There are certain unnamed Cravers who, we're told, can sit and stare for hours on end at fake stars and planets projected on the wall. And yet there are others who actually enjoy viewing the heavens in reality outside (gasp). For those brave souls, there are several handheld scopes and personal planeteriums that can help navigate the night sky, including some in alien form.
Google just launched a new version of Google Earth (news, download) from which you gaze up from the surface of the planet, not just down on it. It's a good way to see which stars and planets are over your home, right now. You can also check out a rich database of Hubble Space Telescope images that is overlaid on the celestial map.
The new Google Earth has a lot of additional education and reference material linked to it, pulled in from the Net as needed. The program is a great way to learn about the night sky. It … Read more
Could this one-of-a-kind truck be in the next Transformers movie?
Oh, come on. You know a super-duper-mega-blockbuster hit such as Transformers is destined for sequels. In fact, one of the best things about it was the overwhelming believability of it all.
Just kidding. We all know that green-screen alien robots fighting over the Hoover Dam with a hefty dollop of inane dialog and epileptic cinematography pushes the limits of incredulity. But that's part of the fun.
As much as I loved the movie--I thought it was an exhilarating, ridiculous thrill-ride--the fact that all the vehicles were based on real … Read more
What is it with these astronomy gadgets that aim to recreate the cosmos inside your living room? I totally dig some of them, like the laser star projector, but some others just go way too far. These are the Furawito floating lamps made by the Japanese company TakaraTomy, and they're a little bit excessive, to say the least. They are, essentially, helium balloons that happen to be shaped like the earth and moon, with LEDs to make them glow. Yeah, totally unnecessary. They cost about $27 apiece--waste of cash.
Plus, you'll need to replenish the helium. That sounds … Read more
If you've ever thought that planetariums would make really good nightclubs--and not just because you're nostalgic for the days of Dark Side of the Moon laser shows--you're not alone. Digital-hipster hub Flavorpill is throwing monthly parties this summer at the Rose Center for Earth and Space at New York's American Museum of Natural History, and CNET News.com was there to capture the action at the June edition (which took place last Friday). There was plenty of DJ music, dancing, and fun people--and plus, I can now tell you that it is really, really awkward to … Read more
I have a Twitter account. So do a handful of CNET's other bloggers (Rafe is Mr. Popular). Maybe you have one, too. Want to know who else does? Several of the telescopes at the University of Manchester's Jodrell Bank Observatory in the UK, that's who.
A British astronomy fan, who operates the aptly-named Astronomy Blog, has set up Twitter accounts for the observation targets of several of Jodrell Bank's telescopes and is aggregating the feeds here. You probably won't see these Twitter feeds saying "starbucks run" or "cat knocked over flowerpot, arrrgh,&… Read more
Slooh is a do-it-yourself stargazing service that puts you behind powerful telescopes in real time. With Slooh's help, you can see a disco-ball-like cluster of stars, a sunflower galaxy, Comet Lovejoy, and other wonders from an observatory atop a Canary Island mountain--all from the comfort of your chair at home.
I found the most dazzling views by following Slooh's suggested astronomical points of interest. Guided missions happen at 9:00 p.m. (Universal Time) nightly. The longer you hang out, the riper the images get. Impressed by the blood-red Trifid Nebula, 5,500 light-years away in the Sagittarius … Read more
The Hubble Space Telescope is only 17 years old, but already, it has turned in a series of great discoveries and images.
On its birthday, Hubble's handlers have released 48 images of the Carina Nebula as new stars are being born. Carina is estimated to be 7,500 light years away. These images include data from a fixed earth telescope in Chile, and that allows them to be displayed in full color.
In the Carina Nebula, the images show outflowing winds and ultraviolet radiation from at least a dozen brilliant stars. Meanwhile, physical forces are acting on the space … Read more
Recently we've been digging astronomy gadgets around these parts (and astro-mashups on Webware). Most of the time, they deal with plain old stargazing or the simulation thereof. This Japanese import, however, deals with recreating the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) on your wall, ceiling, or projector screen of choice.
The gadget in question is a 6-inch-tall lamp, retailing for the Japanese equivalent of slightly over $60, which runs on AA batteries and even comes with a sleep timer so that you can use it as a sort of visual lullaby. It obviously isn't an exact scientific reproduction, but for … Read more