One scientist thinks that the origin of Saturn’s rings has been found. A moon, at least the size of Titan, if not larger, collided with the gas giant in the early years of the solar system. As it was torn apart by tidal forces, its frozen surface spun off and formed a ring system. That’s … Continue reading On the Origin of Saturn’s Rings
Plinky asks today: "If you were offered a free trip to the moon, would you go?" And there's a part of me that wants to say, "Well… duh." And then there's the part of me that wants to say, "Now that I've gotten the snarky answer out of the way…" Who hasn't dreamt of going … Continue reading On Venturing Forth to the Moon
An asteroid approaches Earth, and then has the adventure of its life. Sascha Geddert’s short animated film, “Fallen”… Fallen from Sascha Geddert on Vimeo. It was sad. I got a little weepy.
I had to go outside and put the car windows up. So I trodded outside, barefoot as is my wont, and walked around my grandmother’s car and up to mine, avoiding as much as possible the pine needle-infested grass in the dark. Yes, I’m a silly person. There was a light breeze and, despite the … Continue reading On Looking Up Into the Sky
Seeing a picture of a planet, orbiting a star hundreds of light years away, puts things into perspective — the universe is vast, unknowable, unimaginable. I mention this, because the Gemini Observatory has released a telescopic photograph of an extrasolar planet. A planet! Orbiting another sun! We’ve known for two decades that they exist, but … Continue reading On Cosmic Thoughts
I thought, seriously, of blowing my paycheck on a reflecting telescope. A couple of us had gone to Sam’s Club on our lunch break. One of the writers in the department needed to pick up some bulk food for a Christmas party. We wandered the cavernous building, and I felt somewhat exposed and endangered; I … Continue reading On Telescopes and Temptation
Four hundred and forty-five years ago today, Galileo was born. One of the leading scientists of the early modern period, Galileo pioneered the use of the telescope, championed the Copernican heliocentric system, and was considered the father of modern science. I received a few days ago a NASA press release 2009 has been named … Continue reading On Galileo’s Birthday
Sometimes, I really wish I could live to see the world three billion years hence. Okay, I take that back. It’s not just sometimes. I wish that all the time. In three billion years, give or take a few hundred million years, astronomers believe that the Milky Way, our home galaxy, and M-31, better known … Continue reading On the Universe We Live In
When I was younger, my father used to take me, my brother, and my sister to the planetarium on a regular basis. I loved it. Lean back in the chair, look up at the presentation, and learn something about the universe we live in. My interest in astronomy was kindled by Carl Sagan’s Cosmos. The … Continue reading On Planetariums and John McCain’s Short-Sightedness
I received recently an e-mail, purporting to contain a list of spurious weights and measures. Bizarre scales. Never, ever, possibly used scales. Nothing like furlongs per fortnight or anything like that. But the “sheppey,” defined as “the closest distance at which sheep remain picturesque,” or roughly 7/8 of a mile. (Note to self: Use the … Continue reading On Ridiculous Measures
Today, June 30th, 2008, is the hundredth anniversary of the Tunguska Incident. In Siberia, on June 30th, 1908, an asteroid exploded and flattened 800 square miles of forest. A strange anniversary to commemorate, true.
On Tuesday the DVD of Across the Universe hits stores. I needed to see that film the way I need oxygen, and for the most part I enjoyed the film. The soundtrack, at the very least, is one of the rare Beatles covers albums worth owning. It turns out that Tuesday, February 5th, is almost … Continue reading On “Across the Universe Day”