In the Gutter, Refusing to Look at the Stars

The night sky is my refuge. I find peace and inspiration and a kind of analytical comfort in its resolute refusal to feel sorry for me or my planet. I see potential there, a million possible worlds where the universe is experimenting with consciousness and intelligence.  But lately I’ve felt a strange resistance to looking…

The Song of Saturn

There are some places in the world where it seems to be easy to capture beautiful images. When I travelled in Turkey, I felt like I could have aimed my camera blindfolded and came away with great images. It seems there are similar places of excessive beauty in the solar system, and Saturn is one…

Suffering and Rational Thought

11 years and three months ago, I started looking up again, at a night sky that, for the first time in probably 75 years, wasn’t riddled with the blinking lights of airplanes. Satellites still slid by, above the effect of the mess on earth. As readers know, I’ve been looking up ever since and increasingly…

The Wonder of It All

Like many astronomers, I try, at least once a day, to check in with NASA’s Astronomy Photo of the Day, or APOD. It’s like one of those calendars where you tear a new sheet off for each day, and it has a deep thought or Farside cartoon or stupid thing that someone who was actually…

Nebulae; A Backyard Cosmography

I didn’t know about Dana Wilde until a few months ago, when I came across a project he started on kickstarter to publish a book called “Nebulae: A Backyard Cosmography”. I’m always on the lookout for good writing about astronomy, so I contacted Dana and asked him for a preview of his book. Dana has…

Observing in the Cold

This friday is the third Second Friday Star Party of the 2010-2011 season. At this moment, the NOAA forcast is for “mostly cloudy”…but it’s a few days and a few orders of magnitude of reliability away. Though I won’t count my chicks before they hatch, I also won’t throw them out with the bathwater. Tuesday…