Gear Diary’s Best of CES 2020 Awards

Another CES has come and gone, and as we have in the past, we’ve sorted through hundreds upon hundreds of products to bring you the ones we thought were the most exciting, useful, disruptive, or clever. Take a look at our Best of CES 2020 award picks, and see what you think!

Never Lose Track of the Stars with Celestron StarSense Explorer

My 6-year son is absolutely fascinated by the night sky. He loves to stargaze, and he asks a lot of questions about constellations, how far away they are, etc. I’m not terrible at spotting obvious constellations like the Big Dipper, but without help, I can’t identify Jupiter from a passing plane. Celestron has a solution with the StarSense Explorer.

Scientists Photograph a Black Hole, the World Is Probably Not Ending

My son is absolutely fascinated by science but he is terrified of black holes. For the longest time, I managed to assuage his concern by convincing him that black holes were too far for us to even see, but now science has gone and made me a liar. Also, it looks like we found Sauron, so if anyone has the One Ring, be careful.

Thoughts on the Orion Spacecraft Launch from a Space Shuttle Fan

I truly mourned the space shuttle’s demise.  You see, Challenger, the second space shuttle, first launched on my birthday.  Unfortunately, not long after that launch we lost Challenger. Then many years later we lost Columbia. This week’s launch of the Orion spacecraft signals a return to the capsules of old and in many ways a return to what works.

Carl Sagan’s Home Movies and More Are Now in the Library of Congress

Carl Sagan holds a special place in my heart. He advocated science and mastered at taking complex ideas and breaking them down into accessible knowledge that everyone could understand. Sagan’s influence on many was, and is, still profound. Due to a donation by Seth MacFarlane, there is now a Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan collection at the Library of Congress.

Help Bring the McDonald Observatory’s Struve Telescope Model Home to Texas

The McDonald Observatory is a Texas landmark that evokes emotion in all who see it. To me, the bright white telescope domes nestled in the Davis Mountains represent inspiration, education, and — perhaps most importantly — exploration. An Indigogo campaign has been launched to celebrate the Observatory’s 75th anniversary; here is how you can be a part of it all.

Astronomy-Class 100X Telescope and Back Case for iPhone 5

A few weeks ago, we experienced a “super moon.” This is where the moon is full while at the closest proximity to the earth. My boys have a beginner telescope so we spent most of the evening in the back yard looking at the moon and discussing all of the markings and features. We were even able to see the rings of Saturn which surprised me using that particular telescope. While we took turns admiring the majesty of the moon, my oldest said, “Dad, I wish you could hook your iPhone up to the telescope and take a picture.” Following…

Eight Chocolate Planets for the Discriminating Palate

I’m still mourning the loss of Pluto, but you’ll find the other eight planets (including the sun) in this luxury chocolate gift box … Chocolate can taste all of the solar system eight planets, planet is chocolate set. Planets lined up in a row in the package that the image of the universe, like a real solar system space. You can be happy as a gift, is a popular set. “Kaiseki chocolate solar system”?(pictured above) , set of 9 (× 9 individual species 1) ¥ 3,619 (¥ 3,800) If $46 seems a bit steep, then you can opt for the…

NASA 5 Rocket Launches in 5 Minutes (Late) Tonight

Last night was unseasonably warm (still above 70F after sunset), and as I looked into the clear night sky I could see planets visible amongst the stars. If I was to stay up well past midnight I might catch sight of five rockets in the night sky, fired one minute apart by NASA. Here are some details: NASA is scheduled to launch five suborbital sounding rockets in just over five minutes March 15 from the Wallops Facility in Virginia as part of a study of the upper level jet stream. Based on the approved range schedule, the launch window for…

How Big is Big? How Small is Small? Find Out on The Scale of the Universe 2 Website

 “Space is big. You just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it’s a long way down the road to the chemist’s, but that’s just peanuts to space.” –  The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Yes, space IS big, but that is only one side of the coin of the known Universe—there are items known and believed to exist that are incredibly small. Cary and Michael Huang have created a fascinating web page, The Scale of the Universe 2 that permits the scientifically voyeuristic to view a large number of items in the Universe…

Did You Catch Last Night’s Lunar Eclipse?

Last night Kevin and I watched the lunar eclipse. It was cold but clear outside as we watched the earth’s shadow pass over the moon, and I was able to snap a few photos with my Canon G11. I didn’t have a special lens attachment, I wasn’t using a tripod, these aren’t going to win any awards, and I sure wish that I had planned ahead and got a camera mount for our telescope … but even so, we had a lot of fun watching our fully moonlit yard go dramatically black. How about you? Did you catch the eclipse?…

No, Despite What That Email Says, Mars Won’t Be Riding Down the Highway in White Ford Bronco!

Has it REALLY been seven years already? Back on August 27th of 2003, Mars came the closest it had to the earth in 60,000 years. It was an amazing astrological event and I watched through my telescope and had a wonderful time waking up my young kids and sharing it with them (and no, they don’t remember it anymore). But even back then misinformation was spread: the truth was that as Mars came ~56 million kilometers from Earth it would be approximately 1/75 the size of a full moon, so using a 75x telescope lens you would get a wonderful…

The Imaging Source Allows Amateur Astronomers to Take Amazing Photos

What an amazing thing! The Imaging Source has introduced a line of low-noise astronomy cameras that provide amateur photographers with the necessary tools to take amazing photographs using their telescopes. Priced from $390 to $640, the monochrome and color camera models are available “with and without an IR cut filter in three resolutions: 640×480, 1024×768 and 1280×960. The astronomy cameras deploy low noise CCD chips from Sony, which have an exposure time of up to 60 minutes and a maximum frame rate of up to 60 fps.” Granted, the quality of your pictures will also depend upon the strength of…

NASA for iPhone/Touch App Review

What geek does not love space?!?!  Over the past few months, my iPhone has gained a handful of apps for space enthusiasts.  My 5 year old son and I love to sit and look at these apps to learn about the planets and solar systems.  One night this summer he asked why we cannot look at space ships while we were looking at the stars using pocket universe.  I did not really have an answer.  NASA has come out with their own FREE app to follow current space missions.

Star Walk for iPhone / iPod Touch Review

If you ask my wife, the money she spent buying me a telescope a few years ago was wasted. If you ask me or my sons, we’d disagree. It isn’t that we use it all that much, but I chalk that up to living in the Northeast – it is hard to hit that small window when the temperature is right for standing outside at night and it gets dark early enough that we can all enjoy it together. The folks at Vito Technology have a great solution – Star Walk, an educational astronomy app for the iPhone andiPod Touch…

The Amazing Hubble Space Telescope in Action

According to astronomer Lyman Spitzer’s 1946 paper “Astronomical advantages of an extraterrestrial observatory”, there were two main advantages that a space-based observatory would have over ground-based telescopes. The first advantage was that “the angular resolution (smallest separation at which objects can be clearly distinguished) would be limited only by diffraction, rather than by the turbulence in the atmosphere, which causes stars to twinkle and is known to astronomers as seeing.” The second advantage was that “a space-based telescope could observe infrared and ultraviolet light, which are strongly absorbed by the atmosphere.” The United Kingdom launched the first orbiting solar telescope…