Posts made in March, 2007

The Detritus of Travel

Posted By on Mar 29, 2007

As a professional person, I have both the pain and pleasure of getting to travel semi-regularly. There are professional conferences to attend, public talks to be given, business meetings in far off cities, and sometimes there are just vacations to see friends and family. Tonight I’m getting ready to fly to Boston to attend a meeting at the AAVSO. As I’m packing, I’m going through all my bag’s pockets trying to...

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The Sky *was* Falling

Posted By on Mar 28, 2007

On Monday, March 26, a Chilean flight to New Zealand was almost struck by falling bits of space something. The pilot of the flight noted he could see burning up materials both in front and behind the flight. (Information obtained from numerous news sources). Some reports attributed the falling carnage to a Progress M-58 burning up through the atmosphere as it returned from the International Space Station, or at least insinuated as...

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A Few Caveats regarding Day Length

Posted By on Mar 20, 2007

I have to admit I have spring fever. I seem to have moved to a part of the country where the seasons actually follow the solstices and equinoxes, and politely divide themselves into 4 fairly equal parts. My crocuses are blooming, shorts are starting to appear on some of the more robust males on campus, the Canadian geese have paired off (which is actually very freaky), and tonight the Sun crosses the equinox at 7 minutes after...

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As I’ve mentioned before, press releases that don’t really contain science are one of my pet peeves. That said, one such press release came across my inbox this morning and made me giggle happily. The image was of the Crab Nebula (above left: credit: NAOJ); a nearby supernova remnant formed in 1054. The telescope in question was Subaru; an 8.2-m telescope in Hawaii operated by Japan’s National Institutes of Natural...

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Fun with Mnemonics

Posted By on Mar 10, 2007

In Astronomy we have two terrible patterns of words to try and remember. One is the order of the planets: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune (image left, credit: NASA). The other is the spectral types of stars: O, B, A, F, G, K, M. For both these patterns we have unsatisfying mnemonics. This week I am assigning my students to please come up with a new one for spectral types (and they can submit them in the...

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