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Flags announcing the Sharjah International Book Fair line the bridge my car crosses and welcome me to the United Arab Emirates.  Actually that’s not quite true.  I feel the welcome first from of a friendly immigration officer who did his job with style and good humour – teasing me that my name is the same as a famous cricketer. “It is; I wrestle with him for top-spot on Google,” I jibe back and we chat some more as he checks my passport.  What a change from the often surly, suspicious treatment that is dolled out by most western immigrations officers.

Let’s celebrate!  Today sees the UK publication of The Sky’s Dark Labyrinth in paperback.   Brought forward from 2012 because demand for the hardback was threatening to outstrip supply, I can’t say thank you enough to all of you who have supported this project.  Who’d have thought that a novel about the history of astronomy would become so popular? You can download the promo sheet here.

I have a new story published by ESA.

ESA's Rosetta spacecraft has revealed asteroid Lutetia to be a primitive body, left over as the planets were forming in our Solar System. Results from Rosetta's fleeting flyby also suggest that this mini-world tried to grow a metal heart.

Click the Read more link below the tags if you cannot see the full story already.



I have a new story published by ESA:

This video catches the moment when a Draconid meteor exploded in Earth's atmosphere earlier this month. The dramatic footage comes from a campaign to observe this important meteor shower using aircraft to beat the clouds.

Click the Read more link below the tags if you cannot see the full story already.

Confessions of a Cultural Idiot is the (great) name of a blog.  Here’s the review they posted of my lecture at the Dunlap Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics, University of Toronto.  My grateful thanks to this particular ‘cultural idiot’ – who clearly ‘got it’ – so perhaps not such an idiot after all!

I share the cover story on New Scientist this week.  The issue is a special devoted to the nature of time and I wrote the introductory article: What is Time? Here’s a preview:

“WHAT is time? It is a question that has occupied some of the greatest minds, from the ancient philosophers to the scientists of the Enlightenment and beyond.

I have a new story published by ESA:

Newly released images taken by ESA’s Mars Express show an unusual accumulation of young craters in the large outflow channel called Ares Vallis. Older craters have been reduced to ghostly outlines by the scouring effects of ancient water.

I have a new story published by ESA:

ESA’s Venus Express spacecraft has discovered an ozone layer high in the atmosphere of Venus. Comparing its properties with those of the equivalent layers on Earth and Mars will help astronomers refine their searches for life on other planets.

I have a new story published by ESA:

ESA's Herschel infrared space observatory has found water in a comet with almost exactly the same composition as Earth's oceans. The discovery revives the idea that our planet's seas could once have been giant icebergs floating through space.

I have a new story published by ESA:

“The powerful influence of the Sun and the nature of the mysterious 'dark energy' motivate ESA’s next two science missions. Solar Orbiter and Euclid were selected today by ESA's Science Programme Committee for implementation, with launches planned for 2017 and 2019. ...”



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