Astronomy news

Heaven and Hell

At ... there is another invocation of hell ... but this time accompanied by heaven ...

The 'blurb' came about in result of the picture above, colourful beauty shimmering behind a dark cloud of dust and gas in the constellation of Serpens (the Serpent).

The six armed asteroid ... update

Wal Thornhill has a take on that six spoked asteroid reported last week. Go to

8 million km long ...

At ... Comet ISON is getting brighter and brighter as we approach the end of November encounter with the Sun. Its tail now extends 8 million km behind the nucleus - 21 times the distance between the Earth and the Moon. Not as fantastic as some of the historical comets - but enough to get astronomers fairly excited.

Red Spot and WISE, the giver of plenty

At ... Jupiter's red spot, is a giant vortice that is supposed to lose energy by radiating heat and is suspended between two jet streams flowing in opposite directions - which is also supposed to weaken it. The red spot manages to survive in spite of the various computer models that say it should not. Here is another one.

Getting at what is going on as ISON brightens

Two more posts on Comet ISON - at ... NASAs Messenger spacecraft, orbiting Mercury, has captured images of Comet ISON - and Comet Encke.

At ... a NASA funded team are going to launch the Far-ultraviolet Off Rowland-circly Telescope for Imaging and Spectroscopy to measure the presence of molecules and atoms in Comet ISON. This appears to be an important study which should determine what is actually going on as ISON brightens.

It's Getting Brighter

At ... an outburst from Comet ISON. There is a sharp increase in the brightness and it is now on the threshold of naked eye observation.

Comets and Science

The previous post may have been angled to show people in the Middle Ages were irrational when it comes to comets, in comparison with the view of science in the 21st century. At ... we learn that Comet ISON is a fossil from the far reaches of the solar system, which will shortly accomplish its passage around the Sun prior to heading back out again to the fossil fields of the Oort Cloud. As it comes closer to the Sun it will be picked up by the STEREO twin probes which monitor the Sun and how it affects space weather.

Strange behaviour in asteroids

At ... the Hubble Space Telescope has found an asteroid sporting six comet like tails arching from an object in the Asteroid Belt (P/2013P5). Why the object has decided to eject streams of dust is unclear. One explanation is tha the asteroid's rotation rate has increased - causing it to belch out loads of dust and debris. Radiation from the Sun causes the dust to look like bright streamers. The paper is published in Astrophysical Journal Letters (Nov, 7th).

The mystery of black holes in the early universe

At ... it sounds a bit like a hypothetical mystery created by a hypothetical model. The growth of black holes to supermassive scales in the young universe seems only possible if the seed mass of the collapsing object was already sufficiently large.

Mars and Meteorites

A meteorite find in the US in the 1930s has been under the microscope - see Research has shown the meteorite, or space rock, had an origin on Mars - and it landed on Earth around 3000 years ago (roughly at the end of the Bronze Age).