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Ice and Stone


Comet of the Week: 67P/Churyomov-Gerasimenko

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Special Topic: Life in Martian Meteorites?

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Comet of the Week: NEOWISE C/2020 F3

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Special Topic: Terrestrial Impact Craters

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AUGUST 3, 1963: U.S. Government sensors detect an airburst explosion near the Prince Edward Islands off the southern coast of South Africa. At first it was thought that this was caused by a clandestine nuclear device tested by that nation, but later study revealed that it was caused by an incoming small stony asteroid. Airburst …

Perihelion: 2015 August 13.08, q = 1.243 AU  There have been a handful of occasions throughout recent history when someone has discovered a comet while looking for, or examining, another one. Such an incident happened in late 1969 in the former Soviet Union, when on September 11 Svetlana Gerasimenko with the Alma Ata Observatory (in …

The question as to whether or not we are alone in the universe has fascinated humanity throughout most of its history. In addition to driving many of our mythologies and stories, it has also motivated many of us, myself included, to pursue sciences like astronomy in the first place. The unambiguous discovery that life has …

JULY 28, 2014: The Pan-STARRS program in Hawaii discovers the centaur designated as 2014 OG392; it has an orbital period of 42.8 years and will pass perihelion in November 2021 at a heliocentric distance of 10.0 AU. An observational analysis published earlier this year indicates sustained cometary activity, however, this report was published too late …

Perihelion: 2020 July 3.68, q = 0.295 AU  For the second time during the course of “Ice and Stone 2020” I have found it appropriate to swap out my originally intended “Comet of the Week” for a comet currently appearing in our skies. For the past three weeks, Comet NEOWISE has been putting on a …

The “Special Topics” presentation six weeks ago on “Lunar and Planetary Impacts” discussed how the Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei noticed craters on the moon the first time he turned his recently-made primitive telescope towards that object. Indeed, almost any kind of optical aid, be this in the form of binoculars or a small telescope, will …