Posts Tagged ‘astronomy’

Solar eclipse review

Friday, March 27th, 2015 | Events, Video

Massively disappointing.

I sat in Leeds city centre to watch it and it was so cloudy that you could look at it with the naked eye (I did try with the glasses but you could not see anything through them). If you didn’t know that the eclipse was taking place, you could have easily not noticed it was happening.

I could have taken my friends up on their kind invitation to visit them in the Faroe Islands, but there too it was cloudy. The only place you could see it without cloud cover was Svalbard, which as you will no doubt know, is a fictional place made up by Philip Pullman for his His Dark Materials trilogy.

Still, at least the wonders of modern technology allowed me to watch it live on my tablet.

I have actually witnessed a total solar eclipse before as we were in Northern France for the 1999 one, which was pretty magical. Standing on the beach as the entire sky went dark. Not quite the same set by a train track in Leeds city centre watching the sky go almost imperceptibly dimmer…

Surfin’ Bird

Saturday, March 9th, 2013 | Thoughts


Often, our society fails to give scientists the credit they deserve.

Take homo erectus for example. A lot of scientists have had a lot of laughs out of the fact that they managed to convince the world that homo erectus was the name of an evolutionary step (which it is of course) and not just a really silly name they thought they would try their luck with.

But nowhere is it more clear than the people who study using the many telescopes located in Hawaii.

At some point in human history, a scientist when to a grant panel, and the grant panel asked them where the best place to put a telescope would be. Said scientist must have then looked at them slowly and sensing they trusted their judgement, decided to try their luck once again.

“Hawaii!” the scientist would have said, trying to sound more confident than they really were.

“Hawaii?” the chair of the grant panel would have enquired. “Why would Hawaii be the best place to put a telescope?”

“Well…” replies the scientist, trying to think on their feet as fast as they possibly could. “It’s the altitude you see!” “The altitude? Hawaii is an island, surely it is at sea level?” “Yes… but those mountains are very tall! Very tall indeed!”

“Seems like there would be a lot of places at high altitude. Are you sure you’re not just making this up so you can go live on a tropical island and go surfing every day?” “No, no” replies the scientist, “Hawaii has the tallest mountains and the clearest skies – it has to be Hawaii.”

“Well then”, says the grant panel chair, slamming down his approved stamp, “I guess that is that.” Thus began a golden age for science…

Happy Galileo Day

Wednesday, February 15th, 2012 | Distractions

Happy Galileo Day!