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Is There Life on Mars???

Actually, considering the age of that meteorite, the question should be: Has there ever been life on Mars?

Unfortunately, the NASA site concerned with life on Mars is either gone, down, or never running when I try to access it these days, so I've nuked my link to it.

At the moment, however, you can go visit the Mars Pathfinder Mission site, wherein you can see Sojourner sojourn around the Red Planet, as well as broad vistas of lifeless red stuff (which the Martians have cleaned up out of consideration for us; little do we know...)

Is There Life on Europa???

You Decide. Can you spot the otters basking down there somewhere?


(Photo by NASA, Galileo)

an owl on a horizontal bar (who who...)

The Intro Stuff
Or, Why So Fascinated??

As a kid, I fell in love with space and astronomy, long before I ever investigated science fiction. I had a cardboard mobile of all the planets hanging in my bedroom; I loved that thing. While other childrens' Barbies thought about what they were wearing, my Barbies had adventures on other planets (as well as on this one). And once, probably while I was in high school, when we'd gone to Maine (where the stars and the Milky Way were oh so much more vivid), I lay outside on the grass, staring down into a vertigo of believing I was lying on the ceiling of the Earth, then falling off and out into space -- to be sucked down into the ocean of stars.

As that kid, I had plans and goals. I was gonna be an astronomer, I was. (Unfortunately perhaps, that lasted until I discovered exactly HOW much math was required in the field. But then again, there aren't too many career opportunities in space astronomy.)

Neat WebSites on Space and Astronomy

Views of the Solar System website
The NASA Shuttle website
NASA's Spacelink - news and images
Hubble photography site
Galaxy photo site
Rings of Saturn site
Galileo spacecraft info
Small solar system bodies
NASA Planetary Imaging
Create views of Earth
Mayan astronomy Yes, Mayan astronomy.
More Mayan stuff, simply because it's the
only place to put this link.



(NASA, Galileo)


Looming on a far horizon is our world's brushup with a dust cloud. I've some tongue-in-cheek observations to make about this.


Comet Hyakutake:

Now over and done, for the record I glimpsed it the night of March 24th, 1996. The clouds parted, and Comet Hyakutake could be seen just lower than the handle of the Big Dipper, a blurry bright thing. As my eyes adjusted, a faintness stretching behind it for some distance may well have been the comet's tail. Either that, or hallucination. At any rate, I've seen my comet!!!!! (I also glimpsed it on several subsequent nights.)

The newly discovered Comet Hyakutake was visible in the night skies during portions of the months of March and April 1996. Its closest approach to Earth was Mar. 25th, where it was observed in the region of the Big Dipper (Ursa Major), apparently heading towards Polaris, the North Star. After early April it began to fade.

Comet Hale-Bopp:

This one was visible in early December 1996 in the evenings near the western horizon. Or so they said. We had a rash of cloud cover in this region.

Later in the spring (March/April 1997), the comet will appear higher in the evening skies, and scientists are expecting that this will likely be a vivid comet. I've just proved the truth of this; my first glimpse of Hale-Bopp was on the evening of March 10th, 1997, about 7 p.m. EST, in the northwest skies. Glorious! Despite the fact that there's a certain amount of light pollution near the horizons around here, the comet was quite vivid. I saw a better view of it last night (March 11th), and am quite impressed. Its tail is quite long and wide; definitely a comet to keep one's eyes on as it orbits the Sun. Binoculars also add an extra dimension to the experience -- the head of the comet is brilliant, and the tail takes on added width through magnification. Tonight, March 12th, the comet is still coming in strong. March 22-24th is predicted to bring it to its brightest.

Further update: I've seen the comet several times now, and have lost count. As it is visible right from the front door step, I go check it out any clear night. Still spectacular! Last sighting so far: May 4th, but the last really good sighting I had was April 25th. In the interim, there's been a bit o' weather, and now the comet is going further away, and into the twilight.

Cometary Websites:

Comet Page, Sky and Telesope
Comet Hyakutake, European Southern Observatory
Comet Hale-Bopp, Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

And now: Presenting Hale-Bopp Controversy!!! devil-ish of me!
I mean, this is what the Internet is allegedly known for -- Weird Stuff!!! Not that I didn't ever run into lots of Weird Stuff before using the 'Net!
Chuck Shramek's comet site. This is the fellow that evidently got the ball rolling on the speculations and such. He's an amateur astronomer. Interesting to poke around here.
What Is the Truth about Comet Hale Bopp?, a site whose author questions what he believes NASA isn't saying, about cometary orbital changes, a discussion on catastrophe, and the relevance of Shoemaker-Levy 9 (the comet which hit Jupiter a couple summers ago). Written well enough to stir some doubts. Perhaps.
Enigma. Some enigmas relating to a "Saturn-Like Object" (SLO) photographed near the incoming comet, which allegedly moves with the comet. This site reminds me of the Weekly World News, although better written.
Comet Hale-Bopp gets yet another Home Page. Some fine art by SF artist Joe Bergeron, and an explanation for the SLO more generally accepted by the astronomical community. As well as e-mail both pro and con. Frankly, I think any such object is an artifact of photography, and any excess hype is an artifact of the Internet. But such things, as long as one doesn't take them too seriously, serve to amuse. Anyhow, this site does have lots of other Hale-Bopp information at hand as well.


Callisto, a moon of Jupiter
Go, Galileo, Go!!!
(Photo by NASA, Calvin J. Hamilton)

Go to the top of the page.

Visit Diann's home page. Or dig things up in her Library. Or visit scenic Scotland. Or listen to Diann's odd taste in Music. Or root around in her Garden, and pull up some weeds for her while you're there.

Last Updated: July 22, 1997.