Author Archives: Nick Belsten

Casscenery (The Cassini Photos of Saturn)

As the 20 year long Cassini mission comes to an end, no one wants to miss the exciting events of the last 4.5 months. Cassini is slated to crash into the surface of Saturn on September 15th this year, but not before Cassini swoops progressively lower to the gas giant, giving scientists unprecedentedly close images … Continue reading Casscenery (The Cassini Photos of Saturn) Continue reading Continue reading

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The Arecibo Message

The Arecibo Observatory was constructed in 1963 as the world’s largest and most sensitive radio telescope. Sitting in a naturally spherical valley in Puerto Rico, this telescope looks decidedly different from the pristine optics associated with optical telescopes such as the Keck Observatory or the Hubble Space Telescope. This is because the Arecibo Observatory peers … Continue reading The Arecibo Message Continue reading Continue reading

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Ida and Dactyl

243 Ida is a 56 km long asteroid orbiting in the main asteroid belt with a number of notable features. Ida is an S-type asteroid, or stony asteroid, and is mostly composed of rock and iron from accretion during early solar system formation. Ida was a subject of study by the Galileo spacecraft in 1993, … Continue reading Ida and Dactyl Continue reading Continue reading

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Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9

In 1994, one year after its discovery, the fragmented remains of Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 crashed into Jupiter’s upper atmosphere in a sequence of 23 large impacts, each releasing the energy equivalent of 25,000 megatons of TNT, more than one million times as much energy as released by the nuclear bomb dropped on Hiroshima. Orbital analysis … Continue reading Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 Continue reading Continue reading

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Ballooning on Venus

After their launch in 1984, the identical spacecraft Vega 1 and Vega 2 launched from a Russian Proton Rocket for their double mission of flying through the tail of Halley’s Comet and landing scientific payloads on the surface of Venus. In addition to a regular parachuted lander, the Vega spacecraft each carried a 22-kilogram balloon … Continue reading Ballooning on Venus Continue reading Continue reading

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Solar Probe Plus

In 1976, NASA’s Helios 2 spacecraft set the current distance record by orbiting the Sun with a closest approach of 43.4 million kilometers. Even though this is barely inside the orbit of Mercury, the intense heat close to the Sun has previously prevented any closer observation. The Goddard Space flight Center “Living with a Star … Continue reading Solar Probe Plus Continue reading Continue reading

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The Era of Long Refractors

Telescopes focus light down to a point to increase the light gathering capacity of the astronomer’s eye. The optimal shape for such focus is a parabola, either a parabolic mirror, or a refracting lens of parabolic shape. Unfortunately, parabolic lenses do not have the same curvature everywhere the way spherical lenses do, making their construction … Continue reading The Era of Long Refractors Continue reading Continue reading

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Manhattanhenge

Four-thousand years ago, early Europeans’ connected with the Cosmos every Summer Solstice by watching the midsummer sunrise directly over the Heel Stone in what we now call Stonehenge. These early people recognized that where the sun rises and sets on the horizon cycles North and South with the seasons. Today, thousands of people gather four times … Continue reading Manhattanhenge Continue reading Continue reading

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Manhattanhenge

Four-thousand years ago, early Europeans’ connected with the Cosmos every Summer Solstice by watching the midsummer sunrise directly over the Heel Stone in what we now call Stonehenge. These early people recognized that where the sun rises and sets on the horizon cycles North and South with the seasons. Today, thousands of people gather four times … Continue reading Manhattanhenge Continue reading Continue reading

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Manhattanhenge

Four-thousand years ago, early Europeans’ connected with the Cosmos every Summer Solstice by watching the midsummer sunrise directly over the Heel Stone in what we now call Stonehenge. These early people recognized that where the sun rises and sets on the horizon cycles North and South with the seasons. Today, thousands of people gather four times … Continue reading Manhattanhenge Continue reading Continue reading

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