Archive for October, 2014

Credit: Turner Enterprises, Inc

Credit: Turner Enterprises, Inc

Virgin Galactic, the privately-funded space company owned by Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group and Abu Dhabi’s aabar Investments PJS, has announced that it has partnered with Ted Turner’s Sierra Grande Lodge and Spa as it continues to expand its New Mexico accommodation options for Future Astronauts and their families.

Located in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, Sierra Grande Lodge & Spa was built in 1929 and is on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Lodge was fully restored in 2001, with a new spa added in 2006 and a fitness center adjacent to the Lodge in 2013. The Lodge and Spa was purchased by Ted Turner in 2013.

Located in the heart of historic downtown Truth or Consequences, Sierra Grande is within walking distance to shops, restaurants, entertainment, galleries, as well as a short drive to the Gila National Forest, beautiful Elephant Butte Lake, and soon-to-be-completed Virgin Galactic Spaceport.

Credit: Virgin Galactic

Credit: Virgin Galactic

Virgin Galactic’s test flight program of the SpaceShipTwo and WhiteKnightTwo carrier plane is in its final stages leading to commercial suborbital operations, which will be based at Spaceport America in New Mexico.

Hundreds of passengers have signed up for the suborbital treks. The seat price per person: $250,000.

 Credit: IAU/L. Calçada

Credit: IAU/L. Calçada

For the first time in history the public will be able to vote for the official name of stars and planets.

The International Astronomical Union (IAU) is inviting all public organizations with an interest in astronomy to register on the IAU Directory for World Astronomy website for the NameExoWorlds contest.

Those participating can in early 2015 suggest names for exoplanets and their host stars.

The International Astronomical Union (IAU) was founded in 1919. Its mission is to promote and safeguard the science of astronomy in all its aspects through international cooperation.

NOTE: The deadline for registration for the contest is December 31, 2014.

Eligible organizations include: planetariums, science centers, amateur astronomy clubs, online astronomy platforms, but also non-profit organizations such as high schools or cultural clubs interested in astronomy.

A list of 305 well-characterized exoplanets, discovered prior to December 31, 2008, has been selected for naming by the IAU Exoplanets for the Public Working Group.

For more details about the contest, go to:

Credit: Ted Molczan

Credit: Ted Molczan

Here’s a new one from me up today on Eyes to the skies!

Space Sleuths Piece Together Fiery Fall of Russian Spy Satellite Debris

By Leonard David,’s Space Insider Columnist

October 02, 2014 07:01am



Credit: Springer International Publishing

Credit: Springer International Publishing

Given that the surrounding Universe may be awash in worlds, the expectations of finding ET out there is growing.

If the rate of discovery keeps up its current pace, one estimate has it that astronomers will have identified more than a million exoplanets by the year 2045.

Vanderbilt Professor of Astronomy David Weintraub has written a thought provoking new book: Religions and Extraterrestrial Life. It will be issued next month by Springer International Publishing.

Weintraub decided to find out what the world’s major religions have to say about the matter of ET, detailed in a recent Vanderbilt press release.

Weintraub’s book describes what religious leaders and theologians have to say about extraterrestrial life in more than two dozen major religions, including Judaism, Roman Catholicism, the Eastern Orthodox churches, the Church of England and the Anglican Communion, several mainline Protestant sects, the Southern Baptist Convention and other evangelical and fundamentalist Christian denominations, the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), Seventh Day Adventism and Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons), Islam and several major Asian religions including Hinduism, Buddhism and the Bahá’í Faith.

Public opinion

Public opinion polling indicates that about one fifth to one third of the American public believes that extraterrestrials exist, Weintraub reports. However, this varies considerably with religious affiliation.

Belief in extraterrestrials varies by religion:

— 55 percent of Atheists

— 44 percent of Muslims

— 37 percent of Jews

— 36 percent of Hindus

— 32 percent of Christians

Vanderbilt Professor of Astronomy David Weintraub. Credit: Daniel Dubois/ Vanderbilt

Vanderbilt Professor of Astronomy David Weintraub.
Credit: Daniel Dubois/ Vanderbilt

Reincarnated as aliens

According to Weintraub, Asian religions would have the least difficulty in accepting the discovery of extraterrestrial life. Some Hindu thinkers have speculated that humans may be reincarnated as aliens, and vice versa, while Buddhist cosmology includes thousands of inhabited worlds.

Weintraub found very little in Judaic scriptures or rabbinical writings that bear on the question.

The few Talmudic and Kabbalistic commentaries on the subject do assert that space is infinite and contains a potentially infinite number of worlds and that nothing can deny the existence of extraterrestrial life.

At the same time, Jews don’t believe the discovery of extraterrestrial intelligence would have much effect on them.

Are we ready?

Among Christian religions, the Roman Catholics have done the most thinking about the possibility of life on other worlds, the astronomer discovered.

Weintraub also identified two religions – Mormonism and Seventh-day Adventism – whose theology embraces extraterrestrials.

All this and other information in the book leads to the big question: Are we ready?

In answer to that question Weintraub concludes, “While some of us claim to be ready, a great many of us probably are not… very few among us have spent much time thinking hard about what actual knowledge about extraterrestrial life, whether viruses or single-celled creatures or bipeds piloting intergalactic spaceships, might mean for our personal beliefs [and] our relationships with the divine.”

Are the world’s religions ready for E.T.?

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