Astronomy news

Origins of the Solar System

The Gordon Research Conference on the Origins of Solar Systems is due to meet from June 28-July 3 2015 at Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, MA, an interdisciplinary meeting bringing together scientists from the fields of meteoritics (meteors), astrophysics, planetary science, extrasolar planets (or exo-planets) and the earth sciences. There are 32 invited speakers and 9 discussion leaders who will talk about the latest research findings -

weibel filamentation instabilities

At ... cosmic magnetic fields is the subject here and something called 'Weibel filamentation instabilities' - a plasma instability present in homgenous, or nearly homogenous. electromagnetic plasmas. It has attracted a fair amount of theoretical interest from plasma physicists and this news release follows the publication of a paper in Nature Physics published in January (2015). Laboratory produced weibels appear to conform to the hypothesis of magnetic field origins and growth.

Rosetta in 'Science'

At ... the journal Science, January 23rd, has published four articles on the Rosetta Mission - so get down to WH Smith's. Mind you, they are still saying the comet is composed of ice, dust, and space debris, a left over of the early days of the solar system. The lens they are looking through may not have changed too much but they are dealing with lots of new information. Describing the visual outline of the comet they say it is roughly the shape of a rubber duck, two lobes connected by a thin neck.

Rosetta ... provisional assessments

At ... NASA writers are telling us that Comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko is gushing water vapour into space - and it has been increasing in volume. The image below was taken in November and faints jets can be seen (via photo enhancement).


another binocular comet

Comet Lovejoy is currently visible in binoculars as a greenish blob approaching the Pleiades, east of Orion. We now have a second comet that has sparked into brightness - Comet Finlay. The TV doctor's namesake can be seen with binoculars in Aquarius, very close to its brightest star. This is located in the SW area of the night sky - for more information go to Http:// ...

Dust and Comets

At ... we learn that the Rosetta Mission to Comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko, otherwise known as 67P, has been displaying evidence of multiple jets of dust issuing forth from the surface, and floating around the near limits of the surface are pockets of dust, and aggregates |(bigger particles of dust) that get caught up in the comet's coma and are left behind in its wake -providing a tail like cloud swept and shaped by the solar wind. Comets are accompanied by a constant cloud of dust ejected from the body itself - and not all of it is of recent origin.

Rocking around the World

On January 26th an asteroid will pass within 3 times the distance of the Earth from the Moon - not exactly a close shave (see ...

The bigger question might be - has the space rock got any smaller pieces of rock in tow, running alongside in resonant orbit and out of kilter with the orbits of other solar system objects it may encounter?

Booming over Oklahoma

At ... a number of mysterious booms have been heard in central Oklahoma - sounding much like sonic booms rather than anything under the ground. Because the booms were heard over such a wide area this has ruled out a connection with fracking, the first culprit as far as the media are concerned. No earthquakes have been noticed at seismic recording stations, and the process known as cryoseisms (frost quakes) have been ruled out. The booms appear to be at the surface or in the atmosphere.

Lovejoy and Magnetic Storm

At Friday January 9th (2014) it is suggested a magnetic storm hit Comet Lovejoy as activity seems to be ocurring in the blue ion tail - a plasma blob billowing down the sinuous tail like stucture. It seems that comet observers frequently witness such events - even though they are not usually discussed in mainstream channels. Plasma blobs and disconnect events are in response to CMEs and gusts of solar wind. In some instances, a comet's tail can actually be torn off the comet.

What a Beauty

      What a beauty. Comet Lovejoy. The image is at, January 7th - there is also a comet photo gallery to browse. Lovejoy is still getting closer to the Sun and may yet surprise us all.