Observing

Watch planets Venus and Jupiter converge in the June evening sky

6 June 2015 Ade Ashford

Planet Venus — the brilliant lantern hanging over the west-northwest horizon at dusk — reaches its greatest elongation from the Sun on June 6th. It’s still a month away from reaching peak brightness, but before then it has a spectacular close conjunction with largest planet Jupiter at the end of June.

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Exiled stars explode far from home

5 June 2015 Astronomy Now

Hubble Space Telescope images confirm that three supernovae discovered several years ago exploded in the dark emptiness of intergalactic space — their nearest neighbours probably 300 light-years away — having been flung from their home galaxies millions or billions of years earlier.

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Last look at Hyperion

4 June 2015 Kerry Hebden

Saturn’s irregularly shaped moon Hyperion, received its last close inspection from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft, before the probe heads on to its icy neighbour Dione.

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Hubble observes chaotic dance of Pluto’s moons

4 June 2015 Astronomy Now

A comprehensive analysis of all available Hubble Space Telescope data shows that two of Pluto’s moons, Nix and Hydra, are wobbling unpredictably. Scientists believe the other two small moons, Kerberos and Styx, are likely in a similar situation, pending further study.

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Construction to begin on world’s largest optical telescope

3 June 2015 Astronomy Now

Collaborators secure more than $500 million for the historic $1 billion project to build the Giant Magellan Telescope — a seven-mirror colossus gathering more than six times the amount of light of the current largest optical telescopes into images up to 10 times sharper than those of the Hubble Space Telescope.

Observing

Comet Lovejoy’s June swan song through Ursa Minor

3 June 2015 Ade Ashford

A constant feature of spring nights owing to its enviable circumpolar position, Comet Lovejoy still rides high throughout June, yet it’s fading slowly with distance and has to compete with twilight all night for observers in the British Isles — but it has one more conjunction in store for the end of the month.

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Crashing comets may explain mysterious lunar swirls

3 June 2015 Astronomy Now

Lunar swirls have been the source of debate for years. The twisting, swirling streaks of bright soil stretch, in some cases, for thousands of miles across the Moon’s surface. Brown University researchers have produced new evidence that they were created by several comet collisions over the last 100 million years.