More SciAm articles, From the Moon to the Earth
Will Elon Musk save astronomy? (hint: no), and an INCREDIBLE image of the Earth from the Moon
May 23, 2023 Issue #568
SciAm What SciAm
Stuff I’ve written for Scientific American
Just letting y’all know I had a couple of articles published over at Scientific American recently.
One is about something that ticked me off pretty well. SpaceX has been launching thousands of Starlink satellites into low-Earth orbit, and they’re so bright and so ubiquitous in the sky that they’re seriously interfering with astronomical observations… including ones that are looking for potentially Earth-threatening asteroids. That’s bad enough, but Elon Musk claimed that with the Starship rocket, we can just launch telescopes into space at a high enough orbit that they have a clear view.
The problem with this claim is that it’s baloney (I mean, Elon said it, so the odds of it being right are vanishingly low). In my article I talk about why, but it comes down to cost. Even if we could launch telescopes for free, it would hardly matter. Space telescopes are expensive to build and expensive to operate, far more than ground-based ones. I go into details in the SciAm article.
The other one I wrote is about Saturn. It’s been in the news recently because a) new research out of the University of Indiana shows the rings are younger than we thought, and won’t last forever, and 2) a huge passel of tiny new moons were discovered orbiting Saturn, giving it more than 140 known satellites now! But I also tell you how to find Saturn in the morning sky for yourself, if you happen to be out very late/up very early.
So check ‘em out! I’m still really chuffed I’m writing for SciAm, so please give them a read. Thanks!
Pic o’ the Letter
A cool or lovely or mind-bending astronomical image/video with a description so you can grok it
There are times when an image from space hits hard. Perhaps it generates awe, or a profound sense of beauty.
And sometimes it does both.
Are you freaking kidding me?
That’s Earth, obviously, seen over the edge of the Moon (all the way to the left). Mare Orientale, to be more precise, an impact feature nearly 300 kilometers across that, from the Earth, is right on the edge of the near side of the Moon. A lot of it stretches onto the far side, so it’s hard to see from here. But if you have a spacecraft in orbit around the Moon it gets a lot easier.
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