Author Archives: Chompsky

A stunning composite of 325 photos taken  every 30 seconds over 162 minutes shortly after sunset in southwest Iran earlier this month. In the desolate snowy scene, illuminated by moonlight, the bright streak behind the lone tree is the planet Venus setting. To wit:

What divides the north from the south? It all has to do with the spin of the Earth. On Earth’s surface, the equator is the dividing line, but on Earth’s sky, the dividing line is the Celestial Equator — the equator’s projection onto the sky.  You likely can’t see the Earth’s equator around you, but anyone with a clear night sky can find the Celestial Equator by watching stars move.  Just locate the dividing line between stars that arc north and stars that arc south. Were you on Earth’s equator, the Celestial Equator would go straight up and down.  In general, the angle between the Celestial Equator and the vertical is your latitude.

(Image: Saeid Parchini)


A rather excellent rotary mobile made by scientist/engineer Justine Haupt as a “statement against a world of touchscreens, hyperconnectivity, and complacency with big brother watchdogs.” Sez she:

it’s not just a show-and-tell piece… My intent is to use it as my primary phone. It fits in a pocket.; It’s reasonably compact; calling the people I most often call is faster than with my old phone, and the battery lasts almost 24 hours.

She’s open sourced the technical details on her website so you can build your own if you’re that way inclined.


Behold: the Trifid Nebula, aka Messier 20. Familiar to most stargazers, being 30 light-years across and a mere 5,500 light-years away in the constellation Sagittarius.  To wit:

As its name suggests, visible light pictures show the nebula divided into three parts by dark, obscuring dust lanes. But this penetrating infrared image reveals the Trifid’s filaments of glowing dust clouds and newborn stars. The spectacular false-colour view is courtesy of the Spitzer Space Telescope. Astronomers have used the infrared image data to count newborn and embryonic stars which otherwise can lie hidden in the natal dust and gas clouds of this intriguing stellar nursery. Launched in 2003, Spitzer explored the infrared Universe from an Earth-trailing solar orbit until its science operations were brought to a close earlier this year, on January 30.

(Image: J. Rho (SSC/Caltech), JPL-Caltech, NASA)