Monday, December 31, 2007
APOD: 2007 January 22
The Magnificent Tail of Comet McNaught
Credit & Copyright: Robert H. McNaught
APOD: 2007 February 3
Alborz Mountains in Moonlight
Credit & Copyright: Babak Tafreshi
APOD: 2007 March 16
Eclipsing the Rings
Credit & Copyright: Pete Lawrence (Digital-Astronomy)
APOD: 2007 April 13
APOD: 2007 April 18
APOD: 2007 May 8
APOD: 2007 June 8
APOD: 2007 June 25
APOD: 2007 September 20
Credit & Copyright: Robert Gendler
APOD: 2007 October 10
APOD: 2007 October 22
APOD: 2007 November 10
Sunday, December 30, 2007
Here is the story from Yahoo News:
BETHLEHEM, West Bank —Robed Greek Orthodox and Armenian priests went at each other with brooms and stones inside the Church of the Nativity on Thursday as long-standing rivalries erupted in violence during holiday cleaning.
The basilica, built over the grotto in Bethlehem where Christians believe Jesus was born, is administered jointly by Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox and Armenian Apostolic authorities. Any perceived encroachment on one group's turf can set off vicious feuds.
On Thursday, dozens of priests and cleaners came to the fortress-like church to scrub and sweep the floors, walls and rafters ahead of the Armenian and Orthodox Christmas, celebrated in the first week of January. Thousands of tourists visited the church this week for Christmas celebrations.
But the cleanup turned ugly after some of the Orthodox faithful stepped inside the Armenian church's section, touching off a scuffle between about 50 Greek Orthodox and 30 Armenians.
Palestinian police, armed with batons and shields, quickly formed a human cordon to separate the two sides so the cleaning could continue, then ordered an Associated Press photographer out of the church.
Four people, some with blood running from their faces, were slightly wounded.
Explanation: Normal cloud bottoms are flat because moist warm air that rises and cools will condense into water droplets at a very specific temperature, which usually corresponds to a very specific height. After water droplets form that air becomes an opaque cloud. Under some conditions, however, cloud pockets can develop that contain large droplets of water or ice that fall into clear air as they evaporate. Such pockets may occur in turbulent air near a thunderstorm, being seen near the top of an anvil cloud, for example. Resulting mammatus clouds can appear especially dramatic if sunlit from the side. These mammatus clouds were photographed over Monclova, Mexico.
Saturday, December 29, 2007
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
Explanation: Welcome to The World At Night. Sharing the night sky seen around the world, this view from Monument Valley, USA includes a picturesque foreground of famous buttes. Buttes are composed of hard volcanic rock left behind after water eroded away the surrounding soft rock. The two buttes on the image left are known as the Mittens, while Merrick Butte is on the right. Recorded just last week, planet Mars is at the left of the skyscape, a glowing beacon of orange that is the brightest object in the frame. To the right of Mars lies the constellation of Orion. Betelgeuse is the reddish star near the center and the Belt of Orion and the Orion Nebula are farther right. Finally, the bright blue star Rigel appears above Merrick Butte in this stunning view of The World At Night.
In the photo, Pastor Tom Rives,costumed as KoKoMo the clown, left, and Kim Fults, as Paisley, perform a skit during a Christmas show at the Carrollwood Baptist Church about what Xians believe is the real meaning of Christmas. (We all know it's all about presents and Santa Claus. Without capitalism, and all the pagan aspects, Xmas would be just another dull and boring church day for Xians.)
Now, it's hard enough to take god believers' mythology seriously, but even moreso when when they have to start resorting to calling in clowns and circus acts to manipulate their own CHURCHGOERS! There must be a whole lot of atheists/agnostics hiding in churches! And of course, we must consider ways they invent to attempt to brainwash the children…what better way than a clown (well, for those who don’t hate clowns, anyway. I am not particularly fond of clowns and they only send me running for the nearest exit.)
(I am laughing while writing this)
Clowns spread the Gospel
The irony of that statement is hilarious!
Rives believes clowning is a means to teach about Christ. “People who wouldn’t talk to a preacher will talk to a clown,” he says.
Well, at least they are being honest for once. A preacher is much more annoying and sometimes scarier than a clown.
Out of sight, Rives and 10 other clowns gather in a circle while the pastor prays.
Monday, December 24, 2007
Saturday, December 22, 2007
Explanation: Today the Solstice occurs at 0608 Universal Time, the Sun reaching its southernmost declination in planet Earth's sky. Of course, the December Solstice marks the beginning of winter in the northern hemisphere and summer in the south. When viewed from northern latitudes, the Sun will make its lowest arc through the sky along the southern horizon. So in the north, the Solstice day has the shortest length of time between sunrise and sunset and fewest hours of daylight. This striking composite image follows the Sun's path through the December Solstice day of 2005 in a beautiful blue sky, looking down the Tyrrhenian Sea coast from Santa Severa toward Fiumicino, Italy. The view covers about 115 degrees in 43 separate, well-planned exposures from sunrise to sunset.
Friday, December 21, 2007
Christianity did not come with tidings of great joy, but with a message of eternal grief. It came with the threat of everlasting torture on its lips. It meant war on earth and perdition hereafter.
It taught some good things--the beauty of love and kindness in man. But as a torch-bearer, as a bringer of joy, it has been a failure. It has given infinite consequences to the acts of finite beings, crushing the soul with a responsibility too great for mortals to bear. It has filled the future with fear and flame, and made God the keeper of an eternal penitentiary, destined to be the home of nearly all the sons of men. Not satisfied with that, it has deprived God of the pardoning power.
And yet it may have done some good by borrowing from the Pagan world the old festival called Christmas.
Long before Christ was born the Sun-God triumphed over the powers of Darkness. About the time that we call Christmas the days begin perceptibly to lengthen. Our barbarian ancestors were worshippers of the sun, and they celebrated his victory over the hosts of night. Such a festival was natural and beautiful. The most natural of all religions is the worship of the sun. Christianity adopted this festival. It borrowed from the Pagans the best it has.
I believe in Christmas and in every day that has been set apart for joy. We in America have too much work and not enough play. We are too much like the English.
I think it was Heinrich Heine who said that he thought a blaspheming Frenchman was a more pleasant object to God than a praying Englishman. We take our joys too sadly. I am in favor of all the good days--the more the better.
Christmas is a good day to forgive and forget--a good day to throw away prejudices and hatreds--a good day to fill your heart and your house, and the hearts and houses of others, with sunshine.”
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
BRIMSTONE, SOUTH CAROLINA - Hoping to prove that lemmings have nothing over most Americans, Presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee is working out all the kinks in his Bible thumping routine.
Baptist preacher Mike Huckabee has perfected the art of Bible thumping to the point where he doesn't even wave a copy of the Bible as he skillfully lines up voters for his bid for the Republican nomination. "I'm thumping my invisible Bible," says Huckabee, "because I know that all the same people who voted for George Bush will vote for me!" Christian Conservatives are praying that Mike Huckabee will be an even better president than George Bush.
Sales of the Holy Bible are up in America. Offsetting downward Bible sales trends in countries like Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan, American Bible publishers are having a record year.
According to a leading Bible publishing trade group, Bible sales tend to rise and fall on a four-year cycle. "We have noticed that Bible sales increase during the year before each presidential election. The Republican National Committee purchases about 97% of all the Bibles; the Bull Moose Party accounts for about 2%; and all the other political parties, churches, and motel chains account for the remaining Bible sales."
Republican National Committee Chairman Mike Duncan has called upon all Republicans running for office to downplay economic policy, education, Social Security, and foreign policy, and instead focus on belief in the Bible. "As long as Republican candidates keep thumping their Bibles, those heathen Democrats won't stand a chance," says Duncan. "It worked for us in the 2000 and 2004 elections when Americans voted for George Bush because he thumped his Bible better and harder than anyone else. Our current crop of Republican candidates are taking the lead of Mike Huckabee, and are trying their best not to be out-thumped. Republicans know that Jesus is on their side and will register as a Republican just as soon as he comes back. Jesus would never vote for any non-Bible-thumping Democrat who is more interested in feeding poor people and offering godless universal health care. Jesus would want even larger tax cuts for the rich."
"It's all right there in the Bible," says Duncan. "Read your Bible, and vote Republican. Jesus will love you!"
In the following video, Huckabee gets phone call from god. Typical fundamentalist theatrics. The audience members all giggle and laugh with each other over his "wittiness" while the rational among us and those who respect the Constitution and the separation of church and state shake our heads in disgust. Again I ask, is this an application for church pastor, or a Presidential election of a supposedly secular nation?
Love this quote:
“I’ve always found it quite odd that we revere the ancient Greeks for their discoveries in science and philosophy and yet we dismiss their religion as fantasy while embracing the religion of a culture that could barely rub two sticks together to make fire.”
Saturday, December 15, 2007
Friday, December 14, 2007
Twas the week before Solstice, when all through the city,
Not a planet was shining, now isn't that a pity.
The telescope was stored in the garage with despair,
In hopes that the weather would soon turn to fair.
The astronomers were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of nebulae danced in their heads.
And Mojo with his laptop and I with my starmap,
Had just settled down for a cloudy night nap.
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew with a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.
The moon shone brightly, no clouds hid the glow,
The full moonlit lustre to objects below.
When what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But Pleiades, Orion, and Ursa Major, the bear.
With our trusty old telescope, the setup was quick,
I knew in a moment we had objects to pick.
More rapid than eagles, the targets they came,
We aimed and we pointed and called them by name.
"Now, Procyon, now Pollux, now Castor and Capella!
On Aldebaran, on Rigel, on Sirius, and Betelgeuse, the red fella :-)
To the top and around the winter circle of stars,
Now a quick look at Saturn, Jupiter, Venus and Mars.
As fireflies that before the dawns morning light,
Brilliantly flicker and soon are a memory bright,
A new wonder would paint the dark sky to pale blue,
The sunrise was nearing and morning twilight was too.
And then in a twinkling, I heard on the roof,
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I stepped from the telescope and was turning around,
Down the chimney the stranger came with a bound.
He looked like an astronomer, bundled from head to his foot,
Like a stargazer his clothes were tarnished with ashes and soot.
A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,
Looked just like our telescope accessory pack.
His eyes -- how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry
He looked like we do after a cold winter starshow
Freezing but happy from the Milky Way glow
The stump of a flashlight held tight in his teeth
Its soft red glow encircled his head like a wreath
We asked him if he'd ever looked closely at Mars
"I'm working at night, I have no time for the stars".
He stepped up to the eyepiece, a right jolly old elf,
And I smiled as he gasped, in spite of myself.
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.
He spoke not a word, but took in view after view,
Then he spoke with a sigh he had more work to do.
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose.
He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,
Happy stargazing to all and to all a dark night.
[a]pologies to Major Henry Livingston Jr. 1748 - 1828, author of "Twas the
Night before Christmas" or Account of a Visit from St. Nicholas.
Previously believed to be the written by Clement Clarke Moore.
Found at Hypography Science for Everyone: Christmas Science
Thursday, December 13, 2007
Link: Pagan origins of Christmas
Sunday, December 09, 2007
If we say god does exist, either this god cannot protect his loyal followers or doesn't want to. One of the reasons some Xians have given me for this that "god allowed it because it was their time to go to Him." I have said this before, and sorry to be redundant, but if this god prefers his creations to be in heaven, why would this god create, and continue to create all his little creatures on an "evil" Earth to begin with? For his own amusement? It doesn't make sense. But what about religion does?
Link: Gunman kills 2 in missionary center
ARVADA, Colo. - A gunman walked into a training center dormitory for young Christian missionaries early Sunday and opened fire, killing two of the center's staff members and wounding two others.
Where was the "hand of God" to protect his own?
No arrests had been made by late morning.
The shooting happened at about 12:30 a.m. at the Youth With a Mission center, police spokeswoman Susan Medina said. About 45 people were evacuated from the dormitory in this Denver suburb and moved to an undisclosed location.
A man and a woman in their mid-20s died, and two men ages 22 and 23 were wounded, Medina said. One of the injured men was in critical condition, said Paul Filidis, a-based spokesman with Youth With a Mission.
All four of the victims were staff members, Filidis said.
Brady White, who attends Faith Bible Chapel, where the center is located, said he had spoken to some students there. They are unhurt but called the experience "terrifying," he said.
"They're just wonderful people," White said of the center's students. "Their mission is to know God and to make him known."
Cheril Morrison, wife of chapel pastor George Morrison, said the man who was killed had just hung up Christmas lights at her home and described the young woman who was killed as "an amazingly beautiful person."
Nice how this god came to rescue these "wonderful people" who are working to "make this god known." This should be evidence to all that missionaries and those working for their gods are just working for figments of human imagination (or a powerless or indifferent god who really has no control over anything). And to say it is "evil" that causes these awful people to kill others just raises the question, why did this god create evil in the first place? God believers say their god created everything, and if this god created, including the choice of "evil" then for what reason was evil created? To just play games with his creations? This is what most of the gods of mythologies that humans have invented do -- these gods make little creations out of boredom or because they are lonely, or for whatever reasons. These mythological stories are an attempt to explain shitty incidents like this shooting that happened in this news story.
"There's no blueprint for this, we're just going to be honest and pray for one another, cry with one another," center director Peter Warren told . "Who knows what was going on in this young man's life."
Pray, cry? Lot of good that is going to do. Should be obvious since this even happened that praying is going to do absolutely nothing."Why would anybody want to hurt those kids?" Martin said. "I just pray for their families."Again, if this god didn't protect these praying godly kids before, why do they think he is going to help their grieving families?
"We never doubted that we would have a service," said Cheril Morrison. "We felt like our church faithful all needed to be together."PEOPLE TURNING TO OTHER PEOPLE...THIS GOD IS NOWHERE AROUND.
Update: Another incident happened today and this god of the Christians was powerless to prevent it, or chose to let it happen because it was this god's way, as Elizabeth commented below said "to bring something good out of it". That is just absurd reasoning. (Thanks to Andrea for pointing to this second news item.)
LINK: At least four people were shot at church in 2nd Colorado attack
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
Horus of Egypt born December 25th, performed miracles called the Lamb of light, performed miracles was resurrected in three days like many other avatars; Mithra, Krishna, Attis, Dionysus, king of kings, alpha omega crucified. All had 12 disciples and the sacred day of worship was sunday. Scientific explanations... The Solar Messiah. fromhttp://zeitgeistmovie.com/
So, "True Believers"...get rid of that tree! Stop telling your kids Santa Claus is real! Down with presents!
Thanks for bernarda at GifS for pointing to this one:
The funniest quote from this is:
“People need to stop lying to their children, telling them that Santa Claus exists”
But an invisible puppetmaster who controls billions of people, billions of people's souls -- knowing every thought, word and deed, knows who is naughty and who is nice while controlling Heaven, Hell and all of the happenings in the Cosmos is real. hmmmm.
Many of these self-righteous people who wear their religion on their sleeves, and who are constantly judging others are in reality no better than the average "heathen" or atheist. I know people who say their "faith has never been stronger", yet treat the store clerks and even family members like crap. I have known people who say "god is the most important thing in my life" and profess to be "walking with god" but they do all the stuff every other average human does in the society they live in. They watch the same evil television and films, they tell the same crude jokes they condemn others for doing, and many I know have a sort of "outhouse" sense of humor. (They have justified this with "god has a sense of humor" reasoning).
Do these self-righteous who say they are so "faithful" and trusting in their god trust him enough for healing or the solving of other problems? NO...they turn to doctors, pharmacists, lawyers, therapists, -- the science they condemn. When confronted with the fact that they behave no better than the heathen, that they trust in the same things the atheist does, they will say that they are "only human", and they will say that the difference is that they can hate their fellow humans, tell nasty jokes, do all the things their fellow humans do...but they believe they have a "get out of Hell FREE" card to go along with the right to judge others card they carry around in their minds.
Tuesday, December 04, 2007
Monday, December 03, 2007
All this time, money and effort to try to figure out magic and fairy tales. This story is from Yahoo news today:
Santa Claus is coming to town -- for 34 microseconds
Between and , 's route around the planet includes stops at 2.5 billion homes, assuming that children of all religions receive a present from the jolly man in the red suit, Anders Larsson of the engineering consultancy Sweco told AFP.Humans are indeed silly. Most of the people who "worship" Santa Claus (or at least promote the belief of Santa Claus) do a lot of dreaming up fictitious "facts" to delude their little ones into 'keeping the faith" (or outright threats that if they don't believe or are bad they don't get anything...same concept as most religions). It's fun to make-believe and imagination is a good thing for children, but one day they come to the realization that it is all just that...make believe and imagination.
"We estimated that there are 48 people per square kilometer (120 per square mile) on Earth, and 20 metres (66 feet) between each home. So if Santa leaves from Kyrgyzstan and travels against the Earth's rotation he has 48 hours to deliver all the presents," he said.
has long been believed to reside at the North Pole, although a number of northern towns, including Finnish , claim to be his true home.
But Sweco's report on Santa's most efficient route -- which takes into account factors like geographic density and the fewest detours -- shows that he wouldn't be able to make his round-the-world trip from there in time.
"He has 34 microseconds at each stop" to slide down the chimney, drop off the presents, nibble on his cookies and milk and hop back on his sleigh, Larsson said.
Santa's reindeer must travel at a speed of 5,800 kilometers (3,604 miles) per second to make the trip on time.
BUT it's not the same for religion. Children are taught god beliefs and fairy tales generation after generation after generation. The concept is the same as Santa Claus. Benevolent supernatural being who rewards good and bad, can see you when you are sleeping, knows when you're awake, etc. The same people who eventually must explain that Santa is just make believe are the same people who never stop to question how their one god can know the hearts and minds of billions and billions of people...past, present and future and how this one god can know what is going on and control every living thing that "creepeth and crawleth upon the earth"...AND controls the universe and heaven and hell all at the same time. And when really pressed for evidence of this god, or proof of a god that can do all this...the reasons are just as endless and fictitious and varied as the Santa "evidence" adults make up to tell their children to keep them believing.
Religion is just Santa beliefs that adults don't want to let go of.
Explanation: Every eleven years, our Sun goes through a solar cycle. A complete solar cycle has now been imaged by the sun-orbiting SOHO spacecraft, celebrating the 12th anniversary of its launch yesterday. A solar cycle is caused by the changing magnetic field of the Sun, and varies from solar maximum, when sunspot, coronal mass ejection, and flare phenomena are most frequent, to solar minimum, when such activity is relatively infrequent. Solar minimums occurred in 1996 and 2007, while the last solar maximum occurred in 2001 Pictured above is a SOHO image of the Sun in extreme ultraviolet light for each year of the last solar cycle, with images picked to illustrate the relative activity of the Sun.
Sunday, December 02, 2007
Thursday, November 29, 2007
Explanation: This cosmic expanse of dust, gas, and stars covers some 4 degrees on the sky in the heroic constellation Perseus. Centered in the gorgeous skyscape is the dusty blue reflection nebula NGC 1333, about 1,000 light-years away. At that estimated distance, the field of view is nearly 70 light-years across. Other reflection nebulae are scattered around, along with remarkable dark dust nebulae and the faint reddish glow of hydrogen gas. These dust and gas clouds lie near the edge of a large molecular cloud. Themselves telltale signs of star-forming regions, they tend to hide the newly formed stars and young stellar objects or protostars from prying optical telescopes. Collapsing due to self-gravity, the protostars form around dense cores embedded in the molecular cloud.
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
1. Do not walk behind me, for I may not lead. Do not walk ahead of me, for I may not follow. Do not walk beside me either. Just pretty much leave me the hell alone.
2. The journey of a thousand miles begins with a broken fan belt and leaky tire.
3. It's always darkest before dawn. So if you're going to steal your neighbor's newspaper, that's the time to do it.
4. Don't be irreplaceable. If you can't be replaced, you can't be promoted.
5. Always remember that you're unique. Just like everyone else.
6. Never test the depth of the water with both feet.
7. If you think nobody cares if you're alive, try missing a couple of car payments.
8. Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way, when you criticize them, you're a mile away and you have their shoes.
9. If at first you don't succeed, skydiving is not for you.
10. Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach him how to fish, and he will sit in a boat and drink beer all day.
11. If you lend someone $20 and never see that person again, it was probably worth it.
12. If you tell the truth, you don't have to remember anything.
13. Some days you're the bug; some days you're the windshield.
14. Everyone seems normal until you get to know them.
15. The quickest way to double your money is to fold it in half and put it back in your pocket.
16. A closed mouth gathers no foot.
17. Duct tape is like 'The Force'. It has a light side and a dark side, and it holds the universe together.
18. There are two theories to arguing with women. Neither one works.
19. Generally speaking, you aren't learning much when your lips are moving.
20. Experience is something you don't get until just after you need it.
21. Never miss a good chance to shut up.
22. Never, under any circumstances, take a sleeping pill and a laxative on the same night
Monday, November 26, 2007
Explanation: This spectacular sky is mostly human-made. Once a year, the Light Station at Pigeon Point near San Francisco, California, USA is lit as it was over 100 years ago. During this time, light generated by five kerosene lamps pours through 24 rotating Fresnel lenses, warning approaching ships to stay away. Early last week, light emanating from the Pigeon Point Lighthouse was particularly picturesque because of a thin fog, also blurring the distant Moon. During the latter 1970s, the lighthouse was guarded by an 800 pound pig named Lester. In modern times, the light house is still active but has been supplied with a more efficient flashing aerobeacon.
South Dakota town may rename Hooker St.
WHITEWOOD, S.D. - If the Rev. David Baer has his way, the Whitewood City Council will change the name of one of the northern Black Hills town's streets.
Hooker Street doesn't quite lend itself to a family atmosphere and is offensive to some residents in the town of about 800 people, according to Baer.
It's actually named after a Union general from the Civil War, but Baer said that even renaming it to General Hooker Street might not be much better.
Any renaming would affect one resident and six water bill accounts, said Brenda Lindstrom, Whitewood city finance officer.
The council is expected to discuss the request its Dec. 17 meeting.
Friday, November 23, 2007
Explanation: Braided, serpentine filaments of glowing gas suggest this nebula's popular name, The Medusa Nebula. Also known as Abell 21, this Medusa is an old planetary nebula some 1,500 light-years away in the constellation Gemini. Like its mythological namesake, the nebula is associated with a dramatic transformation. The planetary nebula phase represents a final stage in the evolution of low mass stars like the sun, as they transform themselves from red giants to hot white dwarf stars and in the process shrug off their outer layers. Ultraviolet radiation from the hot star powers the nebular glow. The Medusa's transforming hot central star is visible in the detailed color image as the small blue star within the upper half of the overall bright crescent shape. Fainter filaments clearly extend above and to the left of the bright crescent region. The Medusa Nebula is estimated to be over 4 light-years across.