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Ori Vandewalle
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The Pale Blue Discourse
By sheer coincidence, xkcd recently did a comic on why the sky is blue at about the same time the astronomy class I TA got to its unit on light and optics. Credit: xkcd The Wednesday before that comic appeared, I led a discussion in which I explained why, i...

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A Heart to Heart Talk
Several billion years ago, a bright red star the size of Earth's orbit beat like a heart in a spiral arm of the Milky Way galaxy. Already billions of years old, this star had long since fused all the hydrogen in its core into helium. Eventually, the star gr...

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Snow Line and the Dwarf's Seven
I'm really sorry about the title. Not sorry enough not to use it, of course, but a little sorry. So you may have heard about the recent discovery of a nearby solar system (a mere 39 light years away!) with seven planets all packed very close to the star (an...

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When You Think Upon a Star
Among the sciences, astronomy benefits from widespread public appeal. Hilariously large numbers and gorgeous images make it an attractive source for science news. The result is that some difficult notions from astronomy have managed to penetrate successfull...

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Some astronomical image processing inspired by Hubble.

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Live From Low-Earth Orbit!
It looks like I disappeared again. Or maybe I was just too faint to detect above the noise of the internet. Sorry about that. To make up for my absence, this post will have a whole bunch of pictures. After all, there is a favorable exchange rate between pic...

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On Guessing
This is a follow-up to my Lagrange point post . At the end, I briefly mentioned the L4/L5 Lagrange points, which are stable and form equilateral triangles with the masses of a three-body system. I'd like to delve into the physics of these points a bit to il...

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Lagrange Point 2: Newton's Redemption
This past November, I had the opportunity to tour Goddard Space Flight Center. Although we saw many cool operations (including a gigantic cryogenic chamber!), the most interesting was the under construction James Webb Space Telescope. I had intended to writ...

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When the Moon Hits Your Eye, There's Some Math Using Pi
It was warm and clear this past weekend, so I did some late night observation with my new binoculars. Weather is the bane of astronomers, unless you only work with space telescopes or you do neutrino observation or now even gravitational wave detection. Act...
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