Dr. Becky Smethurst previews the upcoming month’s most notable sky events and then brings us up to date on important developments in astrophysics.
10 Close Stars and What They are Like by John Michael Godier
Saturn in 2005 as seen by the Cassini probe:
The center of our galaxy, combining X-ray and radio emissions (you definitely want to explore the expanded, full-size image):
Suggested item: a flashlight
Go ahead, grab a flashlight. I’ll wait…
All set? Good. Here is my suggestion:
Go outside, tonight, or some night, or every night. Look up, find a nice cloud-free patch of sky and point your flashlight at it. Turn the flashlight on for a second, or five seconds, or whatever feels right to you.
When you shined your flashlight at the sky you sent an uncountable number of photons out into the universe. Those that made it past the atmosphere without colliding with dust or a water droplet or some other obstacle will likely travel across the cosmos for eternity. Space is so empty, and the distances between objects are so huge and ever-expanding, those photons could go on, literally, forever.
You will have set in motion something infinite and eternal.
So go outside, stare awhile at the stars above you. Take a deep breath, relax, and shine a light. Remember that while everything we experience here on this world exists for only the briefest flicker of time, we can also, in our way, touch eternity.
The History Guy delves into William Herschel and the discovery of Uranus.
Let’s go stargazing with XKCD!