News

Get ready for Comet Lovejoy!

29 December 2014 Ade Ashford

C/2014 Q2, better known as Comet Lovejoy, is brightening fast and rapidly heading into the Northern Hemisphere sky. Here’s our quick guide to viewing what will hopefully be the first naked-eye comet of 2015.

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NASA spacecraft to get bonus time studying Mercury

29 December 2014 Stephen Clark

Running low on fuel after completing the first global survey of Mercury, NASA’s MESSENGER spacecraft could get an extra month of time at the solar system’s innermost planet thanks to a crafty new way of using helium gas to temporarily forestall the mission’s end next year.

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Scientific riches await Philae comet lander, if it wakes up

25 December 2014 Stephen Clark

Optimistic Europe’s hibernating Philae comet lander can be revived, mission controllers plan to try and contact the spacecraft as soon as January as the search narrows for the probe’s final resting place — a site within arm’s reach of pristine ice and organic matter ripe for analysis if the mission gets a new lease on life.

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Sun sizzles in high-energy X-rays

23 December 2014 Astronomy Now

Designed to study black holes, supernova remnants and other extreme objects beyond our Solar System, NASA’s Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) has captured the most sensitive portrait of the Sun ever taken in high-energy X-rays.

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The Milky Way’s new neighbour

22 December 2014 Astronomy Now

The Local Group of galaxies has just grown in number with the Hubble Space Telescope discovery of KKs 3 — a dwarf spheroidal some 7 million light-years away in the far southern constellation of Hydrus.

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NASA’s Kepler spacecraft proves it can still find planets

19 December 2014 Astronomy Now

When the primary mission of NASA’s Kepler spacecraft ended in May 2013 due to a failure of its stabilisation system, a team of scientists and engineers developed an ingenious strategy to control the spacecraft. The resulting second mission, K2, has a newfound planet — HIP 116454b