Category Archives: Astronomy

Getting the Hand of Paint 3D

I confess I haven’t liked paint 3D for years. Now, maybe that’s different. I think of this as something a super-Earth might look like. Not super-hot, but more temperate. No life, but a lot of rock and a little water.

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Imaginary Planet

I hesitate to list this under “astronomy.” Pictures of dirt, really, run through various tweaks and dropped into paint 3d. After a few dozen planets, I’m getting more the hang of this.

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Near Ganymede

When NASA announced the Jupiter orbiter mission, I wondered if any part of it was going to be devoted to the moons. Monday’s flyby of Ganymede was a surprise to me. Does it look different from Earth’s moon? image credit: … Continue reading

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Music In The Heavens

In pop culture, the star Vega is the source of the extra-terrestrial transmission that ultimately sends actor Jodie Foster on her wormhole journey to first contact. Why the aliens or author Carl Sagan would choose that star, who knows? It’s … Continue reading

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What Star Is This?

Here’s an excellent reflection on astronomy and what the Star of Bethlehem could have been. Convincing was the notion that it wasn’t really a celestial object as notable as The First Noel describes: They looked up and saw a starShining … Continue reading

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On My Bookshelf: The Last Stargazers

It’s one of the best science non-fiction books I’ve read this year. Astronomer Emily Levesque accomplishes something informative and accessible in her book. It’s been well-regarded by reviewers and readers alike. When I started reading, I thought it was going … Continue reading

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Conjunction Malfunction

The Conjunction of 2020 has been on my calendar for years. When I moved to Minnesota, I thought I’d have a better chance of clear skies. As I mentioned on social media, alas, it’s cloudy where I am, where I … Continue reading

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Belt of Venus

On the drive east through North Dakota this evening we beheld the Belt of Venus. I wish I had hands free to snap a picture. Usually, earthlings are more focused on the setting or rising sun and the colorful shadings … Continue reading

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Three Bodies, No Problem

The next few nights the fat crescent moon drifts past Jupiter and Saturn as they appear from Planet Earth. Leaving church this evening, the rain clouds had largely cleared, but it was a beautiful sight. The moon illuminated the edges … Continue reading

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Mars In Opposition

What is an opposition? It has nothing to do with US elections. It occurs in astronomy when two planets and a star they orbit line up more or less exactly. It takes the blue planet (Earth) a bit more than … Continue reading

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Russian Venus

My wife mentioned to me that Russia has claimed Venus. The Soviets were at the forefront of exploration on that planet for the early decades of the Space Age. Sometimes international politics is more noise than substance. In space, there … Continue reading

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Life On Venus?

A handful of scientists are excited about the prospect of life in the upper atmosphere of Venus. Why? The detection of phosphine (below, left), a gas that, to the best of our knowledge, does not occur unless life as we … Continue reading

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First Glimpses Last Night

The young miss and I got our first views of the comet. My first in over two decades. We live across the street from a nature preserve, and as you might expect in the Pacific Northwest, we have to contend with … Continue reading

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This Week’s Comet

image credit: By Maxime Storn – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0 I suppose if the ancients were undergoing pandemic and this comet appeared in the sky, there might be a lot of hand-wringing over this symbol of celestial displeasure. As … Continue reading

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Which Virgin?

There is much pagan mythology connected to the constellations of the Northern Hemisphere’s night sky. If any of you readers indulge your “horrorscope” you might recognize Virgo, designated a virgin. Perhaps regrettably, this rather large grouping of stars does not … Continue reading

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