Bouncing boulders on Comet 67P

A 67P Churyumov-Gerasimenko update by Melanie Davies FRAS In September 2019, at a major planetary sciences conference (EPSC-DPS), scientists lead by Jean-Baptiste Vincent presented evidence of curious bouncing boulders on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. EPSC-DPS is the joint meeting of the European Planetary Science Congress and the Division of Planetary Sciences, and last year was held in Geneva,Continue reading “Bouncing boulders on Comet 67P”

Looking East: The rise of the Chinese Space Programme

Melanie Davies looks back at ancient Chinese rocketry and delves into the impressive emergence of the space industry in China Some might argue that the birth of the space age can be traced back to 3rd century China when the word ‘rocket’ first appeared during the Three Kingdoms period (220 – 280). In 228 theContinue reading “Looking East: The rise of the Chinese Space Programme”

Practical astronomy made simple

Many astronomy enthusiasts are thoroughly put-off when attempting to set up their first telescope. I’ve developed this course to bust any ideas that astronomy is hard work, and to make it easy and accessible for all. Students on this one-day course will be learning how to set up and use a simple telescope; how toContinue reading “Practical astronomy made simple”

A new Saturnian hexagon high above the clouds

Using data captured by the Cassini spacecraft, scientists working at the University of Leicester have recently detected a high-altitude hexagonal feature, towering high above the clouds. As part of a long-term study, they discovered a North Polar Stratospheric Vortex (NPSV). This newly discovered detail, abundant in hydrocarbons, could be influenced by a much larger featureContinue reading “A new Saturnian hexagon high above the clouds”

Exo Belts found orbiting Proxima Centauri

Similar to the Asteroid Belt and Kuiper Belt, astronomers using the ALMA Observatory in Chile – part of the European Southern Observatory – have found rings of cold dust orbiting the closest star to the Solar System, Proxima Centauri (or Proxima for short). Proxima – a red dwarf star – is just over four lightyearsContinue reading “Exo Belts found orbiting Proxima Centauri”

A sensory astronomy show for babies and toddlers

Using an awesome fulldome film created by the Royal Observatory Greenwich, Creative Space has developed a planetarium show suitable for little people as young as 6 months old. Amanda Twyman, PA to the Head of Early Years at Hazelwood School Nursery & Early Years Centre in Oxted, Surrey, challenged us with the task of creating a show thatContinue reading “A sensory astronomy show for babies and toddlers”

Big telescopes: the future is nearly here

For over 400 years, stargazers have aspired to see ever more detail of celestial wonders and ever deeper into space. Melanie Davies reports on a new breed of giant telescopes that will deliver tantalising astronomical data to a new generation of astronomers. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, a raft of 8-meter class, singleContinue reading “Big telescopes: the future is nearly here”

Glowing rings of a dying star

Researchers have found the remains of a planetary system orbiting a white dwarf star. Researchers from the University of Warwick have acquired the first direct image of a debris disc in orbit around the core of a burnt out star. The white dwarf star, SDSS1228+1040, lies about 463 lightyears away in the constellation of Virgo. AlthoughContinue reading “Glowing rings of a dying star”

Star maps

This is one of a series of star maps I’ve just produced for a Stargazing Guide. This will be printed at a fairly tiny size, so I had to limit the amount of detail I put into the illustrations. Leaving things out was the hardest part of this job – especially when there are so manyContinue reading “Star maps”

Eclipse of the supermoon

It’s not often, in southern England, that we get the chance to see a total eclipse of the Moon. But in the early hours of Monday 28th September, I was lucky enough to witness a triple lunar event. Not only was it a total lunar eclipse, it was the largest supermoon of 2015 (being closest to Earth onContinue reading “Eclipse of the supermoon”