on the Saga of Planet Nine

  The story of the new ninth planet in the Solar System is quite possibly the most exciting stories to come out of solar system astronomy in quite a long time.  Largely because it suggests that the solar system is still a kind of wild west, full of the strange and the unknown, and we…

on eta Carina

eta Carina is one of the most impressive and noteworthy stars in the galaxy. Despite being thousands of light years away in the gigantic Carina star forming region, it’s bright enough to see from Earth (hence why it has a constellation-based Bayer name). But most importantly and interestingly, in 1843, it suddenly became the second-brightest…

on what’s going on with Astronomy

  In the past four months, four high profile cases of sexual harassment in astronomy have come to light, prompting such headlines as “Astronomy’s snowballing sexual harassment scandal picks up even more cases”, “Astronomy’s sexual harassment problem gets Congressional attention” and “Astronomers Are Finally Doing Something About Sexual Harassment” and (with a thesis very similar…

on visible light from a Black Hole

Astronomers from Kyoto University in Japan have made an announcement that’s being reported as “Visible Light from a Black Hole Spotted by Telescope, a First” and “How to spot a black hole from your back garden: Researchers say astronomical phenomena CAN be seen using visible light”. But black holes are supposed to be black. They…

What is NASA’s budget really?

Just before Christmas, Congress announced a new budget… with an unexpectedly large budget for NASA of $19.3 billion dollars, higher than the $18.5 billion Obama was requesting earlier last year. This is a large bonus*, given that it allows NASA to maintain and expand funding for a few of the big projects it’s working on….