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My talk to Peterborough has been postponed from the beginning of October to November 6th because I am hoping to visit The Netherlands for a week to tour their astronomical sites. They are celebrating the fourth centenary of their invention of the telescope. I am grateful to Peterborough for letting me move the talk and as soon as I know more about the trip I’ll put it into my blog.

I have a new story posted over at ESA.

“In November 2008, the ministers responsible for space activities in ESA's member states and Canada will gather in The Hague to set the course of Europe’s space programme over the period ahead. They will be invited to endorse the next stages in a series of ongoing programmes and to commit to the start of new programmes. …”


For those of us in the UK, the most important aspect of this story is at the end of the story: the UK is currently in negotiation with ESA to site a new ESA facility in Oxfordshire.  What a boost to the UK’s sadly beleagued space industry this would be.

Read the full story for free here.

I had a great time meeting some of my readers at the Edinburgh Literary Festival, including my maths teacher from twenty years ago and three hundred miles away.  I was there to talk about my Deep Space book and my presentation was reviewed by Scottish novelist Alan Bissett and published on line by The List.

I have a new story published over at ESA:


“ESA’s orbiting X-ray observatory XMM-Newton has discovered the most massive cluster of galaxies seen in the distant Universe until now. The galaxy cluster is so big that there can only be a handful of them at that distance, making this a rare catch indeed. The discovery confirms the existence of dark energy. …”


Read the full article for free here:

I have a new story just published at ESA:

“Oxygen is constantly leaking out of Earth’s atmosphere and into space. Now, ESA’s formation-flying quartet of satellites, Cluster, has discovered the physical mechanism that is driving the escape. It turns out that the Earth’s own magnetic field is accelerating the oxygen away. …”


Read the full story for free here:

As those of you who read this page regularly will know, I often play guitar in various local and regional productions. This last week, I have been performing in a specially licensed version of Jeff Wayne’s The War of the Worlds. Don’t for a moment confuse this with the official production that has been touring arenas around the country. To find out more about that, click here. This was a smaller, dramatic presentation staged by The Hertfordshire Players and performed at the open-air Minack Theatre in Cornwall.

The Minack Theatre generously awarded The Hertfordshire Players’ show, Jeff Wayne’s The War of the Worlds, their trophy for 2008. Read about it here

I have a new story published on the ESA website:
“Scientists are now able to better explain why Mars’s residual southern ice cap is misplaced, thanks to data from ESA’s Mars Express spacecraft - the Martian weather system is to blame. And so is the largest impact crater on Mars – even though it is nowhere near the south pole. …”


Read the full article for free here

New Scientist issue 2675
I have contributed to a special feature in New Scientist

“It's the place we call home, but there is much about planet Earth that remains frustratingly unknown. How did it form from a cloud of dust? How did it manage to nurture life? And just what is going on deep within its core? New Scientist investigates these and other fundamental questions about our beautiful, enigmatic world.”

I have a new story published on the ESA website:

“Scientists using ESA’s Venus Express are trying to observe whether Earth is habitable. Silly, you might think, when we know that Earth is richly stocked with life. In fact, far from being a pointless exercise, Venus Express is paving the way for an exciting new era in astronomy. …”



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