Blog Archives

Jupiter and the Fourth of July

There are currently 24 active spacecraft exploring the solar system beyond low Earth orbit, ranging from the relatively nearby–Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter is mapping our moon–to the far-flung. Voyager 1 has actually left the solar system and is currently 135 astronomical

Posted in Planets, Solar System, Spacecraft Tagged with: ,

Mars Opposition 2016

That increasingly bright and obviously red object rising in the southeast late at night (around 10:30 pm EDT from Lynchburg) is Mars. It will rise ever earlier as it moves into position exactly opposite the sun in our sky on

Posted in Mars, Planets, Sky Phenomena Tagged with:

The 29th of February

A relatively rare event—an extra day in February, the every-four-years February 29th—greets us again this Monday. Why does this happen? As you might expect from my posing the question on this blog, the answer is wrapped up in astronomy. In

Posted in Uncategorized

That Einstein Was a Smart Guy

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away… Two black holes collided and merged, releasing unimaginable quantities of energy in the form of gravitational waves. Last year these waves were detected on Earth by an exquisitely sensitive pair

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Pluto Is Still Not a Planet

Sorry, Pluto lovers. A recently published paper by Jean-Luc Margot of UCLA (as a Star Trek Next Generation fan, I had to give the author’s full name) proposes a mathematically rigorous way to define a planet. Pluto, for all its

Posted in Exoplanets, Planets, Solar System Tagged with:

What’s Up?

Two short-lived sky phenomena are on tap in the near future, one taking place only tens of miles above us, the other millions of miles away. Geminid meteor shower: Each December we are treated to one of the better meteor

Posted in Sky Phenomena, Solar System Tagged with: ,

Planet Lineup

These beautifully clear fall mornings we’ve been experiencing have offered a rare opportunity to see four of the five naked-eye planets all lined up for our viewing pleasure. This morning at 6:45 am EDT, this was the view on Lynchburg’s

Posted in Sky Phenomena, Solar System

Space Station Pass in Lynchburg Area

It looks as though Lynchburg area sky watchers will actually have clear skies for a celestial event! The International Space Station will be visible tonight in an especially bright and high-in-the-sky pass. It will appear low in the southwest at

Posted in Sky Phenomena Tagged with:

Total Lunar Eclipse

It seems as though Lynchburg’s record of clouding over for interesting celestial events is going to hold true for this weekend’s total lunar eclipse. But just in case all the forecasters are wrong, and for those of you who live

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New Horizons Update

If you’ve been wondering why you haven’t seen any more images from the Pluto flyby lately, here is the reason: But there is exciting news from the New Horizons team! They have selected a tentative target among Kuiper Belt Objects

Posted in Solar System, Spacecraft Tagged with: ,