Observing

Hunting for colourful double and triple stars in the constellation of Cassiopeia

13 December 2019 Ade Ashford

The instantly recognisable five-star M-shaped pattern of stars representing the constellation Cassiopeia (pronounced kas-ee-uh-pee-uh) lies almost overhead in the early evening as seen from the British Isles over the festive period. Cassiopeia is rich in wonderful double and multiple stars, so here’s our guide to some of the best for typical backyard telescopes.

Observing

Seeing double in the autumn sky

6 October 2018 Ade Ashford

Now that the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness is upon us and the bright summer stars and planets are slipping away to the west, why not seek out some of the spectacular double stars of the autumn sky? We show you how to find some celestial gems suitable for small to medium telescopes in the constellations of Aquarius, Aries and Andromeda.

Observing

Watch asteroid 2015 FP118 fly by Earth in early September

31 August 2018 Ade Ashford

Shortly after 11am BST on Monday, 3 September, an 800-metre-wide space rock with the catchy name 2015 FP118 hurtles past Earth some 12¼ times the average distance of the Moon. On subsequent nights we show you how to track it down with backyard telescopes of 10-inch (25-cm) aperture and larger.

Observing

See asteroid Phaethon, source of the Geminids, in a close brush with Earth

4 December 2017 Ade Ashford

As shooting-star devotees prepare for the naked-eye spectacle of the Geminid meteor shower in mid-December, owners of small telescopes can also witness the close passage of the meteors’ parent body — a curious “rock comet” known as 3200 Phaethon, galloping through the constellations of Auriga, Perseus, Andromeda, Pisces and Pegasus at a rate of up to 15 degrees/day.

News

Andromeda’s bright X-ray mystery solved by NuSTAR

24 March 2017 Astronomy Now

The Milky Way’s closest neighbor, Andromeda, features a dominant source of high-energy X-ray emission, but its identity was mysterious until now. As reported in a new study, NASA’s NuSTAR mission has pinpointed an object responsible for this high-energy radiation.

Observing

Find the Andromeda Galaxy in the late summer sky

2 September 2016 Ade Ashford

One of best deep-sky objects of the approaching season is the Andromeda Galaxy, or Messier 31, that is now accessible low in the east-northeast by 10pm local time in the UK and Western Europe. Here’s our comprehensive guide to locating this iconic Local Group galaxy.

News

‘Starspot’ images of nearby star give insights into early Sun

4 May 2016 Astronomy Now

Astronomers have used interferometry to create a time-lapse of the nearby star zeta Andromedae over one of its 18-day rotations that show starspots — sunspots outside our solar system. The pattern of spots on the star is very different from their typical arrangement on our Sun, challenging current theories of how stars’ magnetic fields influence their evolution.

News

Andromeda Galaxy’s first spinning neutron star found

2 April 2016 Astronomy Now

Decades of searching in the Andromeda Galaxy has finally paid off, with the discovery of an elusive breed of stellar corpse — a neutron star, by ESA’s XMM-Newton space telescope. Neutron stars are the small and extraordinarily dense remains of a once-massive star that exploded as a powerful supernova at the end of its natural life.