New Horizons to Pluto – The Final Piece of the Puzzle
For a small cold lump of ice and rock at the far reaches of the Solar System Pluto holds a remarkably prominent place in people’s hearts. This is evidenced by the controversy and indignation caused by the IAU decision in 2006 to demote it to the status of dwarf planet, or if you are feeling particularly spiteful, a trans-Neptunian object. Nobody likes to lose a member of the family and losing a planet seems a…Read More
Catch a comet this month!
Discovered by Australian amateur comet-hunter and astrophotographer, Terry Lovejoy, in August last year, comet C/2014 Q2 (Lovejoy) is already making its way through the inner solar system. And now is the time to look out for it yourself! Comet Lovejoy will be visible in binoculars all month from anywhere in the northern hemisphere (Europe, North America & Northern Asia) as soon as it’s dark. It should be possible to see it with the naked eye…Read More
Comet C/2014 Q2 (Lovejoy) has been photographed many times, by both professional and amateur astronomers, over the last couple of months as it brightens in the sun’s glare and forms a tail – this is caused by the solar wind warming the surface of the comet and turning its ice into a gas which streams behind the core (or nucleus) along with dust caught in that surface ice. Think of a snowball in front of a…Read More
Astronomical Close Encounters: A Matter of Perspective
There are a few astronomical events that are sure-fire crowd pleasers, guaranteed to catch the attention of astronomers and the general public alike. Who can forget the meteor burning up in the skies over Chelyabinsk, Russia in February 2013? Or not be blown away by beautiful images of aurora such as this years winning entry in the Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition? The problem is it’s hard to predict when and where the next…Read More
In November, the European Space Agency’s hugely ambitious Rosetta spacecraft will set its lander down on the head of Comet 67P/Churyumov Gerasimenko, it was announced in ESA’s conference on 15th September. Five possible landing sites had been earlier chosen from close up images taken by the spacecraft, currently orbiting the 4km wide comet 450 million km away between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. A fine balance between the most exciting science finding possibilities and…Read More
Dawn of the Robots, or 'How Robotic Imaging Saved My Sanity'
Like all astronomers I love my astro gear, but I hate light pollution, horizon obscuring buildings and trees and, of course, clouds. Up to very recently the amateur astronomer has either been stuck with the cards they have been dealt in terms of location, or has had to pack everything into the car and head off to darker skies and broader horizons. With the foundation of observatories that enable amateurs to book time and operate…Read More
Fly Me To The Moon
Take a look at this incredible video taken by London amateur astronomer Roger Hutchinson on 4th April 2014! On 7th March 2009 I was at Merritt Island to watch the launch of NASA's groundbreaking exoplanet-hunting spacecraft Kepler. In the hours running up to the night time launch, I'd decided to fish in the Banana River where I could keep an eye on the distant pad to ensure I didn't miss the exciting event, while relaxing with…Read More
Diamonds in the Tail of the Scorpion
A new image from ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile shows the bright star cluster Messier 7. Easily spotted with the naked eye close to the tail of the constellation of Scorpius, it is one of the most prominent open clusters of stars in the sky — making it an important astronomical research target. Messier 7, also known as NGC 6475, is a brilliant cluster of about 100 stars located some 800 light-years from Earth. In…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?”