Happy Sagan Day

In respect of the birthday of one of the best advocates of science, atheism and skepticism (like those three aren’t inexorably bound) I have ever heard, the centre for Inquiry, Florida Atheists and Secular Huminanists, the James Randi Educational Foundation and a bunch of other folk are promoting Carl Sagan Day.

You’ll probably come across a few references in the bloggosphere, news stories etc. The weapon and I will put up the telescope if the weather holds and revel in the majesty of the night sky,

The size and age of the Cosmos are beyond ordinary human understanding. Lost somewhere between immensity and eternity is our tiny planetary home. In a cosmic perspective, most human concerns seem insignificant, even petty. And yet our species is young and curious and brave and shows much promise. In the last few millennia we have made the most astonishing and unexpected discoveries about the Cosmos and our place within it, explorations that are exhilarating to consider. They remind us that humans have evolved to wonder, that understanding is a joy, that knowledge is prerequisite to survival. I believe our future depends powerfully on how well we understand this Cosmos in which we float like a mote of dust in the morning sky.

Then perhaps for desert an apple pie since as Carl Sagan said once

In order to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe. 

and of course watch some of the myriad footage that exists and remember how passionately and eloquently he spoke disproving that canard that the best scientist must be cold and emotionless. One of our favorite pieces at the moment is from Pale Blue Dot, his follow up to the awe inspiring series COSMOS


http://www.youtube.com/v/p_naQhynOg0?fs=1&hl=en_US

I realise at 9 mins its too long for most, but it is one of the most cogent arguments why I can’t believe in any religion. I know in video I have embedded you see only half the screen but listen to the words.

The conclusion which begins at 7:52 minutes Sagan raises us all to the sublime. It gives the_weapon and I chills everytime we hear it.

What did you do on Sagan Day?

DON’T WATCH THE SKIES

On February 24th this year I hope to lying in a hospital bed with my head swathed in bandages.  Either that or unconscious, but no long term coma – I need to be up and about in a day or two, either the Thursday or Friday that week.

Why you ask?

Its all due to this

Can triffids be far behind

Can Triffids be far behind

Its called Comet Lulin, and NASA is saying its green color comes from the gases that make up its Jupiter-sized atmosphere. Jets spewing from the comet’s nucleus contain cyanogen, a poisonous gas found in many comets and diatomic carbon. Both substances glow green when illuminated by sunlight in the near-vacuum of space.

This is all very well, but I recall another bright green light linked to a comet.

‘..the Earth’s orbit passed through a cloud of comet debris. You can even believe it, if you like – millions did…

…It was reported in the news-bulletins during the day that mysterious bright green flashes had been seen….”

The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham

So normally the_weapon and I would go up into the hills with our reflecting telescope to check it out.

But not this time.

This time,

Don’t watch the sky.