[syndicated profile] badastronomy_feed

Posted by Phil Plait

Pictures of the Earth taken from the International Space Station are endlessly fascinating. Sometimes the locations are obvious, and sometimes not so much.

And sometimes we get a mystery. I have one of those for you today.

This started when I got an email from Nahum Mendez Chazarra, who had been going through pictures taken by astronauts from the ISS. In a batch taken on July 15, 2014 around 11:57 UTC, he found three in a row that showed a curious thing. Here’s one of them:

Spectacular! The ISS was south of Australia at the time, so the green glow is the aurora australis, the southern lights. The ISS solar panels stick into the shot from the upper right (seen nearly edge on), and the Earth dominates below.

But look to the Earth’s limb, just below and to the right of the brightest part of the aurora, and just above the solar panel. See that streak? It’s clearly some sort of moving object.

It’s in the two pictures taken just before this one as well. I added them together and zoomed in on the object so you can see it better:

Some things to note: The first picture had an exposure time of 0.2 seconds, the second one was 0.4 s, and the third 0.8. Measuring the length of the streak, it looks like the object is moving at a constant apparent velocity (the last streak is 4x longer than the first, and twice as long as the second, as you’d expect from the exposure times).

Here's an animation I made to show the motion more obviously:

Chazarra suspected it was a meteor, burning up in the atmosphere below the ISS. At first I disagreed, thinking it might be a satellite. But then I wondered… so I sent a note to my friend Jonathan McDowell, who is an expert on things in orbit. He noted it was consistent with a satellite or a meteor, and added it could also be a small bit of debris much closer to the station; for example, a piece of ice just a few dozen meters away.

Arg! How to distinguish between these?

Well, one way would be to look at pictures taken just before and just after this set. So I did, and found that the object is not in pictures taken just three seconds earlier, nor is it in the next set taken three seconds later!

If it were a satellite or a piece of debris moving at a constant speed, then I’d expect it to be in at least the first picture taken after this set of three, down in the lower right. I looked carefully; it’s not there. That makes a satellite or piece of debris less likely (though still more likely than some alternatives). Also, note how in the picture above it crosses over the face of the Earth; that means it must be in a lower orbit than ISS. If it were up higher then it could never be seen against the Earth like that. The ISS is at a height of about 415 km (260 miles), which is pretty low. There aren’t many satellites orbiting appreciably lower than that height. This doesn’t preclude it being a satellite, but a priori it makes it less likely.

That leaves meteor. That does fit most of what we see; it appears suddenly, disappears just as suddenly, and moves at a relatively constant rate. If it were small bit of rock it wouldn’t necessarily flare up and get hugely brighter, which has been seen before when a Perseid meteor burned up as seen from ISS:

The object does seem to be brighter in the longer exposure, which is interesting. Since it’s moving, each pixel should be about a constant brightness; a longer exposure just means the streak is longer, not brighter. If it’s actually brighter per pixel, that means the object itself was getting brighter, as a meteor would. However, a longer exposure also means the Earth and other stationary background objects get brighter, and their light would add digitally to the object’s, making it look brighter even if it isn’t.

Arg again!

In the end, I’m leaning toward this being a meteor, but I cannot be positive. It’s still something of a mystery, as promised.

So, BABloggees: What do you think? What did I miss? Is there more (or less) here than meets the eye? I think that throwing this out to the Hive Mind might bring some insight to the puzzle.

What is this thing?

jimhines: (Snoopy Writing)
[personal profile] jimhines

Related to the ongoing conversation about sexual harassment in SF/F…

From Bitch Magazine, survey data about sexual harassment in comics:

As a comics editor, writer, and fan myself, I got interested in how often people at conventions experience harassment. So earlier this year I conducted a survey on sexual harassment in comics, receiving 3,600 responses from people that varied from fans to professionals. The survey was distributed and conducted online, with people sharing it via Twitter, Facebook, and especially Tumblr and self-reporting all information. Of the people taking the survey, 55 percent of respondents were female, 39 percent were male, and six percent were non-binary (see the raw survey data here).

Out of all respondents, 59 percent said they felt sexual harassment was a problem in comics and 25 percent said they had been sexually harassed in the industry. The harassment varied: while in the workplace or at work events, respondents were more likely to suffer disparaging comments about their gender, sexual orientation, or race. At conventions, respondents were more likely to be photographed against their wishes. Thirteen percent reported having unwanted comments of a sexual nature made about them at conventions—and eight percent of people of all genders reported they had been groped, assaulted, or raped at a comic convention.

The one weakness of the study that I can see is that respondents were self-selected, as opposed to this being a truly random sampling. It’s the same issue I ran into with my survey of first novel sales a few years back. But even taking that into consideration, if you can take 3600 fans and pros, and a quarter of them have experienced sexual harassment in the industry, then we have a huge problem here.


Game designer Brianna Wu wrote an article called “No Skin Thick Enough” about the daily harassment of women in video gaming. Warning: some of the examples and quotes in this article are truly abhorrent.

My name is Brianna Wu. I lead a development studio that makes games. Sometimes, I write about issues in the games industry that relate to the equality of women. My reward is that I regularly have men threatening to rape and commit acts of violence against me.

Wu provides four case studies illustrating the types of harassment women experience, and examining myths and realities about the gaming industry. Their stories are powerful, important, and eye-opening.

I strongly recommend reading both articles.


Related: Sexual Harassment in the Scientific Community

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

well, shit.

Jul. 24th, 2014 07:07 pm
wyomingnot: (bonk by sithdragn)
[personal profile] wyomingnot

I didn't realize that I hadn't updated in a *month*. Oops.

School finally ended, but not before I was sick enough to have to leave after one class and miss the next day. Came back for the last day of class, even though I really should have stayed home, but I couldn't miss the last day!

I've posted some school pics on my tumblr ('life in china' tag).

Actually went to a doctor, and wasn't that an experience! They love IV meds here. Three days of lying there for an hour and a half with an iv in my hand. Felt better, no fever. Great.

A week later, the sore throat and fever were back. Four more days of iv antibiotics with a bonus injection in my ass. I thought I was getting sick again a week later (earlier this week), but it was a false alarm.

Today I had to go out to do the physical exam required for my visa. It was easier this time as there weren't any lines at the stations. Height/weight (haven't gained any since school let out. yay). Blood pressure (folks, if my bp were that high, I'd've keeled over by now). Eye exam. Quickie hearing check. Chest x-ray. Blood draw. Pee-in-a-cup (omg, could they use smaller cups? because it's not gross enough to have to use the squatty potty, I just don't have that good of aim (it's like trying to pee into one of those crystal light drink mix cups)).

There was also an abdominal ultrasound... which revealed that I have gallstones. *facepalm*

Phonics camp was cancelled, and one of one-on-one students quit for the summer, and another's on holiday... so I've not been busy. I try to get out of the apartment every day, even if it's only to go to the convenience store for bottled water. I think I've only stayed inside all day two or three times in the past three weeks. :)

The weather has been mixed. Decent days and awful days. It's so nice having a/c, even though it's expensive. My usual electric bill is between 55-65rmb. The first one with a/c was 325. Granted, I was running it at a lower temp then. 20 when I first got it, 26 during the day now, 25, sometimes 24, at night. I'm still comfortable, though you can no longer hang meat in the bedroom.

Tour de Fleece started on July 5, and I've been faithfully spinning every day. I take a pic every morning of what I accomplished the day before, but I've yet to post any of these on the appropriate ravelry forums. Oops. I've shared some pics on tumblr ('spinning' tag).

Yes, I am too lazy to put in the links. Sorry about that. It's been a long day.

I'm not really getting anything accomplished during all this downtime. I'm doing better with keeping up with taking out the trash. I sorta cleaned out the fridge. Okay, I did deal with Mao's room, and that's now in order. Got all the winter gear stowed. But there's still so much to do, and each day I mean to do stuff and just... don't. *sigh*

I'm constantly tired. That doesn't help matters. Not sleeping well at night leads to excessive napping. I don't have anywhere to be tomorrow, so tonight I'm going to stay up as late as I can manage. I tend to go to bed when I get bored and only a little tired, then wake up an hour or two later and can't get back to sleep.


Snippets of week

Jul. 24th, 2014 05:59 pm
fred_mouse: crystal mouse, looking straight out at the viewer (Default)
[personal profile] fred_mouse
  1.  Monday was a pupil free day for all the bagusaii, and they apparently managed to be civil to each other for the day.
  2. middlest's school is closed for the week, as damaged asbestos sheeting was identified.
  3. there were dolphins in the river on the drive to work yesterday, which I got to point out to middlest. 

Disability in Acting

Jul. 24th, 2014 04:57 am
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
I find it aggravating that disabled characters are almost always played by abled actors. It creates the same problem as white actors playing people of color: taking away the extremely few roles available to actors who genuinely have those traits.

an informal poll

Jul. 24th, 2014 04:38 am
rushthatspeaks: (sparklepony only wants to read)
[personal profile] rushthatspeaks
I have, as I know I've mentioned several times here before, an ongoing project in which I try to write about things that I really, really love, because critics don't do that often enough.

I've also not been writing much here lately, partly because I am focused on writing fiction, and partly because I am feeling fairly boring (not bored, there is a difference), but also because I am reviewing things elsewhere. And my principal elsewhere-place has an anonymity policy, so I can't link those.

The difficulty with writing about things I love is that it is, well, difficult. And feeling boring makes it hard to start.

So here's a brief list of things that are really foundational to me, books and films without which I would literally not be the same person. Let me know what it would be most interesting for me to write about, and I will let people's interest, hopefully, push me into writing about some of it.

These are in no order.


Lipstick Traces: A Secret History of the Twentieth Century, Greil Marcus
The Pursuit of the Millennium, Norman Cohn
The Motion of Light in Water, Samuel R. Delany
The Language of the Night, Ursula K. LeGuin
To Write Like A Woman: Essays in Feminism and Science Fiction, Joanna Russ


Always Coming Home, Ursula K. LeGuin
The Dark Is Rising, Susan Cooper
Moonwise, Greer Gilman
Engine Summer, John Crowley
the works of Elizabeth Enright, collectively
the works of H.P. Lovecraft, collectively
The Folk of the Air, Peter S. Beagle
The Door into Shadow, Diane Duane
On Strike Against God, Joanna Russ
The Female Man, Joanna Russ
the works of M. John Harrison, collectively


Kabuki, David Mack
Hothead Paisan: Homicidal Lesbian Terrorist, Diane DiMassa
Berserk, Kentaro Miura
old-school Elfquest, by which I mean I am ignoring the fact that they even have a webcomic la la la I can't hear you, Wendy and Richard Pini

Film, TV, Anime:

Basquiat, dir. Julian Schnabel
Orlando, dir. Sally Potter
The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, dir. Terry Gilliam
Prospero's Books, dir. Peter Greenaway
The Pillow Book, dir. Peter Greenaway
Revolutionary Girl Utena, dir. Kunihiko Ikuhara
Twin Peaks, dir. David Lynch
The Passion of Joan of Arc, dir. Carl Dreyer

Things which would be on this list, but which I have already discussed elsewhere and am not at this time going to talk about again: Perelandra, C.S. Lewis; Tehanu, Ursula K. LeGuin; Burning Your Boats, Angela Carter; I'll Stand By You: The Collected Letters of Sylvia Townsend Warner and Valentine Ackland; Johanna d'Arc of Mongolia, dir. Ulrike Ottinger; Fire and Hemlock, Diana Wynne Jones; The Neverending Story, Michael Ende; The Lord of the Rings; The Muppet Show.

Reading meme

Jul. 24th, 2014 08:17 pm
genusshrike: 'Wish' icon (Default)
[personal profile] genusshrike
Recently finished

My Love Story!!, which is written by Kazune Kawahara, whose High School Debut I loved, with art by Aruko. Unsurprisingly it is charming and the characters are all really lovely. [profile] labellementuese, I highly recommend Kawahara if you want to try some non-traumatic shoujo sometime.

My Love Story!! (not giving up the exclamation marks) is about a real macho boy who wants to fall in love but all his crushes fall for his much prettier best friend ;_; Then he helps a girl at the train station and she tracks him down and woos him with cake! He assumes she's interested in his friend, but she is so sweet, and her cake is so delicious ;_; It's actually very low drama.

The other thing I have read is vols 6 and 7 of Kaze Hikaru. Which is still adorable, but I feel bad when I am laughing and I remember which characters are going to die D:

The art is more cartoony than I am used to in shoujo manga, but it is very expressive and appealing. And I appreciate the author's attention to detail. At the end of each volume, she talks about her quest for historical accuracy, as an enthusiastic newbie, and the difficulty of finding out things like how Meiji-era women dealth with their periods! You know, I think girl-dressed-as-boy stories deal more with girl's getting their periods than any other stories.

Currently reading

Still reading I am a Cat. I think two stories and the comics is all I have read this week. Very productive.

No, wait, I am also reading a World Health Organization book about the NZ health system! Um, because we had spare copies at work. It's got a lot of history in it, which is quite interesting – the various reforms through the ages, how GPs really didn't want to be part of a public health system (GPs here are privately owned, but patients have their visits subsidised), and so on.

It bugs me though that they didn't use a macronised font. They've just subbed in a different font whenever there is an ā. It is one letter – none of the other vowels even come up! Surely when you are the World Health Organization you can ask the font foundry nicely/pay them money and they will macronise a vowel for you.

Reading next

Next two volumes of Kaze Hikaru, yay.


Jul. 24th, 2014 03:07 am
maevele: (askars rawr)
[personal profile] maevele
I have contacted folks about joining concomm. have not gotten an official volunteer position, and am therefore not on the list yet, but I am looking forward to getting on the list, finding out what is going on, and doing whatever is needed to save wiscon.

Predictive text

Jul. 24th, 2014 05:33 pm
vass: a man in a bat suit says "I am a model of mental health!" (Bats)
[personal profile] vass
Dear DuckDuckGo, sometimes you worry me. Like when I type "blood pressure", and before I can add "cuff", the phrase "blood pressure cooker" pops up.

So, to recap the week so far

Jul. 24th, 2014 01:11 am
fairestcat: Dreadful the cat (Default)
[personal profile] fairestcat
Three trips to the emergency 24-hour vet in one week is three trips too many. And that's not even taking into account the daily visits to the regular vet.

this entire week needs an animal-harm warning. )

Daily Happiness

Jul. 23rd, 2014 10:07 pm
torachan: a cartoon kitten with a surprised/happy expression (chii)
[personal profile] torachan
1. Irene's interview went well, so hopefully that will work out.

2. Gyoza and edamame for dinner. So delicious!

3. I went out to lunch with my mom today and we got KFC, also delicious.
china_shop: Sam in casual wear, laughing on the phone (Default)
[personal profile] china_shop in [community profile] mcu_onyourleft
Holding out for a(nother) hero [vidlet] (6 words) by china_shop
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: The Avengers (Marvel Movies), Captain America (Movies)
Rating: Teen And Up Audiences
Warnings: Graphic Depictions Of Violence
Relationships: Steve Rogers/Sam Wilson
Additional Tags: Community: fan_flashworks, Flying, Role Reversal, vid, silliness

An Avengers/Captain America vidlet focusing on Sam Wilson, to "Holding Out for a Hero" by Frou Frou.

Warning: Flickery footage/images.

Fic below the cut )

Awesome things!

Jul. 23rd, 2014 10:59 pm
kate: Woody from Psych with his arms in the air and a big grin (Psych: Woody YAYE!)
[personal profile] kate
Which I am now consuming from bed.

+++ This awesome vid by (of course) lim: Marvel|MCU. Embedded for those who wish, but please, please comment at the youtube link if you're feeling commenty. )

+++ Odd One Out, Leverage OT3 by [personal profile] thingswithwings (or, [archiveofourown.org profile] thingswithwings, actually). Yes, I am reccing this based on the summary. It's Leverage OT3 and it's T'wings and I have no doubt it is amazing and will usher me into sweet, sweet dreams as I read it in bed.

Summary: "We should talk about Eliot," Alec says, at the same time Parker says, "We should have sex in a hammock."

+++ Perfectly appropriate icon courtesy of [personal profile] clavally. It makes me grin like this: :DDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDD

+++ And finally, probably of interest to me and exactly two people on my flist (maybe only one): The top 10 hottest gifs of Jared Padalecki, which is just staying open in a tab for a little while so I can stare at it.

Core Dump

Jul. 23rd, 2014 11:26 pm
italiceyeball: Orange Octopus (Default)
[personal profile] italiceyeball
meander me molly and the neanderthal monkey wrench duo diving hunchback cape mouthed gape younger mandolin shoelace gumball hieroglyph mascot widdershins dinnerplate fiasco finance reformed masticated blowhards taking transcripts of dumber than thou holyghosts we channel the unseen blankets we safeguard horrors holy tridents akimbo jugular vascular miniscule vestibules raining like moth mouthed manicures take me for a ride sally take me for a ride jenny don't let up the pinch the prowl the leap the howl the warmsaltaste of racing faces melting canopies titan scowls now drooping fallen lost lists of pharaoh's wishes leashes tourniquet mannequin trebuchet popcorn ravished streetcars rabbit ears and lizard tails the wizard's nails the mason's fame framing accolades with lemonade

wednesday reading

Jul. 23rd, 2014 08:43 pm
cofax7: Mick from DVI having one of those days (DVI - Mick - Bad Day)
[personal profile] cofax7
Currently reading: The library got Elizabeth Bear's Shattered Pillars in, so I'm reading that. (Annoyingly, it's only available as one of those Adobe DRM-protected ebooks I can't manage to read on my computer, so I'm reading it on the library website, which is not optimal.) It's okay so far but I wish the narrative would stay with one character longer: the scenes are too short.

Just finished: The Left Hand of Darkness, for book club. It had been a while since I'd read it, so it was a nice refresher. Still an excellent read, especially the epic trek across the ice. I now need to go find that great Yuletide story about the next planet Genly Ai goes to...

I also just finished Lia Silver's Prisoner, which I enjoyed more than Laura's Wolf. I like a slow build better than instant attraction, and I am intrigued by the overarching plot of how they're going to take down the institute.

Up next: Not sure, but soon I'll have to read Atonement by Ian MacEwen, for next month's book club. And I need to go back and finish The Long Ships, which I left hanging about 3/4 of the way through.

Hey my buddies!

Jul. 23rd, 2014 10:46 pm
celli: a woman and a man holding hands, captioned "i treasure" (Default)
[personal profile] celli
Bday party:

At @hq_chicago 2833 N Sheffield
Sunday 7/27 2-6 PM Come/go whenever!
Gifts ok but not, NOT, req'd

Just in case you didn't see it in any of the other places I posted it. :)

And just to let you know that I'm not any less myself at 39...last night I stubbed the crap out of one foot and today one toe is super gross bruised. So if anyone needs me I'll be over here icing my toe. Of course.
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll

"Email to [Antarcticlust] from MacMillan Legal: "There is no agreement between Mr. Frenkel and Tor that would prevent him from making an apology."

"Life's a risk"

Jul. 23rd, 2014 09:49 pm
sasha_feather: Max from Dark Angel (Max from Dark Angel)
[personal profile] sasha_feather
After reading [personal profile] thingswithwings' latest fic, Odd One Out, and relating a lot to Eliot in that story, I am idly wondering if I am perhaps aromantic.

It seems like a simple relationship style that would work for me.

There is a lot of upheaval going on in the world and in my community right now. Things are rapidly coming into hard focus. Sustained anger seems to be really working for me right now actually. *Imagines Eliot growling*


Jul. 23rd, 2014 08:57 pm
kate: Kent draped over Neil's back, after Neil's stabbed him in the back (metaphorically) (SYTYCD: Kent and Neil)
[personal profile] kate
Holy cow!!!

FINALLY, some choreography that doesn't suck!

Emilio, jesus, where the hell did that come from? Tanisha, holy crap, so hot! Serge! Carly! Carly seriously is one of my faves, now. Zack, you're a tapper? WHAT?

Travis Wall, I freaking love you, dude. Your contemporary routine was astounding, and then you do that group routine, OMG. LOVE. Sonya's group routine, also amazing!

This post thanks to the fact that I got all my "extracurricular" work projects done so now I can just concentrate on the "normal" work. WHEW.

Play Euclid

Jul. 23rd, 2014 07:39 pm
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
Euclid is a geometry game that you can play online.  See a tutorial for it. One interesting feature is that you start out with a set of what they call "primitive" tools (line segment, ray, circle, etc.).  As you solve puzzles, you earn more advanced tools to automate certain functions, such as a triangle maker.  The game calculates the minimum number of moves required to solve a puzzle, as well as whether you're doing it right.


kindkit: A late-Victorian futuristic zeppelin. (Default)

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