astronomy

Earth dying in five billion years I can deal with, but not a world-weary Brian Cox

1 June 2019 9:00 am

When you see the opening caption ‘4.6 billion years ago’, it’s a pretty safe bet that you’re watching a programme…

The only thing that baffled Einstein was his own popularity

11 May 2019 9:00 am

On 6 November 1919, at a joint meeting of the Royal Astronomical Society and the Royal Society, held at London’s…

If Voyager is powered by 40-year-old computers, why do our PCs last five years?

26 August 2017 9:00 am

Yet another sign that we are living in very strange times: a pair of celebrities, their names made by TV,…

Torture porn done with the trite slickness of a Vogue photo shoot: Salomé reviewed

27 May 2017 9:00 am

The Olivier describes Salomé by Yaël Farber as a ‘new’ play. Not quite. It premièred in Washington a couple of…

‘An inconceivable operation of the gigantic forces of nature’: a total solar eclipse sweeps across Indonesia in March 2016

Darkness visible – the wondrous power of eclipses

22 April 2017 9:00 am

Marek Kukula was surprised to find himself moved to tears when he first witnessed a solar eclipse

Is there any such thing as nothing? In search of the cosmic void

11 March 2017 9:00 am

Nothing will come of nothing, said Lear, because he wasn’t familiar with quantum physics. According to our current best theories,…

A chain of Harvard Observatory employees, photographed in 1918

The Harvard housewives who measured the heavens

14 January 2017 9:00 am

Marek Kukula tells how, in the late 19th century, Harvard Observatory began to rely on a number of women – ranging from graduates to housemaids – to analyse an explosion of scientific data

There is life out there, insists the astrobiologist Jon Willis — though it won’t be turning up in flying saucers. There’ll be a meeting of microbes rather than a meeting of minds

Why are astronomers so desperate to believe in aliens?

10 December 2016 9:00 am

Why are astronomers so keen to believe in extraterrestrial life? Is it just a story they want to hear, wonders Tom Holland

Planet-hunters will always boldly go where no one has gone before

13 August 2016 9:00 am

Fifty years ago this summer, a new show appeared on American TV screens. These, the opening titles explained, were the…

New light on the Sun

26 March 2016 9:00 am

The Sun is a star that many astronomers assume is only worth studying because of its averageness; it’s middle-aged and…

Why it would be absurd to sell off Radio 2 - even if it could do with a refresh

25 July 2015 9:00 am

The idea that Radio 2 should be sold off by the BBC to a commercial rival is as nonsensical as…

Pluto’s moon Charon is secretly a Charlene

25 July 2015 9:00 am

‘What about the moon Tracey?’ asked my husband facetiously when an astronomer on the wireless, talking of Pluto’s moon Charon,…

White dwarfs and neutron stars — stepping-stones to the black hole

30 May 2015 9:00 am

The idea of black holes sounds so quintessentially modern and 20th-century that it may come as a surprise to learn…

Following Galileo’s discoveries, a rugged, cratered moon is depicted (with papal approval) by Ludovico Cigoli in his ‘Assumption of the Virgin in the Pauline Chapel’

Moving heaven and earth: Galileo’s subversive spyglass

11 April 2015 9:00 am

We live in an age of astronomical marvels. Last year Europe’s Rosetta spacecraft made a daring rendezvous with the comet…