There's something amiss in the night sky these days. The evening is going well - I'm sitting by a crackling fire that I just used to clean a Dutch oven from our last trip out. (Something I actually neglected for about a week, just because I kept forgetting about it. I've learned that burnt molasses…Read more Betelgeuse, Betelgeuse, Betel….
If you're under 60 and living outside the tropics, chances are you've only ever seen one kind of banana - the Cavendish. It is the primary banana with mass commercial distribution, and unless something dramatic happens in the next few years, the days of the Cavendish banana may be coming to an end. And, there's no…Read more Not the Bananas!
Spring is here! Around here, the trees are budding, the weather is alternately windy, stormy, and cold - and the birds are returning. Flocks of robins cover the neighbors' lawns, and the ospreys have returned to claim and improve last year's nesting sites. Bird migrations have long been a mystery to us simple humans. We've…Read more Cryptochromes and Bird Migration
I've been trying all week to get this written - and by using this title I don't mean to raise any men vs. women / war vs. love discussions. Not even a suggestion that the two stereotypes are reversed (Mars is a desert, but perhaps still harbors life? Venus is more of the raging acid-hot…Read more Mars and Venus
I actually paid attention to my alarm clock and got up at 3:30 am on Saturday morning. It was a cloudless night, and perfect conditions for NASA to launch a resupply mission to the ISS. I posted an update to my original Friday night post on the pending launch - but for those normal people…Read more Post-Launch Pics, Antares/Cygnus NG CRS-10
Imagine, for a moment, what the world would have been like in the 15th and 16th centuries, if Magellan, de Gama, Cortez, Columbus, and all the other seafaring European explorers heading out for "the New World" knew exactly what they were in for. If, Viking exploration aside, the entire European population was aware not only…Read more Goodbye, Kepler
There's a great segment in Douglas Adams's Mostly Harmless, the 5th book in the ever-increasingly misnamed Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Trilogy, about the limitations of human perception. In it, the latest version of the eponymous Guide is an intelligent cyborg-type creature resembling a bird, and it tries to explain the nature of reality by shining…Read more Filters
I was reminiscing yesterday, and realized that time spent as a kid, laying out in the street with my dad searching for meteors, was probably what got me interested in astronomy. Seeing Saturn in a telescope definitely set the hook, but the bite came from meteor showers. More than stargazing, the meteor search was, for…Read more The Lyrids
The International Space Station cruises by Orion in this 20-second exposure, Jan 25, 2018. On board (and in this picture): Anton Shkaplerov (Russia), Commander; Mark Vande Hei (USA); Joseph Acaba (USA); Alexander Misurkin (Russia); Scott Tingle (USA); Norishige Kanai (Japan)
In case you haven't heard, China's first space station, Tiangong-1 is about to make an uncontrolled re-entry into Earth's atmosphere. That's an 18,750 pound (8,500 kg) chunk of stuff, about to fall in a blaze of glory. We don't know when, and we don't know where.... but probably some time in March, 2018. To understand…Read more Orbits, and Orbital Decay (Astronomy: Week of 1/21/18)