Thursday, February 11, 2016

Gravitational Waves!

The astronomical world was rocked today (well, news of the announcement leaked out a few weeks ago) by the announcement of the first confirmed detection of gravitational waves --literally ripples in the space-time continuum-- caused by the collision and merger of two black holes located an estimated 1.3 billion light years away. Not only was this the first event detected by gravitational waves, it was the first direction detection of black holes and binary black holes.

This ushers in a new era in astronomy allowing us to probe the universe in a way that's never been done before. If the history of science is any guide, it is certain that there will be unanticipated discoveries that will be made.

There's an amazing amount of info on the 'net about this discovery, so here I've just added this video about it and will a couple of links as well.

The New Yorker has a compelling article on how the gravitational waves were detected. For the more technically inclined be sure to look at this article from the American Astronomical Society and this one from Sky & Telescope magazine.

We live in amazing times. 

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Moon & Venus Rising

The Moon and Venus were nicely paired this morning before sunrise. Here's the view that I had of them from outside my front door:
And a closer shot of just the Moon:
Mercury, Mars, Saturn and Jupiter are all out in the morning sky right now, making it possible to see six planets at once (counting Earth too!). They are spread out across a large part of the sky, which makes it difficult to photograph, but a great sight to see in the morning sky if it's not too cold outside.