April 6, 2014

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HR Diagram

The Hertzsprung Russell Diagram is the “Rosetta Stone” of stellar astronomy and it’s simple, very simple. So to put it simply, it’s just a graph that plots lots of stars’ luminosities against their surface temperatures. As simple as that sounds, it is the key to understanding stellar evolution. In case you thought “Rosetta Stone” is […]

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March 30, 2014

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History of Astronomy Part 2

Edmund Halley 1656-1742 Among his many studies are tides, magnetism, and trade winds. He cataloged 341 southern hemisphere stars and discovered a star cluster in Centaurus. He also made the first complete observation of a transit of Mercury on November 7, 1677. He also invented the diving bell. But his most famous accomplishment is that […]

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March 23, 2014

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History of Astronomy Part 1

There have been thousands of science geeks contributing to astronomy over the centuries and millennia. Here are a mere handful that have been selected from some of the most significant figures. Some of these people are real icons of human history, big thinkers. As Isaac Newton once said “If I have seen farther than others, […]

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March 16, 2014

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Galaxies

“The infinitude of creation is great enough to make a world, or a Milky Way of worlds, look in comparison with it what a flower or an insect does in comparison with the Earth.” ~ Immanuel Kant Galaxies are monstrous collections of stars, plus dust, gas, light matter, dark matter, and gray matter. In a […]

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March 9, 2014

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Cosmology

“The drum in a dream pounds loud to the dreamer.” ~ Carl Sandburg Anisotropy: This term is frequently used to describe the temperature fluctuations in the Cosmic Microwave Background. The word means not uniform, or not the same. Like if you dressed a calico cat with a plaid kilt then filled it with dark energy […]

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March 2, 2014

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Celestial Coordinates

I must go down to the seas again, To the lonely sea and the sky. And all I want is a tall ship, And a star to steer her by. ~ John Masefield Suppose you lived in olden times and you joined a fleet of wooden ships and iron men. Or maybe it’s wooden teeth […]

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February 23, 2014

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Comets

Comets are essentially big dirty snowballs, the kind you throw at someone you really don’t like. They are mostly made of muddy stinky ice, and bits of dust and little rocks. Comets are about the size of cities and towns, sort of like frozen lakes in space. We’ve had a few that were the size […]

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February 16, 2014

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Bode Titius Rule

Johann Bode and Johann Titius were best buds and they made a rule about planets. Okay first of all let’s call it what it is. It’s not really a rule. And it’s not a law. It’s not even a theory. It’s more of a thingy. It’s the Bode Titius Thingy. It all started in the […]

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February 9, 2014

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Black Holes

A black hole is a region of space where the force of gravity is so intense that it is best pictured as having curvy criss-crossing lines on it. Nothing can escape, not even snarky comments. If you’ve ever thrown a baseball into the air, you probably noticed it quickly returned to the Earth. The harder […]

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February 2, 2014

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Big Bang

“In the beginning there was nothing at all. To the north and south of the nothingness lay regions of fire and frost.” ~ Snorri Sturluson 1220 CE Snorri sounds like a real hoot. If the 13th century Vikings had a dictionary, and looked up the word “hoot” I bet Snorri’s image would be sketched right […]

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January 26, 2014

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Aurora

Aurora is a pretty thing, a real pretty thing. If you haven’t seen it, and want to, I’ll tell you how. Call your local astronomy club. Those geeks will go on and on about it, and put you on a list to be called if someone sees it happening. You have to agree to receive […]

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January 19, 2014

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Asteroids

The majority of asteroids are just silly little rocky bits of junk between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter, the crumbs that fell from the plate as those planets were served up on the solar dinner table. This crumby region is known as the Asteroid Belt.[insert suspender joke] There are other tribes of asteroids gathered […]

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