The Guardian: Comet Ison: how to spot it

28 November, 2013

I have a new article for Across the Universe, published by The Guardian:


"Some advice on how to see the comet if it survives its fiery encounter with the sun on Thursday. Even it breaks apart it should provide a spectacular, but brief show


If Comet Ison survives its trial by fire as it buzzes the sun on Thursday, it should light up night skies during December. Pete Lawrence, the BBC's The Sky At Night presenter, sent through the following advice for those in the northern hemisphere wanting to see the comet. Unfortunately, the comet will not be visible from the southern hemisphere. ..."


Read the full article here.

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The Guardian: Comet Ison to light up morning skies in the run-up to Christmas

25 November, 2013

I have a new article published by The Guardian:


"The best time to see Ison in the UK will be the first two weeks of December – if it survives a close encounter with the sun.


If it survives an encounter with the sun this week, comet Ison will put on an impressive early morning display in the run-up to Christmas. But anyone hoping for a Bethlehem-style celestial sign on the big day will be disappointed. By then the comet will probably be too faint to see with a naked eye.


Ison is currently speeding towards a fiery encounter on Thursday, which could destroy it. It will pass 720,000 miles above the solar surface, 130 times closer than our planet ever reaches.


The intense sunlight will heat the comet to about 2,700C, speeding up its evaporation. In the past some comets have been seen to vaporise under such an onslaught. ..."


Read the full story here.

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Habitable Planets Cover Story: Science Uncovered Issue 1

22 November, 2013

I am extremely pleased to announce that a new popular science magazine has started in the UK and that I've been working with them for several months because they kindly asked me to write their very first cover story.  Science Uncovered is a monthly magazine from Future Publishing. Their website says, "Science Uncovered brings together renowned scientists from around the globe to explain how the world around you works. From the far reaches of the Universe to the inner workings of your brain, these experts will provide you with a window into the very boundaries of our knowledge. You'll be able to peer into the future and see how today's breakthroughs will change how we live."


My cover story is titled Closing in on alien life: discover the planets most likely to host our neighbours. Issue 1 is available now from newsagents and supermarkets, or online. Best of all, the first issue only costs £1.

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European GOCE satellite falling to Earth – stay calm

19 November, 2013

I have a new story published on my Guardian blog, Across the Universe:


The European GOCE satellite is falling uncontrollably to Earth but no one need worry too much...


A one-tonne satellite is falling uncontrollably towards the Earth. It is expected to hit sometime late this weekend or early next week. No one knows exactly when or where it will smash down but it is likely to fragment into 25-45 pieces en route.


Written in those terms it sounds like pretty scary stuff, and indeed the news is making headlines across the web. Many seem to have been triggered by a piece in the New York Times, titled Satellite Will Fall to Earth, But No One Is Sure Where.


You can read the full article here.

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Inside Science on BBC Radio 4

24 October, 2013

Today on Radio 4 you can hear me talking about the discoveries of exo-planets, systems of planets orbiting other stars. Astronomers have just passed the 1000 mark on the scoreboard, but we have yet to identify a twin to Earth. I am being interviewed on Inside Science at 16.30 and 21.00 hrs.
If you miss it live, you can hear the programme here. The interview starts about a quarter of an hour into the broadcast.

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Book Review: Voyager

20 October, 2013

I am grateful to Lee Billings who has written a most favourable review of my book Voyager: 101 Wonders between Earth and the Edge of the Cosmos, published this year in the United States by Atlantic Books who published it here in the UK a couple of years ago for Waterstones. This latest and colourfully written review appears in  the magazine Scientific American.


If you would like to read it please click here.

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Tags: Voyager

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