Did you see it?
Night sky over the position of the wreck of the RMS Titanic (41° 43’N, 49°56’W) at 2:20 am local time, 15 April 1912.
This is the view victims and survivors would have had when the ship disappeared beneath the waves.
The view is looking straight overhead with the zenith in the center, and the horizon represented by a circle near the edge of the frame (with the azimuth in degrees marked along it). North is at the top, and east and west are revered compared to the orientation of maps, because the view is up into the sky rather than down from overhead.
The night of Titanic’s loss was very dark on account of there being no Moon in the sky. The sea was exceptionally calm, leading to virtually mirror-like reflections off its surface. Notable, bright objects in the local night sky were the stars Arcturus, Vega, Spica, Altair, and Antares. Capella was setting on the northern horizon at the time of the sinking, at an azimuth of about 340°. Most prominent in the sky was Jupiter, low in the south-southeast.
However, film director James Cameron famously got this sky wrong in the 1997 film Titanic; the affected scene appeared to show the Milky Way passing directly overhead, which was certainly not the case. Astronomer Neil de Grasse Tyson pointed out the inaccuracy to Cameron, and replacing the sky with the correct one was the only change made before the film’s recent 3-D re-release.
New analysis of 36-year-old data, resuscitated from printouts, shows NASA found life on Mars, an international team of mathematicians and scientists conclude in a paper published this week.
Further, NASA doesn’t need a human expedition to Mars to nail down the claim, neuropharmacologist and biologist Joseph Miller, with the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine, told Discovery News.
“The ultimate proof is to take a video of a Martian bacteria. They should send a microscope — watch the bacteria move,” Miller said.
“On the basis of what we’ve done so far, I’d say I’m 99 percent sure there’s life there,” he added.
(If confirmed, obviously this would be very big news indeed. Researchers in the 1970’s concluded that weird soil chemistry was responsible for the evidently positive results from the life experiments on Viking. Clays in the Martian soil, so the explanation went, were subject to prolonged irradiation by ultraviolet light from the Sun, undergoing chemical changes that provoked the observed changes when, e.g., a nutrient solution onboard the Viking landers was added to soil samples. Some never accepted that explanation, and are still seeking a definitive answer. But, as Carl Sagan once reminded us, “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.” Stay tuned… -JCB)
Space weather in our solar system has been rather unsettled of late, and some of our tenacious robotic interplanetary explorers have been feeling the impact of the sun’s temper tantrums. The European Space Agency’s Venus Express orbiter suffered a particularly nasty solar sucker-punch, temporarily blinding one of its navigational systems.
The solar radiation hit Venus’ orbit on March 7 (Tuesday) after the sun had belched out a series of solar flares and coronal mass ejections (CMEs). This radiation uptick knocked-out Venus Express’ startracker cameras (including the backup camera), causing them to lose sight of stars the spacecraft uses to orient itself.