Out of Space

Small asteroid to make near-miss of Earth in NZ skies tonight

Duncan Steel Sep 24, 2020

Sorry for the late notice on this one, but I only just heard myself, in common with most of the human race. A small asteroid, somewhere between the size of a truck and the size of a house in dimensions, will hurtle past the Earth tonight, dipping closer to our planet’s surface than the altitude at which TV transmission and … Read More

The fate of the albatross

Duncan Steel Jun 19, 2020

Yesterday I wrote that I can find some reason to celebrate almost any date, and today (19th June) is no exception: it’s World Albatross Day. Unfortunately the day began with a news story concerning a commercial fishing boat killing four endangered Antipodean albatrosses off NZ’s East Cape. Even more unfortunately, such events are not unusual, with several … Read More

Connecting Wellington and Nelson

Duncan Steel Jun 18, 2020

My blog post here has essentially nothing to do with space and astronomy, my usual subjects, but it concerns a little matter of history I thought I’d like to write about. Once upon a time I wrote a long book about calendars, and as a consequence accumulated knowledge about many of the special dates in the year which could be … Read More

Where is New Zealand’s highest point?

Duncan Steel May 01, 2020

Did you know that the top of Mount Cook is by no means New Zealand’s furthest point from the centre of the Earth? And that Samoa’s tallest mountain is seven kilometres further from our planet’s core than anywhere in NZ? The highest point anywhere, in terms of separation from Earth’s centre? — It’s not Mount Everest.  It’s the sort of … Read More

When is the day inserted into a leap year?

Duncan Steel Feb 24, 2020

Surprisingly enough, one could argue (as I often do) that the day inserted into a leap year is not that we label 29th February, but actually the 24th of February. Here I explain why, briefly.  Almost everyone assumes that the day added into February in a leap year is the 29th, but that assumption is based on a lack of … Read More

New launch of 60 SpaceX satellites crossing NZ

Duncan Steel Feb 22, 2020

Last Monday SpaceX launched another clutch of Starlink satellites into low-Earth orbit, bringing up to 300 the number of these units intended to bring 5G internet to the whole globe. In this post I present a movie showing how all 300 such satellites will be zipping around our planet over the next eight days (until the end of the month), … Read More

Update on how to see the Space-X satellite chains from NZ

Duncan Steel Feb 08, 2020

In a previous post I described briefly when and how the Starlink satellite chains – recent launches by Space-X in a scheme to bring 5G internet connectivity to the whole globe – could be seen from New Zealand with the naked eye. Here I provide an update and predictions for the next several days.  My preceding post included … Read More

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Seeing the Space-X satellite chains from NZ

Duncan Steel Feb 04, 2020

Space-X has started launching its Starlink satellites into low-Earth orbit with a plan to use some tens of thousands of these to deliver 5G wifi to the whole globe. Chains of these satellites can be seen in the evening or before-dawn skies, through the sunlight they scatter. Here I provide a movie showing opportunities for spotting such satellites over the … Read More

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