Category Archives: Astronomy

On My Bookshelf: Mirror Earth

For the past twenty years scientists have been finding planets outside the solar system. Michael Lemonick’s book is an excellent introduction to the science, as well as the story behind it: real people conducting extra-solar exploration. It’s logical that astronomers find … Continue reading

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No Craters on Methone, What’s Up?

No craters on this 3-mile moon of Saturn. What’s up with that? If this is a pile of ice rubble and dust, then why is it oblong? And maybe there are craters underneath a fluffy surface.

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Give A Wink

I was thinking back to that summer night when I was ten, and had anticipated all evening the walk on the moon after the successful landing of the lunar module, Eagle. I could not keep my eyes open for the … Continue reading

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Crescent With Triangle

We’re on the trek home from my aunt’s funeral in Ohio today. Leaving the Greek restaurant (spanakopita!) just after sunset, the crescent moon made a lovely counterpoint to the triangle of Mars, Saturn, and Spica. Check out this western image … Continue reading

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Satellite Imagination: Honoring a Wife

Pluto has been demoted from planethood, but before that determination and after, it has been carefully studied. As much as a point of light on a photographic plate can be studied. Clyde Tombaugh really picked a needle out of a … Continue reading

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An Inkling on Mercury

C.S. Lewis wrote of Mars and Venus, but not the solar system’s innermost planet. His good friend, J.R.R. Tolkien now has a namesake crater there, near the Mercurian north pole. The convention is that craters on that planet are named … Continue reading

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Curious About Curiosity?

The site Universe Today as ample coverage of the Curiosity landing on Mars. You can catch the image of the parachute stage of the landing snatched from Mars orbit (left). There’s a movie picking things up after the heat shield was jettisoned. … Continue reading

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Space Aquarium

I see the astronauts at the International Space Station are getting pets of sorts. More than pet fish, really. These little guys will help researchers determine the progress of bone and muscle loss in a microgravity (weightless) environment. That’s the … Continue reading

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Another Polar Vortex

The Cassini probe spotted a vortex over Titan’s south pole. It’s now early spring in Titan’s southern hemisphere. Cassini will be watching seasonal changes carefully for the next several years. This is not unique to dense atmospheres in the solar … Continue reading

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Cloudy Transit

I took a dinner break at the polls around the time when the sun was dodging clouds over central Iowa. About a half-hour in, I had a few minutes of clear sun. Then I realized that maybe I could get … Continue reading

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Another Day of Civic Duty

I wish I had known about being an election official years ago. I’d been waiting to get on jury duty forever. But at my older brother’s encouragement, I volunteered to work the 2008 elections after I moved back to Iowa. … Continue reading

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Intergalactic Tidal Debris

Today’s Astronomy Picture of the Day features a pair of celestial objects, the beautiful Whirlpool Galaxy and its rump companion NGC 5195. Whirlpool is something of a man galaxy-eater. One of its spiral arms seems to be stabbing its companion. … Continue reading

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Tarantula Bursts With Stars

Astronomy Picture of the Day has been knocking me out this past week. Today they feature the Tarantula Nebula from the Hubble Heritage site, so big and bold we can see it with the unaided eye from across intergalactic space. … Continue reading

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Big Drop

If all the earth’s water were gathered into one sphere, it would be slightly larger than Saturn’s number two moon, Rhea. According to this illustration, I can see it from my backyard. The USGS gives some helpful info here.

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Tornado of Mars

Universe Today notes a neat video on the JPL website showing the actual image of a 12-mile-high tornado followed by an animation of what it would look like from a balloon observer on the red planet. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UA

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