Excursion to Moab

My day job recently took me to Denver, Colorado, for a workshop and conference. When I first found out about it, I got a map and started looking at reasonable weekend excursions. I found that Moab, Utah was about six hours away. In eastern miles, that’s quite far, about the length of time it takes…

Aresforming: The fine art of mucking up a wet planet

If you are a Mars-head like I am, you spend a lot of time thinking about terraforming Ares (the greek name for Mars). That is, making a pretty cold, thin atmosphere into a thicker, balmier one and planting a bunch of palm trees and laying some shuffleboard courts down and then just waiting for the first…

Astronomy and Clafoutis

One of my big goals for being an “Astro VIP” for the Park Service this summer was to do as much public outreach as I could. Well, I can safely stand in front of that “Mission Accomplished” banner without fear of later historical revisionism. Astronomy outreach is a mixed skill set that involves simultaneously talking (which for me,…

Destinations and Journey, or, why am I in Utah again?

So I have arrived in Utah. Capitol Reef National Park is in south-central Utah. Though a sprawling park, it’s mostly overlooked by travelers rushing from the big letter parks of Zion, Bryce Canyon and Arches. I like places that are mostly overlooked by others…it always suggests to me that there’s really something of value there.…

Gifts from the Sky, or, Nerds on Mars

I. Every time you drink a glass of water, or pause by a clear creek to breath and listen and feel the coolness of the water emanating up, you’re literally appreciating a gift from the sky. Compared to the other planets, Earth has a lot more water, a challenge scientists have been trying to explain…