Top ten astronomy images of 2006

Phil Plait is my favourite astronomy blogger; this is an amazing top ten list.

Phil says “I went through hundreds of images (maybe thousands), checking NASA, APOD, the ESA, BAUT, and a few dozen amateur and professional sites featuring pictures as well. The criteria I kept in mind were beauty, of course, but also scientific value. But both of these could be trumped by the coolness factor.”

Robots on Mars

“This is a very small piece of a HiRISE image of Victoria crater on Mars, showing just one part of the rim. And sitting right there on the edge of the crater is a little metal robot named Opportunity. Launched in July 2003, that rover was designed to work for only 90 days, yet it just celebrated its 1000th day on Mars!”

The Shuttle, the ISS, and the Sun

“Not only did (Thierry Legault) get a picture of the Shuttle and the ISS, he nailed them while, from his viewing point, they were passing directly in front of the Sun.”


“This image has it all. It’s of a familiar object, seen in an unfamiliar way: back-lit by the Sun, a view impossible from Earth.” But, this image has a hidden surprise – a very distant image of the Earth!

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Battlestar Galactica direct-to-video movie set to launch

Despite declining ratings for Battlestar Galactica on SciFi Channel, nearly universal critical acclaim along with robust DVD sales have led Universal Home Video to consider greenlighting a Battlestar Galactica direct-to-video telefilm, which will presumably air on The SciFi Channel, after debuting on home video, sources tell Geek. If it goes forward, the two hour telefilm will shoot in March during the series hiatus and prior to the commencement of production on the series fourth season in June. While there is no story for the telefilm at present, plans are afoot to come up with a screenplay that doesn’t step on existing continuity for the series, but utilizes most of its existing sets. There is also speculation the telefilm will somehow tie into the mythology for the Galactica spin-off series, Caprica, which has not been officially greenlit by SciFi Channel… Whether the Galactica production team will avail themselves of the lack of network censorship restrictions remains to be decided although it seems likely that the format will prove liberating for the creative braintrust of the series led by Ronald Moore and David Eick, the series producers.

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20 days without a computer

“My editor calls my cell phone while I’m out eating a chile relleno. It’s odd to get a call from a computer magazine editor–e-mail is so much simpler. And his proposal is downright dumbfounding. Would I be willing to give up PCs and the Internet for 20 days?… The rationale behind the request: For its 20th anniversary, PC World wants to examine the PC’s impact on our lives by yanking it away from someone who works and plays with computers every day… Living without the PC would shake up my career, my leisure time–in short, my whole persona. Still, I’m curious: Would I be better off as an analog guy? I take up the challenge.”

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A terabyte of data on a regular DVD

“Imagine taking the entire collection of historical documents at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum and storing it on a single DVD.

“University of Central Florida Chemistry Professor Kevin D. Belfield and his team have cracked a puzzle that stumped scientists for more than a dozen years. They have developed a new technology that will allow users to record and store massive amounts of data — the museum’s entire collection or as many as 500 movies, for example — onto a single disc or, perhaps, a small cube… Belfield’s Two-Photon 3-D Optical Data Storage system makes this possible.”

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