100000 Stars

100,000 Stars: Interactive 3D Visualization Of Our Galaxy

100000 Stars

Are you ready to space out? 100,000 Stars is an interactive 3D map of our Milky Way Galaxy created by the folks over at Google. It accurately plots 100,000 local stars pulling data from a range of sources, including NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA), and the Bright Star Catalog.

100,000 Stars is an interactive visualization of the stellar neighborhood created for the Google Chrome web browser. It shows the real location of over 100,000 nearby stars. Zooming in reveals 87 individually identified stars and our solar system. The galaxy view is an artist’s rendition.

Instructions: Pan using your mouse and zoom in/out using your touchpad or mouse wheel. Click a star’s name to learn more about it.

Warning: Scientific accuracy is not guaranteed. Please do not use this visualization for interstellar navigation.

Be sure to take the tour. This is a WebGL Google Chrome Experiment, so it’ll run best on Chrome or Safari and with a decent graphics card. Damn nature, you pretty.

Hubble eXtreme Deep Field

Hubble eXtreme Deep Field

Hubble eXtreme Deep Field
Image courtesy of NASA

NASA has recently released a new Deep Field image called eXtreme Deep Field (XDF) that improves on the older Ultra Deep Field (UDF) image. The XDF is the deepest image of the sky ever obtained and reveals the faintest and most distant galaxies ever seen. This image is a composite of nearly ten years worth of photographic exposures taken by the Hubble Space Telescope – over 2,000 photographs totaling 22.5 days worth of total exposure time. Nearly everything you see in the picture is a galaxy containing billions of stars.

The new full-color XDF image reaches much fainter galaxies and includes very deep exposures in red light from Hubble’s new infrared camera, enabling new studies of the earliest galaxies in the universe. The XDF contains about 5,500 galaxies even within its smaller field of view [than the UDF]. The faintest galaxies are one ten-billionth the brightness of what the human eye can see.

The universe is 13.7 billion years old, and the XDF reveals galaxies that span back 13.2 billion years in time. Most of the galaxies in the XDF are seen when they were young, small, and growing, often violently as they collided and merged together. The early universe was a time of dramatic birth for galaxies containing brilliant blue stars extraordinarily brighter than our sun. The light from those past events is just arriving at Earth now, and so the XDF is a “time tunnel into the distant past.” The youngest galaxy found in the XDF existed just 450 million years after the universe’s birth in the big bang.

Click on the image above for the gigantic 1.4MB image. And keep looking up.

Names And Types Of Full Moons

Tonight’s full moon will be a “blue moon”. Despite its name, blue moons are not that rare of an event. The next blue moon is less than three years away in July of 2015. On average, blue moons come around once every 2.7 years. Some years even have two blue moons. This happened in 1999. In 2018 there will be two blue moons and a black moon.

There are two definitions for a blue moon. The original definition, given by the Maine Farmers’ Almanac (published in 1937), says that a blue moon is the third full moon in a season — spring, summer, autumn or winter — that has four full moons instead of the usual three. However the definition changed when J. Hugh Pruett, writing in the March 1946 issue of Sky and Telescope, misinterpreted the original definition to mean the second full moon in any given month. That version was popularized after being repeated in a broadcast on National Public Radio’s Star Date in 1980. The second-full-moon-in-a-month definition was also used in the board game Trivial Pursuit as well as education materials in the 80’s and the definition has stuck! You can read the long version of this story at Sky & Telescope. Below are lists of the many other types of full moons.

Monthly Full Moons

Wolf Moon (or Old Moon, The Moon After Yule)
This is the first full moon in January and it has its own awesome t-shirt. The Algonquin name for this full moon is Squochee Kesos or “sun has not strength to thaw”. Native Americans each have their own names for the year’s full moons
Snow Moon (or Quickening, Hunger Moon)
The First full moon in February is called the snow moon for obvious reasons. Quickening is the stage of pregnancy when the fetus is first felt to move. The February full moon lets us know that the birth of new life (spring) is months away yet.
Worm Moon (or Sap Moon, Death Moon)
As the ground thaws, night crawlers emerge during the evening hours and point themselves toward moonlight. The first Full moon in March can also refer to the tapping of maple trees.
Pink Moon (or Egg Moon)
The first Full moon in April. This moon has its own song.
Flower Moon (or Milk Moon)
The bountiful blooms of May give its full moon the name flower moon in many cultures.
Strawberry Moon (or Rose Moon or Honey Moon)
The harvesting of strawberries in June gives that month’s full moon its name. Sometimes referred to as a honey moon because it stays close to the horizon in June, and that makes it appear more amber
Buck Moon (or Thunder Moon)
Male deer, which shed their antlers every year, begin to regrow them in July, hence the Native American name for July’s full moon.
Sturgeon moon (or Red Moon, Grain Moon, Green Corn Moon)
North American fishing tribes called August’s full moon the sturgeon moon since the species was abundant during this month. It is also often called the Red Moon for the reddish hue it often takes on in the summer haze.
Beaver moon (or Mourning Moon)
The origin of the name for first Full moon in November is disputed. It’s named either for the Abundance of Beaver trappings or for the large amount of dam building activity among the flat-tailed aquatic animal.
Cold moon
The coming of winter earned December’s full moon the name cold moon.

Other Types Of Full Moons

Black Moon
There is a range of, often contradictory, definitions of a black moon. Some suggest it is when there are two dark cycles of the moon in any given calendar month. Others say it’s when no full moon is present in a calendar month (This can only ever happen in February).
Blue Moon
Probably the most popular of the special moons, a blue moon is the second full moon in any given month.
Wet Moon (Cheshire Moon)
A wet moon is a lunar phase when the “horns” of the crescent moon point up at an angle, away from the horizon. This is caused by the relative angles of the moon’s orbit about the Earth and the Earth’s axial tilt compared to the Sun. During the extreme points of the Earth’s orbit the moon appears to rise almost vertically, so the moon’s crescent takes on the appearance of a bowl or a smile.
New Moon
A New moon is actually a moon phase. A new moon occurs when the moon lies closest to the Sun in the sky as it is seen from the Earth. The Moon is not visible at this time unless it is seen in silhouette during a solar eclipse. It can be considered a “dark full moon”. The new moon holds a lot of meaning in both religious and astrological calendars.
Super Moon
Let us not forget our colorful super moon.
Hunters Moon/Harvest Moon
The hunter’s moon is the first full moon after the harvest moon, which is the full moon nearest the autumnal equinox. These Moons are special because the time of moonrise between successive evenings is shorter than usual. The moon rises approximately 30 minutes later, from one night to the next, for several evenings around the full Hunter’s and Harvest Moons. Thus there is a much shorter period of darkness between sunset and moonrise around the time of these full moons, allowing hunters and farmers to work well into the evening. Each of these moons can be in September or October depending on the year.
Blood Moon
The term Blood Moon in Biblical prophecy appears to have been popularized by two Christian pastors, Mark Blitz and John Hagee. They use the term Blood Moon to apply to the full moons of the ongoing tetrad – four successive total lunar eclipses, with no partial lunar eclipses in between, each of which is separated from the other by six lunar months (six full moons)

Big Blue Marble

NASA has recently published highest resolution image of the Earth from space ever. The 64-megapixel image of Earth was captured by the VIIRS instrument on NASA’s most recently launched Earth-observing satellite, the Suomi NPP. You can read more about the Suomi NPP at its official website.

Most Amazing High Definition Image of Earth - Blue Marble 2012
Photo via NASA/NOAA/GSFC/Suomi NPP/VIIRS/Norman Kuring

Make sure to see this sucker full size to really appreciate the details and download it for your desktop. We all live in a beautiful place.