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]
How likely is it that fire (as in open flame) will exist on extra-solar planets? [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]
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]
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?
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]
What's the best way to safeguard my backups from the effects of a solar storm? Should I worry about that at all? [more inside]
What is the advantage of scientific thinking? What practical difference does it make to live in a culture that believes in using evidence to explain the world? [more inside]
What is the most important scientific question of our time? [more inside]
How can I be use my spare time to advance a scientific cause? [more inside]
Do radio waves attenuate and become noise or do they go on forever? [more inside]
I've been rewatching Carl Sagan's Cosmos since I found out it's available on Hulu. Last night, I was watching the episode in which Carl describes how the solar system was formed via the coalescence of particulate matter. But, something struck me as rather odd: if hydrogen and helium are lighter than the heavy elements (duh!) why is it that THEY coalesced into the center of the solar system to become the Sun? It seems to me the heavier elements would migrate towards the center of the maelstrom a bit faster than the lighter ones. Haven't been able to find out the reason for this, hoping the hive can help.
Reading this article (and a USA Today story linked in it) this morning, and I'm curious about an astronomical event mentioned in it. [more inside]
What are some topics in astronomy or cosmology that you find fascinating and mind blowing? [more inside]
In my view of the sky from Mobile, AL - looking southward - there is a star shimmering brightly in red, yellow and even green. What is it? [more inside]
Help me find a cool screen saver that won't infect my computer. [more inside]
What would be the effects on the earth if the moon exploded? [more inside]