Category Archives: General

Light, Distance and Time Travel

How far can we see into space? A very long way indeed. But not only are we seeing objects that are far away we are also seeing them as they existed (past tense). Why? Because as much as we would like to think light is instantaneous it actually travels at a measured or finite speed.

How fast is it? Light travels at 186,282 miles per second or roughly 300 million meters per second. Pretty darn fast but when you start talking astronomical distances the speed of light becomes apparent. Once you know the distance to an object you can then calculate how long it takes light to reach it.

1st Quarter Moon

The light reflected from the Moon takes 1.255 seconds to reach us here on Earth. Light emitted from the Sun takes over 8 minutes to get to us. And so on. The most distant galaxies in the Hubble Ultra Deep Field image are 13 billion light-years away.

What’s a light year? A light year is the distance light travels in a year or almost 6 trillion miles. So to get back to what I was saying about seeing these distant objects as the existed, it should now make sense to you that the farther we look into the universe, the farther we also look back in time.

The Great Galaxy in Andromeda
Meade LXD55 10″ Schmidt-Newtonian

Take the Andromeda Galaxy pictured above. Under a dark sky you can actually see this galaxy with the unaided eye. The galaxy is about 2.5 million light years from us. So when we look at that galaxy we see it as it existed 2.5 million years ago. Why? because it’s taken that long for the light we are seeing to make it to our telescope mirrors and eyes.

So the next time you look up at the night sky remember you are not only an observer of the stars but also a time traveler and that telescope of yours is your time machine.

Useful Astronomy Mobile Apps

Mobile_AppsI’m often asked about what astronomy related apps I like to use on my  cell phone and tablet.  So I’ve included a list of apps in no particular order that I have either used at one time and found to be helpful and/or continue to use on a regular basis. I own Android devices (both cell phone and tablet) but most of these apps are available both on Google Play and via the App Store or  iTunes.  Additionally, most of the apps listed are free to download and install or have free versions available but some do have to be purchased. I hope they pique your interest regarding what is available and that you enjoy them as much as have.

Click here to be taken to the complete list.

Musical Interlude

I enjoy all types of music. In fact if I can tap my toes to it then chances are I’ll enjoy it, and I like all the tunes listed below.

I’ve been kicking around the idea of posting some astronomy and or space related songs for quite some time and only recently decided that I needed to go ahead and make it happen, so here they are.

I do want to preface the songs below by stating that I’m in no way advocating that this is a “definitive” list or or anything close to that. The songs below are simply ones that I happened to pluck from my library, enjoyed and hopefully you’ll enjoy as well. Again, all have some type of astronomy/space theme or setting, and they are in no particular order. Okay well, I did attempt to arrange them in a random order that I felt flowed better but that’s about it

So sit back, pop in your ear buds or slip on the headphones and let the music take you away, far away. I hope you enjoy them.