Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Me and Voyager 1

I'm back from a sojourn from one end of California to the other (south to north, that is). That was quite a trip, I thought. Then this morning I read that the Voyager 1 spacecraft is now about 10.8 billion miles from the sun, where, scientists think, it is leaving the solar system and entering interstellar space. (They can tell, because of the direction the particles flowing around the spacecraft. These particles, which originate in the sun, are now not moving outward but sideways.)

 In my case, about the farthest from anywhere I got was on Saturday, when I was driving along a country highway that runs through an expanse of rice fields in NorCal's Sacramento Valley. On the eastern levee of the Sacramento River there's a hamlet called Butte City, which consists of about five houses, a bar, and a little wood shack with a big sign painted on one side that says, "Ducks Plucked Here." Naturally, I didn't have a camera with me.

Glad to have been there, glad to be back. The photo above show's an artist's rendering of what Voyager 1 looks like in space. The shot below is from NASA's Voyager page. It was taken in 1995 by the Hubble Space Telescope. It shows what is called a bow shock created from the wind from the star L.L. Orionis  colliding with the Orion Nebula flow. What a universe!

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