News

Webb telescope’s launch delayed until 2020

28 March 2018 Stephen Clark

Blaming a slew of technical snags and “avoidable errors,” NASA officials said Tuesday that the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope, already years behind schedule, will be delayed to 2020, potentially pushing the mission’s development cost above an $8 billion cap mandated by Congress.

Picture This

Glowing stellar nurseries in a web of cosmic filaments

26 March 2018 Astronomy Now

A vast star-forming region as seen by the European Space Agency’s Herschel space observatory shows a tangled web of filaments with embedded hot spots where stars are being born. Observations of such filaments indicate a common process is at work to generate such filaments — and stars — from the interstellar medium.

Observing

See the Red Planet, Saturn and Moon get close in the dawn sky

26 March 2018 Ade Ashford

Early risers will already be aware that there’s currently a lot of planetary activity in the morning sky, but at dawn in Western Europe on Monday, 2 April, Mars and Saturn will be just 1¼ degrees apart and seen in the same field of view of telescopes at 30x magnification. The waning Moon is close by on the mornings of 7 & 8 April too.

Picture This

A big storm, by definition, on mighty Jupiter

24 March 2018 Astronomy Now

Citizen scientists process a stunning image of a giant storm in Jupiter’s northern hemisphere taken by NASA’s Juno spacecraft during its 11th close flyby of the giant planet. Bright cloud tops look similar to storm clouds on Earth, although the scale is vastly larger. Juno is giving planetary scientists a unique view of Jupiter from the spacecraft’s polar orbit.

Observing

Get ready for multiple shadow transits of Jupiter’s Galilean moons

23 March 2018 Ade Ashford

Jupiter, the solar system’s largest planet, is now visible low in the southeast three hours after darkness falls in the UK. Now’s the time to dust off your telescope, check its optical alignment and hone your Jovian observing skills – particularly since a series of double shadow transits of the planet’s large Galilean moons starts on 24 March 2018.

Observing

See the setting Moon hide bright star Aldebaran late on 22 March

20 March 2018 Ade Ashford

On Thursday, 22 March observers in the British Isles with clear skies can see the 5½-day-old setting crescent Moon pass in front of first-magnitude star Aldebaran in the constellation of Taurus soon after 11:30pm GMT. Depending on where you live in the UK, you might just see the star reappear again shortly before the pair set.