Astronomy news

Sun Spots - mystery solved?

At (and see also March 3rd for the same story but with lots of comments). Scientists think they have solved how the Sun works - and have produced a computer model on its past performances. The real meat is yet to come - can they predict how the Sun will behave in the future?

The earth is being bombarded by space dust - but where does it come from?

The story is at and no doubt at the NASA web site too. NASA are saying that every day 100 tons of meteoroids - frangments of dust and gravel and sometimes small rocks enters the atmosphere of the earth - but it is unclear from what source. It is generally assumed the passage of comets leave behind trails of debris after they round the Sun.

More on that comet fly by

NASA has released a video which can be seen at of the recent, Feb 14th/15th flyby of Comet Tempel1 by the Stardust spacecraft.

Elenin Update

Various strange web sites have picked up on Comet Elenin and the faact that initially, its trajectory was at around 8 astronomical units (au) from the orbit of the earth but this figure has since been revised to  0.15 au with the prospect earth will pass through its debris trail in November. The story also appears at Feb 21st, and provides a number of web sites to view further information.

Forbush Decrease

At ... a forbush decrease is apparently a rapid decrease in the observed cosmic ray intensity following a coronal mass ejection. It occurs as a result of the magnetic field of the solar wind sweeping some of the galactic cosmic rays away from the earth - and that is going on right now.

The giant planet that just won't show its face to the camera

See a giant planet bigger than Jupiter is lurking in the Oort Cloud, is the claim. Strangely the author quotes the dodgy science newspaper, The Independent - which appears to claim the recent WISE mission found a new super planet in our solar system. The WISE scientists on the other hand deny any such thing, not surprisingly, but with some negativity that has fueled the conspiracy theories.

Comets and Comet Elenin

SIS member JC Hanselman provided the following link, but wait for the Java applet to load (some security systems may reject this as a potential threat to your computer). This link is not working now and has probably been archived.

A Giant Flare, a new super planet, and NEOs are zipping past the earth at the rate of one a day

At we learn that satellites have detected the biggest solar flare in 5 years - produced from a giant sun spot (in reality a series of small sun spots that accumulated in a small region of the sun's surface). It is the strongest type of X-ray flare and the first of solar cycle 24. What is surprising is that the surface of the Sun otherwise remains extremely quiet - without another blemish.

Asteroid 2011 CQI

At Feb ruary 12th 2011, in the midst of several very outdated postings, is this one. A small asteroid, or large meteor, came within 5480km of the earth's surface last week. The approach was close enough to alter the orbit of the object, shifting it by 60 degrees - and nobody saw it coming?

Moon Water

At we have three stories - one is on Titan's cirrus clouds as recorded by the Cassini spacecraft, another on massive starbirthing events as witness by ESAs Herschel infrared telescope and the last one is all about a new theory on water on the Moon, as picked up by India's Chandrayaan spacecraft. A paper will be published in the Journal of Geophysical Research.