Global Astronomy Month is in full swing… Led by Astronomers Without Borders — and supported by timeanddate.com — the event is a global celebration of the Universe. The biggest event in the sky during the month is a conjunction of the Moon and Mars on April 17.
Back in February 2017, an annular solar eclipse swept across the southern hemisphere, and ended at sunset in central Africa. I was privileged to be with a fabulous team of educators at the Instituto Superior de Ciências de Educação do Huambo (ISCED) in Angola. Recently, a teacher at ISCED, Eugênio Calei, contacted me about obtainingContinue reading “Sharing the sky”
Even though the wiring of the human brain evolved in an exceptional way, if novelty had remained below a certain threshold, early humans may not have received a sufficient trigger to begin forming the concept of reasons. My accepted manuscript for the Proceedings of the International Astronomical Union Symposium No. 367, 2021, is available underContinue reading “Eclipses: a pump of curiosity?”
The Earth … has been spinning unusually fast lately. 2020 included the 28 shortest days since 1960. Image: timeanddate.com Our timeanddate.com story on the Earth’s quickening rotation is generating a lot of interest, from the Daily Express to Live Science to USA Today. Update (17 January): There’s also coverage of the story in Spanish-language media,Continue reading “Earth in a spin”
We have known for thousands of years that the sky is full of harmonies and rhythms. Pythagoras called it the “music of the spheres.” As part of the build-up to next week’s great conjunction, Steffen Thorsen (CEO of timeanddate.com) and I have written a piece for Sky & Telescope on the pattern of closer-than-usual approachesContinue reading “Visualizing the music of the spheres”
The Milky Way contains 100 billion stars. So where is everybody? (The spacecraft shown in this artist’s impression is one of ours: it’s ESA’s Gaia space observatory.)Image credit: ESA/ATG medialab; background: ESO/S. Brunier One of the highlights of IAUS 367 is Nikos Prantzos, from the Institut d’Astrophysique de Paris, on “the quest for extraterrestrial intelligenceContinue reading “Extraterrestrial intelligence and the Fermi paradox”
The International Astronomical Union Symposium 367 gets underway on 8 December. I’m giving a poster presentation on the pump of curiosity. Go to a PDF version of the presentation A paper will be included in the online version of the IAUS 367 proceedings (to be published by Cambridge University Press next year).
I’ll be presenting “Solar eclipses: A pump of curiosity for early humans?” at the International Astronomical Union Symposium 367 next month. The symposium was originally scheduled to take place in San Carlos de Bariloche, Argentina, close to the path of totality for the 14 December solar eclipse. However, covid-19 restrictions mean it will now beContinue reading “Extending the Rare Earth hypothesis”
“The distribution of solar flares is similar to earthquakes: we have many small solar flares, and a big one is very rare. However, when a big flare occurs, the impact on our economy and society may be enormous. Satellites may be damaged, and the electrical power grid may be damaged over a very wide area.Continue reading “Predicting solar flares”
My recent article for I-M on solar eclipses and the Fermi paradox is now available online. As Daniel C Dennett, a philosopher and cognitive scientist, has observed, searching for explanations is a central feature of our species. Where does our sense of curiosity come from? As an exercise in fun speculation, I propose it couldContinue reading “Where did our sense of curiosity come from?”