Three Encounters with the Sublime

As an outreach astronomer, and as a writer, the issue of communicating the sublime is near and dear. I can, if pressed, think of some famous movie scenes that are sublime in their own right. But sublime encounters with the natural world, instances when I felt privileged and connected to the earth and the cosmos,…

Did NASA just tell us to pray?

Though I’m fine with NASA astronauts or officials asking us to pray for Astronauts in peril (which is any astronaut on an active mission), I’d be less excited if NASA adopted that as their working procedure, say, for quality control of reentry heat shields on spacecraft. The detailed procedures and manuals the space agency is…

The Bicycle Astronomy Ready Bag

I’m itching to do some Bicycle Astronomy. The winter has been long and hard. There have been some clear nights. But some have been just too cold. Into the teens, people’s eyelashes can freeze to the eyepiece of the telescope, which has happened at one of my college observing nights before. It didn’t look like…

Three TED Talks for Cloudy Nights

TED is just great. Of course I think that. I’m a nerd. TED is hard-core nerd. So is Prezi, the fluid online presentation platform that many TED speakers use to great effect. TED isn’t perfect. They bungled Nick Hanauer’s talk on how rich people don’t generate jobs, for example. But overall, the internet, and our…

Cancer in the Sun

Stardust is a kind of astronomically-themed fantasy/eulogy by Mischa Rozema. It’s visually stunning, some of the best cgi I have ever seen, in part because Mischa is so senstive to layers, texture and atmosphere. Though it looks at first like a superior example of the kind of “visualization” that documentaries are full of these days,…