October 11, 2011

LIGO: A Quest for Gravity Waves.

LIGO, Livingston. (All Photos by Author). We had to go there… last month’s NASA Tweetup at the Johnson Spaceflight Center saw us undertake the great American… [more]

LIGO: A Quest for Gravity Waves. LIGO: A Quest for Gravity Waves.

Imaging Satellites: A Low-Tech Method.

Portable Satellite Tracking "Station". (All Photos by Author). We here at Astroguyz have been working for some time on an interesting technique for capturing photographs… [more]

Imaging Satellites: A Low-Tech Method. Imaging Satellites: A Low-Tech Method.

Observing from the ‘Hood': Good Targets for Bright Skies.

    If you’re like us here at Astroguyz HQ, you find yourself in the ‘burbs under increasingly brightening night skies. But you want to use that shiny new… [more]

Observing from the ‘Hood': Good Targets for Bright Skies. Observing from the ‘Hood': Good Targets for Bright Skies.

Featured Posts

Smallest Full Moon

Astro-Event: The Smallest Full Moon of the Year!!!

Can you see the difference? (Photo by Author). The Full Hunter’s Moon this Tuesday night ushers in the ultimate non-event (well, next to the 2012 “galactic-axis alignment doomsday scenario!”) but unlike like that whole debacle, this one is interesting and real. Sure, everyone commemorates the largest apparent Full Moon of the year, but few mark [...]

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Review: Falling to Earth by Al Worden and Francis French.

Out from Smithsonian Press! We’re approaching 40 years since the last human set foot on the Moon, and we’ve yet to have the ability to point at a calendar and state unequivocally when such a feat may happen again. Thus, the era is dwindling when we can hear the stories of these early astronauts, in [...]

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06.10.11: A Carl Sagan Day Marathon!

Carl with a Viking mock-up on the set of Cosmos. (Credit: NASA/JPL). The recent passing of Apple CEO Steve Jobs reminded us of another luminary of our age who passed way too soon; planetary scientist and science visionary Carl Sagan died December 20, 1996 at the age of 62 after a long fight with the [...]

Draconids

Astro-Event: A possible Draconid Outburst?

Path of the Earth through the Giacobinid streams. (Graphic by Author). A total wild car meteor shower may be just around the bend. The Draconid meteor shower is usually obscure even on a good year, with rates in the 5-10 per hour doldrums. This peak usually occurs on or around October 8th, and passes with nary a notice. [...]

Transit Mosaic

October 2011: Life in the Astro-Blogosphere.

A recent personnal 1st; an ISS Solar Transit! (Photo by Author). October is one of our favorite months, crowned as it is by a holiday that sees suburbanites re-enact pagan ancient Cross-Quarter festivities. We’re talking Halloween, Samhain, All Hallows Eve, whatever your household preference. Now is a good time to roll out the ‘scope, put [...]

Magick

Review: Magick, Mayhem & Mavericks by Cathy Cobb.

A Classic! Science history books are some of our favorite tomes to review. Far from being the tidy linear progression of rules and paradigms that we’re presented in High School science, the history of our current knowledge is has often been messy and hard won. And unlike political history that is often re-written by the [...]

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Touring the KSC: It’s a Space Coast Weekend!

The Vehicle Assembly Building at KSC…(All photos by Author) Only now, the story can be told; a true tale of our recent invite to tour the Kennedy Space Center! I know, as long time readers of this astro-forum you are probably saying that we’ve been over these hallowed grounds of space-dom many times before, what [...]

Delta Serpentis (Full)

AstroChallenge: The Sub-Giants of Delta Serpentis.

You might’ve noticed that we here at Astroguyz have a “thing” for double stars. This can be a controversial affliction among deep-sky observers, as many an astro-imager sees mere “stars” as boring compared to their quest for faint nebulae and galaxies. But for many an observer trapped in the ‘burbs, double stars offer a deep sky target [...]

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Review: The Restoration Game by Ken MacLeod

Out this month from Pyr Books! Be wary of that video game you’ve just been called in to code… the fate of your alternate reality motherland might just depend on it. This week, we review The Restoration Game, the new cyber-science fiction thriller by Ken MacLeod out from Pyr Books. This smart, fast-paced read pits [...]

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21.09.11: Stalking the Re-Entry of UARS.

UARS…Have you seen me in orbit? (Credit: NASA/GSFC). A unique re-entry event is about to occur this week, one that, if you’re lucky, you may need only your eyes to witness. UARS, the Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite has been on the shortlist for imminent re-entry over the next few days. Launched in 1991 from the [...]

Curtiss Cross Final

Astro-Challenge: Hunting the Curtiss Cross.

Curtiss Cross finder chart (Photos by Author). (Note: the images included are an obverse view as seen through our Schmidt-Cassegrain Telescope!) Ahoy, mateys… just in time for September 19th and Talk Like a Pirate Day, we set our scurvy-clouded sights on a Lunar Cross worthy of emblazoning any skull-capped flag… Up for a lunar challenge? [...]

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Review: Strange New Worlds by Ray Jayawardhana.

It’s weird to stop and think that we now live in a time that we know of the existence 573 new exoplanets, and by the time this cyber-ink goes to press, that rolling number will become obsolete. “In my day,” (my halcyon youth of the 70’s) Eight-tracks where still cool and astronomers guessed that exoplanets [...]

95 Herculis

Astro-Challenge: The Changing (?) Colors of 95 Herculis.

I love double stars. While many a wispy nebulae are elusive and vanish at the first hint of light pollution, double stars tend to stand up well under the less than optimal viewing circumstances that plague most of us. I’ve pulled off many a moonless star party from light-polluted urban areas by adding bright double [...]

Black Halo

Book Review: Black Halo

Black Halo is book two in Sam Sykes’ Aeons’ Gate Series.  If you’re looking for an easy going beach read with simple characters and a twist-free plot, this ain’t your story.  Also, I’ve made notes in past reviews about starting a series in the middle.  I have not read book one of this series, and [...]

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Astro-Challenge: Uranian Moon Spotting.

A Uranian family montage. (Credit: NASA/JPL/Voyager 2) First, let’s clear up one thing right out the gate. This week’s astronomical challenge will have me saying the name Uranus, a lot. And I can already hear the Beavis and Butt-head snickers from the back row, as I use sentences like “Just point your 10” Dob at [...]

Standonzanzibar

Review: Stand on Zanzibar by John Brunner.

A Sci-Fi Classic! This week, we’re reaching into our science fiction “way back” machine to review a perennial classic. Hey, eventually, we do get to ‘em all… 7 BILLION…A recent National Geographic front piece announced. That’s an estimate of how many living copies of Homo sapiens are projected to inhabit our fair planet this year. [...]

M71 Cluster+Comet Garradd 290

September 2011: Life in the Astro-Blogosphere.

Comet Garradd passing M71 in August. (Photo by Author). Ahhhh, September…. The heat of August is behind us, as a young astronomer’s fancy turns to thoughts of dark skies and equinoctial nights. I swear, if they ever discover a planet that sports a perpetual New England Fall climate, I propose that a multi-generational interstellar ark [...]

Mercury AM

AstroEvent: See Mercury at its 2011 Morning Best.

Never seen the planet Mercury before? This coming week offers a good time to try, as the inner-most world undergoes its best morning apparition for northern hemisphere viewers. The tiny world reaches a greatest elongation of 18.1° degrees west of the Sun on September 3rd at a brightness ranging from about -1 magnitude to 0.0 [...]

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Review: Quantum Man by Lawrence M. Krauss.

On sale now! Once a generation or so, a mind comes along that not only spans the interdisciplinary chasms, but also propels our insight ahead by generations. Such a mind belonged to physicist Richard Feynman, the subject of this week’s review, Quantum Man by Lawrence M. Krauss out by Norton books as part of their [...]

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Review: How the Hippies Saved Physics by David Kaiser.

On sale now from Norton Books! Few of us ever stop to think of how culture affects the history of science or vice versa, or the case of this week’s review, the impact of counter-culture on the same. We’re talking about How the Hippies Saved Physics by David Kaiser, out earlier this summer from Norton Books. A [...]

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Astro-Challenge: Spotting Triton.

Triton as seen from Voyager 2. (Credit: NASA/JPL). This week’s Astro-Challenge is definitely for the “been there, done that” crowd, a hunt that will put that gia-normous light bucket you’ve got sitting in your backyard to good use. August 22nd, the planet Neptune reaches opposition. And yes, we know you’ve spotted the grey-blue world at magnitude +7.9 with no [...]

Comet C2009 P1 Garradd path

AstroEvent: The Tail(s) of Two Comets.

As the Moon begins its inexorable wane after passing Full phase this weekend, we’d like to turn you attention to two decent comets currently gracing opposing hemispheres. First up is the tongue twisting comet 45P/Honda-Mrkos-Pajdušáková. This Internet search-defying comet currently shines at about magnitude +8 and is actually a circum-polar object for New Zealand viewers [...]

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Review: The Sun’s Heartbeat by Bob Berman.

Out from Little-Brown! Think you know our nearest star? Think again… no other astronomical object influences our often mundane daily lives like our Sun. Think about it; the fuel in our cars, the energy in that Twinkie you had for “breakfast” (admit it) and the very power in the electrons that propel this blog can [...]

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Variable Star Observing 101.

An artist’s conception of an accreting binary system. (Credit: NASA). Bored and looking for something new to do in astronomy? Tired of hauling out that imaging rig you took out a 2nd mortgage for just to see “how M31 looks in my 10-inch SCT tonight?” Let me introduce you to the fun field of variable [...]

ZHR Nomogram(with line)

Astro-Event: Will the 2011 Perseids Perform?

A classic summer astronomical standby may be in trouble this year, but that shouldn’t stop you from looking. That’s right, we’re talking about the Perseids, the “old faithful” of meteor showers that gets northern hemisphere residents bundled up and out under the summer stars every mid-August.

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Review: The Invisible Gorilla by Christopher Chabris & Daniel Simons.

Out now from Broadway Paperbacks! Think you’ve got a grasp on how reality and human intuition works? Think you’re catching everything “in the moment” and that your memory works like a finely tuned HD video camera? This week’s review may have a few surprises for you. In The Invisible Gorilla, authors and psychology professors Christopher [...]

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August 2011: Life in the Astro-Blogosphere.

The July 2011 Full Moon through fog from Astroguyz HQ. (Photo by Author). As the Dog Days of Summer draw neigh, August typically brings some of the hottest temps for the denizens of the Northern Hemisphere. This month will see a journey to the largest planet in our solar system leave the pad, a great [...]

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Review: Cowboys & Aliens.

In theaters now! This weekend, extra-terrestrials invade the Wild West in the Jon Favreau & Steven Spielberg summer sci-fi blockbuster Cowboys & Aliens. If there’s one thing that can unite cowboys, Indians, and western banditos, it’s a good ole fashioned alien invasion. Like many a Spielberg hit, Jaws doesn’t show up until the second reel, [...]

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AstroEvent(s): Of Heliacal Risings and Slender Moons.

Can you see the ultra-thin crescent? (Photo by Author). Dust off those Sothic cycle calendars again; the Dog Days of summer are upon us; yes, it’s time this first week of August to try that feat that the Ancient Egyptians depended on, with a sighting of the dawn heliacal rising of the bright star, Sirius.

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No Nukes-What the Plutonium Stoppage Means to the Space Program.

MMMmmmm….Plutonium cake… (Credit: Department of Energy). (Editor’ s Note: We’d like to thank fellow backyard astronomer Clay M. Davis with giving us the “Nuclear Physics 101″ help embedded in this post!) Amidst the impending decade of transition for the United States space program, a quiet fact is slowly rearing its ugly head, one that will [...]

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26.07.11: Naming P4; A Humble Proposal.

The many worlds of Pluto! (Credit: NASA/HST/SETI Institute). By now, you’ve heard the news and read the tweets; Pluto has a fourth moon to accompany Charon, Nix, & Hydra. The discovery announcement came last week from a team of astronomers led by the SETI Institutes’ Mark Showalter utilizing the Hubble Space Telescope. The observation campaign [...]

Mars Occultation

AstroEvent: The Moon Makes a Pass at Mars.

Mars + Moon as seen from North America 5PM EDT on the 27th. (Created by Author in Starry night). As July 2011 comes to an end, has the great August “Mars Hoax” viral email finally died a deserved death? Spawned during the close 2003 opposition of the Red Planet, this email has been a favorite [...]

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Review: The Salmon of Doubt.

A must read for any Adams fan! This week, we reach back into our grab bag of books in the “waiting to be read” pile, and once again, we’re glad we did! Long-time fans of this spot will remember our very first post way back in halcyon days of 2007, a quaint, link-less, picture-less review [...]

Lunar Swirl

Astro-Challenge: Exploring Reiner Gamma.

Finding Reiner Gamma…note that the shot through the Astroguyz 8″ SCT is flipped and inverted! (Credit: Wide shot by Author, closeup from Lunar Orbiter 4 in 1967/NASA). The waning gibbous Moon may provide a good cause to do some early AM astronomy this week. Amidst the familiar features such as craters, rays, and lunar mountains are more [...]

Cycles of Time

Review: Cycles of Time by Roger Penrose.

A real mind-bender of a summer read! The science of cosmology is often the study of counter-intuitives. Why are we here? Where did it all come from? Are the multiverses infinite in number, with infinite possibilities, such as intelligent tentacled canines and/or Paris Hilton as president (it does explain the bizarre reality that is our [...]

WMAP-NASA

The Universe: You Are Here in Time & Space.

Our present understanding of our expanding universe. (Credit: NASA/WMAP). (Editor’s Note: The essay that follows is a re-bloggified version of an essay I wrote in our quest for a science teaching degree. As that quest for knowledge has changed into a quest for employment, I thought it would be a worthy exercise to place these [...]

Neptune Birthday

AstroEvent: The Many Birthdays of Neptune.

Current position of Neptune versus discovery. (Created by Author using Starry Night). Mark your calendars; the planet Neptune, the first world discovered by a tour de force of pure mathematics, passes a landmark this week…sort of. The story harkens way back to a prediction made by Urbain Le Verrier of the position of an object [...]

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Review: Green Lantern the Movie.

In Theaters Now! Guardians of the universe rejoice; the on-again, off-again Green Lantern flick that has been talked about is now a summer blockbuster movie. We finally found time this past Fourth of July weekend to take in one of the most anticipated super-hero flicks of the summer. Would this DC Comics offering deliver the [...]

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Astro-Event: Aphelion, an Occultation, a Launch and a Close Double.

Sunday night’s occultation path across the US…(Credit: NASA/IOTA). We bring you this week’s edition of astronomy events a tad early to point your eyes skyward towards an interesting event; the occultation of a 10th magnitude star constellation Virgo. The asteroid is 52 Europa, and the event will last for up to 18 seconds for viewers [...]

Disappearing Spoon

The Disappearing Spoon by Sam Kean.

A Great Read! High school chemistry class was never like this… most of us first met the elements as a curious set of blocks on a chart, a series to be memorized and organized. A few of us may occasionally wonder “Why is Tungsten W?” or “why does the periodic table have that funny double [...]

July N-N

July 2011: Life in the Astro-Blogosphere.

July means lightning photography season at Astroguyz HQ…(Photo by Author). Ah, the seventh month of the calendar year is upon us. July brings our home-world of Earth to aphelion, the start of a new saros, and a look at a fascinating asteroid… and oh yes, the end of a certain low-Earth orbit delivery system. What [...]