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
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
I've been having fun on a new social media site called Quora. Quora operates on the StackOverFlow principle. People pose questions and others answer. The act of asking of sincere questions, even silly ones, seems to take the wind out of troll sails. Political sites quickly degenerate into primate poo tossing contests. I enjoy pitching … Continue reading Dark Energy Entities
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
As a longtime amateur astronomer I appreciate good science writing and Mike Brown's little book How I Killed Pluto and Why It Had It Coming is a wonderful example of the genre. When Pluto was tossed from the pantheon of planets I didn't care. I knew that in previous centuries, when asteroids were first discovered, … Continue reading Mike Brown Punts Pluto
Last Friday I joined the Saint Louis Astronomical Society (SLAS). In the last twenty years I have been a member of two chapters of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Kingston and Ottawa, the Forth Worth Astronomical Society in Texas, the Minnesota Astronomical Society in Saint Paul and the Orange County Astronomers in southern California. No matter … Continue reading Old white guys look at the sky!