Wanderer from another star system

❝ Telescopes only picked it up a week ago, but it’s likely been traveling through interstellar space for millions of years.

For centuries, skywatchers have chronicled the comings and goings of thousands of comets. Every one of them has come from someplace in our own solar system, either the Kuiper Belt beyond Neptune or the much more distant Oort Cloud at the fringes of the Sun’s realm.

But an object swept up just a week ago by observers using the PanSTARRS 1 telescope atop Haleakala on Maui has an extreme orbit — it’s on a hyperbolic trajectory that doesn’t appear to be bound to the Sun. Preliminary findings, published earlier today by the International Astronomical Union’s Minor Planet Center, suggest that we are witnessing a comet that escaped from another star

❝ Now it’s headed out of the solar system, never to return. It passed closest to Earth on October 14th at a distance of about 24,000,000 km (15,000,000 miles), and astronomers worldwide have been tracking it in the hopes of divining its true nature — especially whether it’s displaying any cometary activity…

❝ This object entered the solar system moving at 26 km (16 miles) per second. At that speed, in 10 million years it would traverse 8,200,000,000,000,000 km — more than 850 light-years.

I guess this brief look was sufficient. If there is any communication back to intelligent lifeforms, they now know there is little of value here excepting the usual commodities probably found in other solar systems.

Thanks, UrsaRodinia

Trump wants Tax “Reforms” like Kansas — Huh? Wha?

❝ Earlier this year, Kansas’ GOP-controlled legislature voted to effectively end a five-year push to slash taxes on individuals and businesses after revenues plummeted and forced deep cuts and tax hikes elsewhere. In doing so, they overturned a veto by Gov. Sam Brownback, a Republican who drew national attention in conservative circles when he launched his ambitious tax-cut program in 2012.

❝ For Democrats, Kansas has become Exhibit A in their prosecution of the Trump tax cuts. It’s routinely cited as evidence the new GOP proposal won’t grow the economy or pay for itself, and that proposed business tax reduction similar to Brownback’s will create a new loophole for wealthy individuals to exploit.

“It was a real-life experiment in a Republican state, similar to what President Trump announced,” Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said on the Senate floor. “It added so much money to their deficit over four years that they have had to figure out ways to raise taxes now, just as Ronald Reagan did in 1986.”

The chart is revealing:

The results were not as promised:

❝ “Over the next five years, state and local governments battled over a dwindling revenue supply, including a roughly $700 million drop-off in the first year. Job growth, meanwhile, lagged behind the national average and neighboring states.

Republicans will go to their metaphorical grave swearing that dribble-down economics will save America’s workers, middle-class, you name it. Failure after failure for decades doesn’t sink into heads billiard ball-clean of experience or recorded economic history.

Thanks, Barry Ritholtz

Record-Melting Fall Heat Wave Bakes Southern California — and More


Tuesday, 24th, 1PM PDT

❝ It’s not every October 23 or 24 that millions of Americans are swathed in temperatures above 100°F. This week has done just that, bringing some of the toastiest weather ever observed in the United States during late October, and more pre-Halloween heat is on the way. By far the most scorching weather has been in Southern California, although it’s also been exceptionally mild this month in settings as far-flung as Michigan, Florida, and New England…

The first three weeks of October were remarkably mild for most of the United States east of the Rockies. Overnight lows across most of the Northeast on Monday night were in the 50-70°F range—warmer than the average highs for this time of year! Albany, NY, “dipped” to 68°F early Tuesday, compared to its average high and low for the date of 57°F and 37°F. If the temperature stays above 64°F through midnight, it’ll be Albany’s highest daily minimum ever recorded this late in the year, in data going back to 1874.

Don’t know what it’s like in your neck of the prairie; but here in northern New Mexico we used to plan for the first fire in our living room stove on October 15th. Not in a number of years. In fact we stockpiled the usual amount of firewood the last 2 autumns – and didn’t bring in any, this year. We have enough leftover for a full-sized old-fashioned winter, stacked and waiting. No fire in the stove, yet.