In 2015 Armagh Planetarium’s website (including Astronotes) received well over 2.6 million page views (and over 75 million web hits*) from all over the world. It seems we’re doing something right! But what were all these people coming to see? Here are the 20 most viewed Astronotes articles of 2015 (titles are links to the articles).
1. The Truth About the “September 2015 Asteroid Impact” (518,285 page views)
2. Top 20 Awesome Facts About Space (247,257 page views)
3. 11 Strange Facts You Didn’t Know About the First Moon Landing (213,291 page views)
4. The Truth About the Black Knight Satellite Mystery (175,999 page views)
5. 8 Myths About Neil Armstrong’s Flight to the Moon (73,579 page views)
6. How Far Away is the Farthest Star? (43,844 page views)
7. The Dangers of Space Travel (39,818 page views)
8. The 10 Best Space and Astronomy Sites on the Internet (33,809 page views)
9. The Truth About Zeta Reticuli (29,812 page views)
10. NASA’s Lunar Rover: Everything You Need to Know (28,149 page views)
11. No, NASA has not verified an impossible space drive! (23,858 page views)
12. Rods from god: a terrifying space weapon? (21,829 page views)
13. Apollo 18: the truth about the lost Moon missions (20,819 page views)
14. NASA’s Lunar Module: Everything You Need to Know (20,062 page views)
15. Was NASA Technology Predicted in Ancient Indian Writings? (17,668 page views)
16. The Largest Stars in the Universe (17,201 page views)
17. Hubble Space Telescope: Ten amazing facts you didn’t know (13,686 page views)
18. Nazis in Space: The Truth about Hitler’s Space Program (12,643 page views)
19. How Venus will kill you in less than 10 seconds (12,545 page views)
20. What Ever Happened to Tachyons? (11,753 page views)
Our home page www.armaghplanet.com received 224,159 page views.
What is there to say about this list? The piece on the false claims by an influential Puerto Rican preacher that an asteroid was going to hit the Earth in September, sending the human race on the way of the dinosaurs was hugely popular. This was possibly because for a long time our article was the only source of rational and informed discussion about this subject. Notably Astronotes confronted this prediction of doom before NASA (which did not publish an article addressing the same issue until 19 August 2015). I am sadly aware that there are a significant number of people who are genuinely alarmed by such stories of approaching disaster and this blog post was intended to allay their concerns by demonstrating that there was no scientific justification for them. I hope it helped them.
Our article debunking the absurd Black Knight satellite story is still drawing readers (and is used as a reference by Wikipedia). This article also has the dubious honour of being our most plagarised article! (In some ways this is almost flattering, but it is annoying when someone else republishes it and puts their name on it.)
The “Rods from God” article is ranked so high because a popular internet crank linked to it in a blog post claiming that the tragic explosion disaster in Tianjin, China in August was actually an attack by an American space weapon. The blog post in question used our article to support its foolish and distasteful claim even though our article explains how infeasible orbital bombardments are!
Despite their retreat into history, the Apollo Moon missions and their technology continue to interest readers around the world and we offer some comprehensive but straightforward explanations to readers who were not born when the brief pioneering era of lunar exploration ended. We also have some unique content in articles on some obscure topics such as the posts explaining tachyons, the science behind the binary star Zeta Reticuli and dark claims of space activities in World War 2 Germany.
I continue to be delighted to see that the hard work of the Planetarium Education Team who create these articles is paying off as Astronotes promotes space and astronomy education to an ever larger international audience.
If you have any suggestions for astronomy and space-related topics for future Astronotes articles, why not leave them in the comments section?
(Article by Colin Johnston, Science Education Director, results for 1 January – 31 December 2015 obtained from Google Analytics)
*January 2015 figures not included.