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The Color Red: Drops of blood in the sky, by Brian Tung (9/13/04)
The bane of the modern astronomer is light pollution. . . . Severe light pollution, as experienced today by observers in and around major cities, can turn an otherwise exquisite sky into a muddy, milky mess.
The Color Orange: Our mysterious neighbor in space, by Brian Tung (8/9/04)
The fourth planet in our solar system is often referred to as the Red Planet. . . . But to me . . . Mars will always be . . . the Orange Planet.
The Color Yellow, by Brian Tung (6/7/04)
. . . the Babylonians first identified the Sun as one of the planets, but it was the Greeks who first tried to come up with theories of how the Sun moved. . . .
The Color Green: There actually are green stars in the sky, but you can't see them., by Brian Tung (5/10/04)
"Why are there so few green stars? . . . you can look all you want in the night sky, and you won't find a single star that consistently looks green. . . .
The Color Blue: The "wild blue yonder" reveals something of the atomic world, by Brian Tung (4/12/04)
. . . what is it about air that creates the blue sky?
The Color Purple: Is chromatic aberration an unavoidable flaw in refracting telescopes?, by Brian Tung (9/1/03)
Why do refracting telescopes show so much chromatic aberration? Why does building them longer reduce these effects to some degree? And what else can be done about this problem? The first and last of these questions were answered by the greatest scientist the world has ever known, Isaac Newton.
Step by Step: Galaxies that recede from us at more than the speed of light . . . or do they?, by Brian Tung (1/27/03)
Now, an infinitely red-shifted photon has no energy.
The Unwinnable Race, by Brian Tung (10/7/02)
If we run the galaxies backward in time, we see that there must have been a time, then, when all the galaxies were in the same place, or very nearly so. This is not an ironclad conclusion, but it is the simplest one, given the evidence of the Doppler shifts.
Figure-Eight in the Sky, by Brian Tung (8/26/02)
The thing that fascinated me most about the globe, however, was an unexplained, elongated figure-8 that was unceremoniously placed in the sparse expanse of the southeast Pacific. What was it, I wondered?
The Dimension of Our Galaxy, by Brian Tung (2/11/02)
. . . suppose you're at the center of the Milky Way, and you have a spaceship capable of travelling at . . . 100,000 times the speed of light. . . . [H]ow would you find your way back to Earth within your lifetime?
Music of the Ellipses, by Brian Tung (11/12/01)
It was at this moment that Kepler took his greatest leap and abandoned the circle.
The Grand Illusion: Einstein's paradoxical proposal, by Brian Tung (9/10/01)
Einstein made it a habit to let things that didn't bother anyone else bother him, and this time it led him to one of his greatest triumphs—the general theory of relativity.
What the Light Said, by Brian Tung (8/6/01)
Special relativity looks, at first blush, like nothing so much as a bundle of contradictions.
One Little Star: The Deaths of the Stars, by Brian Tung (12/4/00)
. . . the sun's hydrogen fuel supply is not infinite, but only unimaginably huge . . . and there exists no known mechanism to replenish it. . . . So it's completely natural to ask: what happens when the sun runs out of fuel?
How to Cook a Star, by Brian Tung (11/6/00)
That, to me, is the essence of science. You practically never have full and complete access to the internal workings of whatever it is you're trying to figure out. . . . In astronomy, of course, the problem is that everything is too far away. . . . How, then, do we figure out what's in the stars, and what makes them shine?
Double Vision, by Brian Tung (10/9/00)
The first person we know of who estimated the distance to a star was Aristarchus, who lived between 310 and 230 B.C.
The Moon, by Brian Tung (9/18/00)
I turned the paper towel roll . . . toward the one object that was like no other in the night sky—the Moon. For about an hour, I sat transfixed in my lawn chair, wondering at all the things I could see. It is a source of endless fascination, even now.