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From “Walk of Shame” to “Walk of Pride”

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sex-feet

A few nights ago I was in an Uber on my way home from work when my driver started talking about the “walk of shame.” She said cheerfully, “I get a lot of ride requests late at night from women on the walk of shame. But I don’t think it should be called the walk of shame. I think it should be called the walk of pride!”

My driver’s comments got me thinking about how “shame” and “sexuality” go hand in hand when discussing a WOMAN’S sexual activities. Where masturbation is treated as a natural activity for men, female masturbation is censored, hushed, and frowned upon. We are all told by society that women are not inherently sexual beings the way men are, and that our own promiscuity is shameful when the promiscuity of men is encouraged.

The bottom line is that sex is not shameful. It doesn’t matter how many partners you’ve had over a lifetime or how many partners you’ve had in the past week. Regardless of age, gender, body-type, or orientation, our sexual experiences are experiences that we should be proud of, and I believe there are certain criteria we can follow to ensure that each sexual encounter results in a “walk of pride,” rather than a “walk of shame.”

The first criterion is emotional safety. This means looking out for the emotional safety of yourself, your partner(s), and anyone else involved. When I was in college I was in love with someone and when his girlfriend left to study abroad for a semester, he and I began sleeping together. The excitement of being with the person I was in love with for so long was completely overshadowed by the pain and suffering I caused to his girlfriend and ultimately to myself.

Even if you’re not participating in an act of infidelity, it is still extremely easy to fall into a masochistic pattern of sleeping with people who you know are never going to be as emotionally available as you’d like them to be. The important thing is to be honest with yourself and to be on the same page as your sexual partners. If you are both interested in casual sex, then you are both going to feel emotionally satisfied with the experience. As long as both (or all three, four, five, six…) partners are on the same emotional page and no one is getting hurt, there is absolutely nothing shameful about casual sex.

Sexual health and safety is the next criteria. Practicing safe sex may sound like a no-brainer, but the fact of the matter is that people don’t like to use condoms, and with such a heavy burden placed on women to acquire effective birth control in a health-care system dominated by the forces of male privilege, accidental pregnancies are very common. The absolutely unnecessary stigma surrounding STDs also leads to a lack of honesty and transparency, and as a result, an increased rate of transmission of these infections. Regardless of the hurdles and inconveniences, if you can’t figure out a way to practice safe sex, then don’t have sex.

The third criterion is consent. Given the increase in sex positivity and sexual exploration within our culture (something people refer to more negatively as “hook-up culture”), it is absolutely crucial that we understand what it means to give consent and how to know if or when we’ve been violated. Let’s just be blunt here: If you did not give consent, then you were raped. It’s extremely important to add here that if you were raped it is nothing for YOU to be ashamed of. You did nothing wrong and you absolutely did not ask for it. The only person who should be ashamed in this situation is your rapist.

The final criterion is pleasure. One of my main issues with hooking-up is that it often seems very one-sided. I am a heterosexual female so I know that my experience with pleasure is much different from that of gay or lesbian individuals, but my anecdotal experience has taught me that sex is rarely satisfying during a hook-up. I don’t think hooking-up is the problem, though. I think it’s the lack of advocacy from women and the lack of concern from men that is the problem. If you are a woman and you are going to have a one-night stand with a man, you have to know that you deserve pleasure and satisfaction. Rather than feigning pleasure, demand it. If your partner is unwilling to accommodate your sexual needs and would prefer to focus only on incessant, one-dimensional thrusting, then you have every right to get up and walk right out the door.

Ultimately, I believe that any sexual encounter that you have consented to is a sexual encounter that you should take ownership of, rather than feeling ashamed. Even if you did not give consent, the burden is not on you to carry that shame. However, I think that as women, we could have healthier, more positive sex lives if we championed relentlessly for all four of these criteria to be inherent to our sexual experiences.


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What I Learned From Talking Back To Men

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GRMLN put out one of my favorite releases of 2013. They're a sunny blast of classic pop-punk, a convincing throwback to the teenage years I filled with local bands and records endorsed by my local college-radio DJs near San Jose. So when I saw they were coming to a venue near me earlier this year, I marked my calendar.

My boyfriend came with me. We got there a little early and ordered dinner, and were lucky enough to find a spot at a long, shared table in the back. We soon spotted our friend, a local promoter I’ve known since those aforementioned teen years. Still at it 17 years later, he had organized the show that night. He sat with us for a little while, but soon had to get back to work, so he got up and went about his business.

It's about this time that Boyfriend said, "Be right back, I gotta go to the bathroom," and got up.

The moment said Boyfriend rounded the corner to the bathrooms, I started hearing,

"Hey."

"Hey."

"Hey girl!"

HEY!"

coming not-so-vaguely from my left.

After the first couple heys, I cautiously thought, "Uh-oh. Is he talking to me? I hope not." After a few more, it became clear that he was, in fact, talking to me, and that I also couldn't get away with ignoring him much longer. Judging from past experience, I knew ignoring him would probably only make it worse. I looked up from my phone and turned to face the hey-source.

There were two men sitting to my left, and the one farthest from me was the one trying to get my attention. We made eye contact, and he reached across his friend, bracing himself on the table with his other arm, and jutted his hand towards me for a shake. "I just wanted to say hi."

I didn't know what to do. After that rude, forced introduction, I really wasn't interested in getting to know him (they had also been loudly mocking the opening band, which told me a lot about their character). But I also, strangely, didn't want to be unnecessarily mean to him. So I just gave a weak smile and waved back.

There was silence for a second. He sat back down.

I'm sure it won't surprise you in the least when I tell you the silence was followed by a torrent of verbal abuse.

"Oh, come on, what the hell? What the fuck, I was just trying to be nice. I wasn't trying to hit on you! God, why do women always think we're flirting with them?" he turned to his friend, but was shouting loud enough so that I could hear. "Women are always like that. Always assume we're flirting.”

Now he was leaning over his friend and getting as close as he could to me, shouting in my ear. “I WASN'T FLIRTING WITH YOU."

I sat there, my heart pounding, trying to ignore him and hoping he'd feel stupid enough to stop. But the fact that he was talking about me as if I wasn't there suddenly flipped a switch in me. There was a surge of adrenaline, and all of a sudden I felt myself turn to him and say:

"Then what were you trying to do?"

Oh my god, the SILENCE that followed. She dared to speak back to us!

"...What?" his friend finally eked out.

"Tell me what you were trying to do then."

"I...I was just trying to say hi!" he sputtered. "I wasn't flirting with you. Believe me, I wasn't flirting with you. Don't flatter yourself, girl. Don't flatter yourself."

(Which, looking back, is amusing for a couple of reasons: 1. He was no prize and 2. I'm fucking beautiful thankyouverymuch.)

It was about this time that Boyfriend came back from the bathroom. Thank god, I thought. Knowing the way it usually goes for women, these guys would see that I was there with someone, conclude that I was someone else's "property," and, adhering to Bro Code, sheepishly exit the scene.

...

Yeah, that's not what happened.

Boyfriend sat back down and I'm pretty sure I had a shaken look in my eyes. I didn't say anything; I just smiled. I was all prepared to just put the mad ramblings of a drunk asshole behind me and try to enjoy the rest of my night.

Drunk Asshole, however, was not.

"Hey," I hear again from my left as he leans across the table at Boyfriend. Boyfriend, thinking he's just a friendly stranger who was—oh, the irony!— just trying to say hi, says "Hey man, what's up?" or something to that effect.

"Can you tell your girl that I was just trying to say hi?"

This is a good time to remind you that this is a downtown bar on a Friday night, and it was loud. Boyfriend couldn't hear him. "What?" Boyfriend shouts.

"Can you tell your girl that..."

By this time I'm motioning to Boyfriend to get up and go over to the stage before this gets bad. "Let's be classy about this," I shouted back at the guy. We got up and left.

They applauded and cheered when I left.

...

Oh my god, my heart is racing again just writing that. They applauded and cheered when I left the table and I swear to God it still makes me want to take a swing at them to this day.

And you know what the scariest thing about this incident was? In the hours after, all I could think about was how I had brought it upon myself. I mean, he was right—all he was doing was trying to say hi. He didn’t spike my drink. He didn’t even touch me. But for some reason, this messed with my head just as much, if not more, than other, more dire incidents of harassment that I have been involved in. I stood there and watched the band, but my mind was elsewhere, thinking that maybe I just should have been nice. For all my talk about women not owing men anything, there I was, thinking thinking to myself that hey, even if he was a little uncouth, at a human level, this man at least deserved some propriety from me. I’ve lived the last 28 years as a pretty quiet, shy person, a trait that often gets mistaken for anger or bitchiness. Maybe this could have all been prevented if I was just nice for once.

We got home late that night, and I told Boyfriend how I was feeling. I told him how, in retrospect, I still felt like it was my fault. And I knew I shouldn't, but I did.

He sat there in silence. I have no idea what he was thinking. Was he siding with him? Does he still side with him?

Then I remembered that of course, Boyfriend was in the bathroom for the entire exchange. He didn't know any of what had happened. In his eyes, when I frantically beckoned him over to the stage and away from Drunk Asshole, I probably was just being an antisocial asshole, as usual.

I stayed up late that night, wanting to write, but not really knowing what to put down. I thought about how, after a particularly scary incident in which I was followed down the street by two lewd, murmuring strangers and subsequently wrote a scathing post about it, I've sort of become known as the Woman Who Doesn't Take Shit From Men within my social media circles. It's gotten to the point now that people will leave me videos and articles about street harassment on my wall or in my Twitter feed, accompanied by comments like, "made me think of you :)"

And I think...Does this reputation precede me? Am I talking about it too much? When people think of me, do they view me as a strong, self-assured woman or just a shrieking, unstable harpy who hates all men everywhere?

I started to re-evaluate my entire stance on male attention. Maybe I should just lighten the fuck up. I mean, for God’s sake, it’s not like he sexually assaulted me, right?

No, he didn’t, but in the days that followed, I realized that everything everyone has ever told me about this kind of behavior is true: This wasn’t rape, but this is where it starts. It starts in a culture where I am alarmed, but not at all surprised that this man's immediate reaction to not even rejection, but mild interest, was to boil over with rage. Rage that wasn't even directed at just me, but at every woman on the planet. The fact that I did not instantly acquiesce my attention the moment I met him made him not just angry, but screamingly furious.

And when I actually said something back, it was met with a disgusting, patronizing bemusement. I'll never forget the surprised half-smile, the twinkle of novelty in their eyes. It was the same look the men that followed me down the street gave me when I, safely at my office door, flipped them off and called them shit-heads. How cute! She thinks she knows better than us!

But now, months and months later, I’m glad I let adrenaline take over. Harnessing the courage within myself—courage I didn’t even know I had—to coolly, calmly call this guy out has made me a better human being. The very next day I talked back to a woman who got out of her car to confront me over a petty parking lot dispute, something I never would have done in the past (You were on the other level. I can't see through walls; how was I supposed to know you wanted the spot?).

I started speaking up more at work, in situations where I typically would have resigned myself to complete silence, for fear of developing a reputation as—heaven forbid!—a bitch. Normally, my reaction to these kinds of situations would be to, well, not react at all; to cower. But after I talked back to that asshole in the bar and came out of it relatively unscathed, I started realizing how powerful simply standing up for myself and speaking my mind can be.

And no, I’m not suggesting we all start fighting hate with more hate, but when it comes to disrespectful, borderline-dangerous dudes, I tell myself that this might be the first time anyone has called this man out on his behavior—and judging by their complete surprise on my harasser's face when I deigned to speak to him, it likely was. I don’t condemn every strange man that tries to talk to me in public, but it’s time some of these guys learned that not every woman is going to just shut up and take it when they insult us.

Some of us talk back.

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NASA Astronaut Scott Kelly Shares Bullying Prevention Message Ahead of His One-Year Mission

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NASA Astronaut Scott Kelly Shares Bullying Prevention Message Ahead of His One-Year Mission



NASA astronaut Scott Kelly, who is scheduled to fly on a one-year spaceflight mission in 2015, is lending his voice to help reduce childhood bullying. As part of Bullying Prevention Awareness Month, Kelly recorded a special message encouraging bystanders to take action.

Tags: breaking-news-nasa, ifttt

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October 24, 2014 at 11:30AM

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Meet The 20-Somethings Who Want To Be Sterilized

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Meet The 20-Somethings Who Want To Be Sterilized



The first time Bri Seeley told her doctor she wanted to be sterilized, she was 24 years old. In some ways, she had always known she did not want to have children, but the idea really started to take root in high school. By the end of college, it had blossomed.

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October 24, 2014 at 01:11PM

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This Week in Misogyny is So Not Basic

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GamerGaters are still rearing their ugly heads this week, to the surprise of precisely no one. We also have some not-good news for everyone who was so excited that the Nigerian schoolgirls might have been on their way home, but at least the massive list of terrible people is somewhat mitigated by a bunch of awesome people and cool readings this week. (As usual, trigger warnings for pretty much everything apply.)

While Nigeria’s government announced last Friday that they’d reached an agreement with Boko Haram that would lead to the release of more than 200 girls who were kidnapped in April, dozens more women and girls were kidnapped by the terrorist group in separate raids on Saturday and Wednesday.

The government just released stricter rules for colleges to follow when investigating sex crimes involving students.

North Dakota voters may pass a personhood ballot initiative.

An unnamed employee of Japan’s Health, Labor, and Welfare Ministry is suing the government for back pay she should have earned if “institutional sexism” hadn’t denied her the same raises her male colleagues earned over the past 25 years.

An international arrest warrant has been issued for Jaroslav Dobes, a Czech “spiritual leader” who set up a convent and then raped women to purportedly give them “spiritual healing.”

We’re not done with GamerGate yet, unfortunately. Felicia Day, after mostly avoiding the issue due to fear of retaliation, finally decided to write about it after she was afraid to say hi to some gamers she passed on the street in case they were Gamergaters… and got doxxed less than an hour after her post went up. Meanwhile, Chris Kluwe wrote a delightfully insult-laden rant about the “slopebrowed weaseldicks” who are too stupid to realize that diversity makes gaming better, and then pointed out on Twitter that he didn’t got doxxed even though his post was infinitely meaner. Anita Sarkeesian did an interview with Rolling Stone in which she talked about being a folk hero/villain and the changing face of gaming in recent years. Meanwhile Eron Gjoni, Zoë Quinn’s ex-boyfriend who launched the whole shitstorm by attacking her, says that even knowing about all the death threats that have resulted from GamerGate, he’d still do it all over again and has no regrets.

And let’s talk about “basic” real quick. No, it’s not cool to denigrate young women for liking popular brands and girly things, and there’s definitely a classist aspect to it, but OMG white people are using it wrong and need to chill out.

Terrible People of the Week

  • Penn. Gov. Tom Corbett, for photoshopping a random black woman from a stock photo into an image he’s been using in his reelection campaign, because apparently he couldn’t find any black women who actually support him.
  • Judge Juan Pérez-Giménez, for refusing to overturn Puerto Rico’s gay marriage ban while mocking all the other federal judges who have rightly done so, and for saying that legalizing same-sex marriage will lead to fathers marrying daughters.
  • Rep. Steve King, for saying he doesn’t expect to see any gay people in heaven when he gets there.
  • Rep. Don Young, for telling Alaska high schoolers responding to a question about gay marriage by describing two bulls having sex, then mocked teen suicide and blamed victims’ families for not supporting them, even though a student at the school had killed himself just days before.
  • Steve Waters, a GOP advisor who tried to claim that gay sex gives men cancer and makes them have to wear diapers, therefore it isn’t “normal” and society shouldn’t be forced to accept it. Dude, no.
  • James O’Keefe, whose latest “gotcha” stunt is setting up a fake LGBT student group to try to trick Colorado officials into okaying voter fraud with the state’s new mail-in ballots.
  • Eileen Hedges, a former senior VP at HSBC, for allegedly sexually harassing a female employee by pressuring her to sleep with a male bank executive who had touched her inappropriately at a business conference, tried to pull the employee’s shirt down, and spread false rumors that the employee had sex with clients.
  • Sam Lufti, for writing a whiny-yet-self-congratulatory post on xoJane in which he mansplained that he just wants to help Amanda Bynes and other troubled lady celebrities and people should stop being so mean to him! It’s not about him, except that he makes it about him.
  • Andrea Tantaros, who said on Outnumbered that supermodel Chrissy Teigan was reinforcing stereotypes about models being dumb when she tweeted “active shooting in Canada, or as we call it in america, wednesday” and that she’s only famous for “her lovely bottom” and “should stick to that.”
  • All of these conservative fuckers who think young women are too dumb to vote responsibly and should just stay home and look at dating websites while watching Say Yes to the Dress. Or become nuns. (I’m not making that up.)
  • Brad Rigler, the president of a Pennsylvania school board who’s refusing to resign even after more than 600 people signed petitions calling for him to step down because of his racist and sexist YouTube rants.
  • Pharrell Williams, because his new video for “It Girl” has him singing about grabbing the ass of a cartoon character who looks like a little girl. Creepy. (I know everyone loves “Happy,” but let’s remember that he’s the one who actually wrote “Blurred Lines.” So.)
  • The American Enterprise Institute, for making a webseries that tells women that feminists are trying to scare them by saying they should watch out for date rape drugs when really they should just drink less. One video also includes an animated reenactment of a frat party at which hot women were given all-you-can-drink cards. (And no, most rapes don’t happen because of roofies, but this isn’t the way to discuss that.)
  • Brandy Melville, the increasingly popular store that only offers one size of most of their clothing items, which that claim “fits most” but is actually like a size 2. But that’s ok, people who don’t fit into their clothes can still “find something even if it’s a bag.”
  • The Washington high school that told two male students that they had to change clothes or go home when they dressed as women for a Spirit Week “dress as your favorite celebrity” day.
  • Pathway School of Discovery students and administrators, because kids started bullying 10-year-old Jetta Fosberg after she cut her hair short to donate it to Wigs for Kids and the principal told her to “tough it out” instead of punishing the little fuckers.
  • Everyone who’s making fun of Renée Zellweger’s face. She’s happy with the way she looks, and it’s nobody else’s damn business.
  • Uber, for their (now-discarded) campaign that treated female drivers like prostitutes. (More on why this is really fucked up.)
  • Esquire, for this cover.

It’s awesome that Jena Malone might be playing Robin in the upcoming Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice movie, but let’s stop calling her character “female Robin.” It doesn’t need the adjective; we know she’s a woman.

Yeah, little girls cussing about how sexism is fucked up is kind of adorable, but let’s not forget that the video is scripted (mostly with things that have been said over and over by other people) and FCKH8 is just using them to sell t-shirts and that it’s not really fair to those kids to make them have to think about scary rape statistics when some of them are barely out of kindergarten.

Massive eyerolls at the Chicago man who found himself voting next to Pres. Obama and told him, “Don’t touch my girlfriend.” She was humiliated, but Obama played it off and made him look like a total moron.

So much side-eye at the mom who’s freaking out that she couldn’t find a boy doll for her son at the American Girl store.

BAMFs of the Week

  • Joe Biden and Mariska Hargitay, for making a domestic violence PSA that aired during an SVU marathon on USA Network last weekend.
  • Denis Mukwege, a Congolese gynecological surgeon who just won the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought for his work treating women who have been raped as an act of war.
  • Hannibal Buress, for calling attention to all the rape accusations against Bill Cosby during a recent comedy set.
  • Brooke Guinan, the only transgender firefighter in the FDNY, for her participation in the “So Gay So What” campaign (and for the work she does every day).
  • Kristin Beck, a former Navy SEAL who spoke out this week about the continued ban on transgender individuals in the armed forces even after Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was overturned. (She waited until after she retired to transition.)
  • Elana Adler, a Brooklyn artist who cross-stitched some of the catcalls she’s heard on the street.
  • Anila Quayyum Agha, because her ArtPrize winning work, Installations, is not only gorgeous, but also examines her experience growing up as a woman in Pakistan.

All the high fives to Redditor “poshpink330,” who tricked a bunch of guys into masturbating to a picture of her husband’s buttcrack that looked like a picture of boobs. Which yeah, it’s immature and prompted a bunch of fucked up homophobic reactions, but at least it pissed off some Redditor bros.

Do not try to step to Madeleine Albright, because she will own you!

Study Break

  • A new study found that overweight women are less likely to be hired for jobs that deal with the public and are paid less than average-weight women when they do get those jobs. Instead, they’re more likely to have to take jobs that pay less and are more physically strenuous. Men are not similarly penalized based on their weight.
  • Pew Research Institute survey found that 40% of adults who use the internet have been harassed online, while 73% have witnessed that harassment. Women were more likely to have experience more severe forms of harassment like stalking and threats than men, who were more likely to say they’d been called names. They also asked if respondents felt that different platforms were more welcoming to men, women, or were open to both; gaming was by far the most unequal when it came to the perception that it was just for men.
  • New numbers from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics show that American women are still spending three times more time doing chores each week than men do, and that’s before you add in household management.

Recommended Reading

  • Why many Americans seem to think that only rich people should have sex.
  • Related, there’s a scary gap in knowledge about birth control between people who only have a high school diploma and those who went to college.
  • Black women are still more likely than white women to die from breast cancer.
  • The new AAP guidelines that recommended IUDs for teenagers also reminded pediatricians that they should discuss sexual health with disabled teens, but no one really talked about that. (Myself included, since I didn’t have time to read the full report and just relied on other sources that ignored it. I apologize for the oversight.)
  • In praise of GeekGirlCon (featuring one of our friends from Geekquality).
  • I’m SO excited about Moana.
  • NPR examines the drop-off in women working as computer programmers when personal computers started to become more common in people’s homes and were marketed toward men and boys. (Or listen here.)
  • On the societal and racial implications of the (white) kindergarten teaching assistant who quit her job because she was making far more money from the advertising revenue she gets from posting twerking videos online.
  • Why “douchebag” is the anti-white dude slur we’ve all been waiting for.
  • Lesbians Explain Sex to Straight People. (Obviously NSFW.)

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Close Encounters: Comet Siding Spring Seen Next to Mars

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This composite NASA Hubble Space Telescope Image captures the positions of comet Siding Spring and Mars in a never-before-seen close passage of a comet by the Red Planet, which happened at 2:28 p.m. EDT October 19, 2014.

Image Credit: 

NASA, ESA, PSI, JHU/APL, STScI/AURA

NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has produced a unique composite image of comet Siding Spring as it made its never-before-seen close passage of a comet by Mars.

Siding Spring, officially designated Comet C/2013 A1, made its closest approach to Mars at 2:28 p.m. EDT on Oct. 19, at a distance of approximately 87,000 miles. That is about one-third of the distance between Earth and the moon. At that time, the comet and Mars were about 149 million miles from Earth.

The comet image is a composite of Hubble exposures taken between Oct. 18, 8:06 a.m. to Oct. 19, 11:17 p.m. Hubble took a separate image of Mars at 10:37 p.m. on Oct. 18.

The Mars and comet images have been added together to create a single picture to illustrate the angular separation, or distance, between the comet and Mars at closest approach. The separation is approximately 1.5 arc minutes, or one-twentieth of the angular diameter of the full moon. The background star field in this composite image is synthesized from ground-based telescope data provided by the Palomar Digital Sky Survey, which has been reprocessed to approximate Hubble’s resolution.

The solid icy comet nucleus is too small to be resolved in the Hubble picture. The comet’s bright coma, a diffuse cloud of dust enshrouding the nucleus, and a dusty tail, are clearly visible.

This is a composite image because a single exposure of the stellar background, comet Siding Spring, and Mars would be problematic. Mars actually is 10,000 times brighter than the comet, so it could not be properly exposed to show detail in the Red Planet. The comet and Mars also were moving with respect to each other and could not be imaged simultaneously in one exposure without one of the objects being motion blurred. Hubble had to be programmed to track on the comet and Mars separately in two different observations.

NASA used its extensive fleet of science assets, particularly those orbiting and roving Mars, to image and study this once-in-a-lifetime comet flyby. In preparation for the comet flyby, NASA maneuvered its Mars Odyssey orbiter, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), and the newest member of the Mars fleet, Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN), in order to reduce the risk of impact with high-velocity dust particles coming off the comet.  Other NASA space observatories also joined Hubble in observing the encounter, along with ground-based telescopes on Earth.

Siding Spring is the first comet from our solar system’s Oort Cloud to be studied up close. The Oort Cloud, well beyond the outer-most planets that surround our sun, is a spherical region of icy objects believed to be material left over from the formation of the solar system.

The new composite image was taken with Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3. To view the image, visit:

http://go.nasa.gov/1FJ9cgZ

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