The view from a million miles away



A NASA camera aboard the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) satellite captured a unique view of the moon as it moved in front of the sunlit side of Earth last month. The series of test images shows the fully illuminated “dark side” of the moon that is never visible from Earth.


There is no dark side of the moon. really. Matter of fact, it’s all dark.

We need a brief break from this solar system

What interesting things are happening in other parts of the galaxy?

What do you call this? A trinary star system? So there’s a big star, a star that orbits the big star and a star orbiting the second star? And the big planet has an irregular orbit that looks like it’s going to eventually send it crashing into the main star.

That’s kind of exotic, but it would be more exciting to find a planet with water, so we can get our reservations in.

Brown dwarfs – those not-quite-a-planet and not-quite-a-star objects – are intriguing oddities that are too low in mass to burn hydrogen, but are more massive than planets. They only emit a faint amount of light, so they are hard to detect, making scientists unsure of how many of them might be out there in our galaxy.

But astronomers have been keeping an eye one particular brown dwarf known called WISE 0855. Just 7.2 light-years from Earth, it is the coldest known object outside of our Solar System and is just barely visible at infrared wavelengths. But with some crafty spectroscopic observing techniques, astronomers have now determined this object has some exciting characteristics: its atmosphere is full of clouds of water vapor. This is the first time water clouds have been detected outside of our Solar System.

So it’s not a planet, and it’s not a star, but it has water? Cancel my reservation, because I don’t know what we’re dealing with here..

If humans disappeared from the Earth

So let’s say some intergalactic alien race, let’s call them Kanamits, came up with a special use for humans and took us all with them to their planet. What would happen to this third rock from the sun?

Well that’s depressing. If humans disappeared, the world would be a better place from nature’s perspective. It wouldn’t take that long: 500 years or so. And 500 years is nothing in the life of a 4.5 billion year old Earth. Hell, 500 years is nothing even if you’re deluded into believing the Earth is only 6,000 years old.

We need the Earth more than it needs us.

Let’s remember that.