When I first learned about the “Superman” star, a type of cataclysmic variable star, I was excited to chase it down with a telescope, and I was also excited about researching the popular and scientific literature of these fascinating stars. The more I investigated, the more I felt like I had stumbled upon a treasure trove of celestial gems to explore. My reading revealed so many types of cataclysmic variables that I was giddy with excitement about an endless stream of fascinating objects with equally fascinating astrophysics to ignite my imagination. And having the spectacular eruption of one of these intriguing stars possibly being an inspiration behind a popular fictional superhero made the exploration all the more enticing [Read more…] about The Superman StarShare This:
Recent Astronomy Articles at Cosmic Pursuits
An abandoned sailboat in a grassy field in northern Virginia makes for a good, if unexpected, foreground for this image of the summer Milky Way. Mars is at lower left, while Saturn is below center, and just below the airplane trail. The silvery rectangle of stars above the plane trail is the Small Sagittarius Star Cloud (Messier 24). Many pink nebulae and silver-gray star clusters fleck the trail of the Milky Way. Look to the upper left of the image to see the little upside-down ‘Coat Hanger’ asterism known as Collinder 399.
Image taken on July 8, 2018 near Warrenton, VA, with a Nikon D750 and Tamron 15-30mm lens at f/2.8, a NiSi natural night filter, ISO 3200, 20 seconds.Share This:
The planet Mars is one of the most interesting planets to observe with a small telescope, but also one of the most difficult. The planet only gets close enough to Earth to give up much detail just once every 780 days (about two years and two months), and when it does make an apparition, it still appears relatively small compared to Jupiter or Saturn. But observing Mars is worth the effort. It’s the only planet to reveal an appreciable amount of surface detail in a small telescope, and it also features occasional surprises such as dust storms and local fogs and cloud banks.
Seeing Mars takes a little practice, however, as well as the right tools for the job. This guide will help you understand what you can see on the surface of Mars, especially during the time before and after the opposition of July 27, 2018, when Mars makes its closest approach to Earth since 2003. And it will help you get the best view of this remarkable world with a telescope and a few essential accessories [Read more…] about How to See Mars in 2018Share This:
Like many important theories in science, plate tectonics, the concept that the Earth’s surface is like a cracked eggshell with each piece floating on a convective mantle of molten rock, was once considered a crackpot idea. But sometimes crackpot ideas are right. Plate tectonics now underpins all of geology, much like the Big Bang Theory is the foundation of astronomy and astrophysics.
The theory of plate tectonics was deduced in the mid-20th century by a handful of scientists and cartographers who wondered why, for example, the eastern coast of South America complemented so precisely the shape of the western coast of Africa, and why fossils of long-extinct animals were found scattered on different continents separated by wide oceans, and why volcanoes and earthquakes are far more common in some locations than others, and why fossilized marine creatures are sometimes found at the tops of mountains. Before plate tectonics, these observations were a mystery. After plate tectonics, they all started to make sense. [Read more…] about Find Your Address on Earth, 700 Million Years AgoShare This:
Imagine a young stargazer living at a latitude of 42 degrees north.
Polaris, the fabled North Star, shines far above the northern horizon. Around it wheel the circumpolar constellations of Ursa Major, Cassiopeia, Draco, and Cepheus, ancient landmarks of the northern sky.
In the south, the tail of Scorpius brushes low along the horizon for a few brief months of Summer. Those stars are among the most southerly he can see. But from his star maps, the young stargazer knows that farther south lie some of the greatest wonders of the entire celestial sphere, all the way down to the obscure South Celestial Pole. Yet the poor lad can never see them. The obstinate bulk of the spherical Earth hides them forever [Read more…] about A Northern Observer Discovers the Southern SkiesShare This: