Astronomy news

Rosetta in 'Science'

At ... the journal Science, January 23rd, has published four articles on the Rosetta Mission - so get down to WH Smith's. Mind you, they are still saying the comet is composed of ice, dust, and space debris, a left over of the early days of the solar system. The lens they are looking through may not have changed too much but they are dealing with lots of new information. Describing the visual outline of the comet they say it is roughly the shape of a rubber duck, two lobes connected by a thin neck.

Rosetta ... provisional assessments

At ... NASA writers are telling us that Comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko is gushing water vapour into space - and it has been increasing in volume. The image below was taken in November and faints jets can be seen (via photo enhancement).


another binocular comet

Comet Lovejoy is currently visible in binoculars as a greenish blob approaching the Pleiades, east of Orion. We now have a second comet that has sparked into brightness - Comet Finlay. The TV doctor's namesake can be seen with binoculars in Aquarius, very close to its brightest star. This is located in the SW area of the night sky - for more information go to Http:// ...

Dust and Comets

At ... we learn that the Rosetta Mission to Comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko, otherwise known as 67P, has been displaying evidence of multiple jets of dust issuing forth from the surface, and floating around the near limits of the surface are pockets of dust, and aggregates |(bigger particles of dust) that get caught up in the comet's coma and are left behind in its wake -providing a tail like cloud swept and shaped by the solar wind. Comets are accompanied by a constant cloud of dust ejected from the body itself - and not all of it is of recent origin.

Rocking around the World

On January 26th an asteroid will pass within 3 times the distance of the Earth from the Moon - not exactly a close shave (see ...

The bigger question might be - has the space rock got any smaller pieces of rock in tow, running alongside in resonant orbit and out of kilter with the orbits of other solar system objects it may encounter?

Booming over Oklahoma

At ... a number of mysterious booms have been heard in central Oklahoma - sounding much like sonic booms rather than anything under the ground. Because the booms were heard over such a wide area this has ruled out a connection with fracking, the first culprit as far as the media are concerned. No earthquakes have been noticed at seismic recording stations, and the process known as cryoseisms (frost quakes) have been ruled out. The booms appear to be at the surface or in the atmosphere.

Lovejoy and Magnetic Storm

At Friday January 9th (2014) it is suggested a magnetic storm hit Comet Lovejoy as activity seems to be ocurring in the blue ion tail - a plasma blob billowing down the sinuous tail like stucture. It seems that comet observers frequently witness such events - even though they are not usually discussed in mainstream channels. Plasma blobs and disconnect events are in response to CMEs and gusts of solar wind. In some instances, a comet's tail can actually be torn off the comet.

What a Beauty

      What a beauty. Comet Lovejoy. The image is at, January 7th - there is also a comet photo gallery to browse. Lovejoy is still getting closer to the Sun and may yet surprise us all.

Black Hole refrains from eating lunch but lets out a giant burp

At ... the NASA Chandra X-ray Observatory has detected  huge x-ray from a supermassive black hole at the heart of the Milky Way galaxy. The astronomers had been looking at something else - which proved to be a damp squib. They had been tracking a giant cloud of gas that was predicted to come close enough to the black hole to provide its lunch - with fireworks as an accompaniment. The black hole stoically refused to acknowledge the presence of the gas cloud. Perhaps it had a touch of colic as it let out a burp - a massive x-ray flare.

Dilation of Time

At ... there is a fascinating abstract derived from an article in the December 23rd issue of PLOS ONE online journal, 'Implication of an Absolute Simultaneity Theory for Cosmology and Universe Acceleration' which suggests dark energy is not necessarily a factor in the expansion of the universe. It is all about the idea of time dilation and a different way of looking at Einstein's theory of relativity.