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The Moon Once Had An Atmosphere

In Moons by Brian Koberlein0 Comments

For centuries humans have dreamed of traveling to the Moon. We achieved that dream in 1969, but found our sister world to be a dry airless rock. Most of the early stories of a journey to the Moon painted a very different picture, giving the Moon a breathable atmosphere, and perhaps even exotic life. We now know the Moon is barren of life, but there was a time when the Moon had an atmosphere. Read More

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How To Detonate A Star

In Supernovae by Brian Koberlein4 Comments

The most powerful way a star can die is through a supernova explosion. Through nuclear physics and the pull of gravity, a star can be ripped apart, shining brighter than an entire galaxy for a brief moment of cosmic time. There are several kinds of supernovae, but one particular kind known as Type Ia is particularly interesting to astronomers. And we still aren’t entirely sure how they occur. Read More

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The Sun-Centered Galaxy

In Milky Way by Brian Koberlein1 Comment

The stars in the Milky Way have generally circular orbits, and move through the galaxy at a speed of about 200 km/s. This is also true for our Sun. But how do we know this, given that our Sun is in the disk of the Milky Way, and we can only see our galaxy from our Sun’s vantage point? It all has to do with relative motion.Read More

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Nibiru, Climate Change, and Other Pseudoscience

In Pseudoscience by Brian Koberlein28 Comments

In four days, Nibiru will strike the Earth, raining destruction upon us all. September 23, 2017 to be precise. At least according to a YouTube video with nearly 3 million views. Of course, that’s crazy. There is no Nibiru, and nothing remotely planet sized has any chance of striking Earth. But that hasn’t stopped people from sending astronomers emails, or calling local science centers to ask about the apocalypse. Even when we assure them there’s no risk, or explain how we know Nibiru doesn’t exist, they still have doubts. We’re probably lying, or haven’t looked at the “real” evidence. Read More

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How Saving Energy Can Hurt Astronomy

In Astronomy by Brian Koberlein1 Comment

Artificial light has transformed human society. It frees us from the darkness, and allows us to light our homes and communities. It has also made the night sky increasingly less dark, which poses a challenge to astronomers. And it’s gotten worse in recent years, thanks to an energy-saving light known as LEDs. Read More

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The Puzzle Of Fluffy Galaxies

In Galaxies by Brian Koberlein0 Comments

When we look in the night sky, we can see hundreds of stars. In remote and dark areas we can see a few thousand stars with the naked eye. But imagine a night so bare you could only see a couple dozen stars. Most of them distant and dim. This would be our sky if our solar system existed in an ultra-diffuse galaxy. Read More

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Did You Look At The Sun? So Did Galileo

In History by Brian Koberlein0 Comments

If you caught the eclipse this week, you probably took care to use eclipse glasses or a pinhole camera. But you may have caught a glance at the Sun with the unaided eye. Perhaps while looking at the Sun during totality you saw a bit of the Sun come back before looking away. If you did, you wouldn’t be alone. Lots of people have looked at the Sun before, including Galileo. Read More

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And Thanks For Your Support

In Big Science by Brian Koberlein1 Comment

One of the overarching goals of the Big Science TV project is to break down the perception that scientists are different from everyone else. There’s a common view that we sit in an ivory tower of academia, looking down upon the unwashed masses and telling people what to think and what to believe. In reality we have jobs that can be tiring and frustrating, we pay our bills, save for retirement, and worry about our kids. Read More