Many stargazers are familiar with the giant Orion Molecular Cloud, a vast star-making complex some 1,300 light years away that harbours, among many other celestial objects, the Great Orion Nebula. But there’s a closer, lesser known molecular cloud quietly churning out new stars just 430 light years away towards the constellation Taurus. The Taurus Molecular Cloud, or TMC-1, is smaller and less dense than Orion but it still intrigues professional astronomers. The complex contains hundreds of solar masses of dust and gas and all sorts of complex organic molecules formed out of the soot of long-dead stars [Read more…] about The Taurus Molecular CloudShare This:
Today marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of the great and good American poet, essayist, and humanist Walt Whitman. Sometimes called the ‘father of free verse’, Whitman was often beheld as the key to understanding America as it was in the promising days of late 19th century, after the Civil War. He was also, in my view, the poet laureate of stargazers everywhere, especially on account of two of his poems ‘When I Heard the Learn’d Astronomer’ and ‘A Clear Midnight’, reproduced below for your reading pleasure.
“A Clear Midnight”
This is thy hour O Soul, thy free flight into the wordless,
Away from books, away from art, the day erased, the lesson done,
Thee fully forth emerging, silent, gazing, pondering the themes
thou lovest best,
Night, sleep, death and the stars.
“When I Heard the Learn’d Astronomer”
When I heard the learn’d astronomer,
When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me,
When I was shown the charts and diagrams, to add, divide, and measure them,
When I sitting heard the astronomer where he lectured with much applause in the lecture-room,
How soon unaccountable I became tired and sick,
Till rising and gliding out I wander’d off by myself,
In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,
Look’d up in perfect silence at the stars.
Or enjoy the latter poem in the video format below (which is likely the only time you will ever see a video from ‘Breaking Bad’ on this website):Share This:
We normally cover really big things in these pages, things like planets, stars and galaxies. But the cosmos is ultimately built from very small bits and pieces that organize themselves on a tiny scale that are at least as beautiful as anything to be seen in the night sky. This video, created by Beauty of Science, shows at an accelerated pace the formation of six kinds of crystals out of solution. Whereas many astronomical objects coalesce because of gravity, these crystals are made from a beautiful interplay of electric forces, geometry, and quantum mechanics. Quite a beautiful sight!Share This:
The planet Jupiter is always one of the brightest objects in the night sky. It’s brighter than any star, and is only outshone by the planet Venus and the Moon, and, very rarely, by Mars and Mercury. Jupiter reaches a position for optimum viewing in a telescope once every 13 months, roughly, and it makes its latest closest approach to Earth on June 10, 2019 when the planet appears in the (non zodiacal) constellation Ophiuchus along the southern ecliptic. A couple of months before and after this date, Jupiter is in perfect position for viewing with a small telescope, or even a pair of binoculars. You can’t miss it: the planet is by far the brightest object in the southeastern sky. The visible face of Jupiter reveals so many interesting features in a small telescope that the planet is a favorite target for new and experienced stargazers [Read more…] about A Guide to Observing the Planet Jupiter – 2019Share This:
As the Moon reaches first quarter, and a day or two past, the Sun casts a dramatic shadow across the Mare Imbrium and a selection of prominent craters, mountains, and an unmistakable lunar valley. Even a tiny telescope will help you see these features as shown in the image above [Read more…] about Lunar Tour – Plato and RegionShare This: