Astronomy news

Maya and Venus

At ... researchers in Mexico have discovered a Maya observatory that was aligned to the Sun - and it was also aligned to track the movement of the planet Venus. It dates from between 300 and 600AD, long after claims Venus once had an errant orbit so what other explanation can be garnered. Were they tracking an object that had once behaved a lot like Venus - or were they tracking an object that had an orbit that resembled some parts of the orbit of Venus.

Planet 9 captured

We have recently had the theory Planet 9 was a supernova fragment - now we have another hypothesis. At ... a computer simulation at Lund University in Sweden has claimed Planet 9 is an exoplanet. This means it is perhaps the first explanet detected in our solar system - assuming none of the planets have such an origin. The idea is that four and a half billion years ago the young Sun captured the exoplanet, stealing it from a passing star system.


In December of 2017 the near earth asteroid Phaethon will pass close to the orbit of the Earth (18 months from now) coming within 10 million miles and opening up an opportunity for scientists to study it. They are already preparing research aims and deciding on the equipment for observation - see


A hexagonal form of diamond later known as lonsdaleite was identifed for the first time inside or alongside fragments of the Canyon Diablo meteorite, the object that created the Barringer Crater in Arizona. It has subsequently become important to research into cosmic collisions with the earth - and specifically with hypothesized atmospheric explosions. These include the Younger Dryas Boundary event, the Tunguska explosion and the Ries crater in Germany. It will also be relevant to the search for Biblical Sodom and various late 3rd millennium soil samples dating from the end of Akkad.

Arizona fireball

At (June 2nd 2016) we learn that on the 4th and 5th of June the Earth will say hello to a stream of solar wind and auroras are expected. This is the same stream of material the Earth encountered in early May when aurora were visible over northern and middle Britain. Let's hope the clouds disperse. However, the big news is the Arizona fireball - and how big an object it might have been (various reports appear to exaggerate the size). All we can say is that it was a big meteor that exploded in a bright flash of light. The ground shook from the explosion.


At ... the amino acid glycine was detected by the Rosetta Mission to Comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko according to a paper in Science Advances (May 2016). Another ingredient was phosphorus - two key elements of DNA and cell membranes, which suggests comets have the ability to deliver key molecules and set life in motion. More than 100 molecules have been detected in various comets and in their dust and gas clouds. These include many amino acids.

Space Weather

At ... are mystery Mars plumes caused by space weather? Back in 2012 a cloud like plume was spotted high above the surface of Mars. The orbiting spacecraft was not in a position to analyse what had happened but the Mars Express did make measurements of plasma and solar wind activity. It seems a huge CME event struck Mars.


Slam Dank

Jupiter is hit by between 6 or 7 large impacts each year on average according to a group of amateur astronomers from around the world - see

wind and x-rays

At ... a paper in May's issue of Nature concerns the discovery of intense winds found in the near neighbourhood of a black hole. It is capable of expelling material from the gravitational field around the black hole we are told, and seems to follow on from an outburst event after a long period of quiescence - 25 years. During the outburst brightness increased one million times and it temporarily became the brightest x-ray source in the sky.

Pluto behaving badly

At ... Pluto's interaction with the solar wind is unique we are told. According to a study in the Journal of Geophysical Research - Space Physics (May 2016) Pluto behaves in a sort of halfway fashion between a comet and a planet when it encounters the plasma of the solar wind (the story is also at Daily Galaxy blog and Universe Today).