Carnival of Space #119-Wag of the Finger!

Blogger, Emily Lakdawalla, at the Planetary Society Blog has done a fantastic job of pulling together a collection of astronomy and space offerings for this week's Carnival of Space #119.
There are two variable star related pieces in this week's Carnival. Variable by Nature from a new friend and AAVSO member "AstroSwanny", and the Simostronomy piece on a gorgeous astrophoto from John Chumak, Epsilon Aurigae the Beautiful.

We have to give a 'tip of the hat' to the AARTScope Blog. He's really come on and done a fine job. Not just because he's another blogger who does variable stars and writes about them, but he's keeping it real, factually and actually.

This week we have to give a 'wag of the finger' to the Chandra blog. They only publish a blog entry once per week on average, and someone is getting paid to do that. I understand that a lot of what Chandra is doing today we won't find out about until the astronomers working with the data publish it or release the embargo. But, to publish a paltry three paragraphs with a boring picture of an object that has been well-studied since the 60's when you have a whole week to come up with something is pretty lame.

Cygnus X-1 is an amazing and crazy system with a black hole and a blue supergiant star in orbit around each other. I'm inspired to write a 'rest of the story' kind of piece just because they did such an excellent job of not telling you all about this first-of-its-kind-to-be-discovered binary. Here is an interesting artists interpretation of this fascinating pair of objects-

But for one of NASA's most important space telescope missions to publish a blog with the table of contents title "supernovas" really is disappointing and irritating. What's even worse, in my opinion, is the link from this listing points to a whole page called 'taxonomy/term/five' with all their articles on SUPERNOVAS and supernova remnants. I find it disturbing that NASA has begun to imitate our public school system in its lackadaisical attitude towards correct terminology. Either someone in charge doesn't know the correct term is supernovae, or they've made a conscious effort to dumb it down for public consumption. I find both objectionable.

A lot of terms in astronomy seem archaic and unnecessarily difficult, but part of science is learning to speak the common language of whatever discipline you are engaged in. As someone who is working hard all the time to inspire young people to become all they can be, and to pique their interest in astronomy and space science, I assure you I am not working that hard hoping they will grow up to be scientists and engineers who can't spell or use the proper terminology for the branch of science in which they choose to work. I find it hard to believe the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics thinks its okay to have the word supernovas plastered all over the Chandra blog.

If you're going to publish a blog under the domain of dot edu, and have pages titled taxonomy, then you ought to make sure you are edu'ing the public with the correct terminology.

There have been several well known science bloggers and publishers railing against the state of science journalism in the new Internet age, and as much as I resist engaging in political or social discussions here, I think you can be sure Simostronomy will be weighing in soon.

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