Equipment

Orion 3″ field flattener for EON 115/130 EDT refractors

30 April 2016 Steve Ringwood

Steve Ringwood reviews a dedicated 3″ field flattener designed for use with Orion’s EON 115/130 EDT refractors. One side of the field flattener threads on to the 3″ focuser, whilst the other offers a wide M48 thread that enables fixture of DSLRs, etc. without the vignetting possible with smaller M42 designs — particularly when deployed with full frame sensors.

Observing

See Comet 252P/LINEAR in a moonless sky

28 April 2016 Ade Ashford

On the afternoon of 21 March, Comet 252P/LINEAR brushed by Earth just 14 lunar distances away. The comet’s separation from Earth now exceeds 20 million miles, but it’s still a suitable target for binoculars and small telescopes — if you know exactly where to look. Here’s our UK observing guide for 252P/LINEAR in the constellation Ophiuchus between midnight and moonrise over the coming week.

Picture This

Golden eye: James Webb Space Telescope’s mirror unveiled

28 April 2016 Astronomy Now

On 27 April 2016, engineers unveiled the giant golden mirror of NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope as part of the integration and testing of the infrared telescope. The 6.5-metre mirror is composed of 18 segments the size of a coffee table. Each is made from beryllium, weighs about 46 pounds (20 kg) and coated with vaporised gold to reflect infrared light.

News

NASA balloon mission seeks evidence of cosmological inflation

27 April 2016 Astronomy Now

Now that scientists have confirmed the existence of gravitational waves, a NASA team using a balloon-borne observatory is set to search for a predicted signature of primordial gravitational waves that would prove the infant universe expanded far faster than the speed of light and began growing exponentially almost instantaneously after the Big Bang.

News

Light echoes give clues to young star’s protoplanetary disc

27 April 2016 Astronomy Now

Protoplanetary discs are ‘doughnuts’ of gas and dust surrounding young stars, the sites where planets form over the course of millions of years. Researchers studying the one-million-year-old infant star YLW 16B, some 400 light-years from Earth, were able to determine the distance from the star to the inner rim of its surrounding protoplanetary disc by observing its light echo.

News

Hubble discovers moon orbiting the dwarf planet Makemake

26 April 2016 Astronomy Now

NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has spotted a small, dark moon orbiting Makemake, the second brightest icy dwarf planet — after Pluto — in the Kuiper Belt. The moon, provisionally designated S/2015 (136472) 1 and nicknamed MK 2, is estimated to be 100 miles in diameter. Makemake and its moon are more than 50 times farther away than Earth is from the Sun.

News

Martian surface revealed in unprecedented detail

26 April 2016 Astronomy Now

The surface of Mars — including the location of Beagle-2 — has been shown in unprecedented detail by University College London scientists using a revolutionary image stacking and matching technique. The UCL researchers used the Super-Resolution Restoration (SRR) process to reveal objects at a resolution up to five times greater than previously achieved.