Inspiration

Astronomy content will follow (after I finish email and grading). Never in my adult life have I known of a politician who inspired people to hope, to believe in themselves, and to step beyond the land of what is expected into the world of what is dreamed. It seems, that politician may now exist. According to MSNBC, the video below was inspired, not commissioned, and the campaign has not contacted the artist. As Doonsbury says, Obama may be the next...

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Go VOTE!

Don’t know who to vote for? Haven’t followed the politics? Use this blind “taste test” to figure out who matches your political opinions. Your Web browser software doesn’t support frames, but you can visit Select A Candidate‚Ñ¢ at www.selectacandidate.org.

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Short Gamma-Ray Bursts: Two Parent Populations are better than One

Short Gamma-Ray Bursts: Two Parent Populations are better than One

When we look up with gamma-ray eyes (or use satellite’s like Swift above the atmosphere to watch the sky with gamma-ray sensitive detectors), many different things draw our attention. There is gamma-ray emission from pulsars, from quasars, from accretion disks around black holes. There are flickers from anti-matter – matter self-annihilation. There are many cool and wonderful things. Most cool and wonderful of all are gamma-ray bursts. Lasting anywhere from a few thousandths of a second to a couple of minutes, these short-lived high-energy events give off ~70 times the light the Sun will give off in its entire lifetime. Randomly appearing all over the sky, we observe roughly 1 gamma-ray burst a day using orbiting observatories.In general, if you make...

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Quick Share: Asteroid 2007 TU24 & SN2008A

Quick Share: Asteroid 2007 TU24 & SN2008A

Image is link from Dr. Richard Steinberg’s website at Drexel University. It is the combination of (I think) 52 two-second exposure images of asteroid 2007 TU24. Serendipitously caught in the image are NGC 634 and its most recent supernova, SN2008A. (The cross hairs in this image mark the Supernova). If you click on the image it will take you to an animated gif of the asteroid moving through the sky. Giant hat type to Derek C Breit who posted this on the AAVSO-Photometry listserv.

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Snow Daze

Snow Daze

There is something magical about snow days that never goes away. Thursday afternoon, as the flakes fell the faculty gathered in giddy anticipation of a possible day of freedom. Everyone prognosticated on the possible time the call would come. Would evening classes be closed? Would we miss out morning meetings? For me, it wasn’t as fun to think about – I don’t teach on Friday’s and tend to work from home – but still, there is something magical in a snow day. There are some universities that pride themselves on never closing. At MSU, classes met despite blizzards, white out conditions, -40 C / -40 F cold, and every other possible winter calamity. Only when the thermometer dipped below -70 F / -57 C did the doors close and were all...

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