Sunday, February 6, 2011

What's Up? - Parallel Universe(s)

Welcome back to What's Up?

The size of our universe, with its multitude of galaxies containing billions of stars, each with numerous planets orbiting around them, is mind-boggling. Although it's probably not infinite in size, its true size is currently unknown. 

Many astronomers believe that life is out there, even if the odds are very low, due the sheer number of other worlds in our universe.

This universe might not even be the only one. A growing number of physicists, particularly string theorists (who are a bit loopy at the best of times), believe that there are many other universes out there, possibly even an infinite number of them.
Yes, this might be a bit of a plug for my favourite TV show, but there may actually be alternate universes, some with histories similar but slightly different than our own.
If there were an infinite number of universes, it would explain why we find ourselves in a universe that can support life. It's simply because if you were to pick any universe that isn't fit for life, we wouldn't be there asking why we exist at all.

If true, then there are new universes popping into existence outside of our universe constantly. But how can something come from nothing?

If you look at all of the matter and energy in the universe, it will perfectly cancel out with gravity. This means that the overall energy of the universe is exactly zero!

At the tiniest possible level, the quantum level, the world is essentially random. Exact predictions of the future on the quantum level are impossible. 

One result of this randomness is that little particles pop in and out of existence all around you extremely quickly. This has been proven in laboratories with very careful and precise experiments.

There may be many other universes,
with a few very similar, but
slightly different than ours.
It is thought that a universe could be born out of an extremely rare and large fluctuation. Maybe there are many universes similar to ours, but with very slight differences, with alternate versions of ourselves going about their lives slightly differently than we are.

Another set of theories predict that there may be parallel universes, that may occupy the same space as we do, but in different dimensions.

These ideas are very weird and interesting, but are they really science? Are they even testable?

Whether our universe is one of many in a much larger multiverse will likely never be known, but parallel universes could possibly be detected from gravity leaking through from other dimensions.

Maybe someday we'll travel to these parallel universes (if they actually exist). This is already frequently portrayed in science fiction  television shows like Fox's "Fringe". But unlike "Fringe", we have no crazy Dr. Walter Bishop to do this.

Until then, let's allow our mind to relax while we take a look at what's up in this month's night sky.

The new Moon was on Feb. 3 and the full Moon will be Feb. 18.

Jupiter will be low in the western sky this month after sunset. Catch Jupiter while you can, Jupiter will be setting earlier and earlier each night.

Saturn will be rising later in the evenings in the east. If you know someone with a telescope, check out Saturn. In recent months a large white storm has broken out in Saturn's upper atmosphere. This storms is ten Earth-widths in length! It will likely show up as a bright white streak on Saturn's surface.

The Athena Community Astronomy Club will be having its monthly meeting on Feb. 27, the last Sunday of the month. The meeting runs from 7pm to 9pm at the Wilmot Community Centre. Guests are always welcome.

Until next month, just look up!

Hey Kids...
In the winter sky there are a lot of bright beautiful stars. The brightest of these stars, Sirius, looks like it's twinkling the most. If you look upand to the right a little bit, there will be a group of fairly bright stars that make up the constellation Orion. The bright red star is called Betelgeuse (which sounds like beetle-juice). Betelgeuse is a red giant star and is a very lumpy shape. This star will someday blow up and get really bright in our sky. It likely won't be for quite a while, but if we do see it go, it will one of the brightest objects in the sky. It might be almost as bright as the Moon! Keep an eye on the sky, you never know what you might miss.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

What's Up? - Eclipses

Welcome back to What's Up?

The total lunar eclipse on Dec. 11,
2010 as seen from California.
Last month, there was a very special lunar eclipse. It occurred on Dec. 21, the winter solstice. It is special because in the last 2000 years, only one other lunar eclipse has fallen on a winter solstice.

Sadly, it took place in the middle of a very messy December and was clouded out. But, to be ready for the next eclipse, let's find out what an eclipse actually is.

From Earth, two different types of eclipses involving the Moon can be seen. The first kind, a lunar eclipse, happens when the Moon is hidden in the Earth's shadow. If you were on the Moon, you would see the Sun getting blocked out by the disc of the Earth. 

A small amount of light is bent by Earth's atmosphere and projected on to the Moon. Depending on atmospheric conditions, the Moon can appear a deep blood red, brown, or dark grey. During years with volcanic activity the Moon can appear quite dim since less light makes it through the dusty upper atmosphere.

In some eclipses, the Moon isn't in the darkest part of the Earth's shadow. These are called partial lunar eclipses. Part of the Moon may appear to dim and can even look like someone took a bite out of the Moon!

The other type of eclipse involving the Moon is the solar eclipse. Total solar eclipses are much more dramatic because they take place in a matter of minutes instead of over a few hours.

During a solar eclipse, the Moon is between the Earth and the Sun. The Moon may cover only part of the Sun resulting in a partial eclipse. The Moon could also be too far from Earth (depending on the time of year) and not be large enough to cover the entire disc of the Sun, lead to a beautifully bright ring, called an annular eclipse.

When the Moon is close enough to Earth, it can just barely block the entire Sun, and if you're at the right place at the right time, you're in for quite a show.

A total solar eclipse in 1999.
The Moon will slowly cover up the Sun, but this doesn't actually dim the light from the Sun very much. As the Moon is covering up the last bit of the Sun, the final bit of sunlight will be shining in between lunar hills, causing what is known as Baily's beads.

During the last few seconds, everything around you will go completely dark, and stars show up in the sky. Some animals may behave oddly thinking its nighttime. This time is called totality. It may be very brief, but can last up to seven minutes, if you're lucky.

Since the bright surface of the Sun will be blocked, you would be able to see the Sun's outer atmosphere glowing around it. You might even see a solar flare!

But, if you happen to be lucky enough to be watching a solar eclipse, be careful. The Sun's light can severely damage your eyesight, especially after totality when your eyes will be used to the dark. The majority of the eclipse is best viewed through welding glasses, or through a telescope with a solar filter firmly attached to the front of the telescope.

The next total solar eclipse visible in Summerside, PEI, is on August 8, 2024, but solar eclipses happen a couple of times a year, visible only in a small area somewhere around the globe. Lunar eclipses are just as common, but can be easily seen from anywhere on the planet.

Until then, let's take a look at this month's sky.

The Quadrantid meteor show will peak on the night of Jan. 3, so keep an eye out for "shooting stars".

The full Moon will be on Jan. 4, while the new Moon will be on Jan. 19.

Jupiter will be shining brightly in the south-west shortly after sunset throughout the month.

The Athena Community Astronomy Club will be holding its monthly meeting on Sunday, Jan. 30, at the Wilmot Community Centre. The meeting runs from 7pm to 9pm. Guests are always welcome.

Until next month, just look up!

Hey Kids...
Remember those little robotic rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, driving around on Mars? They are still there and seem to be working fine. Spirit is stuck in some sand and is hibernating for the winter, waiting for Martian spring. Opportunity, in a warmer location, keeps on truckin'. Right now, Opportunity is taking a look at a big hole in the ground, caused by an asteroid smashing into Mars many years ago. This crater is the size of a football field! Maybe it will discover something that will help keep us safe from asteroids. You can never know with science what useful nuggets of information you may find, unless you go out and look!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

What's Up? - The Big Bang

Welcome back to What's Up?

One of the biggest questions in science is where did everything come from? It's not an easy question to answer and it may not even be fully answerable with current scientific knowledge.

A timeline of the history of the universe, from the Big Bang to now. Click to enlarge.

What we do know, is that the universe started with the Big Bang. The Big Bang was the rapid expansion of the universe in an event a lot like a massive explosion. How the Big Bang got started is still up for debate.

The theory got its start when Edwin Hubble discovered that there were other galaxies outside our own and that the universe was expanding. Since the universe is expanding, it means that at some point the universe must have been much, much smaller than its current size.

At the very beginning, when the universe was still very small, it was extremely hot and dense. It was essentially a hot "soup" of particles, so hot that atoms would not be able to hold together. There isn't a lot of observational evidence for these early moments, but the theory thoroughly explains what happens shortly after. 

Before we burn our tongues trying to test this particle soup, let's move on to some more testable events.

A small fraction of a second after the Big Bang, some particles began to group together to form larger particles. Quarks, an abundant ingredient in the particle soup, then grouped together to form neutrons and protons, the building blocks of atoms.

Between three and twenty minutes later, neutrons and protons combined together to form the nuclei, or centers, of atoms. The exact amount of Hydrogen and Helium predicted to have formed by the Big Bang Theory matches up exactly with what is measured by astronomers.

But it's not until 379,000 years after the Big Bang that electrons finally begin to orbit the nuclei, to form the first true atoms. The temperature was now a cozy 3000°C. After this moment, light particles, known as photons, are finally able to freely move without instantly colliding with something. 

An interesting thing about light particles is that they have a specific wavelength, or energy, depending on the temperature of the substance they were emitted from. A hot burner glows red because of the energy of light emitted by that temperature.

An image of the cosmic microwave
background taken by the WMAP
mission. Click to enlarge.
Due to the expansion of the universe and the time these photons have been traveling through space, their wavelengths have been stretched out, resulting in a much lower energy. The temperature of the photons should now be approximately -270°C, 3°C above absolute zero, the coldest possible temperature. These photons are now referred to as the cosmic microwave background.

American radio astronomers Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson discovered the cosmic microwave background in 1964 at nearly the exact predicted energies.

Millions of years after the Big Bang, stars began to form and galaxies also began to clump together. The James Webb space telescope will check for these early stars once it is launched in 2015.

The Hubble deep field, an image
of the early universe taken by
the Hubble Space Telescope.
The ages of the oldest current stars and how fast the universe is expanding both agree on the age of the universe. The Big Bang Theory has held up to all tests so far and refinements to measurements are being made all the time. This is an exiting and truly bizarre universe that we live in.

Maybe someday we will know how it all started, but until then, let's see what's up in this month's sky.

The new Moon is on Dec. 5, which will become a full Moon by Dec. 21. On Dec. 21, there will be a total lunar eclipse after midnight, where the Moon will slowly change to a very dark red.

Also on Dec. 21 is the winter solstice, considered to be the first day of winter.

On the night of Dec. 13 and the morning of Dec. 14 is the Quadrantid meteor shower. This shower may very well be the best meteor shower of the year with up to 120 meteors per hour predicted. No one likes a cold shower in the winter; so make sure to dress warmly.

Jupiter will be in the southern sky, dominating the evening sky throughout the month. In the morning sky, Venus will be shining brilliantly bright, low the southeast. Saturn will be a little to the west of Venus, accompanying it throughout the month.

Mercury will try to make a showing at the very end of the month, but will be very hard to pick out low in the east right before sunrise.

The Athena Community Astronomy Club will be having their annual Christmas meeting on Dec. 12 at the Wilmot Community Centre from 7pm to 9pm. Friends, family, and newcomers are always welcome.

Until next month, just look up!

Hey Kids...

Did you know that you can see leftover radiation from the beginning of the universe? If you have an old TV kicking around with the "bunny ears" on top and set it to one of the fuzzy channels, a small amount of that fuzzy image, about 1%, is from the Big Bang. The Big Bang was the explosion that is believed to have been the start of the universe. It doesn't take fancy equipment to do science, just a little interest and some imagination.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

What's Up? - The Immensity of the Universe

Welcome back to What's Up?

When looking up at the night sky, the vastness of the universe can be completely mind-blowing. Over the centuries our view of the universe and the scale of the universe has changed dramatically.

A comparison of the difference in sizes between planets and various stars.

For millennia it was believed that the Sun, Moon, and five planets orbited the Earth. The stars were believed to be holes in a large dark sphere surrounding our solar system.

That model had many problems fitting the motion of the planets in the night sky and finally, in the 16th century, Nicolaus Copernicus finally presented a Sun-centred solar system. This theory, called heliocentrism, features the planets of the solar system all orbiting the Sun in perfect circles.

In the early 17th century, Johannes Kepler published what are now known as Kepler's laws. With these laws it was shown that the planets orbit in elliptical (egg-shaped) orbits and not perfectly circular orbits as was believed at the time.

In the 1800's, the distances to the nearest stars were measured and discovered to be quite large. The nearest star, Proxima Centauri, is 4.2 light years away. In other words, since a light year is the distance that light travels in a year, this star is 40 trillion kilometres away! It would take tens of thousands of years travelling in a relatively fast spaceship to reach this star.

In our galaxy, the Milky Way, there are around 100 billion stars in a large pan-cake shaped disk 100,000 light years wide. Our Sun is a tiny yellow-dwarf star in the suburbs of this galaxy, two thirds of the way out from the centre.

In 1925, Edwin Hubble announced that he had discovered that certain nebulae were not actually nebulae, but galaxies just like our Milky Way. Shortly after, he also discovered that the universe is expanding.

The Andromeda galaxy, the nearest large galaxy like our own, is 2.2 million light years away and yet this is only a stone's throw compared to the most distant known galaxies.

The most distant galaxy known is over 13 billion light years away. This galaxy was, interestingly enough, discovered by the Hubble Space Telescope, which is named after Edwin Hubble.

This galaxy appears as it did "only" a few hundred million years after the big bang (the beginning of the universe). This galaxy was barely formed and its first generation of stars were dying off.

We have just reached the current visible limit of our universe. But this doesn't mean that it is the edge of the universe. The universe may be much larger. The edge of the observable universe only comes about because light takes time to reach us from distant galaxies.

Many galaxies are just too far away for light to have reached us yet. In fact, we'll never see the light from the more distant galaxies because the universe is expanding too quickly.

Some astronomers believe that we can see only four percent of the universe, while others think that there may be an infinite number of universes like ours popping into existence.

These mind-stretching theories and ideas are at the edge of what is known about this bizarre universe we find ourselves living in. Although the grand distances involved are impossible to visualize, it's easy to appreciate the astonishing scale of universe and the beauty within.

A National Geographic poster that may help to visualize the size of the universe.
The true size of the universe will take many years to figure out. Until then, let's see what's up in this month's night sky.

There will be a new moon on Nov. 6 which will swell to a full moon by Nov. 21.

The Leonid meteor shower will peak on Nov. 17, so make sure to keep an eye out and you may spot a few Leonid meteors streaking across the sky.

Jupiter will be the brightest star-like object in the sky shining somewhat low in the southern sky throughout the month.

The Athena Community Astronomy Club will have its monthly meeting on Nov. 21 at the Wilmot Community Centre. The meeting runs from 7pm to 9pm and guests are always welcome.

Until next month, just look up!

Hey Kids...
What do you see when you look at the moon? It's a bit like looking at the clouds and picking out shapes. Although there is no Man in the Moon, our brains are very good at picking out shapes. The brain is so good, that sometimes, when a shape doesn't match what we know, our brain chooses something and uses that shape. A lot of people see the "Man in the Moon", but everyone sees something different. Some see a woman singing, a rabbit, or even a man carrying sticks next to a dog. A little imagination can go a long way.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

What's Up? UFOs = Alien Spacecraft and Abductions?

Welcome back to What's Up?

When looking up at night, one of the first questions that may come to mind is "Are we alone?" Since the ancient Greeks, people have asked that very same question. Although most astronomers today would say there is life on other worlds, there is no definite evidence pointing toward a simple yes or no.
A typical image of an Unidentified Flying Object claimed to be an alien spacecraft.
The Search for ExtraTerrestrial Intelligence (SETI) involves searching through radio telescope observations for signals from distant aliens. While sometimes associated with pseudoscience, SETI doesn't jump to conclusions without solid proof of a signal.

There is a wide-spread belief that intelligent life has been visiting the Earth on a regular basis. This belief is almost non-existent among professional astronomers for many reasons. "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence," as Carl Sagan, who pioneered the field of astrobiology, once said while discussing the possibility of alien visitation.

UFO, which stands for Unidentified Flying Object, has become synonymous with alien spacecraft in recent decades. The vast majority of UFO sightings can be explained fairly easily.

For example, Venus low in a turbulent evening sky can appear to flash and change colour very rapidly and is a very common explanation for a lot of UFO phenomena.

The Moon has been mistaken for a UFO many times. When low on the horizon it appears as a very deep red and if clouds block out certain parts, it can appear to be some very strange shapes. When a crescent Moon is setting it can look like a burning sailboat sailing away from you.

An image I took of the Moon low
on the horizon.
During the day, clouds and reflections of the Sun off of clouds can look very odd. Sun dogs, which are bright spots in the sky can appear orb-like or as large arcs, near and around the Sun.

There are many other natural explanations for weird phenomena in the sky, but what about the flying saucers?

As it turns out, lenticular clouds, can be quite disk-like, although they usually only form near mountains. Other sources of flying saucers in photographs (especially the blurry ones) are dirt or water drops on the camera lens, a fast moving object being blurred in the frame, or are photoshopped.

Sightings by spacecraft of objects entering the atmosphere and shooting back off into space have been reported. Something that can do that must be aliens, right?

Well, not quite. As it turns out, if a meteor comes in at a shallow angle it can bounce off the atmosphere just like a when you skip stones at the beach.

Shortly after the release of the X-Files, UFO sightings spiked. Whether or not that is because of imagination or more people looking up at the sky can't really be said.

Speaking of the X-Files, there are also "alien abductions." At first glance it can seem very unlikely that so many different people could have such experiences if abductions weren't really happening. But, upon closer inspection, these abductions can be explained by how the human brain works.

The human brain is not a perfect machine for interpreting reality and abduction stories can be explained by hallucinations, near-sleep states, temporary schizophrenia, epileptic seizures, and even false memories. What people experience largely depends on the culture they are brought up in.
Are the rows of equal thickness?
An example of one of the many
ways our mind can trick us.

Have aliens visited Earth recently? They most likely have not. The majority of presented evidence is anomaly hunting, which is looking for anything odd and then jumping to the conclusion that it must be aliens. It can't be said for certain that there isn't alien visitation, but until solid proof is available, we won't have to rename our laws concerning illegal aliens.

While we're still thinking about what may be lurking above, let's see what's up in this month's skies.

The new Moon will be on Oct. 7 while the full Moon will be on Oct. 23.

Jupiter will shine brightly throughout the month in the southwest shortly after sunset.

The Athena Community Astronomy Club will have its monthly meeting on Sunday, October 24. The meeting runs from 7pm to 9pm at the Wilmot Community Centre. Guests are always welcome.

Until next month, just look up!

Hey Kids...
Did you know that Mercury, that toasty planet closest to the Sun, has a tail? It's not much of a tail, but it's definitely there. Most of the tail is from sodium, what you may know as salt, getting blown off Mercury by the solar wind. It turns out that there is a little mystery as to what else it is made of. This just proves that you can discover something hiding in plain sight. All you have to do is ask lots of questions and be on the lookout for anything new and exciting.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

What's Up? A Slew of Exoplanet Discoveries

Welcome back to What's Up?

As NASA's Kepler spacecraft continues to look for tell-tale clues of planets circling distant stars, reports of confirmed planet discoveries are slowly trickling in. Just in the last month, NASA announced that Kepler had discovered its first multiple planet system.

Kepler finds planets by detecting a dip in brightness as the planet passes in front of its star.
In this first multiple planet system, there are two planets orbiting the same star with a third unconfirmed planet called a “super-Earth.” This super-Earth is not likely to be very Earth-like, being a few times the mass of the Earth and orbits around its star in barely more than 38 hours!

Kepler is NASA's main instrument for discovering planets around other stars. It will stare at the same star field in the constellation Cygnus, the swan, for at least three and a half years. Out of the millions of stars in its field of view, Kepler will continuously monitor 100,000 of them.

Where Kepler will watch for
exoplanets. Click to enlarge.
The spacecraft is named after Johannes Kepler, who is best known for figuring out that the planets in our solar system have ellipse shaped (egg shaped) orbits around the Sun.

Scientists working with Kepler are very cautious about announcing new discoveries and always double or triple check everything. Right now there are over 700 possible planets from just a few months of data collection. Even if half of these are planets, it will nearly double the number of currently known extrasolar planets.

Among these candidates are many smaller planets and possible Earth sized planets. Although there may be many small Earth-sized worlds, the data needs to be checked by other telescopes for false alarms.

A completely separate team of astronomers working with the European Southern Observatory have discovered the richest exoplanet system known. Circling around the creatively named star, HD 10180, are at least five Neptune sized worlds.

This busy planetary system was discovered by carefully watching the starlight for blue shifting or red shifting, caused by the star being tugged towards and away from us by an unseen planet orbiting the star.

The astronomers also reported that there are two “fuzzier” signals present. The lead researcher, Dr. Christophe Lovis says he is “99%” certain that these two other planets are indeed there.

One of these uncertain exoplanets appears to be only 1.4 Earth masses. If confirmed, it will be the least massive exoplanet yet discovered.

Technology for detecting planets around other stars is still in its infancy, and yet there are over 400 currently known exoplanets and now there is a single star with as many as seven planets orbiting it!
An artists depiction of a planet around another star.
Future missions, like the James Webb Space Telescope, will have the ability to directly image some of these planets. By looking the colours reflected by the planet, astronomers will be able to figure out the composition of these planets' atmospheres.

Until then, let's see what's up in this month's sky.

The new Moon will be on Sept. 8 this month and will swell to become a full Moon on Sept. 23.

Jupiter will be at opposition (closest point to Earth) on Sept. 21. This is the best time to view the king of the planets. It will be the brightest star-like object rising in the east just after sunset.

Venus will be low near the western horizon and is the brightest object in the night sky (other than the Moon), while Mars will appear as a reddish star off to the side.

Autumnal Equinox, also known as the first day of Autumn, is on Sept. 23.

The monthly meeting of the Athena Community Astronomy Club will be on Sept. 26, the last Sunday of the month. The meeting starts at 7pm and ends at 9pm. Guests are always welcome.

Until next month, just look up!

Hey Kids...
Did you know that you can help choose the space shuttle's wake-up music? If you go on the internet and go to "", you can vote on which song you would like the astronauts to wake up to on the next Space Shuttle mission. If you feel really creative, you could even write your own song, and possibly have the astronauts on the last Space Shuttle mission listen to it. Imagine being a music star almost literally among the stars.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

What's Up? The Einstein Revolution

Welcome back to What's Up?

When we look up at night we see the stars and planets above, rotating hour by hour and night by night, just like clockwork. It's easy to appreciate the night sky's beauty, but sometimes we forget those who have helped figure out how the universe ticks.

The most well known of those great thinkers is most likely Albert Einstein. Although best known for his equation, e = mc2, which led to the development of the atomic bomb, his work has greatly helped in the understanding of the mysterious and quirky universe we live in.
Albert Einstein showing off a few equations.

Before Einstein, Mercury's odd shifting orbit could not be explained. Einstein's Special Theory of Relativity explained Mercury's orbit and got rid of the need for "fudge factors" in the equations or a hidden planet near the sun.

Einstein applied his equations to the entire universe and found that any mass in the universe would have enough gravity to eventually cause the universe to collapse in on its self. Since most astronomers at the time thought the universe was unchanging, he added a "cosmological constant" that would push back against gravity to prevent the universe from collapsing.

Just over a decade after adding the cosmological constant, it was discovered that the universe was expanding and there was no need for a cosmological constant to keep it from collapsing. Einstein called this the biggest blunder of his career.

Ironically, in 1996, researchers discovered that the rate at which the universe is expanding is getting faster and faster, it is accelerating! There is now a need for something similar to a cosmological constant to account for the accelerating expansion. The force driving the acceleration is referred to as dark energy, and is one of the biggest areas of research in astronomy today.

Einstein also realized that light is composed of individual particles and that light can be affected by gravity.
Photons being bent around the Sun.

Four years after Einstein's General Theory of Relativity in 1915, astronomers observed stars near the Sun during a solar eclipse. With the Moon blocking the Sun, it was easy to see where nearby stars were. Some of these stars appeared to out of place.

The light from the stars had been bent by the gravity of the Sun! This observation confirmed General Relativity and made Einstein an instant scientific celebrity.

From the same theory he also predicted that if something travels near the speed of light, the object will shrink in length, become more massive, and time will slow down for that object. Being in a gravitational field can also cause time to slow down. These observations may seem extremely crazy, but they have been proven to be true.

Communications satellites need to have Einstein's equations programmed into them. They orbit hundreds of kilometers above us and they don't feel as much gravity as we do, down here on the surface of the Earth. Since we experience more gravity, our clocks run a bit slower than the satellites' clocks. 

Without Einstein's equations, the difference between our clocks and the satellites' clocks would add up. A simple GPS system would start to drift within minutes without his equations. 

The next time you pick up your cell phone or turn on your GPS system in your car, remember that Einstein's equations are running inside the device.

Although quite comprehensive, Einstein's theories of Special and General Relativity can't explain the beginning of the universe, how gravity works on small scales, or what it is like inside a black hole.

Until those mysteries are solved, let's see what's up in this month's sky.

The new Moon will be on August 10, which allows for a perfect sky on August 12, the best night for watching the Perseid meteor shower. Rates can get up to around 100 per hour but the usual rate is around 60 per hour, or one every minute. 

To watch the meteor shower, find something to lie on, dress very warm, and look up sometime after sunset. The shower should get better as the night progresses.

The full Moon will be on August 24, and will be the smallest full Moon of the year.

The Athena Community Astronomy Club will have its monthly meeting at the Wilmot Community Centre from 7pm to 9pm on Sunday, August 29. Guests are always welcome.

The club will be continue its weekly boardwalk viewing sessions every clear Wednesday this month along the Summerside baywalk, by the Shipyard Market building, shortly after sunset.

Until next month, just look up!

Hey Kids...
If you have ever asked anyone whether airplanes can fly in space, you likely were told that they can't because there is no air in space. They are only partly right. There is a new plane called VSS Enterprise which is actually two planes joined together with a rocket underneath them. It's not going to be cheap at first but maybe someday you'll take a ride in this futuristic space plane.
VSS Enterprise in flight.