Articles by clair wood


Communicating with Voyager 1, farthest man-made object from Earth, takes over 33 hours

By clair wood on Feb. 26, 2014, at 2:21 p.m.
Voyager 1 was launched on Sept. 5, 1977, and, in the more than 36 years that have passed, has achieved a number of remarkable landmarks. In 1979, it visited Jupiter and sent back pictures of both the planet and its major moons. In 1980, it passed by Saturn and gave …

How many stars can we see?

By clair wood on Aug. 30, 2013, at 11:38 a.m.
On a clear dark night in Maine with no interference from the moon, the sky appears dotted with millions of stars. One reader was curious: Just how many stars can we see? There is no true answer to this question as each person’s eyes are different even if sky conditions …

Gravitational disturbances, ‘wobble’ of Earth’s axis can cause the sun to be in two places at once

By Clair Wood on May 29, 2013, at 11:33 a.m.
How can the sun be in two places at the same time? On the solstice the sun enters the astrological sign of Cancer but less than half a day later enters the astronomical sign of Gemini. What does this mean? The answer lies with precession, a circular motion or “wobble” …

New supernova could give clues into the universe’s expansion

By Clair Wood on April 26, 2013, at 11:05 a.m.
Supernova are the result of the catastrophic explosion of a giant star. The energy emitted is beyond belief, outshining the output of 10 billion stars. There are several types of supernova but one, Type 1a, is of particular interest to astronomers in that they emit an essentially constant level of …

Comet’s appearance highlights March astronomical events

By clair wood on Feb. 27, 2013, at 4:08 p.m.
Asteroids and meteorites made the news in February, and now this month’s astronomical headline will feature a comet. Comet PanSTARRS was discovered in 2011 in the far reaches of the solar system and will make its closest approach to Earth on March 5 at 100 million miles. It will be …

Voyager journeys an epic achievement

By clair wood on Sept. 26, 2012, at 2:28 p.m.
The world is a far different place than when the Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft blasted off into space to take a grand tour of the giant outer planets. Launched in 1977, today Voyager 1 is 11 billion miles from the sun and Voyager 2 is not far behind. It …

Did the moon sink the Titanic?

By clair wood on March 28, 2012, at 5:22 p.m.
There is an intriguing article by Donald Olson, Russell Doescher and Roger Sinnott in the April issue of Sky & Telescope. Titled “Did the Moon Sink the Titanic?” the authors explore the possibility that the convergence of three astronomical events may have created tides high enough to have caused the …

The end of Mayan ‘long count’ calendar closer than expected?

By clair wood on Nov. 29, 2011, at 4:19 p.m.
Go to any bookstore and you will find at least a half dozen books on 2012, specifically Dec. 21, 2012, with premises ranging from global disaster to the ushering in of a new age of peace. The date is when many believe the Mayan calendar ends after a “long count” …
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