Happy New Year!

2008 was an up and down year for me, so I'm ready to head into 2009! Lots of big anniversaries are coming up in 2009 - 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin's birth, 400th anniversary of Galileo's first use of a telescope and the 500th anniversary of Henry VIII's accession to the throne. So that pretty much touches almost every aspect of my life - science education, astronomy and Tudor history. It's going to be a busy but fun year!

Happy New Year!

I'm ready to head into 2009, but I have to wait one additional second this year. See Bad Astronomy for the whole run-down.

One resolution for 2009 - write more on this blog!

A Texas Christmas dinner

Apologies to the vegetarians...

We decided to do Christmas a little different this year... TEXAS STYLE (in my mind I'm hearing LBJ at the BBQ for the Mercury astronauts in the AstroDome in The Right Stuff). We were tired of turkey after the birdzilla from Thanksgiving and we do ham at New Year's, so we decided to do a big BBQ feast instead. I should have put something in the photo for scale, since you can't really get an idea of how large the platters were... that was a lot of food. A lot of yummy, yummy food. :)

(Thanks to Dad for the photo!)

Picture of the Week #20

Earthrise, by the crew of Apollo 8, December 24, 1968. As many other blogs have noted, including today's entry on Astronomy Picture of the Day, this is the 40th anniversary of the Earthrise photo. This page from ABC (the Australian one) tells the story of the famous photograph.

I have always known a world where the Earth has been seen from space, but this photo never fails to move me. I can only imagine what it must have been like for people all over the world seeing it for the first time 40 years ago. Even when the Earth is only a dot seen from the outer reaches of the solar system (like in the photo I use for my blog banner), it's still home. And although it was written in 1942, long before we explored the solar system, T.S. Eliot said it best:

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.

Remembering Majel Barrett Roddenberry

The First Lady of Star Trek has died at the age of 76 from leukemia.

From "Number One" in the original Star Trek pilot through to the voice of the computer in the upcoming J.J. Abrams movie, she has been a part of the Star Trek universe in every incarnation. I'm happy that I, like many other Star Trek fans, had a chance to meet her at a convention. She will be missed.

Back in business

I finally got all of the posts restored over on my science and skepticism blog... so I guess that means I don't have any more excuses to not generate some new posts over there now!

The Face of Copernicus

[This was the post I was working on when the blog went belly-up!]

I love it when astronomy, archaeology, forensics and history come together!

From The BBC:
Researchers in Poland say they have solved a centuries-old mystery and identified the remains of astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus.

A comparison of DNA from a skeleton in Poland and strands of the astronomer's hair found in a book in Sweden almost certainly confirm it is his skeleton.

Archaeologists found the skeleton in north-eastern Poland three years ago in a cathedral where Copernicus lived.
Three years ago, archaeologists dug up a skull and partial remains of a man aged about 70, Copernicus' age when he died, near an altar at the cathedral.

Jerzy Gassowski, the leader of the archaeologists' team, said forensic facial reconstruction of the skull found that it bore a striking resemblance to existing portraits of the father of modern astronomy.

Scientists then matched the DNA from one of the skull's teeth and a femur bone with two strands of Copernicus' hair.

Full article

Article from The Guardian

Post from 2005 about the initial discovery