Yearly Archives: 2003

The Shiny Mountains of Venus

Strange Venus

The astronomer Victor A. Firsoff in his book, The Solar Planets (1977), wrote: “I once described Earth and Venus as ‘non-identical twins.’ It used to be thought that their differences were more apparent than real. But in the words of … Continue reading

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THE SUN — Our Variable Star

The changing Sun

This article updated on 25 Nov 2003 “Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of the growth in our understanding of the universe is that we understand anything at all.” – Martin Harwit, from a talk given at the American Physical Society’s … Continue reading

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Comets & Lightning Jets

Snowball comets

I recently picked up a second-hand book titled “The Big Splash” by Dr. Louis Frank of the University of Iowa. Although it was published in 1990, the issues it raised remain unresolved. The cover proclaims excitedly in large bold type: … Continue reading

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Mysterious Mars

Mars from the Hubble telescope

Today, 27 August, at 9.51 am GMT, Mars will be a mere 56 million kilometres from Earth, the closest it has been since 57,617 BC. The claim that Neanderthals 60 millennia ago witnessed a Mars approach similar to what we … Continue reading

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Spiral Galaxies & Grand Canyons

Mars +spiral galaxy

The grandest canyon in the solar system is Valles Marineris on Mars. It stretches a third of the way around the planet. But what in heaven can spiral galaxies have to do with the geology of Mars? In October 2001, … Continue reading

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Puzzling Star Stuff

“Twinkle, twinkle little star. How I wonder what you are.” In a report for the New Scientist of 26 July, titled ‘The Sun Catcher,’ Hazel Muir writes about the daring exploits required to retrieve samples of the Sun to be … Continue reading

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Planet Birthing – more evidence

Planet birth

In my May news item I wrote, “It is far simpler and infinitely more efficient if planets are “born” at intervals by the electrical ejection of charged material from the similarly charged interiors of larger bodies – gas giants from … Continue reading

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Squashed Star Flattens Solar Theory


The following report appeared in New Scientist for 12 June 2003: Flattest star puts astronomers in a spin Danny Penman The flattest star yet seen is forcing researchers to revise their ideas on the dynamics and structure of celestial bodies. … Continue reading

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Planet Birthing

Planetary disk

Dan Falk prefaced a recent news report in Nature, on the subject of planet formation, with these words: “Our knowledge of planets outside our Solar System has been transformed in the past few years. But these new-found worlds don’t look … Continue reading

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SETI – The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence

Centaurus A

“Next we come to a question that everyone, scientist and non-scientist alike, must have asked at some time. What is man’s place in the Universe?” – The Nature of the Universe, Fred Hoyle. In March this year 13,000 people from … Continue reading

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