April 18, 2019

Searching for Robert Burnham.

Sometimes, the quietest minds among us also have the most to share with the world.

Last month, on a warm summer’s day in August, the East Valley Astronomy Club, in connection with the Robert Burnham Jr. Memorial Fund, honored a man with the dedication of a small plaque placed on the Pluto walk at the Lowell Observatory. That man is probably the most unknown, but influential amateur astronomer of the 20th century; Robert Burnham Jr. a man that but for a singular colossal work, might have passed on into total obscurity. The book is Burnham’s Celestial Handbook, a three volume guide to the wonders of the night sky. [Read more...]

Is Pluto a Planet? by David Weintraub

The issue of planet-hood has become a hot button topic in the astronomical community as of late.

In is “Pluto a Planet?” Author David Weintraub tackles the thorny issue that has plagued astronomers and school children alike.  [Read more...]

The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury

Sometimes classed as fantasy, the Martian Chronicles is written in an elegant style. While not steeped in hard science like Clarke or Asimov, Ray Bradbury introduces a certain poetic read to science fiction. The setting is a very Lowellian Mars as envisioned in the early 20th century. Man tries and fails three separate attempts to colonize Mars only to find out on the fourth that the native Martians were wiped out after being exposed to the chicken pox virus, a sort of “War of the Worlds” solution in reverse. Bradbury continues to parallel interplanetary colonization with the settling of the Americas, a theme that hadn’t yet been beaten to death. Especially of note is how truly alien Bradbury’s Martians appear; not many Sci-Fi novels and fewer still movies or television shows pull this off well. At most, we’re expected to believe in Star Trek-like aliens that have a few cosmetic differences but have basically a human appearance and motives. The Martians portrayed are utterly incomprehensible to humans. I especially liked the “bee-gun” and sunflower like house…this work still begs a proper Hollywood production!

[Read more...]