Posted inDeep Dive

How do we make astronomy more humanist?

Reading Time: 4 minutes While I wait for my early morning exercise class, I listen to the chatter of yellow-breasted bichofué, and watch a city worker use a long husk of palm branch to sweep the night’s detritus from the square. On my warmup run, I tuned into a local news podcast, for analysis of the new president’s first […]

Posted inScience

How much should we worry about asteroids?

Reading Time: 2 minutes I was first introduced to astronomy research through the study of Near-Earth Objects (NEOs), when I attended the Yale Summer Program in Astrophysics as a high schooler. I liked to think of it as a kind of astrophysical babysitting project: we kept an eye on our assigned baby asteroid every night, watched its movements, and, […]

Posted inSpace

NASA’s Artemis: It’s time to walk on the Moon again

Reading Time: 3 minutes Fifty years after the end of the Apollo program, humanity is once again heading for the Moon. In July, Congress passed the CHIPS Act, a law to incentivize the manufacture of computer chips in the United States. Tucked into that mega-bill was an official authorization for NASA’s next-generation Moon program, which the agency calls Artemis. […]

Posted inSpace

The saved and the damned of Proxima Centauri B

Reading Time: 14 minutes As a child, I delighted in books of the unexplained—ghosts and UFOs, Mary Celestes and Bermuda Triangles, abominable snowmen and cursed mummies.  As a grown-up skeptic, many of these inexplicable phenomena have long been explained, or competently assigned diminishing probabilities. Ghosts almost certainly don’t hang around graveyards. Yetis? Nope. The Loch Ness Monster? Get over […]

Posted inSpace

Will the James Webb Space Telescope confirm UFO religions?

Reading Time: 3 minutes Will the James Webb Space Telescope confirm what the UFO religions have been claiming—that extraterrestrial beings, having their own religions on distant shores, have visited Earth with religious messages? Around 50 BCE, the great Latin stylist Lucretius said, “We are bound to acknowledge that in other regions of the universe there are other planets with various […]

Posted inSpace

For all of humanity’s failings, we’ve never stopped wondering about the stars

Reading Time: 8 minutes It was an atypically dry English spring when a man in Bath scanned the skies with a 7-inch reflecting telescope he’d designed and built by hand, through painstaking refinements to Isaac Newton’s principles of optics. William Herschel was studying stellar parallax, the phenomenon that makes a nearby star look like it has moved in relation […]