Astronomy news

asteroid Vesta

NASAs Dawn spacecraft has produced a close up study of the asteroid, Vesta - see Vesta has a diameter of around 330 miles but surprisingly has a core, a mantle, and a crust - which seems more like a planet than an asteroid (see also )

A comet hitting the Sun

We might all be interested in what the Electric Universe theory people might say about this but the post, and a video, can be found at and it will no doubt be viewed by many people around the world. A Sun grazing comet is caught by SOHO (the joint NASA/ESA enterprise) LASCO C2 camera as it dives into the Sun's heliosphere. It happened in July of last year but the paper has just been published in Science.

100 billion planets in our galaxy

This story can be found at a variety of places, and was also sent in by member Gary Gilligan ( but can also be found at where it claims the Milky Way galaxy contains a minimum of 100 billion planets - all based on statistical methodology as a result of the detection of three exoplanets by microlensing.

Earth and Moon(s)

Gary Gilligan sent in a link on this story a few days ago ( - and here it is again at Since 2006 astronomers have been tracking small secondary moons that our own Earth/Moon system captures, temporarily, before they escape back into space - but what if the earth did once have a second permanent moon, or moonlets.

The comet that grazed the Sun and survived

This story, with a video to view, can be found at after various satellites witnessed Comet Lovejoy fly close to the surface of the Sun and emerge intact. Of course, the orthodox explanation that comets have an icy core is what baffled and surprised scientists - how could a dirty snowball survive such a close encounter? The obvious answer is that it was not an icy body - but rocky (just like those comets spacecraft have filmed in deeper space). Its surprising really just how attached people are to the dirty snowball hypothesis.

On the Pulse

Are pulsars giant permanent magnets? is the question being asked at with an image of a jet of plasma being ejected from on of its rotational poles - described as radiation. When the beams of material (radiation or plasma) are aligned towards the Earth instruments detect a pulse, hence what is otherwise known as a Neutron star is known as a Pulsar star. How do the magnetic fields of pulsars form and behave? It seems a new theory is suggesting pulsars are permanent magnets and surprisingly stable.

Dark Matter - fact or fiction

The science of dark matter - or the theory that such a thing as dark matter is a real life fact is in the news - see Is anybody getting close to finding out what it is? The pieces then goes on to say dark matter is invoked to balance the mathematics - within a set of formulae which are already straining credibility by telling us 96 per cent of the universe is invisible and undetectable. However, dark matter also explains galaxies and galaxy clusters, it is thought.

Pock marked Mercury

At we learn that NASAs Messenger spacecraft has discovered strange hollows on the surface of Mercury - at a variety of latitudes and longitudes. They range in size from 60 feet wide to over a mile across. As there is no atmosphere, as such, on Mercury, they could not have been moulded by wind or rain - so the thinking goes. So what carved the holes from the rocky crust that are up to 120 feet deep?

A comet broke up in the 19th century - very close to the earth?

Two Mexican astronomers have uploaded a paper onto the prepress server arXiv concerning objects passing in front of the Sun in 1883, surrounded by a hazy mist. They think it was fragments of a comet that must have come apart very near the Earth. At the time, photographs of the object were explained away as bugs on the camera lens, casting aspersions on the astronomer that presented his findings to the French astronomical association.

The Flat Universe?

At ... it seems that in recent years cosmologists have discovered the universe is flat - or purportedly so. This is in spite of its apparent accelerating expansion. Why should it expand flatly? Why would the Big Bang be wholly one dimensional - why not spray outwards? The blame is being put on dark energy.