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Free online course “Diversity of Exoplanets”

Thursday, May 22nd, 2014

It starts next week. You can read about it and sign up here. It should be accessible to anyone with a previous astronomy course or similar background. If you take it, let me know how it goes. Share/Bookmark

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Launch Pad Attendees for 2014

Friday, May 16th, 2014

I am happy to announce the list of those participating in this summer’s Launch Pad Astronomy Workshop for Writers! Here they are in no particular order: Lisa Yee Malinda Lo Jenn Reese Meg Howrey William Ledbetter Ann Leckie Amy Sterling Casil E. C. Meyers Marc Halsey Geetanjali Dighe James L. Sutter Anne Toole Sarah McCarry […]

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Some Criticisms of the New Cosmos

Sunday, March 9th, 2014

I watched the premiere of the new Neil de Grasse Tyson-hosted version of Cosmos tonight on Fox. The goal was to update the science of Carl Sagan’s show — we have learned a lot in the last 30+years — and present it in as entertaining way as possible. Tyson says: “The goal is to convey […]

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Probably 1/5 Sun-Like Stars Have Earth-Like Planets in Habitable Zone

Monday, November 4th, 2013

A couple of years ago, following the initial Kepler data release, I thought the numbers indicated it was at least 1/100, and likely much higher. Better statistics/analysis seem to indicate a number like 1/5: “What this means is, when you look up at the thousands of stars in the night sky, the nearest sun-like star […]

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I wasn’t Chillin’, I was Chilean…

Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013

A bit of a placeholder here for now, as I think it will be of interest to write up the anatomy of an observing run in Chile, but wanted to let anyone looking here know that I wasn’t dead.  My wifi on my laptop however, which was supposed to let me stay better in touch […]

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Never Give Up, Never Surrender!

Tuesday, September 24th, 2013

About 6-7 years ago, I had a little grant money to analyze Chandra X-ray Observatory observations of a particularly interesting quasar. There was a post-doc in the department who was running out of money, didn’t have a job to transition to yet, and I wound up hiring him for six months to do the analysis […]

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Watch 50 Years of Quasars Online!

Wednesday, September 18th, 2013

I love living in 2013, and in many ways things continue to improve. Here’s the latest example. A small 2-day meeting at Caltech is filmed and put online within a week: Talks with slides and video. In particular, even for the layperson, watch Maarten Schmidt’s talk about the discovery of quasars. There’s also, at the […]

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Science Meetings

Friday, September 13th, 2013

So I just got back yesterday from the “50 Years of Quasars” meeting. Weather was bad (you may have heard about the flooding in Colorado) and it was a fair amount of time and money to attend. So many things can be done with the internet and video…why attend a meeting any more? I got […]

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Launchpad 2013 Workshop Thoughts

Friday, August 2nd, 2013

First, a couple of links to blogs or articles from the workshop participants thanks to fellow Launchpad instructor Christian Ready:  a liveblogging compilation and an overview. What I wanted to jot down here were some thoughts about how the workshop went this year compared to the past, about the 2014 workshop, and some ideas for […]

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A Big Thank You for Launch Pad Contributors!

Wednesday, July 10th, 2013

This is the first year we have not had a federal grant to fully fund Launch Pad. Given a lot of interest and encouragement, we decided to continue to offer the workshop, but needed to find alternative funding. We cut some expensive items from the budget (e.g. travel stipends) and advertised the workshop with $500 […]

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Last Hours for our Launch Pad Fundraiser!

Tuesday, July 9th, 2013

It’s over at RocketHub. There are a lot of great incentives in the form of ebooks and signed hardbacks from Launch Pad alumni like Vonda McIntyre, Jeffrey Carver, Jody Lynn Nye, Jerry Oltion, Linda Nagata, and many others. We’re going to fall short of the total goal, but still hope to raise at least $2000, […]

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What’s Wrong Here? Wolfram Alpha and Roche Limits

Tuesday, June 25th, 2013

Blog reader Iljitsch van Beijnum, inspired by images an an artist made of planets as seen from Earth if they were as far away as our moon, sent me an email about a calculation from Wolfram Alpha: It occurred to me that we would then be within Jupiter’s Roche limit. So I went to Wolfram […]

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