Category Archives: Astronomy

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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Hypervelocity Planets

An illustration of human willful ignorance of the vastness of space. This Universe Today piece titled “Can ‘Warp Speed’ Planets Zoom Through Interstellar Space?” Astronomer Avi Loeb: These warp-speed planets would be some of the fastest objects in our Galaxy. … Continue reading

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On My Bookshelf: Astronomy Non-Fiction

Two short and enjoyable reads this past week. Last night I finished Alone in the Universe. John Gribbin takes the reader through a careful tour–in turn: the galaxy, the sun, the solar system, the Earth, the Cambrian Explosion, and human … Continue reading

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Close Conjunction

From the skies of Earth, Jupiter and Venus will have their closest association tomorrow, appearing just a few degrees apart. Actual separation is more than 400 million miles. But it made me think about even closer encounters in the sky. … Continue reading

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Martian Dust Devil

From dust devil alley, on another planet: Half a mile high; almost a hundred feet across. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona

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Notable Year For Venus

What a source of cheer and inspiration the heavens are! Today’s Astronomy Picture of the Day is amazing. Venus captured through filters by a backyard telescope and a video camera. A modest 12-inch scope, plus modern equipment allows home capture … Continue reading

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Calibration Cent

This might be the only chance I’ll ever get to post one piece in the two categories of astronomy and coins. Universe Today picked up the story of a 1909 Lincoln Cent being mounted on a calibration target on the … Continue reading

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