All posts by admin

The Large Magellanic Cloud, a satellite galaxy of the Milky Way. From Wikipedia.

On a clear night in central Idaho, you can see the sweep of our own Milky Way galaxy split the velvet sky. Although we now know the observable Universe spans 13 billion light years, in the 1920s, astronomers didn’t even know how big the Milky Way was. In fact, many astronomers believed our galaxy comprised the entire universe and that what we now know as different galaxies were just strange nebulae within the Milky Way. The story of how astronomers finally took the true measure of the Universe as a result of the the tireless efforts of a human computer.

Continue Reading
From Wikipedia – Observed on 1 December 2008.
Jupiter and Venus rising on 2023 Mar 1 at about 9am, just a few hours past conjunction.

Flyby of Venus by the JAXA Akatsuki Mission. From Wikipedia –
Night sky within the Central Idaho Dark Sky Reserve. Taken from

The dramatic growth of the Treasure Valley impacts more than just commute times. The glare from our shining cities also obscures the night sky. And, like other forms of pollution, light pollution respects no municipal boundaries. Treasure Valley’s bright lights and big cities are starting to affect the night skies in the nearby Central Idaho Dark Reserve (CIDSR). Here are some of the details of our local light pollution and ways we can help mitigate its effects.

Much of the information here comes from this report written by the students from the UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability.

Continue Reading
TRAPPIST-1 Discovery

Evidence of Long-term Period Variations in the Exoplanet Transit Database (ETD)

An artist’s concept of the hot-Jupiter exoplanet WASP-12b. Image credit: NASA / ESA / G. Bacon, STScI / C. Haswell, Open University.
Transit timing for WASP-12 b from Hagey et al. (2022).

able 4. Model Comparison for Secondary Analysis—Data Variance for ETD Transit Times

TargetDecay Rate1σ Unc.BIClinearBICdecayΔBIC
 (ms yr−1)(ms yr−1)   
WASP-12 b−34.84.9223.7202.7−21.0
HAT-P-19 b−641780.678.2−2.4
TrES-1 b−16.03.773.368.3−5.0
WASP-4 b−6.72.462.662.70.1
TrES-2 b−22.08.0159.0160.31.3
TrES-5 b−2511118.3120.52.2
HAT-P-32 b−321295.596.71.2
WASP-10 b−10.17.6131.6135.53.9
WASP-43 b3.54.0126.5130.94.4
TrES-3 b0.011.9227.8233.15.3
Model comparison of the results from the reduced data of the top 10 systems after replacing the ETD transit center uncertainties with the standard deviation of the nominal timing residuals. A negative ΔBIC value favors the orbital decay model. From Hagey et al. (2022).