Page 1






Editors Note

6 How Quantum Mechanics Can Create Many Worlds Of Possiblility


Will DrillingFind Extant Life On Mars?


2 Aurora

18 The Big Space Balloon 32 Rovers And Space Ships Everywhere

40 Astrocamp 48 The Imaginary Number 54


58 Sundogs: Fact or Fiction? 65 Astronomy

For The Absolute




CO N T E N T S    MAGAZINE                                  

Beginner 70 Astronomy & Science Edution in India »» p.8


Women,Astronomy And UKWAIN Launch

85 Lets Talk Interview With Frase Cain »» p.17

»» p.12

98 ISSET 102 Reign of the Radio Leoinid meteor capture.

»» p.32



EDITOR: David Bood Special Thanks

Contact: E: TWITTER: @DavesAstronomy W: OAS2013 COMP CODE

Dan Lucus Nicole Willett (Mars Society) Mars Society Sophia Nsar The Big Space Ballon Company Joolz Wright Adrian Jannetta Julian Onions


Henna Khan Mary Spicer UKWIAN Fraser Cain (Unverse Today) Mike Greenham ICY SCIENCE | WINTER 2013- 2014

Michael knowles Roy Alexander




    ICY SCIENCE                                     

Welcome to the new ICY SCIENCE online magazine. the magazine is packed with articles from the Science, Astronomy and Space worlds.

Icy Science is a quarterly free magazine to read and download. No material may be copied or used on other media outlets without written consent. LOOK UP.... Free monthly Astronomy Newsletter includes sky notes

The magazine will be out quarterly with the first edition out in December 2013.

NEXT EDITION FEB 2014 Merrry Xmas to All ICY SCIENCE | WINTER 2013- 2014


Decisions,Decisions, Decisions How Quantum Mechanics Can Create Many Worlds of Possibility By Dan Lucas Many of us have grown up in a world entrenched in Science Fiction. We surround ourselves with tales of aliens, artificial intelligence, and parallel universes. From a young age – and without even realising it – these ideas of alternate realities become part of our understanding of the world. Engrained into children’s tales like ‘The Chronicles of Narnia’, where an alternate reality exists beyond a wardrobe; or exposure to cartoons such as ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ which depicts its villains as having travelled from a ‘Dimension X’, complex scientific ideas are suggested and become integral to our knowledge of the Universe.

Then we become adults, and these concepts begin to encapsulate our imagination. Tales like Stephen Kings’ ‘The Dark Tower’ has its characters visiting different Earths by travelling through different doorways and shows like ‘Sliders’ saw its protagonists encounter many different incarnations of themselves that have


been exposed to different experiences as they slid from Universe to Universe on their journey.



This idea of alternate reality forms a key part of quantum mechanics. As I explained in my article ‘How a Simple Cat in a Box Can Alter How You View the Universe’, the outcome of an experiment is determined by the observer. Until that outcome is observed, all possible outcomes occur simultaneously. Once an observation has been made, all other outcomes are no longer possible. It is at this point where the system is described as having collapsed. It is this collapse into one outcome where quantum mechanics suggests an alternate reality could exist. An idea known as the Many World’s

would be played out in a different reality. In terms of

Interpretation of quantum mechan-

quantum mechanics, this notion that every outcome

ics suggests that not only are alter-

occurs prevents the system from collapsing. The

nate realities possible, but they could

observer still only observes one single outcome,

actually be infinite in number. Every

but an alternate reality is created for each potential

time you’ve ever wondered what

outcome not observed.

would have happened if you had made a different decision – such as which cereal to buy, or whether your


life would be better had you taken a

So what does this mean for us as individuals? Well

different job – all possible outcomes

not a great deal to be fair. We’ll never see these alternate realities, because then that would be our reality which creates a whole impossible paradox, and we’ll never be able to find just how different things could have been. But isn’t it nice to think that somewhere out there, you always made the right decision?



Will Dr ill i n g Fi n d Ex t a nt Li fe o n M ar s ?     BY NICOLE WILLETT, THE MARS SOCIETY                                    I attended the online NASA/JPL Mars Exploration Program Analysis Group (MEPAG) meeting that was held on July 23, 2013. The meeting’s purpose was to discuss the Mars 2020 rover and many other Mars exploration issues. Many people wonder why NASA keeps sending rovers to Mars without stating that they will unequivocally search for extant life. The term extant means, still in existence. We know that MSL Curiosity has the equipment to detect life and that Mars 2020 will have many of the same instruments. However, Jack Mustard, Brown University professor, who presented at the MEPAG meeting, stated, “To date, the evidence that we have from observations of Mars and Martian samples is that we don’t have the clear indication that life is at such an abundance on the planet that we could go there with a simple experiment like Viking

As we anxiously await the analysis from Curiosity’s second drill sample, which was taken on May 20, 2013, we can discuss the search for present life on Mars



[had] and detect that [life is] there.” the Russian Federal Space agency. Mustard went on to explain that it It is a mission that includes an makes more sense financially and

orbiter and lander planned for

scientifically to search for past life 2016 and a rover with a drill that instead of current life. He believes

can reach two meters beneath

that we must continue studying the toxic surface, planned for the past geology of the planet 2018. The 2018 mission objective in order to better understand is to search for past or present whether past life existed on Mars. life on Mars. During the MEPAG .As indicated above the Mars 2020 meeting, the question was asked, rover will not search for extant

“What if ExoMars finds life, and

life. Some people do not under-

how will that affect Mars 2020?”

stand why we must wait seven

The answer was given by Jim

years to launch a rover similar to Green, Director of NASA Planetary MSL with a sample return cache

Science, who stated, “It would be

that will sit on the planet for an a great problem to have.” This unknown period of time with no

also started a discussion about

plan as to how it will be returned

whether this would be a “Sputnik

to Earth. However, there are moment” and possibly encourage other missions planned for Mars

a new race for humans to Mars.

which may search for and possibly find current life on Mars. Two

The Icebreaker Life mission could

such missions are ExoMars and also be funded for a 2018 launch the Icebreaker Life Mars mission.

under the Discovery/New Frontier

ExoMars is collaboration between program, a separate funding the European Space Agency and scheme like the 2016 Insight

mission. In a paper published in the journal Astrobiology on April 5, 2013, Dr. Chris McKay, Dr. Carol Stoker, and other leading scientists stated, “The search for evidence of life on Mars is the primary motivation for the exploration of that planet. The results from previous missions and the Phoenix mission in particular, indicate that the ice-cemented ground in the north polar plains is likely to be the most recently habitable place that is currently known on Mars.” The goals of the Icebreaker Life mission include:

(1) Search for specific biomolecules that would be conclusive evidence of life.



(2) Perform a general search for to required elements to support including a drill that will reach organic molecules in the ground

life, energy sources, and possible

a meter below the surface, an


toxic elements.

instrument called the Signs of Life Detector (SOLID), an Alpha

(3) Determine the processes of

(6) Compare the elemental com-

Particle X-ray Spectrometer, a Wet

ground ice formation and the role position of the northern plains Chemistry Lab, and many other of liquid water.

with midlatitude sites.” [http:// instruments. This combination of online.lieber instruments may potentially alter

(4) Understand the mechanical

abs/10.1089/ast.2012.0878] how we view life in the universe.

properties of the Martian polar Journal Astrobiology 4/5/2013

The SOLID instrument has the

ice-cemented soil.

ability to detect compounds with

(5) Assess the recent habitability

This mission is very similar to the

a biological origin such as whole

Phoenix lander but will have more

cells and complex organic mole-

of the environment with respect advanced scientific equipment, cules. It has an advanced digital camera and what is known as a “lab on a chip” that can perform various chemistry tests using



equipment the size of microchips. The technological advances being made are greatly improving the field of robotic exploration and experimentation in ways never thought possible in the past. In the Journal Astrobiology a paper was published by McKay, Stoker and other leading scientists on April 5, 2013. The first lines of the abstract stated, “The search for evidence of life on Mars is the primary motivation for the exploration of that planet. The results from previous missions and the Phoenix mission in particular, indicate that the ice-cemented ground in the north polar plains is likely to be the most recently habitable place that is currently known on Mars.� The Icebreaker Life mission will search for biomarkers in the same region near the north pole of Mars where the Phoenix Lander executed its mission in 2008. A biomarker is any molecule that indicates the presence of life, such as an enzyme. These biological molecules carry organic biochemical information. The Icebreaker drill is capable of drilling one meter into the subsurface of the Red Planet in order to search for biomarkers. The ice shavings retrieved from the drill would be analyzed for molecules that are too complex to be present from a non-biological source. It is important to drill below the surface in order to retrieve samples that have not been exposed to the radiation and perchlorates (salts) that exist on the surface of Mars. The radiation and perchlorates could potentially destroy any biomarkers or biological material present, hence the importance of a subsurface mission.

[Images: NASA, ExoMars,] ICY SCIENCE | WINTER 2013- 2014


Image Credit: Anneliese Possberg, possi@possi. de (www. ICY SCIENCE | WINTER 2013- 2014


AU R O R A     BY SOPHIA NASR                                    

No one can deny the beauty of

and Aurora Australis to “dawn of

aurorae, a stunning display of

the south”. Now, let’s get to the

colorful lights dancing gracefully

formation of aurorae. In addition

about the sky. Usually these beau-

to emitting light which travels

tiful sky lights can only be seen at

at c = 3.00*10^8 m/s and takes

high latitudes. But how do these

about 8 minutes to reach Earth,

beautiful aurorae form in the sky?

the Sun also spits out plasma

Why can they only be seen from

during solar storms which travels

extreme northern or southern lat-

at much slower speeds. During

itudes? How are the various colors

such storms, the Sun sends out a

produced? First, let’s get familiarized with the naming of aurora with respect to the part of the hemisphere in which they occur. In the northern hemisphere, they are called Aurora Borealis, or northern lights. In the southern hemisphere, they are known as Aurora Australis, or southern lights. From Latin, Aurora Borealis translates to “dawn of the north”,

flow of highly charged particles, sometimes directed at the Earth. These charged particles travel at speeds of up to 8 million km/h



(about 5 million mi/h), or about 2.22*10^6 m/s, much slower than light speed c. It takes about 40 hours for the storm to reach the Earth. When these charged particles penetrate the Earth’s ionosphere and collide with atoms in the atmosphere, the atoms become “excited” and reach higher energy levels. Excited atoms will then “de-excite” and go down to lower energy levels, during which photons

I have yet to observe aurorae in person, but this is definitely on my list of things I must do at least once in my life! The next time you get to see aurorae, keep in mind that you are observing a beautiful physics phenomenon unfolding before your eyes. Now that is what I call awesome!

are released and produce aurorae in the sky. The Earth’s magnetic field plays a role in this phenomenon as well—it is responsible for aurorae being visible only from extreme northern and southern latitudes. The Earth’s magnetosphere helps shield the Earth from the solar storm, but only succeeds in shielding mid-latitude to equatorial regions of the Earth. The flow of charged particles then follows the magnetic field lines and is directed towards the poles, where the majority of aurorae are produced. Aurorae do sometimes reach lower latitudes as well, usually when the sunspot count is high during solar maximum. The colors produced depend on the kind of atom the charged particles come in contact with. Striking oxygen atoms produces green and red aurorae, while colliding with nitrogen atoms creates blue and purple/violet aurorae. The most common color formed is green, while the rarest are red and blue. Aurorae form at altitudes ranging from 80 to 640 kilometers (50 to 400 miles) above the Earth’s surface.


Top Image: Wikipedia Further Reading: 5-minute video: http://www.universetoday. com/87436/video-how-does-the-aurora-borealis-form/


IC 1101 Let’s talk about size (astronomically speaking). Our galaxy is 100,000 light-years across. That’s pretty big, but it’s not the biggest galaxy in our astronomical “neighborhood”. The Local Group (our “neighborhood”) is comprised of 54 galaxies (dwarf galaxies included) that are gravitationally bound to each other. The biggest in the group Andromeda, 2.5 million light-years away from us, visible to the naked eye as a fuzz patch (in dark skies) in the constellation Andromeda, and some 220,000 light-years across. Okay, our Milky Way still holds its own as the second largest galaxy in

our Local Group. Our Local Group is a whopping 10 MILLION light-years across! That is huge, Now, let’s turn our attention to the largest known galaxy in the universe. Way out in the distance, 1.07 billion light-years away in the constellation Virgo, in the large galaxy cluster Abell 2029, lies an enormous galaxy: IC 1101. This gargantuan elliptical is over half the diameter of our entire Local Group of 54 galaxies—nearly 6 MILLION light-years across! But wait, there’s more! The Milky Way contains roughly 200 billion stars. IC 1101, by contrast, contains an estimated 100 TRILLION. Absolutely MIND-BLOWING!!! but it makes sense considering it’s a group of 54 galaxies. Just to give an idea of the types of galaxies out there, there are three major classifications: dwarf galaxies, spiral galaxies, and giant elliptical galaxies. Dwarf galaxies are small, like the Milky Way’s satellite galaxies, the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds. These can be as small as 200 light-years across and are not much larger than star clusters. Spiral galaxies, like our Milky Way and Andromeda, are the most common types of galaxies. ICY SCIENCE | WINTER 2013- 2014


They have spiral arms, with blue regions representing active star formation, and yellowish regions populated with old stars where star formation has ceased. Giant elliptical galaxies are the largest, spherical to nearly flat in shape, and are yellowish in hue because they are populated with old stars where star formation has nearly ceased. These are usually a result of mergers and collisions between galaxies. IC 1101 is a giant elliptical. Now let’s get to the how—how IC 1101 became so large, that is. The size of IC 1101 is the result of numerous collisions and mergers between other much smaller galaxies, galaxies about the size of our very own Milky Way, and our familiar galactic neighbor Andromeda. Over time, it grew bigger and bigger as it continued to merge with neighboring galaxies. Now, as we see it, it is nearly a monstrous 6 million light-years across! Keep in mind that at 1.07 billion light years distant, we are looking at IC 1101 as it looked just over a billion years ago. Who’s to say what its size is today, or what its state is, for that matter! If it hasn’t continued colliding and merging with other galaxies, its stars will fade, as there is very little star formation occurring. If it has, then it’ll be even larger!

Speaking of mergers and collisions, aren’t Andromeda and our very own Milky Way destined for the same fate some 3.5 billion years from now, merging into one elliptical galaxy?? Food for thought. ~Sophia Nasr Further reading and information on IC 1101: 5 minute video: “All Science, All the Time”:





T H E B I G S PA C E B A L LO O N     SPACE BALLOON                                      space sciences, providing a low cost platform for companies & the space industry to carry out research & development at the edge of space. The aim is for Big Space

The Big Space Balloon - The Mission The Big Space Balloon is a project which aims to launch the Worlds biggest crowd based high altitude research balloon, designed to fly to the edge of space and explore the highest regions of the earth’s atmosphere to an altitude of up to 130,000

feet, into the Earths Stratosphere.

The balloon’s envelope will be up to a 100 metres in diameter. Potentially using a super pressure balloon envelope design, which can enable a sustained period of flight of several days over thousands of miles. The Big Space Balloon will carry a scientific capsule to undertake a range of experiments regarding


Balloon to act as platform to test out new technologies in the space environment, such as the printed Solar-cells on the balloon envelope. These could pave the way for a new way of powering future spacecraft or space stations, produced and deployed at relatively low cost compared to traditional space based solar cell units, which are both expensive


to manufacture and require

The hope is that the Big Space

The intention is to pressurise

highly engineered deployment

Balloons science capsule could be

the top section of the science


re-used in further missions, many capsule to an inhabitable envi-

There’s also the possibility of

of Nasa’s and ESA’s scientific pay- ronment to see how these mate-

using the technology developed

loads go on to make multiple rials perform in the space environ-

in interplanetary balloon mis- flights, and some of technology ment, technology used in buildsions. At an altitude of around

developed for this project could ing the science capsule, could

120,000 feet plus, the Atmosphere be used in other space missions.

be scaled up to build a manned

is very similar in density to that at

Although the Big space

space vehicle in the future.

ground level on Mars, one of the

Balloon is an un-manned project,

instruments the science capsule the science capsule aims to be may carry could be to detect

a fairly large structure, approx 2

micro organisms in the earths metres in diameter by 2 metres upper atmosphere, technology

The Big Space Balloon has the

high, so could demonstrate the potential to be the Worlds biggest

that could be then transferable potential of this technology for to a future Mars or Venus mission

Be part of something big

possible manned space flight vehicles.

scientific outreach program. The project is aiming to have a large element of public



T H E B I G S PA C E B A L LO O N     SPACE BALLOON                                      engagement and the project if all goes well, the project is still cells printed onto the fabric, or will offer people the chance to in its early stages so the main flexible photovoltaic strips comsee them selves at the edge of focus at the moment is on the

bined with the polythene strips,

space with the “Face in Space

fund raising and increasing public a UK company Eight19 are cur-


awareness of the project which rently developing these type of

The free to enter competition

in-turn will lead to a main sponsor. solar cells.

offers up to 10,000 members of

Stratospheric Balloon Technology

Plastic (polymer) solar cells are

the public the chance to have a

Most large stratospheric bal-

much cheaper to produce than

mini-image of themselves printed

loons are made from a light-

conventional silicon solar cells

onto the science capsule, to be

weight polythene usually around and have the potential to be pro-

photographed at the edge of

20-30 microns thick, NASA and the

space with the latest in high-def-

Japanese have experimented with

Experts from the University

inition cameras.

composite polythene’s which can

of Sheffield’s Department of

We have already started to be as thin as 5 microns. The Big

Physics and Astronomy and the

duced in large quantities.

receive 100’s of entrants from

Space Balloon is aiming to use a University of Cambridge have

around the world.

polythene based fabric of around

created a method of spray-coat-

30 microns thick, this will either

ing a photovoltaic active layer by

in the summer / autumn of 2015 have flexible solar photovoltaic

an air based process – similar to

The balloon could be launched



spraying regular paint from a can – to develop a cheaper technique which can be mass produced.

Professor David Lidzey from the University of Sheffield said “Spray coating is currently used to metres of lifting gas ( Helium or cubic metre at sea level, air weighs apply paint to cars and in graphic Hydrogen ) as the balloon climbs

1.2kg, so the difference between

printing. We have shown that it

and the air thins, the atmospheric the two gases gives helium 1kg

can also be used to make solar

also pressure drops, once you get of lift at sea level ( 1.2 – 0.1786 =

cells using specially designed to around 30km the atmospheric

1.022kg ) per cubic metre.

plastic semiconductors. Maybe in

pressure is about 100th com-

Helium is used most because

the future surfaces on buildings

pared to the air pressure at sea it is inert and therefore very safe,

and even car roofs will routinely

level, so it effectively equals that but it can also be relatively expen-

generate electricity with these of the Helium or Hydrogen in the sive compared to Hydrogen. The materials”. ( see web site )

balloon and you loose the buoy- current crude price of Helium is ancy effect and stop climbing. The Buoyancy force is from

around $75 per 1000 cubic feet. The gas we finally use will

nr/solar-photovoltaic-pv-spray- using a lighter than air gas, such depend on the launch site and painting-lidzey-1.251912

as Helium or Hydrogen, which

the type of gas available their

This has the potential to will

both have low molecular masses. and the associated costs, their

turn the balloon envelope into

Helium weighs 0.1786 kg per may be higher launch safety costs

a giant power generating unit which could produce up to 180Kw of electricity. The Big Space Balloon will start with approx. 4000 cubic ICY SCIENCE | WINTER 2013- 2014


T H E B I G S PA C E B A L LO O N     SPACE BALLOON                                      and insurance premiums in using Hydrogen compared with Helium, making the cost of Hydrogen not worth the potential risk.

It is possible to climb higher than this by heating the gas in balloon by making use of solar radiation ( sunlight) causing the gas to expand further, but this then requires a bigger balloon envelope for the gas to expand into, the balloon material needs to be thinner to reduce its weight, which in-turn increases the risk of the balloon fabric ripping.

The Big Space Balloons

envelope will be designed to have

We are not looking to break

a volume of around 400,000 cubic any altitude records with the Big metres when fully inflated at our Space Balloon as the main aim target altitude of approx. of 30km

is to try out new technologies,

(120-130,000 feet )

such as the solar balloon skin, but


the higher the better in terms of


testing out this technology and carrying out scientific experiments in a space environment. Ascent time is usually around 3 hours, initial ascent speed can be around 3 metres per second this then reduces as the atmosphere thins and the buoyancy becomes proportionally less, for each 5.5 km you ascend, the atmospheric pressure halves so when you reach an altitude of 5,500 metres, the air pressure is only about one half of what it was at sea level, half of the Earth’s atmosphere is already below you, at 11,000 meters air pressure is only about one quarter of that at sea level and at an altitude of 30 km you have risen above 99% of the Earth’s atmosphere. The speed of most stratospheric balloons will be determined by wind speed which at an altitude of 30km is approximately 15knots ( 7.5 metres per second)

or 27 kilometres per hour. The volume of the Balloon and

pressure and super pressure. Zero pressure balloons are

the amount of lifting gas in rela- the most common type of large tion to the weight of the vehicle,

stratospheric balloon, they are

determines the maximum alti- designed to release their lifting tude you can achieve, i.e a lighter

gas once they have achieved

balloon fabric and science capsule there maximum inflation size and will mean the Big Space Balloon

the lifting gas begins expanding

could go higher, although as

further in the sunlight, to avoid

stated earlier this isn’t a priority

the balloon envelope bursting or

at the moment.


The heating of balloon by

By adjusting the total weight

solar radiation from the Sun and of the balloon and payload in relathe atmospheric temperature and tion to the balloon envelope size moisture in the air can also effect

and amount of lifting gas, you can

the altitude reached.

determine the approx altitude

The balloon will then contract in the night-time when the lifting

you wish to achieve. The balloons payloads of

gas cools, resulting in a loss of alti- Zero pressure types are designed tude. This loss in Altitude will vary

to release ballast (usually sand)

according to the type of balloon during the night time cycle, this design we finally use.

allows the balloon to climb again

Main types of large strato- due to having reduced its weight. spheric balloons

When the balloon gets

There are two main types of

heated by the sun again during

large stratospheric balloons, zero

the daytime cycle, more lifting



T H E B I G S PA C E B A L LO O N     SPACE BALLOON                                      gas is released to avoid bursting ground by the deflated balloon the balloon envelope, after 2 or 3

envelope and hopefully allows

day-night cycles the balloon will

you to more accurately determine

have released all of its ballast and

the landing site.

will have lost a certain amount of lifting gas, so will begin to loose

The super pressure balloons

its useful altitude, ( certain scien- are designed to stay afloat for tific missions are based on being

much longer than zero pressure

at defined altitudes ).

balloons, potentially up to several

A panel is then cut open in the balloon fabric, usually done by electrically heating an-embed-

weeks giving you much more flight time per balloon launch. Super pressure balloons work

ded wire, to release enough gas by being designed to with-stand to descend the balloon, at around the additional pressure created 5,000 feet the capsule is released from being heated by solar radiafrom the balloon to descend using

tion, avoiding the need to release

a separate parachute, this avoids

any lifting gas and carry an ballast,

the payload being dragged on the

the super pressure balloon does


loose some altitude during the night-time cycle when the lifting gas cools, but will climb again once heated by the sun during the daylight cycle. I’m keen to use the super pressure design as it offers the potential of a much longer flight time, possibly allowing the balloon to fly for several weeks, but if this proves to be to difficult, we may use the zero pressure type balloon.

The main technical challenge with super pressure designs are that the balloon envelope needs to be strong enough to withstand


the extra pressure of sunlight heating, but light-weight enough to give you a good altitude, there is no final design for super pressure balloons as the research is on-going as material technologies develop.

The weight of the balloon material is also a factor which I’ve estimated to be around 1000kg for the Big Space Balloon. The balloon will have a surface area of approximately 32,000 metres square, each square metre of balloon material will need to be no more than 32g in weight, ( a £1.00 weighs 7.5g ).

The Science Capsule

This allows fairly complex and bespoke structures to be manu-

The total payload including factured straight from the comthe science capsule is approxi- puter, avoiding wastage of raw mately 1 metric tonne, (1000kg)

materials and additional fabrica-

this is made up of around 500kg

tion jigs or molds.

for the science capsule itself with the other 500kg for scientific equipment.

The German company Voxljet have developed a 3D printer capable of producing objects up

The material for the science

to 2 metres in diameter using a

capsule is yet to be finalized, but Nylon based powder printer. I’m very interested in using the manufacturing process known

These machines work by

as Additive Layer Manufacturing

adding a thin layer of powder to

(ALM) or 3D Printing.

a platform which is at the top of

Single products can be created

container box, a laser then fuses

from a fine powder of metal (such

the powder together to form a

as titanium, stainless steel or alu-

thin section of the object you

minium), nylon or carbon rein- wish to print. forced plastics.

The platform is then lowered



T H E B I G S PA C E B A L LO O N     SPACE BALLOON                                      University Laser Sintered Aircraft) plane is an unmanned air vehicle (UAV) whose entire structure has been printed, including wings, integral control surfaces and access hatches. It was printed on a fraction of a milometer into the

At the end of the process the

box, another thin layer of powder

box is full of both Nylon powder

is then spread across the plat-

& your printed object, so excess

form, the laser then fuses this new powder is then vacuumed off to powder to the existing section to

reveal the object, this powder

form a new section on top, to start

can then be re-used for new 3d

building up the object.


This process is repeated mul-

• This method of 3D print-

tiple times until you have created

ing was used by a team at

your 3D object & / or the platform Southampton University to build has reached the bottom of the the worlds biggest 3D printed container box.

glider. The SULSA (Southampton


an EOS EOSINT P730 nylon laser sintering machine, which fabricates plastic or metal objects, building up the item layer by layer.

Scientific Research The project can hopefully be used for a range of space related / upper atmosphere research, but as yet I’m not able to detail these as its yet to be decided. But these could include


research involving the Earths atmosphere, such as investing levels of pollution in the stratosphere and how these effect global warming. Testing out earth observation technology such as high definition imaging devices for later use in orbital space craft. The use of Lasers in space, to see if these could be used to track and possibly remove small space debris by reducing its orbital velocity and causing it fall to earth faster. The detection of micro organizations high in the earths atmosphere to see how far up life , such as Bacteria’s, can survive. At 30km the Earths atmosphere is very similar in density to that at ground level on Mars, so equipment for detecting life on Mars could be tested by the Big Space Balloon. ( Please see our website for a

range of balloon related scientific

phenomena like the Aurora

missions ).

Borealis that can occasionally

Prof Robertus Erdelyi is

destroy our mode satellites, tele-

Head of the Solar Physics and

communication systems or even

Space Plasma Research Centre

may preventing us to make a

at Sheffield University and is cur-

simple phone call?

rently developing instruments to

Their is no way of steering

detect Plasma emissions from the

stratospheric Balloons, so it will

Sun, which we aim to include in

be carried with the wind.

the Big Space Balloons science capsule.

At the altitudes were aiming towards the thin air at these levels

The atmosphere of the planets

means that the winds have very

in the Solar System strongly inter-

little force, but balloons can be

act with huge magnetised plasma

carried for several thousand miles.

flows originating from the Sun,

The winds are easterly during

and often associated with massive

the summer and westerly during

solar plasma eruptions and mag-

the winter. Depending on where

netised solar tornadoes, causing

we launch, time of year and how



T H E B I G S PA C E B A L LO O N     SPACE BALLOON                                      long the balloon stays afloat will determine where the balloon lands, hopefully it’ll be over land!. But it could in theory circumnavigate the globe which would be rather cool.

The recent BRRISON project was a NASA mission that sent a balloon carrying a telescope and instruments high above Earth to study Comet ISON. The Balloon Rapid Response for ISON (BRRISON) – carried a 0.8 m telescope and optical and infrared sensors to study the comet from above nearly all of Earth’s atmosphere.

Launch Sites We are currently looking into various launch sites, the best at the moment would be to use the Esrange space centre, in Kiruna, Sweden, as they are equipped for large stratospheric balloon launches and are relatively close compared to established launch sites in the US and Antarctica, although it would be nice to launch from the UK if possible, but it can get very busy above us and there’s a higher risk of the balloon drifting and descending over populated areas.



Rich Curtis – Project Director The Big Space Balloon is an idea I’ve been working on for a couple of years, I’m part of the generation that grew up during the Apollo missions with the mighty Saturn V rockets, Skylab, Soyuz and then the Space Shuttle, so I’ve had a life long interest in space and space technology. My background is in construction design for the housing market so I’m used to working on large building sized projects, I’ve combined these interests in the Big Space Balloon project.

My reason for choosing a balloon are several really; a big stratospheric balloon allows you to lift a reasonably substantial payload of up to several tonnes into a space environment.

Balloons also allow you to put relatively large payloads into a space environment at a lower costs

compared to a rocket, which can easily run into 100’s of £millions per launch.

• Balloon payloads

as 3D printing, to build a substantial

be involved in the project

can also be launched many

vehicle and to send it on its way to the

directly through the manu-

times allowing modifica-

edge of space and see the images of

facture of the balloon enve-

tions, improvements and

the Big Space Balloon flying above the

lope and the science capsule

upgrades to the on-board

earths atmosphere, against the black-

or the through supplying

equipment with each

ness of space.

scientific equipment, again


this is in the early stages and The biggest challenge will be the

It would also be very

fabrication of the balloon envelope

exciting to use some of the

due to its size, I’m in the process of

latest technologies such

building partnerships with organisa-

theirs a lot to do.

tions and companies who could either ICY SCIENCE | WINTER 2013- 2014


T H E B I G S PA C E B A L LO O N     SPACE BALLOON                                      Our team includes:

John Ackroyd - Designer & Consultant Engineer, who has worked on a range of balloon based projects including Balloon projects; the first being the “Endeavor” round the world project for Julian Nott, designing the pressurized crew capsule which was molded in Kevlar East Cowes, on the Isle of Wight, as well as the pressurised capsules for Richard Branson and Per Lindstrand’s high altitude crossings of the Atlantic and Pacific, and their round the world attempts; as well as Per’s high altitude capsule in which he reached 65,000 feet in Texas. Other projects include the extraordinary Earthwinds R.T.W. balloon, working in the USA for several years and more recently the mega balloon (worlds largest inflatable) used at the opening ceremony of the 2010 commonwealth games.

Andy Elson - Balloonist and Engineer, Andy has been involved in a huge range of balloon projects including several record breaking balloon attempts including piloting the world’s first hot air balloon flight over Mt Everest 1991, working as both designer and co-pilot with Colin Prescot on the Brietling Orbiter II balloon flight from Switzerland to Burma in 1998. He was also involved with the QinetiQ1 balloon as both pilot and balloon fabricator, Andy still has the main equipment in storage, used in the fabrication of the huge balloon envelope made for their attempt ICY SCIENCE | WINTER 2013- 2014


on the manned high altitude balloon record in 2003.

Dr. Andras Sobester - Andras is a member of the Computational Engineering and Design research group within the School of Engineering Sciences at the University of Southampton. Undertaking research in a range of areas including Design optimization Aircraft design, High altitude flight. Andras is involved with the ASTRA (Atmospheric Science Through Robotic Aircraft initiative), Exploring Earth’s atmosphere using high altitude unmanned instrument platforms.

I’ve also spoken with the director at Cameron balloons, Alan Noble, who along with their partner company Linstrand balloons, both have the manufacturing know-how to fabricate a balloon on this scale.

The project is still in the preliminary stage, so the prime focus at the moment will be on fundraising, the estimated cost of project is between £1,500,000 to £2,000,000 pounds.

The exact funding is not finalized at the moment as it depends on the final material costs and whether we fund any scientific equipment or whether this is provided by partners, but I am currently looking into a range of options & am determined to make this happen.



R O V E R S A N D S PA C E S H I P S E V E R Y W H E R E !     BY: NICOLE WILLETT, CHUCK MCMURRAY AND THE MARS SOCIETY                                      

Rover and Engineering Design Competitions from The Mars Society- 5th grade thru Undergraduate

The Mars Society is host to three (3) design challenges. They range in age from middle school thru college level. The middle and high school level challenge was launched at the 16th Annual Mars Society Convention this past August. It is called the Youth Rover Challenge. One of the undergraduate challenges is called the University Rover Challenge and it has had several very successful seasons so far. The final challenge was also launched at the convention in August. It is an international student design competition. The Youth Rover Challenge (YRC) is a multitier robotics education development program that is hosted, sponsored and operated by The Mars Society. ICY SCIENCE | WINTER 2013- 2014


The program commenced on August 6th, 2013 to commemorate the one year anniversary of the landing of NASA’s Curiosity Rover. YRC is a STEM related educational effort that is designed for schools and organizations with students or members in grades 5-12 to have the chance to build and compete at a global level with a LEGO Mindstorms NXT 2.0 based robotic rover and competition arena intended to simulate the surface of Mars. The sandbox where the robotic rover operates is intended to be replicated so participants can operate the competition locally at your school, home or club. The Rover built for the competition is pre-designed to accomplish specific experiments (tasks) similar to what Mars Rovers accomplish today on the surface of Mars and other harsh environments on remote places on Earth. The competition is operated on-site at your self-built sandbox and the final operation of the field tasks are then videotaped and sent to each teams personalized YRC site for submission. Teams that have submitted videos that show the final operation of the rover completing the tasks under a time limit are then ranked against other teams. The YRC is designed to prepare students for the University Rover Challenge that has operated successfully for the last 7 years directed by The Mars Society.




R O V E R S A N D S PAC E S H I P S E V E RY W H E R E !                                    

The University Rover Challenge (URC) is the world’s premier robotics competition for college students. The URC has officially kicked off its 2014 competition. This competition challenges students to design and build the next generation of Mars rovers which will one day work alongside astronauts on the Red Planet. Teams spend the academic year designing, building and testing their robotic creations. They will compete at the Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS) in the remote, barren desert of southern Utah in late May, 2014. The challenge features multiple tasks, including an Equipment Servicing Task that incorporates inflatable structures, and a more aggressive incarnation of the popular Terrain Traversing Task. URC is unique in the challenges that it presents to students. Interdisciplinary teams will tackle robotics, engineering and field science domains, while gaining real-world systems engineering and project management experience. University teams interested in participating can view the URC2014 rules online. The official registration process will open in early November; however



teams are encouraged to begin their work now. The Mars Society recently announced the launch of an international engineering competition for student teams to propose design concepts for the architecture of the Inspiration Mars mission. The contest is open to university engineering student teams from anywhere in the world. Inspiration Mars Executive Director Dennis Tito and Program Manager Taber MacCallum were present for the announcement. “Inspiration Mars is looking for the most creative ideas from engineers all over the world,” said Tito. “Furthermore, we want to engage the explorers of tomorrow with a real and exciting mission, and demonstrate what a powerful force space exploration can be in inspiring young people to develop their talent. This contest will accomplish both of those objectives.”

The requirement is to design a two-person Mars flyby mission for 2018 as cheaply, safely and simply as possible. All other design variables are open. Alumni, professors and other university staff may participate as well, but the teams must be predominantly composed of and led by students. All competition presentations must be completed exclusively by students. Teams will be required to submit their design reports in writing by March 15, 2014. From there, a down-select will occur with the top 10 finalist teams invited to present and defend their designs before a panel of six judges chosen (two each) by the Mars Society, Inspiration Mars and NASA. The presentations will take place during a public event at NASA Ames Research Center in April 2014. Designs will be evaluated using a scoring system, allocating a maximum of 30 points for cost, 30 points for technical quality of the design, 20 points for operational simplicity and 20 points for schedule with a maximum total of 100 points. The first place team will receive a prize of $10,000, an all-expenses paid trip to the 2014 International Mars Society Convention and a trophy to be presented by Dennis Tito at that event. Prizes of $5,000, $3,000, $2,000 and $1,000 will also be awarded for second through fifth place. All designs submitted will be published, and Inspiration Mars will be given non-exclusive rights to make use of any ideas contained therein. ICY SCIENCE | WINTER 2013- 2014






Commenting on the contest, Mars Society President Dr. Robert Zubrin said, “The Mars Society is delighted to lead this effort. This contest will provide an opportunity for legions of young engineers to directly contribute their talent to this breakthrough project to open the space frontier.”



MARS ARCTIC 365 The Mars Society’s one-year Mars surface simulation mission in northern Canada







Astrocamp: A personal reflection BY Joolz Wright I have never been to any other star party so I don’t profess to be an expert on what ingredients make up a successful one...all I know is, like anything else in always remember your first. The Astrocamp in the Brecon Beacons was my first in September 2012. Armed with an antiquated reflector telescope, I spent my first weekend in a tent since I left the Girl Guides and dragged my young son along too! I didn’t know anyone, apart from convincing a good friend and her son...and a handful of astronomers I had met through Twitter. I never regretted it. This September was my third visit to the Astrocamp and I can honestly say it just gets better every time. Arrival on the first day is always a very busy one. Any fraught journeys there are soon forgotten when you see the familiar faces from previous camp and arrivals throughout the day are peppered with friends: old and new... It certainly breaks the ice when my son announces to freshly met astronomers the outburst of my road rage... word for word. Well, it is very stressful towing a caravan for over 3 hours! I always think one of the successes of the Astrocamp is that due to a very active and friendly social networking presence no one ever really feels like a stranger (even when you want the ground to swallow you up!) This September camp saw the return of the BBC Sky at Night team and things soon got underway with Chris Lintott judging an astronomy themed cake competition.



The bringing of cakes by various camp attendees has very quickly become a bit of a tradition and this year my daughter had made and decorated a fabulous shuttle cake. I was a very proud mum when her cake was announced the winner, and even featured on the Sky at Night programme! My girl was actually my saviour after my attempt at decorating it with the Awesome Astronomy Animated characters (also the camp organisers) melted! No one wants to see a cake looking like the result of a drunken they? The campsite is set up in a way which leaves a central area for observing. This is “the common� and is a place where many set up their scopes with a view to sharing

celestial delights at the eyepiece. There are also dedicated astro-imaging areas for those who need less interruption to really take advantage of the inky black skies. Some set up scopes next to their tents or vans, it really is a great mix and at Astrocamp there are no hard and fast rules except for the usual star camp etiquette. I had decided to set up my 127 Skywatcher Mak (on an EQ GoTo mount) by my van on the first night, a major upgrade from my telescope at the first Astrocamp! I had a great Polar Alignment tutorial from another astro earlier on in the evening, so I was convinced it was all going to go well! How wrong I was! By the time it was dark enough to Polar Align my telescope decided to stop slewing. I put it down to a battery failure and decided to concentrate on my DSLR. Again, another astro patiently taught me how to focus, using the zoom facility on live view and I spent most of the evening capturing some wide field shots of the Milky Way! Another first!



A fabulous night was had with many objects clearly visible with the naked eye such as the Double Custer and M31

and a fabulous comprehensive guide from one of the camp organisers, Damien Phillips/ @dephelis (you may recognise him from my cake!!). Although the wonderful

There is always so much going on at

clear skies meant the sun washed out the accompanying

Astrocamp during the day too.

screen presentation, all was not lost, as Damien gave small

The days were filled with some amazing views of the sun using the array of solar scopes and filtered scopes/ binoculars on the common. We were even treated on day two, to the most spectacular sun halo! An imaging workshop was also held on the common with some great advice ICY SCIENCE | WINTER 2013- 2014

groups hands on tutorials throughout the event duration. These particularly included how to image using a webcam followed by the processing methods and recommended stacking software. It was a very welcome activity for many beginners and those wanting to try new techniques. No Astrocamp would be complete without the unmissable Astro Pub-quiz! This September was no exception. With the most amazing telescope prizes you would be bonkers


not to enter! Even the BBC Sky at Night team entered...and no guesses as to where they came on the leader board! They walked away with the most coveted of prizes...a free download to the wonderful Awesome Astronomy podcast! Really must swot harder for the next one... Another highlight of the weekend was Jenifer Millard’s fascinating talk on exo-planets with some amazing facts and great audience

participation, including a demonstration of the evolution of the known Universe using a “clothes line” and pegged images! A great Q and A session saw the youngest preschool camp attendee offering...”I have a question...what’s this?”...Followed by a cracking shadow puppet onto the projection screen! It really was an informative and fun packed afternoon for all ages! Before you knew it, it was dusk once more and it really is a truly magical place on the common. ICY SCIENCE | WINTER 2013- 2014


Everyone had set up their scopes and once Polaris had been clocked, the first sighting of any celestial light would be greeted with the comforting sound of slewing scopes and voices calling out new targets.

How could you not be mesmerised by that view...

The second evening brought some very unwelcome cloud cover and rain...just to show that there isn’t always a clear sky at Astrocamp, although it has a pretty good track record! This was used as an excuse to catch up with other astro-pals as there was no “scope driving” to be done! Tweeting absent friends and red torch portraits were the frivolities of the evening, with the Sky at Night team asking for a window of quietness whilst they filmed their closing shot, and great fun was had! An early night was also most welcome!



The following day was spent with more glorious skies and solar observing and with the astro imaging sessions running, it really was a relaxed atmosphere accumulating in an "astro high tea" with everyone on the common sharing sandwiches, snacks and tea, of course!

Below: (Image by Alex Speed)

Night was soon around again and with a borrowed power pack I made another attempt at using my scope on the common and after a few very frustrating false starts I was up and running. A very helpful and much more experienced observer came to my rescue in the form of a 13 year old young lady when my scope was playing up and without her I would probably have given up after a failed fifth attempt at star alignment! There were lots of beautiful firsts, with views of the Wild Duck Cluster, Owl (ET) Cluster and Alberio. I could not believe how beautiful a double star could look at the eyepiece...and wondered why I hadn’t attempted to view it before then. Old favourites such as the Double Cluster and Andromeda to name just two were all the more vibrant in the darkest of skies. More shared views through some great telescopes and fantastic moments such as the excitement when a fellow astro captured three galaxies in one field of view, will be very difficult to forget! With the Milky Way stretching from one horizon to another there is so much to take in. A good part of the night was spent sitting in a chair just using ICY SCIENCE | WINTER 2013- 2014


eyes as equipment of choice, with great company. With a long journey ahead in the morning I reluctantly bunked down around 3 am with fantastic images of the wonderful sights I had seen still in my head. All too soon and it was time to leave...but what a great experience. The date of the next camp was displayed and all I can say is it cannot come soon enough! (Image Paul Hill) (left)





THE IMAGINARY NUMBER THE COMPLEX NUMBERS Numbers are so familiar to us that it might seem unimaginable that there was a time when the very concept didn’t exist. Indeed the invention of numbers is lost in antiquity. Historians of mathematics speculate that the origin of numbers was probably connected with real problems of life at the time, like describing whether there was one animal, or more than one animal as food source (or a threat). A certain level of abstraction was required to use numbers. Three rabbits, three stars and three rocks only share the common property of threeness. Manipulation of number – with no connection to physical objects – was a great intellectual leap. BEYOND THE COUNTING NUMBERS Negative numbers arrived on the scene much later. Trading and commerce meant that profit and loss should be accounted for properly. Negative numbers were used to represent an absence or a loss. Despite that negative numbers were not immediately accepted by mathematicians. Early practitioners of algebra would often discard negative values when they appeared as solutions. After all it’s easy to picture three people in a room. Or two. Or one. Or even none. But what does minus one person in a room look like? One of my students recently suggested it would be like a ghost. There may be grounds for rejecting negative numbers as the solution to a particular problem but in other situations their use may be perfectly acceptable. Negative numbers eventually found their place in our number system because they can be solutions of equations – just as valid as their positive namesakes. Likewise the history of zero is just as fraught with controversy and confusion. Zero initially served as a placeholder in the representation of number. For example, it is the zeros which tell you about the size of the numbers 15 and 105 and 1005. But zero as a number in its own right took a long time to gain acceptance. Just like negative values, the solutions to some equations can be zero. ICY SCIENCE | WINTER 2013- 2014


The negative and positive numbers (integers and all the values between them) along with zero can be represented on a numberline stretching infinitely in both directions

For most people that’s the end of the story – we usually don’t need other types of number to survive in life. Or do we? Impossible Square Roots Mathematicians of the Renaissance, armed with algebraic methods and newly invented symbols, began to tackle a difficult equation: the cubic. A cubic equation contains the variable multiplied by itself three times (compare with a quadratic equation which has the variable “squared” --- multiplied with itself twice). A method for solving quadratic equations was well known. Mathematicians eventually found a method for solving cubic equations. A simple cubic equation is x^3-15x-4=0. Mathematicians applied the algorithm for solving it and one of the intermediate steps generated this fearful expression:



The exasperating thing about the cubic equation was actually has simple solution: đ?‘Ľ=4. But the method was generating the complicated expression shown here which contains, among other things, a squareroot of a negative number. Why is the square-root strange? Well, mathematicians had long thought that only positive numbers (and zero) could have a square-root. For example, since 9Ă—9=81 then the square-root of 81 is 9. The square-root could also be -9 because −9Ă—âˆ’9=81. Similarly 4 is 2 or -2. There are no numbers, positive or negative, that when multiplied with itself, gives a negative number. Therefore expressions like −121 had no sensible meaning and mathematicians were puzzled by its presence. Instead of rejecting the square-roots of the negatives the Italian mathematician Rafael Bombelli (1526 - 1572) embraced them and manipulated them using the rules of algebra. He was able to change the solution into something a little simpler:

The solution still contains square roots of negative numbers, but the second one subtracts and cancels the first leaving just x=2+2=4, which was the expected answer. Whatever the square-roots of negative numbers were, they obeyed the rules of arithmetic and algebra and led to “real� solutions.



Imaginary Numbers Mathematicians did not welcome these new numbers overnight. It took a couple of centuries to develop a consistent framework explaining how √(-1) actually fitted into the rest of mathematics. The French mathematician Rene Descartes (1596 - 1650) derided these numbers, calling them imaginary (as opposed to the useful, real numbers). But his name for them stuck. The square-root of minus one – whatever it was – gained its own symbol. It was denoted in equations by the letter i, which made arithmetic with them less cumbersome. No doubt it shielded nervous mathematicians from having to think too much about how different √(-1) was from the familiar, real numbers. The imaginary unit i was defined by the relationship i^2=-1. In other words when you square this strange number, it takes a negative value. Mathematicians noticed that when imaginary numbers cropped up in their calculations, they were often bonded to real numbers. Written down they look like 3+4i or 2-5i. These mixtures of the real and imaginary are called a complex numbers. Complex numbers are an amalgam of our familiar real numbers and the recently discovered imaginary.



The horizontal axis is the real numberline. The vertical axis is the imaginary number line. Since complex numbers could be treated as points on a graph it made them amenable for analysis by using geometry and trigonometry. It wasn’t long before those branches of mathematics shed light on useful complex numbers could be. The most beautiful equation Swiss mathematician Leonhard Euler (1707 - 1783) studied complex numbers. Euler was aware that many functions could be represented by infinitely long series of powers. For example the exponential function e^x, which describes rapid (exponential) growth can be calculated by adding powers of x together. Using the type of mathematical manipulation that is routine at A-Level, he was able to show power series for sine and cosine (from trigonometry) could combine with the imaginary unit to give a power series for the exponential function. Euler uncovered the following relationship:

Here the symbol θ represents the angle that the line to the complex number makes to the horizontal axis when it’s plotted on the graph. Euler’s incredible equation links two previously unconnected types of function: the exponential and trigonometric functions. The exponential function grows and grows. Sine and cosine functions are oscillating waves. There was no reason to think they should be related before complex ICY SCIENCE | WINTER 2013- 2014


numbers were discovered. It’s like finding out that two of your friends, who didn’t previously know each other are actually related to each other. It’s difficult to convey how shocking that result must have seemed to mathematicians at the time. What follows from Euler’s equation is both trivial and profound. Trivial to demonstrate: when the angle θ is 180° (or π radians in mathematical currency) the formula becomes

But the sine part disappears at this angle, and the equation simplifies to e^iπ=-1. Rearranging this so that all the terms are on the left side of the equation gives us one the most profound and beautiful mathemati-

cal results of all time

This is a single equation that captures the five most important numbers in mathematics. The Nobel prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman (1918 - 1988) described it as “one of the most remarkable, almost astounding, formulas in all of mathematics.” Real applications for imaginary numbers We’re almost at the end of this real and imaginary journey. Despite their name, imaginary (and complex) numbers have found very real applications in science and engineering. For electrical engineers complex numbers are a useful computational tool for dealing with frequencies and time varying voltages and resistances. You can find the imaginary unit at the heart of quantum mechanics in the Schrodinger equation. The most iconic image of 20th century mathematics, the Mandelbrot set, is constructed from simple rules applied to complex numbers. My own research background is image processing – particularly improving noisy radiological images. The techniques used in that field (Fourier transforms) have imaginary numbers embedded within them. We might not be able to imagine what the square-root of minus one looks like but we need it to fully capture of the essence of reality

Words: Adrian Jannetta



[Sculpture in Berlin - credit Wikipedia] As equations go - they don’t get much more iconic than Einstein’s famous equation. There have been books written about it, posters, tattoos, artworks, and a whole industry based on it, not to mention weapons.

- we know it when we see it, and we know how to convert it, but we don’t really know what it is. We know fast moving things have a lot of it, things high up want to lose energy by coming low down etc. On the other side we have m for mass - which you can treat as how much things weigh broadly without too many issues.

An equation is a balance - the things on the left

We also have c - the speed of light, squared, so

must equal the things on the right. So what this

two lots of it. Now the speed of light is fixed -

equation tells us is that if you change something

you can’t change it. So we can’t play with that

on one side, you get a corresponding change on

part of the equation. It’s set in stone by the uni-

the other. So - lets just pick it apart.

verse. This means we can ignore it if we just

The E stands for energy. Interestingly no one really knows what energy is. It’s a sort of thing ICY SCIENCE | WINTER 2013- 2014

want to do comparisons. So lets do that for the time being. This means the equation can be viewed as


E=m So - if we have 1kg of mass - we can make a certain amount of energy. If we have 2kg, we have twice as much. 4kg is 4 times as much and so on. We can change the amount of mass, and/or the amount of energy. However by the balance principle, we can convert any amount of mass into an equivalent amount of energy. Equally if we have some spare energy around, we can make it into mass. So, with 1kg of mass, we can make some energy. How much energy? Well quite a lot. Lets put the c2 back in. c is a big number - 300,000,000 m/s. c squared is an even bigger number. 8900,000,000,000,000,000 m2/s2. So this tells us a little bit of mass will make a lot of energy, or equivalently you need a lot of energy to make a little bit of mass. This is the principle of nuclear energy. Each useful nuclear reaction loses a tiny bit of mass, and from that we get energy. It’s also true in chemistry but the fractions are that much tinier there. Equivalently at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) they bang particles together with large amounts of energy, and are able to create new lumps of matter (and anti-matter).



Can you convert material 100% into energy? Well yes you can in special cases. Matter and anti-matter will do it. They cancel each other out making pure energy. We are surrounded by matter, but anti matter is very rare. We can make it, but guess what, it takes energy to make it. As much energy is required as you would get back. However normally conversion isn’t 100%, so in practice

you’d lose energy in the steps. A nuclear bomb (fission) for instance, is about 0.03% efficient whilst a hydrogen bomb ups it to about 0.3%. That is only a tiny fraction of the mass is converted to energy. The effects are still quite devastating though.



Bottom Left: [Nuclear fission bomb explosion - credit wikipedia] The Sun does a little better - extracting somewhere around 1% efficiency from the reactions - but then it does have size on its side. Black holes can do somewhat better - getting up to maybe 40% of the possible energy from stuff falling into it.

Another aspect of this equation is that energy has mass, and mass causes gravity. So even a photon of light, which has no real mass in the conventional sense, has an effective mass. This is why light can be bent by large masses caused by gravity. However this is very simplistic, as light actually bends a little more than you might expect just treating it as a mass. This is where general relativity comes in, and lets agree to sweep that under the carpet, as the maths is epically horrendous.

But… why the speed of light, how has that got involved? This looks a little incongruous, why have it in there? Well its a little complicated - but then it did take Einstein to figure it out. It comes down to the speed of light being the universal speed limit. Nothing can go faster. Also that Einstein turned space and time into a single space-time. We travel through the universe in space-time at the speed of light. If we’re standing still we shoot forward in time only. If we move in our regular 3 dimensions we go through time a little more slowly. For any normal speed we don’t notice the change in time. So - that’s a not very convincing justification for why we have the c. You need to follow through the maths to see in more detail.

Words: Julian Onions ICY SCIENCE | WINTER 2013- 2014


Sundogs - The Fact and Fiction A sundog, or to give it its correct name, a parhelion

approximately 20 degrees of sky. Why is 22 degrees

(plural parhelia) is a well documented atmospheric

so special? It is to do with the angle that the light

phenomenon. In a similar way to how light is split by

is deflected as it passes through those hexagonal

water droplets when a rainbow forms, parhelia are

ice crystals. When the ice crystals sink through the

formed when the light from the Sun is refracted by

air and become vertically aligned, a parhelic circle

hexagonal shaped ice crystals found in cirrus clouds

is formed. If the ice crystals are arranged randomly,

high in the atmosphere. These ice crystals act like tiny

then a pair of parhelia is formed, but often the two

prisms, causing bright patches to appear either side

are present at the same time. They are usually only

of the Sun. These patches may look multicoloured,

visible when the Sun is low in the sky (below 60

but often the colours overlap so are more muted than

degrees) either at sunrise or sunset. Depending

you would expect to see in a rainbow. Sometimes the

on the conditions, there may be one or two parhe-

pair of bright patches is part of a white 22 degree halo

lia present. Although parhelia are only visible when

which surrounds the Sun, also called a parhelic circle.

the correct conditions are present, they are relatively

Why are they called 22 degree halos? The sky is divided up in a similar way to how the Earth is divided into latitude and longitude. If you imagine the sky as being a huge sphere, the entire thing is divided up into degrees, with the total being 360. A parhelic circle stretches out by 22 degrees in every direction from the Sun. To give you an idea of how big that is, if you place your hand at arm’s length and stretch out your fingers, the distance from your thumb to your little finger will cover


common. Far less common though, are moondogs, correct name paraselene (plural paraselenae). Also caused by light being refracted by cirrus clouds, the Moon needs to be almost full in order for there to be enough light to cause a paraselene to form. Because the Moon is far less bright than the sun, a paraselene is rarely bright enough to be able to pick out individual colours; it usually just looks like a bright white patch, but may also be part of a 22 degree halo.






We understand this atmospheric phenomenon very well now, and we can even speculate that they form in the atmosphere of other planets too. But this wasn’t always the case. There are a lot of references in mythology and folklore which we now believe are referring to sundogs. The word “parhelia” comes from the Greek language, meaning “beside the sun”. But it is also known by several other names; sundog, mock sun or phantom sun. It is easy to understand how ancient civilizations would have interpreted these peculiar bright patches as “mock suns” but where did the name sundog originate? Its first recorded use was in 1631 by the British Naval Captain Luke Foxe. He used it in his journal whilst on a search for the North West Passage. However, this was clearly not a new term that he had coined himself. In the 1st century AD, the Greek playwright Seneca used the term “parhelion” to mean sundogs. The origin of these two parallel terms is thought to be from the Greek and Germanic languages which then entered into the English language. If the two bright patches of light rise alongside the Sun, following it as dogs would follow their master, then this is perhaps one possible origin of the term “sundog”. However, a better explanation may come from Germanic mythology. Odin was the sky god, and he was said to have two dogs, one named Geri and one named Freki, so people seeing their god rising with two faithful companions may have been the source of the name sundog. The appearance of atmospheric phenomenon like parhelia would have given ancient story tellers many opportunities to tell their tales, and many stories there are. Most of the ancient writings refer to sky gods and twin sons of the sky. In Greek mythology Zeus was god of the sky, and there is reference to “Dioskouri” which translates as “Sons of God”. In Greek mythology there are two sets of twin sons of the sky god. Stories from Babylon, China and India all feature twin sons of the sky. The native American cultures of Zuni, Hopi and Apache feature sun twins. Elsewhere in America, sun twins appear in the writings of the Seneca of New York State and Maya of Central America. Women of South East Africa who gave birth to twin sons were said to have children of the sky. Finally, there are ancient carvings in Scandinavia which depict twin figures that are associated with the Sun.



Sometimes only one parhelion is visible, and this is thought to have given rise to other mythological tales. In the Greek myth of Phaethon, Phaethon was the son of Klymene, however, his father was absent. Upon questioning, Klymene told him that his father was Helios, the Sun, so the presence of the Sun with one parhelion was symbolic of Helios and his son Phaethon. The first clear description of parhelia as an atmospheric phenomenon rather than the stuff of myth and legend comes from a passage in a book written in 1533. In “Brotherly Faithfulness: Epistles from a Time of Persecution”, Jakob Hutter wrote, “My beloved children, I want to tell you that on the day after the departure of our brothers Kuntz and Michel, on a Friday, we saw three suns in the sky for a good long time, about an hour, as well as two rainbows. These had their backs turned toward each other, almost touching in the middle, and their ends pointed away from each other. And this I, Jakob, saw with my own eyes, and many brothers and sisters saw it with me. After a while the two suns and rainbows disappeared, and only the one sun remained. Even though the other two suns were not as bright as the one, they were clearly visible. I feel this was no small miracle…” Two years later, in 1535, came the earliest pictorial record of parhelia in the form of a painting called “Vädersolstavlan”. This literally translates ICY SCIENCE | WINTER 2013- 2014


as “The Weather Sun Painting” but is more widely referred to as “The Sundog Painting”, shown below. It depicts the city of Stockholm on the morning of 20th April, 1535. In this painting, the sky is full of various atmospheric phenomena, including parhelia, 22 degree halo and circumzenithal arc. The king was not impressed with the painting, viewing the mock suns as some kind of threat to his authority. Prior to the Vädersolstavlan, other artistic depictions of parhelia existed. One famous example also shown below is taken from the Nuremberg Chronicle, one of the first books to combine words with pictures. It follows human history, paraphrasing the bible. This picture is clearly representing parhelia, the top image depicting them as the holy trinity. One of the most famous stories involving the appearance of parhelia is the one which occurred shortly before the battle of Mortimer’s Cross in 1461. Edward of York’s troops were initially terrified by this apparition, described as “three glorious suns, each a perfect sun”; they thought it was a portent. But Edward convinced them that it was in fact an auspicious sign; that it represented the holy trinity and that it foretold of their victory. It is also reported that he thought the three suns represented himself and his



two brothers. This scene is re-enacted within Shakespeare’s play Henry VI Part 3, where the would-be King Edward exclaims, “Dazzle mine eyes, or do I see three suns?” This event clearly had an impact on Edward, as he later incorporated the Sun into his personal badge. Appearances of parhelia have long been associated with weather predictions, often recorded as meaning that a storm is coming. We now know that this isn’t necessarily the case; it largely depends on the direction of the weather front in question. Given our current level of knowledge, it is difficult to imagine a time when people truly believed the appearance of an atmospheric phenomenon could be interpreted as a sign of good or bad luck; that their fate was hinged upon a bright patch in the sky. But it is easy to see how awe inspiring the sight must have been for our ancient ancestors, and how it inspired so many stories. Even with our vast knowledge I am still captivated by the sight myself, imagining all of those tiny prisms diffracting rays of sunlight, and I was totally blown away when I recently saw my first moondog. But I know it doesn’t mean that I will be successful in battle, or that rain is on the way. The presence of one or two parhelia means only thing for certain; that there are cirrus clouds in the sky!







Astronomy for the Absolute Beginner. Have you ever looked up at night and wondered

enough to find out more and spend some time at

what all the little shiny dots are? Or maybe you

night gazing up in awe and wonder. Be prepared

know a little bit about stars, planets and sat-

- there’s no such thing as bad weather only inap-

ellites but you’re keen to find out more about

propriate clothing. Even on a relatively mild sum-

the cosmos in your corner of our vast universe?

mer’s night you can get pretty chilly. A good base

If the answer to these is ‘yes’, or ‘maybe’ - then

layer may be needed, and the key thing here is to

this is for you. Hopefully by the time you’ve

avoid cotton if you can. Merino wool t-shirts and

finished reading these few short paragraphs,

long-johns are good (particularly Ice-Breaker) as

you’ll be able to look up into the blackness of

are man-made fabrics. I have a nice long sleeved

space and put names to some of the familiar

North Face top made from a combination of three

lights and patterns. Maybe you’ll even begin to

different man-made fabrics and it is a great fit too.

understand what these objects are, be curious

Next you do need a good insulating layer. I tend to



wear a hoody on top so that if it gets really chilly I can keep my head warm with the hood. In mid-winter I’ll probably have a jumper over the hoody too! Try not to wear jeans on your legs, instead go for jogging pants or outdoor trousers such as Rohans or Berghaus. In the middle of winter, especially if it has been snowing I have been known to wear salopettes. Finally, have a decent woolly hat in your pocket to put on when it gets really chilly. Be equipped - You probably need to buy yourself a cheap “red light” torch particularly if you’re going to a dark site, or an actual observatory. You can buy these for less than £10 on most internet shopping and auction sites. Why do you need a red light, why not a white light? Its all to do with the chemicals and cells in your eyes. Here’s the science bit - A chemical called Rhodopsin, made in the retina from Vitamin A found in Beta-Carotene, is the thing that determines your night vision. When you’ve got lots of it in your rod cells, you can see wonderfully at night - mainly in black and white. Rhodopsin is great at absorbing blue/green light however and when it does it breaks down into other chemicals and you can’t see so well at night anymore. Practically it takes the Rhodopsin about 30-45 minutes to recombine and you get your night vision back. Red light doesn’t really break it down - which is why astronomers use red light torches! In any case, give yourself at least half an hour in the dark ICY SCIENCE | WINTER 2013- 2014


before you go outside and look up. If you can’t afford a telescope yet its worth getting a set of binoculars for around £20 just to get you started. Also on cold nights a thermos flask of hot chocolate or soup is a life saver. Plan your observing - take some time to think about what you are going to look for and where is the best place to find it. Stellarium is a great PC based tool to do this and it is free to download here http://www. If you’ve got an android phone, download and install Google sky map. iPhone users have similar apps available, just search “sky map”. Your back yard is probably ok for observing the moon, some of the more obvious constellations, brighter planets and satellites like the ISS and Iridium flares. If you want to see more, then you’ll have to head to a darker site - away from light-polluting street lamps. When I first started astronomy I used to walk down to Gorleston beach, then walk half a mile along the beach away from the town, lie down on a blanket and just look up. The first time I saw the Milky Way Galaxy was here and it quickly became one of my most favourite places in the world. If you’re uncertain then this map will give you some pointers towards ideal dark sky sites around the UK This page has two clickable map links that show you the levels of light pollution in the UK and Europe but the simple rule is - head to the countryside or the coast and away from street lamps!

What to look out for - some easy-to-find objects to look out for over the Autumn and Winter months.

The Moon - great for naked eye or binocular observing. Look particularly for detail highlighted by shadows around the edge of the moon, or at the line where the day meets the night. (This line is called the terminator).



The moon changes on a daily basis so keep looking up! Its also worth noting that when the moon is fully in shadow - a new moon - other objects in the night sky become clearer. The International Space Station (ISS) - The home to a number of astronauts hurtling around our planet can be tracked here - The Planets - Mars, Venus, Jupiter and Saturn are usually very easy to find and observe, particularly with binoculars or a small telescope. The first time you see the rings of Saturn, it will blow your mind. Constellations - These are groups of stars that make recognisable patterns. Key constellations are: Ursa Major, (the Plough or Big Dipper) which helps us find the Polaris - the North Pole star. Also it’s handle arcs towards Arcturus the fourth brightest star in the sky. The big dipper has a the two stars Mizar and Alcor which look very close together and are known as an “optical double” but the reality is they’re very far apart. Orion is an instantly recognisable shape in the southern sky. It contains the Orion Nebula, (M42) just below the belt and Betelgeuse which is a massive red star currently at the end of its life and shrinking which means it might blow up soon! Like the Big Dipper - the stars in Orion line up in such a way that you can use it as a pointer to other stars and constellations. Cassiopeia is a familiar ‘W’ shape and contains many ‘deep sky’ objects including two open clusters, M103 and M52. M52 is easy to spot with a pair of binoculars. Cassiopeia is great for finding the Milky Way because she’s lying smack bang in the middle of it. These objects are great to get your started and the constellations will also help to guide you towards other things to view as your exploration of the night sky evolves over many weeks and months of viewing.So remember - enjoy your first nights out as an astronomer by keeping warm, preserving your night vision, planning your observing, finding yourself somewhere dark and then simply look up.

Words: Roy Alexander Moon Image: Mike Greenham



Astronomy/ Science Education in Schools in India

Current Scenario in schools-By Henna Khan “Every kid starts out as a natural-born scientist, and then we beat it out of them. A few trickle through the system with their wonder and enthusiasm for Science intact” – Carl Sagan. I am unaware of how much astronomy is taught in schools the world over, but in India, the only astronomy which is included in the school curriculum is a bit about the solar system added in the geography textbook as an afterthought. A lot of children grow up without even knowing that our Sun is just another star. And what is worse is that the education system does not make them wonder and ask these questions for themselves. Further, the current education system is purely focused on passing exams. Almost all children end up rote learning without understanding concepts. If we want future scientists, our education system needs to change from “textbook based learning” to “inquiry-driven learning”. There are few schools in India which do provide hands-on based education, but these are very expensive



and only a fraction of the children are able to take advantage of it. We need an education system which includes astronomy as part of the curriculum and imparts education through hands-on activities. Instead of “teaching” we need to “inspire” children into learning. Importance of Astronomy in Schools Astronomy is an interdisciplinary science which has the ability to stretch a child’s mind into infinite spaces and time and multiple dimensions. It can inspire children to imagine! Children are naturally inquisitive. Astronomy can be used to fuel their curiosity. It has an immense potential to motivate children to learn Maths, physics, chemistry, biology – subjects that otherwise may not be of interest to them. Through science and innovative thinking children can come up with solutions to world problems such as malnutrition, water, sanitation. Astrology / palm reading/ Numerology are commonplace topics in India. I believe it is easier to change an entire generation of thinkers than to try and change the mindset of the adult population. By including astronomy as part of the school curriculum, we will be able to get children thinking and question the validity of such topics for themselves. This is probably the best way to do away with superstition and blind belief and pave the way for science.



However, maybe a bigger reason for teaching astronomy in schools is because it is a humbling subject. We can look at pictures of earth from space and know how fragile it is. We can understand how futile hatred and war is and the threat of self-destructing ourselves. We can understand how our planet functions and the dangers of climate change. Astronomy has the potential to make this world a better place and we a better race. What can be done in developing countries for Astronomy/ Science outreach The Government of India needs to work on improving education infrastructure, providing teacher training and ensuring quality education even to children in rural areas. Initiative and effort for astronomy/ science outreach needs to come from individuals, private companies and organizations until the ideal situation of having astronomy included in the national education curriculum is achieved. Astronomy/ Science for middle-income children: A sustainable model for Astronomy/ Science outreach through hands-on based activities can be used by individuals and organizations. It may be built on the “After-school Universe” model (http://universe. and may have the following features: •

Low cost hands on based workshops can be offered to school children. Parents pay the nominal

amount for the workshops, not the schools •

Use resources of the school (classroom space, projector/ screen for presentation). This reduces

expenses and initial investment of the Individual/ organization •

Target for more number of children, for example, instead of targeting one workshop of 30 chil-

dren per day, 90 to 100 children can be taught in one day in three back to back batches of say around 30 children each. In this case, price per child can be dropped to one/third while the individual/ organization ICY SCIENCE | WINTER 2013- 2014


makes the same amount of money •

Have children work in groups to share cost of the activity, for

example, group of four children can make one water rocket to reduce per head cost. Also encourages team work •

Certain models can be reused to reduce cost

Teacher training at schools should be given

Astronomy/ Science for under-privileged children: In case of under-privileged children, workshops cannot be offered even at a very low cost. Some ideas for achieving this are mentioned below: •

Tie up with corporate companies to perform outreach as a part

of corporate social responsibility •

Tie up with education consultants who already have a network

of schools across the country •

Train teachers of local NGOs who work with under-privileged

children •

Tie up with network of local amateur astronomers. Each amateur

astronomer can approach few schools in their area and do this part time. However, doing one time workshops to get kids inspired is not enough. There should be a platform for continued discussion. Challenges: •

Availability of quality education for higher studies. There are ICY SCIENCE | WINTER 2013- 2014


limited options. Also not many courses in subjects such as Quantum Mechanics and Astrobiology. Not always feasible for children to go to other countries for higher education •

Availability of jobs in Space industry/ Science as compared to other sectors

About Me: I am the owner of Universe Simplified, through which I am trying to achieve sustainable Astronomy/ Science education for school children by engaging them in hands-on activities. Aim is to get children curious and interested in the subjects. Twitter: @henna_khan



Women, Astronomy & UKWIAN Launch! I have had a life-long love of astronomy and science, yet people often ask me if I only like it because my partner likes it too. Why, in this day and age, is astronomy still considered to be a boy’s game? There is a long history of women in science, yet when asked, very often the first and only female scientist people can name is Marie Curie. She was certainly a formidable and very inspirational lady, but she is not one of a kind. One of the first recorded female scientists was

actually Hypatia of Alexandria (370-415 - pre-dating Marie Curie by almost 1500 years!) She was a Roman Mathematician and Astronomer, and actually invented some of her own scientific instruments. She died for her art; a new leader was very unhappy about her teachings and had her murdered. All of her writings and teachings were destroyed. Another famous lady scientist who also pre-dated Marie Curie by a long way was Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179). She was a convent educated German lady who was actually the first person to write about the benefits of boiling drinking water for sanitation purposes. During the 19th Century there were many more famous women scientists, and an even longer list covering the 20th Century to present day. 1 In the 17th Century, attitudes towards education for women were staggering! In his book “At Home”, Bill Bryson writes, “Women were instructed to avoid stimulating pastimes like reading and card games, and above all never to use their brains more than was strictly necessary. Educating them was not simply a waste of time of resources, but dangerously bad for their delicate constitutions”. In 1865, John Ruskin wrote an essay, in



which he said that “Women should be educated just enough to make themselves practically useful to their spouses, but no further”. One early radical feminist, Catherine Beecher, argued passionately that “Women should be accorded full and equal educational rights, so long as it was recognized that they would need extra time to do their hair”. 2 In astronomy, women were historically encouraged to work within the field of solar observing. I heard a remarkable quote about this during a talk at my local astronomical society, where it was said that women should focus on solar work because going out at night into the cold and dark would be detrimental to their delicate disposition! Luckily there have been many women of strong enough dispositions over the years to fight back against this kind of prejudice. As I’ve already mentioned, Hypatia was a famous Astronomer during Roman times. There are many more; Antonia Maury, born in 1866 was responsible for some incredible work on stellar spectra, despite being actively discouraged by her supervisor. There was Henrietta Swan Leavitt, born in 1868. Not only did she devise a system for ascertaining the magnitude of stars on photographic plates, she also studied Cepheid Variable stars, and made the phenomenally important discovery that vari-

Born Caroline Lucretia Herschel 16 March 1750 Hanover Died 9 January 1848 (aged 97) Hanover Nationality


Fields Astronomy Known for

Discovery of comets

able stars have a period-luminosity ratio; this ratio allowed

Notable awards

her to calculate the absolute magnitude of stars for the first

Royal Astronomical Society (1828)

time. There are many more. But one of the most inspiring


Gold Medal of the

Prussian Gold Medal for Science (1846)


stories of women in astronomy has to be that of Caroline Herschel, sister of William Herschel. She was born in 1750, and had a number of childhood diseases which where to affect her in later life. She was left scarred and disfigured by Smallpox and was very short in stature due to Typhus. Her family wrote her off, told her she would never marry and planned for to become their maid. Her brother William came to her rescue. First of all, he taught her how to sing, but more importantly, he took her on as his assistant when he began working in astronomy. She flourished in this role and became the first woman to discover a comet. She went on to discover more comets and nebulae, and have her own star charts published. She is one of the few early women astronomers who have had their lives very well documented.3 Another famous “forgotten” female astronomer and astrophysicist was Cecilia Payne, who in 1925 made one of the most important astronomical discoveries of the 20th Century.4 Using her thorough understanding of quantum theory, she calculated that 90% of the Sun comprised of hydrogen. At the time, this finding was highly controversial because most astronomers believed that the Sun was made of iron. Her supervisor, Henry Norris Russell, claimed her result was “spurious” and put a lot of pressure on her to remove this claim from her final PhD thesis. Four years later, when further evidence was overwhelmingly in favour of the Sun being made of hydrogen, Russell took the credit for the discovery whilst poor Sylvia Payne was forgotten. Sadly, this kind of thing was not uncommon throughout history. There is no doubt that is has been an uphill struggle for women in science. The Royal Astronomical Society did not allow women as fellows until 1916. Around that time, women could study at university but were not allowed to be awarded degrees. Any women who did manage to obtain professional employment had to give up their job once they married. Luckily things have moved on and women are now afforded equal education rights. In the present day, one third of astronomy PhD students are women, 28% of astronomy lecturers are women and 7% of astronomy Professors are women. 5 Whist it’s great that so many women are entering this male dominated field, the numbers are still way too low. Modern day female astronomers of note include Dame Jocelyn Bell-Burnell , who was involved with the discovery of pulsars, and Catherine Cesarsky who in 2006 became the first female president of the International Astronomical Union. There has also been a notable increase in the number of women presenting science documentaries on television, such as Dr. Lucie Green and Dr. Maggie Aderin-Pocock. These people are great role models for young women who want to ICY SCIENCE | WINTER 2013- 2014


pursue a career in astronomy, but there needs to be more. Surely it is time to move away from pre-historic gender typing? Supermarkets and online retailers still market science toys as “toys for boys”, claiming it is due to public demand. This is something which has to change. There is no doubt that women who want to succeed in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) still face an uphill struggle today and have to make many sacrifices. Women who want to take a career break to have a family may have problems returning to the same posts; often they have to take a demotion in order to get back into work. The number of women in senior positions within astronomy and physics is still extremely low compared to men. But it is the 21st Century; why does society as a whole still think that science is a “boys” game? Only recently, there was a big fuss in the press on the discovery that the extremely successful “I F**king Love Science” Facebook page was run by a female, the British blogger Elise Andrews. To read about some of the fall-out, take a look at the Guardian’s and The Independent’s articles referenced at the end. 6&7 I admire Elise, and the way she handled the fall out. I have to admit that I myself was guilty of assuming the page was run by a man, but wasn’t in the least bit shocked or offended when I found out that it wasn’t; ICY SCIENCE | WINTER 2013- 2014

Female astrophotography exhibition on the UKWIAN stand at the NW Astronomy Festival


if anything I just felt admiration for her. The page is wonderfully run, and every single post she makes is utterly fascinating. Science and astronomy have become extremely popular subjects in recent years. Modern technology has made astronomy much more accessible to the general public, probably more so than any other branch of science. Amateur astronomers can work hand in hand with professionals, sharing and analysing data from their own back garden. The success of Galaxy Zoo is a great example; volunteers classifying galaxies from their arm-chairs. Many of you will have heard of Hanny van Arkel and “Hanny’s Voorwerp”. Hanny is a Dutch Biology teacher, and she discovered the “unusual object” in 2007. Since then she has become a minor celebrity within astronomy circles! The internet allows people to control and take photos remotely using some of the world’s largest telescopes. Distance learning is also playing a vital role in bringing astronomy to the masses. People can study any number of astronomy or science qualifications part-time whilst still working, and once achieved, these qualifications can open up a whole new career path for people. All of these things provide an awesome opportunity for amateurs, but also could be really important for women who want to have a career in science or astronomy but who may find it more difficult to make an impact through the traditional channels. There is certainly a need for the encouragement of more women into science and astronomy, and with astronomy currently being such a popular subject, now is the time for that to happen. Just last week, on 31st October 2013, Professor Dame Athene Donald, gender equality champion from the University of Cambridge, kicked off a debate at the BBC’s inaugural 100 Women Conference on why there are so few women in science and technology. 8 The founders of The Knowledge Observatory have recognized this need, and they set up the UK Women in Astronomy Network (UKWIAN). The Knowledge Observatory are a social enterprise, who enable young people who have become disengaged from education to take part in their learning program which harnesses their interest in astronomy and uses it as a platform for education in other subjects such as English, maths and computer science. They also provide personal development programs. They organised the first astronomy festival to be held in the North West of England, and this took place on the weekend of 26th and 27th October 2013 in Runcorn, Cheshire. They also set up the



UKWIAN with the purpose of providing positive role models for women who are interested in astronomy, both as amateurs and professionals. They already had a substantial following on Facebook and Twitter before their official launch at the NW Astronomy Festival. The festival featured several guest speakers, including Mark Thompson (astronomer from The One Show and Stargazing Live), Gary Fildes (from the Kielder Observatory), Nick Howes (from the Faulkes Telescope), Andy Newsam (from the Astrophysics Research Institute at Liverpool John Moores University) and Sheila Kanani (Dr. of Planetary Science). As part of the festival, the UKWIAN had an exhibition stand which featured biographies of inspirational women in astronomy together with inspirational quotes from them. It also included an exhibition of astronomy photographs taken by women astrophotographers of all different ability levels. The photographs were made into a video slide show which was being shown on a large TV screen displayed above the exhibition stand. I have been assisting the UKWIAN for several weeks now, not only by looking after their Facebook page and Twitter feed, but by helping to collate the biographies, quotes and astrophotos for the exhibition stand. The response to the UKWIAN has been overwhelmingly positive and I feel very proud to be a part of it. A very small number of people have voiced their concerns about sexism. They are not excluding men; in fact, there are quite a few males who have shown their support by following the Twitter account and becoming members of the Facebook group. UKWIAN is not trying to exclude anybody; they simply strive towards gender equality and want to try and help to raise the currently appalling ratio of women in astronomy, and help women to stand alongside their male counterparts. Next to the UKWIAN stand at the astronomy festival was Women Rock Science, who were displaying posters of women who changed the world with astronomy, biographies and badges. They were also running a fun quiz. It is true that many branches of science and astronomy are still male dominated, but women are fighting back. I know I’ll never be a professional astronomer, but I’m a girl, and I’m proud to love astronomy. To paraphrase the late Ann Richards (Governor of Texas) “A woman’s place is in the dome” - in this case, an astronomy dome! ICY SCIENCE | WINTER 2013- 2014


Biographies & Inspirational Quotes on the UKWIAN Stand at the NW Astronomy Festival Words & Images: Mary Spicer



The Women Rock Science stand at the NW Astronomy Festival



Women in astronomy (left to right): Tracey Snelus (Astronomy for Fun), Sue Davies (The Knowledge Observatory), Mary Spicer (UKWIAN) and Sonia Gee (Astronomy for Fun)



References: 1. 2. “At Home” by Bill Bryson 3. 4. “We Need to Talk About Kelvin” by Marcus Chown 5. 6. 7. 8.

For a more in-depth look at women in astronomy, please take some time to read this fabulous article: http:// And for a female astronomer’s perspective on things, please read this: adventures/2008/03/19/a-womans-place-is-in-the-dome/ If you want to support UKWIAN please click here for the Facebook page: or follow @UKWIAN on Twitter




How long have you been interested in Astronomy and what got you interested? FC: I’ve always been fascinated by astronomy, since I was a small child. I can remember learning about the constellations and shooting stars from my parents, watching Star Wars and Star Trek as a kid, and obsessively reading books about space. I bought my first telescope when I was 14 and organized star parties in my small town. My parents were a huge influence on me, and I was lucky that space and astronomy was something that they loved too.

Who inspires you and why? I’ve got to admit that, like most science communicators, I was influenced by Carl Sagan. Cosmos, Contact and Pale Blue Dot were pivotal books for me. But maybe even more influential was Demon Haunted



World; that book turned me into a lifelong skeptic. I’ve also loved the communication style of James Burke, of Connections fame. I’m also lucky that some of my biggest inspirations, are also my best friends, like Phil Plait and Pamela Gay.

Universe today is now a worldwide and well respected website, how did Universe today come about?

FC: I originally created Universe Today back in 1999 as a side project while I was working for a web development company in Vancouver. After a few months, I knew that this would be my future career, and so I did everything I could to make the revenue sustainable so I could make it my full time job. It took a few years of hard work to be able to make that change.

What other projects are you involved with? FC:In addition to Universe Today, I’m also the co-host of Astronomy Cast, which I create with Dr. Pamela Gay. I’ve been working with a team of astronomers on the Virtual Star Party, where we broadcast a live view of the night sky every week onto Google+. I also produce explainer videos on YouTube, helping people understand various concepts in space and astronomy.



How do you think twitter, face book, YouTube etc have helped astronomy? FC: Social media like Twitter has allowed everyone to have a voice, same with YouTube. It doesn’t matter who you work for or how much budget you have, if you have an interesting story to tell, you can reach a worldwide audience. I think this whole revolution is really exciting, and I can’t wait to see what happens next.

This year has been a hive of activity with near earth asteroids, the Russian meteor and of course comet ISON, what event this year has or will be the most amazing too you? FC: All of those events you’ve mentioned have been big. Although we don’t know what’s going to happen yet, I’d have to say that Comet ISON is the event I’m most excited about. It’s been years since there was a bright comet in the night sky, and I can’t wait to share this with my readers and especially my kids.



If it was possible what planet in our solar would you most like to visit and why? FC: Please don’t make me choose. If I had to choose somewhere else to live, it would have to be Mars, because it’s the most compatable place in the Solar System. But there are places I would love to see with my own eyes: lakes on Titan, geysers on Enceladus, volcanoes on Io, the strange wall on Iapetus, caves on the Moon, the hollows on Mercury, the cloud tops of Venus. It’s an amazing, fascinating Solar System, and I’d love to be able set foot on these locations some day in the far future.

What projects are you planning in the future? FC: My biggest project right now is my YouTube channel, where I’m learning how to communicate space and astronomy through video. And if you didn’t already know, making video is hard. But I really think that the future is going to be in video, so I’m forcing myself to go through this process and develop the skills.



What equipment to you use for observing?

FC: I actually don’t have very good gear for observing. I live in such a cloudy/rainy part of the world that it’s pretty much pointless to own a telescope. One of the reasons I organized the Virtual Star Party was so that I could see through the telescopes of other astronomers.

A big thank you to Fraser ffor taking the time to be interviewed, you can visit universe Today on twitter, YouTube and online.











A new astronomy project on crowdfunding website Kickstarter has successfully raised funds to publish a novel pocked-sized astronomical guide in time for Christmas. The Astronomy Diary, described as a “What’s On” guide for the night sky, gives weekly recommendations for observations and must-see celestial events The diary aims to spark a lasting interest in astronomy in both adult and child newcomers, but could also act as a handy aide to more experienced observers. “Astronomy is a bug we’d love to share with everyone” says Kate Harrington, one of the authors, “and we hope the diary will nudge others to explore the night sky.” The idea seems to have caught on, with hundreds of enthusiasts pledging their support on Kickstarter through October and November.



What’s the Matter with Pluto? The Story of Pluto’s Adventures with the Planet Club By Paul Halpern, Illustrated by Vance Lehmkuhl

Pluto joined the Planet Club in 1930, but didn’t quite fit in. He is much tinier than the gas giants in the outer part of the Solar System. He has a lot more moons than any of the inner planets. His orbit is much more stretched out than any of the other worlds’ paths around the Sun. The other members of the Planet Club didn’t know what to make of him. Then one day, Pluto received some bad news... Explore the story of Pluto as seen through the eyes of the planets themselves. Witness the rise and fall of Pluto’s membership in the Planet Club. Why was he demoted and what happened next? Introduce young minds to the fascinating science of astronomy with this entertaining picture book about the Solar System. Great for ages four to ten! Masterful illustrations by Vance Lehmkuhl make this book a true gem. Astronomy for children has never been more fun! Feed the hungry! 10% of the royalties received for this book will be donated to the hunger charity Philabundance Praise for What’s the Matter with Pluto? “Delightful! What a wonderful way to get young ones interested in the mysteries constantly unfolding in the

sky above us. Smart, fun, and educational -- all at the same time. .”

—Christine Lavin, Singer-songwriter: “Shining My Flashlight on the Moon,” “Planet X,” “Just One Angel 2.0”



“In ‘What’s the Matter with Pluto,’ Paul Halpern and Vance Lehmkuhl lay out the facts of planetary life with humor, clarity, and a surprising amount of depth. No other issue in astronomy has engendered such passionate feelings and outright confusion from children and adults alike as the “demotion” of Pluto from planetary status, and the abandonment of traditional mnemonics as the solar system went from nine planets to eight. Halpern and Lehmkuhl describe the history of Pluto’s discovery, what makes it so different from the others, and ultimately its expulsion from ‘The Planet Club,’ with a light tone, but enough rigor that even the most ardent Plutonian defender would be hard-pressed to argue. .” —Dave Goldberg, Astrophysicist and Science Writer: “The Universe in the Rearview Mirror,” “A User’s Guide to the Universe” About the Author Paul Halpern is a professor of physics at the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia. He is the author of more than a dozen highly acclaimed popular science books and is the distinguished recipient of multiple awards related to his work, in addition to having appeared on numerous television and radio programs, including Future Quest and The Simpsons 20th Anniversary Special. His previous children’s book, Faraway Worlds, was named one of the Children’s Choices for 2005 by the International Reading Association. Learn more about him on his personal website. About the Illustrator Vance Lehmkuhl is a cartoonist, writer and musician. He is the author of The Joy of Soy, a collection of cartoons about vegetarianism. His vegan newspaper column, V For Veg, appears biweekly in the Philadelphia Daily News. From 1990 to 2003, he wrote and drew Philadelphia City Paper’s weekly political cartoon, “How-to Harry.” Between 1998 to 2001, he contributed to the New York Times Syndicate feature Face Value. Learn more about him on The Vance Page.





ISSET’S ‘ASTRONAUT LEADERSHIP EXPERIENCE’ HEADS TO THE ARCTIC The International Space School Educational Trust is a charity that uses space exploration as a means to inspire and motivate individuals. We work mostly with schools and universities, training teachers and students with hands on experiments and multimedia activities, and bringing them into contact with the most elite professionals in the world; astronauts & rocket scientists. We also branch out beyond the classroom with the Astronaut Leadership Experience. ALE explorers climbing a mountain in the Arctic.



The Astronaut Leadership Experience offers an exclusive chance for participants to undergo astronaut leadership training with the help and guidance of a NASA astronaut. They will gain new leadership techniques and team-work skills in some of the wildest environments on earth. Astronaut Ken Ham says that the “wilderness environment simulates the physical realities

Borealis in the Arctic being one example. After a recent Lake District ALE with record-breaking astronaut Michael Foale, he said that the experience was the closest to Russian space training he had ever encountered. In February the ALE will be running once again in

associated with establishing and maintaining a human the Arctic. Due to an upcoming solar magnetic flip, presence where none existed before”. Outdoor lead- the Aurora Borealis will appear brighter than ever, ership courses are a vital part of an astronaut’s train- and February will be the best time to see them at ing, as they are required to remain calm and focused their full potential. On Thin Ice; two in the face of adversity, and maintain clear judgement during any group decision.

The programme has been run across the globe,

previously visiting the Gobi Desert, the Arctic Circle and the Lake District. Participants are exposed to inspirational opportunities they would rarely get in their normal lives; opportunities to see the beautiful Aurora

ALE participants navigating through the Arctic. ICY SCIENCE | WINTER 2013- 2014


Northern Norway is an untouched wilderness housing its indigenous people, the Sami, who are completely at one with nature. You will have a unique chance to experience this way of life first-hand, herding reindeer, riding husky sleds, and experiencing a night in a Lavvu. Rorbu, Sami fishermen’s huts, where participants will stay for part of the ALE.



You will travel down winding fjords, past puffins and killer whales on their way to the Lofoten islands. There will be outdoor activities with astronaut Ken Ham to increase your leadership and team-building skills, with kayaking, rafting and hiking to name but a few. You’ll be spending some of your nights in Rorbu, traditionally used as fishermen’s cabins but now a cosy retreat for Arctic holidaymakers. One of the most attractive features of the trip is the opportunity to view the majestic Aurora Borealis, more popularly known as the Northern Lights. The Northern Light Belt hits Norway in Lofoten, and there is no other place on earth where you will stand a better chance of witnessing the lights. ages, as is meeting a real NASA astronaut. The Astronaut Leadership Experience is offer-

RIGHT: The Aurora Borealis over Tromso, Norway.

The Aurora Borealis is one of the natural world’s most astonishing phenomena, a mesmerising curtain of light draped across the Arctic sky. It often appears in a striking green or light rose

ing a rare opportunity to achieve what many dream of. Visit HERE for more details on the Arctic ALE and other upcoming ISSET events.

colour, but in periods of extreme activity, can change to yellow or red. The Aurora is caused by streams of charged particles from the sun, directed by the earth’s magnetic field towards the Polar Regions. The interaction between the charged particles into the nitrogen and oxygen atoms in the atmosphere releases the energy creating the visible aurora. Witnessing the Aurora is a lifetime ambition for people of all ICY SCIENCE | WINTER 2013- 2014


Reign of the Radio Leoinid meteor capture. Niether the full Moon or clouds could prevent meteor radio capture during the recent Leonid Peak meteor shower. On November 17th at my local Sherwood observatory Nottinghmshire the recent installation of a new dedicated meteor system required further radio calibration and software tests. This 2013 leonid meteor shower and Earth’s rendevous with Comet tuttle debri provided an ideal window for this task.



The chosen transmitters are the Belgium dourbes beacon (BRAMS)operating at 49.970 MHz and another dedicated meteor radar transmitter based at Juliusruh in Germany (Institute Atomospheric Physics) operating at 53.500 MHz. Meteor radio signature traces depict high frequency ranges shown in yellow before rapidly dropping to the radar carrier frequency in blue as the meteoroid decelerates in the atmosphere. The ionisation increases in this phase that inturn strengthens the radio signal as it burns up. The captured Leonid radio signatures trace examples given below portray the event over time of the meteors furious entry phase in the upper Earth atmosphere approximatley 90 km high.

Plasma ionisation occures both at the meteor head and tail. This allows reflection of radio waves by a suitable radio transmitter to be captured by a radio receiver. Using a computer or laptop the meteor radio spectrograms can be recorded and then anaylised by suitabe radio software (Spectrum Labs). This ineffect preserves the meteroids dynamic path and stages of its disintergration and demise through the upper atmosphere that effect its radio reflection cababilities. The received signal strength,and deviation of the tuned ICY SCIENCE | WINTER 2013- 2014


signal (Doppler shift) gives the means to calculate the meteors velocity and path direction related to the radio observers location. Interpreting the meteroids direction to the radio observer location is attained by the frequency change. The increase in freqeuncy shift establishes the meteoride is moving towards the receivers anttena and lower frequency shift moving away. This is known as Doppler effect. The frequency shift is caused by motion that changes the number of wavelengths between the reflector meteoroid plasma and the radio receiver. Using and transforming the following formula, with the transmitter frequency used, the conversion processes can establish the velocity of the captured radio meteor signature traces. = c (f02 − f2) / (f02 + f2) - v = (veloicity), c (speed of light (3x10 8 m/s), fo (Radio observers static frequency), f (frequency change). Meteors velocity range from 14 kilometers/ second (31,000 miles per hour) to 45 kilometers per second (100,000 miles per hour. As well as dynamic visuel radio meteor images that can be attained a wealth of analytical data can be extracted. Below 3D and long trace Leonid radio meteor capture during increase activity at 05:03am. Leonid meteor peak was between 3:00am and 6:00am when the Earth track and orientation plowed through Comet 55P/Temple-Tuttle debri.

Difference in radio signal strengths and frequency drifts in time show their representation in the meteor radio captures.



DATA : 03:0am. Michael Knowles. Sherwood Observatory. Nottinghamshire.





Icy Science is a free Astronomy, Space & Science digital magazine. packed with articles and news. So share with you friends and download a c...

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you