International Astronomical Union, star names and Pluto

I saw an article over on Universe Today on the whole star naming scam. This has been one of my pet peeves for a long while - private companies conning you into thinking they're naming a star for you, when they have no such authority with which to do so. The article goes into how the International Astronomical Union is the only organisation who has any authority to name stars etc....

Friday, 18 April 2008 · 3 min · Paul Smith

Naked eye gamma ray burst

So a few days ago there were reports in the news of a gamma ray burst visible with the naked eye. Unfortunately I wasn't able to see it, I was clouded up pretty bad down here. Let me say that again, last week it was possible to see a gamma ray burst with the naked eye. This explosion was 7.5 BILLION light years away. To put that in perspective, the most distant object visible with the naked eye usually is the Andromeda galaxy at 2....

Monday, 24 March 2008 · 2 min · Paul Smith

Bronze age and Roman-era mythology in parliament

We desperately need the separation of church and state in this country. As I previously wrote about in January those indoctrinated into a religious ideology are up to their usual tricks trying to shoot down, or water down the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill. I don't have time to go into all the details here, so I refer you to my previous post on the issue. We've got Des Browne, Ruth Kelly, and Paul Murphy all Roman Catholics blabbering on about saving embryos (read babies), I suppose secretly they all want to ban abortion as well, persecute homo-sexuals and stone to death anybody who tempts them to another god, or anybody who works on a Sunday (it's all in the good book)....

Monday, 24 March 2008 · 2 min · Paul Smith

Space shuttle over the UK this evening

STS 122 launched yesterday on time (to my surprise after the weather forecast), and will, with the space station be visible over the UK. This evening (8th) the ISS will pass overhead at about 17:55 (and later at 19:25), and the space shuttle will probably be between 10 and 20 minutes behind it. Tomorrow (9th) the shuttle will be docking with the space station, I haven't been able to find out at what time, but if they haven't already docked by tomorrow evening they will be much closer in the sky, hopefully only a few seconds apart or less....

Friday, 8 February 2008 · 1 min · Paul Smith

Against the anti-nuclear bandwagon

The left has taken a very anti-nuclear stance on how to develop Britain's electricity supply going forward. A lot of this comes from misconceptions about nuclear power. Typically when one mentions you're in favour of a new generation of nuclear power stations you're instantly met with some nonsense about 500,000 deaths thanks to Chernobyl. Firstly that argument is a complete non-sequitur. Modern reactors, and even Britain's existing nuclear reactors cannot fail in such a manner as one of the reactors at Chernobyl did in 1986....

Friday, 11 January 2008 · 3 min · Paul Smith

Crysis - ruined by bad science

So I've been playing through Crysis which is a fantastic game. But yesterday I noticed something, something BAD. WHAT THE HELL IS THAT? The Moon!!!!! Ahhh Jesus. For us to see the Earth facing side of the Moon completely illuminated, it must be opposite the Sun in the sky. In daytime like this picture shows it is impossible to have the Moon fully illuminated. In reality the Full Moon will be rising just as the Sun is setting and vice versa - opposite positions in the sky....

Wednesday, 9 January 2008 · 4 min · Paul Smith

Shuttle Atlantis launch next year

Thanks to faulty sensors in the external fuel tank the launch of the Space Shuttle Atlantis has been postponed again right back until the 2nd of January. It's mission is to carry the European Space Agency's Columbus lab to the International Space Station. However it, along with the Space Station will still be visible from the UK, the bad news is in the morning instead of the early evening. Unless of course it gets put back another three or four weeks....

Sunday, 9 December 2007 · 1 min · Paul Smith

Are We Alone sort their RSS feed out!

This is the day I've been waiting for! It seems like years I've had to manually check their website every week or two to look for any new episodes. Now their RSS feed works properly so my computer can do the work for me. Are We Alone is one of my favourite radio shows/webcasts, its produced by the SETI Institute. Although there are times when I wish it was more dry like all the other science/sceptical podcasts I listen to, but this also gets broadcast as an actual radio program and so it has a much lighter feel to it....

Thursday, 29 November 2007 · 1 min · Paul Smith

Shuttle Atlantis and ISS visible over UK next week and week after

Instead of doing what I normally do of posting with very little notice, I'm going to give some notice as these shuttle and space station flyovers seem pretty popular to readers of my blog. The Space Shuttle Atlantis is scheduled to launch on the 6th of December, it'll be on a mission to the International Space Station carrying Europe's Columbus laboratory to the station. Like Endeavour's last mission back in August it will be visible from the UK in the evenings....

Tuesday, 27 November 2007 · 2 min · Paul Smith

Comet Holmes fading as it grows larger than the Sun

I just went out tonight (spotted a Leonid!) and noticed Comet Holmes has vanished, well it hasn't vanished it is still there but I couldn't make it out among the light pollution with just my eyes after a few minutes of dark adaption. I wouldn't call it an easy naked eye object anymore. Part of the trouble comes from its angular size, it spreads the light out over an area larger than the Moon which makes it difficult for our eyes to detect....

Monday, 19 November 2007 · 2 min · Paul Smith