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A very close encounter

15 August 2017 Astronomy Now

Back in October 2012, the near-Earth asteroid 2012 TC4 had a close encounter with Earth. It passed our planet at a distance only a quarter of that between the Earth and the Moon. In October 2017, this small asteroid, with a size of only about 15 to 30 metres, will return for another very close fly-by, making it the perfect object to test the asteroid detection and tracking network.

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Galactic David and Goliath

28 July 2017 Astronomy Now

The gravitational dance between two galaxies in our local neighbourhood has led to intriguing visual features in both as witnessed in this new NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image. The tiny NGC 1510 and its colossal neighbour NGC 1512 are at the beginning of a lengthy merger, a crucial process in galaxy evolution.

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Haze on Saturn’s horizon

27 July 2017 Astronomy Now

This false-color view from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft gazes toward the rings beyond Saturn’s sunlit horizon. Along the limb at left can be seen a thin, detached haze. This haze vanishes toward the left side of the scene.

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Enceladus’ jets from afar

26 July 2017 Astronomy Now

Enceladus’ intriguing south-polar jets are viewed by the Cassini probe from afar, backlit by sunlight while the moon itself glows softly in reflected Saturn-shine.

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Chandra peers into a nurturing cloud

14 July 2017 Astronomy Now

In the context of space, the term ‘cloud’ can mean something rather different from the fluffy white collections of water in the sky or a way to store data or process information. Giant molecular clouds are vast cosmic objects, composed primarily of hydrogen molecules and helium atoms, where new stars and planets are born. These clouds can contain more mass than a million Suns, and stretch across hundreds of light-years.

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Dazzling spiral with an active heart

5 July 2017 Astronomy Now

ESO’s Very Large Telescope has captured a magnificent face-on view of the barred spiral galaxy Messier 77. The image does justice to the galaxy’s beauty, showcasing its glittering arms criss-crossed with dust lanes — but it fails to betray Messier 77’s turbulent nature.

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See the sharpest-ever view of giant Betelgeuse

30 June 2017 Astronomy Now

This orange blob shows the nearby star Betelgeuse, as seen by the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array. This is the first time that ALMA has ever observed the surface of a star and this first attempt has resulted in the highest-resolution image of Betelgeuse available.

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Jupiter’s “String of Pearls”

26 June 2017 Astronomy Now

This enhanced-color image of Jupiter’s bands of light and dark clouds was created by citizen scientists Gerald Eichstädt and Seán Doran using data from the JunoCam imager on NASA’s Juno spacecraft.