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The Origins of Atoms

Here’s a Periodic Table with a difference.

Yes, it lists the elements in the usual way but the information within the boxes is distinctive. It tells where the atoms of each element first came into being whether it was in the big bang – for hydrogen and hydrogen alone – or, for most elements, in stars of varying types, or else by human activity.

From Astronomy Picture of the Day for 25/1/16:-

APOD 25/1/16

Edit:- I’ve just noticed the table has helium also being produced by the big bang. I’m sure it’s made by fusion in stars, though.


Ceres, the largest of the Solar System’s asteroids, has around 150 mysteriously bright spots which are now thought to be composed of a form of hydrated magnesium sulphate.

From Astronomy Picture of the Day 11/12/15 this is the brightest of them:-

Ceres Bright Spot

Pluto’s Volcanoes of Ice

From The Daily Galaxy 10/11/15. Pluto has ice volcanoes. (Some sort of false colouring here obviously.)

Pluto's Volcanoes

These two are called Wright Mons and Piccard Mons:-

Wright Mons and Piccard Mons

The ice may be a mixture of water ice, nitrogen, ammonia, or methane.

From Astronomy Picture of the Day 14/11/15 comes this photo of Wright Mons:-

Wright Mons

Groovy Phobos

I got this one from The Daily Galaxy of 12/11/15.

Mars’s moon, Phobos, is groovy.

Grooves on Phobos

The grooves, and the depression shown below, are apparently due to the moon being slowly torn apart by gravitational tidal forces.


The Moons of Pluto

As seen in a composite image from Astronomy Picture of the Day 26/10/15.

Pluto's Moons

Styx and Kerberos are pretty fuzzy and Hydra shows up as an odd shape but Nix is well delineated.

Charon of course has been photographed as a sphere.

Pluto (and Charon) in Motion

From You Tube (via Astronomy Picture of the Day 6/10/15) this shows the (minor) planet and its moon orbiting their common centre of gravity before flying past and giving a view of Pluto -and its atmosphere – backlit by the sun.

Charon from New Horizons

Astronomy Picture of the Day yesterday had a stunning view of Pluto’s moon Charon as taken by the New Horizons probe. The moon looks oddly lop-sided, probably due to the shadowing on its side pointing away from the sun:-


That’s a big fissure running right across its middle.

Water on Mars

I’m a bit late with this as I was away from the computer yesterday but running water on Mars is quite a story.

Astronomy Picture of the Day got to it today as well:-

APOD 30/9/15

The Comet Sublimes

As viewed from the European Space Agency’s Rosetta spacecraft, Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko sprays out gas just twelve hours before its closest approach to the sun (on this pass.) From Astronomy Picture of the Day, 15/8/15.

APOD 15/8/15

Pecdant’s corner:- USian alert? The APOD page says the comet’s primordial ices are sublimating. That would be subliming, then. In my understanding to sublimate is to suppress or divert an instinct.

Moon’s Transit of Earth

This isn’t a view any human of even the relatively recent past could ever have seen: the Moon passing in front of the Earth:-

Full Mooon, Full Earth

From Astronomy Picture of the Day 7/8/15, this photo – taken by NASA’s Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) spacecraft – is captioned Full Moon, Full Earth, but of course it’s a New Moon; from the surface of the Earth all of the Moon would appear dark. The hemisphere of the Moon seen in the photo is of course its far side (which isn’t dark, except briefly: it gets as much sunlight as the near side does, only in reverse proportion.)

The DSCOVR spacecraft is situated at the Earth-Sun L1 Lagrange Point (see diagram – not to scale – below) where the orbit of a satellite is stable. As such it is perfectly placed to observe the Moon transit the Earth as above, which from its perspective occurs twice a year.

Earth-Sun Lagrange Points

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