Bouncing boulders on Comet 67P

Close-up of 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 the … Continue reading Looking East: The rise of the Chinese Space Programme

Practical astronomy made simple

I have learnt so much today. The information just flows out of Melanie! I couldn't believe how quickly the day went. Student from Practical Astronomy one-day workshop

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 to … Continue 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 feature … Continue reading A new Saturnian hexagon high above the clouds

Exo Belts found orbiting Proxima Centauri

Artist’s impression of the dust belts around 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 lightyears … Continue reading Exo Belts found orbiting Proxima Centauri

A sensory astronomy show for babies and toddlers

The Rainbow Star

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 that … Continue reading A sensory astronomy show for babies and toddlers

Big telescopes: the future is nearly here

European Extremely Large Telescope in its Enclosure

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, single … Continue reading Big telescopes: the future is nearly here

Earth-like planet detected orbiting nearby star

A group of scientists, led by Guillem Anglada-Escudé at Queen Mary University in London, have detected what they believe is the nearest terrestrial planet to our Solar System.  Using the radial velocity technique, aided by instruments at the European Southern Observatory, astronomers have produced a lightcurve of a nearby variable star. The red dwarf, Proxima … Continue reading Earth-like planet detected orbiting nearby star

Glowing rings of a dying star

Glowing debris ring around white dwarf 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. Although … Continue reading Glowing rings of a dying star

Star maps

Star Map

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 many … Continue reading Star maps