Astronomy

Tag archives for Astronomy

“This one will look like a jellybean,” the session director warns us. “Or, you know, when you empty a hole punch? The circles of paper that fall out? One of those.” She’s talking about Neptune, and I am about to step, carefully, up a ladder painted industrial yellow and wheeled into place in front of…

The Canals of Mars

The space-heads among you have undoubtedly heard about the Curiosity rover’sĀ first significant discovery: the remnants of an ancient streambed on Mars, which would seem to indicate the presence of water in the planet’s history. This jagged pile of alluvial rock and dust may not look like much, but it brings to mind one of my…

On Seeing Further

“All things move and nothing remains still” — Heraclitus The history of astronomy can be read as a story of better and better vision. Over the centuries, we have supplemented our vision with technology that allows us to see further and more clearly; while Ancient astronomers, who relied only on their naked eyes to perceive…

Very Large Tourism

The author, dishing. To get to the National Radio Telescope Observatory, you have to be committed. Well, first, you have to be in New Mexico — about an hour’s drive south of Albuquerque, in the plains of San Augustin, to be precise, a Pleistocene lakebed bordered by the northern end of the Chihuahuan Desert and…

Oh, Be a Fine Girl!

Readers, help me sort out an egregious detail of astronomical lore. The most common method of classifying stars — Harvard Spectral Classification — was thought up by one of the most famous female astronomers of all time, Annie Jump Cannon. Adapted from a cumbersome older method which sorted stars into 22 alphabetical categories of observable…