How Big is the Universe?

How Big is the Universe?

The Universe is a big, big place. Getting your head around mind-bendingly big and unimaginably small things is really hard, our brains just weren’t built to do it. To survive as a human, all evolution required of our ancestors was the ability to outrun and outwit predators long enough to...

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Titan: the moon raining plastics & flowing with lakes of liquified natural gas

Titan: the moon raining plastics & flowing with lakes of liquified natural gas

Roughly the size of the planet Mercury, Titan is the largest moon of Saturn and the second largest moon in the solar system after Jupiter’s moon Ganymede. Wrapped in a thick, frothy orange atmosphere made primarily of nitrogen and a bit of methane, Titan is the only other place besides...

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Night Blight

Night Blight

In December 2013 I wrote a piece in KCW Today called Night Blight, about light pollution in the UK. Given the results of recent research into this problem, the question is are we succeeding? According to Brett Seymoure, a behavioural ecologist at Washington university in St Louis a leading member...

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Kaboom SN2006gy Brightest Blast Ever

Kaboom SN2006gy Brightest Blast Ever

In a distant galaxy NGC 1260, some 250 million light-years away, occurred the most powerful explosion ever seen anywhere. Named SN2006gy, this supernova certainly stands apart. It was so energetic, it’s often called a hypernova or quark-nova. It was quickly observed by NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and large ground based...

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Generation Mars: Should we stay, or should we go?

Generation Mars: Should we stay, or should we go?

Since ancient astronomers first looked to the heavens, man has harboured a fascination with Mars. Named for the Roman God of war, the icy red planet has ignited the human imagination for centuries. Popular culture brims with imaginings of the planet and its secrets. From ‘Gulliver’s Travels’, to Bowie’s ‘Life...

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Venus: Our toxic twin

Venus: Our toxic twin

Last month we looked at the genesis of the Earth, and the UN’s Global assessment Report that human society is in jeopardy from the accelerating decline of the Earth’s natural life support systems. This month I think we should look at what was once upon a time considered to be...

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Mars

Mars

Down here in southern Spain, the views of Mars as it made its closest and brightest approach in 15 years on 27th July, were spectacular, and as I write this, it still dominates the southern sky, shining at magnitude -2.1 in the constellation of Capricornus. I’m observing with my old...

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Europa

Europa

Here in the valley of Lecrin in Andalucia, southern Spain, about fifty people gathered to watch the Blood Moon on the evening of the 27th July, at La Conca Arts Club, next to the lake at Beznar. We had my old 4” Vixen refractor telescope on an equatorial mount, a...

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SOHO (No, not that one!)

The Solar and Heliocentric Observatory (SOHO) is a satellite that keeps an eye on the Sun’s activity. It is a joint venture between NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) and is currently in its 22nd year of operation. SOHO is the longest-lived heliophysics mission still operating and has provided a...

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In The Beginning

I was born in Yorkshire in 1947. My first children’s encyclopaedia in the early 50s, was beautifully illustrated with the origins of the universe and the origins of the moon and solar system etc. It said the moon was born out of the Earth or a captured body (not really...

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