the editing room

This is an editing room at Daily Planet. The producer, Ben Schuab, is cutting my segment together from all the video they got.

This is an editing room at Daily Planet. The producer, Ben Schuab, is cutting my segment together from all the video they got.


What is π (aside from an interesting movie directed by Darren Aronofsky)? It is simply the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter:

The cool thing is the ratio creates a number that never ends… π goes on forever. You can find many resources online that can tell you all the cool things about π, (Phil Plait’s post, for instance), so I won’t repeat them. However, I did find a webpage that gave me the first one million digits of the ratio. Here ya go:


This was found at this website.

AstroNuts Kickstarter

Here’s a group of kids, adults, and educators that just want to get together every once in a while and nerd out about space: The AstroNuts Kids Space Club. And what’s not to love about that? They’ve been together for years and done many different things. Now they’re raising funds to purchase their very own club telescope. Here’s their website, and here’s their kickstarter campaign.

The group

The group

Public Talk: Classifying the Pieces of our Solar System

I’ve presented at the Durham Region Astronomical Association (DRAA) three years in a row now (first and second talks); I keep coming back because they’re such a wonderful group to chat with. Very engaged, interested, and fun. This year I stepped away from my active research and decided to give a talk about how astronomers classify things in our Solar System. What’s a Planet? Dwarf Planet? How does Earth compare to Jupiter? etc. While I’m not an expert on the topic, I find it a fun conversation to be having in the era of the Kepler Space Telescope. Below is the title slide from the talk, you can click the picture (or find a link below) to download the full PDF.

The title slide to my talk at the Durham Region Astronomical Association. My 3rd year back!

The title slide to my talk at the Durham Region Astronomical Association. My 3rd year back! Click here [PDF] to download a copy of the slides (or just the picture above).

BTS: The planet Mars is a busy place

Two new spacecrafts in orbit around Mars

On 21 September 2014, the MAVEN spacecraft entered into orbit around the red planet, and 3 days later, on 24 September 2014, the MOM spacecraft accomplished the same feat. The Mars Atmosphere Volatile Element and Evolution (MAVEN) craft was sent by NASA in partnership with the University of Colorado, to study the Martian atmosphere. Specifically, its mission is to determine how the concentration of volatile chemicals (like water, carbon dioxide, etc.) has changed over time. This will hopefully shed light on what Mars’ climate may have been like in the past. The Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) was the first interplanetary mission sent by the country of India. It marks a huge leap forward in the nation’s growing space industry and gives them the prestigious title of 4th agency to put an artificial satellite into Martian orbit. Both crafts have returned wonderful images as they stretch their legs in their new homes.
Suggested Reading: Bad Astronomy review, NASA pics from MAVEN, Planetary Society on MOM, MAVEN homepage, MOM homepage, MAVEN wiki, MOM wiki, MAVEN update,


Curiosity Update

The Curiosity rover has been rolling around the Martian surface for the last 2 Earth years (1 Martian year), making many new discoveries. This includes the conclusion that in the past, Mars must have had a warmer and wetter environment. Recently, Curiosity has reached the base of Mt. Sharp, a mountain located in the middle of Gale Crater, and the ultimate destination Curiosity has had all along. On 24 September 2014, Curiosity performed its first drilling operation at the mountain, drilling out a small sample from the rock. Curiosity also snapped an image of a small spherical rock while en route to Mt. Sharp. The likely origin of the ball of rock is within a wetter environment.

Suggested Reading: Curiosity homepage, NASA Drilling press release, Universe Today article,


Three new additions to the ISS

On 25 September 2014, a Soyuz rocket launched 3 humans towards the International Space Station. On board were Alexander Samokutyaev, Barry Wilmore, and Elena Serova. Serova is the first female cosmonaut in 17 years Roscosmos has launched, and the first Russian woman ever to board the ISS. The launch returns the ISS crew to a team of 6. Over the next 3 months Expedition 41 will continue to perform the more than 100 different science experiments aboard the ISS.
Suggested Reading: ISS homepage, Serova’s Bio,  Expedition 41 description,


Toronto #CSATweetup

The Canadian Space Agency Agence Spatiale Canadien (CSA-ASC) has organized a Tweet Up for 30 September 2014 in Toronto. The attendees will participate in an ‘amazing race’ style competition: Team Hansen vs. Team Saint-Jacques. The Tweet Up is in conjunction with the 65th International Astronautical Congress. The theme of this congress is ‘Our World Needs Space;’ it will explore the relationship between Earth and space, as well as the partnership of public and private money in the research and development of the space industry.
Suggested Reading: #CSATweetup homepage, CSA twitter account, IAC2014 website,