Blog Archives

The end of the shuttle

Here’s a neat little clip from Nature Video, with natty soundtrack, highlighting 135 space missions of the NASA shuttle programme. If you have access to BBC iPlayer, you can see a very insightful documentary on the final shuttle flight here. Visit NASA’s shuttle resources to find out more about the shuttle programme, its successes and dramatic episodes, as well as what is next for NASA.

Tweetal Lunar Eclipse


There’s a total lunar eclipse tonight (15-16 June 2011), or very early tomorrow morning for Australia and SE Asia. Click here for a chart from NASA on when and where it will be visible and how much of it  you can expect to see.


I also finally caved in and got Twitter. @iBiologyStephen, if you will. There’s a little Twitter widget up on the top right of the blog that will take you to my profile. Beyond the basics of leaving messages, getting into PD and checking out updates, what novel – and effective – ways are you putting Twitter to work in class? Add your ideas in the comments below or tweet me. That’s how I roll now.

Jupiter! Amazing amateur astrophotography.

This is a lovely clip of Jupiter – taken from Earth, by an amateur astronomer. Amazing!

To find out how Damian Peach captured the images, read this article from Bad Astronomy. You can also see his “Views of the Solar System” astrophotography collection.

Wonders of the Solar System

This looks great, and I’m looking on Amazon for a copy right now!

Rock star professor Brian Cox presents this 5-part series from the BBC, with stunning visuals and accessible, but not dumbed-down, explanations of physics and cosmology. I hadn’t heard about it until reading the Guardian’s Science’s Golden Age article, but am looking forward to seeing the whole series.


Official page, from the BBC

List of clips from YouTube

Brian Cox profile page from Manchester University

Brian Cox talks at TED: “What really goes on at the large hadron collider

Happy New Year – And A Partial Lunar Eclipse!

Happy New Year!

There was a partial lunar eclipse last night. Here is some footage from India:

For more eclipses in 2010, visit There are four this year, including a total solar eclipse on July 11th and a total lunar eclipse on December 21st. If you look at each event on, you can see animations of what to expect where you are.

NewScientist also have a review of the top ten space stories of 2009, with The Guardian making predictions for the year ahead.

Have a great year!

Virgin Galactic Goes Live – with cool soundtrack

Start saving those pennies for a trip to space, courtesy of Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic SpaceShip Two – whichwas rolled out on a chilly unveiling in the Mojave desert this week. Here’s a short video showing a simulation of what one of the trips would be like, with what looks like some footage of SpaceShipOne’s journey to the edge of the atmosphere in 2004, as well as some dodgy camera-phone footage of this unveiling, apparently from Arnie’s phone.

Watch out for The Fuse in 2010 – the band whose music is featured on the video – they rock!

One might question the tactfulness of the unveiling of the spaceship so close to the Copenhagen Climate Summit. Is it really appropriate to encourage the super-wealthy to burn up fuel and money (US$200,000 a ticket!) on a joyride to space? There is a section on their official website that deals with the environmental issues, claiming that the carbon footprint per passenger is less than a London-New York flight.

On the other hand, given the chance would you turn it down? This project represents the cutting-edge of engineering and design, and there will be a lot to learn from their industrial experiences. It is also good to see some human ingenuity and adventure make the headlines, too.

Here’s a tour of SpaceShipTwo with Richard Branson, from Associated Press:

And an old (2008) video from talking about the project:

So what do you think? Do you think it’s a good idea? Would go if you were given the chance? How do you feel about this kind of high-profile project? Would it inspire you to take on science or engineering as a career?

For more information on the The Fuse and their music, check out their website:

Our Place in Space

These are for Grade 9 as we learn about Cosmology together!

The universe to scale:

Zoom-out from Earth:

Images from the Hubble Space Telescope:


Keep asking those questions!

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