A Galaxy of Planets

As far as we know, it was Galileo who first aimed a telescope at the night sky. This is easy to believe, since we can imagine that most other men of Galileo’s time were interested more in enemy encampments, brothel windows, and then, maybe, and a very distant third, the night sky.* Galileo was a…

Saturn’s Rings

I just can’t get enough of the Cassini probe photographs of the Saturn system. The thought that it might be shut down this year for budgetary reasons, with plenty of science and stunning imagery yet to beam us, is thoroughly depressing and I hope it doesn’t happen. Anyway, today’s Astronomy Photo of the Day (APOD)…

Life where there was no life…

The short story: over the past two decades, humanity’s space probes to Mars, Saturn, comets and other planets, as well as our space-based telescopes like Hubble have collected millions of images. Like those boxes of family photos sitting in flea markets across the world, many of those images have never been seen. There are several…

5000 Megapixel Night Sky Photograph!

Imagine the earth disappears under your feet and you are suddenly floating in space. The planet is gone, the atmosphere is gone, and those irritating sodium vapor lamps at the strip mall are gone; the sun and moon are likewise mysteriously absent. You look around you and your eyes adjust, becoming thousands of times more…

Musings on Space Exploration

I was thinking today about space exploration, and the doldrums we are, and have been, in, ever since the last Apollo astronauts lifted off from the moon last century. Actually, I wasn’t thinking, I was arguing. In my head. With the countless people who dismiss the space program as a pointless waste of money or…

Interview with Rob Teeter of Teeter’s Telescopes

When I got back into astronomy in 2001 (in part looking for some peace after the 9/11 melee), I knew I wanted a telescope with a larger aperture than the 3″ scope I had growing up. Aperture is the width of the telescope’s main objective (which is sometimes a lens and sometimes a mirror). The…

Gifts from the Sky, or, Nerds on Mars

I. Every time you drink a glass of water, or pause by a clear creek to breath and listen and feel the coolness of the water emanating up, you’re literally appreciating a gift from the sky. Compared to the other planets, Earth has a lot more water, a challenge scientists have been trying to explain…