Astronomy news

flares 'a'comin'

  the Sun is not quiet. It is brewing up a storm. Go to www.spaceweather.com ... and just beyond the Sun's eastern horizon it is crackling. Image taken from NASAs Solar Dynamics Observatory on 21st December, the longest night of the year (in our neck of the woods). The crackling monster will rotate over towards a more direct location in the coming days - just in time for Christmas.

Mark Bailey

Our Autumn speaker in Watford, Mark Bailey, is in the news - see http://phys.org/print369576018.html

Cerus and Rosetta

Robert Farrar sent in four links, the first of which concern findings from the DAWN spacecraft visit to the asteroid Ceres - now written up and published in the journals. See for example http://news.sciencemag.org/space/2015/12/dwarf-planet-ceres-may-harbor-c... .... http://www.astrobio.net/topic/solar-system/meatoritescomets-and-asteroid... .... and http://universetoday.com/115634/stinky-rosettas-comet-smells-like-rotten...

S2 PanSTARRS

At http://phys.org/print369482077.html ... we are told Comet C/2014 S2 PanSTARRS will be visible in binoculars in late December, as it crosses the circumpolar northern skies. A Christmas comet - but will it provide a show and spring to life.

Meanwhile, Comet Catalina can still be seen with binoculars and this will remain so into January. We shall also hae a full moon of 25th December. If it is dry and the clouds are absent for a few hours you might get to see the comet - and the moon.

a warm spot in the heart of Venus

At http://phys.org/print369509807.html ... Russian, American and European scientists are claiming they have found a warm layer in the atmosphere of Venus, the nature of which is unknown. This has been a theme on the Eric Aitchison email thread (mainly discussing revised chronology issues) with some interesting links and references.

Gna

Gna is the Nordic god that has the attribute of being swift. Swedish astronomers think they might have spotted a swift moving object at the edge of the solar  system. Funnily enough a group of Mexican astronomers also think they have spotted something moving in the outer reaches of the solar  system. Both teams have been looking at data from ALMA (a cluster of radio dishes in the mountains of Chile).

two tails

You've heard of 'two brains' Willetts (who never rose above the froth) but here we have a comet sporting two tails. 

Sun games

  At www.spaceweather.com (December 3rd, 2015) - coronal holes are where the Sun's magnetic field opens and allows the solar wind to escape. Hot plasma flows outwards at speeds exceeding a million miles per hour. The above image is in extreme ultra violet - hence the blue colour. The boundaries of the coronal hole are traced by dashed lines - arrows indicate the escape of hot plasma.

sun activity

no sun spots at the moment. Coronal hole has gone on walkabouts. What we looking at here is a Sun without sun spots but with something brewing in the nether regions as the surface of the Sun appears to be heaving. According to www.spaceweather.com the surface is full of solar prominences, magnetised plasma jutting tens of thousands of km upwards. The image was captured by the Solar Dynamics Observatory and they say none of these structures are stable.