I made a rare observation (for me) of a yellow moth the other day and one thought led to another, as it usually does…
But first the moth. I was arriving home when I saw (more…)
Please indulge me while I share some shiny things with you.
I always get like this in Spring, when the sun grows stronger and nature has a certain sheen to it.
I think it’s a woman thing, a gatherer trait inherited from our Stone Age forebears, who must have spent their whole lives looking for bright, shiny berries to pick and eat.
And in many species it’s the male who displays and the female who appreciates it. Apparently not in humans, but diamonds are still a girl’s best friend. So here I am exploring both sparklies and more subtle lustres – as I look at the words iridescence, opalescence and pearlescence. (more…)
STOP PRESS: Moments after I published this, reports came in of a volcano erupting in Sumatra – so best wishes to everyone struggling there…
Did you have an irrational fear of something when you were a child? In my case, for a while at least, I was terrified of volcanoes. You might say that’s not so crazy. But as I lived in Wales, where an eruption would be pretty near impossible, I think it was.
So this post is all about what (more…)
The city of Damascus is in the news for all the wrong reasons in 2012 as the awful bloodshed goes on in Syria. Forgive me if, for a moment, I sidestep the political and humanitarian issues and instead look at the glories that have been. For Damascus once meant luxury and craftsmanship for us, here in the west of Europe.
This is a sudden posting, prompted merely by reading that Saturn is in opposition throughout the next few weeks, making it at its brightest to the naked eye.
So it’s a good time to recall the small telescope I owned in my childhood and to retrieve from my shelves a book called Challenge of the Stars (published by Mitchell Beazley in 1972 – although mine was a cheaper edition from Book Club Associates).
The book is by Patrick Moore and illustrated by David A Hardy, whose images deserve some plaudits, I reckon, as I now realise they are the pictures I still have in my mind’s eye when I visualise the planets of our solar system. More about Hardy later…
Those were the days when a great Planetary Grand Tour of the outer solar system was still on the cards, in a decade when the gas giants were in a conveniently close alignment and could be used as gravitational slingshots to help a probe on its way after taking close-up pictures.
Patrick Moore enthused (more…)