BAN #23: Retro Telescopes, Snow Kidding, and The Bloggess

Bad Astronomy Newsletter #23 July 2, 2018

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Upcoming Appearances

Where I’ll be doing things you can watch and listen to

SpaceFest 9 is this week! I’ll be there July 5 – 8 with lots of other scientists, astronauts, and space artists.

Also, I’ll be at ALCON on July 12 & 13. That’s a big gathering of amateur astronomers in Minnesota, and it’ll be fun! 


Blog Jam

What I’ve recently written on the blog, ICYMI

Monday, June 18, 2018: Well, he is the god of lightning

Tuesday, June 19, 2018: An asteroid impact triggered an avalanche on Mars!

Wednesday, June 20, 2018: Astronomers watch the aftermath of a star ripped apart by a middleweight black hole 

Thursday, June 21, 2018: So, 'Oumuamua is likely a comet after all

Friday, June 22, 2018: What would it be like to stand on the surface of Ryugu?


Follow o’ the Letter

Someone you should follow on social media

This one’s not astronomy, but hey, the subtitle of this section doesn’t make any topical promises.

What I should do is just tell you to follow Jenny Lawson and not give any hint about what that trip will entail. It’s tempting…

… because she’s a magnificent randomized whirlwind of a human. Jenny is better known as The Bloggess, and she writes about her life. Knowing her personally, I can assure you that she is telling it pretty much like it is, with very little if any exaggeration, but it reads like deleted scenes from the original Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, if the writers were even higher than they undoubtedly were when they wrote that screenplay.

It’s hard to explain, but it generally involves creepy stuffed animals, creepy live animals, spontaneous purchases of very odd stuff, conversations with her long-suffering husband Victor, and , oh, an infinity more. Oh just go read her blog. Your brain will thank you.

Jenny also has a series of mental health issues that she talks about bluntly. Her candor is wonderful. She talks about the ups and downs, how she feels, how this affects others, and what she does about it. She has a devoted audience who supports her — her comment section is the best on the internet, and I don’t say that lightly — and how she handles all this is a model for how we should be talking about mental disorders.

I love her mightily, and you will too. And go buy her books. They are extremely, extremely funny.


Astro Tidbit

A brief synopsis of some interesting astronomy/science news that may be too short for the blog, too long for Twitter, but just right (and cool enough to talk about) for here.

On June 3, 1948, the mighty 5-meter (200-inch) Hale telescope at Palomar observatory in California was dedicated. It was the largest telescope in the world for decades, and continues to do great astronomical work (despite being located 200 km from Los Angeles).

Next week there will be a science meeting to celebrate the anniversary, and the folks in charge put out a very cool set of retro posters to commemorate the event. This ones my favorite:

[Credit: Palomar/Caltech Archives/A.Mejía]

It’s actually a drawing done by J.D. Crimi for the cover of the January 1946 issue of Popular Science, and is one of several the observatory has made. Check ‘em out! I love this style of artwork. It’s a wistful nostalgia on my part, of course, remembering a naïve time when science would solve everything. Perhaps we’ve grown up a little since then, but I still believe that humanity can achieve great things when we acknowledge the reality of science and use it wisely.


Blast from the Past

A quick link to an old post or article because it’s relevant, or came up in conversation, or just because it deserves a second look.

It’s getting to be the cruel months of summer for the northern hemisphere  — we’re expecting 40° C here in my neck of the plains of Colorado all week — but we can dream of cooler weather. I was talking about some videos I’ve done in the past about science, and one I did in 2014 came up in the conversation. 

It’s about a snowfall in Atlanta that caused a lot of grief there, tangling up traffic., and stranding people on the roads.

Some of the grief, though, wasn’t caused by the snow itself, but by conspiracy minded folks who thought it was fake snow seeded by the government in order to control their minds.

No, I’m not kidding. I wish I were! This ridiculous idea got so much press I decided to make a video and write a post about it. I still get comments on it! So here you go, a reminder that no idea is too silly that you won’t get some people to believe it.


Et alia 

You can email me at thebadastronomer@gmail.com (though replies can take a while), and all my social media outlets are gathered together at about.me. Also, if you don’t already, please subscribe to this newsletter! And feel free to tell a friend or nine, too. Thanks!