Musings on optics, physics, astronomy, technology and life

Archive for May, 2013

This month’s astronomical thoughts

As this month draws to a close, I would like to admit to a couple of things that have weighed on my mind recently. One is a feature article I just finished writing for a future issue of Optics & Photonics News. The other is the sad loss of a friend.

I met Craig and Elizabeth Levin nearly 10 years ago. I have always thought of them as a fabulously-in-love married couple who would grow old together. But, alas, that is not to be, as Craig died this past week at the age of 42.

Craig worked in the library at NASA headquarters, served as the newsletter editor for the Astronomical Society of Greenbelt, and was the volunteer website content editor for He was a fellow member of the DC Science Writers Association, and I remember one DCSWA event a few years back when he and I were both on the four-person team that won a “trivia night” competition. His strengths and mine complemented each other well — he knew more about the history of Wales than I ever will, and I just happened to know which popular rock band has a lead singer named Paul Hewson. (He was really stumped on that one. I told him, “But its lead guitarist is Dave Evans!”)

Craig also wrote and staged several planetarium shows for the Howard B. Owens Science Center, which is just down the road from NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.  If you would like to make a contribution in his memory, please send it to: Howard B. Owens Science Center, In Memory of C. Levin, 9601 Greenbelt Road, Lanham, MD 20706.

In other space-related news and notes, I see that the Koshland Science Museum has an interactive museum exhibit called Lights at Night. A recent blog post discusses the effect that our bluish-lit electronics may have on our ability to get a good night’s sleep. That post mentions a recent Nature article whose author uses an app called f.lux to make screens more “evening-appropriate” at night. I just might try it out … after I try to get some sleep.