Every now and again, in interviews and on social media, I'm asked an interesting question: If there was one thing you wish people understood better about astronomy, what would it be? Things in space are very, very, very far away. The closest natural object to us, the Moon, is nearly 400,000 kilometers form Earth. The Saturn V rocket, still the most powerful rocket ever to be successfully used, took over three days to fling astronauts to the Moon. Three days of crossing nothing but an empty gulf.
When you look at most spiral galaxies, they show an amazing symmetry in their bright structure, with huge arms sweeping around them on either side. But that's not always the case. Some spirals show a remarkable asymmetry, sometimes only having one arm, or with one major arm and several smaller ones. A lot of times these off-kilter galaxies are dwarf galaxies, smaller than your average spiral.
Yesterday, I wrote about a star called W Hydrae that was once very much like the Sun, but is much older. It has expanded into a red giant, and is close enough (about 300 light years away) that, using sophisticated techniques, we can actually see its disk. I also wrote about how huge it is, about 600 million kilometers across. That's big. But some stars make that look positively dinky. Like, say, V766 Centauri. How wide is this star? Over two billion kilometers. That's 1,500 times bigger than the Sun!
Muck Rack makes it simple to find people, tweets, or articles that mention any name, keyword, company, hashtag etc. We've compiled this guide to help you make the most of your search.
Selecting a term
Start searching tweets, articles from media outlets, articles mentioned in tweets, journalists'
names, titles and bios with some suggested searches:
Companies or Topics (e.g. iPhone, Microsoft)
Phrases (e.g. "cloud computing") — use quotes to keep the terms together
Twitter handles (e.g. @username) — returns those who have mentioned or replied to
Names (e.g. "David Pogue")
Hashtags (e.g. #sxsw, #london2012)
Bio details (e.g. vegan, Olympics, father)
Muck Rack's Advanced Search allows for many boolean operators.
Find results that mention multiple specified terms, use AND or
+. For example, ensure each result contains both Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg by
searching Musk AND Zuckerberg or Musk + Zuckerberg.
Use the operators OR or , to broaden your search when you'd like either of
multiple terms to appear in results. (This is the default behavior of our search when no operators
are used). For example, results will contain either cake or cookie by searching cake OR cookie or cake,cookie
Use NOT or - to subtract results from your search. For
example, searching Disney will yield results about the Walt Disney Company as well as Walt Disney
World Resort. To exclude mentions of Disney World, search for Disney -World or Disney
When using one of these operators with a phrase, enclose it in quotation marks. For example, you can
find results about smartphones excluding Apple's iPhone 4S by searching smartphone -"iPhone
Exact case matching or punctuation
If you're searching for a brand name or keyword that relies on specific punctuation marks or capitalization, you can
find results that match your exact query by adding matchcase: before the keyword you're searching for, like matchcase:E*TRADE .
Use parentheses to separate multiple
boolean phrases. For example, to find journalists talking about having fun in Disney World or
Disneyland, search for ("disney world" OR disneyland) AND fun.
An asterisk can be used to search for any variation of a root word truncated by the asterisk. For example, searching for admin* will return results for administrator, administration, administer, administered, etc.
A near operator is an AND operator where you can control the distance between the words. You can vary the distance the near operation uses by adding a forward slash and number (between 0-99) such as strawberries NEAR/10 "whipped cream", which means the strawberries must exist within 10 words of "whipped cream".