Picture This

Hubble reveals a cosmic trick of the eye

6 April 2016 Astronomy Now

While truly massive stars go out in a blaze of glory, intermediate-mass stars — those between roughly one and eight times the mass of the Sun — are somewhat quieter. Such stars eventually form cosmic objects known as planetary nebulae, so named because of their vague resemblance to planets when seen through early, low-resolution telescopes.

News

Gravitational wave search provides insights into galaxy mergers

6 April 2016 Astronomy Now

New results from NANOGrav — the North American Nanohertz Observatory for Gravitational Waves — establish astrophysically significant limits in the search for low-frequency gravitational waves. This result provides insight into how often galaxies merge and how those merging galaxies evolve over time.

News

Fast radio burst “afterglow” was actually a flickering black hole

5 April 2016 Astronomy Now

Fast radio bursts (or FRBs) are brief yet powerful spurts of radio energy lasting only a few milliseconds. They were first identified in 2007 and their source has remained a mystery. New research shows that the radio emission believed to be an afterglow from FRB 150418 actually originated from a distant galaxy’s core and was unassociated with the FRB.

News

Help reclaim the stars during International Dark Sky Week

5 April 2016 Astronomy Now

Those of us living in cities, towns and villages are subject to varying degrees of light pollution — the inappropriate use of artificial light at night. But we don’t have to lose our stars as there are ways to mitigate the skyglow. Learn what you can do to help during International Dark Sky Week, 4—10 April.

News

The ‘topsy turvy’ ocean circulation of saline exoplanets

5 April 2016 Astronomy Now

According to new research, the salt levels of oceans on distant Earth-like planets could have a major effect on their climates. Computer models reveal that exoplanets with very saline oceans could have circulation patterns opposite to that on Earth, resulting in dramatic warming of their polar regions, possibly extending their range of habitability.

Observing

The Moon hides Venus in the morning sky

4 April 2016 Ade Ashford

On the morning of Wednesday, 6 April experienced observers in the British Isles with a clear sky living south of a line drawn between Galway in Ireland, Dumfries in Scotland and Berwick-upon-Tweed in Northumberland can potentially observe planet Venus slip behind the northern polar regions of the 28-day-old waning crescent Moon. But beware: the Sun lies just 16 degrees away.

Picture This

Hubble captures a low surface brightness galaxy

4 April 2016 Astronomy Now

This striking NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image depicts the low surface brightness (LSB) galaxy known as UGC 477, located just over 110 million light-years away in the constellation of Pisces. LSB galaxies appear to be dominated by dark matter, making them excellent objects to study to further our understanding of this elusive substance.

News

Astronomers discover white dwarf with an oxygen atmosphere

3 April 2016 Astronomy Now

Researchers have discovered a white dwarf star with an atmosphere dominated by oxygen — a type of white dwarf that has been theorised to exist but not identified to date. The finding could challenge the textbook wisdom of single stellar evolution, and provide a critical link to some types of supernovae discovered over the past decade.

Equipment

Baader 2″ Diamond SteelTrack focusers

3 April 2016 Steve Ringwood

Steve Ringwood reviews a new range of precision focusers aimed at refractors, SCTs and Newtonians that employ real diamonds to create a micro-geared high-precision drive system. Capable of handling a load of 6kg (13 lbs), these focusers offer complete freedom from backlash and flexure. Motor drive option with focus control via PC also available.