Observing

See asteroid Florence’s close dolphin encounter on 2—3 September

2 September 2017 Ade Ashford

During the first week of September, observers have an opportunity to see a bright near-Earth asteroid known as 3122 Florence (aka 1981 ET3) as it sails by our planet. On the night of 2—3 September, observers in the UK and Western Europe can see this 4.4 kilometre-wide space rock pass through a prominent asterism in the constellation of Delphinus, the dolphin.

Observing

Seeing double in the summer sky

24 June 2017 Ade Ashford

With astronomical twilight lasting all night around the Northern Hemisphere summer solstice for stargazers in the UK, what does the deep-sky observer do when the sky never gets truly dark? Fortunately, there are many beautiful double and multiple stars to seek out while most nebulae are off limits.

News

Milky Way’s most-mysterious star is even stranger than astronomers thought

4 October 2016 Astronomy Now

A star known as KIC 8462852 in the constellation Cygnus has been raising eyebrows both in and outside of the scientific community for the past year. In 2015 a team of astronomers announced that the star underwent a series of very brief, non-periodic dimming events while being monitored by NASA’s Kepler space telescope. A new study has deepened the mystery.

Observing

Seek out the celestial treasures within the Summer Triangle

24 July 2016 Ade Ashford

At the beginning of August, keen observers in the heart of the UK can celebrate the return of truly dark skies around 1am BST. But the naked-eye stars are out by 11pm, and if you cast your gaze two-thirds of the way from southeast horizon to overhead at this time you can see the so-called Summer Triangle in all its glory. Here’s our guide to some of the celestial highlights therein.

News

New planet Kepler-1647b is largest discovered that orbits two suns

13 June 2016 Astronomy Now

If you cast your eyes toward the constellation Cygnus, you’ll be looking in the direction of the largest planet yet discovered with the widest orbit around a double-star system. It’s too faint to see with the naked eye, but a team led by astronomers from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center and San Diego State University used NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope to identify the new planet.

News

Natural causes, not aliens, explain mystery star’s behaviour

10 May 2016 Astronomy Now

Media interest went viral last October when a group of astronomers from Pennsylvania State University cited that the “bizarre light curve” of KIC 8462852, popularly known as Tabby’s star, was “consistent with” a swarm of alien-constructed megastructures. Now, the results of a new study make it far less likely that KIC 8462852 is the home of industrious extraterrestrials.

Picture This

Hubble finds a festive snow angel

24 December 2015 Astronomy Now

The bipolar star-forming region Sharpless 2-106 some 2,000 light-years away in the constellation Cygnus looks like a soaring, celestial snow angel in this image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. Twin lobes of super-hot gas, glowing blue in this image, stretch outward from the central young and massive star. This hot gas creates the “wings” of our angel.