Astronomy news

Van Allen Belts and Black Holes

NASAs mission to probe the Van Allen belts has found a third ring of high energy 12,000 miles above the surface of the Earth. It only lasted a short while, however, as it disappeared after four weeks as a result of another burst of solar wind. The third belt, it is now thought, was formed by a huge solar eruption in late August - see

Asteroids with tails, things that go bump, and a new comet is paying us all a visit

At ... asteroids aren't supposed to have tails. Comets do. We now have ten exceptions to the rule. Spanish astronomers have observed another one - a tail that appeared in 2011. Why? Their dust and gas emission activity is just like comets - but is intermittent. Resaerchers struggle to account for the unexpected resurgence of tail activity to suggest there was some kind of collision involved which sparked the shearing of debris, and another explanation involves the spin being ruptured for some unknown reason. A dead comet?

Fibonacci, the Golden Ratio, and the Solar System

Interesting post up at Tall Bloke's Talk Shop who reckons he can discern a Fibonacci series and the Golden Ratio in the way the solar system works - go to and this will be one of the themes in the upcoming conference at Leeds University.

In one of those coincidences, there is a paper on fibonacci series and the golden ratio in other areas of nature - see

A wee rock skits between the satellites

At .... EM Smith is having a look at asteroid 2012DA14 which is due to whizz past the Earth on 15th February - inside the orbit of lots of stuff out there minding their own business, including space junk. It will pass just 17,200 miles from the surface - inside the trajectory of a number of communications satellites. Wow. See also ....

An asteroid mystery

At ... we learn that the recently visited asteroid Vesta might have had a very active inner life (but early in the history of the solar system). This is derived from a meteorite found in the Sahara desert and linked to the asteroid by their comparable chemical and isotopic signatures. The space rock had similarities in structure to igneous rocks found on Earth - and does that mean it was igneous on Vesta?

Lengths of Day, Orbit of Venus, Planetary Rotation

Tall Bloke's Talk Shop has an interesting series by Tim Cullen (retired and living in Malaga) - go to and ... in which the piece concerning Venus might tempt the taste buds of SIS members. Venus appears to rotate very slowly - in the opposite direction to the general rotation of the solar system.

A Train of Meteorites on a visit to the Earth

In 1913 there was a grand procession of over a hundred meteors, all following each other in a well regimented manner, that blazed its way across the sky - see ... over North America and down the middle of the South Atlantic (recorded in various ships logs). In the Feb 2013 issue of Sky and Telescope some recent research will be published by astronomers Olson and Hutcheon. They document evidence of the train of meteorites across 7000 miles in a clear line of trajectory.

Chandra Wickramasinghe

One of our favourite scientists has claimed extraterrestrial life has been found in a meteorite - see and predictably not everyone is happy about this - see Another interesting facet of this story is that Wickramasinghe claims the meteorite came from the Taurid complex and is specifically associated with an impact on Sri Lanka, at Polonnaruwa - see also www.journal

Them Holes are munching heavily

At ... scientists have assumed black holes in the hearts of galaxies increase mass in step with the growth of the host system. New observations seem to indicate this idea is false. Black holes grow faster than imagined - but what are they feeding on? It seems that for each 10 times increase in galaxy size there is a 100 times increase in the size of the black hole.

Monster sun spot coming your way

At ... we are informed a giant sun spot is slowly turning towards the Earth, like a cannon revolving around to point its barrel at us. It has the potential to blast a solar flare - predicted to be of moderate capacity.