Stars

Category archives for Stars

The Sun’s Littlest Secret (Synopsis)

“Every time we get slapped down, we can say, ‘Thank you, Mother Nature,’ because it means we’re about to learn something important.” –John Bahcall And what’s possibly more important than learning how the Sun works? For nearly all of human history — well into the 20th century — we really didn’t know. Could it have…

“Look and think before opening the shutter. The heart and mind are the true lens of the camera.” –Yousuf Karsh When you find an incredibly huge, dense collection of mass, all together in one place, it generally indicates a galaxy cluster of tremendous size. Under circumstances like this, the phenomenon of gravitational lensing is often…

Death is not the end (Synopsis)

“End? No, the journey doesn’t end here. Death is just another path, one that we all must take. The grey rain-curtain of this world rolls back, and all turns to silver glass, and then you see it.” –J.R.R. Tolkien No matter how well we care for our bodies, they eventually wear down, give out, and…

One of the great, catastrophic truths of the Universe is that everything has an expiration date. And this includes every single point of light in the entire sky. The most massive stars — like Betelgeuse (at the upper left) — will die in a spectacular supernova explosion when their final stage of core fuel runs out.…

Impending Doom (Synopsis)

“From an incandescent mass we have originated, and into a frozen mass we shall turn. Merciless is the law of nature, and rapidly and irresistibly we are drawn to our doom.” –Nikola Tesla Stability: it’s the hallmark of the Solar System. The motions of all the planetary bodies are regular and periodic. The paths of…

“I lie on the floor, washed by nothing and hanging on. I cry at night. I am afraid of hearing voices, or a voice. I have come to the edge, of the land. I could get pushed over.” –Margaret Atwood We had a great run with Messier Monday, followed by a fun mini-series on Mini-Movie…

The slow dance that made you (Synopsis)

“It took less than an hour to make the atoms, a few hundred million years to make the stars and planets, but five billion years to make man!” –George Gamow But how was it that this happened? Sure, the Universe may have started off with hydrogen and helium alone, but when we look around at…

“A physicist is just an atom’s way of looking at itself.” –Niels Bohr There’s a wonderful story that the Universe tells us about itself: the story of where everything in it came from, and how it came to be this way. From the perspective of a human being, there’s possibly no component of that as…

“Let others praise ancient times; I am glad I was born in these.” –Ovid With all that we know of astronomy, with the hundreds of billions of galaxies and hundreds of billions of stars in each that we know are there, it might surprise you to learn that the stars — for the most part…

The Physics of the Death Star (Synopsis)

“What’s that star? It’s the Death Star. What does it do? It does Death. It does Death, buddy. Get out of my way!” –Eddie Izzard It’s said — at least by Darth Vader — that the power to destroy a planet is nothing compared to the power of the force. But how much energy is that,…