Picture This

“Comet Lovejoy C/2014 Q2” by Michael Jaeger

28 July 2015 Astronomy Now

Our second nomination from the prestigious Insight Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition, an annual celebration of the most beautiful and spectacular visions of the cosmos by astrophotographers worldwide. Now in its seventh year, the 2015 competition received 2700 spectacular entries from over 60 countries and the winners will be announced 17 September.

Picture This

The long goodbye of a dying star

28 July 2015 Astronomy Now

A dying star’s final moments are captured in this image of planetary nebula NGC 6565 in Sagittarius from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. The death throes of this star may only last mere moments on a cosmological timescale, but this star’s demise is still quite lengthy by our standards, lasting tens of thousands of years.

Picture This

Bright impact basin on Saturn’s icy moon Tethys

28 July 2015 Astronomy Now

In this NASA/ESA Cassini mission image of Saturn’s 660-mile-wide moon Tethys, the giant impact basin Odysseus stands out brightly from the rest of the illuminated icy crescent. Some 280 miles across, Odysseus is one of the largest impact craters on Saturn’s icy moons, and may have significantly altered the geologic history of Tethys.

News

Fossil globular star clusters reveal their age

28 July 2015 Astronomy Now

Using a new age-dating method and the W. M. Keck Observatory, an international team of astronomers have determined that globular star clusters formed in two distinct epochs — 12.5 and 11.5 billion years ago. They formed alongside galaxies, rather than prior to galaxies, as previously thought.

News

Impact of cosmic wind on galaxy evolution revealed

27 July 2015 Astronomy Now

Astronomers have long known that powerful cosmic winds can sometimes blow through galaxies, sweeping out interstellar material and stopping future star formation. A Yale University analysis of one such event in a nearby galaxy provides an unprecedented look at the process, offering a clearer snapshot of how it happens.

Equipment

Vernonscope Deluxe 1.25-inch Binoviewer

27 July 2015 Steve Ringwood

Microscopists enjoyed the advantages of binocular vision long before someone thought to apply this principle to telescopes. Using both eyes, the brain is able to interpolate both fields, resulting in a gain in contrast and a consequently improved perception of detail. Steve Ringwood appraises a very stylish model from Venonscope aimed at the top end of the twin eyepiece market.

Observing

See Saturn close to the Moon on the evening of 26 July

26 July 2015 Ade Ashford

Saturn’s summer apparition for 2015 is drawing to a close as the ringed planet is highest in the southern sky before sunset for observers in the British Isles, but it can still be found in the bright evening twilight if you have a convenient guide — like tonight’s gibbous Moon.

Picture This

“The Mirrored Night Sky” by Xiaohua Zhao

26 July 2015 Astronomy Now

The prestigious Insight Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition is an annual celebration of the most beautiful and spectacular visions of the cosmos by astrophotographers worldwide. Now in its seventh year, the 2015 competition received 2700 spectacular entries from over 60 countries and the winners will be announced 17 September.

Picture This

Extended haze in Pluto’s atmosphere

25 July 2015 Astronomy Now

Backlit by the Sun, Pluto’s atmosphere rings its silhouette like a luminous halo in this image taken by NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft on July 15. This global portrait of the atmosphere was captured when the spacecraft was about 1.25 million miles (2 million kilometres) from the dwarf planet.

News

New Horizons discovers flowing ices on Pluto

25 July 2015 Astronomy Now

NASA’s New Horizons mission has found evidence of exotic ices flowing across Pluto’s surface, at the left edge of its bright heart-shaped area. New close-up images from the spacecraft’s Long-Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) reveal signs of recent geologic activity, something scientists hoped to find but didn’t expect.