The Science of Sustainability

Astronomy

SETI: The New Search for ET

SETI: The New Search for ET

Is anyone out there? For over 40 years scientists have been searching for extraterrestrial intelligence, but they've found nothing. Now the new Allen Telescope Array, a string of 350 radio telescopes, is being built 300 miles north of San Francisco and is breathing new life into the search.

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Living in the Sun's Atmosphere

Living in the Sun's Atmosphere

Illustration of a blast of solar wind impacting Earth's protective magnetic field. Credit: NASABreathe in, exhale. Feel the air in your mouth, windpipe, and lungs. That's a sample of Earth's atmosphere: the thin layer of gases enveloping our planet. Did you know that the Sun also has an atmosphere, and that the Earth is inside […]

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Excellent conditions for skiing and supernovae

Excellent conditions for skiing and supernovae

Julien Guy: supernova cosmologistI'm sitting in the airport right now, passing time as I wait for my flight back to SFO. Looking at the clock now, I see that my jet lag future does not bode well. I awoke at 5:00 AM here and nearly 11 hours later feel like the day is over, yet […]

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Equinox Season

Equinox Season

It's approaching that time of year again: Spring Equinox. The blaze in my home's interior hallway has been signaling this for the last week. The shadow of Chabot's "solar clock" at noon on the equinox produces a pattern of solid green straddling the gnomonI noticed late in the afternoon a couple days ago that the […]

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H-R: Not just for “Human Resources” Anymore

H-R: Not just for “Human Resources” Anymore

H-R diagram of 47 Tucanae I started off my last post talking about the well-known properties of globular clusters, but I chose not to dive into the details of the stars inside the clusters. The stars really deserve an article all to themselves. Now is the time for that article. Basically all of the stars […]

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Quest Picks: Bay Area connections to the South Pole

Quest Picks: Bay Area connections to the South Pole

Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station As the sun shines and the air warms in the Bay Area, take a moment to consider a place where it's always cold–the South Pole. Thanks to some local folk, we can get a taste of the science at the bottom of the earth without leaving balmy San Francisco. Berkeley graduate […]

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Oakland's Observatory

Oakland's Observatory

The original Oakland Observatory in the 1880’s, at Lafayette Square in Oakland. Credit: Chabot Space & Science Center archives.This year marks an anniversary for the astronomical heritage of Oakland and the San Francisco Bay Area: Chabot Observatory turns 125! Originally established as the Oakland Observatory in 1883, the facility was a unique creature from the […]

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Star Clusters in the Milky Way

Star Clusters in the Milky Way

47 Tucunae My research group has temporarily stepped away from the distant universe to focus on the stars that are actually inside our galaxy. We’re looking at these stars because they are so bright and so well understood that we can use them to test the calibration of the telescopes we use to study the […]

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Nap time for the Sun: solar cycles

Nap time for the Sun: solar cycles

Extreme close-up of the Sun's visible surface, showing 'bubbling' cells of convecting gas–each the size of Northern California. credit: Hinode JAXA/NASA/PPARCBy all accounts, a new cycle-Cycle 24-in solar activity has begun… something you probably didn't notice since the beginning of a solar cycle is quite subtle…. First things first: what is a solar cycle, and […]

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Gleaning scientific observations from ancient myths

Gleaning scientific observations from ancient myths

I had the privilege this week of interviewing Isabel Hawkins, an astronomer and director of the Center for Science Education at Berkeley's Space Sciences Laboratory. We talked about how people use evidence in science, how it is that we know what we know. Hawkins isn't your ordinary astronomer. She began her career in an ordinary […]

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Your Photos on QUEST TV – Call for Submissions

Your Photos on QUEST TV – Call for Submissions

View our original YPOQ pilot featuring photographer Russ MorrisDo you love photographing Science, Environment and Nature in Northern California? Would you like to collaborate on a 2-minute QUEST TV short about your photography for an audience of over 100,000 viewers? We're launching a call for submissions for our new series of TV shorts, "YPOQ: Your […]

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Where in the web?

Where in the web?

Saturn's moon Epimetheus from the Cassini spacecraft. Credit: Cassini Imaging Team, SSI, JPL, ESA, NASA and APOD. On the bus in Denali National Park a few years ago, I found myself sitting next a couple from the East Bay. If you’ve ever been on the Denali bus, you know that it’s a long ride and […]

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Astronomy on the Wing

Astronomy on the Wing

More than meets the eye: The constellation Orion in visible light (left) and infrared (right) Visible light image: Akira Fujii; Infrared image: Infrared Astronomical SatelliteSome months ago my blog, "SOFIA: Fly By Night," talked about the up-and-coming astronomy ace of the night skies, SOFIA: the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy–a 2.5 meter infrared telescope built […]

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Converting the Comets Back into Stars

Converting the Comets Back into Stars

Star or Comet?Yesterday was a very long day at work. I was stuck in meetings with our collaborators for over 6 hours! To make it worse, we spent the entire time discussing a single topic. I even wrote my last paper on it. What could possibly be so captivating, you ask? Remember the solar wind […]

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An Asteroid's Close Call

An Asteroid's Close Call

This has been a month of dashed hopes for astronomers around the world. Last month it seemed possible that an asteroid the size of a Boeing 737 jet was due to collide with Mars on January 30. Today that seems far less likely, but, as Amy Standen reports, astronomers consider it a wake up call. […]

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An Asteroid's Close Call

An Asteroid's Close Call

This has been a month of dashed hopes for astronomers around the world. Last month it seemed possible that an asteroid the size of a Boeing 737 jet was due to collide with Mars on January 30. Today that seems far less likely, but, as Amy Standen reports, astronomers consider it a wake up call.

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Near Mars Object

Near Mars Object

Victoria Crater on Mars, similar in size to the crater the near-Mars asteroid 2007 WD 5 would have produced. Credit: NASA/Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter The possibility that a sizable asteroid would strike the planet Mars on January 30th temporarily raised the excitement level in the astronomical community to a pretty high level in the last couple […]

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Centers of the universe

Centers of the universe

Cosmic microwave background and the infant universe. From the WMAP science team.It was on the UC Berkeley astronomy website this morning that I was reminded of something I had wanted to post for QUEST. About a month ago, Cal publicly announced the Berkeley Center for Cosmological Physics. This was quite a big deal for the […]

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Catching rainbows from distant galaxies

Catching rainbows from distant galaxies

A single email on Sunday afternoon brought my weekend to a screeching halt. Some collaborators made a very exciting discovery and needed to confirm if it was real. This would be the last time we'd have for almost another year on the 10 meter Keck Telescope so I jumped at the chance and scheduled it […]

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Death Valley Nights

Death Valley Nights

There's nothing like a trip away from the city lights to remind you just how bad light pollution can be here in the Bay Area. The Milky Way in the skies of Death Valley's Devil's Racetrack. Credit: Dan Duriscoe, U.S. National Park ServiceI just got back from my semi-yearly pilgrimage to my favorite spot on […]

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