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Swimming In The (astro) Pacific

As a newly minted, 1 year old professor, this is the deep end of the astronomy edu cation pool...

The Phantom Of The Laboratory

We are fortune here at Science20 to have come across an early work by Gaston Leroux.  This...

Engineering Roleplaying

Hey, you got simulation in my roleplay! Hey, you got roleplay in my simulation! Wait, it's two...

Stars That Ring Like Bells

Time to ring in a new year with pressure waves.  We can see, but not, hear true sonic waves...

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Alex "Sandy" AntunesRSS Feed of this column.

Read more about the strange modern world of a day laborer in astronomy, plus extra space science-y goodness.... Read More »

8 classrooms in 5 hours. 30 minutes per class. Grade levels ranging from kindergarten to 6th grade. Unscripted, 1 index card of talking points. When I compare 'Career Day' at my kids' elementary school with my Ph.D. defense, that dissertation committee seems the easier audience-- fewer questions outside of my field.

This blog serves me well for my K12 talks. Many of the concepts I work with here-- what it's like to be a working astronomer, what motivates me, what neat science stuff have I come across-- are perfect for talking to school kids. I used much of material here when I talked there.
The recent Star Trek movie raised a new set of conundrums about time travel and alternative realities. As an astrophysicist, I am clearly most able to tackle these issues.

Basically, time travel theories fall into two classes. C. J. Ander posits 6 Theories of Time Travel, but Anders is more of a trek anthropologist. His work categorizes how time travel affects people and things, not entire universes. From a physics point of view, these can be simplified to two different energy perspectives.
I've just wrapped up my time with another mission!  Can you match each satellite picture with its name?


  1. Asca (Astro-D)
  2. RXTE (XTE)
  3. Astro-E
  4. SWIFT
While I was napping, Jupiter became a 2nd sun. Although it was observed in January by STEREO, we forgot to tell people. Or perhaps we were hiding the truth. Also, it was so well covered on YouTube that we didn't think we had to bother with a press release.

And thus occurred the most benign conspiracy in the history of NASA.

See, usually NASA is accused of hiding evidence of aliens, moon landing hoaxes, flat Earths, and other things Too Dangerous For People To Know. But when Jupiter was seen igniting as a second sun, the response was... upbeat.

HI image of Jupiter and Sun

So you wanna be an astrophysicist? Try this route!
  1. Leave a well-paying NASA job to get a Ph.D.
  2. Begin studying solar CMEs ... while the sun is at solar minimum.
  3. Assessing how the web is kicking print media's butt, consider shifting career to ... journalism?
The Daytime Astronomer, Tues&Fri here, via RSS feed, and twitter @skyday

Two days ago, I woke up blind. Couldn't open my eyes-- lids were fused shut. For that early morning hour, I had to question just what I would do as a blind astronomer.

I'd had blurry vision the night before, but this was still unexpected. Pragmatically, I found my way to a sink to try and flush out my eyes, get some vision back. To avoid false suspense-- I was able to see (mostly) in fairly short order. And I can safely assure you there is a huge emotional difference between 'no sight' and 'can see slightly'.