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Chris Lintott to speak in Manchester September 25, 2013

Posted by Marie in Astronomy, Chris Lintott, Sky at Night, West Didsbury Astronomical Society.
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Here’s an invitation from West Didsbury Astronomical Society to attend a talk by Sky at Night presenter Chris Lintott on 11th November.

Most details are below, so if you would like to attend, please email chrislintott.ticket@wdas2.com to reserve a ticket, as space is limited.



The Dalton Lecture May 16, 2012

Posted by Marie in Manchester Lit & Phil, Martin Rees, Ouroboros, West Didsbury Astronomical Society.
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Life in the Cosmos: From Big Bang to Biosphere, given by Martin Rees, Astronomer Royal

I was delighted to discover that Lord Rees was giving this lecture for the Manchester Literary and Philosophical Society, and so I attended with friends from West Didsbury Astronomical Society.  Actually, we had to cancel our own event, scheduled for the same evening, so that we could attend!

Lord Rees zipped us painlessly through key points in the history of astronomy, shared his views on manned space flight, the possibilities of alien life, and our responsibility to our planet.

Kevin and Diane from West Didsbury Astronomical Society shared their thoughts shortly after coming out of the lecture.

The picture Kevin mentioned is explained by Martin Rees in the video at the top of this post: it’s called an Ouroboros


NAM2012 April 2, 2012

Posted by Marie in Astronomy, Bright Club Manchester, NAM2012, Recycled Electrons, Royal Astronomical Society, tweetup, West Didsbury Astronomical Society.
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The National Astronomy Meeting of the UK’s Royal Astronomical Society, in partnership with Germany’s Astronomische Gesellschaft just took place on my doorstep at the University of Manchester from 27th – 30th March 2012.

As the top research astronomers of both societies descended on the city, there were also several public events which took place over the week, and I showed my face at some of them!

Me showing my face at one of the NAM2012 events.

On Monday evening, together with friends from the West Didsbury Astronomical Society, I went to a public lecture by Professor Simon White, Director of the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics in Germany, with the title All from Nothing : The Structuring of Our Universe.  He explained how everything in our entire world may very well have come from nothing.  Absolutely nothing at all.  But it’s all here now.

Totally fascinating stuff.

Tuesday evening saw an astronomically-themed Bright Club which included short science talks, music and comedy – the self-styled “thinking person’s variety club”.  I really enjoyed the evening – those who had been brave enough to take to the stage were great, (props to @evanocathain, @SaturnSheila, @RainDogJones, @LuzGuzRam, @dr_paul_woods for that)  And it was lovely to meet up with people I hadn’t seen for quite a while, along with others whom I bump into more regularly.  If you see a Bright Club event near you, I’d recommend you give it a whirl – it was great fun!

Wednesday saw a tweetup for The Listener of the Recycled Electrons podcast, and as I am an incarnation of The Listener, it would have been rude not to attend. Alcohol was consumed and spilt (mostly over me, but not by me I should add) during a highly entertaining evening. The picture above was taken at the event and features The Listener and hosts.

(In the picture: @fizzpup and friend, me, @lisa_tibbs, @jen_gupta, @KarenLMasters, @freckleface12, @RadioVicky, @maguirenumber6, @Christinaananaa and in the centre, hosts @orbitingfrog and @chrislintott)

A year of looking up December 31, 2011

Posted by Marie in Astronomy, ESO, Look up, Paranal, Stars.
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On New Year’s Eve 2010, I made a resolution to explore astronomy a bit more, and learn something about what’s ‘out there’.

Although these posts haven’t been quite as frequent as I’d hoped, they still give an indication of lots of different things which have caught my attention during the year.

I have no intention of stopping now, and I’ll continue to collect and share things which I like.  So to end 2011, here’s a video from the European Southern Observatory showing a whole night in less than one minute.

This video depicts a whole night of work at ESO’s Paranal Observatory, from dusk till dawn. As the starry sky begins disclosing its beauties, the domes of the four VLT Unit Telescopes rapidly move to observe different celestial objects. Above the observatory, the wonderful landscape of the Milky Way rides the firmament in all its glory, while several shooting stars ‘scratch’ the sky, leaving very distinctive trails.

Credit: ESO/S. Guisard (www.eso.org/~sguisard)

Vodpod videos no longer available.

ESO – vltplatftimelapse – From Dusk till Dawn -…, posted with vodpod

Sky at Night – 1963 December 13, 2011

Posted by Marie in Moon, Patrick Moore, Sky at Night.
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This is a stunning find, featuring a rather handsome Patrick Moore discussing what it would be like to land on the moon 6 years before it actually happened.  Fascinating.  The BBC’s write-up says:

Many of the early Sky at Night programmes were destroyed or lost from the BBC library. Recently this early and very rare programme from 1963 with Arthur C Clarke, was discovered in an African TV station. Patrick and Arthur were both members of the British Interplanetary Society and here they discuss bases on the Moon and Mars. Arthur C Clarke made very few interviews, so this really is a broadcasting gem- once lost, but now found.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

1963 Bases on the Moon, posted with vodpod

Amazing time lapse video November 14, 2011

Posted by Marie in Bad Astronomy, ISS, Photography, Space shuttle.
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Just take 5 minutes of your time to watch our planet in this time-lapse video made from footage taken by astronauts on the International Space Station.  Best if you maximise.  It’s am-a-zing!

Thanks to @badastronomer for tweeting it.

#astrofood October 27, 2011

Posted by Marie in astrofood, silliness.
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Fried Egg Nebula - Credit: ESO/E. Lagadec

A response to a tweet about lunch spawned an afternoon of cringeworthy messaging today.

The subject – #astrofood!

Of course, the obvious Mars, Galaxy, and Milky Way made an appearance (as did a schoolboy mention of the aftermath of eating, which made reference to the 7th planet from the sun – you know who you are :-p).  But tweeps were a lot more imaginative, so I thought I would share some of them here for fun.

In alphabetical order:

Big Bang-ers          Black ‘toad-in-the’ Hole          Brian Cox’s Orange Pippins

Chocolate Mintaka          Christmas Tree Cluster pudding          Crab Nebula Pate

Flying Saucers          French Orion Soup          Herschel chocolate

Ice cream sun-dae          Ju-pitta bread          Meat-eors

Ophiuchus-tard creams          Sausage and mashtroid          Space Dust

Stargazy pie          Sun spotted dick

And my top 5, in no particular order are:

  • Martianmallows
  • Alfalfa centauri salad
  • Ensaladas (think about it!)
  • Eton Messier objects
  • Hubble and Squeak

If you have any more, let me know!

The Kinky Red Diary October 22, 2011

Posted by Marie in Recycled Electrons, Royal Astronomical Society.
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I am so delighted with my new acquisition!  The Kinky Red Diary was first prize in a competition which I entered for a bit of fun on the self-styled ‘not-quite-a-podcast’ podcast: Recycled Electrons.  Courtesy of  hosts Chris Lintott (@chrislintott) and Rob Simpson (@orbitingfrog), my prize arrived in the post this morning.

To give its proper name, the Kinky Red Diary is actually the Royal Astronomical Society’s diary for 2012, and it looks like Chris didn’t really need his so decided to give it away … to me!

Apparently it will sync with the iPhone 5 … 🙂

The bad news and the good news October 17, 2011

Posted by Marie in Asteroids, Bad Astronomy, TED talk.
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Bad news – an asteroid is heading for earth.

Good news – we can do something about it!

I’ve watched several TED talks in the past, and this one – featuring @BadAstronomer Phil Plait – is just as informative and entertaining.  It’s a bit of a shame the audience was either too far away or not properly microphoned as you can’t always hear their response very well.

But if Phil Plait says it’s going to be OK, then I’m happy!

ALMA – looking into the soul of the universe October 4, 2011

Posted by Marie in ALMA, Astronomy, Cosmos.
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I love the Spanish language, and I really love that many songs in Spanish dwell upon the word alma meaning ‘soul‘ as often as they do ‘corazon‘ or ‘heart’. So I like the fact that the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) is a ‘telescope’ in the Chilean Andes, composed of 66 high-precision antennae (of which only 22 are currently online), designed to study light from some of the coldest, furthest, and most hidden secrets of the soul of the Universe.  For example …

Credit: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO). Visible light image: the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope

The array has recently published its first image (above) using only twelve antennae working together — just imagine what the images will be like once all the antennae are on-line!

To find out more about ALMA, or just to see some stunning scenery, it’s well worth taking a look at this video from ESO (European Southern Observatory).  Amazing skies, telescopes being moved on trucks – it’s all here!  And my claim to fame is that I know people who work on ALMA which makes me really cool. Yes? 🙂

Cosmos – then and now September 5, 2011

Posted by Marie in Astronomy, Carl Sagan, Cosmos.
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Recently, I finished watching the DVD box set of Cosmos, written and presented by Carl Sagan.  The set was given to me as a present after I dropped a number of hints to my brother (who has now ‘borrowed’ it to watch for himself, I might add).

As a child I was allowed to stay up late to watch the series, and I found something compelling about the episodes even then, though I suppose I didn’t understand much of it at the time.

It’s been an absolute delight to rediscover the series.   All the things I remembered about it are still there – the beautiful voice with its measured delivery, the special effects – dated now, but extraordinary at the time- , and the mingling of story-telling and fact, drama and explanation.  It was just as I had remembered it.

But I also discovered things I hadn’t picked up first time round.  Things like Sagan’s advocacy of environmental issues, and his insistence that we are ‘stewards’ of our planet, holding it in trust for our descendants, but none of us ever owning it or having any rights to it.  The arguments, and the way Carl Sagan makes them, must have seemed incongruous in 1980, the decade of Ronald Regan’s escalation of the nuclear arms race.

In fact, you could probably watch the series several times over, and learn several new things every single time.  Take a look here for more detailed information about the series.

And then, just as I reached the end of the final episode I learned that, over 30 years after the appearance of the original series, a sequel is to be made.  It will bring the series up to date with scientific developments, and will be presented by Neil deGrasse Tyson, one of my favourite science communicators.

I know which box set I’ll be asking for …

Doctor Who the Astronomer July 7, 2011

Posted by Marie in 365 Days of Astronomy, Doctor Who, The Jodcast.
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I love Doctor Who. And I love learning about our universe.  So I love these two podcasts!

Megan Argo is a professional radio astronomer, who is also a major contributor to one of my other favourite astronomy podcasts, The Jodcast.

Megan has now made two short stories available via the 365 Days of Astronomy Podcast, in which she allows the Doctor himself to explain events which happened in our universe as if he (and we!) were actually there.  Of course, the Doctor probably was there …

Anyway, do spend a few minutes to listen to these podcasts – they’re as cool as bow-ties and fezes!

Doctor Who and the Silver Spiral


Increasing the awesome June 8, 2011

Posted by Marie in ISS, NASA, Photography, Space shuttle.
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Paolo Nespoli lived and worked on the International Space Station from December 2010 until May 2011.  On his departure from the ISS, he took this awesome video of the station, including the docked Space Shuttle Endeavour, on its final mission.

Most definitely increasing the awesome.

Beautiful Saturn June 2, 2011

Posted by Marie in Cassini, Photography, Saturn.
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Loving this montage of images from Chris Abbas, using Cassini images of Saturn.  (Watch full screen for maximum effect.)

So beautiful.

Gagarin 50 June 1, 2011

Posted by Marie in Gagarin, Space travel.
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There’s a little exhibition in Sale, near Manchester at the minute, called Gagarin50.

It celebrates the fiftieth anniversary of the first human spaceflight by Yuri Gagarin on 12th April 1961, and also his visit to Manchester and Trafford a few months later.

Although not a huge exhibition, it does tie in nicely with the commemorations which took place in April, and it did make me curious as to why he should choose to visit Manchester.

It turns out he came at the invitation of the Union of Foundry Workers (he had worked in a foundry himself when he was younger) and the lovely footage of him receiving a medal from them can be seen here, courtesy of the North West Film Archive.

Despite the Manchester rain, he seemed genuinely happy to be here.  Afterwards (and this is still very much in the era of the ‘Cold War’) he headed south to meet the Prime Minister.

The exhibition was due to finish this weekend, but has been extended until August, so if you are in the Manchester area and have an hour free, why not take a look.

All the single planets … May 5, 2011

Posted by Marie in Saturn.
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Just couldn’t resist this which I came across through Twitter last week.  Among a collection of actual answers given to real examination questions, this one made me laugh.

(I don’t intend to infringe any copyright, but I can’t trace where it came from!)

What colour is the universe? April 30, 2011

Posted by Marie in Astronomy, Jodrell Bank, Nebula, Planetary Nebula.

In a long and convoluted story, my last post about the new Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre led a Twitter friend to look at my favourite images page.  This then resulted in a twitter-sation about why the images are so pretty!

The colours in the images are ‘false’; that is,

Credits: Raghvendra Sahai and John Trauger (JPL), the WFPC2 science team, and NASA

if you were to actually be able to travel to see the galaxies or nebulae with your own eyes, you wouldn’t see the colours which are in the images, because our eyes don’t register them.

So I discovered that the people who take the pictures get to choose the colours!

It’s all to do with the chemicals which are detected in the objects, and their wavelengths.  Red indicates the longest wavelength and blue the shortest, with the other colours somewhere in between.

Cats Eye Nebula Credit: NASA, ESA, HEIC, and The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA) Acknowledgment: R. Corradi (Isaac Newton Group of Telescopes, Spain) and Z. Tsvetanov (NASA).

But however they decide on the colours, they look lovely anyway! Keep an eye on the favourite images page, because I’m adding more all the time. Or if you like, feel free to send me your favourites and I’ll add them to the page.

A visit to Jodrell April 19, 2011

Posted by Marie in Jodrell Bank, Neutron star, The Jodcast.
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A short while ago, I mentioned that the new visitor centre at Jodrell Bank was about to open (post is here).  As I had a day with nothing specific planned, I decided to take myself off for a visit.

The designers have done nice things with the space available – it’s surrounded by the Cheshire countryside, and the new buildings housing the displays are not too intrusive.  The pathway leads visitors through the different exhibition

Lovell Telescope at Jodrell Bank. Image: Reesiepie

spaces and out towards the largest of the radio telescopes on site.  On such a lovely day it was glorious, and as I sat in a quiet corner, the telescope slewed round gracefully.  She moves quite quickly for a large bird!

The entry/exit building (named The Planet Pavilion) contains the cafe and a (currently very small) shop on one side, and the beginning of the exhibition on the other.  There’s an image of the cosmic microwave background around all of the walls, an orrery, and some interactive computer installations where you can explore the planets, comets and asteroids further.

The Space Pavilion is the next building, which has a large room for lectures

Jodrell Bank. Image: Reesiepie

and a smaller meeting room, as well as the exhibition space itself.  I hope I’m right in thinking that eventually the displays will be added to, as there are a lot of empty walls which have the potential to be used.

The Space Pavilion contains small exhibitions on black holes, gravitational lensing, the big bang, and the opportunity to touch a meteorite.  There’s also a ‘Film Pod’ with some cute short films about the role Jodrell Bank played in the space race, and video journals from people who work in different capacities at Jodrell Bank.

The most interesting part for me was the section on collecting sounds from space.  Put the headphones on, and you’re taken through a symphony from space – what material sounds like when it’s falling into a black hole, or landing on Saturn’s moon Titan, or what noise a pulsar makes (you can listen here to an example I mentioned in an earlier post on the Crab Nebula).  Although, I do think it was either a bit mean or a bit of an oversight not to credit The Jodcast, seeing as the interview being used (between Stuart Lowe and Tim O’Brien) was taken from the August 2008 Extra episode!

You can also see realtime what the Lovell telescope is doing and take home your own printout, as well as listen to the sound of the first million years of the universe compressed into 10 seconds.

The biggest disappointment was the absence of a planetarium – I really feel that it is an opportunity missed by such a prestigious centre.  I suppose it all comes down to funding, but I can’t help thinking it is a big omission.

After a lovely lunch in the cafe, I left still mulling over a statement which I read whilst listening to the sounds of the beginning of the universe:

0.0000000000000000000000000000000000000000001 seconds = the Planck time – before this we don’t understand physics.

We don’t understand physics.   Wow – I have no chance, then!

For Yuri April 12, 2011

Posted by Marie in Gagarin, Moon, Photography, Space travel.
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Monument to the Conquerors of Space reaches for the Moon. Credit: Reesiepie

I took this photograph of the Monument to the Conquerors of Space in Moscow during a visit in 2009.  It was a spontaneous shot, taken quickly as we were about to board a coach.  Although I’m annoyed that the Russian lamp post is in the way, I’m actually quite pleased that you can see the moon, almost as if the rocket is heading for its target.

During my visit, the hotel was really close to the Memorial Museum of Cosmonautics, which is located inside the base of the Monument to the Conquerors of Space.

Memorial Museum of Cosmonautics. Credit: Reesiepie

The monument is a beautiful representation of a rocket rising up into space, supported by its vapour trail, which forms the roof of the entrance to the museum.

The museum itself contains an amazing collection of items.  Among them: the stuffed dogs Belka and Strelka, who went into orbit on Sputnik 5, a full size, walk-through model of the Mir space station, and Yuri Gagarin’s spacesuit.

Today (12th April 2011) marks 50 years since Yuri Gagarin became the first human to orbit the earth, and there are many events taking place to mark this amazing feat.  Yuri is, rightly, a Russian and global hero.  The sad thing is that his life was cut short only 7 years later in an aviation accident – he never again returned to space, as the Soviet Union deemed him too precious to be allowed to go again.

Thanks, Yuri, for your bravery.

Orbiting Earth in the spaceship, I saw how beautiful our planet is. People, let us preserve and increase this beauty, not destroy it!

Yuri Gagarin

Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre April 6, 2011

Posted by Marie in Jodrell Bank.
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I’m really excited about the fact that the totally new Jodrell Bank visitor centre is to open on April 11th 2011.

Artist's impression of the view from the cafe in the admissions building for the new Jodrell Bank discovery centre | University of Manchester/Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios

When I first came to live in Manchester, I remember visiting the original centre, complete with planetarium, and I loved it.  In recent years, the visitor centre became much smaller, which always seemed such a waste of a great opportunity, therefore I can’t wait to see what the new one has to offer.

I’ll have to wait until at least the week after the official opening because I will still be at work, but in the meantime, the new website looks very impressive.

Watch out for my update once I’ve visited.

Crab Nebula March 23, 2011

Posted by Marie in NASA, Nebula, Neutron star, Wonders of the Universe.
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I was watching the third episode of Wonders of the Universe on BBC 2 on Sunday evening, and adored the images of the Crab Nebula, and of the neutron star rotating at its centre.

Image Credit: NASA, ESA, J. Hester, A. Loll (ASU)

The Crab Nebula is the result of a supernova (a star exploding), which was seen on Earth in the year 1054.  It is around 10 light-years across.  In its centre is a pulsar: a neutron star as massive as the Sun but only the size of a small town.  The Crab Pulsar rotates about 30 times each second, and if you’re interested in what that actually sounds like, well here it is.

The television programme also contained images of the pulsar itself – although these are not exactly the same images as used in the programme, this video shows it just as well.  The blue images are in X-ray light, taken by the Chandra X-ray Observatory, and the red images are in optical light from the Hubble Space Telescope (credit: NASA/HST/CXC/SAO).

Cassini approaches Saturn March 15, 2011

Posted by Marie in APOD, Cassini, NASA, Saturn.
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Every day, NASA shares a different image of the universe in what it calls Astronomy Picture of the Day (APOD).  And every now and again, the picture is actually a video.

Today’s is particularly spectacular.  As the Cassini spacecraft approached Saturn, it took thousands of images along the way.  Recently, some of these images have been digitally tweaked, cropped, and compiled into this video.

Credit & Copyright:

Cassini Imaging TeamISSJPLESANASAS. Van Vuuren et al.

For more details, visit the APOD page for today.

Wake up, Discovery, time to boldly go … March 7, 2011

Posted by Marie in ISS, NASA, Space shuttle.
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This morning, as the space shuttle Discovery prepared to leave the International Space Station and return to Earth for the last time ever, a very special wakeup call was provided to the crew.

*like* 🙂

[Video from NASA]

Space Shuttle Discovery’s last launch February 26, 2011

Posted by Marie in ISS, NASA, Space shuttle.
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Discovery launches.

Image credit: NASA/Jeff Marino Feb. 24, 2011

On Thursday evening (UK time), the space shuttle Discovery lifted off from Kennedy Space Center in Florida for the last time before being retired from NASA’s fleet.

It was a bit of a nail-biter, because the Range Safety Officer polled a ‘no-go’ during countdown due to a computer fault.  The issue was rectified with just two seconds to spare! – had this not happened, the launch would have been postponed – again.

But Discovery did, indeed, take off, and it’s worth viewing the video footage as it’s quite spectacular.

The shuttle is taking six crew members, a robonaut (R2),  some spare parts, and a ‘module’  to the International Space Station, which will be like a new room or an extension to the ISS.  (Wonder who chooses the wallpaper?)

Crew member Nicole Stott (@Astro_Nicole) and Robonaut (@AstroRobonaut) will be tweeting from the ISS with their updates.

A few lucky air travellers actually had an unexpected but fantastic view of the launch from the window of their flight from Florida, and shared it on YouTube.  Be amazed!

Black holes February 18, 2011

Posted by Marie in Black hole, Stars.
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Black holes seem to capture people’s imagination for some reason.

I just loved this animation, which was posted by a Twitter friend recently.  You can’t see the animation below, but click on it, and you’ll see the movement of stars tracked from the years 1995 through to 2008 near the proposed black hole at the center of the galaxy.

The star in the middle of the image is where the black hole is supposed to be.  I like watching the orbits of the stars that are in the vicinity of the black hole veer off suddenly as they get near.

These images/animations were created by Prof. Andrea Ghez and her research team at UCLA and are from data sets obtained with the W. M. Keck Telescopes.

Is it too early to have favourites? February 11, 2011

Posted by Marie in Constellations, Look up, Stars.
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It may be early days, but I think I have discovered my favourite constellation already!

Big, beautiful, and instantly recognisable, Orion dominates the (clear!) night sky at this time of year.

I love it for many reasons.  One is that it was the first constellation I learned to recognise – it’s unmistakable.

Another is that the geek in me always thinks of Star Trek when I see it.  Why?  Well the bottom right star (if you’re looking directly at the constellation) is called Rigel, and planets of that name are referenced several times in Trek films and TV episodes.  (Sorry.)

Third reason – Betelgeuse, at the top left ‘shoulder’, was the first time I realised that not all stars are white.  Even to the naked eye, Betelgeuse is orangey-red.  Go on, go and have a look.  And it is e-nor-mous.

Look at this:

If  Betelgeuse was placed where our sun is, it would almost fill up to the edge of Saturn’s orbit.  Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars and Jupiter – gone!

I came home from work recently, in the rain, with a dark, cloud-filled sky.  No chance of looking up and seeing anything.  Later that evening, I went to get something from the car, and Orion literally took my breath away.  The clouds had cleared, and I hadn’t expected to see it there; it was just magnificent.  It’s around for a while longer, so go and admire!

Ophiuchus – the ‘new’ zodiac sign? January 29, 2011

Posted by Marie in Astrology, Astronomy, Bad Astronomy, Constellations.
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As it’s my birthday today, I thought I would reflect on the effect the stars have on me because of the day I was born.  So here is my conclusion:


Earlier this month, I noticed that the word Ophiuchus was trending on Twitter.  Now aside from it being a strange word to see,  I also thought it odd because of what it was.

With my (still) limited knowledge of astronomy, I at least know that Ophiuchus is a constellation in the night sky.  Wikipedia tells me its name is from the Greek meaning serpent-bearer,  and that it was one of the 48 constellations originally listed by the 2nd-century astronomer Ptolemy.

2nd century? Hardly counts as new, then.  So why the fuss?

Well, my research (sounds good doesn’t it, but basically I googled it!) uncovered this:

Ophiuchus is a constellation lying between Scorpius and Sagittarius, but it’s not counted as a zodiac sign.  The sun’s path takes it through the constellations which are recognized as the 12 zodiac signs (Aquarius, Pisces etc).  The sun also passes through Ophiuchus, but because Ophiuchus is much fainter than Scorpius next to it, it’s not included in the zodiac.  On top of that, it wouldn’t have been good to have 13 constellations – too unlucky!

So Ophiuchus got bumped.

If you’re interested to know why the ‘new zodiac sign’ began trending in the first place, Phil Plait explains it much better than I ever could in this article.

If you’re interested in knowing what your ‘new’ horoscope will be, you can look here.

I was also amused to read these people reacting to the fact that they are now a different star sign.

Apparently I’m no longer an Aquarian, I’m a Capricorn.  Whatever that means.  As I said:


One thing’s for sure though – I now know how to spell Ophiuchus!

2011 – a year of looking up December 31, 2010

Posted by Marie in 365 Days of Astronomy, Look up, The Jodcast.

For most of my life, I’ve had an amateur fascination with the universe, stars, planets etc.  When I say amateur, what I actually mean is total beginner, because I have no background in science whatsoever.  You can’t count my failed attempts at school many years ago, which was the last time I ever formally tried to understand anything scientific.  I remember watching Carl Sagan’s series Cosmos on TV when I was young and being amazed by his descriptions of the vastness of our universe, and our place in it (more about Cosmos later).  I’ve held this fascination ever since, and I love watching TV programmes and listening to podcasts on this theme, even though I still don’t always understand everything!

In November 2009, I went to a live recording of The Jodcast, a fab astronomy podcast produced by astronomers based at the University of Manchester’s Jodrell Bank .  2010 then found me watching the BBC’s Wonders of the Solar System and catching up with myriad 365 Days of Astronomy podcasts (and others) and although often overwhelmed, still loving the experience of discovery.

Therefore, my challenge for 2011 is to feed my fascination, and to blog about this experience of discovery.  By this time next year, I want to be able to look up and know even more about what I see, understand a tiny fraction of what’s up there.  And hopefully have some fun learning!

I hope you’ll follow me on my journey.

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