Earth II? Or would you prefer "GLIESE 581 C"?

A planet which is suspected to be the closet resemblance to Earth has been seen, and its a neighbour.

Just 20 light years away (almost in touching distance) around the star Gliese 581 is a planet not much bigger than Earth (1.5x). It orbits much closer to its star than the Earth does to the Sun, and takes only 13 “Earth” days to orbit. However, the star Gliese is much smaller and weaker than the Sun so a planet orbiting that close would actually have temperatures very similair to Earth, in fact within the temperature limit that would allow liquid water to exist on the surface.

All this has been estimated from the slight wobble of the star seen from Earth, which is created when a something large orbits around, although the effect is very small.

This would make an ideal candidate for the upcoming planet hunting space telescopes, designed to image planets around stars – unfortunately, we still have to wait several decades for this to be achieved…

More info here: (The discovers)

Serenity showing for Charity

Well I can’t believe my luck…

I’ve become, almost overnight, a browncoat. (No, not a tramp…)

Browncoats are what fans of Firefly/Serenity call themselves, and in the last few weeks when I started watching the show I’m definately one of them. Even now when I’ve got a pile full of Open university work to get through, I’m surfing the web for info on the show…

…and I’m glad I have because I came upon something I think is an amazing coincidence. Apparently, there’s going to be a charitable showing of Serenity AND the firefox pilot just 20 minutes up the road from where I live! This is a global event happening across 51 cities throught out the world.

Here’s the website with the full listing:

But the one I’m interested in, in oxford at the the “Ultimate Picture Palace”:

And as a bonus, all proceeds will be going to the charity “Equality Now”:

I must say, I can’t wait! (And of course, my girlfriend is sure to want to come too…)

UPDATE: Also, as your already no doubt a fan of Firefly, go here and vote: Come on, we can beat those Xena pushovers… (!)

Is this flight tax? It's certainly not fair tax.

Usually, I support taxes, at least in principle or until something better comes along. But this story (below) REALLY gets me going…

You win a prize, an amazing astonishing superb prize of flying into space, of becoming an astronaunt. But then it hits you, that’s got to be expensive for someone… but wait, that means…

Un – believe – able.

But on much better news, A new competition has just opened up and this one’s in England, so, as far as I know, shouldn’t have the hidden costs attached…

Petitions and light pollution.

The UK goverment now lets people create online petitions which amongst others, the prime minister will see. Not a bad idea.

If you want to have a look click here:

Also note that these few petitions are for solutions to the problem of light pollution, something which I get quite annoyed about, so please go ahead and support these ideas, I don’t see why you wouldn’t want to.

Some people don’t even realise that there should be 1000’s of stars visible in the night sky, a view which makes us far to inward looking. Also, less light pollution equals less electricity used, so less greenhouses gases released as well as less pollution. It’s a no lose decision!

#flag: “Light pollution”, Petitions

Earth Now

A nice website from ESA. Real time (or close) pictures of the Earth from an orbiting Satellite. Click on the pictures to the left to see what part of the World they are from, if you click on subsequent photo’s you can trace the path of the satellite.

Click on the little small icon on each picture to see a larger image.

See if you can see England – every time I’ve looked its completly covered in cloud!

#flag: ESA, Earth

Planets and plutons

Are we soon to expand our solar sytem to include more planets?

Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Ceres, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto, Charon and 2003 UB313 ?

Ceres orbits in teh asteroid belt, Charon was a moon of Pluto but now Pluto and Charon are two planets (or plutons) orbiting each other. 2003 UB313 (provisional name – thank goodness!) is one further out even than pluto, but thought to be much bigger.

Any suggestions for 2003 UB313 – your comments / suggestions welcome.

See also: and

#flag: space, planets

Shuttles ups and downs.

Some great video clips from the recent launch of Discovery. To make the flight much safer, camera’s were attached all over the Shuttle and its rockets to check fall falling debris. But as an added bonus, the camera’s recorded some of the best space videos around!

Check them out at Nasa or you can just click these couple of clips (there may be more but I haven’t found them yet):
Solid Rocket booster looking down – a great view of the luanch in action
Solid Rocket booster looking up – a great view of the shuttle seperation then fall to Earth

#flag: SPace, shuttle, launch, link, video