Come one, come all, to a special Labor Day weekend Carnival of Space! Here in the US it's traditionally the last weekend of summer, after which we must all be serious and hardworking. Until then, though, let's have fun wandering the sideshows, eating corn dogs and cotton candy...
The most carnival-y post prize goes to Alan Boyle, who reports on how Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberte says he'll emcee a global extravaganza starring Al Gore, U2 and other celebrities during his multimillion-dollar trip to the international space station.
The Chandra Blog takes us to An Oldie But Goodie, an image of Cygnus X-1, where the first black hole was discovered. But the prize for the most distant black hole goes to one found by Subaru that's 12.8 billion light years away, A Babe in the Universe reports.
Stuart Atkinson at Cumbrian Sky asks if RAT holes are celestial graffiti? There goes the neighborhood... Fortunately we can't doodle on the stars, so we can only take pretty pics: here's one via Simostronomy, this one of epsilon Aurigae and its surrounding star field. Lest you think the star-filled sky is unchanging, Astroswanny explains how amateur astronomers can give a hand to science by recording the changing brightness of variable stars. Our own star has been unexciting lately -- Steve's corner discusses the very minimal solar minimum we've been enjoying(?) lately.
Keeping an eye on our efforts to get humans into space, CollectSPACE keeps us abreast of current events in low Earth orbit with the flight day journal from the STS-128 space shuttle mission to deliver the Leonardo module (not to mention COLBERT) to the Space Station. And Cheap Astronomy gives an update on the Project Constellation launch systems, in podcast form. Could space-based solar power be the wave of the future? Commercial space discusses an upcoming symposium on the topic. And 21st Century waves examines history to predict whether the Obama administration will produce greatness in space exploration.
But if we're ever going to get astronauts to Alpha Centauri we're going to have to devise some new way of getting there -- Centauri Dreams provides an overview of advanced propulsion options. And what are those astronauts going to eat on Mars or beyond? The Next Big Future describes efforts to adapt plants to survive there. Though I don't know if any astronaut is intereted in a meal of arabidopsis. There are probably plenty of planets out there for us to explore, if we ever get away from our own Sun; Ian Musgrave at Astroblog explains how our solar system just got a little more common.
If you'd rather stay home this weekend and read, you can check out National Geographic's Backyard Gide to the Night Sky, reviewed by One Astronomer's Noise. Or you can learn about Ellen Stofan's new book Planetology from Music of the Spheres. Or watch Al-Jazeera: Ian O'Neill of Astroengine was interviewed on Al-Jazeera about the fate of Chandrayaan-1!
Finally, I'll take us back to our own solar system, and Saturn: last week was a once-in-fourteen-year event, when Earth crossed through Saturn's ring plane. Lots of pretty animations there!
Thanks for visiting the Carnival!