Facebook Notices and Tonight’s Mars Opposition

While I’m excited that Facebook has taken an interest in astronomy today, I’m also a bit irked by its announcement about seeing Mars with the naked eye. First, Facebook doesn’t explain why it made this announcement. Mars is at opposition tonight; it will be at its closest to Earth. Second, when Mars is in the … Continue reading Facebook Notices and Tonight’s Mars Opposition

One World, One Sky

A few weeks ago, I attended the open house at the Udvar-Hazy Center of the Air and Space Museum at Dulles. As part of the open house, people were allowed to go into various restoration areas where they show how they conserve and restore various materials, including things like John Glenn’s Mercury capsule, wings and … Continue reading One World, One Sky

Cosmic Death and Rebirth: The Discovery of Supernova ASASSN-15lh

Let’s talk today’s big science news! I remember — or I think I remember — Carl Sagan saying in the original Cosmos, “We are made of starstuff.” That’s true. We are. The Big Bang produced a lot of plasma and a lot of hydrogren. The hydrogen came together and formed the first stars. As stars … Continue reading Cosmic Death and Rebirth: The Discovery of Supernova ASASSN-15lh

Space Brings Back Boyish Wonder

There’s a Carbon Leaf song that’s an especial favorite of mine — “Blue Ridge Laughing” from Ether-Electrified Porch Music has this magnificent line: “Space brings back boyish wonder.” I cite it from time to time, especially on clear nights when you can see clear into infinity, such as here or especially here: The sky tonight … Continue reading Space Brings Back Boyish Wonder

Pluto and the Solar Systems of Distant Suns

This morning, on my way into the office, I was thinking about Pluto and why its surface appears to be so young. I began to formulate a hypothesis in which Pluto, in the early days of the solar system, was actually in the inner solar system, then through gravitational interactions it was flung into the … Continue reading Pluto and the Solar Systems of Distant Suns

Apollo-Soyuz: Forty Years Later

I’m too young to remember the Apollo-Soyuz mission. Thankfully, NASA produced this video to commemorate the 40th-anniversary of the joint American-Soviet space mission, the ASTP. For this space nerd, seeing Deke Slayton and Alexei Leonov in space together is downright magical. Sometimes I think about a world where we didn’t abandon Apollo and the ASTP … Continue reading Apollo-Soyuz: Forty Years Later