Equipment

Bresser Messier 8-inch Dobsonian

24 March 2016 Steve Ringwood

As its name suggests, this novel Dobsonian’s eight inch (203mm) aperture provides a light grasp suitable for exploring the galaxies and nebulae that constitute the Messier catalogue — yet its 1218mm focal length (f/6) gives it access to the higher magnifications required for planetary observations too, says reviewer Steve Ringwood.

News

Dawn sees Ceres’ salty spot

24 March 2016 Keith Cooper

The Dawn spacecraft has finally been able to get a good look at the famous bright spot on the surface of Ceres, with NASA releasing new images at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference in Texas.

News

New research shows quasars slowed pace of star formation

24 March 2016 Astronomy Now

Galaxies reached their busiest star-making pace about 11 billion years ago, then slowed down. Scientists have puzzled for years over the question of what happened. Now researchers have found evidence supporting the argument that the answer was energy feedback from quasars within the galaxies where stars are born.

News

A new way to determine the age of stars?

24 March 2016 Astronomy Now

Researchers have developed a new conceptual framework for understanding how stars similar to our Sun evolve. Their framework helps explain how the rotation of stars, their emission of X-rays, and the intensity of their stellar winds vary with time. Their work could ultimately help to determine the age of stars more precisely than is currently possible.

News

Ancient lunar polar ice reveals tilting of Moon’s axis

23 March 2016 Astronomy Now

Did the “Man in the Moon” look different from ancient Earth? New NASA-funded research provides evidence that the spin axis of the Moon shifted by about five degrees roughly three billion years ago. The evidence of this motion is recorded in the distribution of ancient lunar ice, evidence of delivery of water to the early solar system.

News

First discovery of a binary companion for a Type Ia supernova

23 March 2016 Astronomy Now

A team of astronomers has detected a flash of light from the companion star to supernova 2012cg that lies in the edge-on spiral NGC 4424, 50 million light-years away in the constellation Virgo. This is the first time that the impact of an exploding star on its neighbour has been witnessed.

Picture This

The wilds of the Local Group

23 March 2016 Astronomy Now

This image shows a lonely galaxy known as Wolf-Lundmark-Melotte, or WLM for short. Although considered part of our Local Group of dozens of galaxies, WLM stands alone at the group’s outer edges as one of its most remote members. In fact, WLM is so small and secluded that it may never have interacted with any other galaxy in the history of the universe.

News

Solar storms ignite X-ray aurorae on Jupiter

22 March 2016 Astronomy Now

Solar storms are triggering X-ray aurorae on Jupiter that are about eight times brighter than normal over a large area of the planet and hundreds of times more energetic than Earth’s “northern lights,” according to a new study using data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory when a giant solar storm arrived at the planet.

News

Ancient dwarf galaxy preserves record of catastrophic event

22 March 2016 Astronomy Now

The lightest few chemical elements formed minutes after the Big Bang. Most heavier elements in the periodic table are created by stars, either from internal nuclear fusion or in catastrophic explosions. New observations of a dwarf galaxy discovered last year show that the heaviest elements, such as gold and lead, are likely left over from rare collisions between two neutron stars.