Posts made in July, 2007


Many great explorers quests’ were brought to a standstill by weather – Odysseus hung out on an island, Magellan paused in Patagonia, and Amundsen shivered near Antartica’s coast. Following in the footsteps of these great and weather respecting men are two little robots, Spirit and Opportunity. These Mars Exploration Rovers currently hunkered down, with all essential systems shut off, while they wait for dust storms...

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A telescope dream for any budget


Posted By on Jul 26, 2007

As a graduate student at the University of Texas, I got to accompany the undergraduates on star parties (nominally as the ‘responsible’ adult, but really as a colleague in madness). We’d load up our cars with every telescope we could find, about a dozen pair of binoculars, and laptops with planetarium software. We’d get pizza on our way out to the old missile silo that served as our observing platform (only in...

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Quantifying the Darkness


Posted By on Jul 25, 2007

We’ve all had those magical moments of looking up and suddenly seeing something breathtaking in the sky. Perhaps it was just a moon low in the sky with a planet near and bright. Perhaps it was the Milky Way pouring itself into the horizon over a country road. Whatever the source of wonder, our ability to see and appreciate the sky is directly related to the darkness. To a city dweller, Venus is particularly stunning because...

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The latest episode of The Universe focused on our solar system’s hottest two planets: Mercury and Venus. In looking at each of these worlds, scientists are faced with Sun related issues no other planet has: we can never study these planets when they are high in the sky well after sunset (the ideal time to study any celestial object), and any space probe we send to them must be heat shielded in the extreme. While a quick look at...

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Summer Days, Drifting Away . . .


Posted By on Jul 22, 2007

As an academic, I can be as bad as any school child when it comes to counting down the days until summer begins. The holidays of Easter & Passover always mark the final race toward finals, and with these spring celebrations I know a brief reprieve from scheduled days and grading is on the way. Now, with Independence Day behind me, it feels like summer is winding down. On Friday I leave for one week of two marathon conferences,...

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