My good friend, Amy Shira Teitel has produced a new video in her “Vintage Space” video series which tackles a hot topic, even six years after the controversial IAU decision to change Pluto’s planetary status.
Enjoy the video as Amy explains just what happened with Pluto.
With the holiday shopping season in full swing, I’ve gotten a lot of questions from people interested in picking up a telescope for themselves, or for someone they know. This guide will cover telescopes ranging from $40 to $200 – great for first-time telescope buyers on a budget.
In many cases, the people I talk to have an idea of what they would like to spend on a telescope, but usually don’t have much of an idea of what they would like to view.
Different objects in the night sky can require different types of telescopes, however in the “starter” telescope price range, there are a lot of good, all-purpose telescopes that can be had – with even the most modest budget. These telescopes do not feature “goto” functions, and are operated manually.
While you CAN find “goto” telescopes for a few hundred dollars, the optics suck, and the drive systems are of poor quality. If you see a computerized telescope at a “big box” retail store, stay away! Better yet, don’t buy ANY telescope from a big-box retail/grocery store.
Keep reading to learn more about some great telescopes that will give great views without breaking your bank account. I’ve used every telescope on this list, and provide the pros and cons of each model.
On this day of remembrance of the tragic events on September 11th, 2001, let’s take a moment to also remember the great many things the U.S has achieved.
Earlier this summer, Dr. Pamela Gay spoke at TAM 2012 about harassment in science ( and in general ), and how we can overcome it and do great things. Recently Pamela’s talk was posted up on YouTube, allowing many more people to listen to her important message.
If you want, you can also read a summary at Pamela’s “Star Stryder” blog at: http://www.starstryder.com/2012/07/15/make-the-world-better
Long-time readers of Dear Astronomer know that I am a pretty hard-core dark sky advocate. As a fan of science fiction and dark skies, I couldn’t resist passing along this video from 2001. From what I’ve heard the footage was archived VHS footage that was recently digitized by Scott Kardel (International Dark Sky Association).
If you’d like to learn more on how you can take an active role in protecting our night skies, visit: www.darksky.org
With truly dark skies (Bortle Class 1) becoming an endangered species, many parks and cities across the globe are doubling their efforts to become “dark sky preserve” sites. Often times though, these efforts conflict with housing developments, mining efforts, and other side-effects of the rapidly developing world.
In some cases, cities, parks, and dark sky preservationists clash with new developments, as it’s very easy for developers to throw up lighting without any concern for night skies or lighting efficiency. Recent studies have shown that increased levels of artificial lighting at night can have a detrimental effect on birds, insects, and even humans. New studies by the EPA have also led to a correlation between high smog levels in the lower atmosphere and high levels of artificial lighting at night.
In the debate between providing adequate light at night, and protecting our night skies, opponents often cite security and cost as the main factors for not utilizing “dark sky safe” lighting methods. That being said, many cities are now seeing tremendous cost-savings from reducing their nighttime lighting levels, along with a corresponding reduction in crime! Seems like criminals don’t like carrying flashlights! Also consider with energy costs rapidly rising, the value of reclaiming countless millions of tons of coal, and barrels of oil wasted on unnecessary outdoor lighting. With the heightened concerns over energy usage and global climate change, it is a logical conclusion to reduce energy usage through the use of properly configured, energy efficient outdoor lighting.
What other factors affect our night skies, and what can be done to help take back the night?