Category Archives: Astronomy

Sun Blasts Comet

Comet ISON won’t be spraying pre-dawn skies as was hoped. Passing within a million miles of the sun was too much; BBC reported the 6,000-ft wide body was “largely destroyed.”  

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On My Bookshelf: The Milky Way

William Waller’s book is subtitled “An Insider’s Guide.” One might think that from inside a galaxy we know quite a bit about our own. And we do. Much of it has come in the fairly recent past. But inside doesn’t … Continue reading

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CRS Typhoon Haiyan Relief

Our archbishop urged parishes to promote this. I’m sure most of you know about it, but just in case not, assist Catholic Relief Services in their work in the Philippines. ISS & NASA astronaut Karen Nyberg captured this image of … Continue reading

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Clavius, Jesuit on the Moon

Jesuits have lent their names to thirty-some craters on the moon. The largest of these is Clavius, named for the 16th century astronomer Christoph Klau (Latinized to Clavius). Clavius is fairly prominent in the lunar southern hemisphere, and at 135 … Continue reading

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Seven-Planet System

Ever hear of the star KIC 11442793? Me either. It’s over 14 quadrillion miles away–a good bet that none of us have ever been there. It now hold the current record of seven planets in orbit. That we know of. … Continue reading

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The Allure of a Universe

The BBC site is a near-daily visit for me. But fascinating is the consistent popularity of astronomy news. These news items frequently appear on the BBC’s sidebar, “Most Popular In News.” Today it was a distant newly-discovered galaxy churning out … Continue reading

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Saturn From On High

Check out this view of Saturn from way above the ring plane. This one you can get whole in your pc’s viewscreen. Gordan Ugarkovic processed raw images from the Cassini space probe. Amazing work. This view will likely be the … Continue reading

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Sixty Trillion Miles

One of the more glorious sights in the universe: a pillar of dust sixty trillion miles high. If one of NASA’s Voyagers was launched from the base, it would take almost 200,000 years to hit the top. I make the … Continue reading

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Voyager 1 At The Boundaries

David Gibson at RNS writes: Voyager 1 has left the solar system. This is pretty awesome, in the true sense of that shopworn word. Has anyone parsed the theology of this moment? Is there one? I wish there were. Let … Continue reading

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Eclipse of the Sun, Martian Style

The Mars Curiosity rover caught the moon Phobos passing in front of the sun as seen from the surface of Mars. Some background here. Compared to the Earth, the sun appears smaller in the sky as seen from Mars. The Martian … Continue reading

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On My Bookshelf: Parting The Cosmic Veil

Kenneth Lang’s book blends astronomy, art, and history. It’s a unique volume to my experience, and mostly an enjoyable read. Professor Lang looks at five major topics, in five large chapters: Cosmic Vision, War, and Technology Brave New Worlds Motion, … Continue reading

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Fire Watch

Jerry Ryan posts on Thomas Merton’s essay “Fire Watch” at dotCommonweal. I read Robert Barron somewhere also praising this epilogue to The Sign of Jonas. For me, several years ago, revisiting this writing was less about content and more about … Continue reading

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On My Bookshelf: The Five Ages of the Universe

I recently reread one of my favorite science books of all time, The Five Ages of the Universe. It confirmed my regard for the writers, Fred Adams and Professor Gregory P Laughlin, and their exploration of the “physics of eternity.” … Continue reading

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To The Boundaries

Pope Francis visited the Vatican Observatory. A brief interview from Vatican Radio with Fr Father José Gabriel Funes: We greeted the Pope, then we took him to see some of the places we have here at Castel Gandalfo. The Pope … Continue reading

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Blue Planets

First, we knew astronauts spied the beautiful blue Earth from lunar orbit on Christmas Eve, 1968: Next we had Voyager II’s view of the sun’s planet number 8: Astronomers found that when the planet HD189733b passes behind its star, HD189733, … Continue reading

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