October 23, 2017

Astro-Challenge: The Bizarre System of Xi Ursae Majoris.

Just what do you show folks when you’re doing urban astronomy from a light polluted sidewalk and there’s not a Moon or planet above the horizon?  Double stars are a favorite star party backup of ours. Part of the “Wow” factor comes from knowing what you’re looking at; just how bizarre would it be to live in a system with multiple suns? Several star party faves such as Alcor & Mizar, Albireo, Castor and Algeiba exist. This week, we’re going to look at a hidden pair to add to your late spring/ early summer repertoire; Xi Ursae Majoris. [Read more...]

Review: Discoverers of the Universe by Michael Hoskin.

Out from Princeton Press.

Few realize that we owe much of our knowledge to an astronomical dynasty of the 18th-19th century. This week, we review Discoverers of the Universe by Michael Hoskin. This fascinating book covers the life and times of astronomers William and Caroline Herschel and the eventual hand off of the mantle of British astronomy to William’s son John. Much has been written about the pursuits of the Herschels, but Discoverers gives it to you in the kind of detail that we observational astronomers love. [Read more...]