Author Archives: Sam Bianco

Reflections: A Year of Astronomical Study

As my freshman year of college draws to a bitter sweet and slightly chaotic close, I’ve been doing some major thinking about about the events of the past school year. I fell in love with astronomy from the very first lecture I attended, way back in August of last year. While my first semester gave … Continue reading Reflections: A Year of Astronomical Study Continue reading Continue reading

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The Arecibo Message: Humanity’s Greeting to the Cosmos

To this day, one of humanity’s most loaded questions remains unanswered: are we alone in this universe? Though we have yet to detect the presence of any extraterrestrial civilizations, that has not stopped humanity from attempting to make contact with whatever else might be out there. The most famous attempt to communicate humanity’s existence to … Continue reading The Arecibo Message: Humanity’s Greeting to the Cosmos Continue reading Continue reading

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Extrasolar Planets: A Search to Span Solar Systems

Recently, I have started work as an undergraduate research assistant in the Physics and Astronomy department at my university. The project I was assigned to is of a stellar nature; we are attempting to find evidence of extrasolar planets, or planets around other stars. Though we haven’t found any planets yet, I keep thinking about … Continue reading Extrasolar Planets: A Search to Span Solar Systems Continue reading Continue reading

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Mars: Investigating the Red Planet

In his hit song “Rocket Man”, musical legend Elton John aptly remarks that “Mars ain’t the kind of place to raise your kids / In fact it’s cold as hell.” The average surface temperature of Mars is 220 Kelvin, or about -64 degrees Fahrenheit. Now, I’m not sure about hell, but that’s definitely too cold … Continue reading Mars: Investigating the Red Planet Continue reading Continue reading

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A Look Inside the Terrestrial Worlds

Though we do not currently have the means to see directly inside the Earth (or any other planet), we can use clues to make inferences about what may be lying beneath their surfaces. On Earth and the Moon, our most helpful data stems from the analysis of seismic waves, or vibrations that travel along the … Continue reading A Look Inside the Terrestrial Worlds Continue reading Continue reading

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Moving in Circles: Apparent Retrograde Motion

Over a single night, the planets behave much like the stars; they appear to rise in the east and set in the west. However, over the course of many nights, one will recognize that the movement of planets among the stars is quite intricate. The speeds and brightnesses of the planets fluctuate significantly, and while … Continue reading Moving in Circles: Apparent Retrograde Motion Continue reading Continue reading

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Historical Astronomers in Context: Nicholas Copernicus

Nicholas Copernicus (February 19, 1473 – May 24, 1543) was a Polish scientist who mathematically calculated the details of a heliocentric, or sun-centered, solar system.  He uncovered relationships that permitted him to calculate each planet’s orbital period and the distance from each planet to the sun in terms of the astronomical unit (AU), or the … Continue reading Historical Astronomers in Context: Nicholas Copernicus Continue reading Continue reading

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Our Earth, the Spinning Top?

What if I told you that in a couple thousand years from now, your Zodiac sign would no longer be your Zodiac sign? It may be devastating to devout followers of astrology, but the relative positions of the Zodiac constellations are changing very, very slowly, at least from our viewpoint. This is due to a … Continue reading Our Earth, the Spinning Top? Continue reading Continue reading

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A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

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