Kepler on the Moon, Part (Who Knew?) 3

Kepler strikes again! A couple of weeks ago, in a two-part essay, I wrote about a 1608 book by the German astronomer Johannes Kepler that scholars consider the first work of science fiction: Somnium—Latin for The Dream. This past week, I got to thinking about Kepler’s book again, after the discovery of dwarf planet 2012 VP113 (which the discoverers have nicknamed […]

Kepler on the Moon, Part 2

(Part 2 of 2; Part 1 appeared yesterday.) Harry’s utterance “Damn damn Kepler on the Moon damn damn” immediately entered the lexicon of our little messenger world. I then introduced it to my non-work friends, who likewise adopted it as an absurdist catch-all. For years afterward my only knowledge of Kepler was as a punch […]

Kepler on the Moon, Part 1

My first job, post-paper route, was as a messenger in the advertising department of the Chicago Tribune. As a 15-year-old aspiring journalist (and, yes, underage hire), I thought the experience might be a career path to Woodward and Bernstein heights. By coincidence, the day I started—May 1, 1974—was Watergate Wednesday, the day that the Tribune was the only newspaper […]

Guest Post: The Importance of Being Peculiar

Halton Arp — “Chip” to his friends — died in Munich on December 28, 2013, and with him a cosmological banner has fallen to the ground. It’s a banner that younger astronomers may choose to take up. If they do, however, they should be cautious: it could mean the end of their careers. As a […]

Holiday Review: From Here to Eternity

In honor of the holiday season, we here at LWON are giving readers the gift of some of our favorite past columns, and ourselves the gift of not having to write something new for a couple of weeks. This essay originally appeared as part of a Father’s Day series in June 2012. “My father,” I would […]

Abstruse Goose: Astronomology

AG’s mouseover says that astronomers began charting the motions of the planets, continued through the law of gravitation, and ended up with us on the moon; so sure, the planets affect our lives. I have nothing to add.  If I did, I’d probably end up telling you I read my horoscope every day.  And that, […]

The Rime of the Ancient Astronomers

I received an email the other day from Nicholas Suntzeff, the director of the Astronomy Program at Texas A&M as well as a friend. (Readers might remember that he has published two guest posts with LWON.) His email was in fact a series of emails that he thought I might enjoy. It started with a […]