Author Archives: burnspress

A Grim Future, Brightened by the Stars

For my culminating post, I want to reflect on how my perspective on space and the future of astronomy has changed over the course of Astronomy 201. Firstly, everything I learned in this course, from gravity and planetary formation to stars and habitable zones, has given me a fundamental and scientifically realistic understanding of space […] Continue reading

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Silentium Universi

Fermi’s paradox, Fermi’s question, the Great Silence, and Silentium Universi are all names ascribed to one of the most fundamental questions of astronomy: “Where is everybody?” It is a question based in rationality, because in the search for extraterrestrial life the numbers just don’t seem to add up. With enough probes and some decent rocket technology, it is […] Continue reading

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Gushing With Life

The search for extrasolar planets and potential for alien life is one of the hottest topics in modern science. As such, I thought it would be interesting to discuss the place that some scientists say is most likely to alien host life. Enceladus seems to be at the top of everyone’s list for alien host […] Continue reading

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Protoplanet Publicity

Scientists have located what they believe to be the first direct observation of a planet forming in its stellar womb of gas and dust. Using ESO’s Very Large Telescope, Sascha Quanz and an international team of scientists has been studying the young star HD 100546 and its surrounding gas. They were surprised when they spotted […] Continue reading

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Space Travellers

The greatest barrier to human exploration of space is undoubtedly the vast distances and time lengths required to travel from one stellar body to the next. This post will outline some potential modes of interstellar propulsion: Magnetoplasmadynamic (MPD) Thrusters As described by NASA, MPD thrusters are the most powerful form of electromagnetic propulsion. They use […] Continue reading

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Save Mr. Snow Miser!

The US National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) based in Boulder, Colorado, has been taking images of our planet for 34 years, documenting climate changes and ice levels across the planet. Data from the past five years show ice levels to be lower than any previously document years. Changes in climate and ice levels […] Continue reading

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Frickin’ Laser Beams

On July 5, 2012, the world’s largest laser fired a record shattering shot that generated more power than the entire United States does at any given moment. The laser, located in Livermore, California, is housed in a building the size of three football fields dubbed the National Ignition Facility (photo above). The NIF laser is an […] Continue reading

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HINS-Light > Purell?

Spectroscopy refers to the interactions between matter and light, or radiated energy, and the dispersion of an object’s light into its various wavelengths (i.e. colors). Dissecting an object’s light through spectroscopy helps modern astronomers determine the physical properties of stars. However, the study of light aids more than just astronomers in scientific battles today. New […] Continue reading

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Historical Astronomers in Context

Tycho Brahe: Tycho’s primary contribution to astronomy is his collection of stellar and planetary observations. Accurate to within one arcminute, Tycho’s naked eye observations were unprecedented in quality. Tycho proved that comets lay in the realm of the heavens and sought to improve upon the current model of the solar system. Although Tycho never lived […] Continue reading

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Precession: The Great Year

As humans on Earth there are two celestial motions that affect us most obviously. Earths diurnal motion, its rotation on its axis responsible for day and night, and Earth’s revolution around the sun, determining our yearly cycles (winter, spring, blooming, hibernation, migration). A third and less obvious celestial motion is precession. Its time scale hides […] Continue reading

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