Arrival: First Contact with Grace, and Ideas

Many science fiction films devote huge budgets to world-building, creating a place that feels real and allows us to experience what we can only imagine. Unfortunately, for too many of those films the initial act of world-building is only a brief prelude to their primary concern, which is world-destroying. Certainly the most overused word in science fiction film is “boom”. Arrival…is refreshingly short on explosions.

Visit Vesta on a Vespa…

…okay, not really. But Dawn, NASA’s ion drive-propelled space probe launched in 2007 is a better ride anyway. Dawn visited Vesta, a protoplanet in the asteroid belt, in 2011, and just arrived around another protoplanet, Ceres, on March 6th. Asteroids are of keen interest to solar system scientists, who are keen to unlock the origin…

Telescopes I have known, part II

In the first part of this post, I talked about three telescopes I owned in the years following the reignition of my passion for the night sky in 2001. I won’t follow a strict chronological order in this installment, but rather will group my telescopes into two categories: small refractors and big refractors. While I…

A Journey of the Imagination

Erik Wernquist, a Swedish computer animator, has produced a remarkably beautiful little film called Wanderers. A labor of love, Wanderers, which refers to the ancient Greek names for planets (wandering stars), imagines humanity’s eventual colonization of the solar system. It resonates nicely at this time when we seem to need as a people to dream…

Astronomy on Tap’s Cosmos Bingo

Astronomy on Tap is a great little outreach project that places hip scientists in cities like New York and Columbus, Ohio (and who knows, maybe Rochester or even Geneva soon) to give free, fun presentations about the universe. “Science is even better with beer,” is the group’s tagline. The concept of meeting people where they…