The darker mornings

As I complete this post from my home in Manchester, England, it is 4:30 pm and already fairly dark outside. Many people think that it will continue to get dark earlier each day in the afternoon until we reach 21 December, the winter solstice. This, however, is not the case. The evenings in fact start to draw out… Continue reading The darker mornings

July 8 2011- The Final Mission

On 8 July 2011 Atlantis took off for the final 13 day mission of the Space Shuttle programme and it remains to this day the last American spacecraft to carry humans into orbit. The landing of Atlantis on 21 July 2011, which brought the Space Shuttle programme to a close - Image from NASA. Development of… Continue reading July 8 2011- The Final Mission

The evenings are drawing out already

As I complete this post, it's completely dark outside and it's only 5 o'clock in the afternoon. Today is 14 December, and most people I come across think that it will continue to get dark earlier and earlier in the afternoons until 21 December, the shortest day of the year (at least for those of us… Continue reading The evenings are drawing out already

Akatsuki – a second chance – Updated (7 Dec 2015)

This an update to my original post from 4 December. In a press release today the Japanese space agency JAXA confirmed that the smaller rocket motors had fired as planned and the Akatsuki is now in orbit round Venus.  The announcement (http://global.jaxa.jp/press/2015/12/20151207_akatsuki.html) went on to say: "The orbiter is now in good health. We are… Continue reading Akatsuki – a second chance – Updated (7 Dec 2015)

Akatsuki – a second chance – 7 December 2015

On 7 December 2010, after a six month journey, the Japanese spacecraft Akatsuki (named after the Japanese word for dawn) arrived at Venus after a six month journey.  It was only the second spacecraft launched since 1989 to visit the Earth's sister planet and, if it had succeeded in orbiting Venus, it would have had… Continue reading Akatsuki – a second chance – 7 December 2015

The Steady State Theory

This post, the latest in my series about cosmology, the study of the origin and evolution of the Universe as a whole, talks about the Steady State theory. This is an elegant alternative theory to the Big Bang, which was very popular among astronomers in the 1950s, although it has now been discarded. What is the Steady… Continue reading The Steady State Theory

Ultimate Fate of the Universe

This post, which is the latest in my series on cosmology, is about the ultimate fate of the Universe, a subject which has engaged scientists, philosophers and religious leaders for centuries. There are many possible endings to the Universe, but the outline I will present here, which is sometimes called "The Big Freeze", is the most commonly held… Continue reading Ultimate Fate of the Universe