The Science of Sustainability

Ben Burress

Ben Burress

Benjamin Burress has been a staff astronomer at Chabot Space & Science Center since July 1999. He graduated from Sonoma State University in 1985 with a bachelor’s degree in physics (and minor in astronomy), after which he signed on for a two-year stint in the Peace Corps, where he taught physics and mathematics in the African nation of Cameroon. From 1989-96 he served on the crew of NASA’s Kuiper Airborne Observatory at Ames Research Center in Mountain View, CA. From 1996-99, he was Head Observer at the Naval Prototype Optical Interferometer program at Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, AZ.

Read his previous contributions to QUEST, a project dedicated to exploring the Science of Sustainability.

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Ben Burress's Latest Posts

Do Constellations Change Over Time?

Do Constellations Change Over Time?

Do the constellations—the patterns made by the stars in the night sky—change over time, and if so, how long have they resembled what we see today?

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Deep, Dark Waters of Titan

Deep, Dark Waters of Titan

Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water, NASA finds another ocean for us to worry about — this time on Saturn's moon, Titan.

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Voyager: Old Spacecraft, New Frontier?

Voyager: Old Spacecraft, New Frontier?

Thirty-five years after beginning a remarkable journey that started with encounters of Jupiter and Saturn, Voyager 1 may once again be making a historic scientific encounter: the boundary between our Solar System and interstellar space!

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Sizing Up the Earth

Sizing Up the Earth

What has a mass of about 6 yottakilograms, occupies a volume of space of about 1 million million cubic-kilometers, and is about 40 kilometers fatter than it is tall. Guesses, anyone?

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Don't Miss Your Last Chance to See a Transit of Venus on Tuesday

Don't Miss Your Last Chance to See a Transit of Venus on Tuesday

Don't miss the chance to experience history! Tuesday, June 5, 3:04 PM to 9:46 PM PDT, the Transit of Venus. Rare event. Historical scientific significance. Last chance to see it!

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The Once and Future Earth

The Once and Future Earth

How will the sun, moon, and Earth change in the far distant future? It may not make a big difference to us, but exploring the possible fate of our home and birthplace is a mind-bending journey.

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Phoebe: Quirky, Mystical, Magical Moon

Phoebe: Quirky, Mystical, Magical Moon

Phoebe, a quirky outlying moon of Saturn, was once thought to be a captured comet, but now is believed by some scientists to be something much rarer: a captured planetesimal.

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UFO? LGM? OMG! What is That Thing in the Sky?

UFO? LGM? OMG! What is That Thing in the Sky?

Ever seen something in the sky that was unusual, and which you couldn't explain? Here is a peek at my process of armchair evaluation of unexplained sightings.

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A Celestial Sports Extravaganza: Solar Triple Play

A Celestial Sports Extravaganza: Solar Triple Play

Get ready for a celestial sports extravaganza as you've never before seen—not all at once, anyway. Coming up in May and June this year, a matchup of three rare and beautiful celestial events, conveniently scheduled back to back to back for your viewing enjoyment.

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In Search of the Oldest Stuff: Rocks of Ages

In Search of the Oldest Stuff: Rocks of Ages

What's the oldest stuff you've ever seen, or better still, touched? Have you felt awe from contact with something of great antiquity? How old can stuff be?

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Solar FireworX: First X-Class Flare of the Year

Solar FireworX: First X-Class Flare of the Year

The first X-Class solar flare of the year went off yesterday, on March 7th, in spectacular fashion. Fortunately the flare went off where it's supposed to: on the Sun. Had this intense magneto-plasmic explosion gone off on Earth, we'd be toast; one of these releases an amount of energy on the order of 100 billion megatons of TNT.

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Starship Math: Are the Stars Our Destiny?

Starship Math: Are the Stars Our Destiny?

What would it take to send a spaceship to another star, all science fiction devices aside?

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European Comet Blockbuster Currently in Production

European Comet Blockbuster Currently in Production

If the European Space Agency is successful, we'll be enjoying an exciting comet-landing mission blockbuster extravaganza in only 2-3 years!

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The Sun Shows A Flare for the Dramatic

The Sun Shows A Flare for the Dramatic

A solar flare, associated with the big sunspot numbered 1402, erupted on January 23rd, launching a coronal mass ejection–a "cantaloupe" of plasma that makes Earth look like a grape. Rated as an M9-class flare, it packed umph just shy of what's necessary for adult "X-class" flaredom, the most powerful kind.

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The Stars Within an Eyelash's Reach

The Stars Within an Eyelash's Reach

I want to take a moment, again, to contemplate the vastness of the Universe…and expect an epic fail….

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Operation Vesta: Pluto's Devious Plan to Regain Status?

Operation Vesta: Pluto's Devious Plan to Regain Status?

With the New Horizons spacecraft hurtling toward its 2014 encounter with Pluto, and with the Dawn spacecraft now at its most up-close and personal encounter with Vesta, we are in the process of learning scads of information about two objects that are among the least understood and most under-explored bodies in the Solar System.

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Kepler 22B: Exoplanet Dress-up Doll

Kepler 22B: Exoplanet Dress-up Doll

It's 600 light years from Earth, orbits a star very similar to our Sun in a period of about 290 days, and has a diameter about two and a half times that of Earth. What is it? It's the NASA Kepler mission's most recent exciting confirmed discovery, the extrasolar-planet Kepler 22B.

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Luna Nova: Moon of the Cretaceous Skies

Luna Nova: Moon of the Cretaceous Skies

Although I am a lifelong fan of science, I’ve also been a lifelong fan of science fiction—so I sometimes experience conflict on the borderlands where the two meet.

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Dog Eats Moon: Total Lunar Eclipse

Dog Eats Moon: Total Lunar Eclipse

December 10, 2011 marks your last chance to see a total lunar eclipse—one of the most breathtaking celestial events that you can witness with your unaided eye–until 2014.

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Asteroid 2005 YU55 Scores!

Asteroid 2005 YU55 Scores!

On November 8th, at 3:28 PM PST, the asteroid "2005 YU55" will pass by the Earth at a distance of just over 200,000 miles, or about 40,000 miles within the Moon's orbit. Fortunately, the asteroid's trajectory is well known, and poses no threat to us (at this time).

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