So I checked out the Leonids, and with a clear sky in the middle of nowhere, I managed to get a few shots, which I posted below... really, really nothing bad shots though, mind you.
The Leonids are a prolific meteor shower associated with the comet Tempel-Tuttle. The Leonids get their name from the location of their radiant in the constellation Leo: the meteors appear to radiate from that point in the sky.
Earth moves through the meteoroid stream of particles left from the passages of a comet. The stream comprises solid particles, known as meteoroids, ejected by the comet as its frozen gases evaporate under the heat of the Sun when it is close enough – typically closer than Jupiter's orbit.
So, last night there was a Clerkship informational session with Justice Gilles, and beyond that it was really interesting (and something I'm thinking of trying for), the idea of SPACE LAW came up. Yeah, there is such a thing, and it is sounds awesome. "Yeah, I work at the The United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs." I also love their first side-bar link, casually (and incorrectly, I guess...) "Whats new".
Space law encompasses national and international law governing activities in outer space. International lawyers have been unable to agree on a uniform definition of the term "outer space," although most lawyers agree that outer space generally begins at the lowest altitude above sea level at which objects can orbit the Earth, approximately 100 km. The inception of the field of space law began with the launch of the world's first artificial satellite by the Soviet Union in October 1957, named Sputnik 1.
Ok, then I started reading a bunch of articles on the moon (one thing lead to another) and I got onto helium 3.
Scientists estimate there are about 1 million tons of helium 3 on the moon, enough to power the world for thousands of years.
As reported in an Artemis Project paper, about 25 tonnes of helium-3 -- or a fully-loaded Space Shuttle cargo bay's worth -- could power the United States for a year. This means that helium 3 has a potential economic value in the order of $3bn a tonne -- making it the only thing remotely economically viable to consider mining from the Moon given current and likely-near-future space travel technologies and capabilities.
There's a pretty great and highly recommended 5 minute video here which will make you an expert on helium 3 mining on the moon.
In 2006 Nikolai Sevastyanov, head of the Russian space corporation Energia, was reported to have said that Russia is planning to mine lunar helium-3, with a permanent Moon base to be established by 2015 and industrial-scale helium-3 production to commence by 2020. The Americans also have plans, with NASA having announced its intention to establish a permanent base on one of the Moon's poles by 2024, and with helium-3 signalled as one of the reasons behind this mission.
A few weeks ago China launch a moon orbiter that has already sent back pictures. As reported by China View (because I obviously read China View), China is also in the race, and plans to put a man Moon by 2017. One of the goals of the mission will be to measure the thickness of the lunar soil and the amount of helium-3 on the Moon. There have also been reports that India, Japan and Germany are taking an interest in lunar exploration linked to helium-3 as a potential future nuclear fuel.
Anyway, apparently I'm already too late to the party; however, there is an actually fantastic Discovery Channel videogame -- that I blew about 2 hours playing last night waiting for the moon to fully set to watch those Leonids -- about rival nations mining Helium 3 on the moon.
\Ok, on with the Leonid pictures!
Here's a closer look.
Ok, so, maybe I had my camera settings off, maybe the "shower" was a bit/quite underwhelming, and just maybe it was too bright to take any decent photos. But, that's a meteor!
I ended up seeing maybe 15-20 shooting stars: 6-7 bright ones, 6-7 medium, 4-5 faint/non-existant/floaters. Basically a few less than what you would see on a summer cottage night.
pUniverse's augmented reality blows me away everytime. Basically, you point it at the sky and it tells you exactly what you're looking it, you name it. As long as you name stars, constellations, and the odd planet.
This isn't the augmented reality part, but it will still move the image as you move around the phone... really, really great.
Remember this building Changer?
Alright, well, that's it for now, but look for posts on John Mighton, 4'33", and hummus making this weekend. Or not... you never know.