Astronomy news

Sun Spot AR2003

A sizeable sun spot is attracting the attention of astronomers - go to March 11th (scroll down to the page of that date). It has tripled in size in just a week and may have more than a dozen drk cores across the face of the Sun - see image below. This was sent in bny Karzaman Ahmad from the Langkuwi National Observatory in Malaysia. He photographed it using an 11 inch Celeston telescope capped with a Glass Filter. NASA took a movie, over 48 hours, of the sun spot growing in size, rapidly.

Planets and Red Dwarf Stars

At ... and ... a paper published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, by astronomers from the University of Hertfordshire, and from Chile, report the discovery of eight small planets orbiting red dwarf stars. It is estimated by the researchers that a lot of red dwarfs, which make up three quarters of the stars in the universe, have planets in orbit.

Gerald Hawkins

Gerald Hawkins, who recently died, generally had a bad press in mainstream. They never liked the theory in his book 'Stonehenge Decoded' and neither am I saying it was or that it had anything to do with an eclipse predictor, a most unlikely effort for such a humdrum event. In 1974 Hawkins surveyed the Karnak Temple alignment, following on from Norman Lockyer in the early 20th century.

Chelyabinsk ... space agencies now serious

The Chelyabinsk meteor appears to have woken up some bods in various space agencies - on the threat from space posed by Near Earth Objects (or NEOs) - see The power on display in the video included in the link is pretty awsome. It has meant the astronomy world have had to evaluate the threat from space. For example, the NEOWISE mission has been reinaugurated by NASA and ESA has reactivated search options in the hope that lots more of these space rocks can be pinned down, as far as orbit and threat is concerned.

Kappa Cassiopeiae

Kappa Cassipeiae is a speeding star. It creates a bow wave in its wake as it crosses the sky of the universe. See

   It is classified as a runaway star that is speeding away from neighbours.

Solar storm behaving just like a supernova ... what does this mean?

At ... the headlines read, astronomers find solar storms behave like supernovae. What really are supernovae? Researchers have discovered that coronal mass ejections, or CMEs, behave just like what they can see happening in their telescopes in deep space. A massive eruption on the Sun in 2011 provided some interesting images. The huge ejection of material mostly fell back into the Sun - which appears to parallel what happens during supernova events, large amounts of material falling back with fingers breaking out.

Nitrogen and Comet ISON

At ... it might have been a damp squib for the EU people as Comet ISON has disappeared, blown to smithereens as it approached too close to the Sun, but it has actually come up with an intriguing bit of information. Japanese astronomers who monitored the comet during its bright outburst in the middle of last November, at the Suburu Telescope's High Dispersion Spectrograph, detected two forms of nitrogen - one of them a rare isotope.

Is Venus burping?

At ... we learn that Venus behaves strangely as a result of the solar wind, almost as if it has the hiccups or is burping. Giant perturbations, dubbed 'hot flow anomalies' are caused by the solar wind interacting with the atmosphere of Venus. They seem to pull the upper layers, the ionosphere, upwards, causing undulations and stretching the atmosphere outwards. The solar wind impacts with the ionosphere of the Earth but the effects on Venus are more dramatic. The whole planet is affected and they can happen many times in a day.

Einstein and Red Shift, some pulsar pulsing goings on, and blinking black holes

At ... we are told Einstein didn't accept the expanding universe theory for a long time but later found it was a way to ease problems he had with gravity, and eventually accepted it as a means of closing down that problem. That is, reading between the lines - not always a good idea.

At ... NASAs Chandra X-ray Observatory has seen a fast moving pulsar escaping from what is thought to be a supernovae remnant while spewing out a jet of high energy particles.

The Jam Jelly Doughnut - the rock on Mars

At ... the mysterious rock that caused a fuss a week or so back - it looked like a jelly donut/jam doughnut, turns out to be a piece of lunar rock, white on the outside, and red in the centre. It was not a Martian mushroom (among some of the ideas).