Picture This

A parting panorama from the Opportunity Mars rover

18 March 2019 Astronomy Now

NASA’s Mars Opportunity Rover was completing a 360-degree panorama of its surroundings on the inner slope of Endeavour Crater when a global dust storm silenced the spacecraft after nearly 15 years of operation on the red planet. The final panorama is made up of 354 images stitched together for a fitting farewell vista.

Observing

Seek out 3C 273, the brightest optical quasar, in the spring sky

7 March 2019 Ade Ashford

Plumb the hidden depths of spring’s deep-sky by seeking out 3C 273, the optically-brightest quasi-stellar object (QSO) in the constellation of Virgo. Quasars are the intensely luminous centres of very distant and active galaxies, powered by a supermassive black hole. And don’t worry that you need a huge ‘scope to see it – a 15-cm (6-inch) instrument and a clear, moonless night are all you need.