Lifting our eyes to the stars

Of course you all noticed how cool last year was with regard to astronomy, and of course we all firmly believe that aliens are building a Dyson sphere around Star KIC 8462852, which certainly deserves a real name after all the fuss, I must add.

I’m expecting and hoping that 2016 continues the trend, and I’m pleased to see a scattering of newsworthy items related to space, if not to alien Dyson spheres:

First, it looks like Luxembourg is going to start developing techniques for mining asteroids. Go, Luxembourg! Show the rest of the world how it’s done! I’m particularly pleased to see that this has prompted a US company to form a Luxembourg subsidiary.

And second, it seems that Elon Musk is ready to explain the plans for getting to Mars. This is a great time to make that effort, with “The Martian” hopefully revving up enthusiasm. Go, Elon Musk!

Berger also reports that Musk may take a flight up to the International Space Station as a tourist in 2020 or 2021, likely aboard a Crew Dragon. “I don’t think it’s that hard honestly,” he said of any possible training regimen. “You float around.”

2020 is honestly seeming REALLY close to me. Great to think of this much progress by then.

Third, to file under Apocalypse Someday, it looks like the Andromeda galaxy is set to collide with our galaxy.

The Andromeda galaxy in the far north lies a comfortable 2.5 million light-years away. But it is rushing towards us, with no hope of deviation, at 250,000 accelerating to a million mph.

Anyone want to do the math to see how long it takes to travel 2.5 million light years if you’re moving a million miles per hour? Lessee, 5.9X10^12 miles per light year, 2.5 million light years, 8760 hours per year . . . looks like about 1.7 billion years, rounding it off. The point is, no need to worry about it. If we haven’t committed species suicide by then, I expect we’ll manage to cope. Galaxy collision would be something else, though. It probably happens all the time, really, but still.

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