Astronomy news

The guts of Ceres

At ... some tens of thousands of photographs of Ceres were returned by NASAs Dawn spacecraft - but none of them could peer inside the asteroid. However, scientists were able to measur the gravity of Ceres and the results are published in the journal Nature (August 2016). It seems the interior of Ceres is not as dense as the Earth - or the Moon (or even the asteroid Vesta that Dawn visited prior to Ceres). Does this mean Ceres was once a comet?

Proton Arc

At Monday Aug 1 2016 ... it seems a mysterious form of aurora can be seen on occasion, known as the proton arc. The image below was taken in Alberta. These are tight ribbons of light that pulse and dance with the northern lights

Surt Volcano

At ... in 2001 an eruption from the Surt volcano on the Jupiter facing hemisphere of Io had an estimated output of 78,000 Gigawatts of energy. Earthbound volcanoes pan out at around 12 Gigawatts.

Red Spot

At ... Jupiter's red spot heats up the upper atmosphere, thereby explaining the anomalous high temperatures that can hardly be the result of sunshine. Jupiter is five times distant from the Earth yet has an atmospheric temperature little different from that of our planet. The source of the non-solar energy has been a mystery - now they think they might have cracked it. The paper, in the July issue of Nature, to too early to be influenced by the current space mission to Jupiter.

Mammatus Clouds

Mammatus clouds are so named for their similarity to cow udders and underbelly

early arrival

July 19th and 20th, the arrival of a G1 geomagnetic storm following the early arrival of a CME originally expected on the 21st. Expect some nice auroras if you live in high latitudes, especially in the southern hemisphere. Meanwhile, take a gander at this, a picture of a stork's nest in Poland with a background in the sky of noctilucent clouds - see

Unstable sun spot

   An unstable sun spot has emerged on the face of the Sun after a few weeks of almost zero activity. We might be in for a solar flare. Currently the sun spots are directly facing the Earth but as the Sun rotates they will be aiming at another point in the solar system. See (July 17th 2016).

Double Halo

At (July 15th 2016) ... it seems the big sun spot is not acive. It has a stable magnetic field and there is no chance of a flare over the next few days. Noctilucent clouds are the highest clouds in the atmosphere, forming at the edge of space some 80km above the surface of the earth. They are caused by wisps of water vapour that wrap themselves around the smoke of incoming meteors. There are therefore lots of meteors interacting with the upper atmosphere - especially at this time of year. The resulting ice crystals glow electric blue in the night sky.

Gravitational Vortex

At ... the ESAs orbiting X-ray observatory has 'proved' the existence of a 'gravitational vortex' around a black hole. The study, which included NASA data from the NuSTAR mission, has solved a 30 year mystery we are told. The theory is that as matter falls into a black hole it heats up as it plunges into doom, swallowed by the black hole. At that point of very high temperature it shines x-rays into space.

spinning universe

At ... a new dwarf planet discovered beyond Neptune ....