Observing

Don’t miss 2018’s favourable Perseid meteor shower, 12–13 August

3 August 2018 Ade Ashford

From the UK evening of Sunday, 12 August into the early hours of the following morning it’s the maximum of the annual Perseid meteor shower. This year, a new Moon setting in twilight makes prospects for watching this natural firework display particularly good. So, find somewhere away from the streetlights, settle into a garden lounger facing northeast and enjoy the show!

News

VLBA measurement promises complete picture of the Milky Way

12 October 2017 Astronomy Now

Astronomers using the National Science Foundation’s Very Long Baseline Array have directly measured the distance to a star-forming region on the opposite side of our Milky Way Galaxy from the Sun. Their achievement nearly doubles the previous record for distance measurement within our galaxy.

The skies above ESO’s Paranal Observatory resemble oil on water
Picture This

Within reach

16 April 2017 Astronomy Now

The skies above the European Southern Observatory’s Paranal Observatory resemble oil on water, as greens, yellows, and blues blend to create an iridescent skyscape.

Picture This

Ancient Stardust

2 April 2017 Astronomy Now

This spectacular image of the Milky Way by Gianni Krattli from France, is just one of this year’s Insight Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition entrants released in a sneak peek by the Royal Observatory Greenwich.

News

Hubble dates black hole’s last big meal

9 March 2017 Stephen Clark

For the supermassive black hole at the center of our Milky Way galaxy, it’s been a long time between dinners. NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has found that the black hole ate its last big meal about 6 million years ago, when it consumed a large clump of infalling gas.

News

Our galaxy’s black hole is spewing out planet-size ‘spitballs’

23 January 2017 Stephen Clark

Every few thousand years, an unlucky star wanders too close to the black hole at the center of the Milky Way. The black hole’s powerful gravity rips the star apart, sending a long streamer of gas whipping outward. That would seem to be the end of the story, but it’s not. New research shows that not only can the gas gather itself into planet-size objects, but those objects then are flung throughout the galaxy in a game of cosmic “spitball.”