Astronomy

Category archives for Astronomy

“From a little spark may burst a flame.” -Dante Alighieri It’s hard to believe that less than two years ago, we hadn’t even begun Messier Monday, and now there are fewer than 20 objects left! Today represents a great milestone, as we finally take on the last of fifteen galaxies that Messier catalogued as part of the…

“Concentrate all your thoughts upon the work at hand. The sun’s rays do not burn until brought to a focus.” -Alexander Graham Bell The Sun, contrary to what you might normally think about it, isn’t a constant, uniform source of radiation. It has an active surface, replete with temperature variations, sunspots, and occasionally a large…

Is our Universe left-handed? (Synopsis)

“Since the beginning of physics, symmetry considerations have provided us with an extremely powerful and useful tool in our effort to understand nature. Gradually they have become the backbone of our theoretical formulation of physical laws.” -Tsung-Dao Lee We normally think of the Universe as being symmetric, in the sense that no one direction, location…

“We sail within a vast sphere, ever drifting in uncertainty, driven from end to end.” -Blaise Pascal By now, you’ve probably learned that Messier objects — and galaxies in particular — come in a huge, rich variety of types, structures and compositions. But sometimes, the simplest structure of all is the rarest. Think about it: most…

“Two qualities are indispensable: first, an intellect that, even in the darkest hour, retains some glimmerings of the inner light which leads to truth; and second, the courage to follow this faint light wherever it may lead.” -Carl von Clausewitz You’ve been hanging around here long enough that you know all about dark matter’s successes,…

“[T]his all fades to black, and it’s gone. It’s dust. Choose carefully what you obsess about.” -Meshell Ndegeocello It’s been a long time since we’ve had a new open cluster to look at, since the plane of the Milky Way (and the region towards the galactic center) has been obscured by the Earth and the…

“It is always wise to look ahead, but difficult to look further than you can see.” -Winston Churchill There’s plenty to learn about, to see and to discover when we look out at the Universe today. From the leftover glow from the Big Bang in the microwave to the hundreds of billions of galaxies and…

“When someone demands blind obedience, you’d be a fool not to peek.” -Jim Fiebig But sometimes, it’s the wonders of the Universe that peek out at us from behind the intervening gas and dust that would block the light from them otherwise. This week’s deep-sky object for Messier Monday — Messier 9 — has the distinction of…

“Since stars appear to be suns, and suns, according to the common opinion, are bodies that serve to enlighten, warm, and sustain a system of planets, we may have an idea of the numberless globes that serve for the habitation of living creatures.” -William Herschel When you look up at the stars in the night…

“In a word, in the eyes of a giant, to whom our Suns were what our atoms are to us, the Milky Way would only look like a bubble of gas.” -Henri Poincaré When it comes to the wonders of the night sky, it seems like no matter what direction you look in, if you…