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5 February 2011

Five Awesome Things about the James Webb Space Telescope

Today I received an email from my adviser containing this – dare I say – awesome video about the James Webb Space Telescope. It also has a surprisingly well-put answer to the age-old question of “Why spend money on NASA when we have so many problems here on earth?” The answer: To make the world a better place you not only have to decrease the suck, you also have to increase the awesome.

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20 January 2011

The Winds of Saturn are Blowing

Wow! That’s a big storm! And it’s even more dramatic to see a storm like this on Saturn, which is usually pretty uniform in color. This thing is really stirring up the atmosphere.

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17 January 2011

Ask an Astronomer (Live)!

Do you have burning questions of an astronomical nature? Or do people come to you with those sorts of questions? About the zodiac perhaps? Well, my friend, you need to go spend some time on the Ask an Astronomer site that my fellow graduate students at Cornell run. Over the years, we have received thousands of questions from interested people, and those that we think might be of interest to …

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20 December 2010

Solstice Eclipse!

Be afraid mortals, for today the heavens align and the moon turns red as blood!

No, really. Tonight is not only the northern winter solstice, when the northern nights are longest since we are tilted away from the sun, but there is also a lunar eclipse tonight! I like lunar eclipses a lot, first of all, because they are much more common and long-lived than solar eclipses, but more importantly, the moon turns red.

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20 November 2010

It Came from Another Galaxy

It came from hundreds of thousands of light years away. Trapped in a dance of death with an ancient, doomed star, this behemoth interloper roves through our galaxy, thirsty for blood! Okay, maybe not that last part. But believe it or not, I’m talking about a recent press release from the European Southern Observatory, not a B-movie from the 50s. Earlier this week, ESO announced that a team of astronomers …

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12 October 2010

John Huchra

Over the weekend I learned that observational cosmologist John Huchra passed away on Friday. I only met him once, when I was a summer intern at the Harvard-Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory. He very graciously gave the group of summer interns an hour and a half of his time and told us about his research, and about the interplay between observation and theory in astronomy. But more than that he also shared …

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21 September 2010

The Science of Starcraft: Supernovae and Gauss Rifles

I’ve got two new posts up at The Science of Starcraft! The first tackles the difference between supernovae and novae. The words are often used interchangeably in sci-fi, but they are (usually) very different phenomena. Plus, I love telling the story of nucleosynthesis and stellar evolution, and this was a good excuse. The second post is sort of a sequel to my previous post about railguns. This time I look …

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6 September 2010

Herschel Finds Water around a Carbon Star

Water is pretty common in the universe, since it is made of hydrogen and oxygen. Hydrogen is left over from the big bang and oxygen is made in most stars. But you don’t typically expect to find water in the atmosphere of stars themselves! That’s what astronomers using the infrared Herschel observatory found though! Deep in the shroud of gas and dust that CW Leonis is expelling as it dies, …

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22 July 2010

WISE Maps the Sky

I have two new articles up at Universe Today! The first is about the WISE infrared survey of the entire sky, which involved approximately a bazillion images, including the lovely view of the Pleiades shown here. You should go check it out.

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7 July 2010

The size of planets and stars

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