July 27, 2017

Remembering Carl.

(Editor’s note: Some may think that this week’s big post and book review are redundant, because they both cover the same famed scientist. Faithful followers of this site will however recall that we’ve done the same for such similar greats in the past, most recently Robert Burnham Jr. We’d like to think that the book review out this Friday covers the life and accomplishments as told in the biography of the man, while this piece relates Carl’s influences, both universal and personal. Let Carl Sagan week at Astroguyz begin!)

Carl at the Very Large Array in New Mexico. (Credit: PBS/COSMOS).

Carl at the Very Large Array in New Mexico. (Credit: PBS/COSMOS).

Some of my greatest heroes are scientists. Frequently maligned by the public and the media, few before or since have been able to convey the awe and wonder in science as Carl Sagan. A planetary scientist by trade, he might also be properly remembered as the first true exo-biologist. Like so many others, I was first introduced to the true modus operandi of science not in school, but by his ground-breaking series Cosmos. Its still worth digging up, and free for viewing on Hulu.com! Over the years, I’ve heard the same sentiment echoed over and over again by countless scientists; Carl got me into science. I first learned what the idea of evolution by natural selection was from Cosmos; how easy it all seemed! In a time that the world was posed on the brink of nuclear Armageddon, Carl showed us another way; a future in a universe that could be just the beginning for mankind, if only we chose it to be so. [Read more...]

30.9.9:Messenger; A 1st Look at the 3rd Pass.

Uncharted terrain! (Credit: NASA/JPL/Messenger).

Uncharted terrain! (Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington).

NASA’s Messenger spacecraft skimmed the barren surface of the solar systems’ inner most world Tuesday evening, revealing more of its unmapped surface. Messenger zipped 141 miles above the surface of Mercury and was occulted briefly before resuming telemetry broadcasting back to Earth. The image above was taken with the Narrow Angle Camera (NAC) looking over the northern horizon at a distance of 10,100 miles and is just one of the first in what is sure to be a flood of pics released today. Tomorrow, October 1st, principal investigators will release findings of the 3rd flyby at a briefing at Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory at 5PM. And don’t forget those wide field searches for any lurking “Mercurial Moons” over the next few days as Messenger recedes…now that would be news!

Astro Event of the Week: January 26th-February 1st, 2009; An Annular Eclipse.

This week’s event is a rare annular eclipse of the Sun. The first eclipse of the year, this one traverses Borneo, Sumatra and the Mid-Indian Ocean. Folks from India and Southeast Asia to South Africa, Antarctica, and Australia will see varying degrees of partiality.

[Read more...]

Observing Challenge: Sighting Extremely Slender Moons Part I

 

   We here at Astroguyz always love a good challenge. Maybe I’ll never climb Everest or run an ultra marathon in Death Valley, but visual observation challenges happen in our local sky nightly.  [Read more...]

Starting into Astronomy: To Buy (Or not Buy) a Telescope?

   One of the questions I most frequently recieve is “what kind of telescope should I buy as a beginner or for a child?”  Certainly there is a lot of pitfalls to avoid, and very few hands on resources to test drive a potential new scope.  [Read more...]