August 28, 2016

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Triangulum – the triangle

The constellation Triangulum is one of the few examples where the connect-the-dots thing really does resemble the name. I mean, it makes a pretty damn good triangle without resorting to your imagination. Even the ancient Babylonians couldn’t come up with a great name for these stars so their astro-geeks called it “the plow” which was […]

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August 21, 2016

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Triangulum Australe – the southern triangle

There’s a barely noticed constellation down under called Triangulum Australe, the southern triangle. Connecting three dots to make a triangle is pretty much the minimum effort for making a star group. The first person to go to all that effort was an Italian named Amerigo Vespucci in the early 1500’s. He’s also the guy that […]

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August 14, 2016

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Tucana – the toucan

The southern constellation of Tucana was named after a colorful South American bird in the late sixteenth century by Petrus Plancius. It is small but important. It contains some of our best examples of cosmic real estate, a dwarf galaxy and a globular cluster, both orbiting the Milky Way. Firstly, there’s the Small Magellanic Cloud. […]

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August 7, 2016

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Ursa Major – the great bear

The Greater Bear, Ursa Major, is probably the most significant constellation in the northern sky because it contains the Big Dipper. The Big Dipper is a thing with a thousand names. It’s the most obvious and easiest to recognize of all the star groups. To the British it is the plow. To the Chinese it […]

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July 31, 2016

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Ursa Minor – the little bear

Ursa Minor, the lesser bear, is a very important constellation because it is home to Polaris, the north star. It is also home to the Little Dipper which is very easy to find once you’ve actually found it. If you don’t see it right away just nod and say “Yeah. yeah I see it” but […]

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July 24, 2016

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Vela – the sails

Way down there near the south pole there is a constellation named Vela, the sails. The sails use to be part of a bigger constellation called Argo Navis which included the whole ship. That’s how it was 2000 years ago when Ptolemy made star maps with many of the names we still use today. As […]

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July 17, 2016

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virgo

Virgo – the maiden

Springtime is about Virgo and has been for a very long time. Thousands of years ago this constellation was known to many as The Seed Furrow but it eventually evolved into a lovely young fertile maiden, as in “spring brings all the boys to the furrow” (wink wink). Not that thee shall be beyond slut-shaming, […]

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July 10, 2016

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Volans – the flying fish

There is a tiny constellation near the southern pole of the sky named Volans, the Flying Fish. Unfortunately there is no cute little story here about a fish getting its wish to have wings or such. The only story we have is that this part of the sky was named by some Dutch guy named […]

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July 3, 2016

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Vulpecula – the fox and the goose

The Fox and the Goose is a small constellation in the night skies of summer. It sounds like a fairy tale but one of the gruesome sort where the fox murders some poor goose. Of course a fox has to eat too, and probably has to feed a whole den-full of cute little baby foxes. […]

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November 19, 2015

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The Problem with Foreigners

I once tried to see everything there is to see in Paris in nine days, with mixed results. A co-worker and I had strayed from our official duties at a trade convention in order to see the sights there. I say “strayed” which may be a tad imprecise. The convention was in Manhattan. [All photos […]

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September 19, 2015

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Politics of Racism

Okay here’s Brad’s take. Following the Civil War, i.e. reconstruction, the south was all totally controlled by the democrats. After all Lincoln was a republican. The republicans stood for strong federalism at that time, and the democrats stood for states rights. It was just a political continuation of the war. Over the next 100 years […]

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July 30, 2015

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Man on the Moon

Way back deep into the previous millennium, I made up a simple travel game. It’s called “Man on the Moon.” It’s nothing amazing and provides little social value but it was something my friends and I played while on route to a Led Zepplin concert in Seattle. Our trip was only a few hours whereas […]

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