May 28, 585 B.C.

ince it is May 28 and I happened to remember on the day, for a change, I thought it worth mentioning to both history and astronomy buffs, that at May 28, 585 B.C., the Battle of Halys took place. This battle is significant for two reasons. First, the battle stopped abruptly when ┬ásolar eclipse darkened […]

The Universe: Season 1

I finished watching Season 1 of the History Channel series The Universe a few days ago and I enjoyed it for the most part. The episodes were interesting and the computer graphics helped to illustrate concepts that might not otherwise be clear to a layperson. As a popular program on science, it does a good […]

I have discovered the Universe

I’m talking, of course, about the History Channel series that apparently started in 2007. I bought the first season and watched the first episode, about the Sun last night before bed and it was fantastic. I enjoyed it so much that I was a little sad that there were only 14 episodes. But then I […]

Astronomy Today: Chapter 1

I mentioned a few weeks ago how, in my copious spare time, I’m trying to brush up on astronomy. I ordered a text book that came highly recommended, Astronomy Today, 7th edition, put out by Pearson, and so far, I’ve found the time to get through exactly one chapter of that text book. But it […]

The pinnacle of science fiction nerdiness

My astronomy text book arrived today and it couldn’t have come at a better time. I am entered the part of my story that requires some information on Pluto, as well as some calculations of spacecraft orbits and other little tidbits like that, and I can put the new text book to use for at […]

Brushing up on astronomy

The first astronomy book I ever read was The Nine Planets by Franklyn M. Branley when I was six years old. What caught my interest in astronomy at that young age were the pictures in the newspaper of Jupiter as the Voyager spacecraft made its flyby. My parents got me a telescope and I started […]

Off to bed

Skipped the gym this evening.  I much better at the gym in the morning, and I may have to find a way to get back to a morning schedule. Less-than-optimal day at work.  I was waiting for some spreadsheets to prepare for a meeting and they were never done, and now we have had to push […]


Took a sick day today because of a bad night of allergies and arm aches, which led to antihistamines and pain-killers. I’ve put myself on the DL for our game next Wednesday as I think I need to give my arm some rest. I made as good use of the day as I could, considering […]

Question about “magnitude”

There is something that has always bugged me about the evolution of the measurement of the brightness of a star, also know as it’s apparent magnitude. I understand, in principle, the notion of both apparent and absolute magnitude. What troubles me is the evolution of the idea. As I understand it, Hipparchus was the first […]

The moon

I took the new telescope into the backyard just now. It wasn’t 100% dark, but it was dark enough. I still need to learn how to work it properly, align it correctly, etc. But I pointed it at the half-moon or so that was up there and even with the low-power lens, all I could […]

What is a planet: problems with the current definition

Yesterday, while eating lunch, I got around to reading the article in SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN “What Is A Planet”, by Steven Soter. The article tries to address the rationale for the new definition of a planet, and why Pluto no longer meets that definition. I can’t say that I disagree with the definition as presented. The […]

Pluto’s pink slip

With all of the hooplah going on about Pluto losing it’s status as a classical planet and being relagated to something called a “dwarf planet”, I completely agree with what Ken Jennings has to say on the matter. It is science and science is a self-correcting medium. Things change. However, I can picture the SNL […]