'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  


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 dips below the horizon, casting long shadows across the emerald hills and azure waters, a transformation begins to unfold. The cloak of darkness descends, not as an oppressive shroud, but as a welcoming embrace, unveiling the universe in all its breathtaking glory. With each passing moment, the fabric of the sky becomes adorned with an ever-increasing tapestry of celestial jewels, each star twinkling with an intensity rarely witnessed from the light-polluted landscapes that dominate much of the world.

The absence of artificial light pollution is not the only factor that makes Norfolk Island a stargazer's paradise. The island's subtropical climate, with its warm, clear nights and minimal cloud cover, provides an ideal setting for celestial observation. As you gaze upwards, the Milky Way stretches across the heavens, a swirling river of countless stars, its ethereal beauty leaving an indelible mark on the soul.

Join a 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 that lie beyond our reach.

As you peer through the eyepiece of a powerful telescope, the universe unveils its hidden treasures. The rings of Saturn, delicately poised like a celestial hula hoop, will leave you in awe, while the vibrant colors of the Jewel Box star cluster will paint your imagination with hues you never knew existed.

But the allure of Norfolk Island's stargazing extends far beyond the visual spectacle. It is an experience that transcends the realm of mere observation, offering a profound connection with the cosmos and our place within it. As you stand beneath the vast expanse of the starry sky, surrounded by the tranquil silence of the island, a sense of awe and humility washes over you. You are reminded of your place in the grand scheme of the universe, a tiny speck amidst an infinite tapestry of stars.

Norfolk Island's stargazing tours are not just about observing the cosmos; they are about reconnecting with our inner selves, about rediscovering the magic and wonder that often lie dormant amidst the distractions of modern life. They are an invitation to pause, to breathe, to contemplate the vastness and beauty of the universe, and to find solace and inspiration in its celestial embrace.            FOR BOOKING ENQUIRIES/COSTS ETC Email:

Our galaxy's black hole spins fast and drags space-time with it, scientists say

When the spin axis of a black hole is tipped relative to the plane of the material coming in, it drags the material out of that plane as the fabric of spacetime warps around the black hole. Credit: ICRAR  Photo: ICRAR
When the spin axis of a black hole is tipped relative to the plane of the material coming in, it drags the material out of that plane as the fabric of spacetime warps around the black hole. Credit: ICRAR Photo: ICRAR

The supermassive black hole at the center of our galaxy, Sagittarius A*, is spinning rapidly and altering space-time around it, a new study has found. Space-time is the four-dimensional continuum that describes how we see space, fusing one-dimensional time and three-dimensional space together to represent the space fabric that curves in response to massive celestial bodies.

A team of physicists observed the black hole, which is located 26,000 light-years from Earth, with NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory, a telescope designed to detect the X-ray emissions from hot regions of the universe. They calculated Sagittarius A*'s rotational speed by using what is known as the outflow method, which looks at radio waves and X-ray emissions that can be found in the material and gases surrounding black holes, otherwise known as the accretion disk, according to the study published October 21 in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

The researchers confirmed that the black hole is spinning, which causes what is known as the Lense-Thirring effect. Also known as frame dragging, the Lense-Thirring effect is what happens when a black hole drags space-time along with its spin, said lead study author Ruth Daly, a physics professor at Penn State University who designed the outflow method over a decade ago.

Since the invention of the outflow method, Daly has been working to determine the spin of various black holes and authored a 2019 study that explored over 750 supermassive black holes. "With this spin, Sagittarius A* will be dramatically altering the shape of space-time in its vicinity," Daly said. "We're used to thinking and living in a world where all the spatial dimensions are equivalent — the distance to the ceiling and the distance to the wall and the distance to the floor … they all sort of are linear, it's not like one is totally squished up compared to the others.

"But if you have a rapidly rotating black hole, the space-time around it is not symmetric — the spinning black hole is dragging all of the space-time around with it … it squishes down the space-time, and it sort of looks like a football," she said.The altering of space-time is nothing to worry about, but illuminating this phenomenon could be very useful to astronomers, Daly said. "It's a wonderful tool to understand the role that black holes play in galaxy formation and evolution," she said. "The fact that they're dynamical entities which can be spinning … and then that can impact the galaxy that this is sitting in — it's very exciting and very interesting."

The spin of supermassive black holes

The spin of a black hole is given a value from 0 to 1, with 0 meaning the black hole is not spinning, and 1 being the maximum spin value. Previously there was no consensus on a value for the spin of Sagittarius A*, Daly said. With the outflow method, which is the only method that uses both information from the outflow and from the material within the vicinity of the black hole, Daly said, Sagittarius A* was found to have a spin angular momentum value between 0.84 and 0.96, whereas M87* — a black hole in the Virgo galaxy cluster that is 55 million light-years from Earth, was found to spin at the value of 1 (with a larger uncertainty of plus or minus 0.2) and is near the maximum for its mass.

While the team had found the two black holes to be spinning at similar rates, M87* is much more massive than Sagittarius A*, Daly said, so Sagittarius A* has less distance to cover and spins more times per one spin of M87*. Sagittarius A* "is spinning much more rapidly (in comparison), not because it has a higher spin angular momentum, but because it has less distance to travel when it goes around once," Daly explained.

Black holes and galactic history

Knowing the mass and the spin of a black hole helps astronomers understand how the black hole might have formed and evolved, Daly said. Black holes that formed as a result of smaller black holes merging would typically see a low spin value, said Dejan Stojkovic, a professor of cosmology at the University at Buffalo who was not involved with the study. However, a black hole that was made with accretion of surrounding gas would see a high spin value.

The rate at which Sagittarius A* is spinning would indicate that a significant portion of the mass of the black hole came from accretion, he said."The question of whether our central galactic black hole rotates or not, or how fast it rotates, is quite important," Stojkovic said in an email.

"Ultimately, we want to measure the properties of the center of our galaxy as good as possible. This way we can learn about the history and structure of our galaxy, put our theories to (the) test, or even infer the existence of some very interesting and intriguing objects like wormholes," added Stojkovic, who was the lead author of a 2019 study on the hypothetical structures.

Life On Earth May Have Its Roots In Deep Space, New Research Suggests

The ingredients for life may have formed in interstellar space alongside stars or planets and be far older than scientists thought, according to new research by chemists. It suggests that the James Webb Space Telescope should be looking for prebiotic molecules where stars and planets are forming.

Life requires chemical elements (carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorus and sulfur), liquid water and an energy source, according to NASA. Life on Earth dates back about 3.8 billion years, with the first fossils being about 3.5 billion years old. Among the carbon-based molecules that are the building blocks for life are amino acids, which some theories say may have formed on early Earth. However, this new research suggests a different source.

Research published Sunday in the journal ACS Central Science suggests that the simplest amino acid, carbamic acid, could have formed alongside stars or planets within the interstellar medium. That conclusion comes from lab-based chemistry. The researchers created models of the grains of ice found in deep space, which contain ammonia and carbon dioxide. When slowly heated, they produced carbamic acid and ammonium carbamate, which can turn into more complex amino acids—the ingredients of life.

That means they could have formed during the universe's earliest, coldest stages of star formation. They also discovered that the two molecules could combine to create a gas. The study's findings align with other research that suggests the extraterrestrial origin of the building blocks of life on Earth. All are building blocks for life. In April, prebiotic molecules were found in the Perseus Molecular Cloud, a young cluster of stars and gas in deep space, as reported . These findings fuel theories about where the ingredients for life originated and how they reached Earth.

A longstanding theory goes that asteroids and comets striking the planet over millions of years delivered all of Earth's water. That may be how prebiotic molecules arrived here, too. Last year, intact amino acids and vitamin B3 were found on asteroid Ryugu, while comets are thought to host hydrogen cyanide. A recent paper suggested that slow-moving comets traveling through planetary systems may spread the essentials for life around the galaxy.

A Horrifying Thing Happens to Your Fingernails After a Walk in Space

NASA astronaut Anne McClain showing a spacesuit glove in 2019. (NASA)
NASA astronaut Anne McClain showing a spacesuit glove in 2019. (NASA)

Let's face it, going to space is havoc on the human body. We evolved in an Earth environment, over hundreds of millions of years; so take away the Earth environment and things start going a little awry. There's bone and muscle density loss. There's vision problems from too much fluid in the brain; without gravity, bodily wetness is free to just float around inside willy-nilly. There's the problem with urination; turns out gravity is pretty essential to our sense of when we need to pee. There's possible erectile dysfunction (and it's not for the reason you think).

And in a particularly grotesque downside to spaceflight, after performing an extravehicular activity (EVA), more commonly known as a spacewalk, a surprising number of astronauts' fingernails just… fall off. Yep. It's gross. The technical term is onycholysis and the problem seems to have a lot more to do with atmospheric pressure than gravity. In space, there's very, very little ambient pressure, and that's sort of not very good for the human body. In order to be as safe as possible while performing EVAs, an astronaut's space suit needs to be pressurized. So far, so good. But when it comes to the hands, this becomes a problem.

"Injuries to the hands are common among astronauts who train for extravehicular activity (EVA)," wrote a team led by epidemiologist Jacqueline Charvat of Wyle Laboratories in a 2015 conference paper.  When the gloves are pressurized, they restrict movement and create pressure points during tasks, sometimes resulting in pain, muscle fatigue, abrasions, and occasionally more severe injuries such as onycholysis. Glove injuries, both anecdotal and recorded, have been reported during EVA training and flight persistently through NASA's history regardless of mission or glove model."

An EVA can be quite a long day stuck in a spacesuit – the longest ever recorded was 8 hours and 56 minutes. (Yes, before you ask, there is a spacesuit solution to the pee thing.) That's a long time to be wearing gloves that can cause and exacerbate hand injuries. Hands are pretty important, especially if you're performing manual tasks outside the space station that can't be done any other way. Lots of thought has been given to this problem. As Charvat and her team noted, it seemed to occur no matter the design of the glove. And figuring out what exactly causes the problem has proven surprisingly difficult.

In 2010, a team of researchers studied 232 hand injuries reported by astronauts, and found a significant correlation between the width and circumference of astronauts' metacarpophalangeal joints – that's the knuckles at the top of your fist, where your palm and fingers meet – and their injury risk. Their study suggested that spacesuit gloves limit the mobility of these knuckles, which places more pressure on the fingers, resulting in reduced blood flow, tissue damage, and onycholysis.

Spacesuit gloves are actually fairly complex. They're constructed from a minimum of four layers: the comfort layer that is in direct contact with the skin; a pressure bladder layer that inflates and stiffens when the glove is pressurized; a restraint layer to counter the stiffness of the pressure bladder, to allow movement; and the outer Thermal Micrometeoroid Garment layer, the outer skin of the spacesuit that protects the wearer within from, well, space. This outer layer is made up of several layers all on its own.

To try and narrow down the risk factors associated with onycholysis, a team led by engineer Christopher Reid, formerly of Lockheed Martin, now at Boeing, studied onycholysis injuries in astronauts. Published earlier this year, their study examined 31 onycholysis injuries – 27 during training exercises, four during EVAs – that were reported by 22 astronauts. They found the design of the glove did play a pretty significant role. Between the two glove types in their study, one was associated with 8.5 times the risk of fingernail loss. Most of the injuries occurred to the middle finger; glove sizing and middle finger length played a role, too. And onycholysis injury seemed more likely in women than men.

In all, the findings seem to suggest that poor glove fit may play a role… although, for NASA astronauts at least, gloves are personally fitted to each wearer. But a solution may finally be in sight, with new Artemis-era spacesuits looming on the horizon. So that's one less thing to be worried about. Now someone needs to figure out what to do if you need to burp. Astronauts sure must be dedicated to their jobs.

Interstellar astronauts would face years-long communication delays due to time dilation

Due to the mind-blowing distances and speeds required, interstellar travel would be extraordinarily difficult, if not impossible, for humanity to achieve. But new research highlights yet another challenge: communication blackouts. The next-closest star system to our own, Alpha Centauri, is over 4 light-years away, so barring any fancy sci-fi technological revolution in the next few centuries, if we want to spread among the stars, we'll have to do it the "slow" way.

That means we'd need some sort of propulsion method that could get us close to, but not exceed, the speed of light. But even if we were to achieve this ambitious goal, this futuristic mode of transportation would present all sorts of communication challenges, scientists explain in a paper recently uploaded to the preprint database arXiv.

The first problem is that light itself can only travel at a finite speed. While this doesn't severely hinder communication near Earth, engineers already have to deal with this challenge when communicating with probes sent across the solar system. For example, messages take minutes to arrive at Mars and hours to reach the outer planets. For even longer-distance communication — like an imagined scenario of a spacecraft sent to some star system many light-years away — it would mean any message would take years to reach the craft.

But that's not the only hurdle. Special relativity teaches us that clocks are not synchronized across the universe. Travelers on board the spacecraft would experience time dilation, in which time would flow more slowly than it would for people on Earth. This effect is already measurable; for example, it needs to be taken into account for synchronizing signals from GPS satellites. But in our imagined scenario, our travelers are moving as close to the speed of light as possible. This is absolutely essential for propagation out into the galaxy. Because of time dilation, the passengers would not experience the years and decades of travel; for them, depending on how fast they moved, only weeks or months might pass.

This time dilation would introduce serious issues for coordinating messages, which requires a significant amount of math. While annoying, that wouldn't be the hardest part of interstellar travel. Instead, it's that spacecraft traveling at near light speed would suffer severe communication blackout periods. In their paper, the researchers investigated two hypothetical interstellar-travel scenarios. In the first, travelers would continue to accelerate their spacecraft at a constant 1 g of acceleration — the same acceleration provided naturally by Earth's gravity. This would send their spacecraft ever closer to the speed of light.

Curiously, this kind of constant acceleration would introduce an event horizon. If the people of Earth sent a message to the spacecraft, that message would be limited to the speed of light. It would race ahead toward the spaceship, but in the meantime, the ship also would move away from the signal. If the message were sent soon enough, it would eventually reach the ship after a significant time delay. But if they were to wait too long, the message would never arrive; the spacecraft would always be one step ahead of the message, and from their perspective, signals from Earth would eventually go dark.

The second scenario offers different challenges. The researchers considered the case of a spacecraft sent to a distant destination. At first the spacecraft would constantly accelerate, but midway through its journey, it would flip itself around and decelerate so that it didn't just fly by its target. This scenario would introduce its own set of communication challenges. First, the spacecraft would stop receiving messages from Earth after a certain amount of time. These messages would eventually reach the spacecraft, but only after it had reached its destination and stopped moving.

On the other hand, the spacecraft would be able to send signals to Earth, and those signals would always reach their targets. Also, signals sent from the destination (say, a colony already set up on the distant planet) would always reach the spacecraft while it was cruising in that direction. But signals sent from the spacecraft to the destination would not arrive until shortly before the craft itself got there, at which time all of the sent messages would pile up on each other, announcing the arrival of the craft.

These realities mean that communication with near-light-speed spacecraft would be very challenging. All interstellar vehicles must operate independently, because after a certain amount of time, they will be cut off from Earth. If a problem arises, they will be able to tell people on Earth about it, but they won't be able to hear a response. Also, distant colonies wouldn't know about the launch of a spacecraft in their direction until shortly before the craft arrived there. No matter what, interstellar travel would be a lonely journey.

 Put Your Name on NASA's Mission to Europa"

Join NASA's Message in a Bottle campaign, which will send your name on a space journey
Join NASA's Message in a Bottle campaign, which will send your name on a space journey

In the vast expanse of our solar system, where celestial bodies dance in an eternal ballet, the notion of sending one's name on a journey to the distant moons of Jupiter might seem like a whimsical dream. However, in the era of space exploration, dreams are becoming reality, and NASA's ambitious missions are bringing the unreachable within our grasp. One such endeavor is the upcoming mission to Jupiter's moon Europa, where my name, along with countless others, will embark on a cosmic odyssey.

The moon Europa, a captivating world enshrouded in mystery, has long captured the imaginations of scientists and space enthusiasts alike. Beneath its icy surface lies a subsurface ocean, a tantalizing prospect that has fueled scientific curiosity and speculation about the potential for extraterrestrial life. NASA's mission to Europa aims to unravel the secrets hidden beneath its frozen crust and answer fundamental questions about the potential habitability of this distant moon.

As part of NASA's innovative outreach initiatives, individuals around the globe have been given the opportunity to add a personal touch to this historic mission. By submitting their names, people from all walks of life can symbolically join the spacecraft on its journey to the outer reaches of our solar system. This initiative not only fosters a sense of collective participation but also signifies the unity of humanity in our shared quest for knowledge and understanding of the cosmos.

Having my name etched onto a microchip aboard the spacecraft destined for Europa fills me with a profound sense of connection to the broader narrative of space exploration. It is a testament to the democratization of space, where ordinary individuals can play a small yet meaningful role in the grand tapestry of scientific discovery. The act of sending our names into the cosmos becomes a metaphorical representation of human curiosity and the insatiable desire to explore the unknown.

Furthermore, this mission to Europa exemplifies the relentless pursuit of knowledge that defines the human spirit. It serves as a reminder that the frontiers of discovery are not limited to our immediate surroundings but extend to the farthest reaches of our celestial neighborhood. The mission encapsulates the essence of exploration, pushing the boundaries of our understanding and inspiring future generations to reach for the stars.

In conclusion, the opportunity to send my name to Jupiter's moon Europa on a NASA spacecraft is more than a mere symbolic gesture; it is a tangible link between the individual and the cosmos. As the spacecraft hurtles through the vastness of space, my name, along with countless others, becomes a silent emissary, carrying the collective aspirations of humanity toward the distant realms of the unknown. In this era of cosmic exploration, we are all participants in the unfolding saga of our universe, leaving an indelible mark that transcends the boundaries of our terrestrial existence.

How high can we jump on other worlds?

Ever wondered how high you could jump on another world? When watching footage of the Apollo astronauts exploring the lunar surface, possibly the most striking thing is how they move in the lower lunar gravity. We're quite used to seeing people working in microgravity conditions, whether on the International Space Station (ISS) or experimental airplanes, but only 12 people have ever properly felt that curious low gravity of the moon.

Gravity is the force that occurs between any objects with mass. The moon has one-sixth the gravity of Earth because it has only one-sixth the mass of our planet. With less gravity, we get a combination of effects. Friction between surfaces, like between your shoes and the ground, depends on the force pushing the surfaces together, so less gravity means slippery shoes. This tendency to slip, and the physical restrictions of spacesuits, led the Apollo astronauts to develop their characteristic skip, which showed off the low gravity by how high they were skipping.

Everyone jumps differently, of course, but the average jump height on Earth is around 23.6 inches (60 centimeters) without getting into high jump techniques. So, given a suitable lunar base with enough room, how high could you jump on the moon? Leap height depends on how fast your body can push you upwards, and for the same set of legs on different planets, that depends on how strong gravity is.

On the moon, you'd be able to jump six times higher than you can right now — if you can manage 23.6 inches (60 centimeters) on Earth, then you could clear over 9.8 feet (three meters) on the moon, smashing the current world high jump record.

The next likely destination for humans is Mars. The Red Planet is also smaller than Earth, with one-third of the gravity, so you would be able to jump nearly three times as high, which is nearly the height of a standard door.

Within our solar system, the most Earthlike gravity should be Venus, with a surface gravity 90 percent that of Earth's, allowing you to jump 26.3 inches (67 cm), but we're unlikely to ever build a base or spacesuit that could allow us to stand on the surface of Venus due to the 752 degree Fahrenheit (400 degree Celsius) temperature and atmospheric pressure 92 times that on our planet. If we do reach Venus, you'll have to do your jumping in surprisingly feasible balloon-supported bases floating 31 miles (50 kilometers) above the surface.

Even though it's made up of gas, Jupiter has a much higher mass than Earth. But the absence of a ground surface on gas giants such as Jupiter and Saturn means gravity varies greatly throughout the planet. The mass of Jupiter is 318 times that of Earth's, suggesting that if you did manage to find a floor you would probably be squashed flat due to atmospheric pressure. 

Astronomers discover disc around star in another galaxy for the first time 

In a groundbreaking revelation, astronomers have achieved an unprecedented milestone by detecting a disc around a star located in a distant galaxy. This discovery marks a significant leap in our understanding of cosmic formations, as it not only expands our knowledge of stellar systems but also challenges previous assumptions about the distribution of such structures beyond the confines of our own Milky Way.

The Discovery: The recent breakthrough comes from meticulous observations conducted by astronomers utilizing advanced telescopes and imaging technologies. The target of this exploration was a star residing in a galaxy far beyond the reaches of our own celestial neighborhood. Until now, such detailed scrutiny of stellar systems in external galaxies had been limited, making this finding an extraordinary achievement in the realm of observational astronomy.

Nature of the Disc: The newly discovered disc around the distant star bears resemblance to the familiar structures observed within our Milky Way. These discs, often comprised of gas and dust, play a pivotal role in the formation of planetary systems. The detection of a disc in a foreign galaxy not only broadens our comprehension of galactic diversity but also prompts a reevaluation of existing theories regarding the ubiquity and characteristics of such celestial features.

Implications for Astrophysics: This groundbreaking discovery carries profound implications for astrophysics, providing researchers with invaluable insights into the commonality of stellar discs throughout the universe. The presence of such structures in an extragalactic context challenges conventional assumptions about the uniqueness of our galaxy's features. As astronomers continue to refine their observational techniques and expand their survey of distant galaxies, a more nuanced understanding of cosmic architectures is likely to emerge.

Advancements in Technology: The success of this discovery owes much to the technological advancements in observational instruments. Cutting-edge telescopes equipped with sophisticated detectors and imaging capabilities have enabled astronomers to delve deeper into the cosmos than ever before. As technology continues to evolve, the prospect of uncovering more celestial secrets in distant galaxies becomes increasingly promising.

Conclusion: The revelation of a disc around a star in another galaxy represents a monumental stride in our quest to unravel the mysteries of the universe. This discovery not only underscores the significance of technological innovation in modern astronomy but also underscores the interconnectedness of cosmic phenomena across vast intergalactic distances. As astronomers build upon this milestone, the potential for further revelations about the nature and diversity of stellar systems throughout the cosmos remains boundless.

Amateur Astronomer Captures Large Flash As Something Slams Into Jupiter

The flash, to the right hand side, can be seen in a video.  Image courtesy of Kunihiko Suzuki.
The flash, to the right hand side, can be seen in a video. Image courtesy of Kunihiko Suzuki.

An amateur astronomer has captured an object slamming into Jupiter, producing a bright flash of light as it disintegrated in the gas giant's atmosphere. Jupiter is so massive that it technically doesn't orbit the Sun. With such a gravitational pull, you'd expect it to be regularly impacted by asteroids that make their way to its part of the Solar System, and you'd be right. 

One model simulation study in 2013 estimated that the planet experiences 12−60 impacts of 5 to 20 meter (16.5 to 65 foot) diameter objects every year. Another study estimated that larger objects of around 1.6 kilometers (1 mile) in diameter impact the planet once every 6,000 years.

However, actually capturing these impacts as they happen is something of a rarity. At the time of that study, three flashes had been captured by amateur astronomers on the planet, which the team determined to be asteroids. The latest impact, captured by amateur astronomer Kunihiko Suzuki on November 15, is one of only a small handful of such events recorded on the planet.

Studying the light curves from such impacts can tell us about the amount of energy released by the object (be it an asteroid or comet) as well as what the object was.

The more we learn about such impacts the better. Many suspect Jupiter plays a role in protecting the inner planets from asteroid impacts, drawing comets and asteroids away from us.

Searching for systems with gas giants may help us find planets that have been similarly shielded from extinction-causing impact events that could wipe out life before it progressed beyond single-celled organisms. However, there have also been suggestions that the planet acts as a slingshot, pulling in objects from further out in the Solar System that would otherwise not have made it closer to the Sun.

 "Russia's Pioneering Long-Duration Space Simulation: A Year of Isolation for Human Space Exploration"

SIRIUS-23 crew members pose for a portrait before their 360 days of isolation.  (Image credit: IBMP)
SIRIUS-23 crew members pose for a portrait before their 360 days of isolation. (Image credit: IBMP)

In a groundbreaking initiative, a team of six individuals in Russia ventured into the uncharted territory of a year-long space journey simulation, immersing themselves in isolation to unravel the mysteries of prolonged space travel. This innovative experiment, designed to mimic the conditions of an extended space mission on Earth, held the promise of invaluable insights into the psychological and physiological challenges that astronauts might face during future interplanetary voyages.

Set against the backdrop of the vast and awe-inspiring Russian landscape, the isolated facility became the stage for this unprecedented undertaking. Nestled away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, the team of pioneers aimed to push the boundaries of our understanding of the human experience in isolation and confinement, mirroring the challenges inherent in long-duration space missions.

The six individuals, carefully selected for their diverse skills and backgrounds, embarked on this extraordinary adventure with a shared vision – to contribute to the advancement of human space exploration. Their isolation experiment sought to address critical questions regarding the mental resilience, interpersonal dynamics, and physical well-being of astronauts who may find themselves journeying through the cosmos for extended periods.

Within the confines of their isolated habitat, resembling a spacecraft environment, the team navigated a meticulously planned daily routine. The structure included work tasks, exercise regimens, leisure activities, and even simulated emergencies to assess their response under stress. The experiment's success hinged on the participants' ability to adapt to the challenges of isolation, fostering camaraderie and mutual support amidst the confined quarters.

The psychological toll of extended isolation emerged as a central focus of the study. Participants grappled with the emotional nuances of prolonged confinement, as they navigated the ebb and flow of camaraderie, occasional tension, and the need for personal space. Researchers closely monitored their mental well-being, employing psychological assessments and regular interviews to gauge the effects of isolation on mood, cognition, and overall mental health.

In addition to the psychological aspects, the experiment delved into the intricacies of the participants' physical health. Continuous monitoring of vital signs, dietary intake, and exercise routines allowed researchers to observe the impact of isolation on the human body. This comprehensive approach aimed to uncover potential health risks associated with extended space travel, providing essential data for the development of countermeasures to mitigate these challenges.

As the experiment unfolded, the team faced a multitude of scenarios designed to simulate the unpredictable nature of space missions. From technical malfunctions to communication blackouts, the participants honed their problem-solving skills and resilience in the face of adversity. These simulated challenges not only tested their individual capabilities but also assessed their ability to function as a cohesive team—a critical factor in the success of any space mission.

The groundbreaking nature of Russia's long-duration space journey simulation garnered international attention, offering a glimpse into the future of human space exploration. The data collected from this ambitious experiment promised to shape the development of strategies, technologies, and protocols essential for ensuring the well-being and success of astronauts embarking on extended missions beyond our planet.

In the wake of their year-long odyssey, the six participants emerged as pioneers, having weathered the challenges of isolation to contribute valuable insights to the scientific community. Russia's bold venture into this uncharted realm not only propelled advancements in our understanding of human endurance but also paved the way for the next generation of explorers who may one day journey into the cosmos, armed with the knowledge gleaned from this remarkable experiment.

NASA May Pay $1 Billion to Destroy the International Space Station. Here's Why

For nearly a quarter century, the International Space Station (ISS) has stood as a testament to international collaboration and human ingenuity in the realm of space exploration. This orbiting laboratory, a joint venture primarily between the United States and Russia, has outlived its initial life expectancy of 15 years. However, as the ISS approaches the end of its operational life, NASA faces the intricate challenge of safely decommissioning this symbol of global cooperation.

The Looming Challenge:

The fate of the ISS is intricately tied to its location in low-Earth orbit, where atmospheric drag gradually pulls it downward. Without periodic boosts, the ISS loses altitude, ultimately leading to its disintegration as it re-enters Earth's atmosphere. The complexities of safely deorbiting such a colossal structure present a formidable engineering and diplomatic challenge.

Safety Concerns and Delicate Diplomacy:

The ISS, as a colossal structure, poses risks if left in orbit indefinitely. Decommissioning it involves a delicate balance between controlled descent and the avoidance of uncontrolled reentry, which could result in significant harm to people and property on Earth. The potential danger underscores the need for a meticulous and well-planned strategy.

Proposed Solutions:

NASA's current plan involves evaluating commercial proposals for vehicles capable of safely deorbiting the ISS, estimated to cost nearly $1 billion. The ideal process entails a custom-built vehicle initiating a controlled descent, adjusting the trajectory to minimize risks, and ultimately guiding the ISS to a deliberate, planned demise over the sparsely inhabited southern Pacific Ocean.

Challenges in International Relations:

The geopolitical landscape further complicates the ISS's fate. Tensions between the U.S. and Russia, exacerbated by Russia's actions in Ukraine and a series of spaceflight incidents, have strained the ISS collaboration. The dependence on Russian Progress vehicles for deorbiting adds an additional layer of uncertainty. An American deorbit vehicle becomes increasingly desirable for NASA, diminishing Russia's bargaining power.

Future International Collaborations:

The impending end of the ISS raises questions about the future of international collaborations in space. As the space community shifts its focus, conversations about future partnerships and the emergence of new players like China come to the forefront. The demise of the ISS marks the end of an era, prompting considerations for the next chapter in space exploration.


As the ISS approaches the final phase of its mission, the challenges of safely decommissioning it underscore the intricacies of managing colossal structures in space. The delicate interplay between engineering, international relations, and geopolitical dynamics highlights the complexity of the task at hand. The end of the ISS not only marks the conclusion of an unparalleled era of collaboration but also signals the beginning of new dialogues and partnerships in the ever-evolving landscape of space exploration.

Astronomers want to rename galaxies because of 'violent colonialist legacy'

126  25  Share  Email  Home Astronomy & Space Astronomy JANUARY 9, 2019  Magellanic Clouds prove it's never too late to get active by Sloan Digital Sky Survey  An astrophotographic portrait of the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds (lower left and upper right, respe
126 25 Share Email Home Astronomy & Space Astronomy JANUARY 9, 2019 Magellanic Clouds prove it's never too late to get active by Sloan Digital Sky Survey An astrophotographic portrait of the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds (lower left and upper right, respe

A group of astronomers is trying to change the name of the Milky Way's two brightest satellite galaxies because of the "violent colonialist" they are named after. The push to rebrand the Large Magellanic Cloud and Small Magellanic Cloud, named after the 16th-century Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan, is being led by Dr Mia de los Reyes, an assistant professor of astronomy at Amherst College in Massachusetts.

Reyes recently published an op-ed in the journal APS Physics where she made her case for the proposed switch, branding Magellan "a coloniser, a slaver and a murderer" because of what he did while sailing around the world 500 years ago. A first-hand account of Magellan's expedition detailed in Reyes' essay described how Magellan and his men enslaved the Tehuelche people in what is now Argentina.

"He placed iron manacles on the 'youngest and best proportioned' men, telling them that the manacles were gifts," the astronomer wrote. "In what became Guam and the Philippines, Magellan and his men burned villages and killed their inhabitants." The Portuguese became the first person to circumnavigate the globe, between 1519 and 1522.

During the expedition, a man on the ship wrote about two groups of stars that looked like clouds in the night sky in the Southern Hemisphere. They were later named the Large Magellanic Cloud and Small Magellanic Cloud, and became significant in astronomy because they were full of stellar bodies and offered scientists some of the best opportunities to study star formation.

Reyes argued indigenous people had their own names for the clouds well before Magellan and his men noted their appearance in the night sky. "Magellan made no astronomical discoveries, and for many, he continues to be a symbol of imperialist and anti-Indigenous violence," she wrote.

"I and many other astronomers believe that astronomical objects and facilities should not be named after Magellan, or after anyone else with a violent colonialist legacy." Last year some scientists and astronomers tried and failed to change the name of the James Webb Space Telescope, over allegations James Webb discriminated against, and fired, homosexual staff from the US federal force in the 1950s and '60s. 

Mouse Embryos Grown in Space for First Time

This undated photo released by the Roscosmos State Space Corporation shows the International Space Station.
This undated photo released by the Roscosmos State Space Corporation shows the International Space Station.

Mouse embryos have been grown on the International Space Station and developed normally in the first study indicating it could be possible for humans to reproduce in space, a group of Japanese scientists said.

The researchers, including Teruhiko Wakayama, professor of University of Yamanashi's Advanced Biotechnology Centre, and a team from the Japan Aerospace Space Agency (JAXA), sent frozen mouse embryos on board a rocket to the ISS in August 2021.

Astronauts thawed the early-stage embryos using a special device designed for this purpose and grew them on the station for four days. "The embryos cultured under microgravity conditions developed" normally into blastocysts, cells that develop into the foetus and placenta, the scientists said.

The experiment "clearly demonstrated that gravity had no significant effect," the researchers said in a study that was published online in the scientific journal iScience on Saturday. They also said there were no significant changes in condition of the DNA and genes, after they analysed the blastocysts that were sent back to their laboratories on Earth.

This is "the first-ever study that shows mammals may be able to thrive in space," University of Yamanashi and national research institute Riken said in a joint statement on Saturday. It is "the world's first experiment that cultured early-stage mammalian embryos under complete microgravity of ISS," the statement said. "In the future, it will be necessary to transplant the blastocysts that were cultured in ISS's microgravity into mice to see if mice can give birth" to confirm that the blastocysts are normal, it added.

Such research could be important for future space exploration and colonisation missions. Under its Artemis programme, NASA plans to send humans back to the Moon in order to learn how to live there long-term to help prepare a trip to Mars, sometime towards the end of the 2030s.


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Move Shoot Move 3-Axis Smartphone Adapter for Telescope

Reviewed by David Reneke, Mid North Coast Astronomy Group (NSW, Australia)

I recently had the pleasure of testing out the Move Shoot Move 3-Axis Smartphone Adapter for Telescope, and let me tell you, this little gadget is an absolute game-changer for astrophotography enthusiasts. Right off the bat, the all-metal gears on this phone adapter caught my eye. The craftsmanship is beautiful, and you can feel the sturdiness in your hands. The durability of this adapter ensures it can withstand the demands of outdoor use, and it exudes a quality that is truly commendable.

What sets the Move Shoot Move adapter apart is its ingenious design. Unlike other smartphone adapters, this one features three directional knobs (X, Y, and Z axis) that make aligning your phone's camera with the eyepiece a seamless process. In mere seconds, you can achieve perfect alignment, eliminating the need to constantly hold your phone, allowing you to focus on capturing that perfect image.

Ease of use is a critical factor for any accessory, and the Move Shoot Move adapter excels in this regard. The three-axis adjustment knobs make aligning the phone camera to the eyepiece an absolute cinch. Swapping eyepieces under the phone has never been easier, saving valuable time during those crucial moments. Compatibility is always a concern when it comes to accessories, but fear not with this adapter. It works flawlessly with a wide range of mobile phone models, including the latest offerings from Samsung, Google, and Apple. The digiscoping adapter's compatibility with eyepieces ranging from 0.86 to 2.4 inches in diameter ensures versatility in various setups.

As if the adapter itself wasn't impressive enough, the inclusion of the Bluetooth shutter release is a true blessing. This thoughtful addition reduces touch-related vibrations, resulting in clearer images. It's a small gift with a big impact, enhancing the overall user experience and making this package even more valuable. The Move Shoot Move 3-Axis Smartphone Adapter for Telescope is a stellar addition to any astrophotographer's toolkit. Its durability, unique design, ease of use, broad compatibility, and the added bonus of the Bluetooth shutter release make it a standout product. I wholeheartedly recommend it to fellow astronomy enthusiasts looking to elevate their astrophotography game. It's a game-changer you won't want to miss out on


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.

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