Comet Neowise is fading fast. For the last two weeks, I've been watching Neowise climb higher and higher in the early evening northwestern sky. Neowise was a welcome sight in this shit-storm (2020) year. Gazing at its diffuse tail takes your mind off the Wuhan Coronavirus1 and the global, mostly self-inflicted, economic clusterfuck it caused. … Continue reading Neowise Nostalgia
One night, a few weeks ago, I was driving west on I86 near American Falls when I spotted a long string of blinking red lights. The lights stretched over a large arc of the horizon. My first thought was “Jesus H. Christ now what?” As an amateur astronomer, I have climbed mountains to get away … Continue reading Who Thought Blinking Windfarms was a Good Idea?
Future generations will remember Bill Clinton for two things, not having sex with that woman and authorizing the launch of Cassini. I was working in Dallas Texas in the months before Cassini's launch. It was 1997 and the Internet was just beginning to disrupt everyday life. Google was morphing from a thesis to a company … Continue reading Don’t be a Weenie Launch Cassini
The total solar eclipse of August 21, 2017, was my fourth complete solar eclipse. I've seen two annular eclipses, 1994 and 2012, and two total eclipses, 2001 and 2017. Annular eclipses, or rings of fire, are worthy spectacles but nothing compares to a total solar eclipse. Some things have to be experienced to be fully … Continue reading Still Totally Awesome
There are two types of stories about major astronomical observatories. There are stories about new discoveries and observation technologies and then there are stories about how batshit crazy people are! Lately a rash of batshit crazy has broken out over the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope on Mauna Kea. The ignorant press is casting … Continue reading Mauna Kea Morons on the March
Here we go again; literal lunatics are, for the zillionth time, announcing the end of the world. What’s going to do us in this time? Would you believe the next four lunar eclipses? Starting tonight, an unusual, but not rare, sequence of four lunar eclipses begins. Some religious loons are claiming this so-called eclipse tetrad … Continue reading Blood Morons
At tonight’s meeting of the St. Louis Astronomical Society I learned of John Dobson’s recent death. John Dobson was widely known as the inventor of the homemade “Dobsonian” telescope and the co-founder of the Sidewalk Astronomers: perhaps the most famous and effective amateur astronomy outreach group in modern times. “Big Dob” light buckets are a … Continue reading John L. Dobson R.I.P.
I left work early yesterday to scoot down to Forest Park, one of St. Louis’s best city parks, and take in the transit of Venus. The St. Louis Astronomical Society conducted a public outreach event on the grounds of the World’s Fair Pavilion. The pavilion sits atop a small hill with a good view of … Continue reading Venus puts a period on our Time
Glen Canyon dam Last weekend I was in Page Arizona to visit my parents and catch the May 20th 2012 annular solar eclipse. Page is a little town that owes its existence to the construction of the Glen Canyon dam in the early 1960’s. The reservoir behind the dam, Lake Powell, has appeared in so many … Continue reading The Wahweap Wow
Nick Lomb’s Transit of Venus 1631 to the Present is the best illustrated astronomy book for general readers since Terence Dickinson and Alan Dyer’s The Backyard Astronomer's Guide. Everything about Lomb’s book from its eye seizing cover, rarely seen historic photographs and charming well researched commentary is first class. Transit is the type of work … Continue reading Blurb: Nick Lomb’s Transit of Venus