Astronomy news

What a Whopper

   At - April 11th ... The solar minimum is looking less likely with the emergence of a big sun spot, doubling in size over the weekend.

Restless Comet

At ... ESAs Rosetta spacecraft beamed back data from the atmosphere, or coma of Comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko with evidence of a crystalline form of ice known as clathrates - see the April issue of Science Advances  journal. The mystery is that if the comet is composed of building blocks of crystalline ices and clathrates the comet must have conglomerated near the Sun - in the proto solar nebula. Water clathrates contain gas molecules - volatiles locked inside.

Planet Nine

Presumably Planet Nine is Planet X - without the nut job element (keeping academics safe in their leather chairs). At ... astronomers seem to be getting excited about the possible the possibility of Planet Nine and they have gone so far as to try and track its orbit - see also

solar system electric currents

At April 7th and 8th 2016 ... we have news of a geomagnetic storm on April 7th - but with a difference. Although a giant sun spot is brewing on the face of the Sun this geomagnetic storm was caused by the Earth crossing a 'fold in the heliospheric current sheet' - plunging our planet into a region of space with 'negative polarity' magnetic fields. This sparked the colourful light show in the polar skies. Bright aurora appeared around the Arctic Circle. The image below was taken in Norway

sniffing Pluto

At ... the solar wind generates fast moving space particles and cosmic rays and these have been recorded in the vicinity of Pluto - heading towards the boundaries of the solar system. You can also see the story at

all the light in the universe

This is one of those odd postings, with the question being asked - is there more light and energy out there in space than astronomers can account for - go to

Moon and Earth's magnetic field

Scientists are speculating as to why Earth has a magnetic field - and what generates it. At ... the gravitational effects associated with the presence of the Moon and the Sun cause cyclical deformation of the Earth's mantle and creates wob bles in Earth's rotation axis. This mechanical forcing as applied to the planet as a whole affects the strong currents in the 'outer' core - what is thought to be made of a liquid iron ally of low viscosity.

Planet X

Planet X is back in the news - as noted last week. However, some old proponents of Planet X have now had a say - go to We even have an article on Planet X in the prestigious journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society . Caltech researchers have revived the idea that Planet X may periodically cause mass extinctions on the Earth. How? Apparently the idea is that it periodically triggers a shower of comets, as it journeys the far reaches of the solar system.

Jupiter Bash

At .... where you can access a video of a comet or asteroid striking the gas giant Jupiter. Even Phil Plait acknowledges an 'actual impact' but the video sequence was recorded by Gerrit Kernbauer of Austria (an amateur astronomer). He put the sequence on You Tube on March 17th and it has taken that long for mainstream astronomers to catch up. It was also verified by John McKeon of Ireland and therefore was confirmed at an early stage.