Help me think of a space-themed gift for an awesome 35-year-old guy. [more inside]
What were the best photos we had of the planets in our solar system before the Pioneer and Voyager missions? [more inside]
Cosmos has me very intrigued. Assume I know less than a 5th grader. I am looking for: book recommendations for basic astronomy concepts; blogs; podcasts for beginners; good audio books; and documentaries. If you wanted to teach an adult about astronomy where would you start?
So, I recently got selected to do undergraduate physics research this summer. Great! Awesome! Yay me! However, my research advisor has asked me to use something called IDL to analyze tomographic images of compounds and turn them into 3D images. This is good news, because IDL is used a lot by astronomers to analyze astronomical data, and I want to continue my education in astronomy. But, I've never used IDL ever before. I'm not even sure exactly what it is (a programming language?). My question is this: how do I get up to speed so that I can hit the ground running with my research? Difficulty: Research begins in two weeks. Details: [more inside]
An NPR blog cites an NSF study which claims that 26 percent of Americans asked answered that the Sun goes around the Earth, rather than vice versa. Believing that 1 in 4 of my fellow citizens doesn't know that the Earth circles the Sun is hard enough. But thinking about that number, it seems worse than that: if 26% got a 50/50 question wrong, wouldn't another 26% have answered correctly just based on chance rather than knowledge? That would mean that roughly half of Americans didn't know (and then split evenly on their guess). The idea that half of Americans don't know seems intuitively ludicrous to me. Am I missing something in how I think about this? Please help my statistically challenged brain... [more inside]
I want to build a solar system with a decent amount of verisimilitude, and the math and physics are killing me. [more inside]
Tonight my 8 year old niece told me that for Christmas she wants a blanket for her bed that has a giant picture of Earth on it. I asked her if she saw this somewhere, and she told me that she just thought about how cool it would be in her own head. I tried doing a Google search, but I'm having no luck. Anyone have an idea of where I might find such a thing? Thanks!
So I've just sent a probe to map a new Earth-like planet, and I'd like to establish a latitude-longitude standard for the planet. The poles are pretty easy to spot since the planet is rotating, so I plop down the equator halfway between them and boom, I've got my latitude lines laid out. But now it's time to lay out the longitude lines and I need to find somewhere to put the prime meridian. How do I decide where to put it? [more inside]
We are going to be in Lake Geneva this weekend where can we get away from light pollution and see the Milky way? [more inside]
How likely is it that fire (as in open flame) will exist on extra-solar planets? [more inside]
I'm looking for a short book or series of books for my 7.5 year old son describing the history of the search to explain planetary motion. [more inside]
It is an antiquarian image, showing a person peeking out of a globe into the stars or something. I'm pretty sure it has something to do with metaphysics. I swear it is on the tip of my tongue..
What did we just see? Please tell me we didn't just witness the beginning of the end of the world... [more inside]
Since we're in a period of increasing solar activity, I'm hoping for some hot aurora action in the NY Tristate area. But while there are countless aurora forecast/advisory services, I can't find one for this area. [more inside]
Where would be a good location in Eastern Massachusetts to see and photograph both the sunset and (full) moonrise on Sunday, June 23rd? [more inside]
I've been told recently that collecting micrometeorites is as easy, basically, as placing a clean surface outside and picking through the debris you collect because thousands of tons of space dust and debris fall to Earth every day. That can't be all there is to it, can it? How do you know whether you're looking at Earth dust or space dust? [more inside]
How can I find out which semester has the the largest number of clear nights? I'm teaching an observational astronomy class this term and am getting frustrated by the number of cloudy nights. Is this just life in New England, or would teaching it in the Spring be better? [more inside]
Could Alpha Centaurians detect planets around Sol? [more inside]
[Astronomy-filter] Giving a speech about Astronomical Discoveries of 2012 to an informal group of friends. Looking for suggestions on 3 main points to cover. Your input greatly appreciated! [more inside]
Is there any place on Earth that gets the most moonlight? [more inside]
When you look up on a starry night, you see more than a thousand points of light. How many of what we see with the naked eye are stars and how many are galaxies?
How many of the stars whose light we see at night are actually already dead/gone/disintegrated? [more inside]
Batshit insane filter: I recommended to a friend, 1Q84, the best book I've ever read. He loved it. I had lunch with him this week and he said he thought he was in an alternative himself, as one night he looked up at the Big Dipper and it appeared to be backwards, pointing toward the south. Yikes, I had the same experience myself recently. Whats going on here? Is it an astronomy thing or will Tengo and Aomame appear soon?
How big/high up would something floating in the sky have to be to block out the sun to a sufficient extent to simulate "night?" [more inside]
Please recommend resources (books, websites, iPhone apps, etc.) for learning about astronomy: constellations, stars, dark energy, dark matter, black holes, space exploration, and the solar system. [more inside]
I'm teaching a high school astronomy course in the fall. I have around two thousand dollars to get a telescope. This purchase is the kind of thing that just bluescreens by brain. Please guide me. [more inside]
Recommendations for a portable beginner telescope? [more inside]
Astronomy/Skygazing Beginner: I'm gonna be camping out in a dark place, and I have access to a cheap low-consumer-grade telescope. Is it worth it to take it? What could it see? What could I reliably find? Three technically-competent operators, but zero experience/familiarity with the use of any telescope. [more inside]
In which Aubrey-Maturin Novel did the Transit of Venus appear? [more inside]
The Transit of Venus is June 5! Where is a beautiful, romantic spot for viewing within 30-60 minute drive of San Francisco? [more inside]
Wedding reading for the (very) non-religious space nerds. Suggestions? [more inside]
If all non-solar-system stars ceased to exist, how would things look different to us on earth? Would anything change? [more inside]
Where can we get a clear view of the western horizon at sunset to see the transit of Venus, in or near or within a few hours' drive of Chicago? [more inside]
My housemate and I just saw a bright pinpoint flash (approx intensity and size of Rigel) in the sky, lasting about an eighth of a second, what's it likely to have been? [more inside]
What are career options outside of academia for someone with an astronomy Ph.D.? [more inside]
What makes a star "twinkle"? [more inside]
If I've gotten the right impression, much of our currently visible universe will eventually be expanded away from us, never to be seen again. Do we already know how much and what parts of our present neighborhood we'll be left huddling with?
What will the fate of Jupiter and its moons be during and after our sun becomes a red giant? (or, please forward me to reliable sources with information beyond a first-order Google search) [more inside]
How do I teach astrophysics to an eight-year-old? [more inside]
I'm looking for a map that shows the variance between the standard time and 'local time' within the timezones around the world, or at least within the US. [more inside]
When buying your first astronomy telescope, for the same given price (say $500) would you prefer a larger aperture (Dobsonian) or a basic computerised Go-To function? [more inside]
Where can a find a higher resolution version of this photo of Carl Sagan and the Dalai Lama looking at pictures of galaxies? Or failing that, does anyone know the source?
Best eyepiece for viewing deep space objects with a Zhumell Z12 dobsonian reflector telescope? [more inside]
I'm interested in reading (or listening, viewing etc.) speculative science essays or hard science fiction that postulates complex, extraterrestrial life within our solar system. [more inside]
For our wedding reception we are aiming to name our tables after romantic (or pleasantly poetic) sounding astronomical entities. [more inside]
I'm working on going back to school for Astronomy/Astrophysics, but I need help figuring out what classes to take at the Community College level here in San Francisco and how best to apply to a school like UC Berkeley. Complicating matters is the fact that I went to school for 4 years for film (don't ask) at Drexel University but didn't graduate. Luckily I spent my first two years at Drexel on a general science track. What I really need help with is figuring out what classes I should take at a school like City College of San Francisco. Also, when is the soonest I can/should apply to UCB? Alternately, what San Francisco adjacent schools have really good astronomy/astrophysics programs? [more inside]
Can anyone tell me, well, ANYTHING about a person (hypothetically) standing on the sun? [more inside]
I was listening to this Fresh Air interview today and wondered how they know a meteorite is from Mars. [more inside]
Martian Astronomer Filter--when Mars moves like this in the sky from our point of view on Earth, how does the Earth appear to move from Mars' perspective? [more inside]