Circinus and Geometry

28th Apr 2017

DSCF5717In his book, The Assayer (1623), Galileo famously wrote: “Philosophy [natural science] is written in this grand book — I mean the universe — which stands continually open to our gaze, but it cannot be understood unless one first learns to comprehend the language in which it is written. It is written in the language of mathematics, and its characters are triangles, circles, and other geometric figures, without which it is humanly impossible to understand a single word

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Vela’s SNR Neighbourhood

22nd Apr 2017

SNR for blog

Supernova remnants are spectacular objects. Not only do I find it dumbfounding to look at the tattered remains of a massive star that ended its life in a cataclysmic explosion thousands of years ago, but I also find that nothing connects me more to the immensity of the universe than standing here on our little rocky planet, looking at star stuff being ejected into the interstellar medium, and thinking that my own atoms were forged in the hearts of just

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The Fabled Zodiacal Light

Zodiacal light at Paranal Image credit European Southern ObservatoryY BeletskyI can think of few things better than ending a night’s observing by sitting back with a cup of tea and gazing at one of the most remarkable and rarely-seen phenomena of the solar system – sunlight reflecting off comet and asteroid dust concentrated in the plane of the Solar System.

The dark moonless March mornings in the Kalahari offered prime prospects for observing the zodiacal light. And in the pre-dawn sky on March 28th it was

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