What Jupiter and Saturn did next

This month has been something of an afterparty for the great conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn at the end of last year. The two giant planets are still fairly close together, and easy to find. On 2 August Saturn was at opposition, which means it was directly opposite the Sun in the sky, and shiningContinue reading “What Jupiter and Saturn did next”

Did solar eclipses help kick-start human curiosity?

Astronomy magazine has published an article I wrote about the pump of curiosity. For fun, we can ask two questions. First, are the kind of solar eclipses we experience on Earth rare within the universe? Second, have solar eclipses had any impact on the development of nature? In a forthcoming paper in Proceedings of theContinue reading “Did solar eclipses help kick-start human curiosity?”

The May-June 2021 eclipse season

EarthSky has re-printed our timeanddate.com article about the forthcoming eclipse season: a total lunar eclipse on May 26, and an annular solar eclipse on June 10. Between the years 1600 and 2599, there are 2108 eclipse seasons. Of these, 126 seasons contain a pair of full eclipses: one total or annular solar eclipse, plus oneContinue reading “The May-June 2021 eclipse season”

Sharing the sky

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”

Eclipses: a pump of curiosity?

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?”

Earth in a spin

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”

Visualizing the music of the spheres

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”