The Nightly News
An Astronomy blog by Joe Bauman, Salt Lake City
  1. Blog 10: New candidates for gravitational wave detections
    17 Mar, 2017
    Blog 10: New candidates for gravitational wave detections
    The world’s most advanced astrophysics observatory is continuing its search for colossal collisions and other strange occurrences throughout the universe -- events that it alone can detect -- and has found at least three new candidate events. This is the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory, whose two components detected the collision of a pair of black holes on Sept. 14, 2015, a few days after the upgraded instrument was switched on. The epochal announcement came on Feb. 11,
  2. Blog 9: Exploring Distant Worlds
    07 Mar, 2017
    Blog 9: Exploring Distant Worlds
    Imagine a manmade "Dragonfly" of a robotic laboratory churning through the orange atmosphere of Saturn’s moon Titan, alighting wherever scientists want it to land. It could skim over lakes, photograph rugged river valleys that cut through mountains, and settle onto the landscape to sample alien chemistry. Or think of a "Clipper" spacecraft repeatedly skimming over the icy surface of Europa, Jupiter’s large moon, sniffing out compounds that spew from cracks in the surface, and possibly detecting
  3. Blog 8: Exoplanet Fever
    27 Feb, 2017
    Blog 8: Exoplanet Fever
    It would be hard to overestimate the importance of NASA’s latest exoplanet discovery, but I did. On Feb. 20, a news release from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, notified the world that a major announcement about planets around other stars was imminent: "NASA will hold a news conference at 10 a.m. PST (1 p.m. EST) Wednesday, Feb. 22, to present new findings on planets that orbit stars other than our sun, known as exoplanets. The event will air live on NASA Television and the agency's
  4. Blog 7: Sketching the Heavens
    17 Feb, 2017
    Blog 7: Sketching the Heavens
    Most astronomers admire our celestial neighborhood through their telescopes using one or more of these methods: eyeing, writing notes, or photographing. But a handful among every thousand or so has found a more artistic way: drawing. Jay Eads, curriculum technology specialist for the Jordan School District, is one of the rare amateurs who hone their visual acuity and artistic skills to reproduce the views seen in a telescope. This is far more difficult than peering through one and goggling at
  5. Blog 6: Stars
    07 Feb, 2017
    Blog 6: Stars
    During a long night of astronomy, I simply look up at the stars. Unattended, the telescope tracks and the camera continues to record ancient light. I am overwhelmed by the striking views, amazed by the beauty of a myriad stars, and at the same time I feel alone and small among the vast, cold regions of space. Take a walk and gawk at the stars. In the still, moonless hours after dusk – really the only period when deep-space objects are fit to photograph – starlight is bright enough to light your
  6. Blog 5: The Beautiful Horsehead
    27 Jan, 2017
    Blog 5: The Beautiful Horsehead
    Nothing in astronomy captures the imagination like the Horsehead Nebula. It takes the form of the head and neck of a mighty phantom horse, a dark ghostly beast with a roiling mane, seen against a glowing pinkish curtain that is streaked with vertical folds and mysterious horizontal waves – all of it spattered with random white spheres. The spheres are stars, gigantic nuclear furnaces like our sun.                 [The Horsehead Nebula, photographed by Joe Bauman, Oct. 29-30, 2014. See the
  7. Blog 4: New Critter in the Cosmic Zoo
    17 Jan, 2017
    Blog 4: New Critter in the Cosmic Zoo
    Scientific progress often creeps along incrementally – a deeper understanding of a gene function here, better dating of a geological feature there. Rare is the discovery of a whole category, such as the new lemur-like mammal that the World Wildlife Fund recently photographed in Borneo. Add a new species to the cosmic zoo, thanks to the work of Dr. Anil Chandra Seth, an astrophysicist at the University of Utah, who along with his team have now identified and proven four examples of a previously
  8. Blog 3: A Cosmic Display Eclipsing All Others
    07 Jan, 2017
    Blog 3: A Cosmic Display Eclipsing All Others
    2017 is the year of what’s justly dubbed “the Great American Eclipse,” with the total solar eclipse of Aug. 21 swooping across the contiguous 48 states. The last time a complete sun power failure darkened any part of the mainland United States was in 1979 and the next will be in 2024. This will be the “first to sweep across the entire country since 1918!” proclaims the Internet site Having witnessed five of them, I am certain a total solar eclipse is the most spectacular
  9. The Orion Nebula (M42) and its neighbor (M43)
    27 Dec, 2016
    Blog 2: The Orion Nebula
    Some crisp, clear winter night, duck outside and gawk at the sky. It’s not the best season to fire up a telescope, with the triple threat of frost, snow and cold-weather damage to equipment, but binoculars and even the unaided human eyes can deliver beautiful celestial treats. One of my favorite wintertime deep-space objects is the only nebula that I have seen with the naked eye (well, naked except for gasses), the Great Orion Nebula. It’s a centerpiece of the constellation Orion, a figure of
  10. Blog 1: About the Star of Bethlehem
    17 Dec, 2016
    Blog 1: About the Star of Bethlehem
    Astronomical images occasionally pop up on coins, from a comet on a Roman issue marking the ascension of Julius Caesar’s soul, to the Star of David on Moroccan money of the twelfth or thirteenth centuries, to the moon landing commemorated on the reverse of Eisenhower and Anthony dollars. You might imagine the silver piece shown here is a Medieval European coin displaying one of the Three Wise Men following the Star of Bethlehem – but that’s not exactly right. The Bible’s sole mention of the

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