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I am now in the final week of my July fund-raising campaign for Behind the Black, celebrating its 14th anniversary. Thank you all, from the people who have donated small amounts to those who have given large sums. I cannot truly express how much your support means to me.


The support of my readers through the years has given me the freedom and ability to analyze objectively the ongoing renaissance in space, as well as the cultural changes -- for good or ill -- that are happening across America. Four years ago, just before the 2020 election I wrote that Joe Biden's mental health was suspect. Only in the past two weeks has the mainstream media decided to recognize that basic fact.


Fourteen years ago I wrote that SLS and Orion were a bad ideas, a waste of money, would be years behind schedule, and better replaced by commercial private enterprise. Even today NASA and Congress refuses to recognize this reality.


In 2020 when the world panicked over COVID I wrote that the panic was unnecessary, that the virus was apparently simply a variation of the flu, that masks were not simply pointless but if worn incorrectly were a health threat, that the lockdowns were a disaster and did nothing to stop the spread of COVID. Only in the past year have some of our so-called experts in the health field have begun to recognize these facts.


Your help allows me to do this kind of intelligent analysis. I take no advertising or sponsors, so my reporting isn't influenced by donations by established space or drug companies. Instead, I rely entirely on donations and subscriptions from my readers, which gives me the freedom to write what I think, unencumbered by outside influences.


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Update on the ongoing research of the closest supernovae in a decade

Gemini North image of supernova in Pinwheel Galaxy
Click for original image, taken by the Gemini North telescope in Hawaii.

Link here. Though the press release from UC-Berkeley focuses mostly of research being done by its astronomers, it also provides a very good overview of what all astronomers worldwide have been learning since Supernova SN 2023ixf was first discovered by amateur astronomer Koichi Itagaki in Japan on May 19, 2023 in the Pinwheel Galaxy, only 20 million light years away. This tidbit is probably the most significant:

Another group of astronomers led by Ryan Chornock, a UC Berkeley adjunct associate professor of astronomy, gathered spectroscopic data using the same telescope at Lick Observatory. Graduate student Wynn Jacobson-Galán and professor Raffaella Margutti analyzed the data to reconstruct the pre- and post-explosion history of the star, and found evidence that it had shed gas for the previous three to six years before collapsing and exploding. The amount of gas shed or ejected before the explosion could have been 5% of its total mass — enough to create a dense cloud of material through which the supernova ejecta had to plow.

Such data is going to help astronomers better predict when a star is about to go boom, by identifying similar behavior.

Genesis cover

On Christmas Eve 1968 three Americans became the first humans to visit another world. What they did to celebrate was unexpected and profound, and will be remembered throughout all human history. Genesis: the Story of Apollo 8, Robert Zimmerman's classic history of humanity's first journey to another world, tells that story, and it is now available as both an ebook and an audiobook, both with a foreword by Valerie Anders and a new introduction by Robert Zimmerman.


The print edition can be purchased at Amazon. Or you can buy it directly from the author and get an autographed copy.

The ebook is available everywhere for $5.99 (before discount) at amazon, or direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit. If you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and the author gets a bigger cut much sooner.

The audiobook is also available at all these vendors, and is also free with a 30-day trial membership to Audible.

"Not simply about one mission, [Genesis] is also the history of America's quest for the moon... Zimmerman has done a masterful job of tying disparate events together into a solid account of one of America's greatest human triumphs."--San Antonio Express-News


  • j

    These images, in addition to being beautiful, stretch the imagination into considering just how big the universe is.

  • markedup2

    help astronomers better predict when a star is about to go boom
    While interesting – fascinating, even – who cares?

    The reason I ask is because current funding levels are unsustainable. At some point in the not-so-distant future, someone is going to have to make priority decisions about the many millions of other-people’s-money that we’re pouring into this sort of research.

    Perhaps fund multi-purpose instrumentation but (some? most?) research _using_ those instruments are self-funded.

  • Edward

    markedup2 asked: “who cares?

    The people who want to understand the workings of the Sun care. The more they understand about other stars the more they understand about Sol. We all should care about Sol, as it gives us all the energy that we have, keeps us warm, and keeps us near the planets and asteroids that will supply many future materials and living locations. You may think that it is important to understand the rest of the solar system, but it is also important to understand the star that makes it possible.

Readers: the rules for commenting!


No registration is required. I welcome all opinions, even those that strongly criticize my commentary.


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