Astronomy

Category archives for Astronomy

“That, then, is loveliness, we said, Children in wonder watching the stars, Is the aim and the end. Being but men, we walked into the trees.” –Dylan Thomas Yet when you look at the night sky, it isn’t watching the stars that reveals all of the Universe’s secrets, nor by looking with what you can…

“It suddenly struck me that that tiny pea, pretty and blue, was the Earth. I put up my thumb and shut one eye, and my thumb blotted out the planet Earth. I didn’t feel like a giant. I felt very, very small.” -Neil Armstrong This past week saw a whole lot of interesting things happen, including…

“To be is to be the value of a variable.” –Willard Van Orman Quine Those constant, fixed points of light in the night sky — the stars — turn out not to be so constant if you looked with great precision at them. A star like our Sun varies in brightness, periodically, by about 0.1% over the…

When you close your eyes and picture a galaxy, what pops into your mind? For most people, it’s a beautiful, spiral shape, where a bright central region fans out with arms that wind around and around, over and over, littered with brilliant, glittering stars. And in almost all the pictures you see, there are two…

“Our knowledge of stars and interstellar matter must be based primarily on the electromagnetic radiation which reaches us. Nature has thoughtfully provided us with a universe in which radiant energy of almost all wave lengths travels in straight lines over enormous distances with usually rather negligible absorption.” –Lyman Spitzer, Jr. There’s nothing quite like looking…

“You can spend too much time wondering which of identical twins is the more alike.” –Robert Brault Earlier today, NASA announced the “most Earth-like exoplanet yet,” a planet just 60% larger in radius than our own, orbiting a star of the same spectral class as our Sun and with an almost identical orbital period: 385…

When you think of the night sky — of a good, dark night sky — you probably think of going away, far into the wilderness, away from all human activity. If you’re a little more clever, you’ll head up, to the top of a high mountain, where the air is thin and steady. And if you…

“Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing, doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before.” –Edgar Allan Poe Thanks to the Hubble Space Telescope, we’ve learned for a certainty that the black abyss of empty space isn’t really so empty. Far beyond what we can perceive with our naked…

“Man loves company — even if it is only that of a small burning candle.” –Georg C. Lichtenberg The Sun, like all stars initially, burns hydrogen fuel into helium through the process of nuclear fusion. But as the Sun ages, as do all stars over a certain mass, it starts burning those heavier elements in its core,…

Is Pluto A Planet Now? (Synopsis)

“Words are the source of misunderstandings.” –Antoine de Saint-Exupéry Back in 2006, the International Astronomical Union officially defined the word “planet” for the first time, claiming that as long as something met all three of the following criteria: It was in hydrostatic equilibrium (pulled itself into a spherical/spheroidal shape under its own gravity), It didn’t orbit…