Incredible overview of making mirrors for the world's largest telescope

The Giant Magellan Telescope is a marvel of engineering, and Dr. Patrick McCarthy explains the years-long process to make an optic mirror that costs over $20 million. Read the rest

Help kickstart this fantastic, easy-to-use telescope

Decades ago, Norman Sperling co-created the Astroscan telescope. As that telescope is no longer available new, and such an incredible treasure, Sperling has decided to kickstart a new model, the Bright-Eye!

The kickstarter video for this is so charming, I almost want to give up my Astroscan and get a Bright-Eye! My Astroscan is beautiful, portable, and easy to use. The Bright-Eye should be no different.

Help kickstart this telescope. Read the rest

An animal filled a microwave antenna with over 300 pounds of acorns

Who stuffed this microwave antenna to the bursting point with 300 pounds (about 35-50 gallons) of acorns? Read the rest

A distinctive, discontinued telescope: the Edmund Scientific Astroscan

I am frequently asked about this beautiful telescope! People think it is a bong! The Edmund Scientific Astroscan sits in the center of my living room coffee table.

I have heard astronomy buffs screech like wounded monkeys at the idea of my actually using this telescope to view the skies. I'm no celestial connoisseur, and this beautiful post-modern masterpiece offers me all I need in an at-home or camping telescope. Screw telling you about the optics, how much magnification it offers (variable based on your eyepiece,) or any other technical data! Here is the important thing:

I love how it looks!

Several years ago, I asked Mark what telescope he'd recommend. He sent me a picture of this one and I bought it immediately. Only later did I find out he just liked how it looked, neither of us did a bit of research on its utility as a functional sky viewing telescope.

Honestly, it is fine. Here is a great video that'll tell you more than you need to know:

If you'd like to find an AstroScan, try eBay! Mine is a lovely, functional conversation piece. Do not attempt to use it as a water pipe. Read the rest

A new, EPIC view of planet Earth from NASA satellite aboard the Deep Space Climate Observatory spacecraft

A NASA camera on the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) satellite has returned its first view of the entire sunlit side of Earth from one million miles away. Read the rest

A ride on NASA's flying telescope

SOFIA—the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy—is a telescope unlike any other. It's not mounted to the Earth's surface. And it's not floating in space. Instead, SOFIA travels the skies, rigged up to a dedicated 747 flying at 40,000 feet.

The idea is to have a telescope that gets a better view than the ones on the ground, but is easier to fix and update than space-based Hubble. It flies twice a week, on overnight trips. Reporter Lauren Sommer, from radio KQED, San Francisco, got to ride along on a recent flight. You can listen to her story, or read about the experience, at the site for KQED's QUEST science and environment series.

The researchers take advantage of the nighttime sky, so we left at dusk for 10-hour tour flying zigzags across the Pacific Ocean. Each leg of the journey is carefully calculated so the telescope can pinpoint a far away star. The plane interior is packed with computers and equipment. It also lacks insulation since much of it was removed to install the telescope, so it's both cold and loud inside.

At four in the morning, the astronomers are still hard at work. If they're as tired as I am, they certainly aren't showing it.

"For me, this is very exciting," says Ian McLean, a professor at the University of California-Los Angeles. He usually works on the ground. "All my career has been ground-based astronomy. So, it's only my second flight." McLean says there's a good reason to do astronomy in the stratosphere.

Read the rest