Sky at Night Magazine

New article – “Light Revolution” – in Sky at Night Magazine

lightrevolutionopenerOpener image for my latest piece in Sky at Night Magazine. Credit: Sky at Night Magazine

I have a new feature in the latest issue of Sky at Night Magazine all about light pollution and what the future might hold for our view of the night sky. Specifically, the piece explores recent changes in lighting practices and the rise of LED street lighting technology. You’ll find the article, called ‘Light revolution’, on pages 40-46 of the April issue, which is on sale now.

Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2011 results night

Video courtesy of Sky at Night Magazine. Remember to select the 720p HD option.

Two weeks ago I, and the rest of the Sky at Night Magazine team, travelled to Greenwich for the 2011 Astronomy Photography of the Year awards night. You’ll no doubt have seen many of the winning images splashed across the pages of newspapers, websites and blogs over recent weeks.

This was arguably the most difficult year to judge so far, with an astounding array of superb images submitted from all over the world. Above is the video we made on the awards night, which includes an interview with the overall winner Damian Peach whose stunning image of Jupiter, Io and Ganymede you’ll see below. I’ve also embedded below an excellent video profile of Damian, which was made by Lonelyleap Film for the Royal Observatory, Greenwich.

The overall winning image — Jupiter with two of its moons, Io & Ganymede. Credit: Damian Peach

Video courtesy of Royal Observatory, Greenwich/Lonelyleap.

New article: “Islands of darkness”

I’ve written an article for the new issue of Sky at Night Magazine about the first International Dark Sky Places to be set up in and around the UK.

From Galloway Forest Park in Scotland to the island of Sark in the Channel Islands these places are home to some of the darkest night skies we have in this part of the world. They are havens for astronomers faced with the ever-growing blight of light pollution – rare places from where we can view the unspoilt night skies in all their beauty.

The article explores how these sites came to be recognised as International Dark Sky Places and what effect their new statuses are having on their surrounding regions. The piece also looks at what the future holds for some of the other dark sky locations across the country while highlighting a few places that may apply for this special designation soon.

You’ll find the feature – entitled ‘Islands of darkness’ – on pages 26-31 of the July 2011 issue of Sky at Night Magazine, available from all good newsagents.

Simple selenological science explained

There was a certain level of bemusement in the Sky at Night Magazine office a few weeks ago when I brought in a bag of flour, part of a fridge and a torch for the filming of the latest vodcast.

All should be revealed now though, as the new episode went online today. The video covers some of the basics of lunar observing, with a bit of a practical twist; to explain a few of the concepts I set up some simple demonstrations using everyday household items.

If you’ve ever wondered why the low Moon is orange sometimes or what creates the dramatic bright streaks across the full Moon, this episode is one to watch. I’ve embedded it below and, as usual, for the best quality view click the 720p HD button.

Credit: Sky at Night Magazine

New article – How to see the aurora from the UK

Last year there were some beautiful images of the aurora borealis submitted to Astronomy Photographer of the Year. I’ve only ever seen the Northern Lights from the West Country once, many years ago, and even then it was little more than a faint ruby-red glow on the northern horizon. But that was enough to whet my appetite and make me want to see them properly.

For this reason, a few months ago, I set out to learn exactly what would have to happen to create a big auroral display across most of UK, including southern England. The results of my research can be found in my new article in the February 2011 Sky at Night Magazine. In it I interview solar scientist Dr Jim Wild and aurora hunter Martin McKenna, to get their advice on what we should look out for. Over the next few years, as the Sun reaches the more active part of its cycle, we may get a visit from the Northern Lights so now’s the time to swot up. The magazine is on sale next week; pick up your copy to get prepared.

Vodcast from the Salisbury Star Party 2010

Last Friday I visited the Salisbury Star Party, in Wiltshire, to film a report for an episode of the Sky at Night Magazine vodcast. It was a great day of filming (despite the occasional rain shower) and everyone I talked to was really friendly and enthusiastic. The video is now online and I’ve embedded it below. Hopefully it gives a flavour of what the event is all about.

Be sure to click the 720p HD button for the best quality playback.

Video credit: Sky at Night Magazine

New S@N Magazine article: ‘Return to the Moon’

I have the cover feature of July’s Sky At Night Magazine with an article entitled ‘Return to the Moon’, about NASA’s Constellation programme and the plans to send astronauts back to the Moon. In the feature I look at the how the programme is progressing, the various stages in a Constellation lunar mission, as well as how some of the key bits of new/proposed hardware and rocket technology compare to their counterparts of the Apollo era. Meanwhile if you want to look back on Apollo’s great achievements, what better place to start than the BBC’s own archive of footage about the first manned Moon missions.

Image courtesy: NASA & Sky At Night Magazine

New asteroid article in Sky At Night Magazine

I have a new article in Sky At Night Magazine this month, about asteroids, addressing a topic that I’ve often wondered about and one I’ve heard asked about quite a lot recently (especially after things like this happen) — “why do we miss some spacerocks and why do we spot some of them so late?”. It turns out there are a few reasons, and thankfully there are several things that are being done about it. If you want to get the whole story though you’ll have to see pages 39-43 of the June issue.