September 3, 2014

Near Earth Objects: Mitigating the Threat.

(Editor’s Note: What follows is a scenario/article along with an original lesson plan re-written for a blog format).

Arizona Meteor Crater… x100=a bad day for the Earth? (Photo by Author).

Eventually, it had to happen. With scant warning, the announcement is made that a large space rock is inbound to strike Earth and is only weeks away. The news largely takes the public by surprise; this is the big one, an extinction class event. People are exasperated to learn that little can be done to deflect the large impactor; all that remains is for scientists to predict the precise impact location and for world organizations to attempt evacuations so that some of humanity might survive… [Read more...]

12 Amazing Moments in Science.

 
Edwin Hubble in the archetypical Astronomer Pose! (Credit: NASA Quest).
Edwin Hubble in the archetypal astronomer pose! (Credit: NASA Quest).

 

   Let it be known that this post did indeed start with 12… whenever someone mentions the most exalted achievements of mankind, the topic usually comes around to science. Along with our art and music, we’re the only animals that will know of that routinely apply the scientific method to the universe around us. And yet, some scientific discoveries weren’t supposed to be made, and their advent catapulted us years ahead of our time, or at least had the potential to do so, if only they had been recognized. What follows is a list of surreptitious, un-authorized, or just plain awesome discoveries that gave us some key insight into the nature of reality. Just like in the Wizard of Oz, most scientists work for their entire lives just to get a brief glimpse of the man behind the curtain. Anyway, we tried to be as fair as possible and include examples from a cross-section of scientific disciplines; we also tried to include the rare but true tales alongside the ones everybody knows. If your fave didn’t make the cut, let us know; there’s certainly cyber-space for a part II! Thanks also to those intrepid readers who sent in their suggestions; you rock, as always…    [Read more...]

Determine your Longitude: the Lunar Eclipse Method Part II

Totality.

(All Photos by Author).

Hopefully, you had clear skies at your locale. My luck was pretty good… mostly clear skies through-out! My initial impressions were that of a very bright eclipse; the southern rim of the moon seemed especially bright. The color ranged from a dark blood red on the northern edge to an overall brownish glow. This seemed particularly prominent through binocs. And it was extremely cold! Temps ranged around zero Fahrenheit. The night was even punctuated by a fast pass of spy satellite USA 193, on what turned out to be its final orbit. So much for a scoop by Astroguys… [Read more...]

Determine Your Longitude: the Lunar Eclipse Method Part I

Eclipse.

A Ruddy Lunar Eclipse. (All photos by Author).

We’re back now with a new look! Hopefully, it’s less of an eyestrain for our loyal legion of readers… and just in time for this months’ Lunar Eclipse!

Getting an accurate fix on your position has long been a bane of the world traveler. Long before Global Positioning Systems, a way was sought for navigators to calculate their location using the stars. Latitude was easy enough; in the Northern Hemisphere, you simply have to measure the angle of Polaris, also known as the North Star, above the horizon. [Read more...]

Astro-Themed Drinks for Cloudy Nights

Flandrau.

To drink…(and/or) observe? (Photo by Author).

There is a long tradition of alcohol in Astronomy. Tycho Brahe was a great imbiber. Beer Crater (actually named after the imminent selenographer, Wilhelm Beer) on the Moon may well be ultimate site for a brewery one day. But when the cirrus starts getting thick, what’s one to do? True, you can only recollimate your mirrors so much. [Read more...]

Measuring the Circumference of the Earth: the Eratosthenes Method

  This is one I duplicated in High School that I first heard about on Carl Sagans’ Cosmos series.  Way back in the 3rd Century BC, the Greek philospher Eratosthenes of Cyrene devised a method of calculating the circumference of the Earth. [Read more...]