Friday night my wife and my 3 ½ year old daughter Lilah picked me up at work to go have some dinner. When I opened the car door, Lilah, who it appears was about to explode from waiting to tell me something, blurted out “Daddy, daddy, daddy LOOK!” and pointed off to the west with an excited look in her eye. I followed her finger to a spot above the horizon where a thin sliver moon was shining down with Venus just a finger width to its right. “It’s Venus and the moon,” she breathlessly exclaimed, “and the moon is little but it is pretending to be full,” her words to describe the ghostly outline of the full moon seen in the background of the bright glint of the crescent moon.
“Daddy daddy daddy do you remember when we saw Venus and the moon and Jupiter, too?”
I do indeed remember that. That moment was the December crescent moon, three full lunations ago. It was also the moment that I like to think of as the final episode of the first season of Mike Brown’s Planets. Like any self-respecting TV production, I’ve been taking a summer hiatus. It’s just that my hiatus occurred during southern summer rather than northern summer.
I’m not sure what TV production crews do during a hiatus but we’ve been pretty busy here at Mike Brown’s Planets, doing a bit of science. You’ll get to hear all about it in upcoming installments. Some of the highlights upcoming include:
- Name a satellite of a Kuiper belt object! I’ll tell you about the Kuiper belt object and its satellite and then I’ll take suggestions of what to name the satellite (and why). The best suggestion will get forwarded to the IAU as the official recommendation.
- Life, death, and the Kuiper belt.
- More and more and more moon shadows. Last season readers here were the first to hear about the ongoing shadow crossing of Haumea by Namaka (and why they are both important and cool). Much much more is to come (and you can read more about it in an ongoing technical blog intended more for research astronomers, but, nonetheless, occasionally entertaining)
- My father, rocket scientist, RIP
- A (slightly belated) look forward at discoveries that might be made in 2009 and a look back at the 2008 predictions to see how many, if any, came true.
- Why Pluto is still not a planet and should remain that way.
- Things in the sky that make me smile.