Eagerly awaited, watched almost live from space cameras and dissected endlessly since it appeared to break up, Comet ISON is gem of a comet - even if it is now an ex-comet (and that’s by no means certain either). We watched with baited breath as the NASA & ESA images were downloaded to let us see in unprecedented real time (or as near to real time as technology and the speed of light permit!), We tweeted…Read More
The 2013 Triple Transit of Jupiter
On 12th October this year (2013), a rare triple transit of Jupiter’s moons were visible as they glided across the globe of Jupiter’s upper atmosphere. Jupiter completes a full rotation in 9 hours 55 minutes and this causes the gas giant to bulge due to the centrifugal forces of this rapid spin – an effect you can also see through a small telescope. When any one of the larger of Jupiter’s 67 known moons – particularly one…Read More
Twitches of the Cosmic Line: Exoplanets, Habitability and the Outer Limits of Biochemical Potential
“Once life appears on a planet, regardless of the circumstances under which it appeared, evolution will push toward occupying every conceivable niche, even when the environments in some niches are very different from that in which life first arose.” – National Research Council The Limits of Organic Life in Planetary Systems (2007), p. 29. The relentless pressures of survival have shaped the panoply of life on Earth throughout the ages. Life has endured oppressive heat, extreme…Read More
AstroCamp: A Starparty for Everyone
The eagerly anticipated second AstroCamp finally arrived in early May and the organisers were especially excited to be welcoming new people to the event in the Brecon Beacons. It's our passion to deliver a star party to new people by providing a welcoming, friendly and nurturing environment for new astros to get hooked and the opportunity for experienced astronomers to observe or image under spectacularly dark skies. In May, the number of bookings increased by…Read More
The Aftermath of Genesis - Quasars Light the Way!
The discovery of ‘quasi-stellar radio sources’ in 1963 (abbreviated as ‘quasars’ in 1964 by Hong-Yee Chiu) sparked a paradigm shift in our conceptual understanding of the universe. One of the most important realisations brought about by quasar research is that black holes are more than theoretical constructs theorised by John Michell in 1783 and laterpredicted by Einstein’s theory of General Relativity; they are actually real objects of immense practical significance in the evolution of the universe. The scientific questions raised by the study…Read More
If you have a favoured observing site (your garden, an astronomical society or park) you can pre-plan your night's observing a little better with a landscape in Stellarium that matches your surroundings. While time consuming, having your own garden represented in Stellarium is actually quite easy to do. Here's how: Take 360° images of your surroundings - you can do this with a normal camera and stitch them together in Photoshop or the free Microsoft ICE software, or use…Read More
Heavens for Pennies: Voyager's Enduring Legacy
As NASA’s Voyager spacecraft explore the outer boundaries of the Solar System, transmitting vital data across billions of kilometres to the antennas of the Deep Space Network, their pioneering legacy throws into sharp relief a disturbing reality. The forces of political and economic expediency, along with lurking indifference are threatening the grand human adventure of the Solar System and beyond. In the wake of a second year of proposed brutal budget cuts for NASA’s Planetary Science…Read More
Comet ISON Update - The Latest News & Photos
Discovered in September, 2012, Comet C/2012 S1 ISON is just a few months away from its rendezvous with the inner solar system. Since its discovery and our initial article in October 2012, the comet has been photographed by the Hubble Space Telescope and we know a lot more about this potentially exciting object. What We Know For Sure In April, Comet ISON passed within Jupiter’s orbit and astronomers released refined estimates of its size. The comet’s nucleus…Read More
It’s ambitious. Really ambitious. If it works they will be only the third sovereign nation and the fourth space agency to send a probe to another planet. An incredible feat for a nation that has many domestic and economic issues to deal with as well. India’s Mars Orbiter Mission (MON) also known as Mangalyaan is for so many exciting and inspirational. This little craft that blasted off from Andhra Pradesh on Tuesday is primarily going…Read More
Once Upon a Time and Space
In my day job I teach history to teenagers. On one side of my classroom Buzz Aldrin stands sentinel like on the surface moon, flanked by Darwin and the Solar System. On the other, Georgians rub shoulders with Romans and maps of long dead empires compete for space with D-Day. It’s a reflection of my mind and so it has been since I took up my binoculars almost three decades ago. History and Astronomy. Time and Space.…Read More
Where, oh where is the Great Big Bear?
When I was a small astronomer one of the highlights of my early interest was the London Planetarium. It is one of those trips with my parents that I remember very fondly and still feel the edge of excitement from the start of the show, can still hear the narrator talking about “a bright star shining over the heads of shoppers on a busy London street – Venus”. The amazing projector like something from the space…Read More
The End of the World!
2.5 Million stars will explode on Friday.
Across the Universe there will approximately 30 supernovas a second.
Right across the sky, where ever you look stars will be dying. Tearing themselves apart in world shattering explosions.
Am I mean?
Kid says cute thing and I cut it down. That’s the summary so if you are short of time, thanks for reading. It wasn’t even one of my science lessons, I was just on the warm up act for a lesson on the Industrial Revolution. yep, History. My whiteboard was soon to be filled with images of factories and Georgian steam engines but as the class sat down they were able to gaze on my current wallpaper,…Read More
There has been a lot of it about in London recently.
Gold!Image Credit: BBC
Thousands have pushed themselves to their absolute limits in order to have some hung around their necks.
Millions more have watched in awe as they did so.
A Curious Journey
The silence felt like it would match the silence Mars Science laboratory had experienced over the last 8 months.
London is rarely quiet but waiting for a bus to appear in the early morning gloom of 4.30am is about as silent as it gets.
The Silence of london.
So what about those UFOs?
It’s a question I get asked regularly.
I was asked again yesterday.
In a way I suppose at it’s heart is one of the most fundamental questions humanity has.
Inevitably I’m eating when someone asks me.
Big morsel of lunch just starting to get on famously with my mouth.
“So what about those UFOs then?”