Astronomy news

Dawn Update

NASA has released further information about its DAWN mission to the asteroid Vesta - see Vesta's surface has striking diversity in its composition, the spokesman is quoted as saying, particularly around craters. DAWN is now orbiting 420 miles above Vesta and is sending back images of high altitude mapping data (see also videos at

Megalithic Star Watching

It seems cosmic alignments are still in vogue in Germany. They have not been stifled in the same manner as in the UK - or so it would seem. At we are told there is a huge early Celtic calendar construction within the royal tombs of Magdalenenberg in the Black Forest. The order of the burials around the central royal tombs fits exactly, according to a computer simulation,  with the constellations as seen in the sky above Germany.

Comets and the Sun

The old idea that water from comets replenished the water on Earth has had a bit of a revival after NASA scientists discovered a comet with an origin in the Kuiper Belt that had water of a similar composition to water in our oceans.

However, at there is a video that is far more interesting, and comes from the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory that witnessed a comet hitting the Sun on October 1st. Shortly afterwards there was a huge CME - or solar flare - but on the opposite side of the Sun. Are the two events connected?

Mars, Mercury and NEOs

The Messenger spacecraft orbiting Mercury has provided a raft of information - see - from flood volcanism,  crater like depressions, measurements of chemical composition, and lastly, observations of its magnetic field. A series of papers based on Messenger data have been published in Science, Sept 30th 2011.

An exoplanet that gobbles the light but glows in the dark ... and freshwater springs feed the Dead Sea

Yes, at astronomers at Princetown University and the Harvard-Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysics have found a distant exoplanet that absorbs 99.9 per cent of the light that strikes it - why? The planet is non-reflective, it seems, high in hydrogen and helium. It is thought to be a hot planet, however, in spite of being very dark and very alone, as it glows 'thermally' - or that is the explanation. The little light it emits, the glow, is compared to a burner on an electric stove.

A black hole captured by WISE - on video

Now you can see what is thought to be a black hole on video - or bright flaring activity (see ). Whatever it is emits random bursts of energy and can become then three times as bright in a matter of hours, before fading again. It is orbited by a companion star. See the video link at and a paper published in the Astrophysical Journal Letters by a number of scientists from Japan, India, the UK, Europe and US (see also ).

Vesta - the asteroid

A video of NASAs Dawn spacecraft flying past the giant asteroid, Vesta, is available online to view (see Vesta has seasons just like the Earth - and there is a huge circular depression near its South Pole, hundreds of miles wide with cliffs several miles high. A mountain squats in the middle of the depression, nine miles tall. No doubt Thunderbolts in due course may comment on this peculiarity (see also or for mission details etc.

The Grail and the Moon

Gary Gilligan sent in this link to a story about NASAs Grail mission which is set to blast off in an attempt to unravel some of the mysteries of the Moon (see - and one such mystery concerns a paper in Nature that claimed there was once two moons orbiting the earth. The small of the two struck the bigger one and created the bumps and humps on the far side of the Moon.


At ... as a result of the expanding universe, or the belief in an accelerating expansion of the universe, cosmologists have come up with a timetable for the creation of life forms and conclude it is unlikely that intelligent life could have evolved anywhere in the universe prior than the present, basically the last few billion years (source Universe Today). 

Cern CLOUD again ...

The mainstream media is either ignoring the potential of the experiment at CERN or is taking, once again, soundbites from the establishment - as if they would tell them the truth. Various critics have been dragged out of nowhere, possibly not having read the paper, and asked for their opinions. One of them claimed that clouds do not cause cooling ... because it is hot on the surface of Venus and yet there are enormous swirling clouds clogging up its atmosphere. Therefore, it seems, the Sun can't warm the earth - or something like that.