Astronomy news

a gentle auroral flow

  At August 11th .. it seems that for 4 days now the Earth has been inside a stream of fast moving solar wind. However, this has not sparked a geomagnetic storm or any kind of brilliant auroral phenomena. Instead, there has been what is described as a gentle glow of auroral light ringing the poles.

The images was taken by Ian Griffin in New Zealand, looking out over Otago Peninsular.

Euphrosyne asteroids

At ... NASAs WISE mission, which involved an infrared telescope and camera on a spacecraft, discovered a group of dark asteroids known as the Euphrasyne asteroids - which are distributed at the outer edge of the better known asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. They have an unusual orbital path  tha juts wel above the ecliptic. They may also be the remnant of an ancient collision.

asteroid Bennu

At ... in 2016 NASA plans to launch a mission to asteroid Bennu in order to carry out several tasks. One is to map the Near Earth asteroid in order to detect minerals and organic molecules and search for signs of organic life. It will reach the asteroid in 2018 and return to Earth in 2023 - so a good deal of exploration is planned. Another task is to identify chemicals present on the asteroid - via infrared light.

Venus hot

At ... the planet Venus, it tells us, has played a role in the mythology and astrology of countless people around the globe - and even in present times interest in Venus thrives. Lots of consensus stuff - and speculation about why it has not cooled. It seems to be highly volcanic, the atmosphere rich in sulphur dioxide adn with hot spots that may mask fresh lava outflows, oozing out of the surface. Its impact craters have the appearance of being fresh.

space rocks

Lots of links and information now emerging on the Rosetta mission. At ... is a post on Comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko and its interaction with the solar wind. It is the constant battle between the comet and the solar wind that sculpts the ion tail - and Rosetta's instruments are monitoring the detail. Activity has been increasing the closer the comet gets to perihelion - a fortnight away.

Irish eclipses

At ... enigmatic images on a slab of stone at the back end of a cairn on

Curiosity, Zooniverse, Terrains

Mars Curiosity Rover vehicle has found bedrock with high levels of silica - see ... mudstone and sandstone has allso been discovered.

Three bright spots on Ceres are still puzzling scientists - see ... but a now a haze appears to have them stumped (for a while). Are the white spots ice or salt - or something else. Last year ESA scientists spotted water vapour emanating from the surface of Ceres - is thee a conncetion with the haze (or mist) and the white spots.

lots on Pluto this past week

The flyby of Pluto by a NASA mission to the far reaches of the solar system has caught the imagination of the media, and Joe Public. At ... we have icy mountains on Pluto and some nice pictures of Charon, its largest moon (Pluto has 5 moons). A close up image of an equatorial region of Pluto shows up a mountain range with peaks as high as 11,000 feet. There is also a large heart shaped feature - probably ice. Charon on the other hand has a 6 mile long canyon.


Useful links as we are having a talk on comets at our autumn speaker meeting. At ... Comet PanSTARRS made an appearance in northern skies in June on the NE horizon, at around dawn. In early July it became vaguely visible in the evening in southern latitudes. At perihelion it was 28 million miles away from the Sun, much closer than the Rosetta comet will come next month.

green skies

At ... more on the space weather baloon mission by students, 'Earth to Sky Calculus' and a nice image, below, of green skies over Minnesota. These occurred without a solar storm, and though they look like aurora, they are not.

... the phenomenon is known as 'air glow' and is caused by chemical reactions in the atmosphere caused by ultraviolet radiation.