Astronomy news

Calendrical paper, must read

Brian Sherwood Jones sent in this link on the Maya calendar - go to

One Thousand black holes captured by the Chandra X-ray telescope

Yes, one thousand black holes have been seen. In reality, beams of light have been captured and these are assumed to mark black holes - see

It claims material falling into the black hole generates the flashes of intense light that are detected by optical telescopes. Black holes, it is theorised, are galactic nuclei - and every galaxy has a black hole for a heart.

Black Hole eats Giant Planet

This story is at ... so what was actually seen, a feasting event, some munching and consuming, or what? Not a great deal it seems. What is most obvious is that the black hole didn't finish its meal - in fact it may not have eaten anything at all, but it is assumed it did (digging its teeth around the surface of the planet, it is suggested, as most of the planet appears to have been left intact, or all of it for all we know).

Raining Rings

At ... a 'rain' of charged water particles falls over large areas of Saturn according to NASA funded research at the University of Leicester. The 'ring rain' quenches the ionosphere of Saturn and reduced electron densities where it falls ... and so on.

Discovering Dark Matter

We had the Higgs bosun discovery and now it looks like we might have the vaunted dark matter nailed down - see The Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer has picked up something peculiar - which might be dark matter. It could be picking up something quite different it is admitted, such as a pulsar. As we are thought to live in a sea of dark matter the hard money is on the discovery and this is how it has been presented to mainstream media. If they can pin down dark matter astro-physicists will put some flesh to their theory, but watch this space.

Mercury and Venus

Was Mercury once a moon of Venus. It seems Tom Van Flandern posed this question quite some years ago - but is there anything to it? See what you think at


Laurence Dixon responded to the In the News piece on barycentric orbits on March 29th by making the point that under Newton's laws of gravity two bodies will orbit around their common centre of mass = their barycentre. In that way the blog site in that piece was somewhat misleading as orthodox astronomers use this fact all the time when interpreting binary stars. In the solar system the barycentre of any one planet with the Sun is withing the Sun's radius, but not at its centre. Similarly, the Earth - Moon barycentre is within the radius of the Earth.

Tides and Time

At ... the question is what kick started life on Earth. It recognises the possibility of panspermia but on this occasion its interest is on terrestrially based origins for life, and in particular looks at the role of the Moon on life.

Barycentric Orbits

Tall Bloke is enthusiastic about barycentric orbits - but do they exist? I had visualised the 90,000 plus years cycle of the Sun around its barycentre as perhaps having an association with the Milankovitch 100,000 year cycle, an otherwise small affect and yet the 100,000 year cycle is clearly visible in proxy data such as foraminifera on the sea bed.

The Moon

At ... some suprising ideas on the Moon. Apparently, the so called 'lunar cataclysm' began when the gas giants repositioned themselves in the solar system, it is hypothesized, destablising in the process the asteroid belt and triggering a solar system bombardment. Well, I nver.