July 21, 2009

A couple of celestial phenomena have graced eyes and telescopes most recently, especially this evening as the longest total solar eclipse this century swept across Asia, starting in India, sweeping east across China and into the Pacific Ocean.
A blogger/astronomer who chased the eclipse from a mountain outside Hangzhou, China:

8:05 a.m. (8:05 p.m. E.D.T.)
We have an eclipse! It is four minutes past first contact, and we can all clearly see a bite out of the top of the Sun, at about 11 o’clock orientation.
The sky is hazy, but we can see the shape of the Sun very clearly through the haze. We should see the corona very well, if this sky condition continues.

Reportedly, the eclipse was visible along a 155-mile-wide path over a real-shitload of peoples in India and China, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan and Myanmar.
One wonders at the wonders.

Astronomers were also wired up today in the aftermath of a collision on the planet Jupiter.

Something — probably a small comet — smacked into Jupiter on Sunday, leaving a bruise the size of the Pacific Ocean near its south pole.
Just after midnight, Australian time, on Sunday, Jupiter came into view in the eyepiece of Anthony Wesley, an amateur astronomer in Murrumbateman.
The planet was bearing a black eye spookily similar to the ones left in 1994.
“This was a big event,” said Leigh Fletcher of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. “In the inner solar system it would have been a disaster.”

The word astronomical does two meanings, one beyond that mentioned above; the word also signifies something huge, something inconceivably large or great — hence from a bitch-dust-up with cost of health reform, the rich have accumulated humongous wallets (h/t ThinkProgress):

Congressional Budget Office data show that between 1979 and 2006 (the most recent year for which these data are available)…the after-tax income of the top 1 percent of households increased by 256 percent, after adjusting for inflation, compared to an increase of 21 percent for families in the middle income quintile.

Increased by 256 percent!

An astronomical total eclipse of the mind.

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