scott Anderson at the Meridiani Journal gives us a look at the evidence from Cassini spacecraft data for seasonal rain on that frigid moon.

Planets around other stars likely face interesting times, especially when their orbits are highly eccentric and bring them almost TOO close to their stars every so often.  So, what’s it like on a planet that gets sizzled by its star during part of its orbit? The energetic Phil Plait (of BadAstronomy fame) tells us in an entry titled Weather Sizzles on a Planet that Kisses its Star.

Before we can figure out what’s happening to other planets around other stars, we have to find them! Over at the Orbital Hub, DJ gives us an up-close and personal look at the Kepler mission in Kepler: the Exo-planet Hunter. This spacecraft is designed to survey a number of stars and search out possible planetary systems.

The universe is populated with more than just planets. We have stars and galaxies, all moving along as the universe expands.  Lately, astrophysicists have figured out that the expansion rate is changing due to something called “dark energy.” What is this?  Well…it’s mysterious and… ummm… dark.  But, how do we know it’s there?  Astrophysicist Ethan Siegel gives us a peek inside the dark-energy measuring business over at Starts with a Bang!

Woo-woo “Science”

No Carnival of Science would be complete without a dip over to the Woo-woo Continuum. This week’s contenders feature that perennial favorite — astrology — mixed up with all kinds of malarkey about black holes, Mayan calendars, planetary lineups and galactic alignments. The continual stir about the so-called 2012 global catastrophe that uneducated fearmongers are using to sell books and movies is the subject of a nice three-part debunking by Dr. Rosa Williams over at  Astronomy at the CCSSC.

And, as if weird interpretations of natural events weren’t enough, we still have astrology loonies to contend with. Robert Simpson over at Orbiting Frog points out the fundamental stupidity of astrology and reminds us what it’s really about in his 21 Signs of the Zodiac” entry.

Well, that’s it for this week’s Carnival, folks.  Hope you’ve enjoyed the explorations!

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  1. [...] January 30, 2009 — astrogeek The Carnival of Space #88 is up at The SpaceWriter’s Ramblings. Posted in Astronomy Blogroll, Carnival of [...]

    Pingback by Carnival of Space #88 at the SpaceWriter’s Ramblings « AstroGeek — January 30, 2009 #

  2. Hi Carolyn! Thank you for adding my link about secretive space launches :-) Wonderful Carnival, a great read!

    Was great to meet you at the AAS a few weeks back.

    Cheers, Ian

    Comment by Ian O'Neill — January 30, 2009 #

  3. Happy to have you aboard — and good to meet you, too! That was a hectic meeting; I actually ended up spending two extra days up in Pasadena meeting with some folks I’d worked with before, which was actually quite relaxing.

    Comment by ccp — January 30, 2009 #

  4. [...] bookmarks tagged eccentric Welcome to the Big Top saved by 3 others     jag9676 bookmarked on 01/30/09 | [...]

    Pingback by Pages tagged "eccentric" — January 30, 2009 #

  5. [...] 88th edition of the Carnival of Space is being hosted this week at The Spacewriter’s Ramblings [...]

    Pingback by Astroprof’s Page » CoS 88 — January 30, 2009 #

  6. Great Carnival, thanks for including my post! :-)

    Comment by Stu — January 31, 2009 #

  7. My pleasure!

    P.S. If folks like what they’re reading in this week’s Carnival, give it a Digg ;)

    Comment by ccp — January 31, 2009 #

  8. [...] This week’s Carnival – the 88th! – is being held at “The Spacewriter’s Ramblings”… [...]

    Pingback by It’s Carnival time again…! « Cumbrian Sky — January 31, 2009 #

  9. [...] I’ve known Carolyn Collins Petersen for like a thousand years. Well, maybe 6 or 7, but it’s a long time. So it’s cool to be able to link to her, as she’s hosting this week’s Carnival of Space. [...]

    Pingback by Space Carnival at a friend’s | Bad Astronomy | Discover Magazine — January 31, 2009 #

  10. wasn’t columbia in 2003?

    Comment by Big Mike — January 31, 2009 #

  11. Yes it was. I knew that; must have mis-typed it. Thanks for noticing the typo. I’ve fixed it in the copy.

    Comment by ccp — January 31, 2009 #

  12. [...] a hearty ‘Welcome to the Big Top‘ at The Spacewriter’s Ramblings. This week’s host gives us six rounds of [...]

    Pingback by The 88th Carnival of Space… - Out of the Cradle — January 31, 2009 #

  13. [...] The Forgotten Carnival of Space… … and the new one. They are number 86, 87 and 88. [...]

    Pingback by The Forgotten Carnival of Space… « IBY’s Island Universe — February 1, 2009 #

  14. Hi Carolyn,
    Thanks for your comments on my Carnival post.

    I remember running into you a long time ago in Boulder at a Case for Mars conference…!

    Comment by Bruce Cordell — February 1, 2009 #

  15. [...] 1, 2009 by Alun The Carnival of Space 88 is live at The Spacewriter’s [...]

    Pingback by Blog Carnivals « Archaeoastronomy — February 1, 2009 #

  16. Hi Bruce — yes, that was probably in 87, or perhaps the one before that. We were both kids then, right? ;)

    Comment by ccp — February 1, 2009 #

  17. [...] Carnival of Space #88 is hosted at The Spacewriter’s Ramblings. [...]

    Pingback by OrbitalHub » Carnival of Space #88 — February 1, 2009 #

  18. [...] If you’d like to sample a number of excellent space-related weblogs, please click HERE. [...]

    Pingback by 21st Century Waves » Welcome to the Carnival of Space #88 — February 1, 2009 #

  19. [...] of more than 100,000 stars. Have a look at OrbitalHub’s treatment of Kepler in the current Carnival of Space, where DJ runs through the mission parameters and examines the equipment. Looking for transits, [...]

    Pingback by Centauri Dreams » Blog Archive » Interstellar Studies: Building the Base — February 2, 2009 #

  20. [...] Carnival of Space #88 [...]

    Pingback by News Roundup for February 2 :: Riding with Robots on the High Frontier — February 2, 2009 #

  21. [...] you want to see a few more interesting space stories from the past week or so, check out the latest Carnival of Space; this one’s pretty good! Thanks to The Space Writer for putting it [...]

    Pingback by How Many Intelligent Worlds Are There? | Starts With A Bang! — February 6, 2009 #

  22. [...] #88 at The Space Writer. [...]

    Pingback by Carnival of Space #86, 87, 88, 89 « My Dark Sky — February 7, 2009 #

  23. [...] I’m slow, so check out CoS #89 (The Moon Society Blog), CoS #88 (The Spacewriter’s Ramblings), and CoS #87 (The Martian [...]

    Pingback by Carnival of Love! …. I mean, Space! « Alice’s Astro Info — February 15, 2009 #

  24. [...] I’m slow, so check out CoS #89 (The Moon Society Blog), CoS #88 (The Spacewriter’s Ramblings), and CoS #87 (The Martian [...]

    Pingback by Carnival of Love! …. I mean, Space! — March 24, 2010 #

  25. [...] SpaceWriter is this week’s host for a great Carnival of Space, with lots of features on manned space flight, past, present, and future. This topic is clearly on [...]

    Pingback by Carnival of Space #88 « One Astronomer's Noise — January 10, 2011 #

  26. [...] almost forgot! Carnival of Space #88 — Hosted this week by The Spacewriter. Check out the section on space exploration! Rate [...]

    Pingback by Supernova Condensate — June 2, 2012 #

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