Category Archives: Astronomy

For the dinosaurs!

The dinosaurs didn’t have a space program, but we do. I just watched live the first kinetic-impact asteroid-redirection test as NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test spacecraft collided with the asteroid-moon Dimorphos of the asteroid Didymos. Below is the last image … Continue reading

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Great Plains Solstice Twilight

Last month I drove across the United States, coast-to-coast back-and-and forth diagonally, 8000 miles through 18 states, as in the animation below. Amazing was driving through the Great Plains of the North American flatland with uninterrupted 360° horizons as the … Continue reading

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Signature Spikes

Nearly a quarter century in the making, I was tremendously excited and relieved last week by the release of the first images from the James Webb Space Telescope. I remember the trials, tribulations, and triumph of the Hubble Space Telescope and … Continue reading

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Alien Suns Reversing in Exoplanet Skies

Not only can suns stand still in the sky, from some exoplanets their motion can apparently reverse! Wooster physics-math double majors Xinchen (Ariel) Xie ’21 and Hwan (Michelle) Bae ’19 and I just published an article elucidating these apparent solar reversals. Michelle … Continue reading

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Black Hole Above the Fold

When grocery shopping, I normally just glance at the newspapers in the newsstand. However, this morning, I was excited to see “above the fold” of the Wall Street Journal a large reproduction of the first image of the supermassive black hole … Continue reading

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Slide Rule Examples

Slide rules were widely used in engineering, science, and mathematics until the early 1970s, including during the Gemini and Apollo space programs. Although rendered largely obsolete by the advent of inexpensive electronic calculators, their descendants continue to have specialized applications, such … Continue reading

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Diffraction Limited

Yesterday, Webb optical telescope element manager Lee Feinberg said “We made the right telescope” while reporting that its focus has reached the  diffraction limit of 0.7 arcseconds at the infrared wavelength of 2 microns. (For comparison, from Earth, Luna subtends … Continue reading

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Halo Orbit

The Webb telescope has fully deployed and arrived at its halo orbit about the second Earth-Sun Lagrange point. But how can it orbit an empty point in space? In the accompanying animated sequence of inertial space diagrams, a star (red) … Continue reading

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Astronomy Christmas Gift

I awoke early this Christmas morning to watch the successful launch of the James Webb Space Telescope. I remember the genesis of the telescope a quarter of a century ago when it was called the Next Generation Space Telescope. (The … Continue reading

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Part Science, Part Art, Part Luck

Launched just last month, Lucy will be the first spacecraft to visit Jupiter’s trojan asteroids, rocky swarms that orbit about 60 degrees ahead and behind Jupiter in its orbit. Hal Levison, Lucy’s Principal Investigator, has described Lucy’s complicated trajectory, which includes an Earth … Continue reading

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