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Weird, Wild & Breaking News Stories in Space and Astronomy From Around The World 24/7 Weekly With Updates. It's a FREE Service To The Public and ALL Media, It's Safe and Reliable. (Est. 2002)

This news service is emailed out each week to all requesting radio stations across Australia.  David Reneke ('Astro Dave') is one of Australia's most well known and respected astronomers and lecturers with links to some of the world's leading astronomical institutions. David is radio savvy, well experienced talking to the media and presents information in an easy to understand, up to date and informative manner. Enquiries for interviews or info Ph: (02) 6585 2260 Mobile: 0400 636 363 Email: davereneke@gmail.com

Take The Amazing Norfolk Island 'STARGAZING' Experience

A Holiday That Is Literally 'Out Of This World'

I am pleased to announce a new tourism business that I am involved with on Norfolk Island, called Norfolk Island Stargazing. 

Ask Yourself Have You Ever... Touched a real space rock? Seen the rings of Saturn? Viewed star clusters 17,000 light years away? Seen the craters and 'seas' on the Moon up close... or just looked through a large telescope? View Planets, Exploding Stars, Clusters, Laser Guided Sky Tour + More!

The island proudly has little or no light pollution, boasts one of the darkest skies on Earth and is an ideal location for deep sky observing and Astro photography. * FREE 'Space Pack' with Each Booking! Norfolk Island is now a recognized Gold Level Dark Sky Town

Norfolk Island Stargazing Tour #2 December 7th - 14th 2021 / Tour #3 March/April 2022

The Tour Includes

Return economy airfare (ex Sydney or Brisbane), return airport transfers, 7 nights' accommodation, 7 days car hire, welcome function, half day island tour, two indoor astronomy presentations, three telescope night viewings (weather permitting), three laser guided star tours (weather permitting), safe solar viewing experience and farewell dinner. Other optional island tours will be available.

Cost per person : Depart Sydney: $2,599 Depart Brisbane: $2,589

For full details https://www.norfolkislandtravelcentre.com/event/astro-dave-norfolk-island-stargazing-tour/      

General Info & Bookings: Sophie O'Connor, her email issophie@travelcentre.nf Norfolk Island Travel Centre: 1800 1400 66

Jeff Bezos Is Going To Space (For A Few Minutes)

Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos announced he'll be on board a spaceflight next month in a capsule attached to a rocket made by his space exploration company Blue Origin. Bezos is seen here in 2019. MARK RALSTON / AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES
Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos announced he'll be on board a spaceflight next month in a capsule attached to a rocket made by his space exploration company Blue Origin. Bezos is seen here in 2019. MARK RALSTON / AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES

Jeff Bezos' Space Trek Could Usher In New Era Of Space Tourism. Jeff Bezos has already selected a hobby for his post-CEO life: space travel. Just two weeks after he steps down as CEO of Amazon, Bezos will climb aboard a rocket made by his space exploration company Blue Origin.

"If you see the earth from space, it changes you. It changes your relationship with this planet, with humanity. It's one earth," Bezos said in a video posted to Instagram on Monday morning. "Ever since I was five years old, I've dreamed of traveling to space."

Blue Origin's rocket is called New Shepard, and it's reusable - the idea being that reusing rockets will lower the cost of going to space and make it more accessible. The pressurized capsule has space for six passengers. There are no pilots. This will be the first time a crew will be aboard the New Shepard, in a capsule attached to the rocket. And it won't just be Bezos: He invited his brother Mark, too.

Blue Origin's New Shepard rocket is seen here launching with a capsule attached in 2019.
Blue Origin's New Shepard rocket is seen here launching with a capsule attached in 2019.

Want to join the Bezos brothers? You can bid on a seat on the flight in an auction that benefits Blue Origin's foundation, which has the mission of inspiring future generations to pursue careers in STEM. The current high bid is $2.8 million. The flight is scheduled for July 20 - the anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing in 1969. Bezos gives up his CEO title on July 5, when he'll pass the reins to Andy Jassy, who currently leads Amazon's cloud computing division.

What does it mean, Bezos is going "to space"?

Technically, the Karman line is the altitude at which space begins - about 62 miles above sea level. But Bezos won't be above that line for long. The flight is expected to last about 11 minutes, and only a small portion of that time is above the Karman line, according to a graphic of the flight trajectory on Blue Origin's website. The New Shepard's journey is called suborbital flight, meaning the rocket isn't powerful enough to enter Earth's orbit.

A giant leap for 'billionaire-kind'

Bezos isn't alone in spending some of his enormous wealth on space exploration. Elon Musk's SpaceX Crew Dragon now regularly carries astronauts to and from the International Space Station. And in May, a test flight by Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic reached an altitude of 55 miles, marking its third human spaceflight. But neither Musk nor Branson has traveled to space yet in their companies' aircrafts.

The Flight

Blue Origin's flight to the edge of space-known as suborbital-will only last about 10 to 15 minutes, just enough time to reach an altitude to allow Bezos, his brother Mark, and four more passengers to float in weightlessness. (The others will include Blue Origin employees and the winner of an online auction that currently stands at $3.8 million and ends Saturday.) Then the capsule will return to Earth under three parachutes and land in the West Texas desert.

Blue Origin's New Shepard capsule is 100 percent automated. There's no pilot and the passengers can't maneuver or adjust course. The only task that passengers have to accomplish is to unbuckle and then rebuckle their seatbelts, so they can float around and watch the Earth roll by through the capsule's massive windows.

Hilton's bizarre 1967 plan for a space hotel

The Orbiter Hilton was a capsule capable of accommodating up to 24 guests as a stopover on the way to the moon.
The Orbiter Hilton was a capsule capable of accommodating up to 24 guests as a stopover on the way to the moon.

Two years before Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon, the Hilton chain of hotels was already planning to welcome guests in space. "Scarcely a day goes by when someone doesn't ask me, jovially, when the Lunar Hilton is going to be opened. They're joking, of course -- but I don't see it as a joke at all," said Barron Hilton at an American Astronomical Society conference in Dallas on May 2, 1967.Hilton, who was then the president of the family business, proceeded to lay out a detailed plan that included both orbiting and lunar hotels. 

"By 1967, we'd only been doing jet travel for less than 10 years, so this was really a far-reaching concept," says Mark E. Young, a hospitality industry historian at the University of Houston. "But it got a lot of attention: It was in newspapers for the next several days, and not only in the US but around the world. People wrote letters asking to sign reservations. In some ways it was Barron's greatest PR coup."

Barron Hilton was an aviation enthusiast who could fly airplanes, gliders, helicopters and hot air balloons. He organized flying competitions and get-togethers with pilots and astronauts at his "Flying M" ranch in Nevada, which included an airfield. Space was his next frontier: "I firmly believe that we are going to have Hiltons in outer space, perhaps even soon enough for me to officiate at the formal opening of the first," he told attendees in Dallas.

He died in 2019 and never saw his dream realized, but with space tourism potentially just around the corner and commercial space stations not too far away, an actual space hotel doesn't sound too farfetched anymore. First on his road map was the Orbiter Hilton, a sort of space laboratory whose 14 levels were designed to accommodate up to 24 people. It was intended for "short trips in space," such as stopovers on a journey to the moon or another planet, and would welcome guests arriving in "a six-man ferrycraft," Hilton explained.

Lunar hotel

The hotel was designed with a bar where guests could order cocktails. University of Houston Hilton Archives
The hotel was designed with a bar where guests could order cocktails. University of Houston Hilton Archives

Once the orbital capsules were established, Hilton's next step was to build a fully fledged underground hotel on the moon, the Lunar Hilton.The entrance would have been at surface level, with the rest of the structure 20 to 30 feet underground, to keep a constant temperature more easily -- surface temperature on the moon can vary from a scalding 260 F (127 C) to a freezing -280 F (-173 C).

The Lunar Hilton was designed with three levels: a mechanical one at the bottom for all the equipment and engineering; a middle one with two 400-foot corridors containing 100 guest rooms; and a top one for public space, including a cocktail lounge. "The bartenders will have an easy job," Hilton said. "They will push a button and out will come a pre-measured, pre-cooled mixture of pure ethyl alcohol and distilled water. Into the mixture the bartender drops a tablet -- martini, Manhattan, scotch, gin -- you name it...Instant drink!" 

Cooking, rather worryingly, would be done in a "nuclear-reactor kitchen, mostly by machines."The rooms would look remarkably like those on regular Hiltons." They wanted to retain as much of the feel of a hotel room on Earth as they could, within the limitations of space technology -- which is kind of interesting, I think, because if you're an astronaut, that's probably the last thing you're worried about," said Young.

The key

To better sell the idea, Hilton consulted with Don Douglas, then chairman of the McDonnell Douglas aircraft manufacturer, with a feasibility study done by students at Cornell University, who came complete with some interesting sketches and props. Among them is a mockup of a room reservation. "I love that, because they were trying to imagine what the key of the future would look like in 1967," says Young.

"So they came up with a sleek-looking key, but what we've actually been using as hotel keys for the last 25 years or so -- the key card -- was really beyond their comprehension." There were other things beyond comprehension at the time. In 1968, a year later, the idea was brought to life with even more visual flair in Stanley Kubrick's masterpiece "2001: A Space Odyssey," which included a scene in the lounge area of a Hilton space hotel. But was Hilton truly convinced he could build an orbiting hotel in his lifetime? . We hadn't even landed on the moon yet, but if NASA was ever to be serious about putting a hotel up there or something like that, Hilton wanted to be first in line.

US Pentagon To Produce UFO Answers This Month

Could the world soon get answers to its burning UFO questions? In December 2020, U.S. senator Marco Rubio asked the Pentagon to investigate UFOs, or UAPs (unidentified aerial phenomena), as they've been rebranded in U.S. military jargon. With the help of the Senate Intelligence Committee, his request called for an unclassified report on everything government agencies know about UAPs within six months. That includes the scores of unusual sightings reported by military pilots. And the six-month stretch is almost up. The report is due in June 2021, and Rubio seems eager to see it.

In an interview with CBS's 60 Minutes reporter Bill Whitaker, Rubio said: I want us to take it seriously and have a process to take it seriously. I want us to have a process to analyze the data every time it comes in. There [should] be a place where this is cataloged and constantly analyzed until we get some answers. Maybe it has a very simple answer. Maybe it doesn't.

Scientists, pilots and UFOs

It's in the nature of scientific thought that hypotheticals - for example, the notion that UFOs are extraterrestrial spacecraft - require proof. And, so far, there is no scientific proof that aliens from other planets have traveled across the vastness of space to visit Earth. Astronomers know that the most UFO sightings aren't truly "unidentified." They stem from people's lack of experience with looking at the night sky. For example, many UFO sightings are really sightings of the brightest planet, Venus.

On the other hand, many have seen viral videos of the common UAP encounters with U.S. Navy pilots over the past few years. In these videos, some UAPs even appear faster and more maneuverable than the newest, most advanced aircraft in America's military fleet. One of the most popularized examples was nicknamed the Tic Tac. In a 2004 video, the recording of a tiny, agile, ellipse-shaped UAP was apparently taken aboard a Navy fighter jet from the nuclear aircraft carrier USS Nimitz. Like the other videos featured on May 17's episode of "60 Minutes," Pentagon officials have confirmed that the video was filmed by naval aviators.

What is Tic Tac?

Tic Tac was one of three UAPs caught on video that Christopher Mellon - who served as U.S. defense secretary for intelligence - declassified for the New York Times. In 2017, after he had left his position with the government, the Times published a story about the videos. It also reported on the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program, a Pentagon project tasked with investigating such sightings. Mellon told "60 Minutes" that he took these steps out of concern that not enough was being done to investigate.

He said to Whitaker: It's bizarre and unfortunate that someone like myself has to do something like that to get a national security issue like this on the agenda. Rubio added: Anything that enters an airspace that's not supposed to be there is a threat.

UFO threat to national security?

It's possible that the reported UAPs are some kind of advanced aircraft developed by an adversary nation such as Russia or China. In that case, they really are a threat to national security. However, experts have also suggested that the sightings might arise from issues with the Navy jets' instruments (although pilots report seeing the UAPs with the unaided eye as well).

Lue Elizondo - a former military intelligence officer - emphasized how the subject of UAPs or UFOs has gone from frivolous to serious inquiry. According to the Washington Post, Elizondo was involved in a secret Department of Defense meeting held in the Capitol building. He runs the unit that later emerged from the meeting, called the Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Task Force. Its mission "is to detect, analyze and catalog UAPs that could potentially pose a threat to U.S. national security," according to the Pentagon.

Elizondo said in an interview with the Post: We are now relying on military and intelligence-collection capabilities to collect the data and then try to interpret the data. This is not a conversation about how grandma saw some lights in the backyard and then people wind up scratching their heads wondering what it was ... We're seeing these things on a daily basis. The longer we keep a lid on it, the more problematic it becomes. It actually works against our interests to keep a cork on this.

People like Rubio, Mellon, and Elizondo say they hope that an explanation will shut down any threats, if those threats are indeed from earthly nations, not other worlds.

This infographic (above) shows how UFO reports are on the rise. These recent reports are coinciding with SpaceX's launch of thousands of satellites into Earth-orbit with the goal of creating a global internet service. The SpaceX Starlink satellites frequently can be seen crossing the sky in groups. They look strange! Can they be causing the rise in UFO reports?


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: https://www.astroanarchy.com.au/    Sales: sales@astroanarchy.com.au   Phone: 0412 085 224

'Stargazing' - Astronomy Nights At Your Place

Ask Yourself Have You Ever...looked through a large telescope? Touched a real space rock? Seen the rings of Saturn, Jupiter's Moon? Viewed star clusters thousands of light years away OR seen huge craters and 'seas' on the Moon up close? 

Our special program is unique... a never to be forgotten journey of the night sky. There is nothing quite like seeing the distant stars and planets with your own eyes through our magnificent telescopes - and it's all done from your backyard with your friends around!  *See more on this STARGAZING program: : Click


Testar has several hundreds of items imported from all across the world, ready to be shipped to you so you don't have to wait or pre-order. Just get your gears fast and easy! Everything that is in stock is actually in stock and the website reflects what we have on hand. Go visit the website and check out the range: TESTAR

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