IAU, Pluto, and naming P5

IAU, Pluto, and naming P5

The 2012 meeting of the International Astronomical Union is about to begin in Beijing, China. I’ll be attending the second week of the meeting, and talking on the very last day (yikes!) The 2 constant questions about IAU are “Will Pluto get back its planethood?” and “what new objects might get named?” Well, no one is rumoring that the dwarf planet issue will come back up, so I think we’re going to have to go with “Dwarf Planet” or “Planet Classic” for a few more years. On the naming front, I see Pluto’s new moons possibly getting a few new titles, and it’s possible a few more objects might get approved. The issue of naming things is more complicated in some ways and not complicated in others...

Read More

A week to look up: LCROSS Impact and White House Star Party

A week to look up: LCROSS Impact and White House Star Party

As a 1 year long event, IYA2009 has worked hard to provide a steady stream of events. That said, some weeks are more interesting than others, and this week is shaping up to be one of those more interesting weeks. On October 7, Mr and Mrs Obama will host a star party at the US White House, and on the night of October 8/morning of October 9, the LCROSS mission will impact the Moon. White House Star Party There aren’t a lot of details, but here’s what I know. According to the White House Press Secratary, “the President and First Lady will host an event at the White House for middle-school students to highlight the President’s commitment to science, engineering and math education as the foundation of this nation’s global technological...

Read More

Galileoscope: A dream of 1 Telescope Per Child

Galileoscope: A dream of 1 Telescope Per Child

I know a set of men who had a dream. They wanted to see every child in the world have access to a high-quality low-cost telescope. They wanted something that would show the rings of Saturn, survive a tumble down the stairs, and just keep revealing the sky night after night after night. This is a good dream; a dream inspired by the one laptop per child project. It is a dream that could be a reality, but it needs help. These men need you to dream with them and help their dream become a reality. The Concept is Born The Galileoscope project was launched about the time everyone realized the 2009 International Year of Astronomy idea was about to become a UN endorsed reality. Lead by Doug Arion, Rick Fienberg, and Steve Pompea, the Galileoscope telescope team gave...

Read More

Astronomy & Fire: Mt Wilson Observatory & JPL under threat

Astronomy & Fire: Mt Wilson Observatory & JPL under threat

This has not been a good August for the hearts of observational astronomers around the globe. A few weeks ago, smoke filled the Canary Islands as fires swept toward – but not quite to – Roque de Los Muchacho, home of the 4.2-m William Herschel Telescope . Now, the Station Fire is threatening both the Jet Propulsion Lab and Mt Wilson Observatory (Emily Lakdawalla has a story here).  For the next day or so I suspect much of the space sciences community will be holding its collective breath as we wait to see if these two facilities survey the flames. And while we wait, our hearts go out the scientists, engineers, and staff of these two facilities who have lost their homes to the fire. Fire is a part of astronomy. We didn’t exactly design the...

Read More

Eclipse of the Century Part 3 of 3: My First Total Eclipse

I have had several near misses with the Sun. In 1984, I lived beneath an annular eclipse that occurred above rather thick and nasty rain clouds. In 1994 I viewed a partial eclipse from the upper peninsula of Michigan. Total eclipses, however, have always avoided my path. This year I decided to purposely put myself directly in the path of the eclipse of the century. The phrase “Eclipse of the Century” sounds a bit pretentious, but with this summer’s eclipse that phrase actually applied. This eclipse had the longest totality time that will occur during this century thanks to the lucky combination of the moon being about as close as it gets to the Earth and Sun being about as far as it gets from the earth. This meant the Sun appeared (if measured...

Read More

Astronomy Twitter Users?

So, I’m trying really hard to put together a list of twitter users who talk about astronomy on a regular basis. I’m doing this as part of a general report on New Media for the Decadal Survey. This is a list of everyone from folks who promote their local club, to people who actively share their favorite astronomy articles, to missions that update the public on their activities via twitter, to bloggers who use twitter to promote their astronomy websites, and to astronomers who periodically w00t about their latest discovery. Is this you? If it is, can you look at this list and let me know if I have found you? (And did I find anyone who doesn’t really communicate astronomy?) Direct tweet or comment any requested changes. This list has moved Please...

Read More
Now live! Expect the Unexpected.
Currently offline.