New e-book from The Science Geek on Venus

For the last few months I have been writing an e-book on the planet Venus, the planet closest to the Earth in distance, size and internal composition, and the third brightest natural object in our sky after the Sun and the Moon.  The book is now finished and is available to download in Kindle format… Continue reading New e-book from The Science Geek on Venus

Soyuz MS-11

On 3 December 2018 a Soyuz spacecraft will take off on a mission to transport three astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS). The new crew will be ISS Expedition 58 and will stay at the station for six months and their arrival will allow the current ISS crew to return to Earth. Mission patch… Continue reading Soyuz MS-11

The future of the International Space Station

After the Soyuz spacecraft failed to get into orbit on 11 October 2018, it looked like Soyuz flights to the ISS might be on hold for a period of time and that the ISS would even need to be temporarily abandoned. Fortunately this has proved not to be the case and the next Soyuz will… Continue reading The future of the International Space Station

Soyuz – What next?

Many of my readers will be aware the Soyuz MS-10 spacecraft failed to get into orbit on Thursday 11 October. It was on a mission to take fresh crew to the International Space Station (ISS). Mission patch for Soyuz MS-10 A major fault occurred at an altitude of about 50 km when the booster rocket… Continue reading Soyuz – What next?

Space stations past and present

The International Space Station (ISS) is now 20 years old. In this post I’ll talk about the history of the ISS and other space stations, and I’ll also touch on some of the politics involved. Image from NASA   Early space stations   Although America was the first country to put a man on the… Continue reading Space stations past and present

Jocelyn Bell and the Breakthrough prize 2018

Pulsars were first detected in 1967 by a research student called Jocelyn Bell when she was taking observations for her PhD thesis. Her supervisor, Anthony Hewish, went on to win the Nobel prize in 1974 for the discovery, and her contribution was overlooked. Many at the time felt that Jocelyn Bell should have been given… Continue reading Jocelyn Bell and the Breakthrough prize 2018

September 18 The Shortest Day

Not many people know this, but next Tuesday 18 September, is the shortest solar day of the year. I’ve decided to re-blog my post from 2015 on this interesting fact.

The Science Geek

Revised 10 September 2018

Most people are probably unaware of this but the length of a solar day, which is the natural day measured by the rising and setting of the Sun isn’t  always 24 hours. It varies slightly throughout the course of the year and that September 18 is in fact the shortest solar day in the year. This post discusses this curiosity, which is not widely known.

Background- the variation in the length of the day.

Although a day for practical timekeeping purposes is always 24 hours, the actual length of a solar day, which is the time difference between two successive occasions when the Sun is at its highest in the sky, varies throughout the year. As shown in the graph below, it is at its longest, 24 hours 30 seconds, around Christmas Day and is at its shortest, 23 hours 59 minutes 38 seconds, in mid-September.

Day length

How the length of a solar…

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