Nestled amidst the vast expanse of the South Pacific Ocean, Norfolk Island stands as a haven for those seeking to escape the clutches of urban light pollution and immerse themselves in the celestial splendor of the night sky. Far removed from the twinkling metropolises and sprawling suburbs, this remote island boasts one of the darkest skies on Earth, earning it the prestigious Gold Level Dark Sky certification.

As the sun sets and darkness takes over, Norfolk Island becomes an excellent spot for stargazing. The lack of light pollution and the island's warm, clear nights create perfect conditions for observing the celestial wonders. The sky gradually fills with stars, including the mesmerizing Milky Way, making it a paradise for those who love to look up and appreciate the beauty of the universe. 

Join our guided stargazing tour and let an experienced astronomer guide you through the celestial wonders that abound. Learn to identify constellations, from the familiar Orion to the enigmatic Scorpio, each with its own captivating mythology and rich cultural significance.  

Join our guided stargazing tour and let an experienced astronomer guide you through the celestial wonders that abound. Learn to identify constellations, from the familiar Orion to the enigmatic Scorpio, each with its own captivating mythology and rich cultural significance.   Discover the wonders of the cosmos, from the majestic planets of our solar system to the distant nebulae and galaxies. Looking through a powerful telescope on Norfolk Island reveals some cool stuff in the sky. Saturn's rings look like a celestial hula hoop, and the Jewel Box star cluster has colors that'll blow your mind.

But the stargazing on Norfolk Island is more than just looking at cool things. It's an experience that goes beyond just watching—it's about feeling a deep connection with the universe. Standing under the starry sky in the quiet of the island, you can't help but feel small and humble. It's a reminder of how tiny we are in the vastness of the universe. 

Stargazing tours on Norfolk Island aren't just for seeing space stuff. They're a chance to reconnect with yourself, to rediscover the wonder that often gets lost in our busy lives. It's an invitation to slow down, take a breath, and think about the beauty and vastness of the universe, finding comfort and inspiration in its celestial hug.  $2,260  (Conditions Apply)

FOR BOOKING ENQUIRIES/COSTS ETC  Australian Mobile 0402 335 005 - Email:

NASA to Hoist Its Sail: Solar Sail Mission Gets Ready for Launch

A NASA mission testing a new way of navigating our solar system is ready to hoist its sail into space – not to catch the wind, but the propulsive power of sunlight. The Advanced Composite Solar Sail System is targeting launch on Tuesday, April 23 (Wednesday, April 24 in New Zealand) aboard a Rocket Lab Electron rocket from the company's Launch Complex 1 on the Mahia Peninsula of New Zealand.

Rocket Lab's Electron rocket will deploy the mission's CubeSat about 600 miles above Earth – more than twice the altitude of the International Space Station. To test the performance of NASA's Advanced Composite Solar Sail System, the spacecraft must be in a high enough orbit for the tiny force of sunlight on the sail – roughly equivalent to the weight of a paperclip resting on your palm – to overcome atmospheric drag and gain altitude.

After a busy initial flight phase, which will last about two months and includes subsystems checkout, the microwave oven-sized CubeSat will deploy its reflective solar sail. The weeks-long test consists of a series of pointing maneuvers to demonstrate orbit raising and lowering, using only the pressure of sunlight acting on the sail.

Stay tuned for updates as NASA's Advanced Composite Solar Sail System sets out to prove its ability to sail across space, increasing access and enabling low-cost missions to the Moon, Mars, and beyond.

Japanese satellite will beam solar power to Earth in 2025

Japan is on track to beam solar power from space to Earth next year, two years after a similar feat was achieved by U.S. engineers. The development marks an important step toward a possible space-based solar power station that could help wean the world off fossil fuels amid the intensifying battle against climate change.

Speaking at the International Conference on Energy from Space, held here this week, Koichi Ijichi, an adviser at the Japanese research institute Japan Space Systems, outlined Japan's road map toward an orbital demonstration of a miniature space-based solar power plant that will wirelessly transmit energy from low Earth orbit to Earth.

"It will be a small satellite, about 180 kilograms [400 pounds], that will transmit about 1 kilowatt of power from the altitude of 400 kilometers [250 miles]," Ijichi said at the conference.

One kilowatt is about the amount of power needed to run a household appliance, such as a small dishwasher, for about an hour, depending on its size. Therefore, the demonstration is nowhere near the scale required for commercial use.

The spacecraft will use a 22-square-foot (2 square meters) onboard photovoltaic panel to charge a battery. The accumulated energy will then be transformed into microwaves and beamed toward a receiving antenna on Earth. Because the spacecraft travels very fast — around 17,400 mph (28,000 km/h) — antenna elements will have to be spread over a distance of about 25 miles (40 km), spaced 3 miles (5 km) apart, to allow enough energy to be transmitted.

"The transmission will take only a few minutes," Ijichi said. "But once the battery is empty, it will take several days to recharge."

The mission, part of a project called OHISAMA (Japanese for "sun"), is on track for launch in 2025. The researchers have already demonstrated wireless transmission of solar power on the ground from a stationary source, and they plan to conduct a transmission from an aircraft in December. The aircraft will be fitted with an identical photovoltaic panel as will be flown on the spacecraft and will beam down power over a distance of 3 to 4 miles (5 to 7 km), according to Ijichi.

Peter Glaser, has been considered science fiction. Although theoretically feasible, the technology has been seen as impractical and too costly, as it requires enormous structures to be assembled in orbit to produce the required power output.

But according to the experts speaking at the conference, that situation has changed as a result of recent technological advances and the urgency to decarbonize the world's power supply to thwart climate change.

Unlike most renewable power generation technologies used on Earth, including solar power and wind energy, space-based solar power could be available constantly, as it would not depend on weather and the time of the day. Currently, nuclear power plants or gas- and coal-fired power stations are used to cover demand when the wind stops blowing or after sunset. Improvements in technology could help partially solve the problem in the future. But some pieces of the puzzle are still missing to secure a seamless carbon-neutral power supply by the middle of this century as stipulated in international climate change agreements.

Developments in robotic technologies, improvements in the efficiency of wireless power transmission and, most importantly, the arrival of SpaceX's giant rocket Starship could allow space-based solar power to become a reality, the experts said at the conference.

Last year, a satellite built by Caltech engineers as part of the Space Solar Power Demonstrator mission beamed solar power from space for the first time. The mission, which concluded in January, was celebrated as a major milestone.

Many more space-based solar power demonstration projects are in the pipeline. The technology is studied by space and research agencies all over the world, including the European Space Agency, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and the U.S. Air Force. Commercial companies and startups are also developing concepts, harnessing the availability of Starship and the emergence of advanced space robotics.

However, not everyone is enthusiastic about the potential of space-based solar power. In January, NASA released a report questioning the feasibility of the technology. The difficulty and amount of energy required to build, launch and assemble orbital power stations mean the energy they produce would be too expensive — 61 cents per kilowatt-hour, compared with as little as 5 cents per kilowatt-hour for Earth-based solar or wind energy.

In addition, the overall carbon footprint of the power production and the amount of greenhouse gas emissions generated by rockets taking those assemblies into orbit make space-based solar power much less climate-friendly than technologies used on Earth. For example, a gigawatt-scale spaceborne solar power station, such as the CASSIOPeiA concept plant proposed by the U.K. firm Space Solar, would need 68 Starships to get to space.

Saturn's ocean moon Enceladus is able to support life 

Saturn has 146 moons, which is more than any other planet in our solar system. One of these moons, called Enceladus, is particularly interesting because it might have the right conditions for life.

From 2004 to 2017, a spacecraft called Cassini, which was a project involving NASA, the European Space Agency, and the Italian Space Agency, explored Saturn and its moons. Cassini discovered that Enceladus, a small moon only about 313 miles wide, has a vast ocean of liquid water beneath its icy surface.

At Enceladus' south pole, geysers shoot out gas and ice grains made from the ocean water. Scientists found unexpected clues about the ocean's composition by studying these ice grains with a special tool on Cassini.

One scientist who studies these ice grains, along with others, is curious about whether there might be life on Enceladus or other icy moons. They found that Enceladus' ocean has ingredients that are important for life, like salt and carbon-based compounds, and it generates energy through a process called tidal heating.

In 2023, scientists discovered a compound called phosphate in the ice grains from Enceladus. Phosphate is crucial for life on Earth because it's part of DNA and other important molecules.

Enceladus likely has hydrothermal vents on its ocean floor, similar to those on Earth, where its rocky core interacts with the water. Some scientists think life might have originated in places like these vents.

Although no one has found life beyond Earth yet, scientists believe Enceladus is a promising place to look. They've been testing ways to detect life on missions to places like Enceladus and another moon called Europa.

In a recent experiment, scientists simulated how instruments on spacecraft could detect signs of life in ice grains like those from Enceladus. They found that these instruments could identify tiny traces of bacterial cells, even in a small number of ice grains.

Future missions to Enceladus and Europa are in the works. NASA and the European Space Agency are planning missions that will have better tools for studying these moons and searching for signs of life. One of NASA's upcoming missions, called Europa Clipper, will study Europa's ice grains with a special tool designed for this purpose.

With the progress in technology and upcoming missions, scientists are getting closer to answering the big question: Is there life beyond Earth, and could it be hiding on moons like Enceladus or Europa?

Canine Companions on the Path to Lunar Exploration

Imagine a robot dog named Spirit scaling the snowy slopes of Mount Hood, its metal legs crunching on the ice. This isn't science fiction, but the LASSIE project, where scientists are training robots like Spirit to explore the Moon and beyond.

The project's name, a clever acronym for Legged Autonomous Surface Science in Analogue Environments, also playfully acknowledges Spirit's canine resemblance. Its legs, equipped with sensors, act not just for locomotion but as scientific instruments, feeling the terrain like our own feet.

Why legs? Unlike traditional rovers with wheels, legs offer superior maneuverability. As Ryan Ewing, a geologist with NASA, explains, legs allow robots to navigate the "complicated terrains" of our solar system, from mountains to craters. We can explore a wider world, just like a dog can traverse more places than a person in a wheelchair.

Feifei Qian, a robotics professor leading the project, highlights another benefit: avoiding getting stuck. We've all seen images of rovers bogged down in sand. Legs, inspired by nature's agile creatures, offer a solution.

The project isn't just about technology. The LASSIE team even studies real dogs on these expeditions, filming their movements to gain insights into how robots can best navigate diverse terrains.

The future for Spirit? The Moon! Ewing sees Spirit's technology as perfect for exploring lunar ice deposits, crucial for future settlements. Imagine Spirit clambering across the lunar surface, its sensors gathering data for scientists and potential lunar miners.

The lighthearted exchange at the end of the interview reveals the human connection with these robots. While Feifei Qian jokingly describes Spirit's "temper" and love for "battery juice," Ryan Ewing acknowledges the feeling of companionship when working with Spirit. These robots aren't just machines; they're our robotic companions venturing into the unknown.

The LASSIE project is a testament to human ingenuity and our desire to explore. By learning from nature and building robots that mimic animal agility, we're taking a big leap towards a future where robotic dogs like Spirit will be our partners in space exploration.

NASA Mission Accidentally Sends Space Rocks Hurtling Towards 

A mission to divert the course of an asteroid in September 2022 may have been a wild success, but it hasn't been without collateral damage. A new analysis of the debris ejected from the asteroid Dimorphos when NASA slammed the DART spacecraft into it has revealed that some of the rocks could be on a collision course with Mars.

That doesn't seem like a big deal at the moment, because there's no one on Mars to worry about… but by the time the rocks are due to intersect with Mars's orbit, there very well might be, if crewed missions go according to plan. The result? Well, there could be some new impact craters on Mars in a few thousand years.

The DART mission was conceptually simple. Dimorphos and Didymos represent a binary asteroid pair with a known orbital period. By smashing a spacecraft into the smaller asteroid, Dimorphos, and measuring the changes to its orbit, NASA learned that we have the means to deflect the path of an asteroid that may be on a dangerous trajectory toward Earth, so long as we have enough time to plan and execute the mission.

But Dimorphos isn't a tightly bound chunk of rock. It's what is known as a 'rubble pile' asteroid, relatively loosely bound together. Slamming into it with a spacecraft spewed a whole bunch of asteroid rock and dust out into space. It looked pretty spectacular, actually.

But what became of the rocks thus spewed? Researchers' investigations focused on numerical simulations of the impact ejecta, 20,000 years into the future. They focused specifically on 37 boulders identified by the Hubble Space Telescope ranging in size from 4 to 7 meters (13 to 23 feet) across.

You'll be relieved to know that Earth is going to be fine. Some of the boulders come close, but no cigar: they won't approach near enough to pose a threat. But four of the boulders will come close enough to Mars that they could smack right into it – two in around 6,000 years, and two in 15,000 years.

And Mars isn't protected by a nice atmospheric cushion like Earth is. Those rocks, according to the pair's calculations, will fall straight down in one piece, excavating small craters up to 300 meters (984 feet) across. Mars is pretty covered with space rocks and craters, so unless something dramatic happens in the next few thousand years, the impacts aren't really going to rock anyone's world.

But the findings do support the team's previous work, which found that some meteorites that have slammed into Earth in the past are likely to have originated in asteroid collisions in the near-Earth environment. Anyway, we're really sorry, Mars. If you want to throw some rocks back at us in retaliation, we're sure there are some scientists who won't mind.

SpaceX's giant Starship will be 500 feet tall for Mars missions

SpaceX's Starship, the largest rocket in the world, will get even bigger as the company continues to target Mars missions in the future. Elon Musk, the billionaire founder of SpaceX, told employees on April 4 that Starship will eventually be as tall as 500 feet (150 meters), roughly 20% higher than the massive system aboard the Super Heavy rocket right now.

What's more, advances in reusability will have each launch cost roughly $3 million each, Musk predicted; that's less than a third of what a (much smaller) Falcon 1 rocket launch cost in 2004 when inflation is taken into account. (The figure two decades ago was $5.9 million, according to NBC, which is roughly $9.5 million in 2024 dollars.)

"These are sort of unthinkable numbers," Musk said in the Starship update, released publicly April 6, roughly one month after the third and last test flight to date. "Nobody ever thought that this was possible, but we're not breaking any physics to achieve this. So this is within the bounds, without breaking physics. We can do this."

Related: SpaceX fires up huge Super Heavy booster ahead of 4th Starship test flight (photos, video)

Musk tends to deliver Starship updates at least once a year to highlight progress the company is making toward its long-term plans of settling Mars. Indeed, the last year has seen three Starship launches, so there has been progress made recently. Musk didn't, however, address delays in launching Starship that have contributed to pushing back the launch date for the first moon landing under the NASA-led Artemis program.

SpaceX was named the vendor for the Artemis 3 landing mission that, until recently, was set for 2025. In January, NASA elected to hold the launch date another year, to 2026, due to a range of technical issues. Aside from Starship not being ready — the agency wants many successful launches before approving it for astronaut flights — Artemis 3 was also delayed due to slow progress on spacesuits and problems with the mission's Orion spacecraft, among other factors.

However, Musk's words about Artemis, to employees, focused on Starship's future capabilities: orbiting the Earth and refilling its tanks, both of which have yet to be proven on its three test flights.

"This will ... be very important for the Artemis program for the NASA to get back to the moon," Musk said of those capabilities. He also envisions a "Moon Base Alpha" that would include ships "specialized for going to and from the moon", meaning there would be no heat shield or flaps due to the lack of atmosphere.

Musk's 45-minute speech touched on the usual themes for his Red Planet updates, focusing on how to send a lot of cargo out there for eventual settlers. He noted that would take thousands of launches to do; for perspective, Musk said the company has completed 327 successful Falcon series launches and about 80 percent of those had reused boosters (a key factor in reducing cost.)

SpaceX is by far the most active launching entity on Earth, and Musk forecasts the company will send roughly 90 percent of orbital mass aloft this year compared to China's 6 percent (the second-largest entity.)

Starship's next and fourth spaceflight attempt, expected to take place in May, aims to have the first stage of Super Heavy land "on essentially a virtual tower" in the Gulf of Mexico, Musk said. Once the company safely gets that done, they will consider using the launching area at Starbase, in south Texas, for future landings as soon as Flight 5. (Musk pegged the chances of success on Flight 4 at 80% or 90%.)

Musk also wants to perform two splashdowns of the upper stage of Starship in a row, in a controlled fashion, before sending it to Starbase on a future flight. "We do not want to rain debris over Mexico or the U.S.," he said. "My guess is probably next year when we will be able to reuse Starship."

Overall, Musk plans for multiple Starship launches to take place this year, and suggests SpaceX will build an additional six spacecraft by the end of 2024. A new rocket factory for the company should be available in 2025, which would make production even faster.

Future versions of Starship will include a "Starship 2" to send 100 tons of payload to low-Earth orbit and the 500-foot "Starship 3" for 200 or more tons. Bigger vehicles, Musk stressed, will mean fewer (four or five) refueling missions in low Earth orbit to get a Starship ready for the journey to Mars someday.

Of these milestones, Musk said it would be "very much a success-oriented schedule." His speech did not mention the Federal Aviation Administration, which must approve each one of the launches, nor ongoing criticism of the environmental impact of Starship on the ecologically sensitive area near Starbase.

That impact may continue to grow, as Musk said it would take roughly 10 launches a day to send hundreds of vehicles to Mars every two years (when the planet is closest) to make a long-term settlement feasible. As for the number of Mars-bound people, that would be roughly a million folks, he said — that matches predictions he made at least as far back as 2017. Musk also says he wants to get the settlement going "in 20 years." He said the same thing in 2011.

Space debris smashed into a Florida home

A piece of garbage jettisoned from the International Space Station unexpectedly survived a fiery reentry from orbit last month and pierced the roof of a home in Florida, according to NASA. When the federal agency disposed of a slab of spaceborne refuse weighing about 5,800 pounds (2,630 kilograms), it expected the trash to disintegrate as it plunged into Earth's atmosphere on March 8.

But a small piece of the cargo roughly the size of a smartphone survived — and it crashed into a home in Naples, Florida, last month, NASA confirmed in an April 15 news release. "It was a tremendous sound. It almost hit my son," Alejandro Otero, who identified himself as the homeowner, told CNN affiliate WINK News in March, days after the incident. "He was two rooms over and heard it all."

The impact event defied NASA's expectations about what can and cannot survive the reentry process, according to the space agency — and it could have broader implications for future space debris disposal efforts. It was a close call and unusual discovery. Otero said he recognized the object as a possible piece of space debris that tore through his roof, he said.

"Something ripped through the house and then made a big hole in the floor and on the ceiling," Otero, who said he was not home at the time of the incident, explained. "I'm super grateful that nobody got hurt." After analyzing the piece of debris at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, NASA confirmed it was indeed a piece of discarded space station cargo, according to a statement released by the agency on Monday.

"The International Space Station will perform a detailed investigation of the jettison and re-entry analysis to determine the cause of the debris survival and to update modeling and analysis, as needed," NASA said in the statement. The federal agency did not immediately respond to additional questions about the investigation or whether the agency had changed any plans for future space station trash disposal.

Nasa chief warns China is masking military presence in space with civilian programs

Bill Nelson told Capitol Hill lawmakers that China has been 'very, very secretive' about its space progress, warning 'we are in a race' The head of Nasa has warned of China bolstering its space capabilities by using civilian programs to mask military objectives, cautioning that Washington must remain vigilant.

"China has made extraordinary strides especially in the last 10 years, but they are very, very secretive," Nasa administrator Bill Nelson told lawmakers on Capitol Hill. "We believe that a lot of their so-called civilian space program is a military program. And I think, in effect, we are in a race," Nelson added.

He said he hoped Beijing would "come to its senses and understand that civilian space is for peaceful uses", but added: "We have not seen that demonstrated by China." Nelson's comments came as he testified before the House appropriations committee on Nasa's budget for 2025.

He said the US should land on the moon again before China does, as both nations pursue lunar missions. But he expressed concern that were Beijing to arrive first, it could say: "'OK, this is our territory, you stay out.'" Nelson previously said the US was "in a space race" with China and warned that China could eventually claim to "own" the moon's resource-rich area.

In 2022, China's space program put up an Earth-orbiting space station and has mounted several lunar orbiting and sample-retrieving missions. Since then, the US has been planning to put astronauts back on the moon in 2026 with its Artemis III mission. China says it hopes to send humans to the moon by 2030.

Nelson said he was confident the US would not lose its "global edge" in space exploration. "But you got to be realistic," he said. "China has really thrown a lot of money at it and they've got a lot of room in their budget to grow. "I think that we just better not let down our guard."

World's top cosmologists convene to question conventional view of the universe

Imagine you're gazing out into the vastness of the universe, far beyond the realms of stars and galaxies. What you'd likely see is a vast, uniform expanse stretching endlessly, devoid of any distinct features. That's been the traditional perspective, at least.

In the world of cosmology—the study of the universe's origin and development—there's a fundamental idea that everything looks more or less the same, no matter where you look. This concept forms a cornerstone of the standard model of cosmology, our framework for understanding the universe's journey since the Big Bang around 13.7 billion years ago.

But now, a gathering of top cosmologists is challenging this long-held notion. They're meeting at London's Royal Society to explore a simple yet profound question: What if this basic assumption is off the mark?

The catalyst for this rethink stems from recent astronomical observations that have thrown some curveballs at the conventional wisdom. Professor Subir Sarkar, a cosmologist from the University of Oxford and one of the event's organizers, notes that the current model, dating back to 1922, is showing its age despite the wealth of data supporting it. Prominent astronomers are increasingly vocalizing similar concerns.

The conference brings together scientists who've made eyebrow-raising discoveries. Dr. Nathan Secrest from the US Naval Observatory, for instance, presents findings hinting that the universe might be slightly asymmetrical. His team's analysis of over a million quasars reveals a subtle imbalance between hemispheres of the sky. While seemingly minor, if confirmed, this revelation could shake the foundation of our understanding, particularly regarding dark energy, which purportedly makes up the lion's share of the cosmos.

Dr. Konstantinos Migkas, from Leiden University, shares results indicating that the rate of cosmic expansion—the Hubble constant—appears inconsistent across different regions of space. These findings clash with predictions of the standard model, suggesting that our current understanding might be incomplete.

Meanwhile, PhD student Alexia Lopez unveils what appear to be colossal cosmic structures, named Big Ring and Giant Arc, challenging the notion that the universe should appear uniformly bland on large scales.

These revelations prompt reflection on the entrenched belief in the standard cosmological model. Sarkar critiques the dogmatic adherence to it, urging for critical reevaluation. However, not everyone agrees with his assessment. Professor George Efstathiou from the University of Cambridge offers a more skeptical perspective, emphasizing the relentless scrutiny the model has undergone.

Despite differing opinions, the conference fosters an environment of robust debate and open-minded exploration. As Professor Wendy Freedman, presenting new findings from the James Webb Space Telescope, remarks, there's no clear answer yet. The uncertainties in cosmology fuel a vibrant exchange of ideas, pushing the boundaries of our cosmic understanding.

Bun in the Oven... Among the Stars? Having Babies in Space

Space travel is no longer just for the few. With private companies aiming for the stars and talk of Mars colonization, a question arises: could we create the next generation out there? While it might sound like science fiction, there's actual research being done.

The first hurdle is fertilization. Conception itself might not be a problem in microgravity – after all, astronauts can experience menstrual cycles. But space is a harsh environment filled with radiation. Sperm and egg cells are particularly vulnerable to this, potentially harming the developing baby's DNA. There have been experiments sending sperm to space, with some success in fertilization upon return. However, the DNA showed damage, raising concerns about birth defects.

Even if fertilization is achieved, a mother's health is a big concern. Pregnancy on Earth is demanding, and microgravity throws new challenges into the mix. Our bones and muscles weaken in low gravity, affecting the mother's health and potentially impacting the baby's development. Radiation exposure throughout pregnancy is another worry.

So, what about a Martian baby? Mars has gravity, about a third of Earth's. This might be enough to mitigate some bone and muscle issues. However, the Martian atmosphere is thin and offers little protection from radiation.

Beyond physical challenges, there are ethical considerations. Would a child born in space be able to return to Earth and live comfortably with Earth's gravity? What kind of social and developmental issues might they face, having never experienced a "normal" environment?

The good news is that scientists are actively researching these issues. Experiments are underway to create artificial gravity habitats and develop better shielding against radiation. Understanding how microgravity affects pregnancy is crucial.

So, will we have space babies anytime soon? Probably not. There's a lot to learn and overcome before it's considered safe. But with continued research and the potential for long-term space habitation, who knows? The future of our species may one day include cradles amongst the stars. Imagine the possibilities – the first generation born on Mars, taking their first steps not on familiar soil, but on red alien dust. The challenges are numerous, but the potential rewards are equally vast. Spacefaring babies might not be science fiction forever.

Are Neil's Footprints Still On The Moon?

In the vast expanse of space, where humanity once dared to venture, a question lingers: Are Neil Armstrong's footprints still on the moon? It's a query that captures the imagination and curiosity of many, echoing through the corridors of history and igniting debates among scientists and enthusiasts alike.

Neil Armstrong's iconic first steps on the lunar surface on July 20, 1969, marked a monumental leap for mankind. As the world watched in awe, Armstrong's words echoed through the vacuum of space: "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind." His footprints, immortalized in photographs and footage, became symbols of human achievement and exploration.

Decades have passed since that historic moment, and the lunar landscape remains largely untouched by human presence. However, the moon is not a static entity. Its surface is constantly bombarded by micrometeoroids and affected by the harsh conditions of space. Over time, these natural processes can alter the landscape, potentially erasing or obscuring the footprints left by Armstrong and his fellow Apollo astronauts.In light of this, discussions have emerged about preserving these historic imprints. Ideas range from creating a protective barrier around the landing sites to developing advanced materials capable of withstanding the lunar environment. Some have even proposed erecting a monument on the moon's surface, a tribute to the pioneers of space exploration and a beacon for future generations.

NASA scientists have studied the long-term effects of lunar erosion, monitoring the changes in the moon's surface. While some footprints may have been disturbed or obscured by lunar regolith – the layer of loose soil and debris covering the moon's surface – others may still endure, preserved in the vacuum of space.

One theory suggests that the footprints left by the Apollo astronauts could persist for millions of years, thanks to the moon's lack of atmosphere and minimal environmental factors. Unlike Earth, where wind, water, and vegetation can quickly erase traces of human activity, the moon's desolate landscape acts as a natural preservative, protecting relics of the past.

However, recent advancements in lunar exploration have reignited interest in the fate of Armstrong's footprints. Private companies and international space agencies are planning missions to return to the moon, aiming to explore new regions and conduct scientific research. These future missions could inadvertently disturb the lunar surface, further altering or obliterating the footprints left by the Apollo astronauts.

Despite the uncertainty surrounding the preservation of Armstrong's footprints, their symbolic significance endures. They serve as a reminder of humanity's ingenuity and ambition, inspiring future generations to reach for the stars and explore the unknown.

As the debate continues, one thing remains certain: Neil Armstrong's historic first steps on the moon will forever be etched in the annals of history. Whether his footprints still grace the lunar surface or have been erased by the passage of time, their legacy lives on as a testament to the enduring spirit of exploration.

In the end, the mystery of Neil Armstrong's footprints serves as a poignant reminder of the fleeting nature of human existence against the vastness of the cosmos. Yet, even as time marches on, the indelible mark left by Armstrong and his fellow astronauts continues to inspire and captivate the imagination of generations to come. Perhaps, one day, a monument will rise on the moon, honouring those brave souls who ventured into the unknown and forever changed the course of history.

Devil Comet only seen in Australian skies every 70 years

Stargazers are in for a treat this month, as the rare 'Devil Comet' becomes visible in Australian skies for the first time in 70 years. The comet, which is larger than Mount Everest, will be visible to the naked eye in Australia for a short period April 22.

Comet 12/P Pons-Brooks: the comet was given its nickname due to unusual behaviour in 2023.

It threw off something like 10 million tonnes of ice and rock and dust and debris all in one go. It gave the comet in the sky this very unusual shape -made it look like the comet had horns, and devil's type tail

  • the comet will be at its closest point to the sun — on 22 April in Australia.-this is when the most heat is on the comet, and the ice turns to a gas, which is what we see glow around the comet,
  • LOOK in the direction of the western horizon just after sunset... The comet will be relatively low in the sky at this point, and the moon will be bright, which means this will not be the best viewing time.
  • "From ANZAC Day (25 April), the comet will be higher in the sky, and also the moon won't interfere, so that is your best chance to see it."

it's not spectacular with the naked eye; it's like a glowy blob down near the horizon. The comet will eventually become fainter and impossible to see with the naked eye from July as it reaches its closest point to Earth in June

The comet's unique horns are understood to be the result of cryo-volcanic eruptions of ice that occur as it heats up near the sun it brightens, creating visible tails of gas, dust, and ice that accompany the comet's main tail. It has been visible in the Northern Hemisphere since mid-March but was not observable in the Southern Hemisphere due to its position below the horizon.

Autumn Skies: A Sparkling Spectacle

It's only a few weeks to Autumn, and the skies are already putting on a dazzling show. I love sky gazing this time of year for one main reason: it's finally comfortable outside! No more sweltering heat or bone-chilling cold, just perfect stargazing weather. You can stay out late at night and watch the stars rise majestically in the east, their westward trek unfolding over just a few hours. It's like a celestial parade that's been playing out for millennia.

Speaking of ancient times, did you know that astronomy is the oldest of human sciences, yet also the newest? Most of what we know about the universe has been discovered in recent times. So, why do constellations matter? Well, it's all about history. We owe our understanding of the night sky to ancient civilizations like the Chinese, Babylonians, Greeks, and Romans, who saw patterns in the stars and named them.

Have you ever stretched out on a blanket on a crisp autumn night and talked about the stars and constellations? It's a timeless human experience! While most of us are familiar with the twelve zodiac constellations, there are actually 88 official constellations recognized by astronomers. Interestingly, no new constellations have been officially added for centuries!

These constellations are our celestial map, the fixed points in the ever-changing night sky. We use them to track the movements of planets, predict meteor showers, and even navigate. Many recurring meteor showers, like the Perseids and Geminids, are named after constellations.

Want to find your way around the starry expanse? Download an app like Sky Safari or Google Sky Map for a real-time view of the constellations, complete with fascinating details. Just hold your phone or tablet to the sky, and it will show you all the constellations, planets, and stars visible from your location.

Speaking of stars, where do they all go during the day? They don't disappear, of course; they're simply outshined by the bright sun. It's like watching a fireworks show during the day – the dazzling colours are still there, but they're overwhelmed by the sunlight.

Remember how I mentioned the worst time to view the moon is when it's full? Well, this weekend is the perfect time because it's in its half phase. The bright half is now on the left side, towards the east, catching the rays of the dawning sun. At this "last quarter" phase, the moon is actually ahead of Earth in our orbit around the sun. So, when you see it in the sky, imagine that 3½ hours later, Earth will be occupying the same spot in space!

The moon's phases are caused by its dance around Earth. As the moon revolves around our planet, different parts of its surface are bathed in sunlight, creating the familiar cycle from full moon to new moon. This entire cycle takes about 29.5 days, the time it takes the moon to complete one orbit around Earth.

Ultimately, whether you see the stars as celestial data points or celestial storytellers, remember, they hold the power to ignite both scientific inquiry and personal wonder. So, the next time you gaze at the night sky, let your curiosity soar, but remember, the true magic lies not in predicting your future, but in understanding the incredible reality of our universe.

**Leave a message or comments on this website Email me directly :

NB/ Please Include Your Name and Email address If You Require An Answer.

'ASTRO DAVE' RENEKE - A Personal Perspective

I've often been asked what I do, where I've been and what sort of activities I've engaged in throughout my 50 years involvement in astronomy and space. Here is an interview i did with Delving with Des Kennedy on Rhema 99.9 recently. 

David Reneke, a highly regarded Australian amateur astronomer and lecturer with over 50 years of experience, has established himself as a prominent figure in the field of astronomy. With affiliations to leading global astronomical institutions, David serves as the Editor for Australia's Astro-Space News Magazine and has previously held key editorial roles with Sky & Space Magazine and Australasian Science magazine.

His extensive background includes teaching astronomy at the college level, being a featured speaker at astronomy conventions across Australia, and contributing as a science correspondent for both ABC and commercial radio stations. David's weekly radio interviews, reaching around 3 million listeners, cover the latest developments in astronomy and space exploration.

As a media personality, David's presence extends to regional, national, and international TV, with appearances on prominent platforms such as Good Morning America, American MSNBC news, the BBC, and Sky News in Australia. His own radio program has earned him major Australasian awards for outstanding service.

David is recognized for his engaging and unique style of presenting astronomy and space discovery, having entertained and educated large audiences throughout Australia. In addition to his presentations, he produces educational materials for beginners and runs a popular radio program in Hastings, NSW, with a substantial following and multiple awards for his radio presentations.

In 2004, David initiated the 'Astronomy Outreach' program, touring primary and secondary schools in NSW to provide an interactive astronomy and space education experience. Sponsored by Tasco Australia, Austar, and Discovery Science channel, the program donated telescopes and grants to schools during a special tour in 2009, contributing to the promotion of astronomy education in Australia. BELOW Is the recorded interview  


Many thanks to Peter and the crew at ASTRO ANARCHY Queensland. A New business with the amateur astronomer firmly in mind.  Astro Anarchy has the experience, the stock and the knowledge to set up the first timer, to assist in the development of our hobby for the experienced observer OR cater to any other size need or desire in the field of amateur astronomy. 

ATRO ANARCHY AS OUR SPONSOR: My business partner Peter Davies and I have set up a new Astro Tourism business focusing on the recently 'Dark Sky Town' accredited to Norfolk Island. We call it 'Norfolk Island STARGAZING'. When approached, Pete from Astro Anarchy had no hesitation in organizing and supplying all our Telescopes, Binoculars and associated gear to get started. Nothing was any trouble allowing us more than enough time to set up and become fully operational. He and he and his business come highly recommended for anyone wanting any astronomical gear in Australia.

Web:    Sales:   Phone: 0412 085 224

'Astro Dave' Is Radio-Active 

Heard On DOZENS Of Stations Weekly - CLICK for past interviews