Observing

See the Moon and Jupiter get close on 7 May

4 May 2017 Ade Ashford

Observers with a clear sky to the south as darkness falls on Sunday 7 May can see the 12-day-old waxing gibbous Moon and planet Jupiter separated by little more than twice the width of a full Moon. For telescope owners in the UK, this is a night where you can also see Jupiter’s Great Red Spot and the planet’s four large Galilean moons.

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Spiral galaxy pair NGC 4302 and NGC 4298

4 May 2017 Astronomy Now

In celebration of the 27th anniversary of the launch of NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope on April 24, 1990, astronomers used the legendary telescope to take a portrait of a stunning pair of spiral galaxies. This starry pair offers a glimpse of what our Milky Way galaxy would look like to an outside observer.

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First aerial colour photo of Mars rover’s “hole-in-one” landing site

3 May 2017 Stephen Clark

NASA has released the first high-resolution aerial colour image of the Opportunity rover’s landing site on a sprawling Martian plain, where the airbag-cushioned robot fortuitously rolled into a Eagle Crater in January 2004, putting its scientific instruments face-to-face with a block of sedimentary rock that gave ground teams confirmation Mars was once a warmer, wetter, and habitable planet.

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NASA probe finds Saturn ring gap emptier than predicted

3 May 2017 Stephen Clark

NASA’s Cassini spacecraft sped through a gap between Saturn and its rings for the second time Tuesday after data from the probe’s first perilous passage through the unexplored region last week found it to contain fewer potentially hazardous dust particles than expected.

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Is dark matter “fuzzy”?

2 May 2017 Astronomy Now

Astronomers have used data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory to study the properties of dark matter, the mysterious, invisible substance that makes up a majority of matter in the universe. The study, which involves 13 galaxy clusters, explores the possibility that dark matter may be more “fuzzy” than “cold,” perhaps even adding to the complexity surrounding this cosmic conundrum.