Haroldswick Rock: more (unlikely) claims of Martian fossils, show that the debate won’t quite go away

The Red Planet has fascinated man for centuries, ever since the first telescopic observations that revealed pole caps, seasonal changes and signs of atmosphere. A new study is likely to re-open the debate about the possible presence of fossils in Martian rocks, even though it is unlikely that the claims made will be accepted. For [...]

The Strange Case of 1I/’Oumuamua

Some months back I made some from the hip comments about ‘Oumuamua, that strange little visitor from outside the solar system. Some of them were superseded by later events, others are certainly debatable. However, in the last week or so, ‘Oumuamua has been in the spotlight due to renewed speculation that it could be artificial, [...]

Is it Really Fifty Years?

Remembering History We are starting what is going to be an emotional period of time. We have just passed the fiftieth anniversary of the first of the manned Apollo flights – Apollo 7, although the mission badge showed it as Apollo VII – which launched on October 11th 1968 and landed, after a fraction under [...]

How many Apollo astronauts are still alive? [Further Updated: 22/04/2019]

[I have updated this article again after previously re-releasing it when news of the death of Apollo 12 and Skylab 2 commander, Al Bean became widely known, although it had been announced a few days previously. With the death of Al Bean, just four Moon-walkers survive, the youngest of them, 83 years old. Al Bean [...]

Whatever Happened to the Mercury Seven?

Although the first astronaut class was not formally introduced to the public until April 9th 1959, the Mercury programme started in 1958: sixty years ago. Many people are familiar with the Mercury astronauts through The Right Stuff, based on Tom Wolffe's wonderful book, although that film concentrated principally on just three members of the group: Alan [...]

The Sunspot Cycle and its Possible Effects on Future Manned Spaceflight

We have known for more than a century that solar activity shows a pronounced cyclic variation with an 11-year period. About every 11 years there is a maximum in activity and sunspots become very prominent and very common. Back in my younger days, I was a keen solar observer during one particular holiday around the [...]

Where is Starman Heading: Will it be observable to future Martian astronauts?

JPL has produced a further update for the orbit of the Tesla, although the rate of arrival of new observations has slowed. With the Tesla now below magnitude 20 and, with the Moon close to full, it is unlikely that there will be a new orbit update for at least another week or ten days. [...]