Observing

Don’t miss the Geminid meteor shower 13–14 December 2018

13 December 2018 Ade Ashford

The December Geminid meteor shower is generally regarded as the richest and most reliable of the major annual shooting star displays. This year the predicted peak occurs close to 12h UT on 14 December, though high rates of activity should be encountered between 8pm GMT on Thursday, 13 December and 5pm GMT the following evening.

Picture This

Fireworks left over from stellar explosion in Orion Nebula

12 April 2017 Astronomy Now

Stellar explosions are most often associated with supernovae, the spectacular deaths of stars. But new ALMA observations provide insights into explosions at the other end of the stellar life cycle, star birth. Astronomers captured these dramatic images as they explored the firework-like debris from the birth of a group of massive stars, demonstrating that star formation can be a violent and explosive process too.

Picture This

ESO’S VISTA telescope reveals hidden stars in Messier 78

5 October 2016 Astronomy Now

In this new image of the nebula Messier 78, young stars cast a bluish pall over their surroundings, while red fledgling stars peer out from their cocoons of cosmic dust. ESO’s Visible and Infrared Survey Telescope for Astronomy (VISTA) sees near-infrared light, which passes right through dust, permitting astronomers to probe deep into the heart of the stellar environment.

Equipment

Orion 3″ field flattener for EON 115/130 EDT refractors

30 April 2016 Steve Ringwood

Steve Ringwood reviews a dedicated 3″ field flattener designed for use with Orion’s EON 115/130 EDT refractors. One side of the field flattener threads on to the 3″ focuser, whilst the other offers a wide M48 thread that enables fixture of DSLRs, etc. without the vignetting possible with smaller M42 designs — particularly when deployed with full frame sensors.

News

Visualising the Sun’s neighbourhood in 3-D

17 November 2015 Astronomy Now

Astronomers have used modern techniques to create a 3-D visualisation of all of the O- and B-type stars within 500 parsecs (1,630 light-years) of the Sun using data from ESA’s Hipparcos satellite. This new visualisation uncovers evidence for new structures in the distribution of these nearby hot stars, and new and surprising theories of how those stars formed.

Observing

See asteroid 2015 TB145 in close fly-by of Earth 30-31 October

30 October 2015 Ade Ashford

Four hundred-metre-wide asteroid 2015 TB145 passes just 302,500 miles (486,800 kilometres) or 1.3 lunar distances away from Earth on the evening of Saturday, 31 October 2015. Here is our guide to locating this Apollo-class near-Earth asteroid on the night of 30-31 October from the UK.

Observing

See the Orionid meteor shower peak 21-23 October

20 October 2015 Astronomy Now

The highlight of October for meteor observers is the Orionid meteor shower, which occurs when the Earth encounters the debris stream of Halley’s Comet. With a broad maximum 21-23 October, peak rates are typically about a quarter of those seen for the Perseids of August. A good percentage of Orionids are bright and leave persistent trains.

News

Searching for orphan stars amid starbirth fireworks in Orion

29 September 2015 Astronomy Now

A new Gemini Observatory image reveals the remarkable “fireworks” that accompany the birth of stars. The picture captures in unprecedented clarity the fascinating structures of a gas jet complex emanating from a stellar nursery at supersonic speeds. Researchers believe they have also found a collection of runaway (orphan) stars that result from all this activity.

Observing

See planet Venus dazzle at greatest brilliancy in the pre-dawn sky

17 September 2015 Ade Ashford

Early risers wishing to see Venus as a dazzling ‘morning star’ need only glance low to the east in the pre-dawn sky. The planet reaches greatest brilliancy on Sunday, 20 September when, for a couple of mornings, it can be seen outshining brightest nighttime star Sirius in the southeast by a factor of seventeen times. Can you see your shadow cast by Venus?