NASA’s Big Gamble on Spot 5

When you have a $446 million spacecraft funded by public money, there is a considerable amount of pressure to squeeze it for every last drop of science.  The Dawn mission has already made spectacularly successful visits to two asteroids, Vesta and Ceres.  It is now orbiting around Ceres, having completed a “final” Low-Altitude Mapping Orbit. 

The Eclipse You Didn’t See

This week’s lunar eclipse was seen by by thousands of people, but simultaneously there was an eclipse that was much harder to see.  Had we been standing on the surface of the Moon, we would have seen the Sun silently glide behind the black Earth, leaving only a broken, fiery ring – all the sunrises

The Geminids of 2012

Things have gotten pretty busy since the kid started going to preschool, and the website has suffered from neglect.  It seems like the only thing I can make time for is the occasional meteor shower.  And so here are the Geminids, in photos taken from the same mountain pass as the Perseids in my previous

The Perseids of 2012

The night sky is beautiful but generally isn’t dynamic.  Other than the slow rolling of the entire sky as the night progresses (as if the stars were affixed to a sphere), there’s very little movement.  Until you see the bright flash of a meteor.  And a meteor shower can turn the sky into a show. 

Does REI Grok Dark Skies?

I was at REI  in Missoula, MT, one day and noticed several lights outside pointed downwards towards some tall grasses planted against the wall.  Intrigued, I returned after dark to take some photos. Notice the downward facing lights along the wall.  The lamp in the parking lot is extremely bright, but faces downward.  The interior

The Unicorn’s Heart

  In 2002, a previously unknown star in the constellation Monoceros, The Unicorn, briefly became the brightest star in our galaxy.  Although great debate rages about the reasons for V838 Mon’s flareup, there is general consensus that images taken by the Hubble Space Telescope in the months and years afterward are some of the most