by Alex Autin


To Scale: The Solar System

The Most Beautiful Marble You Can Imagine…


Have 7 minutes and need a dose of awe? Check out the short film below, titled To Scale: The Solar System, by Wylie Overstreet and Alex Gorosh.

Shot in the fall of 2014 on a dry lake-bed at Black Rock Desert, in Nevada, Overstreet and Gorosh, along with a group of friends, built the first three dimensional scale model of the solar system with complete planetary orbits. The finished work was published on Sept 16, 2015, on the project’s To Scale youtube channel.

The purpose of the project, according to Overstreet, was “to see what our place in the cosmos actually looks like”…

Wowza! If you’d like to learn more about the film and those who put the project together, you can check out a short ‘the making of’ film here.

Marseille vs Mars

Vive la différence…


While there are a few noticeable differences between Marseille, France on Earth and Gale Crater on Mars, such as one having MUCH better coffee than the other, there is one thing the two locations have in common – stunning sunsets!

The image on the left was taken in May of 2012 by Damia Bouic, and the image on the right was taken in April 2015  by NASA’s Curiosity Rover. The two images were scaled to have the same angular width, and one striking difference between the two is color. On Mars at sunset and sunrise the sky is pinkish-red in color and appears blue in the area of the setting or rising sun. In Marseille, and on Earth in general, we have the opposite of that situation. Our skies appear blue at sunrise and sunset with the area of the setting or rising sun typically appearing orange.

Us humans don’t yet fully understand the reason for the blue hues of Mars, but we think it is related to the forward scattering properties of Martian dust. Oh, and it should be noted that during the day, quite unlike Marseille, the Martian sky is a very uninviting yellow-brown butterscotch color. (This added to the lack of Mediterranean beaches, lack of museums, lack of restaurants, and an abundance of toxic air and extreme amounts of ultraviolet radiation, leads me to think of Marseille as being a much better vacation destination.)

Another noticeable difference in the two above sunsets is the appearance of the size of the Sun itself. Mars is 50% farther from the Sun than Earth. (This should be kept in mind when making travel arrangements. While from my location on Earth a flight to Marseille would take about 15 hours, give or take, and is sure to involve at least one antsy, restless, 7 year old seated directly in front of me, a ‘flight’ to Mars would take about 6 or 7 months using current chemical propulsion methods. Also worth mentioning, providing I survived the flight as well as my stay on planet, arranging a return trip ticket would be a royal bitch. )

Above image credit: Damia Bouic/NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS via Astronomy Picture Of The Day

800px-Mars_sky_at_noon_PIA01546Mars sky at noon, June 1999, imaged by NASA’s Mars Pathfinder.

800px-MarsSunset_losslesscropMars sky at sunset, May 2005, imaged by NASA’s Spirit rover.

800px-Martian-Sunset-O-de-Goursac-Curiosity-2013Mars sky at sunset, February 2013, imaged by NASA’s Curiosity rover. (Simulated position of the Sun.)

May the 4th Be With You

Happy Star Wars Day!


Launching soon to a space station near you….

In celebration of May the Fourth, or Star Wars Day, NASA has issued the above Star Wars themed International Space Station Expedition 45 Crew Poster. How geeky is that?! Well, it’s pretty freaking geeky, and also pretty freaking cool. Featured on the poster are (clockwise from lower left) NASA astronaut Kjell N. Lindgren, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Kimiya Yui, Roscosmos cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko, Roscosmos cosmonaut Sergey Volkov, Roscosmos Mikhail Kornienko, and finally (lower right) NASA astronaut Scott Kelly.  (Interestingly, Kelly and Kornienko, who launched to the Station along with Expedition 43, are taking part in an unprecedented One Year Mission which is twice as long as typical U.S. missions.)

And now, in a galaxy far, far, away…a video I’ve posted previously but on this day, May the 4th, it warrants re-posting! The Piano Guys with Cello Wars!



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