(05/15/2014) The octopus has held a fascination for people throughout the ages. Martha Foley describes a surfside encounter with beauty, and Dr. Curt Stager talks about the unusual qualities of this shelless mollusk, from its discernible...
(05/08/2014) Kangaroos are marsupials, mammals who have a protective pouch in which they raise their young until they are developed enough to endure conditions in the outside world. What most people might not know is that the birth of kangaroos in a...
(06/05/2014) This pest of the northern spring can travel up to twenty miles on the wind. How to get away? Dress in yellow, some suggest, or tie a dragonfly to your hat. Martha Foley and Dr. Curt Stager consult.
(06/13/2014) Pendragon Theatre has opened its summer season with the award-winning play "Red." The two character bio-drama, written by John Logan, is set in Mark Rothko's art studio in New York City in the late 1950s. Rothko was a well-known...
(06/03/2014) This year marks the 75th anniversary of the classic American film, "The Wizard of Oz." A large cast and crew from the Saranac Lake area is in the midst of final rehearsals this week for their production. The show, which opens at the...
(06/16/2014) Playwright John Logan was awarded the Tony, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle and Drama League awards for "Red," his play about Rothko, when it appeared on Broadway. Mark Rothko emigrated to the United States from Russia in 1913. He...
(07/16/2014) Harpist Martha Gallagher has spent years on the road sharing her brand of harp music nationally and internationally. This year, she's staying closer to her home in Keene. She's calling her 2014 concert series, "Home in the...
to Dr. Curt Stager of Paul Smith’s College, scientists first examined stars
that were very close to the earth and then used these basic techniques to tell
the greater distances. “It turns out it’s really, really complicated, as you
might expect,” said Stager. “It’s pretty neat. There was a lot of luck
a cluster of stars visible with the naked eye called the Pleiades. This group
of stars is central to determining astronomical distances since it is one of
the closest to earth at about 400 light years away. One light year is how far
light travels in a year. “It’s a huge amount to us, but compared to the other
stars it’s very, very small.”
explained that scientists first determined the distance from the earth to the Pleiades
using geometry. “What people did was look very carefully, looking at this
cluster of this hundreds of stars, take the brightest ones, and just sort of map
out how they’re arranged next to each other and do it very, very precisely,”
said Stager. “You can do it with a telescope from the ground. People did it
centuries ago even.”
waited six months to allow the earth to travel halfway around the sun. Given
that they know the size of the earth’s orbit, they were able to know how far
the earth had moved from the Pleiades. “It’s a 3D arrangement and if you look
at it from a slightly different perspective, they’ll look as if they’ve sort of
moved a little bit compared to each other,” said Stager. This information can
be used to calculate the distance of the stars from the earth.
that distance was known, researchers looked for other stars of the same type
that were farther out in space. These stars appeared fainter since the distance
diluted the light. Another formula can be used to discover how much distance is
required to dilute the light to that degree. After that distance is found, more
can be discovered. “It’s like a cosmological ladder. You can go father and
father out in space based on that principle,” said Stager. “So it’s pretty neat
to be able to do that at such distances.”
the stars and the Pleiades are spinning on their axes. Scientists determined
this by studying the nature of the light on different parts of the stars, and
can even tell how fast each star is spinning. Stager said, “If you think about
it, if it’s spinning and you’re kind of looking at the equator, one side of the
star is coming at you and the other is going away from you. And that effects
how the light comes to you in the same way that a sound does. If an ambulance
is coming at you, or a police car, and you hear the siren and it’s high-pitched
when it’s coming at you and low-pitched when it’s going away.”