Author Archives: Stuart Goldman


Sun Worship in Cambridge

On a few days each year, sunlight shines all the way down an 825-foot-long corridor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a phenomenon that has been dubbed MIThenge.

Judith Lean

Solar Impact: The Sun-Earth Connection

Astronomers have long known that sunspot numbers vary over a cycle that averages about 11 years. But do these cycles influence Earth's climate? And what about the longer term? Could the measured global warming of recent decades be a result of increased solar energy output? Freelance writer Kristina Grifantini explores these issues in the cover…

David Grinspoon

What’s a Planet?

What makes a planet a planet? In 2006 the International Astronomical Union (IAU) adopted a definition of "planet" that from its outset, sparked controversy. The IAU defined a planet to be: A celestial body that (a) is in orbit around the Sun, (b) has sufficient mass for its self-gravity to overcome rigid body forces so…

Planet Hunters

Exoplanets Imaged at Last

For most of its history, the study of extrasolar planets has been rife with false alarms. Because of the claimed big discoveries that later withered away under close scrutiny, astronomers have tended to greet major new developments with a healthy dose of skepticism. Such was the case during the past few years whenever astronomers announced…


Abraham Lincoln’s Celestial Connections

In this, the year celebrating the 200th birthday of Abraham Lincoln, Donald W. Olson and Laurie E. Jasinski summarize several celestial connections to the United States's 16th president in the March 2009 Sky & Telescope. The article notes the famed "alamanc trial" of 1857, the Leonid meteor storm of 1833, a daytime sighting of Venus…

LSST Concept

Astronomical Sky Surveys

Astronomers are scanning the sky with a variety of programs that collect gigabytes of data each night — and more are coming. The following links will take you were you can learn more about the current and planned programs: Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) SkyMapper Catalina Sky Survey (CSS) Spacewatch VLT Survey Telescope (VST) Large…