It was Only a Matter of Time…

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With the looming retirement of the space shuttle, the ascension of space tourism and hopes of returning to the Moon by the year 2020, this is an exciting and uncertain time when it comes to space travel and exploration. But with uncertainty and excitement also come opportunities that could change the way we look at space for decades to come and give rise to brand new ways of doing business and spawn dozens of new companies. Flying excited passengers to the edge of space could be just the beginning of a whole new industry that serves scientists, explorers and even the worlds’ military powers.

Dr. Ian O’Neill, a veteran contributor to Universe Today and avid space blogger and Greg Fish, a popular science and business writer who’s work regularly appears on BusinessWeek.com, have joined forces to identify target markets for space minded entrepreneurs as well as lay out what issues need to be resolved along the way in Astroeconomics: Making Money From The Vacuum Of Space. Combining science with marketing and the basics entrepreneurship, O’Neill and Fish take a new look at the economics of space exploration to find business opportunities for space minded companies and put many long popular ideas about the future of space travel under the microscope to separate fact from fiction.

Ultimately, the writers argue, we’ll need to rethink our priorities in space and rather than focus on politics, flag planting and living in fear of taking on new and exciting projects, we should be trying our best to transition space travel to a market-driven system which serves government agencies with assets in space, scientific institutions and private enterprise. Commercialization of space is slowly but surely beginning to happen and Astroeconomics will help space minded entrepreneurs to complete this shift and make the most of it.

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Astroengine Featured on the Geologic Podcast #106!

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From now on, I will listen to Prince’s “Sexy Mother F*cker” with great affection…

I mentioned I had listened to the Geologic Podcast the other day to hear George Hrab’s rendition of the awesome Occasional Songs For The Periodic Table.

It was strange, as I remembered chatting to George about that when I was ordering my nth beer at the AAS party in January, but I thought nothing more of it until I was idly chatting about something on Twitter. Like so many micro-blogging conversational experiences, I have no idea what we were talking about or how we got onto the topic of the Periodic Table and I remembered my drunken chat with George. At that moment, like a flash of enlightenment, @MsInformation pointed me in the right direction so I could listen to that particular song. It was in fact a series of songs compiled into one epic feature. This is one of the many reasons why I love Twitter, I can think without needing to think.

To my complete surprise, earlier today @MsInformation (I really should ask for Ms Information’s name…) dropped me a message to say I was featured on today’s yesterday’s (Thursday’s) Geologic Podcast. Happily surprised about this turn of events, I navigated to the podcast site, intrigued by the warning, “I hope you won’t be offended.”

I certainly was not offended, more extremely flattered and very, very entertained! You could say I’m a huge fan of the Geologic Podcast, and not just because I was featured, but because it is bloody fantastic! In episode 106, there’s everything from cows urine, “Religious Moron of the Week” to some great views from the maestro himself George Hrab, featuring Ms Information. I love George’s strong opinions and unwavering wit, so be sure to check it out.

Warning: Some of the content of the Geologic Podcast is not suitable for minors, might not be suitable for work (depending on whether you work in a hospital or a brothel – the latter will probably be fine), but it will certainly give you tough love in the sceptical thought department!

Listen into Episode 106 (March 5th, 2009) of the Geologic Podcast »

Thank you George and Ms Information!

When in the Solar Cycle were You Born?

My birthday, right smack bang in the middle of solar maximum (Space Weather)

My birthday, right smack bang in the middle of solar maximum (Space Weather)

I just came across this rather nifty little tool via fellow Twitterer TaviGreiner, and I really like it. It’s yet another wish-I’d-thought-of-that moments. You input your date of birth, and a sunspot number chart appears, displaying the solar activity on your birthday…
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Naming Pluto: A Review

Naming Pluto, the story of Venetia Phair (© Father Films)

Naming Pluto, the story of Venetia Phair (© Father Films)

When my copy of the “Naming Pluto” DVD arrived in the post, I was very excited. However, this wasn’t the original plan.

Only a few days earlier, the short film was being aired down the road at the Los Angeles Femme Festival in Beverly Hills and the film’s writer, producer and director Ginita Jimenez had invited me along. Alas, I couldn’t be there (really frustrating as you know how much I love premiers!), so Ginita kindly posted a copy to me.

I had little idea about the history of the naming of Pluto (and I only had a general knowledge about how and when it was discovered), so I was looking forward to being educated as well as entertained.

Fortunately, I had the night to myself to watch Naming Pluto and take notes for a future review of the short film (just posted on the Universe Today). So I dimmed the lights and started the DVD. For the next 13 minutes, I didn’t write a word
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365 Days of Astronomy Podcast: The Link Between Beer and Space Settlement!

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The day has come. Finally, I get to promote my excitement for the importance of Space Beer. Ohhh yes! Incidentally, Space Beer has been the theme of the last few days of the AAS conference (free beer, special free Galileo limited edition Sierra Nevada beer. Did I mention it was free?), so it seems fitting to have my 365 Days of Astronomy podcast broadcast the day after returning from the conference fuelled by (free) space-themed booze.

So, today (January 9th), over at the 365 Days of Astronomy, celebrating the International Year of Astronomy 2009, you can tune into my contribution to the IYA2009: The Link Between Beer and Space Settlement.

Go to the 365 Days of Astronomy blog post for the transcript and podcast options »

Play the podcast mp3 NOW!

To top the whole experience off, I had the superb fortune to meet the musician behind the 365 Days of Astronomy theme tune, plus we were also treated to a mini-concert by him during the official USA opening of the International Year of Astronomy 2009 at the AAS conference on Tuesday. Written and performed by George Hrab, the entire audience at the IYA2009 grand opening ceremony had a great time singing along to the lyrics. I’m assuming the song is called “Far”, for obvious reasons. Funnily enough, in the audience participation parts of the tune, avatars participating in the Second Life virtual world were also singing along. George not only entertained the real world, he transcended this life to make the Second Life rock! Now that is inspirational!

Photos after the jump…
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The AAS Finale: Astronomy Cast Meet-up (Photos)

A unique beer-fuelled AAS camera angle. Clockwise from top right: Pamela Gay, Fraser Cain, Chris Lintott and Ian O'Neill

A unique beer-fuelled AAS camera angle. Clockwise from top right: Pamela Gay, Fraser Cain, Chris Lintott and Ian O'Neill

It’s Thursday afternoon and the hangover is finally subsiding. This morning wasn’t a nice experience, having stumbled back to the hotel at 2am, knowing very well I had to get up at 7am for the final round of sessions at the AAS conference, I knew the lack of sleep might be a problem.

After all, there would be no presentations in the afternoon and I was very motivated to get the scoop on some more breaking astro news. Unfortunately, 7am turned into 10:30am, and although I tried, I couldn’t make it past the hotel lobby. For me, Thursday was cancelled. Oh well, at least the previous night was awesome
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AAS Session 328: Supermassive Black Holes, Kicked or Spun?

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Events are amping up at the AAS conference in Long Beach. Tonight, we were treated to the official US opening of the International Year of Astronomy 2009 (plus superb live music by George Hrab, a Second Life IYA2009 ribbon-cutting and the premier of “400 Years of the Telescope“). In the day, I had a stack of presentations to go to including a session on black holes and another on white dwarfs… I never knew white dwarfs were so interesting!

For an exclusive look into the supermassive black hole session this morning, be sure to have a read of AAS Session 328: Black Holes I, January 6th over at the Universe Today