BBC science fail

BBC: Spectacular snow moon regales worldFebruary's full moon also coincides with a partial lunar eclipse.


There is nothing ‘coincidental’ about a lunar eclipse occurring during a full moon: every lunar eclipse that ever happened occurred during a full moon.

For a lunar eclipse to occur, the sun and moon must be on opposite sides of the earth. The same configuration is required for a full moon. The only difference is that, during a lunar eclipse, the sun, earth, and moon happen to line up exactly, causing the earth's shadow from the sun to be cast on the moon.


Unfortunately, I didn't have a hat to hand to help capture some photos of this morning's partial solar eclipse. So I just had to improvise and use a camera with a telephoto lens. I attached two polariser filters, set at right angles, to make sure everything went really dark.

Solar eclipse

Solar eclipse through sycamore.

Solar eclipse

Solar eclipse.

Solar eclipse

Solar eclipse.

Solar eclipse

Solar eclipse.

Solar eclipse

Solar eclipse ruining my excellent jackdaw photo.

You can see larger versions of the above photos here.

Turn your bloody lights off!


Manchester from the International Space Station last night.

Liverpool and the Wirral

Liverpool and the Wirral (you can see my Dad's house from here).


Some place down south.

Is it any bloody wonder we can only see a handful of stars these days?

[All photos by Commander Chris Hadfield]

Postscript, 20:23: I just showed my Dad the middle photo, and, when we zoomed in, we really could see his house!

Near miss

Observer (my butler reads it): Meteorite 'could have devastated northern UK'
The meteorite that caused devastation in the Urals on Friday could have struck Britain if it had entered the atmosphere at only a slightly different time of day, astronomers revealed yesterday.

The region around Chelyabinsk hit by the meteorite impact is 55 degrees north, the same latitude as northern England. Had the meteorite's timing been only few hours different, it could have caused widespread damage in the British Isles, astronomers at the University of Hawaii said yesterday.

Phew! On the other hand, had the trajectory of the lump of space-rock that became the meteorite been only a fraction of a degree different, it might, long, long ago, have collided with the much bigger lump of space-rock/comet that took out the dinosaurs before it actually took out the dinosaurs, thereby altering its course by an even smaller fraction of a degree, so that it didn't, in fact, actually take out the dinosaurs. In which case, none of us would be here. Thanks, lump of space-rock!

Meanwhile, in related news, had Frederick Miller not lost an eye in a freak golfing accident back in 1885, I might be Prime Minister right now. And wouldn't the world be a much nicer place?

Unless you're a cat, obviously.

Talking through their Eridanus hole

New Scientist: The void: Imprint of another universe?

In August, radio astronomers announced that they had found an enormous hole in the universe. Nearly a billion light years across, the void lies in the constellation Eridanus and has far fewer stars, gas and galaxies than usual. It is bigger than anyone imagined possible and is beyond the present understanding of cosmology. What could cause such a gaping hole? One team of physicists has a breathtaking explanation: "It is the unmistakable imprint of another universe beyond the edge of our own," says Laura Mersini-Houghton of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Interesting use of the word unmistakable, I thought.

Be honest now, did you ever suspect these scientist types were making it up as they went along?