Betelgeuse: the Mysterious Star in Orion’s Shoulder

If you are familiar with the night sky and have had some good weather recently, you may have noticed that something is wrong with the constellation of Orion. Normally, Betelgeuse, the bright, orange-red star, marking the left shoulder of the giant, is only a little fainter than Rigel, the blue-white star to the bottom-right of [...]

The Calendar, Father Christmas and the Three Kings

  The Calendar, Father Christmas and the Three Kings Christmas is celebrated in many different ways around the world and at different times. The town of Bethlehem celebrates Christmas no fewer than three times: on December 25th, on January 6th and on January 19th. The reason for this is that the Church of the Nativity [...]

Apollo 12: the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Second Lunar Landing – a story of serial bad luck, a serious mistake and unexplained saliva

Who remembers Apollo 12? It should have been the flight that gave the American public a television spectacular that knocked spots off the short Apollo 11 moonwalk. The first moon landing was basically a PR exercise: the moonwalk was the shortest possible and science was almost an afterthought. The Apollo 11 landing was to give [...]

The Other First Man

Recently, we have celebrated the 50th Anniversary of “One Small Step”. History records that Neil Armstrong was the First Man and that the first manned landing on the Moon was made by Armstrong and Aldrin. History also records that, had things been only slightly different, the first landing could have been made by Grissom and [...]

The Apollo 11 Landing: staring-down disaster

  The Apollo 11 Landing: staring-down disaster The multiple issues that faced the Apollo 11 Moon landing are generally well known. Alarms, fuel, … so many things happened in such a short time that could have led to disaster, or to an abort. Much has been said about the coolness of Neil Armstrong under massive [...]

Are The Apollo Flags Still Standing?

One of the articles of faith of the Apollo Moon landing is that the items left on the lunar surface will last, if not for all time, at least for millions of years. We can see the tracks left by the astronauts of each of the Moon landings. The disturbed earth – more accurately, disturbed [...]

The Great First Step Mystery

It is now almost exactly one month until the fiftieth anniversary of that “One Small Step”. It is a couple of months since I have posted anything here about it. Life has been rather busy. However, the events of fifty years ago are ever present. Over the last few months we have seen the fiftieth [...]

The Bizarre Moon Conspiracy Theories

Earlier this week, my attention was drawn by a colleague to the poll in Twitter below, started last summer by a prominent Spanish footballer (ex-Captain of the national team, so you suppose that he must be fairly level-headed). The player in question recounted how he was arguing over dinner the previous night about whether or [...]

First Man and the Accidental Moon

Left: A Saturn 1 test with a dummy payload on October 27th 1960. Right: the Apollo 4 launch on November 9th 1967. Images: NASA. In previous Blog entries I have explored some of the lesser-known aspects of the Apollo Moon landings. Some of these are explored by the excellent film “First Man”. Still more are [...]