The Western Lines

September 19, 2010

The Universe – Total Eclipse

Copyright David A. Hardy

Today on Discovery Enterprise we present episode seven of the fifth season of the History Channel’s outstanding documentary series – The Universe.

In this instalment we look examine an astronomical phenomenon that has inspired awe and wonder throughout the ages – The Total Solar Eclipse.

Once they were dreaded and thought to be dragons eating the sun but, modern science has dispelled mythology and we now look forward to total Solar Eclipses as one of the most spectacular phenomena in the heavens.

A look at the movements of the Earth, the sun and the moon during solar and lunar eclipses; how humans, if alone in the universe, may be the only intelligent creatures to witness these events; and how astronomers discover planets in other star systems that partially eclipse their stars.

The Universe – Total Eclipse


June 8, 2010

The ‘Satellite Planets’ of the Solar System and Beyond

Satellite Planet© David A. Hardy

Today on Discovery Enterprise we present another installment of the awe inspiring documentary series “How the Universe Works” and take a journey to the other natural satellites of our solar system and beyond.

The natural satellites of the major planets in our solar system come in many shapes and sizes. Each is a world unique and beautiful in its own right. Home to incredible natural phenomena like gigantic geysers and colossal volcanoes, moons also offer perhaps the best chance of finding alien life in the Universe – and they probably exist in the billions.

In fact a recent article on Discovery News asked the question: Should Large Moons Be Called ‘Satellite Planets’? The term ‘Satellite Planet’ was coined by the principal investigator on NASA’s New Horizons mission to Pluto and fellow Atlantica Expeditions crew member, Alan Stern.

So join us today for a magnificent odyssey to the ‘Satellite Planets’ of the Solar System and beyond.

Authors Note: I would like to take this opportunity to offer a very special thank you to my dear friend space artist David A. Hardy for the superb painting that graces today’s feature.

How The Universe Works: Alien Moons

July 21, 2007

A Special Note of Thanks to Space Artist David A. Hardy

One of the most memorable books from my childhood will always be “The New Challenge of the Stars” by Patrick Moore and space artist extraordinaire, David A. Hardy. The day I first opening the pages of that wonderful book, and spent hours on end staring at the beautiful paintings between its covers, will forever remain one childhood memory that I will cherish for the rest of my life.

Mr. Hardy’s paintings not only showed the majesty and beauty of the heavens but, also the wonderful and awesome adventures that await us when humans take the next great leap into space and venture out amongst the stars.

Later in life I have had the singular honour and great pleasure of corresponding with Mr. Hardy for over eleven years. He has always been a most generous and gracious person and on numerous occasions has proven most helpful in all my projects both large and small.

After I posted my last article “The High Road to the Moon”, Mr. Hardy was most charitable in pointing out a significant and glaring error on my part. Quoting Mr. Hardy in his most recent e-mail to me:

‘Surely the top R. A. Smith illustration you’ve used is not of the 1939 lander, but the 1950 version from the liquid-fueled BIS Moonship, rather then the cellular solid fuel one? I attach my own painting, done in 1957, of the 1939 lander on the Moon’

And please allow me to publicly declare:

Mr. Hardy Dear Sir, I stand corrected and most humbly apologise for my gross error. Also, I am most grateful for your kind generosity in providing a more accurate depiction of the 1939 Moonship. I shall forever be in your debt.

Yours faithfully,

Alex Michael Bonnici

The story behind the great collaboration between Patrick More and David A. Hardy, which led to that wonderful book, can be found elsewhere and makes fascinating reading.

The first edition of the “The Challenge of the Stars” did not appear until 1972, eighteen years later. They were unable to find a publisher because it was consider ‘too speculative,’ at the time. A subsequent edition appeared in 1978. In 2004 a fiftieth anniversary edition of the book was released entitled “Futures: 50 Years In Space – The Challenge of the Stars”. This book will stir the imaginations of the young people of the new millennium, as its earlier editions roused the hopes and dreams of the children who witnessed the dawn of the space age and the voyages of Apollo. And, across the vast gulfs of space, within the great crystal cities humankind will erect under alien suns there will be art galleries that will house special collections devoted solely to one David A. Hardy, Artist Extraordinaire of the Space Age, that will invoke a new renaissance of wonder in generations yet to be born.