Some people like to call Jupiter and Saturn the “architects” of the Solar system, as though they had a clear plan for how our system should turn out. Not us. We think of the gas giants as bullies that pushed Earth around and made a lot of decisions for us. … More Behold Jupiter and Saturn, the bullies of our Solar System
This post is an adventure in world-building. I use N-body simulations to find orbital configurations of planetary systems that (I think) are completely new, pretty awesome and unexpected. It involves cohorts of co-orbital planets… … More Cohorts of co-orbital planets
These poems were written for every age
There’s rhymes and astronomy on every page
There’s science galore, and plenty of jokes
It’s perfect for kids or for any old folks. … More Black Holes, Stars, Earth and Mars — my astronomy poem book!
Ceres is Queen of the belt. She’s the best-a.
Her husband is Pallas. Court jester is Vesta.
She makes up a third of the belt on her own
She’s cratered and icy and sits on her throne. … More Asteroids — the poem
Have you ever been lost in the desert?
Stumbling along the sand dunes, the Sun beating down on you, your mouth sticky and dry. All you can think about is water… … More Second chance planets 3: cosmic rain on dried-out worlds
Sometimes removing the outer atmosphere from a Neptune-like planet can reveal an ocean paradise! … More Second chance planets 2: Pre-terraformed, habitable evaporated cores of mini-Neptunes
To start things off, a limerick: My dear old friend ‘Oumuamua I asked her — What’s up? What is new-ah? “I’ve been thinking of That guy Borisov The interstellar number Two-ah!” Figuring out what’s up with a new population of astronomical objects is like going to a party without knowing the dress code. Here’s what’s … More How Borisov found Borisov (the second interstellar object)
A while back I wrote a series of posts called How planets die. It was about all the ways planets can be sterilized or destroyed. I even made a “planetary death scale”. Gruesome stuff. Let’s liven things up with a new mini-series on Second-Chance Planets. These are planets that get a second chance at life. … More Second chance planets: Iceball worlds that thaw out when their stars go red giant
Planets and bread may have something in common. The starter. Some of the best breads use a yeast starter. A starter is just a small piece of dough from an older batch of bread. The starter provides the yeast for the next batch. Each batch builds on the last one. An essential ingredient for today’s … More ‘Oumuamua: the gift that keeps on giving
Imagine this. You’re drinking your morning coffee. A small blob zooms at top speed through the kitchen, into the hall and out an open window. You only catch a quick fuzzy glimpse before it’s gone. What was that thing? What’s your first guess? A neighborhood cat? A squirrel? Maybe something more exotic like a raccoon … More ‘Oumuamua: was it aliens? (spoiler: no)