The Milky Way is Lost…
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The Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano has published on Easter my article (in Italian) about light pollution, Rome, and the homily of Pope Benedict XVI on Easter of 2012. Here’s the English text I sent them: from Tucson, Arizona: The controversy over Rome’s new LED streetlights has made it into the American press, with articles in both the New York Times and the Smithsonian Online, the publication of the Smithsonian Institute in Washington DC. It was even a topic of discussion among our fellow astronomers here in Tucson, a world center of astronomy and also the headquarters of the International Dark Sky Association.   Light pollution is the bane of all astronomers. When city lights shine up into the skies, it becomes impossible to observe faint galaxies and nebulae. The Specola Vaticana located its modern telescope in Arizona as a direct result of the increasing light pollution around Castel Gandolfo, which by 1980 had made observations from our telescopes there unworkable. And … Continue reading

Gravitational Waves Detected, II! The Orbit of an Ant
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In the previous posting here, Bob Trembley has done his usual excellent job reporting on the news and implications of the announcement yesterday about gravitational waves. As it happens, I was asked to write a short article for L’Osservatore Romano on the topic, which appeared (in Italian) on their web site this morning. I though it might be useful to run the original English version here. I wrote this last night after a busy day in Ottawa giving two talks, so I apologize for any of the obvious errors. (I get to blame the translator for any errors in the Italian version! But in fact an such mistakes probably are mine.) On Thursday morning, scientists at the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) announced the first observation of gravitational waves. This discovery was a significant confirmation of a prediction first made by Einstein’s theory of General Relativity, which itself was published just over 100 years ago, in November 1915. Newton’s physics … Continue reading