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Welcome to PlanetJon

PlanetJon was originally established in 1999 and provided free multiplayer gaming servers and other video game related services. Now though, after those games faded away and spare time became limited, the website is devoted to my interest in all things space related - the planets, solar activity, the exploration of planet Mars, the solar system and beyond - and provides a collection of news and information from around the web.

Somewhere out there, in another galaxy, far, far, away, is a planet called Jon.

  • Citizen Scientists Help Crack 300 Year Old Mystery Of Eclipse Wind

    26 Aug 2016 | 10:04 am

    Citizen Scientists Help Crack 300 Year Old Mystery Of Eclipse Wind Being able to witness a solar eclipse is certainly a distinct experience. Even though the spectacle is mostly visual, there can be other effects as well. The air can cool, and observers may notice a decrease in wind speed or a change in wind direction. There might even be an eerie silence. Experiences like this have been noted for centuries, and famed astronomer Edmund Halley wrote of the ‘Chill and Damp which attended the Darkness’ during an eclipse in 1715, which he noted caused ‘some sense of Horror’ among those who were witnessing the event. While most people would describe an eclipse as ‘awe-inspiring’ (and not a horrifying at all) the atmospheric changes noted by observers over the years has been called the “eclipse wind.” And now, based on the observations of over 4,500 citizen scientists in the UK during the partial eclipse on March 20, 2015, this effect is not just a figment of anyone’s imagination; it is a real phenomenon. The National Eclipse Weather Experiment (NEWEx) was a UK-wide citizen science project for collecting atmospheric data during that eclipse. Members of the public – including about 200 schools – recorded weather changes such as air temperature, wind speed, wind direction and cloud cover every five minutes during the eclipse. That data, submitted online, was compared with official data from the UK’s Met office observations, the United Kingdom's national weather service. “The NEWEx was, as far as we know, a world first, in measuring and analyzing eclipse changes in[…]

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  • What Does “Earthlike” Even Mean & Should It Apply To Proxima Centauri b?

    25 Aug 2016 | 6:46 pm

    What Does “Earthlike” Even Mean & Should It Apply To Proxima Centauri b? The ESO's recent announcement that they have discovered an exoplanet candidate orbiting Proxima Centauri - thus confirming weeks of speculation - has certainly been exciting news! Not only is this latest find the closest extra-solar planet to our own Solar System, but the ESO has also indicated that it is rocky, similar in size and mass to Earth, and orbits within the star's habitable zone. However, in the midst of this news, there has been some controversy regarding certain labels. For instance, when a planet like Proxima b is described as "Earth-like", "habitable", and/or "terrestrial", there are naturally some questions as to what this really means. For each term, there are particular implications, which in turn beg for clarification. For starters, to call a planet "Earth-like" generally means that it is similar in composition to Earth. This is where the term "terrestrial" really comes into play, as it refers to a rocky planet that is composed primarily of silicate rock and metals which are differentiated between a metal core and a silicate mantle and crust. https://youtu.be/fuo3vWtSdqY This applies to all planets in the inner Solar System, and is often used in order to differentiate rocky exoplanets from gas giants. This is important within the context of exoplanet hunting, as the majority of the 4,696 exoplanet candidates - of which 3,374 have been confirmed (as of August 18th, 2016) - have been gas giants. What this does not mean, at least not automatically, is that the planet is habitable in the[…]

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  • Shields Up, Mr. Sulu! Cruising At 20% Speed Of Light Has Some Inherent Risks

    25 Aug 2016 | 1:52 pm

    Shields Up, Mr. Sulu! Cruising At 20% Speed Of Light Has Some Inherent Risks Back in April, Russian billionaire Yuri Milner and famed cosmologist Stephen Hawking unveiled Project Starshot. As the latest venture by Breakthrough Initiatives, Starshot was conceived with the aims of sending a tiny spacecraft to the neighboring star system Alpha Centauri in the coming decades. Relying on a sail that would be driven up to relativistic speeds by lasers, this craft would theoretically be capable of making the journey is just 20 years. Naturally, this project has attracted its fair share of detractors. While the idea of sending a star ship to another star system in our lifetime is certainly appealing, it presents numerous challenges. Not one to shy away from any potential problems, Breakthrough Starshot has begun funding the necessary research to make sure that their concept will work. The results of their first research effort appeared recently in arXiv, in a study titled "The interaction of relativistic spacecrafts with the interstellar medium". Assessing the risks of interstellar travel, this paper addresses the greatest threat where relativistic speed is concerned: catastrophic collisions! To put it mildly, space is not exactly an empty medium (despite what the name might suggest). In truth, there are a lot of things out there on the "stellar highway" that can cause a fatal crash. For instance, within interstellar space, there are clouds of dust particles and even stray atoms of gas that are the result of stellar formations and other processes. Any spacecraft traveling at 20% the speed of light (0.2 c) could easily be[…]

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  • Potentially Habitable Exoplanet Confirmed Around Nearest Star!

    24 Aug 2016 | 12:59 pm

    Potentially Habitable Exoplanet Confirmed Around Nearest Star! For years, astronomers have been observing Proxima Centauri, hoping to see if this red dwarf has a planet or system of planets around it. As the closest stellar neighbor to our Solar System, a planet here would also be our closest planetary neighbor, which would present unique opportunities for research and exploration. So there was much excitement when, earlier this month, an unnamed source claimed that the ESO had spotted an Earth-sized planet orbiting within the star's habitable zone. And after weeks of speculation, with anticipation reaching its boiling point, the ESO has confirmed that they have found a rocky exoplanet around Proxima Centauri - known as Proxima b. Located just 4.25 light years from our Solar System, Proxima Centauri is a red dwarf star that is often considered to be part of a trinary star system - with Alpha Centauri A and B. For some time, astronomers at the ESO have been observing Proxima Centauri, primary with telescopes at the La Silla Observatory in Chile. https://youtu.be/gxVk9QOjB-o Their interest in this star was partly due to recent research that has shown how other red dwarf stars have planets orbiting them. These include, but are not limited to, TRAPPIST-1, which was shown to have three exoplanets with sizes similar to Earth last year; and Gliese 581, which was shown to have at least three exoplanets in 2007. The ESO also confirmed that the planet is potentially terrestrial in nature (i.e. rocky), similar in size and mass to Earth, and orbits its[…]

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  • Experience the Glorious Night Sky Over Yellowstone National Park

    24 Aug 2016 | 10:38 am

    Experience the Glorious Night Sky Over Yellowstone National Park Tomorrow, August 25, 2016, the US National Park Service celebrates its 100th anniversary, and the NPS has been celebrating all year with their "Find Your Park" promotion. But the first national park, Yellowstone National Park, was created 144 years ago. Yellowstone is known for its dramatic canyons, lush forests, and flowing rivers, but might be most famous for its hot springs and gushing geysers. This new timelapse offers you a chance to "find your dark skies" at Yellowstone, and features the many geysers there, showing the dramatic geothermal features under both day and night skies. But the night skies over these geyser explosions steal the show! It was filmed by Harun Mehmedinovicas part of the Skyglow Project, an ongoing crowdfunded project that explores the effects and dangers of urban light pollution in contrast with some of the most incredible dark sky areas in North America. SKYGLOWPROJECT.COM : HADES EXHALES from Harun Mehmedinovic on Vimeo. The Skyglow Project works in collaboration with International Dark-Sky Association, a nonprofit organization fighting to educate the public about light pollution and to preserve the dark skies around the world. Coming up this weekend, you can enjoy free admission to all 412 national parks from August 25-28, 2016. You can "find your park" and read about special events happening all around the country at FindYourPark.com Many thanks to Harun Mehmedinovic and Gavin Heffernan of Sunchaser Pictures for continuing their great work with the Skyglow Project and for sharing their incredible videos with Universe Today. Consider supporting[…]

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