The Hubble Space Telescope has completed what NASA calls its “annual grand tour of the Solar System,” capturing stunning views of the four gas giants – Jupiter on 4 September; Saturn on 12 September; Uranus on 25 October; and Neptune on 7 September. Even though passing spacecraft and orbiters have sent back close-up views of all four worlds and multiple moons during visits over the past half century, the cold atmospheres of the gas giants are always changing. Using Hubble to keep tabs on Earth’s outer Solar System neighbours provides valuable insights into the dynamic processes at work under the cloudtops that shape weather patterns and seasons.
The Helix Nebula is a familiar target to amateur astronomers, a dim, eyepiece-filling doughnut that belies the complexity revealed by spectacular images from the Hubble Space Telescope and other sensitive instruments.
Just in time for the release of the movie “Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens,” NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has photographed what looks like a cosmic, double-bladed lightsabre. In the centre of the image, partially obscured by a dark, Jedi-like cloak of dust, a newborn star shoots twin jets out into space as a sort of birth announcement to the universe.
Comet 252P/LINEAR will zip past Earth on Monday, 21 March at a range of about 3.3 million miles. The following day, comet P/2016 BA14 will safely fly by our planet at a distance of about 2.2 million miles, or nine times the distance to the Moon. This will be the second closest flyby of a comet in recorded history next to comet D/1770 L1 (Lexell) in 1770.