Category Archives: Astronomy

M7: Ptolemy’s Drop of Scorpion Venom

Let’s continue our survey of Messier objects. Check some basic info if you’re joining late here. Above is another open cluster, like the previous number of this series. Not a pretty name like “Butterfly,” but that of a figure of … Continue reading

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M6: The Butterfly Cluster

Let’s continue this site’s survey of Messier objects. Check some basic info if you’re joining us in mid-star-stream. Today, a return to the Scorpio constellation where we encountered M4. Unlike the globular clusters M2, 3, 4, and 5, the Butterfly … Continue reading

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Leo, In The Sky

Be it in the sky or on the “horrorscope” summary in print or electronic media, Leo is easy to find. The sky is what interests me, and if you are likewise inclined, this constellation has bright stars you might easily … Continue reading

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M5: When Stars Collide

Let’s continue our survey of Messier objects. Check some basic info if you’re joining late here. The star cluster marked M5 is very old. How do we know? Stars age at different rates. Large, bright stars burn out very quickly. … Continue reading

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M4 The Closest Cluster

M4 is one of the easiest globular clusters to locate. If you have a pair of binoculars, and your southern horizon is clear just after sunset, you can find the constellation of Scorpio and its brightest star, Antares. Tucked deep … Continue reading

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M3 Amongst the Hunting Dogs

Another lovely deep space, object, isn’t it? Such clusters of stars orbit beyond the plane of the Milky Way spiral. They are very old bodies, many with stars nearly as old as the universe. In some globular clusters, their blue … Continue reading

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M2 In Aquarius

18th century astronomers saw that object in the constellation of Aquarius as a fuzzy spot. Charles Messier, left, made it number 2 on his list of things that were neither planet, nor star, nor comet. Planet-discoverer William Herschel, right, who … Continue reading

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Planets on Stamps, 1970s

Since the Artemis I launch was postponed today, maybe some space stuff here instead. I’ve sold or given away most of the collections I began in childhood. Still, they interest me. Stamps and space combined, yay. It was the 1970s … Continue reading

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M1: The Crab in the Bull

In 1842, William Parsons, Earl of Rosse aimed his fine telescope at the constellation of Taurus the bull. He drew a deep sky object he viewed there. Would you say it looks like a crab, left? I’d say a silverfish, … Continue reading

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Messier Objects

Astronomers from casual to the pros know of “deep-sky objects.” These objects, clearly neither stars nor comets nor planets, began to get notice in telescopes in the 17th to 18th centuries. At first, scientists struggled to explain them. Today, we … Continue reading

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The Cat on Mars

I don’t think the new Webb Telescope has Mars in its sights. Gambit does. however. He’s happy the project is completed, I think. He’s been carefully monitoring progress all along: Even from the first pieces, like this center of a … Continue reading

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Ignatius in July, 15: Roger Boscovich

While researching Jesuit astronomers as a conclusion to the Ignatian Year, I discovered Roger Boscovich, SJ. A wiki-bio is here. He is credited with helping the Vatican’s softened stance on a sun-centered solar system. He also had an engineer’s mind, … Continue reading

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Ignatius in July, 6: Ad SidÅ«s

This month, as a conclusion to the Ignatian Year, I’m trying to think of something mildly useful to say daily about the saint or his spiritual daughters and sons. Jesuits have been involved in astronomy from the beginning … of … Continue reading

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Black Moon

My wife was reading about it a few days ago. I’d never heard of it. The Blue Moon is much more familiar, the second full moon in a month, something that happens every two years or so. It’s something you … Continue reading

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On My Bookshelf: First Light: Switching on Stars at the Dawn of Time

Another astronomy book, another female scientist author. What’s the significance of this tome? Emma Chapman ponders the very first stars in the universe, before the sun first shone, and long before every star we see came into existence. First Light … Continue reading

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