Archive for the ‘astronomy’ Tag

Welcome to My Astronomy Blog   Leave a comment

Welcome to my astronomy blog.  A short introduction to start this off.

My name is Bruno Ferreira, also known as Dr. Plim, and among many other things I’m an Astrophysicist.  I obtained my PhD from the University of Florida in Gainesville in April of 2010.

I’m currently teaching online at the Rasmussen University and will be using this blog to post some of the astronomy/astrophysics-related news and insights that I find interesting for my students and for anyone else who stumbles upon it.

Some useful information: It is March 2012 and I am still updating this website.  You may notice that the blogs entries are from 2010 or so, this is simply so that I can keep the blog entries in some kind of order.  Blog entry number 1 is at the very bottom of the page and it is for Week 1 of the astronomy course.

If you find some really awesome information that you would like added here then please email me or send me a comment.
If you find some error/correction then please email me or send me a comment.

Live long and prosper.


Posted December 26, 2011 by brunoplim in Uncategorized

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Extra – The Aurora Borealis   Leave a comment

Hello Students of the Universe,

Photo by Dick Hutchinson (

Some of you have chosen to do your research projects on the Aurora Borealis.  Great, that is definitely one of my favorite topics.

(Video by Terje Sorgjerd)

Just recently there was a very good interview on NPR about this magnificent phenomenon.  Tom Ashbrook interviewed I strongly recommend that you listen to this podcast.  LINK

Guests on the show were:

“Justin Kasper, astrophysicist in the Solar and Stellar X-Ray Group in the High Energy Astrophysics Division of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. His latest project is leading the Solar Wind Electrons Alphas And Protons (SWEAP) investigation on the Solar Probe Plus spacecraft.

Howard Singer, chief scientist at NOAA’s Space Weather and Prediction Center.

Frank Koza, executive director of operations support at PJM Interconnection, which is a regional transmission organization that coordinates the movement of electricity in 13 states.

Chad Blakley, aurora borealis photographer, who runs the website Lights Over Lapland.”

– drplim

Rasmussen College Week 8 / Are We Alone In The Universe   Leave a comment

Welcome to Week 8 of your Astronomy Course.

This week the topic is extraterrestrial (ET) life.

There is loads of information on the internet about this topic.  On the internet, in books, in the media… ET life has been a hot topic since humans found out that the Earth was one of many small planets floating in space.

Here are some of the links I find most interesting at the moment:

first link is to a very recent article that appeared in the BBC news.  It talks about how it may be wise for the famous SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) project to change its focus and look for other signatures of intelligent life.
“Alien hunters should look for artificial intelligence” by Jason Palmer of the BBC

Then, of course, are two videos from TED:

The discussion this week is about silicon-based life forms.  The Course Materials make a pun comparing silicon-based life to the new silicon valley… this, unfortunately, has led to a misunderstanding in that silicon-based life would not be computers talking.
I recommend reading the following Wikipedia pages on Carbon-based Life and Hypothetical Types of Biochemistry.

Update (Feb 2012): Here is an interesting article about Russians coming close to drilling into a subglacial fresh-water lake: (LINK).  It is interesting and correlated to astronomy in that: “Montana State’s Priscu, for instance, has found evidence that microbes could live in the subglacial lake, deriving energy from minerals—”eating rocks,” as he told National Geographic News in 2007.”  Examples of where life may exist.  Life on other planets is seeming less and less improbable.


Rasmussen College Week 8 – Was There Life On Mars?   Leave a comment

Was There Life On Mars?

This news has been going around lately – Proof that there was life on Mars?

“If there was enough life to make layers, to make corals or some sort of microbial homes, and if it was buried on Mars, the same physics that took place on Earth could have happened there,” – Dr. Adrian J. Brown

Dr. Adrian J. Brown is just now getting his evidence though David Bowie suspected it for a long time now.

– drplim

Posted August 2, 2011 by brunoplim in Uncategorized

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Rasmussen College Week 7 – Black holes   Leave a comment

Black Holes

I recommend reading particularly what Steven Hawking has found.

In this TED talk Andrea Ghez talks about black holes and about looking for the giants – the supermassive black holes.

Update: Feb 9 2012

Illustration courtesy M. Weiss, CXC/NASA
In the following news from National Geographic, our very own black hole may be snacking on asteroids, and we may be observing that.

As always, let me know if you have questions!

– drplim

Rasmussen College Week 7 – The Origin Of The Universe   Leave a comment

This week we are looking at the origin of the Universe (or trying to).

Hello Students of the Universe!

When studying the Earth our observations are immediate, our thoughts are more grounded, out theories are more easily tested.  Now when speculating upon the origin of the Universe there is a lot of science that has been done, both observational and theoretical, but we are more in the realm of philosophy than western-science.

This week’s discussion is less than a few hours young and there is already a first post and that first post goes straight to the most sensitive topic: Science vs Creationism, or Big Bang vs God.

God, Evolution and the Big Bang is written by a physicist so it looks at these topics from a scientific point of view.

And here is the opinion of Pope John Paul II on the issue of evolution:

“Today, almost half a century after publication of the encyclical, new knowledge has led to the recognition of the theory of evolution as more than a hypothesis.  It is indeed remarkable that this theory has been progressively accepted by researchers, following a series of discoveries in various fields of knowledge.  The convergence, neither sought nor fabricated, of the results of work that was conducted independently is in itself a significant argument in favor of the theory.”
I have not found the original reference for this quote but I do know that it is a translation from french.

And of course, the talks that I have listened to and that talk about these topics:


Week 1 – Scale and the Sky / Apparent Retrograde Motion / Lunar Phases   Leave a comment

Welcome to Week 1

Astronomical Scale

This week we are looking at some astronomy basics.  We are all familiar with the use of the word “astronomical” for indicating that something is very big; so the first concept to grasp is scale.  Scale is definitely THE concept to become familiar with when starting to look at astronomy; the phenomena we will be looking at occur on a much larger scale than that which we are used to interacting with.  The video below is by Charles and Ray Eames, was made in 1968/77, and is still relevant.

Regarding Retrograde Motion
The second concept we are looking at is called Retrograde Motion.  Retrograde motion is a complex concept, it was not understood for many centuries and caused quite a lot of trouble when astronomers were trying to come up for a model of the movement of the Earth, Sun, stars and planets.
It is important to note that the assignment is about Apparent Retrograde Motion being observed in the motion of planets.  Apparent retrograde motion is different to real retrograde motion.
The following video explains this phenomena very nicely, use it in addition to the Rasmussen text.

Lunar Phases

The final concept for the week is understanding the phases of the Moon.  We have all seen the Moon many times in our lives and will see it many more times; but what are we really seeing?  This is the moment when we get it straight!

Rasmussen College has a very good introductory tutorial located HERE to help you understand the phases of the Moon.


Posted January 1, 2011 by brunoplim in Uncategorized

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