Science


Capella: four stars that appear to be one

Illustration of the capella constellation.
As I mentioned in the February 1st issue article about the constellation Auriga the Charioteer, the name Capella means “female goat” or “little female goat” in Latin. Like many objects visible to us in the night sky, Capella is not just a single star. It consists of two binary pairs. A binary pair is two stars revolving around a common center, somewhat like two ice skaters holding hands while they spin.

Read More


Look for Auriga on February 21

Photo source: Illustration by Jennifer J. DolanIn the deep midwinter, gaze overhead in the middle latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere in the late evening and you will see the constellation we call Auriga the Charioteer. The six brightest stars can form either an irregular hexagon, or an irregular pentagon with one outlier star. The brightest, Capella, lies to the northeast. Capella is actually a combination of two binary systems. What we see as one star is a close association of one of these binaries, two bright yellow stars that revolve around a common center. These ...

Read More


Journalism, politics and the scientific method

Photo source: Art by Jennifer J. DolanI have justifiably been called tangential. It comes from my ability to make seemingly random, sometimes obscure, connections between ideas. While this allows me endless hours of amusement it does not always help me communicate well with others. Please stick with me while I introduce myself by developing the connection between politics, the scientific method and why I support independent journalism.I grew up in rural California, far away from the beaches that many people associate with that state. Instead I grew up in the dry ...

Read More


LOOK UP AT NIGHT BUT DON’T FALL IN A HOLE

I will be writing a monthly article about the amazing and beautiful stars and other objects in the night sky. I’m excited about that! I will describe objects that can be seen with just your eyes or with binoculars. No need for telescopes. For August I’d like to interest you in the giant star Arcturus. It is the major star of the group of stars named Bootes. One Greek tradition considers Bootes as “ox-driver,” or “herdsman.”It looks kite-shaped in the sky. Bootes can be easily found by first finding the Big Dipper in the northwest ...

Read More


CAN A HUMAN BEING REALLY EXIST ON MARS?

(James A. Lewis is from the Village of Maine and is a member of “Stars Are US” Astronomy Club) There has been a lot of discussion recently on TV about sending astronauts to Mars in the future. This seems exciting, but I am very much opposed to the idea. Why? The dangers pose huge risks to the astronauts. The cost of this trip is more than excessive. Regarding the dangers, the voyage to Mars and return will take about 22 months. The trip one-way takes nine months. The time spent on Mars will be about 4 months. Mars and the Earth must be ...

Read More


STAND UP FOR SCIENCE, OUR DEMOCRACY, AND OUR PLANET

It was bad enough when we recently discovered our state DNR had stripped the words “climate change” from its website and added wording that led readers to believe there is controversy in the climate research world about its cause - the only real controversy is political, not scientific. A little later we learned that our Public Service Commission had done the same. Now, we find the new Trump administration erased climate change from the Environmental Protection Agency's website and has silenced EPA staff. Perhaps Orwell should have titled his book “2016” instead of ...

Read More


Science Illiteracy and Public Policy

“Every shortcoming of American governance is related in some fashion to the knowledge deficit of the public...” Susan Jacoby, author of “The Age of American Unreason” Americans have a long tradition of anti-intellectualism. In today's politics this is expressed as denial of facts and scientific research in favor of opinion, self-righteousness, and prideful ignorance. We seem to be unable to distinguish documented knowledge from unsubstantiated opinion. Unfortunately for our public affairs, as Susan Jacoby says, our elected officials “suffer from the same ...

Read More