Category Archives: Uncategorized

An Unusually Close Comet

On Sunday, October 19 2014, humanity will experience its closest brush ever with a comet. Unfortunately, the comet will not be passing by the Earth on that date, but the planet Mars. While there will be no people on Mars … Continue reading

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Over the Moon

Thierry Legault is an amateur astrophotographer whose work I have admired for a long time. This lunar photo of his will serve as a good example for those of you who have never heard of him or seen his work … Continue reading

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What’s That Glow?

What’s that glow? Over the past several years, Mark Weller and I have collaborated on a project where we’ve been capturing the Milky Way over visually interesting landscapes in northern Wisconsin. For the past four years, this trek has taken … Continue reading

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Gear heads

  NASA/JPL’s Mars rover Curiosity landed successfully on Mars early last month. Famously expensive and technologically sophisticated, a mission like this is a true marvel. One mission scientist, when challenged by a journalist to justify the staggering 2+ billion dollar … Continue reading

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WISE finds a bounty of black holes

Given all the excitement generated by a big NASA/JPL success story like the landing of MSL/Curiosity earlier this month, one could be forgiven for not having heard of some other stunning success stories in recent space exploration. This one caught … Continue reading

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One small step

One Small Step


Neil Armstrong died last night at age 82. The high water mark of the US space program was project Apollo from 1967-72 and undoubtedly, the high water mark of Apollo was Neil’s unforgettable step off the landing pad of the Eagle.

Including Apollo 11, a total of 12 men would walk on the surface of the moon. Though the program was entirely motivated by geopolitical interests embedded in the cold war, some great science was accomplished. Neil Armstrong was unique in that very few people in history have been thrust into such a landmark “first” role. Columbus exploring the new world and Lindbergh crossing the Atlantic come immediately to mind. Armstrong was forever uncomfortable with his historic role. Always a shy and unassuming man, he avoided the limelight and struggled his whole life to maintain his own privacy.

In an age when many astronauts were knowing for being hot-dogging test pilot jocks with egos to match, Armstrong was always a refreshing counter-story. He was a civilian pilot at the time of his selection to the astronaut corps. He was never embroiled in any controversies and managed to avoid entanglements in questionable business ventures in his later life. To most appearances, he continued being, well, just a pretty normal guy.

His death for many will mark the end of an age, and no doubt generate more editorials and discussions of the directions of the US space program. In his modesty and humility (and perhaps even more so because of it), he was an american hero.

Here is NASA’s

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