Astronomy/ModPhys SIG of American Mensa, Ltd.

This SIG is dedicated to the exploration of the cosmos through astronomy and related topics in physics. If you are looking for Doug Gannon's Physics SIG, it is defunct.

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Last updated: 05 March 2001

: Updated contacts' addresses

Members: You are invited to email the AstroPhySIG Coordinator -- with ideas for ways this site can serve YOU, the members, better! Also with observing stories, autobiographical-astronomical sketches, a list of your primary interests, or questions you think should be answered on our site in a FAQ page. AstroPhySIG NEEDS YOUR IDEAS!

Research tools:
Current Research Opportunities
Astronomy and Physics Humor Member articles -- Wanted! More!!!
Astronomy News archives (there are other sources in the list immediately below this table) Astronomy Links page - compilation of two people's links. Also see the rest of the top-page Astro links -- Supplement to the ones listed immediately below this table

Since it is on the web and involves no mailing costs, the Astronomy SIG is a free SIG for Mensa members. It does, however, take time, and so updates will be as I have time to do them. I am a professional astronomer, teaching college physics and astronomy, so I already have some of my own astronomy resources on the web, too, but here are some others:

Astronomy and Space Science News

Note: Since we started the email exploder, the news updates are being sent to the emil list and are archived at our egroups site. Links to information sources (at the tops of some of these pages) are active and will get you current info (I check periodically -- last check 28May99). Links to individual articles more than a month old may be inactive links, but may be restored locally upon request.
Lunar News Martian News Space Shuttle and Mir News New Astronomical Discoveries/Objects
Jovian News Other Outer Planets' News -- Voyager collection site (for now) Member Jay Respler's SKYVIEWS astro news site Solar and Solar S/C News

  • June 4th, 1998: Physics Today comes out in support of the "Universe is Accelerating" result, with the following:

    Very distant supernovae suggest that the cosmic expansion is speeding up. Two rival groups of observers have concluded that the gravitational slowing of the Hubble expansion is being opposed by a repulsive cosmological constant, or something even more exotic.

  • Feb 24th, 1998: I'm getting burnt on these updates, people -- the site traffic is not high. What say we do Q for a bit? Here are some news sources so that you can look up your own:

  • NASA/JPL Press Releases

  • Hubble Space Telescope Press Releases Don't believe that each observation is the first time the phenomenon has been seen, since HST is really bad about recognizing existing non-HST astronomy, but there is usually some interesting info here, anyway.

  • Hipparcos Press Releases such as the changing shape of the Milky Way.

  • ISO and other instrument news such as water on Titan.

  • New January 12th: What was new at the January 1998 AAS meeting? See the Space Telescope Science Institute's take on the big results of the meeting (I was there, BTW)

  • New Dec 16th: Nodes 2 and 3 fully funded by European Space Agency for the International Space Station - this link is to details about the European nodes. The first European-built node is due for launch in April, 2001.
  • New Nov 5th: The most entertaining astro link I have found at this point is SpaceZone, which includes live internet feeds from NASA Select TV. It looks pretty awesome and it's very colorful!

  • New Oct 13th, 1997: Cassini Mission Pages: launch of Cassini Saturn Probe was pushed back 48 hours this morning.
  • New September 7th: New Scientist article on New Black Hole evidence

    More astronomy Links

    Of course, I manage a departmental astronomy website, so I have _lots_ of astronomy links. These are sort of organized, so take a look and give 'em a try. The professional resources may require passwords, but most (by far) don't. SkyView is amazing, for instance. Feel free to email me with comments about the site, colors, contents, etc., and... Happy surfing!

    Astro Humor

    Great Astronomy/Physics/Science Humor pages from a NASA dude!

    Sent in by Ramona Griffin, here's Eric Schulman's A History of the Universe in 200 Words or Less.

    For the experimentalists among you, here's The Dreaded Twinkie Torture Test -- a scholarly look at a sticky subject.

    Here are Doug's Physics and Science Humor Links -- There's a lot of humor right on his site, worth a visit (if you don't mind animated GIFs).

    Member Articles

    I hope that eventually there will be quite a few of these. For now, I have one (old, now); I attended the 10th Cambridge Workshop on Cool Stars, Stellar Systems, and the Sun in Cambridge, MA, July 15-19, 1997. One of the more interesting discussions going on was about the existence or nonexistence of extrasolar planet detections. I titled the summary Hot News in Cool Stars. It was, at the time!

    New 6 Mar 99 from member John Keating:

    Tim Joseph

    In the beginning there was Aristotle,
    And objects at rest tended to remain at rest,
    And objects in motion tended to come to rest,
    And soon everything was at rest,
    And God saw that it was boring.

    Then God created Newton,
    And objects at rest tended to remain at rest,
    But objects in motion tended to remain in motion,
    And energy was conserved and momentum was conserved and matter was conserved
    And God saw that it was conservative.

    Then God created Einstein,
    And everything was relative,
    And fast things became short,
    And straight things became curved, And the universe was fillled with inertial frames,
    And God saw that it was relatively general, but some of it was especially relative.

    Then God created Bohr,
    And there was the principle,
    And the principle was quantum,
    And all things were quantified,
    But some things were still relative,
    And God saw that it was confusing.

    Then God was going to create Furgeson,
    And Furgeson would have unified,
    And he would have fielded a theory,
    And all would have been one,
    But it was the seventh day,
    And God rested,
    And objects at rest tend to remain at rest.

    Research Opportunities

    The American Association of Variable Star Observers has some of the best research opportunities for amateur astronomers today. What follows is a current example:

    GAMMA RAY BURST WITH UNUSUAL OPTICAL COUNTERPART -- From the AAVSO Alert: The position of the optical counterpart was reported by S. C. Odewahn, J. S. Bloom, and S. R. Kulkarni, California Institute of Technology, on behalf of the Caltech-NRAO-CARA GRB Collaboration (IAU Circular 7094) as:
    R.A. = 15h 25m 30.5s Decl. = +44 degrees 46' 00" (2000)

    This event is potentially a very important one for our observers because the bright optical flash may occur again once or several times, and so the area should be monitored. As Dr. Howard Bond of Space Telescope Science Institute explains, "...An exciting aspect of this object is the suggestion by S.G. Djorgovski et al. that GRB 990123 was gravitationally lensed (which might account for the extraordinary apparent luminosity). This raises the possibility, emphasized by E. Turner, that the gamma-ray and optical bursts may recur in the next few days to months, due to lensing time delays along different paths to the Earth. It would thus be very worthwhile for AAVSO members to monitor this position constantly, even with small telescopes or binoculars..." So hop on it, you observers! /hp

    RARE OUTBURST OF THE TOAD-TYPE CATACLYSMIC VARIABLE 1626+21 V592 HERCULIS -- From the AAVSO alert: We have been informed by Timo Kinnunen, Espoo, Finland, that he observed the cataclysmic variable V592 Her in outburst at visual magnitude 12.0 on 1998 August 26.835 UT. Confirming observations were reported by Lance Shaw, Pinole, CA, and Gene Hansen, Cave Creek, AZ. V592 Her has been classified as a TOAD (Tremendous Outburst Amplitude Dwarf Nova). TOADs are cataclysmic variables similar to SU UMa systems in that they have superoutbursts and exhibit superhumps when in outburst; characteristics that set them apart from other dwarf novae include having an outburst amplitude greater than 6 magnitudes, very low luminosity at minimum, and superoutbursts that occur at intervals of months to tens of years. Comprehensive sources of information on TOADs include the article by S. Howell, P. Szkody, and J. Cannizzo in Astrophys. J., 439, 337 (1995) and the University of Wyoming International Toad Watch website, created and maintained (rarely) by the TOAD Group.

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