Author Archives: marknshirleyvu

A Humbling Experience

The picture that I have attached above aptly describes what my time in the class has made me feel.  Prior to Astro 201, I had very little knowledge about the workings of our Universe.  And while I’m not saying that a single 200-level course has made me anything even resembling an expert, I feel that […] Continue reading

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The Drake Equation – A Scientific Shot in the Dark

The Drake Equation is an incredibly interesting topic of discussion.  Obviously, determining the number of communicating civilizations in our galaxy is a monumental task.  Because of the sheer size of the problem, the fact that a simple equation can bring us anywhere close to a reasonable guess is in itself very impressive.  As impressive as […] Continue reading

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Binary (Double Star) Systems

If you’ve ever seen any kind of sci-fi movie, I’m sure you’ve seen an example of a binary star system.  Countless space movies (most notably Star Wars) feature an alien sky with more than one Sun.  While the effect is usually dramatized in film, these binary star systems are in fact very real. A binary […] Continue reading

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The Planet Formerly Known as Pluto

I remember that growing up, I was always told that there were 9 planets in our Solar System. I always found Pluto very interesting, and even more so now that it has been demoted from its planet status.  This article provides many entertaining facts about the famous dwarf planet, a few of which I found extremely […] Continue reading

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While reading about different types of telescopes here on Earth I stumbled across a cancelled project known as the OWL (Overwhelmingly Large) Telescope, and overwhelming might be an understatement.  This telescope, a concept developed by the European Southern Observatory, would boast a single aperture measuring 100 meters in diameter, longer than a football field! It […] Continue reading

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Black Hole Collisions

Even with little formal expertise about black holes, most people know that black holes are extremely powerful regions in space in which gravity “sucks in” everything around the black hole with no chance of escape.  Now imagine if two of these massive regions were to collide.  It is easy to infer that said collision would […] Continue reading

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Historical Astronomers in Context

The historical figure that I chose was noted astronomer Johannes Kepler (1571-1630).  During his lifetime, the following events were happening: –       The Thirty Years’ War (1618-1648) was an era of warfare in Central Europe.  It is believed to have been caused mainly by continuous conflict between Catholics and Protestants in Europe, however, more causes are also […] Continue reading

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The Million Star Falsehood

I was only a little bit surprised when I learned recently that there were not a million stars visible in our night sky.  One million is a huge number, and as small as stars are, I never believed there was nearly enough space in our sky for one million of them to be visible.  However, […] Continue reading

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The Size of the Universe

I will always be amazed by the size of the Universe as we know it.  The above photo (along with a little bit of zooming) is a perfect illustration of the unbelievable vastness of our “observable universe.”  Our observable universe consists of all objects whose light has reached us on Earth, and is roughly 14 […] Continue reading

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First Post

This stadium is Anfield, in Liverpool, England.  It was opened in 1884, and it is home to my favorite soccer team, Liverpool FC.  I plan on working and living in England after graduating, and I cannot wait to be able to see a match here.  It is one of the most historic stadiums in England, […] Continue reading

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