Category Archives: Uncategorized

Denny

September 12, 2017

“An ignorant mind is precisely not a spotless, empty vessel, but one that’s filled with the clutter of irrelevant or misleading life experiences, theories, facts, intuitions, strategies, algorithms, heuristics, metaphors, and hunches that regrettably have the look and feel of useful and accurate knowledge.”-Dunning Kruger

Podcasts

I listen to a lot of podcasts and thought I might start mentioning my favorites here.

I’ll begin with two recently listened to. The TED Radio Hour is a favorite and one of the latest episodes is a perfect example of why I enjoy it so much. Hardwired. I’ve given it a listen but will need to give it a second. I always know a podcast is great when many of the episodes require at least a second listen.

Another favorite, Science Friday, has, as usual, aired another excellent episode. In particular I enjoyed the segments on Voyager which included a wonderful interview with planetary scientist Carolyn Porco as well as the segment on indoor microbiomes. Fascinating stuff. Check it out.

Back to the night sky

I started observing the night sky in late 2012 and kept up a pretty steady pace until about 12 months ago when my observing time shrank drastically. Partly due to weather, also due to a lack of effort on my part. I’m hoping to turn that around. I doubt I’ll be logging the 6 hour observing sessions I was doing in the first couple of years but I’d at least like to get in a couple hours when the skies are clear. Like many things in life, I find that when I make the effort my passion and interest deepen. When I fail to make the effort, they fade. My interest in observational astronomy is interwoven with my interest in cosmology, chemistry, physics and other related areas. These are not interests I am willing to give up due to laziness.

So, I logged a few sessions this past week. Right now our night sky faces in towards the Milky Way so lots of globular clusters and nebulae are visible. Oh, also, Saturn. Had a good, long look at Saturn. Then I spent a couple hours each night looking at globular clusters in Sagittarius, Pegasus (M15), and M2 in Aquarius.

 If you’ve never looked at a globular cluster and you get time with a telescope make sure you find one. They are fantastic to see in a medium to large amateur telescope, one of the best objects to view. They are equally amazing to learn about. For example M2, one of the oldest known clusters at 13 billion years, is also one of the larger globular clusters and is 175 light years in diameter. Within that space there are 150,000 stars. In other words, it is very densely packed with very old stars. Viewing it with my 12″ dobsonian scope with an 11mm eyepiece resolves many of the stars and the result is stunning.

These stars are nearly as old as the Universe and, as I understand it, still remain a bit of a mystery in terms of how they came to be in clusters orbiting galaxies. Our galaxy has about 150 such clusters. They typically reside outside the disk of the galaxy and orbit the galactic core as satellites with an orbit radius of 130,000 light years. The Andromeda Galaxy is thought to have as many as 500 such globular clusters.

Speaking of our neighbor, I also had a nice long look at Andromeda. As always, a beautiful galaxy to look at through even a small scope.

Denny

August 16, 2017

With the recent events in Charlottesville, Virginia and Trump’s predictable lack of condemnation, which is to say, support for, white supremacy, I can’t help but believe that America is now entering a new depth of crisis.

This could get very bad.

Denny

August 13, 2017

What a strange world we live in. The beauty of the non-human world constantly amazes me. Humans though, always a mix of beauty and horror.