Astronomy news

Tom Van Flandern

Tim Cullen, in a post at Tall Bloke's Talk Shop, 'The Other Big Bang Theory', raises an interesting set of issues, not least another example of consensus dictating the line research should follow, the desired path way so to speak. It is basically all about the Asteroid Belt and where did all those comets come from. Their origin of course has been banished to the far reaches of the solar system, beyond the penetration of telescopes (until recently), in the so called Oort Cloud.

Dark Lightning and Water from Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9

Water from Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 which spectacularly struck Jupiter way back in 1994 appears to have left behind millions of gallons of water, it is claimed - see and the paper is in the April 23rd issue of Astronomy and Astrophysics journal. Telescopes had spotted water above the cloud tops on Jupiter, and this has been known for some time.

Cosmic Rays and Supernovae

At .... speculates on a supernova explosion in AD1006 as texts from the time mention a space light so bright it cast shadows at night. Observations of something unusual in the sky in 1006 come from China, Egypt, Baghdad, Japan and Switzerland. Radio astronomers in 1965 claimed to have identified the culprit, assumed to be a supernova as supernovae were very popular at the time, which exploded and left behind (for the astronomers of 1965 to witness) a 60 light-year diameter shell of glowing gas.

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.