Observing

Get ready for October’s pre-dawn Moon and planet show

30 September 2015 Ade Ashford

Now that planet Saturn is effectively lost in the dusk twilight for UK-based observers, you may be wondering what has happened to the other four bright naked-eye planets. Far from disappearing, they have just transferred to the morning sky. From 8—11 October, the waning crescent Moon acts as a guide to Venus, Mars, Jupiter then Mercury in the eastern dawn sky.

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Searching for orphan stars amid starbirth fireworks in Orion

29 September 2015 Astronomy Now

A new Gemini Observatory image reveals the remarkable “fireworks” that accompany the birth of stars. The picture captures in unprecedented clarity the fascinating structures of a gas jet complex emanating from a stellar nursery at supersonic speeds. Researchers believe they have also found a collection of runaway (orphan) stars that result from all this activity.

Picture This

“Huge Prominence Lift-off” by Paolo Porcellana

29 September 2015 Astronomy Now

This spectacular six-panel mosaic picture of a solar prominence was taken in Italy by astrophotographer Paolo  Porcellana on 27 March 2015 using a home-made 150mm f/15 refractor — winning image of the Our Sun category in the Insight Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition 2015.

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How Rosetta’s comet got its shape

29 September 2015 Astronomy Now

The origin of of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko’s double-lobed form has been a key question since Rosetta first revealed its surprising shape in July 2014. By studying the layers of material seen all over the nucleus, scientists have shown that the shape arose from a low-speed collision between two fully fledged, separately formed comets.

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NASA confirms evidence that liquid water flows on today’s Mars

28 September 2015 Astronomy Now

New findings from NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) provide the strongest evidence yet that liquid water flows intermittently on present-day Mars. Using an imaging spectrometer on MRO, researchers detected signatures of hydrated minerals on slopes where mysterious darkish streaks that appear to ebb and flow over time are seen on the Red Planet.

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Observers thrilled by supermoon total lunar eclipse

28 September 2015 Astronomy Now

Astronomers circling the North Atlantic and in South America were treated to a spectacular total eclipse of the Moon that occurred at prime time for US-based stargazers Sunday night, 27 September and in the early hours of this morning for observers in Western Europe.

Eclipse

Watch NASA’s live video stream of the supermoon total eclipse

27 September 2015 Astronomy Now

It is a sad fact that overcast skies will spoil parts of this supermoon total lunar eclipse for some of you, but remain optimistic that your home sky will be clear! However, don’t despair if you’re clouded out — you can watch it online here! NASA will live stream the event from at least 1am—4:30am BST on Monday, 28 September, which is 8pm—11:30pm EDT on 27 September.