Why A Mysterious Dimming Star Doesn’t Mean Aliens


For the past several days there has been a lot of talk about this mysterious star located some 1,480 light-years away called KIC 8462852, located in the constellation Cygnus .  This star appears to be flickering at irregular intervals.  Some have gone so far as to hypothesize that the dimming is a sign of an advanced alien presence, suggesting the possible presence of advanced satellite orbits or a Dyson sphere.  This has been a hot news story in the reaches of astronomy.  But I waited to post anything about it, choosing not to jump on the train of speculation until further news came in.

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Did Stephen Hawking Crack the Information Paradox to Black Holes?


On Tuesday, renowned physicist Stephen Hawking presented his new theories on black holes to a gathering of esteemed scientists and members of the media at KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm.  Hawking focused on something called the information paradox, an aspect of black holes that has been puzzling scientists for years. Basically, the paradox involves the fact that information about the star that formed a black hole seems to be lost inside it, presumably disappearing when the black hole inevitably disappears. However, according to how the universe works and what physicists believe, these things cannot be lost. But where does the information go when the black hole that’s absorbed goes down the drain?

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Gemini Discovers Most Jupiter-Like Planet Yet

Eridani 51 b

The majority of exo-planets discovered are called “Super Jupiters.”  They’re the most discovered because their great size contributes to the slight tug, or wobble, of the star they orbit–much like an Olympic athlete when competing in the hammer throw.  And in this orbit, they’ll annually pass in front of their star, dimming the starlight output from our relative view, alerting us to its presence–like a bug flying in front of a lightbulb.  Unlike most “Super-Jupiters,” which have the characteristics of very cool stars, 51 Eridani b is much more like a gas giant planet. It orbits its star about 13 times the diameter of Earth’s orbit around the Sun. The 51 Eridani system lies about 100 light years away.

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What’s the Deal with Kepler 452b, aka, Earth 2.0

kepler 452b

We’ve been searching the stars and scanning the heavens for many years, trying to find another solar system that might be able to harbor life like our own.  And through the years we’ve edged very close to finding similar planets to our home planet of Earth.  Well, on July 23rd of this year, the Kepler Mission announced that it has discovered the closest thing to an Earth 2.0.  It is Kepler 452b and it’s only 1,400 light-years away.  Here’s the who, what, when, where and how of this new discovery.

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The Mountains and Makeup of Pluto

mountains of pluto

July 15th was a historic occasion as it marked the first time we were able to see close-up pictures of Pluto’s surface.  Traveling at over 30,000 mph, New Horizons snapped some very interesting pictures of the dwarf planet’s surface as it came within 47 thousand miles of it, beaming back to us details never before seen.  What New Horizons captured for us was a first glimpse at mountain ranges and deposits of methane & nitrogen ice.

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Meet the Largest Star Ever Discovered

uy scuti

Hello from the Southeastern Planetarium Association.  I’m currently at the SEPA 2015 and while I’m here I participated in a brief story-telling workshop where planetarians got together to share their favorite stories of the night sky.  I chose to tell the story of the largest star ever observed (so far): UY Scuti.

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