“It is by going down into the abyss that we recover the treasures of life. Where you stumble, there lies your treasure.” –Joseph Campbell It took Charles Messier and his assistant, Pierre Méchain, a lifetime to scan and survey the sky for all the permanent deep-sky objects visible in their telescopes that could possibly be … Read moreMessier Monday: The Farthest Messier Spiral, M109
“Let us leave this place where the smoke blows black And the dark street winds and bends. Past the pits where the asphalt flowers grow We shall walk with a walk that is measured and slow, And watch where the chalk-white arrows go To the place where the sidewalk ends.” –Shel Silverstein No, there’s not really … Read moreWeekend Diversion: The Edge of the World
“I have an existential map. It has ‘You are here’ written all over it.” –Steven Wright So just because the Ask Ethan series is becoming way more popular than I can handle — I’ve got more than 200 questions that I’m sitting on by now — doesn’t mean you should stop sending your questions! There … Read moreAsk Ethan #4: Weird Astronomy Maps
Farnsworth: “There is it. The edge of the Universe!” Fry: “Far out. So there’s an infinite number of parallel Universes?” Farnsworth: “No, just the two.” Fry: “Oh, well, I’m sure that’s enough.” Bender: “I’m sick of parallel Bender lording his cowboy hat over me!” –Futurama Our existence here in this Universe is something that we … Read moreAre Parallel Universes Real?
“I would rather have one article a day of this sort; and these ten or twenty lines might readily represent a whole day’s hard work in the way of concentrated, intense thinking and revision, polish of style, weighing of words.” –Joseph Pulitzer When it comes to the Messier objects, though, it isn’t words that get concentrated; … Read moreMessier Monday: The Most Concentrated Messier Globular, M75
Note: This post has been updated and improved as of 2014 here, at the new Starts With A Bang blog. What follows, below, is the original version that was first published here. “I love the sounds and the power of pounding water, whether it is the waves or a waterfall.” –Mike May The world’s oceans … Read moreWeekend Diversion: An Underwater Waterfall?
“Observations indicate that the universe is expanding at an ever increasing rate. It will expand forever, getting emptier and darker.” –Stephen Hawking Today’s Ask Ethan comes to us via our question/suggestion box from reader MIUFish, who asks: I read something recently about some people who were doing work looking at the possibility that the mass of things … Read moreAsk Ethan #3: A Wild New Idea I Read About
“A cosmic mystery of immense proportions, once seemingly on the verge of solution, has deepened and left astronomers and astrophysicists more baffled than ever. The crux … is that the vast majority of the mass of the universe seems to be missing.” –William J. Broad It was in the 1930s, looking at dense clusters of … Read moreThe Little Bit of Dark Matter We Know
“Now, this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.” –Winston Churchill To kick off every week for nearly a year now, we’ve begun it with Messier Monday, where we take an in-depth look at the 110 deep-sky objects that make up … Read moreMessier Monday: The Last 'Original' Object, M103
“Why should people go out and pay money to see bad films when they can stay at home and see bad television for nothing?” –Samuel Goldwyn There are few experiences that we can share together — no matter the great distances in space or time — like a good movie. Encapsulating a great variety of … Read moreWeekend Diversion: Three Fantastic Fake Film Trailers