4 October 1957 – the start of the space age

Exactly sixty years ago today, on 4 October 1957, the Soviet Union launched the first artificial satellite, Sputnik 1, into orbit around the Earth. This is considered to be the beginning of the space age. Before this date there were no man made satellites in space but on every single day since then there have been… Continue reading 4 October 1957 – the start of the space age

12-13 August 2017 – the Perseids

Anyone who is disappointed that they will be missing the total eclipse can console themselves with another astronomical event - providing that they live in the northern hemisphere, that the weather is favourable (no clouds, please) and that they can get away from populated areas with too much light pollution. This astronomical event is the… Continue reading 12-13 August 2017 – the Perseids

Voyager 40th anniversary

Nearly 40 years ago, on 20 August 1977, the Voyager 2 space probe was launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on a mission to study the Solar System's four outermost planets. It was followed 15 days later by the launch of an identical spacecraft, Voyager 1. The Voyager spacecraft -Image from NASA Although Voyager 1 was… Continue reading Voyager 40th anniversary

Life in our galaxy?

With the recent discovery of three planets orbiting the red dwarf star Trappist-1 which have a similar size, mass and average surface temperature as the Earth, there has been considerable speculation as to whether one or more of these planets supports life. What the surface of Trappist 1f, one of the planets orbiting Trappist 1, might look… Continue reading Life in our galaxy?

The Trappist-1 system

I am sure that many of you will be aware of the discovery announced in February this year of seven Earth-sized planets orbiting a small cool star known as Trappist-1. (Gillon et al 2017). In this post I'll talk about this exciting finding and the possibility that some of these planets might support life. Trappist-1 and its… Continue reading The Trappist-1 system

Satellite navigation – the next ten years

Satellite navigation is such a vital part of day-to-day life that other countries of the world are planning to build up their own network of navigation satellites and move away from total reliance on the American system, GPS. America As mentioned in my previous post, the GPS system is operated and funded by the US government. The first… Continue reading Satellite navigation – the next ten years

GPS

The Global Positioning System, better known as GPS, has come to affect countless aspects of our daily lives, from directing our holiday aeroplanes to enabling us to drive round an unfamiliar city without any map other than the one on our mobile phone.  At the risk of making myself sound like a scary stalker, I… Continue reading GPS