May 25, 2017

Review Magnificent Mistakes in Mathematics by Alfred S. Posamentier & Ingmar Lehmann

On sale now!

We’ve all be there. Standing at the chalkboard, (remember chalkboards?) we’ve all forgotten to “carry the two,” or made the cardinal sin of mathematics by attempting to divide by zero. Hey, it happens to the best of us sometimes.

So it’s comforting to realize that the rock stars of mathematics are prone to slip up on occasion as well. Only in their case, their mistakes may be so monumental as to approach greatness.   [Read more...]

The Early Astronomers: A Brief History of Astronomy.

Ye ‘ole telescope…(Photo by Author).

(Editor’s note: The following is an essay wrote by yours truly in the quest for a science teaching degree. Now that said degree has come to fruition, our writing can be immortalized forever in a re-vamped blog format).

Astronomy is one of man’s earliest pursuits for knowledge. Once we began living in organized communities and brute survival and safety wasn’t a constant and overriding concern, we began to look up and ponder our place in the cosmos and contemplate the workings of the heavens above us. [Read more...]

Review: Unmasking Europa by Richard Greenberg

Out from Springer Books!

Something interesting is going on underneath the icy surface of Jupiter’s Moon, Europa. This week, Astroguyz takes a look at Unmasking Europa by Richard Greenberg out from Springer Books. Dr. Greenberg is a professor of Planetary Sciences at the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory at the University of Arizona in Tucson. [Read more...]

AstroEvent: A 2xJovian Moon Transit.

The view from the US East Coast around 8:30PM EST 24 Jan. (Created by Author in Starry Night).

One of the first things that Galileo noticed with his primitive telescope was the moons of Jupiter. This ‘solar system in miniature’ fascinated him, as he watched and recorded the changes in position presented by these four moons night to night. Even today, watching these changes can be a fun endeavor, and is a view available to even the smallest telescopes. This week, I challenge you to try and view a double transit of the Galilean moons. [Read more...]

Review: Agora

Agora Movie Poster.

Agora Movie Poster.

 

This week, I thought I’d give a quick Astroguyz shout-out to a historical astronomy movie that recently graced our Netflix inbox. Agora tells the tale of the astronomer and mathematician Hypatia and the last days of the library of Alexandria. The movie quietly came and went earlier this year, but it tells a tale that’s as timely as ever. [Read more...]

Review: Journey Beyond Selene by Jeffery Kluger.

A classic of the early space age!

        A classic of the early space age!

     Before men landed on the Moon, we had to first crash land there successfully. This week, we dip back into the Astroguyz library to review the classic Journey Beyond Selene: Remarkable Expeditions Past Our Moon and to the Ends of the Solar System by Jeffery Kluger. We dug this gem up from our favorite Tucson haunt Bookman’s years ago. Selene tells the fascinating tale of the evolution of the unmanned space program. [Read more...]

Review: Seeing & Believing by Richard Panek

An astronomy classic!

An astronomy classic!

 

     Much has been said over the years about how the invention of the telescope has changed the science of astronomy, but how has it changed us and our view of our place in the scheme of things? Enter Seeing & Believing: How the Telescope Opened Our Eyes and Minds to the Heavens by Richard Panek. I discovered this amazing little book in our local library from a reader tip, and found it a thoroughly interesting and engaging read. [Read more...]

22.06.10- Nicholas Copernicus Revealed.

Copernicus: finally given his due. (Public Domain graphic).

Copernicus: finally given his due. (Public Domain graphic).

 

   A new chapter in the final saga of one of astronomy’s greats concluded recently, as the remains of Nicholas Copernicus were reburied at Frombork Cathedral last month. The ceremony came after years of forensic detective work to positively identify the astronomer’s remains. Copernicus is famous for introducing the Sun-centered or heliocentric theory of the solar system in his landmark work, De Revolutionibus, which was later banned by the church. It was known that Copernicus was buried underneath the church, but gaining a positive ID from the dozens of skeletons interred had proven difficult. Copernicus was known to have died at age 70, a rarity in the 16th century. This narrowed down the field of “Copernicus skeleton candidates” to two unearthed in 2005. But the real breakthrough came when a hair was discovered in the pages of a book contained in Copernicus’s personal library. The DNA allowed a positive match to the anonymous remains of a man who shook the foundations of medieval thinking and led the way for modern astronomy…it always amazes us how they simply “lost” things in the olden days! On May 22nd, 2010, nearly 467 years to the date of his death, Copernicus was given a proper burial at Frombork with all of the pomp he was due. The sarcophagus will now be overlain with a glass viewing tile, and the original marker and monument to Copernicus will remain. This symbolic gesture is representative of the long reconciliation process that has occurred over the last few decades between the Roman Catholic Church and science. While some may see it as superfluous, such examples of the church coming to terms with Copernicus, Darwin, or Galileo represent a confluence of ideologies and show that religious dogma does not always have to be anathema to science.

Astro Event of the Week: Spot Atlantis on its Final Flight!

(Credit: NASA/Jack Pfaller).

(Credit: NASA/Jack Pfaller).

 Atlantis posed for flight!

   This week sees the first in a series of finales; three shuttle missions remain, and the first shuttle up for its final voyage is Atlantis and STS-132. This is a resupply mission to the International Space Station, as NASA prepares to enter life aboard the ISS without a shuttle next year. Atlantis first took to space on October 3, 1985 and has performed such notable feats as the launching of the Magellan & Galileo spacecraft as well as the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory and last year’s final repair of the Hubble Space Telescope aboard STS-125. Atlantis takes its name from the famous sailing ship that first scouted out Wood’s Hole in the early 20th century, the RV Atlantis. After STS-132, Atlantis will have logged nearly 300 days in space. Atlantis will be kept for a STS-335 Launch On Need standby for the final STS-134 flight of Endeavour later this year, which is also the last of the shuttle program.

The good news is several sighting opportunities should be possible for both Atlantis and the ISS during its 13 day planned mission. Launch is scheduled for 2:20 PM EDT on Friday, May 14th, and the shuttle will pass over Europe as it lifts into orbit that evening at dusk. Interestingly, it looks like the Sun angle may be setting up for some transit sighting opportunities over the US Southeast during this mission. Docking will occur on day three, which will be on the 17th if everything launches on schedule. Lit dusk passes on the pair will favor the US eastern seaboard, and generally, the farther north you are, the higher the STS-ISS pair will be. Around late June, the ISS will enter a summertime orbital phase where its orbit will actually be permanently illuminated at times, and even now, the nights aboard the ISS are drawing up short. Do track sites such as Heavens Above, CALsky, Spaceweather, and this space for updates… it’s worth it to see Atlantis do its thing one more time!

(Note: An orbital ballet of sorts is also in progess at the ISS; today, the Progress 36 module undocks from the nadir port of the Zvezda  module. Progress will deorbit and burn up over the Pacific in June. Then, on Wednesday, cosmonaut Kotokov will pilot the Soyuz TMA-17 and undock from the aft end of the Zarya module and move it to replace Progress, freeing it up for the installation of the MRM-1  carried aboard Atlantis. Talk about a cool valet job!)

The astro-word for this week is: Space Tweetup! A space tweetup is an alignment of two or more space enthusiasts for a space flight cause via that most venerable of 140 character platforms, Twitter. A Tweetup may be virtual, as in “let’s watch a launch via NASA TV and tweet about it” or in person, as in next week’s NASA tweetup for the STS-132 launch, of which Astroguyz is proud to be a member. NASA obviously “get’s it,” and is eager to promote new technology and engage its legion of fans, many whom feel disenfranchised with the “old school” media. People often ask me, “Why bother with Twitter?” I reply that events like the NASA tweetup have given me the opportunity to gain access normally reserved only for a select few, and an ability to connect to readers in a way not possible previous. It’s hard to imagine that scant decades ago, the monthly astronomy magazine bulletins would tell us about the comet that had long since come and gone; through Twitter communities, I can not only act on alerts for new objects, but share images straight from the eyepiece in real time. I highly encourage anyone interested to apply for a NASAtweetup; it’s open to all, and they’ve had events at the Kennedy and Johnson Space Center and in Baltimore at the Goddard Space Center thus far. And if you can’t make it, you can always participate vicariously online!

January 2010: Life in the Astro-Blogosphere.

Not bad for a first try; The Orion Nebula! (Photo by Author).

Not bad for a first try; The Orion Nebula! (Photo by Author).

Ahhhh…. Another decade is upon us. It’s hard to believe that only ten brief years ago, we had yet to land a probe on Titan, only a handful of exo-planets were known, cell phones were bricks, and a “Gig” was still the pinnacle of computing power. As 2010 is upon us, we realize that we have yet to travel in air locks or have phasers at ready on our hips. Of course, science has made some of our futuristic dreams come true; we now routinely don more computing power on our ears than sent man to the moon, and everything is made of plastic… [Read more...]