Tag astronomy

Eclipses and the Lessons of History

Anthony Aveni— “Celestial source of life and light on earth! What envious rival intercepts thy rays? Dares thy own satellite intercepts thy blaze, Or stay thy stream of empyrean birth?…”   The first four lines of a sonnet “tweeted out” by the sixth president of the United States, John Quincy

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Finding Solace in the Cosmos

David Bercovici— I was born in 1960, and by the time I decided I wanted to be a scientist at the young age of 12, the Vietnam War had been going on for my entire life. As far as any of us of that generation were concerned, the war had

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Vera Rubin and the Discovery of Dark Matter

James Owen Weatherall— When Vera Rubin was first invited to use the telescope at the Palomar Observatory, in the mountains outside San Diego, the form she was asked to fill out included the following notice: “Due to limited Facilities, it is not possible to accept application from women.” In pencil, someone

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Swimming With Stromatolites: An Astrobiologist Down Under

Jon Willis— “So you want to fly to an iron ore mining town in the NW of Australia, drive 200 km into the desert to the Outback’s hottest town, then follow a 4WD track to a rock outcrop in the middle of nowhere, all to look at some wavy lines

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The Realm of the Nebulae: Edwin Hubble on the Importance of Science

In 1936, Edwin Hubble compiled a book based on his lectures on nebulae and astronomical observation. Hubble’s landmark contributions to astronomy include his conclusion that there are galaxies beyond the Milky Way and his demonstration that the universe is expanding. The following is an excerpt from his introduction, on the

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From Calcutta to the Cosmos: Mapping the Black Hole at the Center of Our Galaxy

Priyamvada Natarajan— Predicted by Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity, black holes are the most enigmatic objects in the universe. They are so compact and their gravitational pull is so intense that not even light can escape from them. Well before physicists co-opted the term “black hole” to describe these dark,

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The True Mission of the Hubble Telescope

John Gribbin— When I started out in astronomy, the Big Bang theory was just becoming accepted as a good description of the Universe in which we live. But there was one big problem with it. Nobody knew how old the Universe was. The age of the Universe is related to

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Lest We Forget: Life with the Moon

Follow @yaleSCIbooks Sarah Underwood— The ancient philosopher Philolaus believed that the Moon was home to humans fifteen times larger than us as well as much larger animals and plants. He decided on the larger dimensions because the Moon’s days are so much longer than Earth’s. Nearly two and a half

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PBS Airs the Journey of the Universe Documentary Film

Follow @yaleSCIbooks In his television series Cosmos, whose Emmy-award winning co-creator served as one of the directors of the new film Journey of the Universe, astronomer Carl Sagan declared, “We are all stardust.” The sentiment was already a familiar one, for in Joni Mitchell’s famous 1970 song “Woodstock,” she too

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For the Moon, and the Stars, and the Sky

Well, someone is having the best day ever. After last night’s total lunar eclipse in the Western hemisphere, the moon continues to occupy center stage as tonight’s winter solstice approaches for those of us north of the Equator. Here in New Haven, the sun rose at 7:15am and will quickly

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