Nashville Concrete Contractors Provides Local Residents with Viewing Platform for Meteor Shower

A few times a year, marvelous astronomical observations can be made if you have a good viewing location. Unfortunately, people living in cities are barely able to see a single star because of all the light pollution created by thousands of buildings strewn across the area. Stargazers drive to remote locations all over the country to view meteor showers from dark places where there isn’t any light from buildings. The darkness gives you a perfect view of the sky, allowing your eyes to adjust to see more clearly. One of more famous opportunities happens annually in October when the Orionid meteor shower can be seen for 3 nights. This occurs when the Earth passes through the trailing field of Halley’s Comet. In past years, you could see 10 – 20 Orionids per hour at the peak of the display. One local company, Nashville Concrete Contractors, has installed a concrete stargazing platform on the roof of their building. The 100 x 100 square foot concrete block was laid directly over the tar roofing material and screwed in with commercial-grade carbon bolts. Nashville Concrete Contractors has invited all Davidson County residents to stop by between the hours of 7:00 PM and 3:00 AM on October 20-22, 2021 to watch the meteor shower from the roof of their building.  Lounge chairs and other seating will be provided, and no admission will be charged. Feel free to share the news with anyone who wants to go. As an FYI, Nashville Concrete Contractors is still looking for volunteers to provide food for the event. Interested parties should contact them directly through their website at

NASA’S Fascinating Twins Study

In 2016, astronaut Scott Kelly returned to Earth after spending a year aboard the International Space Station (ISS). Meanwhile, Scott’s identical twin brother, Mark Kelly, who is a retired astronaut, remained on Earth.

We have read it and seen it before in science fiction books/films how people in space ages slower than the people on Earth due to time dilation and other factors. If another twin spends a year in space, travelling at the speed of light, the other twin on Earth may have lived fifty or so years, aging faster than the other twin. Such a speculation is yet to be studied in the future but NASA has conducted a similar research and has currently published the results of their fascinating year-long Twins Study, in which one twin remains on Earth while the other goes to space. NASA then compares the physical and mental changes that have occured to both twins – a unique opportunity to examine the impact of extended stay in space to the human body. Twins are the perfect subjects for this kind of study as they both share almost identical genetic codes and so making a comparison is easier.

The Twins Study had ten distinct investigations, each of which focused on an aspect of the human body such as genetic expression, cardiovascular health, immune system response, and more. Six months prior to Scott’s flight, the researchers performed several tests and collected samples of blood, urine, and fecal matter from both twins. While in space, Scott collected his own samples. Nine months after he landed, the researchers continued their examinations on the twins.

Based on the results, spaceflight can indeed trigger changes in the human body. But what is interesting is that these changes disappear or reverse after a few months back on Earth. According to the study, several of the findings suggest that living in space – a microgravity environment – can do harm and damage to the DNA, can change thousands of individual genetic expression, can lengthen the telomeres (protection caps at the end of our chromosomes), thicken artery walls, modify the gut’s microbiome, and increase body inflammation.

The gene expression (or epigenetics) changed drastically as soon as Scott went out into space. Previously dormant genes related to telomere growth, collagen production, immune system response, and DNA repair were turned on. On his last six months in space, expression of the above-mentioned genes ramped up, which might have cause his telomeres to increase in length. Telomeres prevent DNA strands from degrading as we age. But back on Earth, just two days after he landed, his telomeres drastically shortened, shorter than when it was pre-flight, which might imply how spaceflight could negatively affect the DNA in the long-term. In NASA’s upcoming One-Year Mission Project, scientists are planning to carry out further telomere research to figure what causes its growth and to find a way of regulating it during spaceflight.

The Twins Study is only the beginning of a series of other spaceflight-related researches by NASA. Currently, this study has only focused on one pair of twins. Hopefully in the near future, NASA will be able to corroborate the results with other studies by examining other astronauts. What is important as of now is that this study contributes to our knowledge of how spaceflight and living in space for extended periods of time can affect the physical composition and functioning of the human body.

All You Need to Know About the Perseid Meteor Showers

Don’t you feel lucky when you observe the meteor showers? Well, our magnificent planet Earth offers specific instances wherein you can observe the spectacular meteor showers to mark the most memorable moments of your life. In recent times, there is a great hype about the Perseid Meteor Shower. Wish to know more about it? Read on.

Irrespective of where in the globe you might be living in, the latest 2018 Perseid Meteor Showers have been expected to have generated the maximum number of meteor showers in the early mornings of the mid-August. In the dark, moonless sky, the annual meteor showers were known for producing somewhere around 50 meteors on an hourly basis –sometimes even more. To top it all, this time there was no moonlight to spoil the majestic show.

On the top half of the planet, the August Perseids represents a spectactular display that many find to be the best around. It occurs toward the end of the summer and is best viewed from a dark place for full effect. As such, there could be nothing more luxurious than watching the spectacular summer-time natural beauty in the coolness of the dark night.

People tend to remain more focused on the peak mornings for witnessing the meteor showers. However, the meteor showers during the annual showers –which might come from the steam of debris that is left behind by the comets in space –tend to typically last for several weeks, and not days. The Perseid meteor showers have been striking the skies since the period of July 2017. As such, the meteor showers yet again happened this year on the early mornings of the month of August. Moreover, the Perseid meteor showers tend to build up gradually.

When & How to Watch the Perseid Meteor Showers 2018?

The best time to watch the magnificent Perseid meteor showers is between the time of midnight & dawn. The best skies for watching the meteor showers are considered the ones that are far from the city lights & pollution. To top it all, if the sky is moon-free, it can only enhance your meteor-watching experience.

In any typical year, though the number of meteor showers tends to increase after the period of midnight, the Perseid meteors are known to start rising in number at mid-to-late evening period from the northerly latitudes. Make the most of your time by witnessing the classic meteor showers that nature has to offer.

Scientists Discover Life Evidence on a Saturn Moon

Large-sized, carbon-rich organic molecules appear to be coming out from the cracks present on the surface of the icy moon of Saturn –Enceladus. This has been observed after the latest findings of the data collected by the Cassini spacecraft of NASA. This discovery establishes the fact that Enceladus is the only place after Earth that has been known to satisfy all the possible conditions that are able to support life as the human beings know it.

The question arises “Do aliens live there?” There could be a possibility. However, it might not be the same scenario as what you might be imagining. A leading planetary scientist confirmed that it cannot be decided whether the origin of the given complex material tends to be biotic. However, there exists strong potential in the given theory. What the scientists mean is that they are still unsure of the origin or source of the heavy, carbon-rich molecules. Yet, it is deduced that it could be from some living organism.

Beneath the icy crust of the Saturn’s moon Enceladus, the surface hosts a warm, mysterious ocean that resides above a rocky core. Several plumes of icy-cold vapor that are hundreds of miles high keep escaping from the ocean’s subsurface into the outer space through the cracks that have been formed in the moon’s crust. The Cassini –NASA’s aboard spacecraft has collected samples from the plumes of icy vapors during the closer flyby of the spacecraft to Enceladus on 28th October, 2015. The spacecraft Cassini had analyzed the collected samples with the help of the Cosmic Dust Analyzer along with a mass spectrometer. The researchers had then reviewed the collected data and came up with the result that depicted the signs of largely-sized, complex carbon-rich molecules.

Cassini, until now, has detected only a much smaller portion of the organic molecules having molecular masses less than 50 atomic mass units. The newly-discovered carbon-rich molecules tend to have molecular masses that go above the range of 200 atomic mass units and are thus, classified as “macro-molecules”. To top it all, these molecules are complex as well. These are made up of elongated chains & rings of carbon. A scientist claimed that this is the first-ever evidence of the presence of largely-sized organic molecules from some extraterrestrial aquatic environment. These could be formed only through the help of equally complex & organic chemical processes.

These types of complex molecules do not dissolve in water. This implies that gas bubbles are responsible for transporting such molecules to the surface of the water bodies where they create an organic film. From the surface of the water, the molecules get transferred into the outer space through the crack on the crust of the moon. Cassini spacecraft has also detected the presence of molecular hydrogen from the rising plumes that emanated from the surface of Enceladus. This again proves to be a vital consideration for the existence of life on Saturn’s moon.

Do Big Black Holes Explore the Galaxy?

In the astronomical science, black holes have always been the topic of interesting discussion. Many are enticed by it, while some dread the theories that highlight the dangers of the massive black hole in our galaxy. A massive black hole resides at the dead core of the Milky Way. This is the same theory for most of the other galaxies out there. When these black holes might not be munching on stars & gas or flashing out intense, plasma jets, these mysterious formations tend to stay quiet relatively.

However, these black holes, as believed by the scientists do not always tend to stay at the core of the galaxy. When galaxies tend to merge, the stars and gas re-distribute amongst themselves. Moreover, the supermassive black holes of the respective galaxies are able to come across an eviction notice and are usually caught by the gravity of the other galaxies. Over the passage of time, several gravitational encounters are able to send the given black hole towards the center of the particular galaxy.

However, in the recent times, astronomers have increasingly come across the fact that when galaxies tend to merge, the black holes do not always necessarily migrate towards the center of the resulting galaxy. In fact, only a smaller fraction of the merging activities will be ultimately creating closer pairs of centralized black holes. This problem serves to be acutely serious when one of the merging galaxies is considerable smaller (at least less than the 10th in mass) than the other merging partner. The components of the smaller galaxy might take longer than the given age of the universe to make the black hole sink towards the galaxy’s center.

As a result, through implications, the massive, big galaxies could be playing host to several stripped-down galactic cores along with the respective black homes. On the basis of how small the particular black hole is being considered, the astronomers have predicted that there are dozens of them that could lurk at the fringes of the galaxies.

A Complete Lot of Black Holes

Towards better understanding what is exactly going on in the given process, an astronomer named Michael Tremmel along with his colleagues conducted an in-depth observation at how the wandering black holes would be moving across the period of a billion years. The respective team made use of high-powdered Romulus simulation set which was aimed at following the growth & expansion of the cosmic structures in a single cube of some computerized space of around 80 million light-years on the side.

The result of the observation revealed that when two galaxies approached each other in the given simulations, the black hole of the smaller galaxy got caught in the outer reaches of the larger galaxy. However, when it comes to Milky Way, there is nothing to worry. Recent studies have revealed that a middle-sized black hole which is smaller than the ones that have explored here, might be able to keep the central black hole of our galaxy in its place.

Our galactic neighbor: Andromeda

The Andromeda Galaxy (M31) taken with a 71/347mm telescope.

Also known as M31, Andromeda galaxy is the nearest congregation to the earth with 2.5 million light years of distance. Like the Milky Way (the galaxy of which the solar system and sun are part), Andromeda has the same shape of a spiral and was discovered in the 20’ for the astronomer Edwin Hubble. He confirmed that Andromeda was a galaxy and not a cloud as many believe.

Andromeda galaxy is stunning with more stars than the Milky Way. You can see it easily with the naked eye from the earth and its name is was given thanks to its position in the constellation of Andromeda. Far from being a spectacular sight of the sky, this galaxy is a massive, turbulent spot on the cosmos. In fact, is expected that Andromeda collides with the Milky Way in 4 billion years. The Andromeda galaxy is coming to us at 400000 kilometers per hour which is fast enough to start planning any scape, right?

Despite the future war between our planet and Andromeda, experts believe that our planet will survive the collision. Why? Because galaxies are made of empty space which is mostly harmless to us. Our universe is infinite and our beautiful earth is hanging there between numberless of things we ignore about.

When is the best time to look for the Andromeda galaxy? You can see at least a small part of the galaxy every night, all year long. But the M31 shines beautifully between September and October in the eastern sky. Winter evenings are also a great opportunity to appreciate our neighbor.

  • Here you have some beautiful quotes about the universe you should read if you’re a fanatic of our world as we do:
  • “Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the universe.” Albert Einstein.
  • “I’m sure the universe is full of intelligent life. It’s just been too intelligent to come here.” Arthur C. Clarke.
  • “The more clearly we can focus our attention on the wonders and realities of the universe about us, the less taste we shall have for destruction.” Rachel Carson.
  • “Believe something and the Universe is on its way to being changed. Because you’ve changed, by believing. Once you’ve changed, other things start to follow. Isn’t that the way it works?” Diane Duane.
  • “The universe is big, its vast and complicated, and ridiculous. And sometimes, very rarely, impossible things just happen and we call them miracles. And that’s the theory. Nine hundred years, never seen one yet, but this would do me.” Steven Moffat.
  • “All you really need to know for the moment is that the universe is a lot more complicated than you might think, even if you start from a position of thinking it’s pretty damn complicated in the first place.” Douglas Adams.

Did you know all this about our neighbor galaxy?


2018 top astronomy events you must see

For the ones that are waiting for any celestial wonder, here you have the sky events you can’t miss this 2018.

Planets line – March 7 and 8. Three planets will form a cosmic line that we’ll have the honor to witness. By this date, the planets Saturn, Mars, and Jupiter will align in the sky.

Blue Moon – March 31. Besides of appreciating the majesty of a full moon, by the 31st you can see it blue. Residents of Eastern and Central Asia will have the privilege of witnessing this incredible phenomenon. Of course, you may know the moon itself can’t be blue. A blue hue is possible due to volcanic activity or wildfires as dust particles.

A meteor shower – April 16th. A falling star will be seen over Myanmar as part of the Lyrid meteor shower. This event occurs thanks to the Earth that will pass into dust shed. This astronomical event is one of the oldest known, and it was referenced by Zuo Zhuan. It is named for the Lyra constellation, and the meteors will be seen as a part of the sky. The meteor shower will be visible in the Northern hemisphere and the North of the Southern hemisphere.

Eta Aquariids meteor – may 7th. Although the real Halley’s comet will be back by 2061, the eta acuariids meteor shower will be comprised of dust particles that will show the path of the famed comet. Is not a spectacular event but for all the astronomy fanatics in the Southern hemisphere will be visible.

Moon and Venus – July 15th. The crescent moon and Venus will create a stunning pair. North American habitats will be the best positioned to appreciate the two planets at their closest.

Lunar eclipse and Mars at its best – July 27th. The second eclipse of the year will be the longest of the 21 century. The moon will be situated at apogee, the furthest the moon gets from our planet in its orbit, and it will pass right through the center of the Earth’s shadow. This is called “Central Lunar Eclipse,” and it’s the most uncommon. The best view will be for those located from Australia to Brazil and all the ones that are in Eastern Africa and Central Asia.
The same day, you´ll see Mars close to the moon. The red planet will be a bright start in the southern sky. This year Mars will be nearer and at the same time father form our planet over time. Mars will be at its biggest and brightest since the year 2003, and it won’t come close until 2035.

Partial Solar Eclipse – August 11th. A partial solar eclipse will be seen across the Northern regions of North America and Europe. At the same time, for those who are in Greenland, Asia, and Iceland. Depending on your location you’ll see a significant event or not. The most fantastic view will be for the people located in remote sites in Russia and Northeastern China.

Perseids Shower – August 12th. A brilliant meteor will race across the sky considered one of the most intense annual meteor shower. The crescent moon of that day will permit a unique view condition for all the people in the Northern Hemisphere.

TRAPPIST-1 System Discovery

One of the more enduring qualities of mankind is the never ending thirst for discovery. It started with mapping out the land in which we lived and then shifted to the interest of conquering the seas. Once that was achieved, it was only natural that our gaze turned inward and of course, upward.

We often wondered if there was another planet like ours in the vastness of space. As of February of 2017, we got not one–not two—but SEVEN answers to this long standing question.

NASA had announced that they found seven potentially Earth-like planets orbiting a star 40 light-years away. This is certainly the first time such a discovery has been made and it has raised hopes that we’ll eventually find alien life.

The seven planets seem to be closely orbiting a dwarf star named Trappist-1. The dim star is slightly larger than Jupiter and shines with a feeble light that’s 2000 times fainter than our own Sun. The distance in which the seven planets orbit the star is comparable to Jupiter’s moons. They are measured to be near the size of our planet–some varying at around 10% or 20% smaller or larger.

Three of the new planets all live within the habitable zone near their source of heat and light. The conditions on planets so close to dwarf stars, which are known to release fierce bursts of x-rays and ultraviolet light, might not be the most conducive for life. But when the sun goes out in a few billion years, Trappist-1 will still be an infant star. It burns hydrogen so slowly that it will last another 10 trillion years, Snellen writes in an accompanying Nature article. That is more than 700 times longer than the universe has existed, so there is plenty of time yet for life to evolve.

The fact that Trappist-1 wasn’t as bright as our own Sun led to the discovery of the seven new planets. Since their discovery, our scientists have been busy trying to get more substantial data regarding the various atmospheres of the different planets. While initial hypothesis alleged that three of the planets may have water exist on their surface. There is also a possibility that the other four planets may also hold water. This will depend largely upon their atmosphere. So it’s a pretty good opportunity to conduct atmospheric studies.

It presents a good chance to do comparative studies between our own atmosphere and the chemical composition of exoplanet atmospheres. If any of the seven planets contain gases like ozone, oxygen, or methane–there’s a good chance of it holding or even hosting life.

Another pretty exciting thing about this discovery is that dwarf stars like Trappist-1 are pretty common in the galaxy. So, scientifically speaking, there’s a huge leap in the probability of finding other exoplanet discoveries and maybe we’ll be able to find another planet much like our own.

With the new discovery of these seven planets, the chances of finding another Earth-like planet is no longer a matter of if but of when.

Sun Q and A

Today, we discuss the one ball of gas that’s pretty near and dear to our hearts: The Sun. Any astronomy nut will be able to tell you that The Sun is the star at the very center of our solar system and is primarily responsible for our planet’s climate and weather. What we’ll be discussing today are some questions about our Sun.

Q: What is the shape of the Sun?
A: The Sun is an almost perfect sphere. It is estimated that only around a 10 km difference is in its polar diameter compared to its equatorial diameter.

Q: How old is our Sun?
A: From the more recent calculations, our Sun is around 4.6 billion years old.

Q: How many Earths can fit inside the Sun?
A: If we were to hollow out our Sun and place spherical Earths within it, an estimated 960,000 Earths would fit inside.

Q: What is the Sun’s circumference?
A: 4,366,813 km

Q: How long does light from the Sun take to reach Earth?
A: Given the average distance of 150 km from Earth and light that travels at 300,000 kilometers per second, it should take around 500 seconds or 8 minutes and 20 seconds for the light from the Sun to reach Earth. It is important to note that although it reaches Earth in a few minutes, according to space-time relativity, it would have already taken millions of years to travel from the Sun’s core to its surface.

Q: How fast does the Sun travel?
A: If you’re referring to the speed in which the Sun completes an orbit of the center of the Milky way, it would be 220 kilometers per second.

Q: Does the distance between the Earth and Sun remain constant?
A: No. The Earth travels on an elliptical orbit around the sun. Therefore, the distance between the two varies from 147 to 152 million kilometers.

Q: Does the Sun have a strong magnetic field?
A: Yes. Solar flares occur when magnetic energy is unleashed by the Sun in the event of magnetic storms. We see them as sunspots. In these sunspots, the magnetic lines are twisted and often spin–much like how you’d expect a tornado to move.

Q: What is the temperature of the center of the Sun?
A: At the very center of the Sun, temperatures can rise as much as 15 million Celsius.

Q: What is the temperature of the Sun’s surface?
A: The Sun’s surface reaches around 5,600 degrees Celsius.

Q: Does the Sun contain the most mass in the Solar System?
A: Yes. Our Sun contains around 99.86% of the mass in the Solar System. This is so because it is almost three quarters Hydrogen–the rest is Helium.

Q: Is the Sun “immortal”?
A: While the Sun has been depicted as a God in many cultures, it is in fact, not “immortal”. One day the sun will die out. Once the hydrogen in the Sun has burned away, it shall continue to burn for about 130 million more years–consuming what remains (Helium). In which event, the Sun shall expand and consume Mercury, Venus, and the Earth.

Astronomical Events this Month

It’s the start of the new year and for astronomy enthusiasts, that means a whole new calendar for astronomical events! Let’s break down the major events to look out for the month of January 2017.

January 3-4: Quadrantids Meteor Shower

Starting off the 2017 astronomical events is an above average meteor shower. The Quadrantids meteor shower has been recorded to show at least 40 meteors per hour at its peak time. Scientists theorize that these meteors are dust grains that was left behind by an extinct comet discovered in 2003. While the shower is an annual event that runs from the first to the fifth of January, this year it will peak on the third and fourth of this month. It will begin short after midnight and can be seen best by those who live in North America.

January 12: Full Moon

Peaking at 11:34 UTC (Coordinated Universal Time), this will be the first full moon of the year. You won’t need your telescope for this one but you may, if you want to have a closer look at what the Native Americans once refer to as the Full Wolf Moon. As known by many, a full moon is the lunar phase that happens when the moon is completely illuminated as perceived on Earth. It occurs when the hemisphere of the moon which is facing Earth is almost completely illuminated by the Sun and appears round.

January 12: Venus at Greatest Eastern Elongation

If you want to take a closer look at the second planet in our solar system, this will be a good day to do it. On this day, Venus will reach its greatest eastern elongation of 47.1 degrees from the Sun. A planet’s elongation is the angle between the Sun and the planet, with the Earth as the reference point. The greatest elongation of any given planet happens when the inner plant’s position is its orbital path to the Sun, is at tangent to the observer on Earth. As this is an eastern elongation, expect it to occur shortly after sunset.

January 19: Mercury at Greatest Western Elongation

While the eastern elongation occurs after sunset, the western elongation occurs before sunrise. Mercury will be at 24.1 degrees from the sun.

January 28: New Moon

Commonly known as the first phase of the Moon. When observed from Earth, the new moon occurs at the moment when the Moon and the Sun have the same ecliptical longtitude. While the moon itself is not particularly visible, it would appear the same as it would during a solar eclipse (as a silhouette). In non-astronomical perspectives, new moon refers to the first visible crescent of the Moon after a conjunction with the Sun. It’s a good chance to observe the different phases of the moon and jot them down in your astronomy journal.

With the several events that occur this month, it’s a good practice run for the rest of the year. You can either observe it by yourself or get in touch with the astronomy clubs or organizations in your area and start building your network to always be in the know of the upcoming celestial events worth seeing!