Friday, April 19, 2013

Astronomy: More and More Planets

Artist depiction of Kepler 62f

In the latest astronomy-related news, a pair of planets in the habitable zone of a distant star has been found by NASA's Kepler spacecraft. Tons of newspapers and websites are reporting on Kepler 62. We already have several promising planets in the habitable zones of other stars, but it's a good thing to excite the public's interest in such topics. In our current times of budget cuts, it's important to emphasize the role science and astronomy have in our lives and our culture.

In addition to the reports on the planetary system, the New York Times released an impressive visualization/infographic of many of the Kepler planets discovered to date. It's very much like the older Kepler orrery, but this one is interactive so you can see extra information on the system like the name, any artist conception, or any article associated with it. Go check it out!

The New York Times Kepler planet infographic

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Book Review: Tigana by Guy Gavriel Kay

On my trip to the US several months ago, I picked up two books that were unavailable in ebook format at the time. The first was A Memory of Light, the final installment of The Wheel of Time. The second was Tigana by Guy Gavriel Kay.

Tigana is an epic fantasy tale told in a single book. It is the story of a peninsula, whose provinces have been taken over by two Tyrants. In the midsts of the war, one province was utterly devastated, its people killed, its cities burned, and its name taken by magic. Only the few survivors remember and can speak and hear the name of their province. The balance of power is shifting, however, and a band of travelers in the guise of merchants, poets, and musicians must gather what forces they can to overthrow both Tyrants and break the curse of their land. Otherwise none will live who can remember the name Tigana.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Astronomy: Observing at Las Campanas

Las Campanas Observatory

A few weeks ago, I went up to Las Campanas Observatory to observe with the du Pont 2.5-meter telescope. I had only a single night, but this blog post recounts my experience there.