Astronomy news

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).

Is the Moon fading away?

Not perhaps fading as moving away - go to ... the Apollo astronauts and Soviet Russian'Moon Rovers' left various things behind on the visits to the moon - including reflectors. These are now being used to bounce laser beams at them in order to measure the distance between the moon and earth and if it varies. According to the results, it may well do. Whether this is a pecularity of the orbit of the Moon or something else is the nub of the debate.

The birth of planets, magnetic loops, and space dust

At ...  a paper in Astrophysical Research Letters by scientists from Bistol's 'School of Physics' concerns a computer simulation of how planets form around binary star systems - using a model that calculates the effects of gravity and physical collisions. Space billiards appear to be acceptable objects of discussion nowadays, but the nub of the research findings was they thought the vicinity of stars, especially binary stars, was hostile to planetary formation. They were more likely to be captured at a later date.