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.

Comparing anatomy


To explain:

  • Alice Roberts is Professor of Public Engagement in Science at the University of Birmingham. She is a physical anthropologist, author, and popular TV science presenter, and was once nominated for the Prime Ministership of Italy;
  • comparative anatomy is the study of similarities and differences in the anatomy of different organisms;
  • my use of the phrase ‘on the nature of limbs’ is a reference to a book of that name by Richard Owen (Amazon uk | .com);
  • Richard Owen was a brilliant Victorian anatomist. An adversary of Charles Darwin, he invented the word dinosaur, and was responsible for the creation of what later became the Natural History Museum in London. Owen believed that the anatomies of all vertebrates shared the same basic blueprint, which he referred to as the archetype;
  • Charles Darwin was a total dude, who realised that Owen's so-called archetype in fact represented the common ancestor of all vertebrates;
  • Ernst Haeckel was a brilliant German biologist, who developed his own (mostly wrong) version of Darwinism;
  • Edward B. Lewis was an twentieth-century American geneticist, who co-received the 1995 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his pioneering work on fruit flies;
  • Horizon is a long-running, BBC popular science television programme.

Or, to put it another way:

  • Alice Roberts sent me a tweet mentioning Charles Darwin!

My work here is almost complete.

Through the pinhole

For some time now, I've fancied having a go with a pinhole camera. That's a camera without a lens. You take the photo through a tiny pinhole, which, due to its tiny, pinholish nature, focuses the image for you. It works on exactly the same principle as my legendary hatescope. The tinier the pinhole, the better.

So, yesterday I gave it a shot:

Self-portrait taken with a pinhole camera

Yours truly yesterday.

I used my super-duper digital SLR camera, removing the lens and replacing it with the body-cap intended to protect the camera when the lens is off. I had a spare body-cap, so (before I put it on the camera, obviously) I drilled a smallish hole though it, then stuck a small piece of black plastic with a pinhole pushed through it over the hole. The plastic was cut from an old flowerpot.

This is a bit like having the world's best hi-fi and using it to play Another Day in Paradise by Phil Collins.

More soft-focus (not blurry) pinhole photos here.