Meet Mrs Astroengine

Deb and I in the Vegas sunlight on Saturday (Image by Colette O'Neill)

Deb and I in the Vegas sunlight on Saturday (Image by Colette O'Neill)

In case you were wondering why I was being a little quiet on Astroengine and the Universe Today recently, it’s because I got married on the weekend! Those of you who know me personally, you’ll know Deb, but if you don’t, I wanted to introduce her. So this is Debra O’Neill, my soul mate and love of my life.

We had a rather spontaneous wedding, but fortunately most of the family was able to make it, including my own from the UK. Friends as far afield as New York were able to change their plans and make it to Vegas. Thank you to everyone who made the event so special; it was a fun, entertaining and an emotional roller-coaster. Also a big thanks goes to my best man and fellow physicist, Mario, who made sure everything went smoothly (if you ever need anything organized, Mario is your man!).

So, I’m off to enjoy married life, but I’ll be sure to post more pictures of the weekend once I sort through the thousands that were taken!

Viva Las Vegas!

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Astroengine is Now Bulletproof: Upgrade to WordPress 2.6.2

WordPress released a minor upgrade today for any blog running version 2.6. Although it’s not a huge deal, it is worth doing if your WordPress installation allows open registration. Although this isn’t necessarily a security risk, there is the possibility that a hacker could exploit a WordPress function to reset admin passwords to a randomly generated one, therefore freezing the administrator out of their website. The hacker doesn’t know the new password either, so this loophole is more of a frustration than anything else. Still, it would be a bugger if that happened, so Astroengine is now bulletproof with v2.6.2…

Once again, I used the automatic upgrade plugin created by Keith Dsouza and it performed flawlessly, backing everything up and then installing the whole lot over the top. Superb.

Astroengine 2.0 Launches!

Astroengine v2.0

Astroengine v2.0

After much deliberation and planning, I made the decision to give a complete facelift. Although the black-background/off-white text had served me well, I noticed that the dark colour scheme was ageing pretty quickly (and giving some of my readers eye strain!). As the traffic has increased 100-fold in the last six months, I thought it was a good time to launch a brand new image, using a professional template that I could easily customize…
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Astroengine is Now Vibrating at a New Resonance: Upgrade to WordPress Version 2.6.1

Not a huge announcement this one. Not even news worthy. Just upgraded Astroengine to WordPress 2.6.1.

The only reason I mention it is because it took me three minutes to backup the database, all the files, switch off the plugins, display the “site under maintenance” page, upload all the new files, unpack them, install them, fire up all the plugins and verify the whole lot is ticking along as it should. I used to put aside a couple of hours to do an upgrade, catering for all unforeseen eventualities, sometimes crashing the whole site and bugging the WordPress forums for advice. But not today! WordPress 2.6 has a crispy-neat automatic upgrade function that does everything (and more), ensuring I had a trouble-free upgrade. It was like having a little electrician rewiring the house in record time with no fuss over getting paid.

Superb, thanks Keith Dsouza for developing the WordPress Automatic Upgrade! It made very happy.

Anyhow, that’s me for the night, I’m off to see the huge lightning storm outside…

Astroengine Data Gathering

Astroengine needs your input

Astroengine needs your input has been in operation for a few years now, but since I began doing some serious space writing in late 2007 the site underwent a major facelift and became what you see today: A space science news blog. As time goes on I will be increasing the frequency at which I update Astroengine – it might be a lot of writing but it will be worth it. During my time researching space articles for Astroengine and my science writing for the Universe Today, I try to find as much original stuff as possible, but often settle of interesting news that is already out there. This is where you can help. If you have anything you would like me to write about, feel free to drop me a line. I recently did this for a regular Astroengine reader who wanted something written about the Higgs boson, a topic I hadn’t thought about addressing. The article was then Dugg like crazy, killing the server more than once! So if you have an idea and want to have a chance at overwhelming Astroengine with traffic, contact me with your idea and I’ll see what can be done.

So, after eight months of space news, I’d like to get your feedback about how Astroengine is shaping up and how you think it could be improved. After all, Astroengine is driven by you, so your views are very important…
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Want to Keep Up with Astroengine Articles? Why not Sign Up for Regular Email Updates…

As grows, I’ve noticed a lot of returning visitors. I update the site daily with new research from various institutions, popular space science news and stories that wouldn’t normally see the light of day on the Internet. With the help of, sends out daily emails (one per day) so you can have any updates delivered directly to your inbox. If you want to sign up (at no cost and free of spam), click on the following link and follow the instructions.

I’ll look forward to seeing you soon!

Sign me up for the daily email from

Alternatively, subscribe to’s RSS feed

Thank you for stopping by!

Ian (Astroengine editor)

Astroengine Goes to Hollywood: “Fly Me to the Moon” Premier

Legendary astronaut and second man on the Moon, Buzz Aldrin. A really nice chap (© Ian O'Neill &

Legendary astronaut and second man on the Moon, Buzz Aldrin. A really nice chap (© Ian O'Neill &

In a very fortunate chain of events, I was asked by Fraser to go to the Directors Guild of America on Sunset Blvd. (LA) for the “Fly Me to the Moon” movie premier. I can’t review the film as yet (we have to wait until the film opens on August 15th for that), but I can give a run-down of who was at the premier and what the new animated feature is all about. Personally, I had a great day, fulfilling my dream of meeting legendary ex-astronaut Buzz Aldrin and legendary British actor Tim Curry…
Continue reading Upgrade to WordPress 2.6

The newest version of WordPress was released today with loads of new features (including the long overdue wordcounter! I’m easy to please…). Most of the upgrades will make life a bit easier for me when posting new articles on Astroengine, so hopefully that will be reflected in the quality of my writing. If you want to learn more about WordPress and why this upgrade is pretty awesome, check out the online video from the developers of WordPress Version 2.6 (a.k.a. “Tyner,” after jazz pianist McCoy Tyner)…

2012 Doomsday Article Now Available in Portuguese

A Mayan pyramid, but did the Mayans really forecast doomsday?

With a special thanks to Nisia Chaves at Chá de Camomila, my original “No Doomsday in 2012” article published on the Universe Today has been carefully translated into Portuguese. This is great as it extends the readership to countries such as Portugal, Angola, Brazil, Cape Verde, East Timor, Guinea-Bissau, Chinese S.A.R. of Macau, Mozambique and São Tomé and Príncipe. Alas, my Portuguese is a bit rusty, so this might be a good chance to learn some important phrases from the 6th most popular language in the world. So lets start with “Nada de Juízo Final em 2012″ – No Doomsday in 2012 ;-)
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Terra Chat Show Hosted by Colin Knight Now Online

If you missed Coln Knight’s Terra Chat (at Blog Talk Radio) show last night with me as his special guest, the hour-long interview is now online ready to be listened to at your leisure. You can navigate to Terra Chat and find out the details there, and then play the archived mp3.

Be sure to check out Colin’s efforts, he has a wide range of subjects open to discussion and you and participate by calling in and posing your own questions.

Thank you Colin for inviting me to Terra Chat, I had a great time discussing the Mayan Prophecy and all the details surrounding the science and the myth.

The mp3 file is available on Astroengine for download.