Falling Russian Satellite Appears To Be Moving Backwards

Another reason to look skyward on these clear nights.

Phobos-Grunt, a Russian Mars probe stuck in Earth orbit since November, is sinking back into the atmosphere. Best estimates suggest re-entry will occur on Jan. 15th or 16th. Meanwhile, citizen scientists can see the probe moving through the night sky sometimes shining as brightly as a first-magnitude star.

“It appears that the satellite is moving backwards with its solar panels deployed but not receiving the sunlight,” notes Legault. “This may explain why Phobos-Grunt had no energy to communicate with Earth.” An 80-second video shows the probe soaring almost directly above Legault’s observing site on the Plateau de Calern. “At the scale of the video the satellite would cross your screen in about 1/30s,” he says.

While a telescope is required to see the outlines of the spacecraft, the human eye alone is sufficient to see Phobos-Grunt as a speck of light in the night sky. On high passes, it glows almost as brightly as a first magnitude star

What Happened To The Honey Bees?

We may be closer to an answer.

Read about the local honey bees.

Northern California scientists say they have found a possible explanation for a honey bee die-off that has decimated hives around the world: A parasitic fly that hijacks the bees’ bodies and causes them to abandon hives.

Scientists say the fly deposits its eggs into the bee’s abdomen, causing the infected bee to exhibit zombie-like behavior by walking around in circles with no apparent sense of direction. The bee leaves the hive at night and dies shortly thereafter.

The symptoms mirror colony collapse disorder, in which all the adult honey bees in a colony suddenly disappear.

The disease is of great concern, because bees pollinate about a third of the United States’ food supply. Its presence is especially alarming in California, the nation’s top producer of fruits and vegetables, where bees play an essential role in the $2 billion almond industry and other crops.

The latest study, published Tuesday in the science journal PLoS ONE, points to the parasitic fly as the new threat to honey bees. It’s another step in ongoing research to find the cause of the disease.

Madison Alderperson Brian Solomon Should Resign

The second problem that took place for Brian Solomon was that he again sought a seat on the Madison City Council after news broke that he allegedly sexually harassed and assaulted an assistant city clerk.

The first problem for Solomon was the clearly wrong and misguided way he conducted himself on the night with Elena Berg.

I have always felt that Elena Berg was telling the truth, and that the only thing that matters is on the night in question if she said no to sexual relations, and at any point wanted romantic pursuits to end.  There are words to describe men who fail to understand that fact.

The Dane County District Attorney’s Office said it believed Berg, and that only underscores my gut feeling over this matter.

For most people Solomon’s attempt to stay in public office flies in the face of decency and good-taste.  While the sexual assault matter is a legal one, the fact Solomon sought re-election after the incident is a rather perplexing matter for most to ponder.  For me it is an ethical lapse and one of extreme poor judgement from one who wants to set city policy and create ordinances for the rest to follow.

While we live at a time when it seems that almost anything goes and is allowed, there are still times when we need to pull back and review what is up and down, black and white, proper and improper.

Therefore I was very pleased to read that a growing number of elected members of the Madison City Council are willing to address the lack of ethics and sound judgment of Brain Solomon.  I only wish it had come at a faster pace.  But like me perhaps they too were waiting for Solomon to take the correct action himself. 

If Brian Solomon will not resign, then the council needs to find a remedy.  I strongly suspect they do find  a way forward.

A group of Madison City Council and Dane County Board members want Ald. Brian Solomon to resign over allegations he sexually harassed and assaulted an assistant city clerk.

In a two-page letter, released to the State Journal Wednesday night, six City Council and a County Board member said they believe Solomon acted inappropriately, abused his position, broke the law, showed no remorse and should resign immediately.

The letter cites three major concerns — Solomon’s following Berg into a bathroom at the Bayou and denying it despite eyewitness accounts; his claim Berg no longer was intoxicated when they arrived at her home early April 14; and “harassing” emails he sent her during a marathon council meeting on Dec. 15-16, 2009.

Given eyewitness accounts and the emails, Solomon’s personal statements about events are “both disturbing and disingenuous,” the letter states. 

Ex-Scott Walker Aide Arrested, Partner To Aide Charged With Child Enticement


There is a raft of bad news connected to Governor Scott Walker today.

Three individuals – including a former top aide to Gov. Scott Walker – were charged Thursday with felonies as part of the ongoing John Doe investigation into Walker staffers.

Tim Russell, a longtime Walker campaign and county staffer, was charged with two felonies and one misdemeanor count of embezzlement. One source said the charges are tied to Operation Freedom, an annual military appreciation day held at the zoo.

In 2010, Walker’s county administration had asked prosecutors to investigate what had happened to $11,000 raised in 2007 for the event.

Russell’s attorney, Michael Maistelman, could not be immediately reached for comment.

Also charged Thursday was Brian Pierick, Russell’s longtime partner and a staffer at the state Department of Public Instruction, and Kevin Kavanaugh, Walker’s appointee to the Milwaukee County Veteran Service Commission.

Kavanaugh is charged with five felonies for theft and fraudulent writings by a corporate officer. He was the treasurer of the Milwaukee Purple Heart chapter at the time of the dispute over the $11,000 for Operation Freedom.

Pierick, 48, was charged with two felony counts for child enticement. He is an office operations assistant at DPI dealing with education for homeless children and youth, according to the agency’s website.

Walker spokesman Chris Schrimpf had no immediate comment on the news but said the office would provide one later in the day.