Out of Space

Connecting Wellington and Nelson

Duncan Steel Jun 18, 2020

[avatar user=”duncansteel” size=”thumbnail” align=”right” /] 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 … Read More

Where is New Zealand’s highest point?

Duncan Steel May 01, 2020

[avatar user=”duncansteel” size=”thumbnail” align=”right” /] 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 … Read More

When is the day inserted into a leap year?

Duncan Steel Feb 24, 2020

[avatar user=”duncansteel” size=”thumbnail” align=”right” /] 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 … Read More

New launch of 60 SpaceX satellites crossing NZ

Duncan Steel Feb 22, 2020

[avatar user=”duncansteel” size=”thumbnail” align=”right” /] 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 … Read More

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

Duncan Steel Feb 08, 2020

[avatar user=”duncansteel” size=”thumbnail” align=”right” /] 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.  … Read More

Seeing the Space-X satellite chains from NZ

Duncan Steel Feb 04, 2020

[avatar user=”duncansteel” size=”thumbnail” align=”right” /] 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 … Read More

Southern Cross and Pointers Painted Large Across Christchurch

Duncan Steel Dec 25, 2019

[avatar user=”duncansteel” size=”thumbnail” align=”right” /] Using knowledge of when the Sentinel-1A radar satellite was due to pass over New Zealand, a team at Christ’s College laid out specially-constructed radar retroreflectors across Hagley Park in Christchurch, in that way painting the Southern Cross and the Pointers in a huge array clearly visible in the derived radar image of the city.  A … Read More

Kiwi exoworlds are named

Duncan Steel Dec 20, 2019

[avatar user=”duncansteel” size=”thumbnail” align=”right” /] The International Astronomical Union (IAU) this year invited nations to propose names for distant stars selected on the basis of having planets (exoplanets) discovered to be orbiting them. The New Zealand entries, now adopted officially by the IAU, are Karaka for the star, and Kererū for its associated exoplanet.  In a previous blog post I … Read More

Among my favourite asteroids: (2309) Mr. Spock

Duncan Steel Nov 27, 2019

[avatar user=”duncansteel” size=”thumbnail” align=”right” /] Minor planet/asteroid (2309) Mr. Spock is named not for the character in Star Trek, but for a cat that was itself imperturbable, logical, intelligent and had pointed ears.  In a preceding blog post I introduced one of my favourite asteroids, (2472) Bradman, and also mentioned (6581) Sobers amongst a few others. I did have … Read More

Among my favourite asteroids: (2472) Bradman

Duncan Steel Nov 25, 2019

[avatar user=”duncansteel” size=”thumbnail” align=”right” /] There are many thousands of asteroids with formal names, some humdrum but other more noteworthy (depending on your predilections). One of my favourites, the name of which I was involved in suggesting, is (2472) Bradman, named for the Australian cricketing great. After discussing (2472) Bradman, I also make some comments about (6581) Sobers.  As a … Read More