2008 so far…

Well it’s been a long time since a post due to an extraordinarily busy time (without-Internet) over the festive season, but I am finally back from Germany and connected to the blogosphere again. A lot has happened in the astronomy world in the past month and a bit, not least the AAS astronomy meeting in Austin, Texas; the announcement of Virgin Galactic’s new SpaceShipTwo; the continuing threat of cuts to UK astronomy and physics and loads of absolutely awesome space stuff like the Messenger probe to Mercury!

Apparently also Bigfoot’s been hiding on Mars!? Well not really. It’s actually a small rock only a few metres from Spirit. Just a little rock that has been victim of a media hyping frenzy – nothing else. If you don’t believe me then I refer you to the many great explanations by Chris, Emily and the master himself Phil. What I found most disappointing about this story, is something which Emily at the Planetary Society touches on. Everyone is concentrating on the little pixellated corner of the image that might or might not look vaguely like something that it really isn’t.

But to everyone who’s mesmerized by the little rock; Open up the full size panorama on Emily’s blog. Take a look at Spirit and Opportunity’s other images. Aren’t those views so much cooler? Look – dust devils, meteorites and volcanoes! Those rovers are on the surface of Mars trundling around and exploring; carrying out amazing new science on Mars showing us what Mars is like and what it might have been like in its past. That’s a fact! My jaw dropped when I read one news outlet’s coverage of this story that said that scientists had been originally disappointed with the views from the Rovers! What? I don’t know of anyone who was disappointed with this!

Anyway, back to Earth! I’ve just started in my new job with BBC Sky At Night magazine so look out for my first feature in the March issue of the magazine! I’ve been talking to lots of nice people on the radio over the past couple of weeks about various missions and what we can look forward to in the night sky, so hello to everyone who was listening to BBC radio stations in Oxford, Jersey, Three Counties and Kent. Also tune in to BBC Radio Oxford tomorrow morning where you can hear Phil Mercer and I chatting about the Messenger mission to Mercury. Stay tuned for more.

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