From quasars to quarks, from galaxies to globular clusters, I’ve always had an interest with space. From the days of Apollo, Soyuz and the NASA deep space probes here you’ll find breaking news, interesting snippets and other stuff from this fascinating science.
9th December 2012
Sir Patrick Moore
It is with great sadness to announce the death of one of the world’s leading astronomers of the 20th century, Sir Patrick Moore, MBE, FRS, FRAS. Born in London in1923 and after leaving the RAF as a navigator after WW2, he become an excellent author, researcher and hosted the world’s longest running TV show, The Sky at Night.
Interesting facts is that he helped NASA during the Apollo moon missions as his knowledge of our moon was second to none and indeed at least one crater on the moon is named after him (Caldwell, his middle name).
2nd January 2013
Comet in 2013 could outshine the full moon!
Its been reported that a comet (currently too distant in our solar system to be seen un-aided) will outshine the full moon when it approaches our Sun towards the later half of 2013.
With a super-sexy (!) name of ISON it was discovered last year by two russian astronomers whose name I can’t spell so won’t attempt to. As we know comets are basically ‘dirty snowballs’ but on a bigger scale than what we are used to picking up. As old as the solar system, if not earlier, comets come from a far region of out solar system called the Oort Cloud, a place were these large lumps of iced methane and water sit and wait.
Every so often a nearly star moves close enough (in astronomical terms) to enable the star’s gravity to ‘push’ the snowball towards the sun, all so slowly though. Over the next thousands or millions of years of its slow journey to the inner solar system, the snowball (now called a comet) speeds up, being attracted by the huge gravitational pull of the outer, then inner planets. As it speeds up and approaches the Sun, the solar wind (protons from the Sun) heat up the surface of the comet and help produce that long tail we are familiar with.
However, according to NASA it might just break up long before it gets really prominent in the Sky. Even so reports are that its going to be a great site indeed and should be at its brightest in October/November 2013 from the northern and southern hemisphere.
Lets just hope it’s not on a collision course with Earth – otherwise I can feel a Bruce Willis moment!
More details will be available during 2013, so, if you’re not already, follow my blog.
Further details on ISON, its current position and some rather distant images can be found here.
12th January 2013
New, supermassive Black Hole found. The biggest (until the next one) so far.
According to the huffingtonpost, a new, supermassive Black Hole has been found in a small Galaxy a mear 250 million light years away.
The find, by the University of Texas points out that the monster has a ‘point of no return’ orbit (called the Event Horizon) is more than 11 times the diameter of the orbit of Neptune around our Sun! With a mass (weight) of 17 billion solar system Sun’s, the Black Hole is easily the biggest and most powerful to date.
Lurking in the middle of a lenticular galaxy with a name that you simply can’t forget (NGC 1277), this super heavy-weight monster is not just eating its host galaxy but it pouring out huge amounts of gamma rays and x-rays due to material of the galaxy pouring into it at near light-speed, causing massive amounts of heat/energy in the form of this radiation.
Need to know that it won’t eat you up? Click here for the full article