Free Astronomy Magazine –May-June 2022 Issue Available For Reading And Download

Above: The Hubble Space Telescope's infrared view of our galactic center, 27,000-ish light-years away. At present, reportedly unoccupied.

The most recent issue of Free Astronomy Magazine (May-June 2022) is available for your reading and downloading pleasure at www.astropublishing.com.

The article on the discovery of yet-most-yet-distant-star-yet Earendel is a wonderful summary of this reported star and what it means for our classification scheme, with the eventual discovery of even more distant and ancient yet perfectly-placed stars only adding to the firmer footing of these most ancient stellar members as important objects in our understanding of the some of the earliest history of the universe. And don't let the Population I II III order confuse you.

Our fearless leader Michele Ferrara also continues to focus his critical eye on recent SETI experiments. In "Nothing but silence from the galactic center," Michele considers a recent experiment using the Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) to perform a short (7 hours) and narrow (155 MHz) scan in the direction of our galactic center, for which the report is, as you can guess by having read it here and not the New York Times,“No plausible technosignatures are detected.”

It is a conundrum. We (most of us, anyway) want to know if we're alone in the universe (or, perhaps, know that we're not alone), making such surveys irresistible given the availability of the equipment. That said, and I think this has been the loudest theme in Michele's many articles on the subject, many of these experiments are too narrowly-defined, too short, too "like us"-centric, and too in conflict at the planning stages with the rest of the astronomy and astrophysics communities. The discussion of how uninhabitable and how antithetical to evolution the region around the center of the Milky Way is predicted to be for organic creatures like ourselves is very well summarized in the article, and yet one cannot help but wonder how far from life as we know it life as it might actually be out there is – but our tools seem to very much hedge our bets in the direction of finding more of ourselves (if more "like us" are even out there).

Still on the other hand, I've several journal articles that relied on national neutron sources to obtain inelastic neutron scattering spectra. You may ask yourself at the end of a run "Is this good enough data to publish?" The answer you feel your advisor beaming at you from behind the draft report is "This single run cost $50,000 in hardware and beam time and the travel budget to obtain it. You better find a way to publish it." All scientific data is valuable, be it for comparison, refinement, refutation, or combinations of all three. One must try not to get the sense that publishing a non-discovery is of no value, although it is not often one finds a publishable chemistry paper where the authors report they could not make the molecule they set out to (although such a supporting journal would probably be a boon to weekly journal clubs, where advisors command students to "go ahead and figure out how to make this work").

It may be better to know that this first experiment reports the field is empty, but one still wonders how much a collective Apollo-style commitment to focus on the search for a given block of time might yield, if the piecemeal searches being undertaken are still missing far too much of the big picture to see anything, and if the right combinations of several scientific disciplines might be brought together to really dive deeply into the pros and cons, focus-on and just-avoids of locations and means of communication.

Browser-readable version: www.astropublishing.com/3FAM2022/

Jump to the PDF download (25.3 MB): May-June 2022

Free Astronomy Magazine –January-February 2022 Issue Available For Reading And Download

Above: "How did you do it? How did you evolve, how did you survive this technological adolescence without destroying yourself?" Jodie Foster as Eleanor Arroway, Contact (1997).

The most recent issue of Free Astronomy Magazine (January-February 2022) is available for your reading and downloading pleasure at www.astropublishing.com.

We return to our astro-centric selection of excellent articles and original content with a perspective on climate change that, I think, cuts down the less-spoken middle of the debate. Yes, climate change is real. Yes, the climate has changed many, many, many times in Earth's history. Yes, it isn't affecting major economies fast enough yet for the developed world to propose an Apollo-like approach to solve the problem (Because we haven't! Go look). Yes, the overall increase and wild swings in damaging weather patterns we're experiencing as of late will most likely continue for years and decades to come. Yes, it was "-0 F" this morning according to my Apple Watch. Yes, you should wonder where the energy is coming from to push that much cold air down from the north to make such an event occur several years in a row. Yes, the trend is for the coastal areas to suffer considerable economic hardships that tax dollars and massive spending projects are going to try to resolve/mitigate whether any individual taxpayer likes it or not (and not just because the U.S. Department of Defense itself is planning how to deal with this issue and the instabilities therein. See climateandsecurity.org and Tackling The Climate Crisis for sample examples).

Like the frog from low-boil, we will adjust slowly and reactively as our species is want to do, complaining about the inconvenience all the way, adjusting to the new normal with some of the frog historians remembering the good olde days of pleasant soaks.

That said, Earth doesn't much care. The damage is only to our current comfort level and standing as the self-appointed shepherds of life currently sharing the planet with us. It should make us collectively disappointed that the civilizations who considered the seventh generation were nearly eradicated by the civilizations more concerned about progress for the 1/7th generation, but this post is being written on an Apple product that stopped being the "newest" and "best-ever" such product only five years ago despite the last model being fully-capable of performing the tasks needed to draft and post.

Alternative take – "The planet is fine…" George Carlin, Earth Day (Getty Images). The important other half of that quote continues on youtube or at, for instance, American Digest in its transcribed entirety.

The issue (climate change) is made more pressing now that I consider it as a parent, knowing the generational solutions, whatever they are, are going to burden my kids and alter the world they're going to inherit in ways that no one yet knows how to prepare them for – and that includes knowing they (in particular) may not directly experience the changes in detrimental ways as they grow up simply because of the otherwise idyllic, seasonally-varied, and fresh water-engorged location we now finds ourselves in (although, yearly news cycle after yearly news cycle, we've been happy each of the last five years that we didn't buy the lakefront house and the accompanying exorbitant insurance policy).

Michele's take is well worth the read – as is the rest of the issue.

Browser-readable version: www.astropublishing.com/1FAM2022/

Jump to the PDF download (25.6 MB): January-February 2022