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Making mirrors

Making mirrors

It takes many years to cast a large telescope mirror at the Steward Observatory Mirror Lab. But the race to build an ever-larger celestial eye leads to discoveries in astronomy.

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Orange River Blues

Orange River Blues

On August 5, 2015, the toxic secrets of The Gold King Mine high in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado spilled forth when workers breached a plug containing mine wastes. Three million gallons of heavy metal-laden wastewater spilled into area watersheds and flowed through downstream towns. I lived about three blocks from the Animas when it happened.

Science

The disappearing night sky

The disappearing night sky

Light pollution has made finding the Big Dipper almost impossible for some, as humanity seeks to illuminate more of the world. What does it mean for people to lose their connection to the night sky? A new documentary explores our need for light and our desire to see the heavens.

Forecasters keep an eye on the skies

Forecasters keep an eye on the skies

On a busy monsoon afternoon, the National Weather Service’s Tucson office is an electrified place. Forecasters scramble to track storm cells on radar screens, check stream gauges for runoff levels, and issue warnings on possible downstream flooding. They even watch the storms from a second-floor window.

Collecting Light: An Exploration of Arizona Astronomy

Dark skies, bright future

Arizona became an astronomy hub a century ago because of its clear, dark skies. Settlements were small, remote mountaintops plentiful, and clouds rare. Even today, the state gets up to nine months a year of near-perfect conditions for night sky observations.

The popular science of public observatories

Astronomy is becoming a huge hobby for everyday people. Public viewing programs at observatories are booked months in advance. People want to see what the professional stargazers are seeing. It’s part of the ongoing democratization of astronomy.

The age of the giant telescope

Every few years, a new telescope is proclaimed to be the world‘s largest. The race is on to build instruments that see farther into the heavens and explain more of the unknown universe.

A century of stargazing

How did Arizona get to be America’s epicenter of astronomy? Part of it was pure luck. But Arizona’s notoriously clear and dark skies also played a role.

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Collecting Light: Arizona Astronomy

Arizona’s Five Cs: A Century Later

Copper at the Crossroads

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