Tag Archives: Space

Montreal Close Encounter July 10 2011 – Verified with Reddit!

This is a CBC file photo of a mysterious aerial phenomenon which occurred in Newfoundland in January of 2010. It kinda looks like contrails to me.

So yesterday about an hour before midnight I was on the back terrace doing what I enjoy doing, looking up at the stars. It was partially cloudy last night, which made the stars slightly more visible – if you could catch them between the clouds that is. I could spy Cassiopeia between the clouds just over the roof of the small condo behind my apartment, which is to say I was looking Northeast. My apartment is in Westmount, near Mount Pleasant and Sherbrooke, and I was looking up into the night sky when I noticed an orange flash overhead, moving ‘Montréal West’, as if it was following the outline of Sherbrooke at that long straight stretch near Dawson. It happened very quickly, but what I saw wasn’t that different what the picture above, aside from being at night and with clouds overhead – there was a big enough break in the cloud cover to see whatever it was unhindered, brief though it was.

Today on Reddit/Montreal, I find this:

Anyone see an orange thing flying in the sky around 11ish last night?

Here’s the r/montreal self-reddit plenty more fascinating details in the comments section; apparently, at least four other people saw something similar last night.

I really want to know – did anyone else see something? Ask around, maybe someone you know saw it as well. If so, add a comment to this post, and hopefully we’ll bump it up to the top of the page. How much you want to bet we could create a delayed-reaction slow-news-day report?

*Incidentally – I’m not making a claim as to what it was. It was weird, but I’m sure it has a logical explanation. Or maybe it doesn’t – who the fuck knows right? Either way I can guarantee you that I’ll continue, as always, to look up.

Endeavour II – Gliese 581d

Final Spacewalk mission for the Shuttle Atlantis - clearly not the work of the author; I thank NASA & Kennedy for making this possible

So it’s confirmed. A mere 20 light-years away is a planet orbiting the Red Dwarf star Gliese 581. It is situated within the so-called ‘Goldilocks Zone’ and thus can likely support life as we know it, being the perfect distance from the star so as to be just warm enough. France’s CRNS has developed computer models which suggest a habitable temperature zone with a dense and stable carbon dioxide atmosphere, likely with rain, clouds and vast oceans. This planet may be in an early stage of development, but the discovery is extremely encouraging.

And unfortunately, the number of people who fully comprehend the implications of such a discovery seem to be quite small to me. You don’t have to look very far either; consider how many Americans believe the Theory of Evolution to be utter nonsense, or better still the number of Americans who believe the Sun revolves around the Earth, or that the Earth is flat. Consider the Obama administration’s decision to cut funding to NASA while straight-facing the ‘don’t worry, corporations can handle this’ response to the incredulous scientific community.

I personally doubt any consortium of private interests will be able to throw the full weight of the State behind a ballsy project like trying to confirm life can exist elsewhere in the universe. It takes charismatic leaders with a lot of coin and resources to put man on the Moon (which we haven’t done since Apollo 17 and have only done 6 times in total. In other words, no one has set foot on another planetary body since the early-1970s, under Nixon, the same guy who authorized the Space Shuttle project, the Clean Air Act and founded the Environmental Protection Agency – just sayin’).

If the Apollo program had been continued to accomplish the third and fourth phases (planned in the mid-1960s), man would have established moon bases in the late 1970s and would have further completed several manned fly-pasts of Venus. Accomplishing these additional tasks (more info on cancelled Apollo missions here, and more info about the Apollo Applications Program can be found here. Imagine how much more we might have accomplished had this been the case. Instead, it seems that we’re retreating away from the vast ocean of space, retreating into our caves, scared by the brilliance of the potential of human achievement. Sometimes I feel we’ve become a species of cowards, afraid to try and commit to the innovative and to understanding the mystery of our existence. If you can’t be amazed and thrilled by the limitless possibilities inherent in staring up at the night sky, what will it take to make you dream?

Have we forgotten how? Or are we just too lazy?


Space Shuttle Endeavour lift-off

Last night while watching the news with my mom and brother, the ABC News anchor described the Space Shuttle as a kind of space tow-truck. A rage began to boil deep inside me. I hate it when people reduce beautiful objects, ideas, design to hopelessly infantile terms. How can you appreciate something so worthlessly downgraded?

The Space Shuttle Endeavour took off today on its last mission. The last Space Shuttle flight, that of Atlantis, will happen in a few months. There is no planned replacement, and the International Space Station will be served by Russian Soyuz craft. The Soyuz is about 1/20th the size of the shuttle, and suffice it so say isn’t even in the same category of space vehicle.

The Shuttle was an outstanding triumph of human ingenuity and sound design. Like the ISS, it was also an international effort, leading to further international cooperation in manned space flight. Now, with the end of the Space Shuttle and the cancellation of the Constellation project, manned spaceflight may come to a standstill. There’s hope that the commercial sector may take-over in a space-tourism capacity, but only large governments with considerable resources can build the facilities and equipment necessary to probe our solar system, establish colonies etc. The retirement of the Space Shuttle sends shivers down my spine – and not just because its May 16th in Montreal and the mercury hasn’t made it past 7 degrees!

If you haven’t noticed yet, I’m pretty passionate about manned spaceflight in particular and astronomy, the cosmos etc in general. I know – what’s there to be passionate about right? How many of you think about space launches and immediately think of that Simpsons bit? “Oh no! Not another boring space-launch!”

The horror… The horror…

I find it mind boggling how disinterested our species seems to be with regards to getting off our planet and trying to establish mankind throughout or solar system. Without a doubt we are the only sentient species in our system, and if we (I mean mankind) cooperated, we could probably get ourselves off this rock, possibly even terraforming other planets, moons etc.

I find images like this inspiring:

Artist's impression of a terraformed Mars - not the work of the author

And images like these ones haunting, even daunting:

The Pale Blue Dot - courtesy Voyager 1

I can’t help but feel strongly convinced that we have a responsibility to get off this planet, if for no other reason than the fact that it require a degree of international cooperation unlike anything we’ve ever seen, and we’d probably have to divert almost all resources currently used for ‘defense and security’ towards space exploration. What a great switch that would be; stop killing over territory and resources to instead cooperate to reap the benefits of all the uncontested resources of our solar system?

There’s no one else here, and almost every planet, moon and asteroid in our solar system almost certainly bear resources we’d be able to extract for our benefit. We know so little about our neighbours, and with the demise of the Space Shuttle program, we take another step backwards. It’s pretty ironic a shuttle named Endeavour would be retired early, and without replacement.