Blog Archives

Dwarf Planets and New Planets, Oh My!

Just about the time that one NASA spacecraft is closing in on Ceres (formerly known as an asteroid, now semi-officially designated as a dwarf planet) and another nears its encounter with Pluto, a group of astronomers has suggested that there

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Posted in Planets, Spacecraft

First Steps to Deep Space

Tomorrow (December 4th) morning at 7:05 am EST, the first uncrewed test flight of NASA’s new human spacecraft will lift off from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. For those of us who remember the Apollo moon flights of the

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Posted in human spaceflight, Spacecraft

October 8 2014 Lunar Eclipse

Just a quick post to show you this great eclipse photo from my friend Mike Overacker, shot with a Canon 6D and a 600 mm lens at f/5.6.  The small dot to the left and slightly above the Moon is the

Posted in Uncategorized

A Month For Eclipses

October brings both a lunar and a solar eclipse to viewers in North America. The lunar eclipse will be in the early morning hours of Wednesday, October 8th when the moon is in its full phase.  Two weeks later when

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Posted in Sky Phenomena

How Do They Make Those Telescopes So Big?

Telescopes gather light, and that light conveys information about distant and dim objects.  The more light the instrument gathers, the more information is conveyed.  And the bigger the telescope, the more light you can gather. If you are of a

Posted in Observatory and Telescopes

Hold the Nobels For Now

Oops. Maybe. In March, a team of astronomers working with the BICEP2 radio telescope at the South Pole announced an exciting discovery, claiming to have discovered patterns in the cosmic microwave background that would exist if the universe underwent an

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Posted in Cosmology

July/August 2014 Sky Watcher’s Guide

This will be an every-two-months guide to what you can see in the night sky, geared to mid-latitude northern hemisphere observers. The original post with more detailed guidance can be found here. What can you expect to see in July

Posted in Sky Phenomena

Dusty Mars–Bad. Windy Mars–Good.

My favorite writer about planetary science is, hands down, Emily Lakdawalla. She writes an occasional article for Sky & Telescope magazine, whose editor informed me on a recent astronomy-themed tour that “Emily is the consummate professional”. Where you can really

Posted in Mars, Planets

Planets? Positively! Meteors? Maybe.

This week the sky offers some absolutely “gonna-be-there” viewing, plus a tantalizing possibility for a once every few decades special event. Both of these, of course, depend on there being clear skies at your viewing location. First, the sure thing.

Posted in Planets, Sky Phenomena

Earth 2.0? Not quite yet.

Don’t get me wrong. The discovery of Kepler-186f is a big deal: a near Earth-sized planet in the habitable zone of its star, neither too close nor too distant from it for liquid water to exist on the planet’s surface.

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Posted in Exoplanets