Universe Guide


Guide to Space, Planets and the rest of the Universe

Eclipse-Mania Hits Europe20/03/2015 18:45
The first total Solar Eclipse to take place in Europe since 11th August 1999 was marred by a lot of cloud. Those that did manage to see something was in for a treat. The only land places that was able to view totality of the Eclipse was the Faroe Islands and the Svalbard Islands in the Arctic Circle. Those who had travelled to the Faroe Islands were slightly disappointed as there was cloud covering their view. Across United Kingdom, people were able to view the Eclipse but those in the capital London were out of luck due to clouds.

The next major total solar eclipse to occur is the Eclipse that will cover the United States and is being billed as the Great American Eclipse which will take place on Monday 21st August 2017. Those in Ireland and the United Kingdom will see the tail end of the eclipse where it the Sun will be obscured by about 40%, nowhere near where it was obscured this time. The American Eclipse will affect nearly the whole country with varying degrees. Those in the North (Boston) way will get 70% totality and those in Miami about 80%. Those in Nashville and Kansas City for example will get the best views of the Eclipse.

The next European Total Eclipse will occur on August 12th 2026 where Totality will be through Spain this time including Barcelona. Given when it is, August, it is expected that weather will be good for it and not cause problems like it did this time. The United Kingdom and France along with Spain will get a good view. However after that date, the next one is not expected in Europe until 2090.

The picture below was taken by Colin in Birmingham.

Eclipse of the Sun seen from Birmingham

Supermoon, I saw you standing alone...17/03/2015 19:34
Ok, the actual words are `Blue Moon, I saw you standing along`, I just thought I`d do a play on the song. Not only do we have an Eclipse this Friday for those in Europe but we also have a Supermoon. A Supermoon is when the Moon comes closest to the Earth and therefore appearing much bigger and brighter than it would otherwise do. So after the event, in the evening, look at the moon, it should be bigger and brighter, that is if its not cloudy. As for what a Blue Moon is, it refers to a second full moon in a Gregorian Calendar Month.   Comments

Elder Scrolls has gone Unlimited17/03/2015 19:11
The Elder Scrolls Online game has now gone Free-To-Play after only less than a year at being subscription based. The game has also gone up to being rated 18 and if you`re are returning to the game, you will be asked that you are ok with that. You`ll need to buy the game if you`ve not already bought it but then how much and when you pay is up to you. You can buy a horse from the store straight away if you are willing to pay for one, no need to level up to a medium level to get one.

The Races are the same as they were before, no additional ones, and there`s a very limited number of classes, four that can be played but at least there`s no Pandarens. Graphic quality is much higher in this game than in World of Warcraft. It does contain everything you would expect from a MMO. The game keeps the same look and feel as Skyrim but on a more massive multi-player scale. On the European servers, there are no language specific realms so chat can contain multiple languages.


The Eclipse this Friday 20th, March 201514/03/2015 10:13
This Friday 20th March, there will be a Total Solar Eclipses that we will be visible across Northern Africa, Europe and Russia. How much of the Sun will be eclipsed is dependant on where in that area you will be. If you are situated in the Faroe Islands then the Sun will be totally eclipsed by the Moon. The GIF at N.A.S.A.`s will show where`s affected by the Solar Eclipse and by what degree.

In London, providing the weather is good, it is expected to be about 80-90% eclipsed. Even though it is only 80-90%, it will provide a spectacle to see. Unlike at 100%, the sky will not go dark. People in Paris, Berlin and Madrid should all being about so see part of the Eclipse. Looking at the Sun even for a short time and even when eclipsed can cause blindness. It is recommended that you buy special glasses to see the eclipse to protect your eyes. The "Sky at Night" magazine are giving away a free pair of solar glasses, if the magazine doesn`t have them, ask for them when you buy.

If on the other hand, you need more, you can buy them at reputable outlets. The ones I`ve bought to watch with come from Eclipse Glasses and they come in packs of 5+. The only negative thing I can say about them is that they got sent via 2nd class post. They`ve been inundated by requests so get in quick although it may be too late now. I`ve not been paid for mentioning them and have no connections to them, there are other providers out there. 3d Images look like a trading name of Eclipse Glasses. First Light Optics would seem to have sold out.

If you have a telescope or binoculars, do not look at the Sun, it will burn your retinas. If you have special filters then they can be used but not with ordinary filters, you`d need to ask a professional and not chance the gear you have. If you miss the Eclipse, the next one will occur in the UK on 12th August 2026. 1. It will sadly be a partial eclipse again in the UK but people in Northern Spain will get to see Totality.  Comments

World of Warcraft Selfie12/03/2015 12:45
After much hoping and fingers crossing, I finally got the in game Selfie Camera and decided to see what the fuss was all about. The first character I got it on was my dwarf. When you line up the photo, you character takes up the centre and you can`t move it so you can`t appear at one side or the other like in real life so you need to work round it. Its more a gimmick than a real improvement to the game. If you get the Mk3, you get more gimmicky things, like filters such as having a black and white photo. There`s an achievement to visit various locations round the continents which awards a title `Field Photographer` but nothing else and the amount of points is quite low, only 5.

Warcraft Dwarven Selfie

Terry Pratchett has met one of his creationsMarch 12th, 2015 20:18 pm
Terry Pratchett, the creator of the Discworld series of books has sadly past away. He had been suffering from Alzheimer`s, a degenetive brain disorder. Although famous for the Discworld novels, he wrote other science fictions stories and recently wrote a number of books with Stephen Baxter entitled The Long Earth, The Long War, The Long Mars with two books in the pipeline. The books will be carried on by Stephen Baxter as the contract for the books was for five books in the series.

In the Discworld series of books, he had a character called DEATH whose name was always in capitals and who spoke in CAPITALS without quotes marking the start or end of a sentance. Some of the tributes on line reference that character and not done in malice.

A number of his book creations have been turned into television productions such as "The Colour of Magic" and "The Light Fantastic" starring "Only Fools and Horses" actor, David Jason as the bumbling wizard Rincewind. Unlike the Harry Potter stories, there was no one character that appeared in every Discworld novel. The stories are shorter than "Lord of the Rings" and a lot easier to read.   Comments

'Rogue One' announced as the first Star Wars standalone filmMarch 12th, 2015 20:14pm
According to news websites, the first Star Wars standalone movie is to be called Rogue One. No plot line details have been revealed. All that has been released is that it will be directed by Gareth Edwards and starring Felicity Jones.

Rumours are centred around a Rebel X-Wing squadron after Rogue has become synonymous with an X-Wing squadron in the Star Wars canon. There is no details as to whether it will be set before, during or after the events of the original series.

The film is due out on 16th December 2016, but before then we have The Force Awakens to look forward to.  Comments

Leonard Nimoy, R.I.P.February 27th, 2015 19:06 pm
Its with sadness that Leonard Nimoy, the actor who bought Spock from Star Trek to life has died. It was announced by his family that he died of end-stage chronic obstructive pulmonary disease on Friday morning. For those who don't what it is, in short, it is a type of obstructive lung disease characterized by chronically poor airflow of which smoking is a common cause of the disease.1

Although Spock bought him fame, he was also known for being a singer and one of his most famous songs is about Bilbo Baggins from Middle Earth stories, the Hobbit and to a lesser extent, Lord of the Rings.

He also starred as the Great Paris, a member of the Impossible Mission Force in the Mission: Impossible television series for two years. He would later return to his role of Spock in the first Star Trek movie, Motion Picture and later become director in two more (The Search for Spock and Voyage Home). He would appear in the Star Trek films Undiscovered Country and Final Frontier. He didn't make an appearance in the film series again until Star Trek XI where his character Spock came back from the future to prevent the destruction of his home world of Vulcan. He would then reappear in the sequel which was released four years later as a special guest star.

He was born on March 26th, 1931 to a Dora and Max Nimoy in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S. Leonard would later serve in the United States Army as a Sargent between 1953 and 1955 before leaving to embark on an acting career. Leonard would appear as a minor character until his big break came with Star Trek. He was the only surviving member of the original episode The Cage as a half-human (Mum) and a half-Vulcan (Dad) to make it through into the full series. He married twice and was a father to two children, Julie and Adam. When I met him, he was willing to go that extra mile with autographs unlike some other Star Trek actors I've met. 2.

The film below is a You Tube video of a collection of Spock quotes that I found so enjoy.   Comments

Lost Beagle 2 has been found on MarsJanuary 16th, 2014 18:48 pm
On Christmas Day 2003, Scientists waited with baited breathe to hear the sound of Blur, the Britpop band broadcast from the surface of Mars. The song had been composed especially for the European Space Agency (E.S.A.) to herald the fact that the British made Beagle 2 lander had indeed landed on the Red planet. However as the hours went on, the hope turned to disappointment as nothing was heard from the red planet.

Beagle 2 had been the brainchild of Professor Colin Pillinger, Open University Scientist who when hearing that E.S.A. planned to put a Satellite round Mars persuaded the British Government and ESA to allow him and his team to build a probe to land to the planet. The pictures below are of Beagle 2 landing site and an artists impression of Beagle 2 on Mars.

Beagle 2 Artists Impressions and the Landing site on Mars
Scientists now believe that they have discovered what happened to Beagle 2 after what looks like the probe being photographed and pictures released. 1. In pictures on the ESA website, they show the probe slightly bigger.

Preliminary results from the pictures have suggested that the probe successfully landed and didn`t smash into pieces but the atennae that is used to communicate back to Earth failed to extend. The subsequent enquiry that was carried out concluded that the team behind the project was ill-prepared and the task was too big for the group.2.

Sadly, Professor Colin Pillinger did not live long enough to see the pictures that had been released today by ESA. Colin died on the 7th May, 2014, two days before his 71st Birthday. After the disappointment of Beagle 2, he remained upbeat and hoped to try with Beagle 3 but never got round to building it. Beagle 2 was named after the ship that Charles Darwin, the person who came up with the theory of evolution.   Comments

Whats in store for 2015January 1st, 2015 09:54 am
With Christmas and the New Years Celebrations out of the way, it is now time to look at the forthcoming year. For Universe Guide, the most exciting thing for us in real space is the arrival of New Horizons mission to Pluto, the first time a probe has been sent to the distant dwarf planet. Up until now the only pictures have been long distance fuzzy pictures and artists impressions, now we`ll be able to see what the planet hopefully looks like. Last month, N.A.S.A. woke the probe up successfully and the final countdown to the encounter began.

As for the realm of fiction, the single most anticipated event is going to be the release of Star Wars Episode VII The Force Awakens which will arrive in less than 350 days from now. Coinciding hopefully with the release of the film is the new Battlefront game so you can watch and then pretend to be part of the experience. Other highlights will include the second Avengers film. Other highlights includes the re-imagined Terminator film but neither Avengers nor Terminator will hit the same level of enthusiasm amongst fans as Star Wars. Also in late October, we will see the 24th James Bond film Spectre. Given the way the franchise has been going, James Bond will not be going into space like he did in Moonraker, he`ll have his feet firmly on the ground.

End of the World movies make a return as mentioned earlier, the new Terminator film gets a release. In Terminator, we never had a chance to get into space big time as we were too busy fighting robots that wanted to kill their creators, humanity. Also returning to the cinema is Mad Max in the fourth film of the franchise. Fury Road will see Tom Hardy replacing Mel Gibson as Max Rocktansky in a lawless Australia.

There`s no major fantasy film out this year, the Middle-Earth trilogy The Hobbit came to an end with Hobbit - Battle of the Five Armies. The next major fantasy film will be out in 2016 with the release of the Warcraft movie.  Comments

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