Wednesday, May 30, 2007

A Blue Moon

Tomorrow, May 31, 2007, there will be a Blue Moon. When people hear the term, "Blue Moon," most assume that the moon will seem blue. That is not the case. A Blue Moon is when there are two full moons in one month. Because there is a full moon every 29 days, this moth, the last and full moon and the next one (tomorrow) are coincidentally going to occur in the same month.

Image credit: Kostian Iftica

Although the term a Blue Moon should not be taken literally, there are some cases when the Moon actually appears to turn blue. Sometimes when small droplets of water are in the air, they can break down the light that comes from the moon (moonbeam). The moonbeam then turns blue. "Clouds of ice crystals, fine-grained sand, volcanic ash or smoke from forest fires can have the same effect (NASA)." For the effect to happen, the particles from the various substances have to very small, a size of about one micron (one millionth of a meter).

Original Source: NASA Science News

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The Universe

The History Channel is premiering an episode of their 13 week series entitled, "The Universe." The series contains different documentaries about the Universe. Tonight's episode is, "Secrets of the Sun." Future episodes discuss "Mars," and "Deep Space Threats to the Earth." Tune in to learn about the secrets, mysteries, and the new discoveries in this series. Read the introduction to, "The Universe," on the official website here. It's very motivational. The Universe is on the History Channel every Tuesday 8pm/9c.

Image Credit: Universe Today

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Explained: The Sun

The Sun is a star located at the center of our solar system. The sun itself makes up 99.8% of our solar system's mass. The eight planets, three dwarf planets, and numerous other objects such as asteroids and comets orbit the sun. The Sun consists of mostly hydrogen and helium, which it uses as fuel to keep burning.

Currently, the Sun is 4.5 billion years old. When the Sun is 10 billion years old, it will expand to become a red giant. When is becomes red giant, it will be 2,000 times larger and 100 times brighter. Mercury and Venus will become engulfed by this growing Sun, but recent scientific models suggest that the Earth will be spared this awful fate and will move out to a farther orbit.

Since the Sun not a very large star, it will not die in the very large explosions known as a supernova. Instead, the Sun will slowly shed its outer layers which will become the beginnings of a planetary nebula (a cloud of gas). Then only the Sun's core will remain as a white dwarf. This white dwarf will be dramatically smaller than the current size of the sun, and will remain in space with just a white glow. This white dwarf will continue to glow for billions of years; all the while slowly becoming fainter.

The graphic below illustrates the Sun's size when it becomes a red giant.

An example of a planetary nebula is the Eskimo Nebula (NGC 2392). As you can see, the gas surrounds the white dwarf which is located in the center of the image. The white dwarf illuminates the nebula and gives it its beauty.

Image Credits: NASA,, Astronomy Picture of the Day (APOD)\
Alternate Article: The Sun's History & Future

The Universe Made Simple

In this blog, I will explain everything about the Universe very simply. I will deliver space news, discoveries, and the basic fundamentals of space and astronomy wihtout all of the confusing technicalities. I will explain the universe as a person, I will try my best not to sound like an encyclopedia. Please bookmark this blog, and I hope you will be reading my future posts!