Ursa Minor, the lesser bear, is a very important constellation because it is home to Polaris, the north star. It is also home to the Little Dipper which is very easy to find once you've actually found it. If you don't see it right away just nod and say "Yeah. yeah I see it" but…
Have you ever discovered a telescope eyepiece in the pocket of your pajamas? Have you ever measured your roof for a dome? Do you know how to pronounce Cassiopeia? If so, you may have wondered, "is there hope for…
"The drum in a dream pounds loud to the dreamer." ~ Carl Sandburg
Anisotropy: This term is frequently used to describe the temperature fluctuations in the Cosmic Microwave Background. The word means not uniform, or not the same. Like if you dressed a calico cat with a plaid kilt then filled it with dark energy and exploded it for 13.76 billion years.
I must go down to the seas again, To the lonely sea and the sky. And all I want is a tall ship, And a star to steer her by.
~ John Masefield
Suppose you lived in olden times and you joined a fleet of wooden ships and iron men. Or maybe it's wooden teeth and dirty old men. Whichever. But if you didn't know the basics of using a star to steer a…
If you haven't seen it, and want to, I'll tell you how. Call your local astronomy club. Those geeks will go on and on about it, and put you on a list to be called if someone sees it happening. You have to agree to receive the call at anytime of night because this stuff is very unpredictable and may only last half an hour…
The majority of asteroids are just silly little rocky bits of junk between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter, the crumbs that fell from the plate as those planets were served up on the solar dinner table. This crumby region is known as the Asteroid Belt. [insert suspender joke]
There are other tribes of asteroids gathered here and there. For…
24 hours in a day, 24 beers in a case. Coincidence? Well yeah, maybe. Or maybe not. It probably has something to do with those pesky ancient Babylonians and their obsession with overwrought symbolism. Somehow they got onto a kick about how magical the number 60 is, and how that divides nicely by 12, and then some of the grain stock got wet and smelly, and well I think you can…
Big Dipper The most famous of all the dots ever connected. So well-known that people pretend to see it even when they don't. There are seven stars, eight if you count correctly. One of them is tiny, little, and wee, and is attempting to hide behind the…
The beaten path that the Sun appears to trod on its yearly trek among the stars is the oldest known method of mapping our way around the sky. So the Sun was the center of celestial attention even before people promoted it to admin of the solar system. That makes a lot of sense to me. I could argue (without much effort) that out of all the thousands of gods that people have ever prayed to for a little help, the Sun is the one that delivers the most tangible… Continue
This is for all the lay people out there. Of course, we all know the universe is big. But this paragraph (paraphrased below) in the book I'm currently reading: Chris Impey's "How it Ends", crystallizes that fact more dramatically than I've ever heard before.
Shrink the universe by a factor of 300 million. Earth reduces to the size of a golf ball. The Sun is a 3-meter ball 400 meters away. But the nearest star is still 35,000km (20,000 miles) away.
Starring: Helix Nebula, Gliese 667, stellar cluster NGC 2467, R Coronae Austrinae, protostar HH34 (Orion), Chamaeleon I complex, Eagle Nebula, Lagoon Nebula, southern Milky Way band, Trifid Nebula, the first image of an exoplanet (2M1207 system).
The Very Large Telescope (VLT) is made up of four separate optical telescopes (the Antu telescope, the Kueyen telescope, the Melipal telescope, and the Yepun telescope)… Continue
The Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope, formerly GLAST, will open this high-energy world to exploration and help us to answer these questions. With Fermi, astronomers will at long last have a superior tool to study how black holes, notorious for pulling matter in, can accelerate jets of gas outward at fantastic speeds.
Physicists will be able to study subatomic particles at energies far greater than those seen in ground-based particle accelerators. And… Continue
Astronomers believe they may have discovered the first planet ever detected in another galaxy. The new world was apparently glimpsed in the closest giant spiral galaxy to the Milky Way, Messier 31 in the constellation of Andromeda.
It lies an incredible 2.5 million light-years away - too far normally to be seen.
But it revealed itself thanks to a phenomenon called microlensing where the gravitational field of an object… Continue
This is an extract from my latest blog post, titled "Pseudoscience".
So, I guess I should've done this one sooner. Pseudoscience is pretty much the pinnacle of anathema to everything I'm struggling for on this blog (hey, writing dozens of words about stuff as often as five or six times a month is a real struggle sometimes). I'm all about… Continue
Added by Cubik's Rube on May 2, 2009 at 2:11pm —