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16 January 2016

Zooming in on black holes is the main task of a newly installed instrument at ESOs telescope in Chile. The instrument combines the ligh from multiple telescopes to form a 'virtual' telescope 200m across via interferometry. This enables astronomers to detect much finer detail – see http://phys.org/print371903886.html

Meanwhile, comet Catalina is parading her skirts – see http://phys.org/print371900760.html

Catalina is a binocular comet and astro-photographers have been clicking away. It shows clearly the way its dust tail is blown back by the solar wind and is charge pointing away from the Sun. One might imagine an ancient sky watcher wondering what had happened to the tail, clearly visible trailing behind the comet as it approached the Sun. Is this the origin of the idea of Samson losing his hair – a comet reaching the Sun and the tail, or long hair, apparently disappearing as the tail moves from back to front.

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