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Voyager I

Voyager I

Today (September 12, 2013) NASA announced that Voyager I has officially left the solar system.  The probe is the first human-made object to enter interstellar space: it is farther away from Earth than anything else people have ever made.  Launched on September 5, 1977, Voyager’s primary mission was to fly by Jupiter and Saturn and take pictures (and electromagnetic radiation readings) of the two worlds and their systems.  The probe reached Jupiter in 1979 and Saturn in 1980.  After a close fly-by of Titan, the moon with an atmosphere, the spacecraft was flung out of the plane of the solar system.  Only this summer has it reached the heliopause, where the sun’s electromagnetic energy is matched by the ambient energy of the cosmos (although since only minimal instruments are running on Voyager, astrophysicists may be a long time arguing about when exactly the craft slipped out of the solar system).

The Great Red Spot of Jupiter as imaged by Voyager I

The Great Red Spot of Jupiter as imaged by Voyager I

A Volcanic Eruption on Io (imaged by Voyager I)

A Volcanic Eruption on Io (imaged by Voyager I)

 

The Atmosphere of Titan (imaged by Voyager I)

The Atmosphere of Titan (imaged by Voyager I)

Voyager is not moving as quickly as the solar probes mentioned in yesterday’s post, but neither is it moving slowly (its current velocity is 38,000 miles per hour).  However such speed is minimal in the face of interstellar vastness (although Voyager is due to pass within 1.6 light years of the red dwarf star Gliese 445 in 40,000 years).

Heliosphere3b

It is now the middle of May and the spring plants are giving way to summer plants.  The tulips, crocuses, and muscari are long gone.  My iris never deployed–a few sad little shoots stuck their heads up–but there was no regal purple bearded head.  Unfortunately I don’t have peonies or lilacs.  But who cares?  It’s rose season now and the rose is truly the queen of flowers.

The end of May and the entirety of June are the apex of rose season.  For people with antique English and French roses this is the only time they get to see their flowers bloom (but what magnificent fulsome flowers!).  During the eighteenth century, however, European traders discovered that Chinese gardeners had entirely different rose species!  Chinese roses were smaller than the European roses and less fragrant, but they possessed the ability to bloom and bloom again throughout summer, into late autumn and even early winter.  Additionally their buds grew deeper in color as the flowers bloomed (unlike traditional European roses which faded and discolored immediately after opening).

My roses are all hybrid perpetuals: they bloom throughout the season and possess the best traits of European and Chinese roses.  Modern Rose breeders have created all manner of new colors, shapes, and smells to delight the senses.  The fashions in roses change from year to year and from decade to decade.  Roses are everybody’s favorite flower—they are a big business with their own festivals and awards and inner circles.  Whatever your tastes are, there was a period when rose breeders sought to appeal to them and there are breeders out there now working on even grander results.

The two photos in this article are pictures I took of my newest rose, a beautiful orange floribunda “Gingersnap” introduced in 1978.  Curiously 3 of my 4 roses were introduced in 1977 & 1978 (Double Delight–1977, Gingersnap–1978, & Pristine–1978).  Apparently that was the era of rose cultivation which appeals to me most (which seems ironic–since that era is in an infamous subject of laughter for fashionistas).

My garden--two days ago!

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