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Bente Lilja ByeRSS Feed of this column.

Earth science expert and astrophysicist writes about Earth observation, geodesy, climate change, geohazards, water cycle and other science related topics.

Today I do research and provide... Read More »

Christmas Tree
Photo: Bente Lilja Bye
Christmas at Fishermans Wharf, San Francisco.

The American Geophysical Union is said to be the world's largest gathering of geoscientists. Remember that planet Earth is exactly that – a planet. So include a number of astronomers and astrophysicists in this herd of nerds, some 16000 of them actually. This gathering is misleadingly called The American Geophysical Union Fall meeting, when in fact it is more like a Christmas meeting as it takes place the week before Christmas every year in San Francisco, one of my favorite cities in the whole wide world.

In December an important climate change meeting will take place in Copenhagen, Denmark: The United Nations Climate Change Meeting or the so-called COP15 climate meeting.

Our society is saturated with GPS, or Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS), applications. GPS is the first GNSS and it is operated by US Air Force. Most people are not aware of the fact that GPS was developed and is run by the military. A reduced quality signal is released for civil use. After Europe decided to build their own GNSS, called Galileo, the US Air Force decided to released an improved signal. It was and is a matter of competition.

Hitler's gift to astronomy? What?

Believe it or not, Hitler wanted to give Mussolini and Rome a planetarium*. Rome was among the first in the world to build a planetarium. Italy (and Mussolini) had already taken a planetarium as part of the 'compensation' for the damage Germany did to Italy in WW1 and opened the first Roman planetarium already in 1928.

It is the most peculiar story, so much so that I feel compelled to tell, however little, what I know about this hidden treasure of planetarium history...
Astronomy and green space? Yes, indeed. As an astrophysicist I always find great pleasure in pointing out that the Earth is a planet, just like all the rest of the bunch orbiting our Sun and thus an astronomical object. The Earth is special though because we live on it. And we talk about a green planet referring to environmental issues on planet Earth.
Credit: NASA
At the European Geophysical Union EGU, Jochen Zschau from GeoForschungZentrum GFZ in Germany presented his Sergey Soloviev medal lecture, Meeting the Challenge of Earthquake Risk Globalisation: Towards the Global Earthquake Model (GEM) on the first day of this huge gathering of geoscientific expertice.