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News: June 2011

Neutron star chokes
on matter

ESA's XMM-Newton space observatory watched on as a giant clump of matter ejected from a blue supergiant engulfed its companion neutron star, causing it to flare to 10,000 times its normal brightness.

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Amateur astronomers watch asteroid "buzz" Earth

The Faulkes Telescope project allocated time to Astronomy Now's equipment consultant Nick Howes and BBC Stargazing Live's Mark Thompson to collect data and image asteroid 2011MD as it flew past the Earth at 12,000 miles per hour at a distance of only a few thousand miles yesterday.

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Sun and planets formed from different ingredients

Samples recovered from NASA's ill-fated Genesis mission suggest that the Solar System's inner planets may have formed from different solar nebula materials than those that created the Sun.

READ MORE

 

LRO a resounding success

The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) has been declared a full mission success by NASA, delivering more than promised and forever changing our view of the Moon.

READ MORE

 

Cassini tastes salty ocean
at Enceladus

The Cassini spacecraft has found its best evidence yet for Saturn's icy moon Enceladus habouring a wide-spread salty ocean.

READ MORE

 

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.

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Spheroid galaxies are "spirals without spirals"

New observations of galaxies originally identified as spheroids according to Hubble's 85-year old classification scheme show that the majority are in fact more closely related to spiral galaxies than previously believed.

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Opening Pandora’s Cluster

The violent and complex past of galaxy cluster Abell 2744, has been pieced together by an international team of scientists using the Hubble Space Telescope and ESO’s ground-based Very Large Telescope, revealing the aftermath of a galactic smash up of at least four separate galaxy clusters.

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New sight for Mount Palomar’s famous telescope

Scott Kardel, Palomar Observatory Public Affairs Officer, talks exclusively to Astronomy Now during the first light commissioning run on the Palm 3000 adaptive optics system.

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Newly discovered comet
due in 2013

A new comet has been discovered using telescopes at the University Of Hawaii. Predicted to be visible in the night sky in early 2013, this may be the comet’s only trip into the inner Solar System.

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MESSENGER begins unlocking Mercury's secrets

After nearly three months in orbit around the innermost planet, the MESSENGER (MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging) spacecraft is already providing new insights into the planet's geochemistry, geology, magnetosphere and plasma environment.

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Waving goodbye to the Sun’s hot corona mystery?

Incredibly fast waves travelling up to 2,000 kilometres per second have been observed in the Sun’s outer atmosphere by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO). These waves could partially explain one of the biggest mysteries on the Sun: why the Sun’s outer atmosphere – known as the corona – is heated to temperatures of millions of degrees Celsius.

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Star eaten by black hole

The moment a star strayed too close to a hungry black hole was captured by the Swift satellite, which was blasted in the high energy death cry of the star as it was ripped apart.

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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.

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Black hole flickers for Faulkes

Astronomers from the University of Glamorgan, including first year undergraduate student Chris O’Morain, are attempting to uncover the mysterious behaviour of a black hole using the Faulkes Telescope South.

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How black holes and galaxies grew up together

The most distant and ancient black holes ever uncovered have been found in the centres of faraway galaxies, revealing that black holes and galaxies have been growing in tandem since the very earliest epoch of galaxy-building in the Universe.

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Sun to skip solar cycle 25?

According to three independent studies of the Sun's interior, visible surface and corona, solar cycle 25 will have significantly reduced activity, or may not even appear at all.

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Meet the Meteorite Men!

Astronomy Now's Nick Howes interviews Meteorite Men Geoff Notkin and Steve Arnold about their meteorite hunting secrets. Plus, find out how to win meteorites from the Moon, Mars or an asteroid in the July issue of AN!

WATCH NOW

 

Moon rises in eclipse
on Wednesday

There is a total eclipse of the Moon on the late evening of 15 June, unfortunately with a very low Moon in the south-eastern sky. The further south and east you are in England then the more favourable the observing circumstances are.

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Galaxy boasts two monster black holes

Using NASA's Swift satellite and the Chandra X-ray Observatory, astronomers have uncovered a second active black hole within galaxy NGC 3758.

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Vesta within touching distance for Dawn

Vesta is beginning to loom in Dawn’s sights as the NASA spacecraft moves ever closer to its destination, with arrival in orbit around the asteroid scheduled for 16 July.

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Brightest supernova a new kind of exploding star?

The mystery of a supernova that exploded six years ago may have been solved, indicating a new class of supernova more luminous than any others.

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Voyager probes find surprise at solar system's outer edge

NASA's aging Voyager spacecraft, more than three decades outbound from Earth and approaching the outermost limits of the solar system, may be seeing signs of what scientists believe are huge magnetic bubbles churning at the interface between the sun's influence and interstellar space.

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Rosetta glimpses comet
and enters hibernation

Despite being over 160 million kilometres from its final destination, ESA's comet-chasing Rosetta spacecraft has eyed up comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko ahead of its 2014 rendezvous, and will now wait out the rest of its journey in hibernation mode.

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Jupiter robbed Mars of building material

A young Jupiter may have migrated to within 1.5 AU of the Sun, starving Mars of its building blocks and resulting in its stunted growth.

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Wolf-Rayet binary a
dust-forming factory

A team of scientists at the Université de Montréal and the Centre de Recherche en Astrophysique du Québec have used the Canadian microsatellite MOST (Microvariability & Oscillations of Stars) to improve our understanding of dust forming processes around massive, dying stars known as Wolf-Rayet stars.

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NASA plans to select Mars rover landing site soon

NASA officials are in the final stages of deciding the destination for the agency's Curiosity rover, a complex mobile science laboratory scheduled to be shot toward Mars in November.

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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.

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Supernova flares in M51

A new supernova has exploded in the famous Whirlpool Galaxy, M51, the second supernova seen in the galaxy in the last six years.

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Super-Earth resides in habitable zone

Liquid water is stable on the surface of Gliese 581d according to new global circulation models, and combined with observations from Canadian space telescope MOST that show the host star has a low level of activity, the finding bodes well for the habitability of the "super-Earth".

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Hybrid clusters shake up stellar evolution theories

In two separate reports, astronomers reveal ancient globular clusters to be breeding much younger blue-straggler members, and a relatively young open cluster hosting an aging stellar population, calling into question theories of stellar evolution.

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Shuttle Endeavour comes home to enter retirement

Signaling the beginning of the end for NASA's storied shuttle program, the Endeavour plunged back to Earth Wednesday, closing out its 25th and final flight and passing the baton to its sistership Atlantis, which was hauled to the launching pad a few hours earlier for blastoff July 8 on the program's final voyage.

READ MORE

 

Dead galaxies
show signs of life

Using the Hubble Space Telescope, astronomers at the University of Michigan have discovered star formation in old, ‘dead’ galaxies, providing new insights into galaxy evolution.

READ MORE

 
 

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2010 Yearbook
Our latest 132-page Astronomy Now special edition is an extravaganza of astronomy for the year ahead, with a complete 30-page guide to observing the planets, moon, meteor showers, two solar eclipses, and the deep sky in 2010.
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Take the tour!
A 100-page special edition from the creators of Astronomy Now magazine, The Grand Tour of the Universe takes readers from one end of the Universe to the other and, in doing so, asks the question "just how big is the Universe?"
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Infinity Rising
This special publication features the photography of British astro-imager Nik Szymanek and covers a range of photographic methods from basic to advanced. Beautiful pictures of the night sky can be obtained with a simple camera and tripod before tackling more difficult projects, such as guided astrophotography through the telescope and CCD imaging.
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Guide to the Constellations
Astronomy Now presents this 100-page, full-colour guide to the 68 constellations visible from the British Isles by Neil Bone, the respected amateur astronomer and writer.
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Exploring Mars
Astronomy Now is pleased to announce the publication of Exploring Mars. The very best images of Mars taken by orbiting spacecraft and NASA's Spirit and Opportunity rovers fill up the 98 glossy pages of this special edition!
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