Forget About Dog Years — What About Planetary Years?

A planetary year is defined as the time it takes for that planet to make one complete orbit around the sun. Neptune was discovered on September 23, 1846. In terms of planetary years, it turned one year old on July 12, 2011, when it completed its first full orbit since its discovery. Pluto is even... Continue Reading →

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Forget the Chicken and the Egg — What About the Universe and the Stars?

One problem with working out the age of the universe is trying to find out which came first -- the stars or the universe that contains them. In 2013 researchers associated with the Planck space observatory measured the age of the universe at 13.82 billion years. That same year researchers grappled with the age of the Methuselah... Continue Reading →

Was Tycho a Psycho? Weird Facts About One of History’s Greatest Astronomers

Tycho Brahe (1546-1601) was one of the greatest astronomers to ever live. He was also probably at least a little bit off his gourd, if history is to judge. The Danish astronomer who brought a new level of exactitude to astronomical observations and applied that specificity to the theories and observations of Copernicus and Ptolemy,... Continue Reading →

“State of the Art” From a 21st Century Vantage Point

The super-sophisticated, miracle machine of the 20th century was the guidance computer for the Apollo rockets. This technological marvel made it possible for manned flight to and from the moon. Developed by MIT in the 1960's, it was one of the first integrated-circuit devices. It had a clock speed of 2.048 MHz -- about one... Continue Reading →

Man in the Moon? Maybe… But Two-Legged Beavers?

New York City newspaper The Sun printed a series of six articles in 1835 about the discovery of civilization on the moon. The articles claimed that a British astronomer named John Herschel had used a powerful new telescope to spot plants, unicorns, bipedal beavers, and winged humans there. The articles even went a step further,... Continue Reading →

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