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Issue 12 - June 2000

Issue 13 - August 2000

Issue 14 - December 2000

 

Welcome back. Up until a few days ago, I had no idea of what to base this month's article on. But that was until I stumbled across the late night BBC programme, The Sky at Night, the world's longest running series, hosted by the wonderful Patrick Moore. On it, he happened to mention that August heralds the Earth's annual passing through the Perseid meteor shower, meaning a night sky full of shooting stars for the next few weeks (I'm told that the 11th and 12th are the best evenings to see the event). So, I've decided to base this month on all things astronomy and space related.

Let's get NASA out of the way shall we? We all know about NASA. They have an immense body of material from all their missions, from Mars Pathfinder, to the NEAR project (the satellite that's obiting an asteroid) and plenty more. It's an excellent resource, with beautiful photography in abundance.

The SETI (Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence) organisation has for a long time been searching the stars for any signs of intelligent life beyond our Solar System. Their site is teeming with articles, but the best part is the fact that you can join in using your PC. Download the special SETI@Home screensaver software, and your computer will act as a number cruncher for decoding of space data. Who will find ET first?

Comets, meteors and meteorites are Nature's space junk - leftovers from when our sordid little corner of the Milky Way was formed. Research is taking place on just how much of a risk these bodies are to our planet. Yahoo! has a section on the more well-known instances of such debris coming within close range of our world. Comet Shoemaker-Levy's destiny with Jupiter in 1994 was a wonderful sight.

It's very handy to know when great celestial events are going to take place through the year, so Terry's Hunt of the Month will be most helpful to you in preparing for those dark nights huddled in your sleeping bag with your binoculars or telescope.

I did a simple search on Google for astronomy, and the first thing to spring up was Astronomy magazine, apparently the biggest English journal in the universe. Certainly, their site is packed with useful information to beckon visitors to the publication. Online subscriptions can be taken on and renewed as well, so for regulars and first timers alike, it's well worth a visit.

The most recent astronomical event that I had experienced was the August 1999 total solar eclipse. Being in the UK meant there was the usual bad weather, but one lucky person went to what was surely the best spot in the world at the time to see it. Astronomer John Walker's Expedition to Iran website yields some wonderful photography, and actual film footage of the eclipse itself. It doesn't match up to seeing it with your own eyes, but it tries to make up for it in sheer detail. A great site.

To close this article, the University of Michigan's Windows to the Universe is what the webmaster describes as a 'fun and different website about the Earth and Space sciences.' I have no reason to doubt his/her claim. The site is brimming with graphics intensive information about our world, its geology, all the planets, our galaxy, comets, meteors, black holes, and ancient mythology associated with the heavens. An excellent resource for anyone who's anyone.

My next article, due in mid-September will come after a four week trip to Malaysia, so it will no doubt be influenced by the sights, sounds and smells of the Far East. Until next time, don't get eyestrain.

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