Jumbled Thoughts - 3 Jan 2013

Jumbled Thoughts covers all the little stuff which doesn't merit its own post. Anything goes!

First off, I hope some of you have been able to catch the Quadrantid meteor shower. It peaked early this morning in North America, but should still be visible tonight. The moon is pretty bright right now, so don't expect anything spectacular. This is one of the lesser-known meteor showers of the year - I'll try to make a post before the next one. NASA has a webcam set up, for those still interested.

We've just passed perihelion, the closest point in our orbit of the Sun. This means we are a few million kilometers closer than our average distance of 149.5 million kilometers. Contrary to popular belief, our distance from the Sun is NOT responsible for the change in the seasons. Although we'll warm up a degree or two because of perihelion, seasonal changes are due to the tilt of the Earth's rotation axis.

I'm intrigued by the rumors of a NASA plan to capture a small (10 meters, or so) asteroid and place it in lunar orbit. A $2.6 billion price tag seems a little steep and the notion of literally putting a bag around the asteroid is amusing, but I think that bringing a sample closer to Earth for direct study makes a lot of sense.

This story about the origins of Neil Armstrong's famous line provides a neat insight into the 20th century's most famous quote. What's not so neat are all the headlines proclaiming that Armstrong 'lied' about the origin of the quote when he remarked upon returning to the Earth that he'd just thought it up on the spot. In the first months of 1969, probably no one in the world was under more pressure than he; let's cut him a break.

Finally, as I mention in the podcast, I would love to get some feedback about what everyone is interested in. Email me or leave a comment below!