In Memory of A Sunspot Watcher


Rest in Peace, Daddy My father, John H. Collins, Sr., died recently after a lifetime of raising a family, serving his country, working hard, and being a stargazer. In particular, he loved to watch for sunspots. He counted them, he sketched them, and through his observations, tracked the cycles by … Continue reading

Snakeskin Pluto

In this extended color image of Pluto taken by NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft, rounded and bizarrely textured mountains, informally named the Tartarus Dorsa, rise up along Pluto’s day-night terminator and show intricate but puzzling patterns of blue-gray ridges and reddish material in between. This view, roughly 330 miles (530 kilometers) across, combines blue, red and infrared images taken by the Ralph/Multispectral Visual Imaging Camera (MVIC) on July 14, 2015, and resolves details and colors on scales as small as 0.8 miles (1.3 kilometers).

New Horizons Images Continue to Dazzle Okay. I am officially surprised. Pluto just got even MORE interesting than ever! Not only is it a colorful-looking icy world, but it’s got the weirdest snakeskin surface features I think I’ve ever seen. As soon as I saw this image, I thought immediately … Continue reading

Creating Universes

Enabling Dome Explorations Occasionally I switch hats from being a writer of astronomy and space science “stuff” to being a “creator” of other worlds and galaxies. This week is one of those times. I’m taking software training in some packages that help animators create worlds, stars, galaxies, and nebulae, and … Continue reading

Kepler in Search of Distant Earths

A artist's concept of Kepler-452b, a near-Earth-sized planet discovered by the Kepler space telescope. Courtesy NASA/Kepler

A Near-Earth-size Planet Isn’t Necessarily JUST Like Earth The news last week that the Kepler telescope had found a close “cousin” of Earth circling a sun-like star really brought out the speculation among people who don’t actually study planets for a living. The press, of course, ran with the story, calling … Continue reading