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.
Ben Burress's Latest Posts
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!
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.
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.
If the European Space Agency is successful, we'll be enjoying an exciting comet-landing mission blockbuster extravaganza in only 2-3 years!
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.
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.
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.
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).