March 30, 2017

A Close Pre-Historic Brush with Scholz’s Star

An artist’s conception of Scholz’s Star and its brown dwarf companion passing through the outer solar system.

(Credit: Michael Osadciw/University of Rochester).

A fascinating announcement out of the Astrophysical Journal caught our eye last week, as researchers announced that a newly discovered star made a close pass through our very own solar system some 70,000 years ago. [Read more...]

15.03.11: A Borderline Brown Dwarf.

A brown dwarf family portrait bracketed by our sun & Jupiter. (Artist’s conception: NASA/JPL/CalTech). 

Oh Be A Fine Girl/Guy Kiss Me Now… the mnemonic for stellar classification running from hottest to coldest has been long overdue overhaul, as brown dwarf classes L, T, and now Y have been placed on the cool end of the scale. And in the past month, a paper by Kevin Luhman and colleges at Pennsylvania State University have reported what may be the coolest brown dwarf known. [Read more...]

16.02.11: The Tyche Files.

The realm of the outer solar system; here be hypothetical worlds? (Credit: NASA).

Something kept floating around our astro-radar yesterday as we busily wrote about comet flybys, launches, and wacky space weather. Titles like “New Solar System Planet!” and “Solar Companion Found!” kept making a spurious appearance from unverified sources. [Read more...]

01.02.2011: NEOWISE: Mission Accomplished.

Comet 65P Gunn as captured by NEOWISE. (Credit: NASA/JPL/CALTech).

An orbiting sentinel recently completed its secondary science mission. WISE, NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, recently completed an all sky survey for Near Earth Objects (NEOs). Launched in December 2009, WISE’s primary mission was an all sky survey in the infrared spectrum. [Read more...]

AstroEvent: Catch Jupiter’s Moons in 1-2-3-4 order.

Jupiter+moons at 2200 UT February 1st. (Created by Author in Starry Night).

Recently I’d caught something at a star party that’s worth looking out for; Jupiter’s moons in 1-2-3-4 order. This event happens 3 to 4 times a month, and is always a good teaching moment to name and explain the four Galilean moons. [Read more...]

June 2009 News & Notes.


Blast! (Credit: Marc Halpern/the Blast Collaboration).

BLAST takes off! Recently, scientists got a look into some of the earliest moments of the universe. BLAST, the Balloon borne Large Aperture, Sub-millimeter Telescope, is an unlikely looking instrument in an unlikely place. Carried on a long tether and based in the Antarctic, BLAST can stay aloft for weeks at a time, observing the sky at very far infra-red frequencies. [Read more...]

Are you a Planet? A humble proposal.



(NASA/Artists’ Conception) 

   Here’s a fun proposal. Next time you find yoursef bored, go into the science department of your local university and just casually pose the question “gee, maybe Pluto should/shouldn’t be a planet.” Then stand back and watch the slide rules fly (yes real science geeks still pack slide rules, for when the apocalyspe comes!)    [Read more...]