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Needed: Materials for 24th Century Starships


The Romance of Hyakutake and Hale-Bopp

The drought of comets broke last year, and how.
The inner solar system has been treated to two unexpected celestial visitors in the past two years. First comet Hyakutake, like a shy suitor, had a close but brief encounter with Earth in March 1996. Almost exactly a year later, Hale-Bopp courted stargazers like a celestial peacock, lingering at naked-eye visibility for over three months. Both comets turned the heads of the world. But while public interest in Hyakutake could be characterized as mild, interest in Hale-Bopp bordered on the wild.

Like many people involved in our hobby, I became interested in astronomy as a youngster. I learned to identify the planets and constellations when I was in grammar school, and soon felt the itch to get a closer look at them. By the time I started high school, my sights were set on a very fine telescope made by a local optician named Max Bray. It was 5" aperture Maksutov-Cassegrain, a "mirror-lens" telescope that combined the best qualities of reflectors and refractors in an elegant, compact package. I had never seen anything quite like it, and I knew I had to have it.

A Quality of Seeing: Astronomy in the Colorado Plateau
One of the most ruggest and enigmatic territories of the continental United States in the late 19th Century, the Colorado Plateau drew the adventurous and the greedy, the tough and the zealous. It also drew the unlikely: men with a passion for stargazing. Among the pioneers of the closing years of the last century was an eastern aristocrat named Percival Lowell, a man with a craving for new horizons. He established the prestigious Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona, in 1894. Lowell Observatory soon became a world-class research facility and remains the largest privately funded observatory in the world.

Will Work for Photons

The Materials Demands of the Star Trek Universe
In the 24th century, immense starships will travel the Milky Way galaxy in search of strange new worlds. The ships will be designed and built to tolerate enormous stresses and extreme environments; they will travel at extraordinary velocities through warped space while functioning as self-contained ecosystems supporting hundreds of crew members.