All posts by James Rush Manley

Shadow Dance of the Eclipses

total lunar eclipse

Eclipses come in two varieties. The first kind comes because our moon is the solar system’s odd duck.

For example, it travels a special orbit. Like ballroom choreography that looks simple until close inspection, the Moon only appears to orbit the Earth. In fact, it orbits the Sun. The Earth, 80 times heaver than the Moon, moves steadily on its course about the Sun. But the Moon weaves rhythmically either side of the Earth’s orbit, first outside farther from the Sun, then in front of the Earth, then inside closer to the Sun, and then trailing the Earth. The two dancers interlock gravity arms and sway in 29-day rhythm. read more ...

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A Different Kind of Life

Artist visualization of New Horizons probe at Pluto

A few weeks ago the New Horizons probe flew past Pluto. When I was a kid we called it a planet, the ninth planet, the last planet, like the last house on a road leading out of town. Here in Idaho, as you pass town’s last house, you cross farm fields; swaths of corn, wheat, or alfalfa. Then you pass the ranches; open ranges of cattle or horse. Beyond that, wilderness. So, New Horizons leaves hearth and home behind and races towards unknown badlands maybe filled with dragons. Who knows? We don’t. read more ...

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