on the Proposed Planet orbiting Proxima

Recent news has announced with breathtaking excitement that astronomers have discovered a planet orbiting Proxima Centauri!  Or, rather, the information has leaked, and hasn’t yet been officially released, and lots of disgruntled scientists (like me) are wishing things had gone a bit differently. Why? Well, it’s common these days for research to get around (and…

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 alpha Centauri

2015 (October 12, to be exact) marks the hundredth anniversary of the discovery of Proxima Centauri by the Scottish astronomer Robert Thorburn Ayton Innes, the director of the Union Observatory in Johannesburg, South Africa. Proxima was quickly recognized to be the smallest member of the alpha Centauri star system, and is now known to be…

on Protostellar Disks

My wife made me this new quilt for the door of my office: It’s a star called DG Tau B, and she made an incredible likeness. But what, exactly, are we looking at here? If you’d like to know more about how the quilt was made, take a look at my wife’s blog. Read on…

on Rosetta, Philae, and C/67P

One of the more exciting things you can find at the American Astronomical Society meeting are new results in fields you don’t normally keep up with, and about space missions you’re not involved in . The team behind Rosetta and the Philae lander put out a very nice and detailed talk about what they learned…

on the New Years Eve Giant Cookie

I promise I’ll start talking about astronomy again soon. One thing I’m known for is a New Years’ Eve Giant Cookie. I’ve been doing it for about 15 years, ever since one New Years’ Eve when I wanted chocolate chip cookies but didn’t want to be bothered with the long process of swapping sheets in…

on the End of the Universe

There is a theory which states that if ever anybody discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable. There is another theory which states that this has already happened.  – Douglas Adams There’s a new story going…

On Springtime (and National Security)

Today (March 20) is the first day of Spring, also known as the Vernal Equinox.  The Vernal Equinox actually has a specific astronomical definition: when the Sun, heading north, is directly over the Equator. We can actually confine that to a specific moment of time; according to the United States Naval Observatory, Spring began at…