Universe Guide

Universe Guide Blog Articles Archive 3

R.I.P. Princess Leia27/12/2016 20:22

It is with sadness that I write, Carrie Fisher, best known for many people interested in space and wider afield as Princess Leia Organa has past away. Although she is best known for that role, she has also appeared in other films such as Shampoo with Warren Beaty which was her film. She appeared in all the first trilogy, the original trilogy as its best known and then appeared in Star Wars - The Force Awakens as General Leia, leader of the Rebels know now as the Resistance.

Her character albeit a bit of C.G.I. returned to the cinema this year in the prequel Star Wars - Rogue One and was expected to appear in the next two sequels, Episodes VIII and IX. I believe the actual filming of Episode VIII had been finished and that it was now in post-production so that her character will still be there as to what extent her character will appear is not known. Its unlikely they`ll do the same thing as they did with Grand Moff Tarkin for the last film in the new trilogy. Thats speculation, not fact.

She wasn`t the only person to have starred in the films to have died this year in one of the worst years for famous people generally. Other people from the films to have died are :-

  • Kenneth Baker who was the man behind the motors of R2-D2, the astromech droid.
  • Erik Bauersfeld, the voice beind Admiral Ackbar and Bib Fortuna died in April this year.
  • Alethea McGrath who played Jocasta Nu in the prequels died in February.
  • Peter Sumner, the only Australian in the first film who played Lieutenant Pol Treidum died in November.

May the Force be with them in heaven.


Piers Sellars, British Astronaut has died24/12/2016 20:59

Piers Sellars, the British born N.A.S.A. astronaut has sadly past away after a fight with stage 4 pancreatic cancer which he revealed he had in January of this year. He was born in Crowborough, Sussex 1955. He always had aspirations of going into space. The British government doesn`t sponsor its nationals to go into space so after working his way through University, gaining eventually a PhD, he moved to the United States. Over time after working for N.A.S.A, he became a United States naturalised national which then allowed him to go into space.

Piers took part in three Space Shuttle flights, two on Atlantis and one on Discovery during his time up in space. His total amount of time in space was 35 days. In addition to all his N.A.S.A. distinguished medals, he was awarded an O.B.E. in 2011 for his contributions to space. He was married to Amanda Lomas but the marriage ended in divorce. ref: Wikipedia.


Rogue One finally hits the Cinemas16/12/2016 18:38

Nursing a hang-over from the Christmas Party from the night bfore, I went to see the film at the local cinema. I was not disappointed. I personally felt that the film was better than the previous years, Star Wars - The Force Awakens. I along with everyone all knew how the film would end. We`re already seen the sequel which it had come out decades earlier. I had seen lots of trailers of the film before but it didn`t diminish the enjoyment of the film.

There were a number of people on social media who disliked the fact that Jyn Erso, the lead character was female but she proved to be no shrinking violet and held her own. If you don`t like the fact she was an equal to the lead male, don`t watch it, Disney won`t go bust if you didn`t go.

A quick reminder of the plot, the film is set immediately before the events of Star Wars IV - A New Hope and features a group of Rebels stealing the Death Star plans. In the original films, they were described as Bothan as it had been said many Bothans died getting these plans but it never explained what a Bothan was unless I missed it.

We knew Darth Vader would appear but to see Grand Moff Tarkin appear for as long as he did was great. The C.G.I. to bring the character to life was excellent along with the rest of the CGI. We also got treated to a CGI version of Princess Leia as she received the Death Star plans. There were a number of other cameos including that of Senator Bail Organa and an explanation of why he didn`t appear in future films. Although there was the now compulsory desert planet, this time Jedha rather than Jakku or Tatooine, there were other planets along with the returning Yavin IV where the Rebels had their base.

The main characters Jyn Erso and Cassian Andor were likeable enough. Even though they were going to die, you hoped they would some how survive and then retire but that was not going to happen. The film wasn`t going to have that kind of happy ending. They weren`t going to form a bond between the two of them like Han Solo and Princess Leia, not enough time and the film wasn`t going to be set over a long period. They only embraced when they knew they were going to die and there`s no way out. It was an original storyline compared to the Force Awakens, things what happened hadn`t happened before.

The next film is to be released this time next year is going to be Episode VIII with the main storyline following Rey as the force inside continues to awaken. The following year will see another spin-off anthology film, this time based on the smuggler Han Solo before he joined the Rebel Alliance and met his future wife. Also appearing in addition to a young Han Solo is Chewbacca and a young Lando Calrissian, both humans leads have been chosen.

There were a lot of scenes from trailers and t.v. spots that didn`t make it into the movie, wonder why. Examples include the scene where Jyn is walking and a TIE Fighter appears, the scene is in the film but the TIE Fighter isn`t. Another scene is where Jyn asks if they`re a rebellion because she`s a rebel. When the DVD/Blu-ray comes out, it`ll be interesting to hear why then got cut. We won`t get an extended edition of all the cuts because some contradict others.

Overall, it was great and look forward to the next, the Force is definately with this one.

Rogue One Film Poster


R.I.P. John Glenn, Mercury Astronaut09/12/2016 20:48

John Glenn, one of the first American to go into space as part of the Mercury series of spaceflights has died today. In addition to being in the Mercury project, he was also the oldest man to go into space as part of a Space Shuttle missing onboard the Discovery in 1998.

In addition to being as astronaut, he was also a World War 2 fighter which he did before becoming an astronaut. After leaving N.A.S.A., he put himself up for the position of Democrat for the U.S. Senate for Ohio. He tried for ten years before eventually being elected in 1974 and served for his electorate for 24 years.

John married only once and stayed with her until his death. He had two children. The cause of the death was never revealed and he is buried at Arlington National Cemetary, Washington D.C. ref: John Glenn


Second Rogue One Trailer25/10/2016 21:19

With not many weeks to go, another trailer for Rogue One has been released with new scenes. Jyn Erso still plays a prominent role in the trailer as she is the main character. We also see her past when her father was conscripted by Director Krennic to design and build the Death Star. More action and more familar Star Wars vehicles such as the AT-ST, the two legged walkers from the Moon of Endor appear. Darth Vader also appears. What the video doesn`t show you is the hand over of the plans to Princess Leia on the Tantive IV which is something which peopple will like to see.

Its not long to wait, hopefully will be better than Force Awakens in the respect that Rogue One will be more original and not have scenes that copied from previous films, e.g. Cantina, Desert Orphan, Assault on the Death Star like world.

Death Star rising above the horizon


What is the Largest Galaxy?25/10/2016 19:43

There are so many galaxies out there, its impossible to accurately know how many there are. The best current estimate is that there are about 100-200 billion galaxies and it has estimated that there could be as many as 500 billion or more. To put that in context, 500 billion is 500,000,000,000. It is estimated that there are 100 billion stars in our galaxy and 200 billion stars in our near neighbour, the Andromeda Galaxy. In other words, theres more galaxies than stars in our galaxy. The real largest galaxy is something that we can never really know.

To put the size in context, the Milky Way is 100,000 Light Years across, m87 is a million light years across and IC1101 is 6 million light years across. The Galaxy is 1.04 billion light years away, which is a lot further away than our nearest star, Proxima Centauri which is a mere 4 light years.

With such large numbers, its impossible to know. What we do know is that the largest galaxy so far discovered is the catchily named IC1101. It is estimated at having a massive 100 trillion (100,000,000,000,000,000,000) stars which makes our galaxy look tiny. It is located on the borders of Serpens and neighbouring Virgo. Some sites will put it in Virgo and others Serpens. Unlike our galaxy, IC1101 is a dying galaxy. Not many stars are being born unlike our galaxy.

The galaxy was discovered by Sir William Herschel and it was given its name because it was 1101 item in the Index Catalogue of nebulae and star clusters. Even though it is super-large, sorry to use that expression, its not visible like the Andromeda Galaxy to see it unaided. You don`t need a space telescope or equivalent to see it, after all Herschel saw it centuries ago.


Closest exoplanet found orbiting Proxima Centauri24/08/2016 19:00

The closest extrasolar Extrasolar planet(Exoplanet) for short has been located. For years, scientists have been studying the star we know Proxima Centauri and its larger companion Rigil Kentaurus better known as Alpha Centauri. Whilst its been known that is a planet probably in orbit around the bigger yellow star, there has only been speculation about anything in orbit around the smaller red dwarf star until now. Scientists got the first clue as to there being a planet around Proxima Cenaturi in March 2000 but it took them 16 years until they were confident of their research to go public and say there is. Part of the problem of them not coming forward was false positives of star spots from red dwarves.

Scientists working at the European Southern Observatory in Chile have discovered an Earth-like planet in orbit round Proxima Centauri. Proxima Centauri is in the constellation of Centaurus which can be seen in the southern hemisphere, although the planet won`t be visible by naked eye or amateur telescope. Like all other exoplanets that have currently been discovered, it has the rather obtuse name of Proxima Centauri b or just Proxima b for short. The letter after the name signifies when it was discovered, the first planet in orbit round the planet is known as b, not a followed by c, d.... Presumeably if they ever found a massive solar system, they`d name it bb, bc etc. The planet being so close to the sun zips round it (orbits) in a very short 11 and a bit days. You`d experience all four seasons in what would be fortnight on Earth. Hopefully they`ll find other planets a little further out and a longer orbit.

In a billion years time, our Sun will no longer be able to support life as it grows into a red giant, we`d have to move away and find somewhere else. Even though it has a short year, Proxima will be around long after many stars including our Sun have died around. It is estimated the star will live for trillions of years so no more worrying about another planet to find.

The discovery makes it the closest exoplanet from us at a distance of about 4.1 Light Years. Travelling at the speed of light, it would still take four years to get to and four years to get back. Even given the sheer distance, it is the nearest star to us excluding the Sun. We don`t yet have the technology for faster than light travel that the likes of the Millenium Falcon is able to do. The fastest satellite would take tens of thousands of years to get to so we won`t be visiting it in our lifetime unless we break the laws of physics. At the moment, all we can do is wonder what the planet could look like. The below picture is an ESO/M. Kornmesser impressions of what the planet could look like.

There is a project going on at the moment with the backing and support of Prof. Stephen Hawking to send micro-satellites to that solar system and send back data. No humans will be going. The micro-satellites could possibly take 20 years to get to the target and then another couple of years to send the results back. In my life if they took off soon, we`d get results back whilst I`m still around.

Artists Impression of Proxima Centauri b in orbit

Any exoplanet that has been discovered increases the likelihood that we are not alone and that there are aliens out there ready to be discovered and communicate with. The planet is closer to Proxima than we are to the sun but because the star is dimmer than our own star, the Goldilocks Zone, the area round a star where life can exist on a planet is therefore closer. It is believed that water could exist on the planet, a big plus if we are to find life as all life on Earth requires water to survive. The artists impression makes the planet look barren and rocky, a little like Geonosis with a slight colour change.

Artists Impression of what Proxima Centauri B landscape could look like.


More news on Star Trek Discovery12/08/2016 20:15

Bryan Fuller, the man tasked with masterminding the new Star Trek Discovery series has been revealing a little bit more about it. The series will be seen from the perspective of a Lieutenant Commander rather than a Captain which the previous series have centred around. Famous Lt. Commanders include Lt. Cmdr. Geordi LaForge and Lt. Cmdr. Data. It is promised that there will be a lot more alien races and not just those with different ridges on their heads such as the Bajorans. The lead character is a female this time, the first time since Captain Kathryn Janeway who took charge of the U.S.S. Voyager. It is expected that the lead character in addition to being female will be non-white. The series is also expected to feature a gay or lesbian character to be more inclusive. The cast members have not yet been revealed yet so if you fancy appearing, you could always submit your application for a role :),

The first series which has not yet started production will be first broadcast in January 2017 on CBS channel in America and then internationally with Netflixs. If you don`t have Netflixs then you`ll have to wait for the D.V.D or blu-ray whenever that gets released. Do feel they missed a trick with not having the series start on the 50th anniversary of the first episode going out in 1966. The new series was a late after thought. Unlike previous series, this one is only going to be 13 episodes not like the usual 20 episode series.

It`ll be another prequel series, set after Star Trek - Enterprise and before Star Trek - The Original Series. I won`t be surprised if they bring in Ferengi or the Borg in the series. There`s only so much you can do with the Klingons.

Star Trek Discovery Logo of the new series


Star Wars Rogue 1, Trailer 216/8/12 19:56

The second Star Wars - Rogue One trailer has been released to coincide with the Summer Olympics in Rio, Brazil. Whilst some scenes are what we`ve seen before, there are some new scene such as the Death Star causing a solar eclipse over a desert planet. The planet is not Tatooine but a new planet known as Jeddah which is spelt in the same way as the city in western Saudi Arabia.

We don`t get to learn much but we do see a glimpse of the old favourite, Darth Vader doing just his usual breathing exercise. As to who is playing Darth Vader, it remains a mystery as yet, there had been rumours, it would be Hayden Christensen but according to a Google search, the role is played by Spencer Wilding. Darth Vader is only a guest star this time, the main antagonist is believed to be Director Krennic but there`s no sign of Palpatine. Although not confirmed and just a rumour, maybe we get to see Princess Leia being given the plans. It`ll be Carrie Fisher`s face from the originals super imposed on another actresses face if anything. What has been confirmed but you don`t see in the clips is that Bail Organa will be making a guest return.

Death Star above Jeddah


Perseids Meteor Shower16/8/11 19:56

The annual Perseids meteor shower has began this year and is expected to be quite brilliant this year. The cause for it being more spectacular this year is because of the gas giant Jupiter influence on the dust particles and bringing the particles closer into the path of our planet.

The Perseids gets its name from the area of the night sky in which the meteors radiant out from, they come from an area of space within the constellation of Perseus, the Greek Legendary hero who slayed Medusa and Cetus to rescue the princess Andromeda.


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