Category Archives: Astronomy

Ignatius in July, 6: Ad Sidūs

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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USPS: A Decade In Space

My favorite moon mission, Apollo 15, is somewhat depicted in the image above, reproducing the 1971 USPS issue honoring a “decade.” Ten years prior, Alan Shepherd went into space for a brief 15-minute mission–that’s the reference. By 1971, interest in … Continue reading

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USPS: First On The Moon

I suppose the USPS figured it had to depict the Earth in this representation of Neil Armstrong’s first steps on the Moon. But it’s another inaccuracy in philatelic art.  The Moon’s rotation is locked relative to the Earth–the same half … Continue reading

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Goddesses Give Way To Saints

For nearly a century, pagan figures ruled the asteroid belt. Astronomers naming the small worlds between Mars and Jupiter looked to the tradition of naming the planets. If Greek and Roman pagan religion inspired solar system labels, why not extend … Continue reading

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Mimas Ocean … Or Lake

More than a decade ago, I suggested that Saturn’s moon Mimas was a candidate for interior water. My hypothesis was that the farther a moon’s orbit varied from perfect circularity, the likelier astronomers were to find water sloshing around the … Continue reading

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A Christmas Star

The Christmas movie channels could hire me as a science consultant on scripts. My wife and I watched an otherwise enjoyable holiday flick tonight. I outlined to the young miss my problems with the science, none of which really impacted … Continue reading

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Satellite Imagination: Ravioli, Anyone?

The advent of orbiter missions to the giant planets Jupiter and Saturn have enabled astronomers to get detailed looks at moons that, in the view of earthbound telescopes, look like little white dots. When a white dot gets too close … Continue reading

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Fake Noon Coming To My State

I see Minnesota politicians agree on one more clock change in 2022, then stop the falling back and springing forward. Sleep disruption beckons for oppressed US inhabitants again this weekend. It’s not as bad as the forced early waking and … Continue reading

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Dressing For Halloween

Some Christians fuss about the 31st of October. I don’t recall this being a thing until this century. Maybe it was in the 60s, but my parents were rather overprotective. We got those suffocating plastic masks and assembled sugary loot … Continue reading

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Minor Planet Ratzinger

As of today, there are over one million identified minor planets (aka asteroids) in the solar system. Not many are named after Christian figures. Pagan names abound, as you might expect. There are a few saints. And one pope, though … Continue reading

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Two Iron Rain Planets

That news item on iron rain some days ago got me thinking. Two crude images of what those planets might look like. They probably need to glow a bit more. Of course, there are other possible explanations for the chemical … Continue reading

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Lucy And The Trojans

          No, not them. A new NASA mission that was flying under my radar launches next week. “Lucy” derives from the fossil human ancestor dug up in Africa last century, and the Trojans are a group … Continue reading

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Iron Rain

They tell you that this rain can sting and look down … When I read this astronomy report, I was thinking of this song, a favorite from the 80s. I don’t know that iron vapor or liquid droplets are red. … Continue reading

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