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Tag: Astronomy

I have finally started uploading apps to the Android app store. The three apps I previously wrote about (Scientific Name Search, Plasmatic and Dutch Public Holidays) are uploaded to the app store, as well as a few apps I created based on a version of my astronomical library ported to Java.

The crowning glory of these astronomical apps I have uploaded to the app store is Night Sky Tools (

The features included in the app are:

  • Angular separation
  • Astronomical Time
  • Atmospheric refraction
  • Coordinate convertor
  • Eclipses
  • Magnitude
  • Precession
  • Conjunctions and Oppositions
  • Ephemerides of the planets, sun and moon
  • Equinoxes
  • Positions of Jupiter’s moons
  • Planetary orbits
  • Constellations
  • Stellar Classification
  • Telescope Airy Disc
  • Telescope F-Ratio
  • Telescope Magnification

Go ahead and check out the app.


At long last, my little pet project is alive on the web. The Night Sky Notebook is a website which implements a whole range of astronomical calculations, much like Urania, my desktop version, but fully implemented in Javascript.

When I first had the idea of putting up astronomical calculations on the internet, it was simply going to be a convertion to JavaScript from the C# code that I have written about extensively on this blog. Afterwards, however, I decided to rewrite the entire library from scratch to improve the quality of the code, as well as the accuracy of the calculations, basing the new code largely on the algorithms specified in the book Astronomical Algorithms by Jan Meeus.

In addition to the pages containing pure calculations, the site also has a number of pages making use of HTML5 canvas features to render animations for things such as the Moon phase, planetary positions and Jupiter’s moons. This means, of course, that the site works best on newer browsers that support HTML5, such as Internet Explorer 9+, Firefox 5+ and Chrome.

The source code for the library is open-source and is released under the MIT license, and is available for download from here.

I hope that you have as much fun using the new site and astronomical library as I have had in writing it.


It has been a really long time since I have last put up a blog post.

With a combination of the summer holiday, and then on to various pet projects that have been keeping me busy since then, I have had little time to blog.

One of the more interesting projects I am working on at the moment, is creating a web-based version of my Urania astronomical library, which is a complete rewrite of the C# codebase into Javascript.

It is still a while away from completion, but it is looking very promising indeed.

I will keep you posted as to my progress….


The world is going to end soon, or so the growing Mayan hysteria would have you believe. The Mayan calendar supposedly ends on the winter solstice of 2012, thus heralding the end of the world.

Fortunately, real scientists are little bit more level-headed in the face of doomsday predictions.

One such scientist, is Dr Vincent H. Malmström, Professor Emeritus of Geography, from Dartmouth College (whose homepage can be found here). He has published a paper, The Astronomical Insignificance of the Mayan Date, completely debunking any significance of this particular date in 2012, providing ample reasoning to back up what he is saying.

Now I wonder if this would have any impact on those loony doomsday prophets….


It has been the subject of many movies and doomsday prophecies. What will happen if a large meteorite (or other large object) had to hit the Earth? I don’t think there is a single person who is not intrigued by this question.

Now you can know exactly what would happen. Purdue University has an impact calculator available online, which simulates the results of meteor strikes.

By inputting the properties of the object, such as its size, speed and direction, you can simulate a vast range of different scenarios.

Did I mention that the site also looks exquisite. The page design is very engaging and the site as a whole is well worth visiting.


Gravity simulators are a great tool to use to play around with, and study how the universe works, and Universe Sandbox is undoubtedly one of the best that I have played with.

It has a very slick look and feel, which I absolutely love. And don’t think for a minute that it is just smoke and mirrors.

Universe Sandbox

Universe Sandbox

It has many, many feaures, and is built on realistic physics, and so can give very accurate simulations of things such as our solar system, and other astronomical objects. It also comes with a good selection of preset data and tutorials so that you can just dive in an play.

What makes this app really special though is that it is just so much fun to use.

This app gets two thumbs up from me.


The Global Telescope Network is an interesting group I have come across. It is an informal group of professional astronomers, students, observatories and amateur astronomers who are interested in supporting the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope, Swift and XMM-Newton space missions run by NASA.

First, let me clarify what these missions are all about.

The Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope is a gamma-ray telescope that is sitting in orbit around the Earth. Gamma-rays are rays of energy (similar to light or UV rays) which are the highest energy waves of all. This telescope is able to detect these types of rays, so that we can study them. The telescope is named after Enrico Fermi, who was a physicist who pioneered the study of high-energy physics.

XMM-Newton is also an orbiting telescope, which studies X-rays. The very same rays they use in medical rooms to see inside you. X-rays also have a very high energy, but not quite as high as gamma-rays.

The Swift telescope is an orbiting telescope that is able to detect light in multiple wavelength telescope, with three detectors that can detect gamma-ray, ultra-violet and visible light. The main objective of the Swift telescope is to find and study gamma-ray bursts.

The purpose of the Global Telescope Network is for interested people and organizations to work together to analyze and support the data captured by these telescopes. Essentially, aiding in the scientific research of high-energy astrophysics.

The great thing is that if you have a bit of astronomical knowledge, then they are always looking for volunteers.