Observing

Seeing multiple stars: Lyra’s other double-double

29 September 2017 Ade Ashford

The diminutive yet distinctive constellation of Lyra is home to dazzling star Vega, the Ring Nebula (M57) and the celebrated double-double star epsilon (ε) Lyrae. But did you know that Lyra harbours yet another ‘pair of pairs’ that are somewhat easier to resolve in smaller telescopes? Ade Ashford shows you how to locate the beautiful Struve Σ2470 and Σ2474.

News

Gravitational waves from a binary black hole merger observed by LIGO and Virgo

27 September 2017 Astronomy Now

The LIGO Scientific Collaboration and the Virgo collaboration report the first joint detection of gravitational waves with both the LIGO and Virgo detectors. This is the fourth announced detection of a binary black hole system and the first significant gravitational-wave signal recorded by the Virgo detector, and highlights the scientific potential of a three-detector network of gravitational-wave detectors.

News

Scientists celebrate 10th anniversary of Dawn mission’s launch

27 September 2017 Stephen Clark

In the ten years since its launch from Cape Canaveral, NASA’s Dawn spacecraft has orbited the two largest worlds in the asteroid belt and overcome defective components that threatened to derail the mission on its 4 billion-mile voyage, discovering unexpectedly rich geologic tapestries suggesting both destinations have a watery past.

News

Fast radio bursts may be firing off every second

25 September 2017 Astronomy Now

When fast radio bursts, or FRBs, were first detected in 2001, astronomers had never seen anything like them before. Since then, astronomers have found a couple of dozen FRBs, but they still don’t know what causes these rapid and powerful bursts of radio emission.

Observing

See the crescent Moon pass in front of star gamma Librae on 24 September

23 September 2017 Ade Ashford

A waxing crescent Moon hanging low above the horizon in evening twilight is always a pleasant sight to behold, but observers in the UK watching the 4-day-old Moon through a telescope around 40 minutes after sunset on Sunday, 24 September have an additional treat in store in the form of an occultation of naked-eye star gamma (γ) Librae.

News

Arecibo radar telescope battered by Hurricane Maria

22 September 2017 Stephen Clark

Initial reports from the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico indicate powerful winds from Hurricane Maria destroyed an antenna and damaged the radio telescope’s huge 300-metre (1,000-foot) dish reflector, but the bulk of the facility remains intact and workers sheltered there were unharmed.

News

Scientists firm up flyby plan for New Horizons’ next destination

21 September 2017 Stephen Clark

Now more than two years outbound from its historic encounter with Pluto, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft is on target for a fleeting flyby less than 2,200 miles from 2014 MU69, an icy, city-sized world set to become the most distant object ever visited, just after midnight Jan. 1, 2019. Scientists now say the probe may be able to pursue another destination some time in the 2020s.