Home Research Publications Writing Editor Outreach Other interests

I'm a freelance science writer and I am also the Editor of Popular Astronomy magazine. I've written articles for both the Astronomy Now magazine and website, along with contributing to Sky at Night magazine, All About Space magazine, NASA's Astrobiology Magazine, Skymania News and Sen. The magazine articles are listed below, along with links to all online articles.

Astronomy Now articles (8 features, 12 news articles)
Sky at Night articles (2 features, 3 book reviews)
All About Space articles (2 features)
Popular Astronomy articles (1 feature, 5 news articles, editorials, and "In Brief" news summaries)
Articles written for websites (105 articles)

Astronomy Now news articles:

"The final hours of comet ISON" in the September 2014 issue.
"Have X-rays revealed dark matter particle?" in the August 2014 issue.
"Speedy stellar jets spotted by ALMA" in the October 2013 issue.
"Herschel solves water mystery on Jupiter" in the June 2013 issue.
"Wide twin stars formed from triplets" in the February 2013 issue.
"Stray stars are possible origin of cosmic infrared background" in the December 2012 issue.
"Fingerprints of ancient magnetism on Vesta" in the December 2012 isue.
"Lunar swirls create natural radiation shield" in the September 2012 issue.
"A bridge between galaxies" in the August 2012 issue.
"Saturn's jet-set ring" in the May 2012 issue.
"Venus slams on the brakes" in the April 2012 issue.
"Dwarf galaxy grows four tails" in the January 2012 issue.

Astronomy Now features:

"Hot Jupiters - the unexpected planets" in the January 2018 issue.

"Uranus: it's time to go back" in the October 2017 issue.

100 years of General Relativity special - "If you can't break it, carry on testing" in the November 2015 issue.

Focus: The Gaia mission - "Narrating the story of the Milky Way" in the October 2013 issue.

"Planets in exile" in the May 2013 issue.

"Gravitational lensing: nature's telescope" in the December 2012 issue.

"A Dawn view of Vesta" in the October 2012 issue.

"A NuSTAR in the sky" in the May 2012 issue.

Sky at Night articles

Book review - "The Spirit and the Sky: Lakota Visions of the Cosmos" in the September 2017 issue.

Feature - "Is there life on Europa?" in the November 2016 issue.

Feature - "Beneath the shining surface" in the July 2015 issue.

Book review - "Goldilocks and the Water Bears" by Louisa Preston in the August 2016 issue.

Book review - "Alien Skies" by Frederic Pont in the June 2015 issue.

All About Space features

Feature - "We've found new gravitational waves" in November 2017 issue (Issue 71)

Feature - "Dark Stars" in June 2017 issue (Issue 66)

Popular Astronomy articles

Feature "On top of the world: an observing trip to La Palma" in the January/February 2016 issue

"What meteorites can tell us about Ceres" in the September-October 2016 issue

"One-of-a-kind Martian meteorite" in the September-October 2016 issue

"Paving the way for alien atmosphere studies" in the September-October 2016 issue

"Failed planets could help form next generation" in the September-October 2016 issue

"MESSENGER given an extra month" in the March-April 2015 issue

Articles written for websites:

Meteorite's origins point to possible undiscovered asteroid
A new analysis of a meteorite called Bunburra Rockhole has revealed that the rock originated from a previously unknown parent asteroid, allowing scientists to understand the geology of the parent body.
Dwarf planet Ceres may once have had an ancient, global ocean
Ceres, the largest body in the asteroid belt, may once have had an ocean beneath its icy crust. NASA’s Dawn spacecraft has been orbiting Ceres since March 2015 and has been measuring the strength of the gravity across the dwarf planet.
Astronomers track down elusive pairs of supermassive black holes
Supermassive black holes lurk at the centre of every galaxy, but when these black holes pair up, they can be hard to find. Astronomers have now devised a technique to seek out these black hole duos, and have discovered five new pairs.
Ancient Lake On Mars Was Hospitable Enough To Support Life
The Gale Crater site once flowed with rivers ending in a lake.
Microbes set the stage for first animals
Ocean chemistry became favourable to macro-organisms.
Blue planet Earth was once an orange world like Titan
The ancient Earth would have looked alien to us as it was engulfed in a thick orange haze. By studying Earth’s past, scientists are deciphering what a similarly hazy exoplanet would look like in future space-based telescopes.
Lunar crater offers clues to impact that killed the dinosaurs
New studies of the exquisitely preserved Schrödinger crater on the Moon are helping to further our understanding of the Chicxulub crater on Earth – ground zero for the asteroid impact that exterminated the dinosaurs.
How deadly would a nearby gamma ray burst be?
Scientists model the increase in potentially harmful ground-level ozone after energy from a gamma ray burst or supernova hits the Earth's atmosphere.
Quakes could boost chances of life on Mars
New research has revealed that seismic activity on Mars could release trapped hydrogen which has the potential to support microbial life.
NASA’s Dawn probe finds ice volcano on dwarf planet Ceres
NASA's Dawn probe has found an unusual volcano on Ceres which spouts ice.
First Signs Of Animal Life On Earth May Be From Microbes
The credibility of trace fossils is up in the air.
Hayabusa-2: A sample return mission to an asteroid.
Chasing down an asteroid, blasting a crater in it, releasing a rover and three landers, and collecting samples to bring home. The "to do" list of Hayabusa-2 is certainly impressive.
Mini-Neptunes might host life under right conditions
M-dwarfs, which are cooler than our sun, have habitable zones closer to the stars. As such, any habitable planets orbiting these stars would transit frequently, making the chances of discovery better.
New method finds best candidates for telescope time
If life exists on planets beyond our Solar System, its presence could be obscured by the haze and clouds in the planet’s atmosphere.
Can we find an ancient Earth-like planet with a dying biosphere?
Scientists are searching for a planet resembling Earth at the end of its habitable lifetime.
BepiColombo: a duo of spacecraft to orbit Mercury
Mercury is the least explored terrestrial planet in our Solar System, and as the Sun sets on NASA's successful MESSENGER mission, a new era of discovery will dawn with the ESA/JAXA mission BepiColombo.
Double impact crater formed in two separate impacts.
In an unlikely scenario, the craters that formed the Clearwater Lakes occurred almost 200 million years apart.
NASA’s Curiosity confirms methane on Mars
NASA’s Curiosity rover on Mars has confirmed the existence of methane, which is a molecule that can potentially be produced by microbial life.
Amateurs spot exoplanet with fast-changing orbit
The citizen science project Planet Hunters has detected an exoplanet that fell through the cracks of the automated computer searches.
NASA's Cassini captures defiant clouds on Titan
NASA's Cassini spacecraft has detected a massive cloud of hydrogen cyanide at Titan's south pole which simply should not be there.
The Rosetta mission to chase and land on a comet
ESA's Rosetta mission marks two firsts for space exploration; it is the first spacecraft to orbit a comet, and it will deploy the probe Philae for the first ever comet landing.
What does the next generation telescope need to detect life?
The atmospheres of terrestrial planets could betray the presence of life.
Astronomers study star that spins slower on the inside
Astronomers measuring sound waves within stars have discovered a star where the interior rotates slower than the outer layers – the first time this has been detected in a main sequence star.
Astronomers search for more planets like Venus
Astronomers have established a so-called "Venus zone" to help them single out which exoplanets are most likely to imitate our own inhospitable neighbouring world.
Stream of gas stretches for 2.6 million light years
The longest ever stream of hydrogen gas has been discovered acting as a bridge between galaxies 500 light years away.
Coldest white dwarf found orbiting nearby neutron star
A binary system of two dead stars has revealed the coldest, dimmest white dwarf discovered to date. Also published in the Sept/Oct 2014 issue of Popular Astronomy.
Fossilized marine plankton tell the tale of the end Permian mass extinction
A study of the diversity of radiolarian fossils paints a picture of the world's most lethal mass extinction.
Trio of giant black holes at centre of distant galaxy
At the centre of our Galaxy lives a monster. A giant black hole four million times the mass of our Sun is lurking, eagerly awaiting the next star or gas cloud to wander into its clutches. Also published in the Sept/Oct 2014 issue of Popular Astronomy.
Rotation of planets influences habitability
The inner edge of a star's habitable zone may be much closer to the star than previously thought.
Mapping amino acids to understand life's origins
New research uses computer models to construct a large database of amino acids that life could have used, revealing thousands of possible amino acid structures.
A crater as an abode for life
A new study shows how the heat generated from an asteroid impact could lead to a crater becoming a refuge for life, or even a potential birthplace for life's origin.
Did autocells lead to life?
Terrence Deacon at the SETI Institute recently gave a talk that summarized how autogenesis could have bridged the gap between prebiotic and biotic systems. This process would need to start in conditions only present on the gas giants before being transferred to Earth, suggesting that the entire solar system was needed for life to form on our planet.
Exploring the world of life underground
Future life-seeking missions on other worlds may be in for a tough time if all evidence of past or present life is below the surface. In a talk at given for the STScI Astrobiology Lecture Series, Jan Amend discussed how his team is taking the next step in studying microbes that have conquered the subsurface of the Earth, and how techniques will need to be perfected before they can be successfully used on another planet.
Mystery surrounds star's explosive death
An unusual outburst from a supposed supernova has astronomers arguing whether the star has actually exploded, or if it is still awaiting its violent death.
Lifting the veil from a star's alien worlds
The composition of exoplanets can be studied via their spectra - those rainbows of information contained in starlight - but these chemical fingerprints can be difficult to wrestle out of the data. Spectra of exoplanets are slowly dribbling in, but for the first time astronomers have attained spectra of multiple planets in a system, and the results are not quite as expected.
Detecting life on planets that orbit white dwarf stars
A white dwarf is a dead star that slowly cools down until it fades into oblivion. Yet it has been predicted that habitable planets can orbit a white dwarf. If we can somehow detect these planets, would we also be able to spot signs of life?
Comets galore orbite alien stars
A comet blazing in the night sky can be a spectacular sight, with its bright gaseous tail liberated from the icy nucleus by the heat of the Sun. A handful of stars are now known to also harbour comets, and new research suggests that these could be as common as exoplanets.
Swansong biospheres
Billions of years from now, life on Earth will be extinguished when the Sun becomes a Red Giant star. New research determines the last places life will exist before our planet is sterilized.
Colors of ExoEarths could indicate habitability
When direct detection of Earth-like planets becomes possible, scientists want to be able to easily characterize these planets and see which ones might be suitable for alien life. A new technique shows how the unique colors of particular environments known to harbor extremophile life on Earth can be detected remotely.
Monster black holes come out of hiding
A group of supermassive black holes that had been lurking behind a veil of dust have had their hiding places revealed by an infrared survey. All galaxies contain a supermassive black hole at their centre, but not all of them like to announce their presence.
Does Triton have a subsurface ocean?
Neptune's largest moon Triton is most likely a captured Kuiper Belt Object. The capture of icy Triton and the subsequent taming of its orbit likely led to the formation of a subsurface ocean through tidal heating. New research suggests that this ocean could still exist today.
Moons of Uranus perform dance of death
An intricate dynamical dance performed by the inner moons of Uranus could end in disaster as it appears that certain pairs of moons have the orbital equivalent to two left feet.
Earth vaporised in the name of science. Don't panic!
What would the atmosphere of an Earth-like planet be like if it was close enough to its parent star to evaporate rock? Astronomers have attempted to answer this question by using computer models to vaporise the Earth.
Impossible, record breaking orbit for red dwarfs
The United Kingdom Infrared Telescope has unveiled a puzzling set of binary stars that whiz around each other in time-scales that were thought to be impossible. These unexpected results could mean that its back to the drawing board for understanding red dwarf formation.
Mysterious space arc puzzles astronomers
An image of a distant galaxy that has been smeared into an arc due to immense gravitational forces is puzzling astronomers because it simply shouldn't exist.
Milky Way rings like a bell after collision
An odd distribution of stars in the Milky Way has led astronomers to believe that our Galaxy is still shuddering after a recent collision.
Extremely Little Telescope makes first planetary discoveries
In the same week that astronomers welcomed the decision to build the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT), the Kilodegree Extremely Little Telescope (KELT) is showing what can be done at the other end of the scale.
Black holes stopped stars forming
It has long been thought that supermassive black holes in the centre of galaxies and their surrounding stellar bulges grow hand in hand. However, two rebellious galaxies have been found ignoring this rule.
Spirit and Opportunity, the twin Martian rovers
The Mars Exploration Rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, embarked on a journey to Mars intending to complete a three month primary mission to learn about the history of water on Mars. Over eight years since they landed, and Opportunity is still making tracks across the red planet.
Asteroid weighs in prior to spacecraft visit
Scientists have used an innovative technique that combines radar and infrared measurements in order to weigh the asteroid 1999 RQ36, the target for an ambitious NASA mission to return a sample of its regolith.
Black holes stunt dwarf galaxy growth
Scientists have discovered that black holes may have been sneakily turning up the thermostat in the early Universe, making it difficult for dwarf galaxies to form.
Hubble turns Moon into a mirror for Venus transit
This June, many people on Earth will bear witness to the spectacular event that is the transit of Venus across the face of the Sun. The Hubble Space Telescope will be one of the numerous telescopes used to monitor the event - but it will do so using the Moon as a mirror.
Venus Express unravels mysteries of the shrouded planet
The latest era of Venusian exploration is being performed courtesy of the European Space Agency's Venus Express.
Cosmic lighthouses will guide spaceships through the Galaxy
Scientists have proposed using pulsars - "cosmic lighthouses" - as a way of navigating future space missions.
Extrasolar asteroids pollute white dwarf stars
Unexpected elements have been found in the atmospheres of white dwarfs which suggest that the stars may have been eating broken-up asteroids.
The hunt is on for exomoons
The Hunt for Exomoons with Kepler project has identified around 100 potential light curves that could reveal moons orbiting alien worlds already found by the Kepler Space Telescope.
Secrets of remote icy world revealed
New results from a survey of trans-Neptunian objects which help to further our understanding of these remote icy bodies have been revealed at the National Astronomy Meeting in Manchester.
Asteroid split caused by dizzying spin rate
Asteroids that travel through the Solar System close to a companion but not as a bound binary pair could still have shared a common origin, perhaps even spinning apart from one single object, report astronomers at the National Astronomy Meeting in Manchester this week.
Moonlets batter Saturn's F-ring
The gas giant Saturn is most famous for the set of dazzling rings that encircle the planet, and new images have revealed that "jets" streaming from its F-ring are caused by collisions of moonlets with the ring.
Vesta's regolith influences surface features
The Framing Camera aboard NASA's Dawn spacecraft has been returning some remarkable pictures of Vesta since its arrival at the giant asteroid in July 2011, and some of these were shown at the National Astronomy Meeting in Manchester this week.
NASA Kepler: the search for exoplanets
The first exoplanet orbiting a main sequence star was discovered in 1995. Today, the field of exoplanet research is booming, with new planets being announced regularly and exciting new discoveries being made about these alien worlds.
Robo-Glove to assist astronauts on future space missions
NASA and General Motors have teamed up to create a robotic glove which increases the strength of the human grip.
Get set for second transit of Venus
On 8 June 2004, Venus crossed in front of the face of the Sun for the first time in living memory. This was truly an impressive spectacle to behold, but despite its rarity, another transit will occur on 5/6 June 2012.
MESSENGER's mission at Mercury
The MErcury Surface, Space Environment, GEochemistry, and Ranging (MESSENGER) spacecraft was launched on 3 August 2004 and was inserted into Mercury's orbit on 18 March 2011.
Pluto and the Kuiper Belt
Pluto was long thought to be an outpost in our Solar System, beyond which was just empty space. But with the discovery of thousands of similar objects since 1992, it was realised that Pluto is no longer unique and that the Kuiper Belt holds a wealth of information about our Solar System that has yet to be revealed.
Solid buckyballs found in space
Astronomers using NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope have detected a particular type of molecule, given the nickname "buckyball", in a solid form for the first time.
50 years of American orbital space flight
On 20 February 1962 John Glenn became the first US astronaut to orbit the Earth. He spent a total of four hours, 55 minutes and 23 seconds in space, which was equivalent to 3 orbits, in a tiny capsule dubbed Friendship 7.
New Horizons, our mission to explore Pluto
NASA's New Horizons spacecraft set out on its long journey to Pluto in 2006, and it should reach its destination in July 2015, making it the first craft to ever visit the mysterious dwarf planet.
How you can help discover a planet
More than 700 planets have been discovered to date, but astronomers are seeking help from the public to find still more. Planet Hunters is part of the very successful Zooniverse family of projects.
Cracking the code of the interstellar boundary
NASA's IBEX spacecraft is investigating the boundary between our Solar System and what lies beyond, and new results have just been announced.
Joining the dots: from starburst to elliptical galaxies
Astronomers observing ancient starburst galaxies have made a connection between them and the elliptical galaxies we see today.
Death of a comet brings new life to science
Comets crash into the Sun all the time, but NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory has just captured a debut image of a comet passing in front of the Sun before succumbing to a fiery death.
100 billion planets in the Milky Way
Using a phenomenon predicted by Albert Einstein, astronomers have come to the conclusion that there are more planets than stars in the Milky Way.
Star cluster ruled out as Sun's source
Astronomers have long wanted to pinpoint the location within our Galaxy where the Solar System was formed. Stellar cluster M67 has been suggested as the birthplace, but new computer detective work shows that this is not the case.
New computer model explains Titan's lakes and atmosphere
Scientists have developed a computer model that can explain several puzzling aspects about Saturn's moon Titan.
Twins arrive at the Moon for the New Year
On 10 September 2011, NASA's twin GRAIL spacecraft began their three month journey to the Moon. The GRAIL duo will be ringing in the new year by entering lunar orbit, with GRAIL-A reaching its destination on 31 December 2011, and GRAIL-B following 25 hours later on 1 January 2012.
Planets survive a cosmic tug of war
Two Earth-sized planets have been discovered orbiting a dying star and it seems that they have survived being engulfed during the cataclysmic red giant phase of the star’s evolution.
Cloud seen heading for giant black hole
Astronomers have spotted a gas cloud on a collision course with the supermassive black hole at the centre of the Milky Way.
Exploding star blasts new data towards Earth
In August of this year a star exploded in a galaxy 21 million light years away. But stars explode all the time, so what was so special about this supernova?
Solar storms have great impact on lunar surface
NASA scientists have been investigating the complex interplay between high energy solar particles and the lunar surface.
Mysterious comet put under scrutiny
Is it an asteroid? Is it a comet? Well not as we know them! Astronomers are investigating the properties of mysterious members of the Solar System called Main Belt Comets by trying to determine the source of their dust tails.
Curiosity initiates next step in Martian exploration
NASA's Curiosity rover is due to launch on its journey to Mars this weekend in order to assess the past and present habitability of the red planet.
Moon's magnetic personality explained
An ancient lunar magnetic field that came as a puzzle to planetary scientists may have been caused by interactions between the Earth and the Moon billions of years ago.
Record breaking pulsar spins a web of mysteries
The youngest and most distant gamma ray millisecond pulsar, which was observed by the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope, isn't behaving quite as it should.
Alien-friendly zone gets extended
The chances of finding life around an M dwarf star have just been increased, as researchers suggest that the habitable zone is much larger than originally thought.
Also published in the January/February 2012 issue of Popular Astronomy magazine
Rare star resembles fried egg
A rare yellow hypergiant star surrounded by two dusty shells has been imaged by astronomers using ESO's Very Large Telescope.
Did fifth giant planet get the boot?
A violent tug of war between the outer planets may have resulted in the ejection of a fifth giant planet from the early Solar System.
Also published in the January/February 2012 issue of Popular Astronomy magazine
Mission to solve Moon's mysteries
NASA's GRAIL mission is set to begin its journey to the Moon to map the lunar gravity and reveal some of its secrets of formation.
A forbidden star
An ancient star has been found lurking in the "forbidden zone" of star formation, which has astronomers puzzled as to how it could have formed.
Pulsar planet is a gem of discovery
A former white dwarf star has been transformed into a planet made of diamonds while circling a rapidly spinning pulsar. This dazzling discovery was made using the 64 metre Parkes radio telescope in Australia where irregularities in the signal from the pulsar alerted astronomers that something was orbiting it.
New Earth-like planet could hold life
A team of astronomers have discovered another terrestrial planet around a distant star which could turn out to be suitable for life.
Colliding solar systems spell disaster for habitable planets
Computer simulations have revealed the reason why some exoplanets are inclined at large angles and why this might lead to habitable planets being evicted from planetary systems.
NASA's Kepler find pitch black world
Astronomers using data from NASA's Kepler spacecraft have identified a pitch black exoplanet that is the darkest yet discovered.
Impact threat to Earth is still real
A new study on comet and asteroid impact craters has found that the Earth is just as likely to be struck now as it was hundreds of millions of years ago.
Also published in the November/December 2011 issue of Popular Astronomy magazine
Enceladus feeds water to Saturn
A 14 year old mystery has been solved as astronomers discover that plumes of water gushing from Saturn's moon Enceladus are the source of water in the planet's upper atmosphere.
Streams of stars switch galaxies
Hundreds of stars which were born in the Small Magellanic Cloud have been discovered hiding in neighbouring mini galaxy the Large Magellanic Cloud.
Dawn breaks for asteroid Vesta
NASA's Dawn spacecraft has been captured into orbit around the asteroid Vesta to begin a year long investigation to unravel some of the mysteries of the early Solar System.
Two brown dwarfs discovered in solar neighbourhood
Two ultracool brown dwarfs located only 15 and 18 light years away from the Sun have been discovered using the Wide-Field Infrared Survey Explorer.
Was the big bang born rotating?
An excess of galaxies rotating in a counter-clockwise direction could imply that the Universe was created in a rotating big bang.
Mysterious gamma flare observed in high mass binary
Astronomers using NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope have detected intense and unexpected gamma radiation in an unusual high mass binary system.
Can you discover a new icy world?
Space enthusiasts are being given the chance to discover icy new worlds in the outer reaches of the Solar System. Their find might even be visited by NASA's New Horizons probe after its fly-by of Pluto, becoming the furthest body from Earth ever visited by a spacecraft.
Also published in the September/October 2011 issue of Popular Astronomy magazine.
Extensive nebula frames Betelgeuse
Astronomers using the VISIR instrument on the Very Large Telescope, which is operated by the European Southern Observatory, have produced an infrared photograph of a vast nebula surrounding the red supergiant star Betelgeuse.
Hubble's unique view of Centaurus A
The Hubble Space Telescope has captured a dramatic view of the peculiar galaxy Centaurus A. This close-up of the centre of the galaxy, taken with the Wide Field Camera 3, shows unprecedented detail of the wispy dust lanes and glowing star forming regions.
Euro mission to tap Moon's water
It has been nearly forty years since mankind last set foot on the Moon, and with the recent cancellation of NASA's Constellation program it looks like it will still be quite some time before we see another manned lunar mission.
LOFAR images never before seen radio sources
A discovery of faint radio sources by astronomers using the LOFAR (LOw Frequency ARray) radio telescope has important implications in understanding a mysterious period in the early Universe.