In summer 2013, the black hole at the centre of the Milky Way was getting ready to feast. A gas cloud three times the size of our planet strayed within the gravitational reach of our nearest supermassive black hole. Across the globe, telescopes were being trained on the heart of our galaxy, some 27,000 light years from Earth, in the expectation of observing this unique cosmic spectacle. For cosmic detectives across the Earth, it was a unique opportunity. For the first time in the history of science, they hoped to observe in action the awesome spectacle of a feeding supermassive black hole.
The film, which follows a group of teens at NASA's space camp as they learn about the science and technology behind a trip to Mars, also features commentary by science popularizers Bill Nye, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Michio Kaku; astronaut Suni Williams, and Andrew Weir, author of The Martian. But it's not the grownups who make the film; none of them, with the exception of Williams, has any shot at all of walking on Mars. It's the kids, who can dream that dream, who are the deserved focus of the narrative.
2017 • Astronomy
Suppose you placed a camera at a fixed position, took a picture of the sky at the same time every day for an entire year, and overlaid all of the photos on top of each other. What would the sun look like in that combined image? A stationary dot? A circular path? Neither. Oddly enough, it makes a ‘figure 8’ pattern, known as the Sun’s analemma.
Twenty years after its launch, we bid farewell to the Cassini spacecraft as it plunges into Saturn’s atmosphere in a planned death spiral. Productive right to the end, Cassini has rewritten the textbook on not only Saturn and its moons, but our whole solar system as well.