There’s going to be an evening of astro events out at Sussex University next Wednesday, January 18th. Stargazing, an inflatable planetarium, and the Ensonglopedia of science—fun for all the family!
Tuesday, January 10th, 2017
Monday, December 26th, 2016
One might think sending messages to other stars would be a massive, expensive job. No. It isn’t. The Cosmic Call was essentially a crowdfunded hobby project.
Saturday, October 29th, 2016
We find that the detected signals have exactly the shape of an ETI signal predicted in the previous publication and are therefore in agreement with this hypothesis.
Thursday, June 30th, 2016
The website for Brighton’s astronomy meet up:
Every month we will have one or two talks aimed at beginners with an interest in learning more about astronomy, but assuming no prior knowledge.
Also, we will take our telescopes out to observe in and around Brighton on clear evenings - on the seafront, Hove and Preston Park, Devil’s Dyke and beyond.
Saturday, May 24th, 2014
A free PDF download from NASA on all things SETI, specifically the challenges of interspecies interstellar communication.
Thursday, November 14th, 2013
A beautiful exploration of the Star Axis sculpture—an artwork of the Long Now.
The ancients had pyramids to tame the sky’s mystery. We have Star Axis, a masterpiece forty years in the making.
Tuesday, October 15th, 2013
Jocelyn Bell Burnell
When most people see Peter Saville’s iconic cover for Unknown Pleasures, they think of Joy Division and the tragically early death of lead singer Ian Curtis. But whenever I come across variations of FACT 10, I see a tribute to Jocelyn Bell Burnell.
The album’s artwork is an inverted version of an illustration from the Cambridge Encyclopedia of Astronomy (which brings up all sorts of fascinating questions about Saville’s “remixing” of the original). It represents a series of pulses from CP 1919, the first pulsar ever discovered.
The regularity of the radio pulses is what caused the source to be initially labelled LGM-1, standing for “Little Green Men.” But the actual cause of the speed and regularity turned out to be equally stunning: a magnetised incredibly massive neutron star rotating once every 1.3373 seconds.
Pulsars keep their regularity for millions of years. They are the lighthouses of their host galaxies. When Carl Sagan was designing the Pioneer plaque and the Voyager golden record, he included a pulsar map that pointed the way to Earth—a decision that was criticised by many for inviting potentially hostile attention.
That first pulsar— CP 1919 (or LGM-1)—was discovered by Jocelyn Bell Burnell on November 28, 1967 while she was still a PH.d student, using the radio telescope she helped build. In fact, she discovered the first four pulsars. In 1974, the Nobel Prize in physics was, for the first time, awarded to an astronomer. It went to her Professor, Antony Hewish.
Jocelyn Bell Burnell herself claims no animosity on this point, but I can’t help but wonder if the committee might have made a different decision had the discoverer of one of the most important astronomical finds of the twentieth century had been a man.
She describes how the Daily Mail ran the pulsar discovery story with the headline Girl Discovers Little Green Men:
They did not know what to do with a young female scientist, you were a young female, you were page three, you weren’t a scientist.
For a fascinating insight into the career of Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell, I highly recommend listening to Jim al-Khalili’s interview with her on BBC 4’s The Life Scientific.
Friday, July 26th, 2013
A gorgeous interactive visualisation of our local galactic neighbourhood.
Sunday, June 23rd, 2013
Defending Earth against asteroids, just like the Spaceguard organisation described in Rendezvous With Rama.
Detect. Deflect. Defend.
Wednesday, May 8th, 2013
Zooniverse have done it again. Now you can help in the hunt for sources of gravitational lensing.
It’s informative. It’s fun. It has genuine scientific value.
Sunday, October 21st, 2012
Peter Saville talks about the enduring appeal of his cover for Unknown Pleasures.
I like to think of all the variations and mashups as not just tributes to Joy Division, but tributes to Jocelyn Bell Burnell too.
Wednesday, February 29th, 2012
This is not only the single most important human endeavour that you can participate in, it is also ridiculously gorgeous.
Friday, September 9th, 2011
The story behind one of the winning photographs at this year’s Astronomy Photographer Of The Year that I was lucky enough to attend. This is beautiful.
Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011
Would you like SETI to resume sweeping the skies in search of extraterrestrial life? Now you can put your money behind re-kickstarting that noble mission.
Monday, February 28th, 2011
The travelling time is underway. I’m in Denmark right now, leading an HTML5 workshop at NoMA, the Nordic Multimedia Academy, and thanks to some excellent questions from the students, it’s all going smoothly.
Last week I was in Belgium for the Phare conference, which also went smoothly. I enjoyed giving my presentation and I really enjoyed the excellent hospitality of the Ghentians.
While I was in Belgium, the occasion of my fortieth birthday arrived with a sense of long-foreseen inevitability. I spent it in Bruges.
Four zero. The big four oh. Two squared times ten. The answer to life, the universe and everything minus two.
The photons that were reflected from Earth at the time of my birth are arriving at GJ 1214 b. Or, to put in another way, the light that left GJ 1214 at the moment of my birth is entering our solar system, perhaps even reaching the retinas of human beings somewhere on this planet who happen to be looking into just the right part of the sky at just the right time.
Thursday, December 16th, 2010
Another great Zooniverse project: find planets by looking for tell-tale signs of light distortion from distant stars.
Tuesday, December 7th, 2010
The latest Zooniverse project is a beauty: you can help spot bubbles in infra-red images of nebulae.
Saturday, December 4th, 2010
A blog documenting printed visions of space exploration in the form of children's books.
Saturday, September 11th, 2010
I was invited along to the 2010 Astronomy Photographer of the Year awards ceremony in Greenwich but alas, I wasn't able to make it. Looks like it was fantastic.
Wednesday, April 28th, 2010
The search for Dyson spheres.