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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…

“Well, this is a thing unheard of. An Elf would go underground, where a Dwarf dare not. Oh, I’d never hear the end of it.” –Gimli, Lord of the Rings When you think about the different elements present here on Earth, I hope you think about the different ways they bind together, combine, and add…

“Just as a Chihuahua is still a dog, these ice dwarfs are still planetary bodies. The misfit becomes the average. The Pluto-like objects are more typical in our solar system than the nearby planets we first knew.” -Alan Stern The last week here at Starts With A Bang saw some great articles that went from Pluto to stars…

“What was scattered, gathers. What was gathered, blows away.” –Heraclitus When you’re looking around in our Solar System, we’ve got the Sun at the center, the planets orbiting them, and then moons orbiting the planets in turn. But why is that necessarily the limit? Couldn’t we have “moonlets” or some other, smaller satellites orbiting the…

“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,…

When it comes to the fabric of our Universe, we live in four dimensions: three space and one time. At least, that’s what it seems like. But it’s possible that at very high energy scales — or at very small distance scales — not only might even more forces unify, but we might discover that…

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…

“Life is a mirror and will reflect back to the thinker what he thinks into it.” -Ernest Holmes When you’ve got a gas cloud in space that emits light, it’s only for one of two reasons: Either it’s at high enough temperatures that its atoms are excited and it’s emitting its own light as the electrons…

“Life is a festival only to the wise.” –Ralph Waldo Emerson Last weekend, I was actually away from the blog for a few days, something that hasn’t happened except for one brief trip in March. Only this time, it was 100% for fun, as I was away at the 25 annual High Sierra Music Festival. For…