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Pluto Flyby and The Ultimate Message in a Bottle

At the time of writing this we  are less than 11 hours from the Pluto Flyby!

I missed out on the first images of the distant solar system. When I was old enough to fully realize my interest in space, we had already flown past of all the planets (all 8). Voyager 2 was the first to visit the outer gas (ice) giants Uranus and Neptune in the mid to late 1980’s. I was too young to appreciate what we had just accomplished. We brought planets into focus we’ve known about for decades and centuries but for the first time with detail, colour, textures, and data. These distant points of light pondered by astronomers for centuries were made very real as they clutched our own technology in their gravity.

Neptune Shot by Voyager 2 in 1989

Neptune Shot by Voyager 2 in 1989

While Pluto is no longer classified as a planet, knowing that this famous celestial body is about to be imaged at this distance for the first time has me so stoked. New Horizons has given me the opportunity to go back in time during the days of Voyager 2 to see what I missed and have my mind blown. Not only did Voyager 2 provide us with the clearest images of the most remote planets in our solar system, it reminded us that yes…this is where we are! We are in a system of planets and bodies orbiting this incredible ball of plasma called the Sun flying through space on an existential crisis asking what we’re all about and if there is anybody else out there also asking these questions and launching probes. Furthermore, we can blow everybody’s mind in real-time (ish as it takes about 4 hours for messages to get from Pluto plus lag time in bandwidth and processing) as everything that is transpiring over the next few hours will be online. It’s a good time to be taking photos of planets.

Pluto (right) and its moon Charon (left) shot by New Horizons  July 13th 2015

Pluto (right) and its moon Charon (left) shot by New Horizons July 13th 2015. For some reason I thought it would be blue

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Neil deGrasse Tyson vs Bill Nye: Celebrating Cosmos

Hey Chasers!

Tonight is the last episode of Cosmos: A Space Time Odyssey.

Over the last 14 weeks, with host Neil deGrasse Tyson at the helm, we have been treated to a journey that has spanned the formation of the Universe itself, the heroes of the great scientific discoveries of our civilization, an understanding of the eons of Earth’s history spanning generations of extinction and rebirth, and wrestled with important issues facing us in the present such as climate change.

Rebooted by producer Seth MacFarlane, and Carl Sagan’s wife Ann Druyan, the series revisited themes of the original Cosmos, hosted by Sagan, for a new generation of viewers. I’ve been watching the series from week to week with the staff here at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver. The show has been truly inspiring; leaping beyond the scientific fact to studying the personal motivations and passions of the scientists who literally changed our lives, the dangers we face as a society belching carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, and the wonders of discovery that could still await us. Tyson hosts the show from the Starship Imagination that can travel through both time and space effectively making Tyson a kindof Doctor Who but hosting a science show and without a British accent. Point is that the show is amazing and if you haven’t watched the series you should definitely pick it up on Blu-Ray! Be sure to tune in to tonight’s episode at 9pm EST/PST

As a light-hearted send off to Cosmos, we are posting this clip from our interview with Bill Nye who fondly talks about his friend Neil deGrasse Tyson and a “fight to control the universe.” This is the first footage we’ve released of our interview with Bill.

Enjoy Cosmos and Keep Chasing!

-Matthew

 

 

Remembering Carl Sagan

January is approaching.

Geeky as it may be, one of my favorite things to do toward the end of the month is flip the pages on all my various astrophotograpahy calendars. People know I’m into that kind of thing so I tend to have several going at once. One of my friends was kind enough to already get me one in anticipation of 2013. Anyhow, in counting down the days on the calendar in my office, it reminded me with important dates marked out, that today is the anniversary of  legendary Carl Sagan’s passing

Carl Sagan

Carl Sagan

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