Steve is not an aurora

This means that STEVE is not likely to be caused by the same mechanism as an aurora, and is therefore an entirely new type of optical phenomenon – which the team refer to as “skyglow”.

~ Matt Williams

Aside: “Steve” started as in-joke reference by some dedicated Aurora photographers. It was later backronymed.

I particular love this type of discovery. Looking at the shape of the visual phenomenon—it’s a straight-ish thin streak—I bet this is realated to certain types of mythologies and stories…


First habitable exoplanet

The first Earth-sized exoplanet orbiting within the habitable zone of another star has been confirmed by observations with both the W. M. Keck Observatory and the Gemini Observatory. The initial discovery, made by NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope, is one of a handful of smaller planets found by Kepler and verified using large ground-based telescopes. It also confirms that Earth-sized planets do exist in the habitable zone of other stars.

Mark you calendar: April 17, 2014. First confirmation of the existence of a HABITABLE planet… Temperature, gravity, rocky (like the Earth)… A. HABITABLE. PLANET. I got chills reading this.


How’s That Space Program Coming Along?

A rather large asteroid will be swinging by on Friday. If we were hit by a rock of this size, it would be a regional disaster; Destruction on the scale of a large city, with major regional earthquake and weather side effects.

Our home planet is due for a record setting space encounter on Friday (Feb. 15) of this week, when a space rock roughly half a football field wide skirts very close by Earth at break neck speed and well inside the plethora of hugely expensive communications and weather satellites that ring around us in geosynchronous orbit.

~ Universe Today

The B612 Foundation is working to build a space telescope specifically designed to locate and track asteroids that pose a threat to the Earth:

If you knew you could do something to literally save the world, would you? We have taken on the audacious mission of doing just that. Our goal is to hunt asteroids that could hit the Earth and potentially cause human devastation.

~ B612 Foundation

How long ago did we learn of DA14 and its impending close flyby of Earth? DA14 was discovered on February 13, 2012, just one year in advance of its close flyby of Earth. Had it been on a collision course with Earth on February 15, 2013, there would not have been enough time to prepare a mission to deflect it. While we would have been able to accurately predict its impact location on Earth, our only possible response would have been to evacuate the area and hope for the best.

~B612 Foundation