What You Need to Know About Mars Comet Siding Spring
- On Sunday, October 19th, Comet C/2013 A1, aka Siding Spring, will pass within about 87,000 miles of the Red Planet. The comet is between 0.5-5 miles wide.
- The distance the comet will be from Mars is less than half the distance between Earth and our moon and less than one-tenth the distance of any known comet flyby of Earth.
- Siding Spring most likley created in our outer solar system between Jupiter and Neptune around 4.6 billion years ago — just a few million years after the solar system formed. Scientists believe Siding Spring had a close encounter with one of these planets and was shot out into the Oort Cloud
- A million years ago or so, a star passing by the Oort Cloud is thought to have bumped the comet’s orbit again, sending it on its current trip toward the inner solar system.
- Comets from the Oort cloud are both ancient and rare. Since this is Comet Siding Spring’s first trip through the inner solar system, scientists are excited to learn more about its composition and the effects of its gas and dust on the Mars upper atmosphere.
- NASA does not think the comet hit the Red Planet, but comets spew out a trail of dust and gas, and that could damage the fleet of spacecraft orbiting Mars. Just to be safe, NASA will move the Mars Odyssey orbiter, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), and the new Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN) to the other side of the planet as the comet approaches.
- The Mars orbiters will take pictures and collect data on the comet as it flys by. Several Earth-based and space telescopes, including the Hubble Space Telescope, also will take pictures. Here is the full list of NASA assets observing Siding Spring
- The comet was first discovered in January 2013 by Robert McNaught at the Siding Spring Observatory in Australia.
- Check out this great article from Space.com on how to view the comet from Earth
"The Sin" - Heinrich Lossow - c.1880
The Ballet of Chestnuts was the most famous of the orgies held in the Vatican.
On Sunday evening, October 30th 1501, Cardinal Cesare Borgia, son of Pope Alexander VI, hosted a banquet in the Papal Palace where fifty prostitutes were in attendance for the entertainment of the guests.
"Following the supper, lampstands holding lighted candles were placed on the floor and chestnuts strewn about, which the prostitutes, naked and on their hands and knees, had to pick up with their mouths as they crawled in and out among the lampstands. The Pope watched and admired their noble parts".
Members of the clergy and other party guests had sex with the prostitutes for prizes. According to Burchard: "Prizes were offered—silken doublets, pairs of shoes, hats and other garments—for those men who were most successful with the prostitutes."
"Servants kept score of each man’s orgasms, for the pope greatly admired virility; and measured a man’s machismo by his ejaculative capacity."
- by Isabel M. Scott, Andrew P. Clark, Steven C. Josephson, Adam H. Boyette, Innes C. Cuthill, Ruby L. Fried, Mhairi A. Gibson, Barry S. Hewlett, Mark Jamieson, William Jankowiak, P. Lynne Honey, Zejun Huang,Melissa A. Liebert, Benjamin G. Purzycki, John H. Shaver, J. Josh Snodgrass, Richard Sosis, Lawrence S. Sugiyama, Viren Swami, Douglas W. Yu, Yangke Zhao, and Ian S. Penton-Voak
“A large literature proposes that preferences for exaggerated sex typicality in human faces (masculinity/femininity) reflect a long evolutionary history of sexual and social selection. This proposal implies that dimorphism was important to judgments of attractiveness and personality in ancestral environments. It is difficult to evaluate, however, because most available data come from large-scale, industrialized, urban populations. Here, we report the results for 12 populations with very diverse levels of economic development. Surprisingly, preferences for exaggerated sex-specific traits are only found in the novel, highly developed environments. Similarly, perceptions that masculine males look aggressive increase strongly with development and, specifically, urbanization. These data challenge the hypothesis that facial dimorphism was an important ancestral signal of heritable mate value. One possibility is that highly developed environments provide novel opportunities to discern relationships between facial traits and behavior by exposing individuals to large numbers of unfamiliar faces, revealing patterns too subtle to detect with smaller samples” (read more/open access).
***I don’t often post stuff like this but I was feeling a wee bit sadistic tonight.
(Open access source: PNAS 111(4):14388–14393, 2014)
From the Temple of the Sun to the Temple of the Moon
What connects the Sun to the Moon? Many answers have been given throughout history, but in the case of today’s featured image, it appears to be the plane of our Milky Way Galaxy. The 16-image panorama was taken in Capitol Reef National Park, Utah, USA where two sandstone monoliths — the Temple of the Moon on the right and the Temple of the Sun on the left — rise dramatically from the desert. Each natural monument stands about 100 meters tall and survives from the Jurassic period 160 million years ago. Even older are many of the stars and nebulas that dot the celestial background, including the Andromeda Galaxy. Tomorrow the Earth will connect the Sun to the Moon by way of its shadow: a total lunar eclipse will be visible from many locations around the globe.
Image credit & copyright: Dave Lane