Browsing Posts in Ministry of Astronomy

Back in September, I wrote about the unusual meteor impact in Peru. My comments got picked up by a New York Times science blog and, more recently, I was interviewed by a reporter from the Brown Daily Herald. His story ran today and here are some excerpts: The handful of shepherds who happened to lead […]

I just watched the Space Shuttle Endeavour night landing and was surprised to see what appeared to be an orange strobe light flashing at the base of the tail. I didn’t think the Shuttle had any sort of aircraft-style anti-collision light. The light looked weird for a aircraft light. It was orange and not on […]

Those of you who got to celebrate a “white Easter” this year surely noticed that Easter was early this year. Even here in Syzdekistan, the traditional Easter dinner held outside was unusually pleasant and not on the warm side as it often is. Yes, Easter falling on March 23 is very unusual and this the […]

This site claims a car being driving on Interstate 5 got hit by a piece of space junk causing $3000 in body damage. It surprised the body shop guys when the pulled out a big hunk of metal out of the car. It’s definitely manmade and it would be very interesting to figure out from […]

Wow. This pictures shows a billowing dust cloud caused by an avalanche from the left part of the picture. The picture was taken straight down and the the reddish bands just left of center are a 2300 foot cliff with a 60 degree slope. The white on the left is carbon dioxide frost that is […]

It has been about 10 days since the US Navy shot down a failed spy satellite. Here is a great article about the 48 pieces of the satellite that are still in orbit and being tracked. There is a bunch of great diagrams of the orbits of the fragments diverging and then converging along the […]

Everyone can find the constellation Orion. It’s high during the winter. Just look for the line of three bright stars. Now go online and match the pictures. OK, now ponder the fact that we are one of the first generations that lives in a world where people don’t see a sky rich with stars. Thanks […]

The Ulysses solar observing spacecraft is failing and once the hydrazine fuel freezes in the lines (at 2°C) the spacecraft will be impossible to maneuver. Of course, this spacecraft is in a solar orbit that carries it over the poles of the sun, so there is no need to show up the Chinese. The Ulysses […]

My estimate about the relative brightness of last week’s lunar eclipse was wrong (hey, it was behind a cloud!). It turns out that the brightness of the moon during eclipses is dependent on the path the moon takes through the earth’s shadow and the clarity of the earth’s atmosphere. In fact, there is a scale […]

Although I was able to see the partial phases of the eclipse before and after totality, the total lunar eclipse was hidden by clouds here in Syzdekistan. The sky was partially cloudy but a large cloud obscured the moon during totality. I’m thinking this eclipse was very dark because I couldn’t see any hint of […]