Follow the reluctant adventures in the life of a Welsh astrophysicist sent around the world for some reason, wherein I photograph potatoes and destroy galaxies in the name of science. And don't forget about my website,

Thursday, 12 July 2018

Ask An Astronomer Anything At All About Astronomy (XLVII)

Catching up on a remaining bunch of questions. As always, click the links for full answers, and if you want even more, have a browse through the enormous Q&A main page. Current grand total : 436 !

1) How hot does a pole get moving at mach 1 through the atmosphere ?
Ah, should I make an innuendo or a casually racist joke, or both ? SO HARD TO CHOOSE !

2) Are eyepieces overrated ?
Yeah they suck.

3) To stop the xenomorph infestation, should we nuke the ISS from the ground or from orbit ?
From the ground, because we don't have any nukes in orbit.

4) Are there really only four planets in the Solar System ?

5) You're lying about the size of Betelgeuse.
No I'm not.

6) What do you think of detecting belts of exoplanetary satellites to find aliens ?

7) Did you predict the battle of Callisto from the Expanse ?
Well I predicted a battle...

8) Could you make a colonial spaceship smaller using frozen genetic material instead of a living crew ?
Yes you could.

9)  Do you have to time everything just right to dock with a rotating space station ?
Yes, but it's not that bad.

10) Is the radial acceleration a good method to choose between the standard model and modified gravity theories ?
No it sucks.

11) What do you think of this paper on missing matter ?
It's OK. 7/10.

12) How much stuff has been found by microlensing ?
Not much.

Monday, 9 July 2018

Ask An Astronomer Anything At All About Astronomy (XLVI)

Yeah, I know, these aren't updated very much. I think I have to change the schedule as weekends are seldom available to update things these days. Still, it's not like there's been an absence of questions ! Here's a round-up of the last few months (I still have more stockpiled, but I reckon twenty is enough to be getting on with). As always, click on the links for the longer, generally less sarcastic answers, and have a browse of the enormous Q&A page. Current total stands at 425 questions !

1) Are you a rah-rah scientist ?

2) Is that my timeline of the Universe Stephen Hawking is using ?
Yes it is !

3) Your Discovery variant of Orion is all wrong.
Blame Kubrick.

4) What's neat about this galaxy without any dark matter ?
It looked like it was really cool... but it wasn't.

5) The galaxy can't have more than one black hole !
Err... yes, it can.

6) Can you make a side-by-side 3D version of this galaxy fly-through ?

7) Is this the Andromeda galaxy ?

8) What do you call it when you reach the point of closest/furthest approach to a black hole ?

9) Is every round object a planet ?

10) Is mainstream science being a douchebag by pretending the Big Bang is real ?
Umm, no.

11) Don't quasars disprove the ages of distant galaxies ?
What ? No.

12) I've disproved the expansion of the Universe !
No, you haven't.

13) Is the Cosmic Microwave Background homogeneous ?
Yes, very.

14) How come distance doesn't matter for surface brightness ?
Geometry works like that.

15) Wait, are your sure distance doesn't affect surface brightness ?
Yes. There are lots of subtleties but they can be accounted for.

16) Could time dilation affect our estimates of star formation rate in distant galaxies ?

17) Isn't space a vacuum, so how come turbulent clouds don't just fly apart ?
It's not a perfect vacuum, just a very good one.

18) What shape are black holes ?
Very, very pointy.

19) Is this asteroid impact video accurate ?
It's not bad.

20) What's the data set shown in this pretty movie ?
Your mum.