What is Citizen Science?

For better or worse citizen science has become a fashionable term, but what is it and why do people like it? Citizen Science is a big component in a larger movement of public participation and engagement. There are makers and hackers everywhere and participation in science feels like it is increasing in general. This is... Continue Reading →

That’s No Supermoon

The periodic mention of a 'supermoon' in the news cycle is starting to annoy me. A supermoon is simply not that much bigger than any other Moon!  It's apparently just perceptible but by no means would you call it 'super'. Annoyingly though, observation of the so-called supermoon is wrapped up in another effect: the Moon Illusion. This means that... Continue Reading →

Searching for Planets in the Pleiades

There's a cool paper on arXiv today in which an intrepid band of astronomers (I assume they were/are intrepid) search for exoplanets around the stars in the Pleiades using Subaru. Spoiler alert: they don't find any! However, it's an interesting look at how to hunt for planets and small/faint objects in general. They find 13 potential... Continue Reading →

More on Men and Women in Astronomy

The response my previous blog post about gender bias took me by surprise. Apparently if you talk about this stuff openly, people have a lot to say. More than 500 people have read the post on this site and more over at the Women in Astronomy blog. After posting it, I also emailed the upcoming... Continue Reading →

Men, Women and Self-Promotion in Astronomy

We’re running the fifth .Astronomy conference later this year in Boston. .Astronomy is a small (and awesome) conference for astronomers, where you must apply to participate. Although the tone is relaxed, spaces at the event are in short supply (there are only 50 places). You don’t have to talk at .Astronomy, and there are only a... Continue Reading →

Aurora Borealis Timelapse

A recent APOD featured this beautiful video of the Northern Lights over Norway. The opening shot is almost exactly how I saw the aurora in 2012. The Sun is at the peak of its activity and therefore the likelihood of seeing aurora (at either pole) are increased at the moment. http://vimeo.com/16917950

Apollo Astronauts and Solar Radiation

The Apollo astronauts narrowly avoided serious health problems, and even death due to exposure to radiation from the Sun. Here’s a plot of the approximate Solar proton flux during the Apollo era: Here’s the same but with the missions and health warnings labelled: Scary stuff! I made these images for a talk I gave a while... Continue Reading →

Olbers’ Paradox

Wendy Sadler (of Science Made Simple fame) was asking, on Facebook, what explanations people usually gave for Olbers’ Paradox. The slew of answers from several people revealed that the canonical answer is not the only one people think of. The paradox is named for a 19th Century astronomer, Heinrich Olbers, who remarked that if the... Continue Reading →

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