News

Curiosity’s Martian nitrogen find raises possibility of ancient life

31 March 2015 Kerry Hebden

Nitrogen, in the form of nitric oxide (one nitrogen atom and one oxygen atom), has been detected for the first time on the surface of Mars by a team of researchers using the Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) instrument suite aboard NASA’s Curiosity rover, adding to the growing speculation that life could have once flourished on ancient Mars.

News

Race to detect gravitational waves intensifies

31 March 2015 Astronomy Now

One of the great challenges in astrophysics is the detection of low-frequency gravitational waves — elusive ripples in the fabric of space-time caused by extremely energetic and large-scale cosmic events. To this end, the National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded the North American Nanohertz Observatory for Gravitational Waves $14.5 million over 5 years.

Equipment

iStar WXT 204-6LT refractor review

29 March 2015 Astronomy Now

For truly immersive deep-sky views, it’s hard to better the high contrast, wide-angle images delivered by a large aperture refractor of short focal ratio. Refractor expert Neil English takes the 8-inch f/6 iStar WXT 204-6LT through its paces and likes what he sees.

Picture This

A dramatic starscape in the Southern Hemisphere

29 March 2015 Astronomy Now

This view in the southern constellation of Ara (The Altar) is a treasure trove of celestial objects. Star clusters, emission nebulae and active star-forming regions are just some of the riches observed in this region lying some 4000 light-years from Earth.

Observing

The Moon’s two-night encounter with Jupiter

29 March 2015 Ade Ashford

The waxing gibbous Moon passes close by the Solar System’s largest planet, Jupiter, on the nights of March 29th and 30th. Jupiter was at opposition last month, but it’s still big, bright and offers much to see in a telescope.

News

Dark matter even darker than once thought

28 March 2015 Astronomy Now

Astronomers using observations from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope and NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory have studied how dark matter in clusters of galaxies behaves when the clusters collide. The results show that dark matter interacts with itself even less than previously thought, and narrows down the options for what this mysterious substance might be.