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Robert H OlleyRSS Feed of this column.

Until recently, I worked in the Polymer Physics Group of the Physics Department at the University of Reading.

I would describe myself as a Polymer Morphologist. I am not an astronaut,

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What do you say to Pluto’s demotion to “dwarf planet” status?  I did not approve of the demotion, but a few days ago our BBC Sky at Night team did give a reasonable reason why it does require a new category.  With Neptune, one can say “planets end here”, while Pluto is the first of many bodies such as the remarkable Eris that we now know inhabit the Kuiper Belt. 

Pluto really does seem to have captured people’s imagination.  With the announcement that the (dwarf) planet is larger than we thought, a neighbour was asking me how one measured its size.

This got me looking up some values in Pluto Is Larger Than Thought, Has Ice Cap, NASA Probe Reveals, from space.com.

The new measurement of Pluto is 1,473 miles (2,370 kilometers) across

The previous estimate from Earth was 1,430 miles (2,301 km).

We have already had a view from the Mediterranean of Jupiter, Venus and the Moon in Seeing Jupiter In Daylight.  Jupiter and Venus are getting closer together in the sky, and on the 1st of July, at around 8:00 UTC, actual conjunction will occur, when the two planets are at the same Ecliptic longitude (referring the annual path taken by the Sun against our stellar background.)  At that time, the planets will be below the Horizon for New World observers.

I saw this in today’s Daily Mail:

Landmark discovery about the brain 'will have scientists rewriting textbooks' - and could help treat conditions such as autism and Alzheimer's


and here is a copy of the University of Virginia press release for your interest:

Researchers Find Textbook-Altering Link Between Brain, Immune System

Recently on Countryfile (BBC) we saw a presenter and a photographer together in the Pennines, the mountains that form the ‘backbone’ of England.  The photographer makes a living by taking spectacular scenes with a high-end camera and all different lenses, whereas the presenter was comparing what she took with her mobile. 

He was worried that in the public domain the best images would be lost in a massive cloud which includes a lot of inferior (though he didn’t specifically use the word) data.

This clicked with me, because of my experience of attempting astrophotography with what is known as a ‘bridge’ camera, somewhat between a compact and an SLR.

Once again, your resident tellytraveller has turned his gaze to the Southern Hemisphere, this time with second series of Coast Australia.  Episode 8 took us to New South Wales, and most spectacularly to Jervis Bay, a little under 200 km south of Sydney.