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

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 bright Comet 21P’s close brush with conspicuous Capella

27 August 2018 Ade Ashford

If you’ve never seen a comet, there’s currently a bright example visible in the late evening about to make a close approach to the 6th brightest star in the night sky on the UK night of 2–3 September. We show you how to find Comet 21P/Giacobini-Zinner around the time it passes within a degree of prominent star Capella.

Observing

Halloween near-Earth asteroid 2003 YT1 has Polaris encounter on 2 November

31 October 2016 Ade Ashford

At 9:24am GMT on 31 October 2016, near-Earth asteroid 164121 (2003 YT1) will safely fly by at a distance of 3.2 million miles (5.2 million kilometres), or 13.5 times the distance of the Moon. Furthermore, this 1.1-mile-(1.7-kilometre)-wide Apollo asteroid also passes very close to Polaris early on 2 November, creating a rare astrophotographic and observing opportunity.

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Hubble sees a ‘nuclear ring’ of star formation in galactic merger

10 October 2016 Astronomy Now

While NGC 278 may look serene, it is anything but. The galaxy is currently undergoing an immense burst of star formation as revealed in this NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image. However, NGC 278’s star formation is somewhat unusual: why is it only taking place within an inner ring some 6,500 light-years across and not extend to the galaxy’s outer edges?

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.

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Hubble captures a birthday bubble

21 April 2016 Astronomy Now

This new NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image, released to celebrate Hubble’s 26th year in orbit, captures in stunning clarity an object known as the Bubble Nebula (NGC 7635) — a cloud of gas and dust illuminated by the brilliant star within it. The vivid new portrait wins the Bubble Nebula a place in the exclusive Hubble hall of fame.

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Hubble sees a diamond in the dust

15 February 2016 Astronomy Now

Surrounded by an envelope of dust, the subject of this NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image is a young pre-main-sequence star known as HBC 1. The star is in an immature and adolescent phase of life, hence its classification — most of a Sun-like star’s life is spent in a stage comparable to human adulthood dubbed the main sequence.

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“The Arrow Missed the Heart” by Lefteris Velissaratos

20 September 2015 Astronomy Now

A stunning juxtaposition of an ethereal solar system body, long-period comet C/2014 E2 Jacques, and the vast, heart-shaped emission nebula IC 1805, some 7,500 light-years away in the constellation Cassiopeia — winning image of the Planets, Comets & Asteroids category in the Insight Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition 2015.

News

The closest rocky, transiting exoplanet found in Cassiopeia

31 July 2015 Astronomy Now

Northern Hemisphere astronomers are familiar with the W-shaped star pattern of Cassiopeia, a circumpolar constellation near the Pole Star that never sets for latitudes north of 35°. Tucked next to one leg of the W lies a modest 5th-magnitude star named HD 219134 that has been hiding a secret.