Apr 282011

Lots of songs have been written about the rain.  Few, if any, have been written by Astropotamuses.  I am thinking about doing that.  It would sound a lot like someone crying softly in the darkness.  April has been the wettest on record for our area, and it shows no signs of stopping.  Almost six inches of rain has fallen, and most of it comes out of the sky – right where I want to be pointing my Time Machine.  As such, we’re on hold for a while until we get this rain thing straightened out.  Please excuse the delay.

Apr 242011

Have you heard the expression “drink in the beauty” of something?  As in, take it in?  absorb it?  bask in its glow?  Well, “drink in the stars” may not be 100% accurate, but did you know that there are complex molecules in interstellar space, including alcohol and other hydrocarbons?

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Apr 232011

Time Machines do their best work at night.  If you’ve ever slept in a tent, you know that dew does, too.  Which is why dew is the enemy of every Astropotamus.  We use all sorts of things to get rid of it when it shows up.  Mostly hair dryers and big tubes on the end of our Time Machines.  Sometimes we use electric heaters like you have on your car’s rear window.  In the end, it’s all about physics.

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Apr 222011
Pleiades (NASA, ESA, AURA/Caltech, Palomar Observatory)

About 400 years ago, Galileo Galilei turned a 30 power Time Machine towards the heavens and discovered the moons of Jupiter. Can you just imagine what sort of scene that was back in Venice? When Galileo stared through his Time Machine, he was looking at light that left our Sun about 42 minutes earlier, bounced off the clouds and moons of Jupiter, and came back to Earth about a half hour later. Meanwhile, the light from the Pleiades star cluster, about 400 light years away, is just reaching our eyes now.
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Apr 192011
Sunspot Group AR1176

Sunspots are planet-sized pieces of the solar surface that are cooler than the surrounding areas.  Therefore, they don’t glow as brightly and they look dark.  You’ll never see one with your naked eye (if you do, we’re all in trouble), but you can see one with the proper precautions, and a Time Machine.

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Apr 182011

The past two nights have been rainy, dark, cold, and cloudy.  The worst kind of seeing that there could possibly be.  So instead of doing anything related to Time Travel, Astropotamus slept.  And enjoyed it greatly.  Look for more astronomy tomorrow.

Apr 172011
Orion Nebula (NASA)

Mr. Astropotamus has a habit of walking outside and looking up at the skies at weird times.  Sometimes when it’s light, but mostly when it’s dark.  And sometimes, when it’s just dark enough, he walks outside, gives a little yell, and then runs back and forth from inside to outside a bunch of times to set up the Time Machine for a particularly awesome view of…well, whatever it is that made him yell.  Mrs. Astropotamus is not always quite as excited.

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Apr 162011
Moon Through Eyepiece

If Astropotamus looks at the moon with his eyes, it looks beautiful.  Just like is has for billions of years.  Bright, crisp, full of dark splotches and light splatters.  If I use my Time Machine and look at what the moon looked like 8 minutes and 14 seconds ago, I’m sometimes disappointed.  I can’t see the moon as clearly through the eyepiece of the Time Machine as I can with my naked eye.  Very frustrating!  What’s up with that?

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Apr 152011
Full Moon Atlas

Does the moon spin?  Yes.  It rotates once on its axis approximately every 29.5 days.  This is why we always see the same face of it, because it rotates once about the Earth’s axis in the same period.  Does the moon rotate?  Well, if you look down (or up) at one of the polar axes, it will rotate about the axis – this is the same as “spin” so, I suppose yes, the moon rotates.  Does the moon flip?  Reverse?  Mirror image?  Transmogrify?

I think this is getting complicated…

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