The planets discovery by a student at UBS

The planets which were discovered by a student

Discovery of 4 new planets by student at the University of British Columbia is rocking social media around the world at the moment. The planets were discovered when Michelle Kunimoto a student of Physics and Astronomy examined the data from Kepler which was overlooked earlier. She did the data analysis as a part of her course work, particularly data for the existence of planets. She managed to discover evidence for the existence of four planets. One is the size of mercury, two of them are of a size very close to earth and one slightly larger than Neptune. The largest of the four, which has been named KOI 408.05 at the moment, is creating the most interest among astronomers. The most important information is that it occupies the habitable zone of its star. The planets are supposedly 3200 light years away. Reaching it is still a dream but this news augurs well for people who are searching for extraterrestrial life. After all, in this vast Universe, there ought to be other beings with life and intelligence.

Star gazing trips

Star gazing trips : Jasper national Park

Last month I was on a trip to Canada, and it turned out to be my best star gazing trips. One fact I learnt about the Canadian Rockies is that it is the second largest dark sky preserve. Dark sky preserve means an area to protect the night sky of light pollution. The largest dark sky preserve is also in Canada. It is the Wood Buffalo National Park which is larger than most of the European nations. The experience was really magnificent, and I would rate it the best of all star gazing trips I have had. With my Saxon Novo 705AZ3, I could see almost 10 times more heavenly bodies in the night sky. The first camp was in Jasper National Park, where the experience was really nice. There were posters of the Jasper Dark Sky festival all around which is scheduled from October 16 – October 25 later this year. I hope to be back in Canada then to have a chance to meet fellow star gazers and some professionals.

Jupiter At Opposition

 

Set your alarms ready for the 8th of March, because it will be the best chance you will get of catching a glimpse of Jupiter for a while!

The giant planet will be at its nearest to us here on Earth, with its face fully illuminated by the sun. It will be visible for most of the night, reaching its highest point at around midnight. Bear in mind that this is absolutely the best time to view and photograph Jupiter as well as its moons,  so I will be ready waiting with my telescope to gaze at the largest planet in our solar system.

ju

If you are worried about what you will be able to see, don’t worry. A decent sized telescope should allow you to see quite a few of the details in Jupiter’s cloud bands, and even with a good pair of binoculars you will be able to see the four larger moons. They will be bright dots visible on the side of the planet.

So remember to aim your telescopes (and binoculars!) towards the constellation Leo at around 12am GMT on the 8th of March to join me as we marvel at one of the most impressive planets in our solar system. I will be there waiting eagerly with my Saxon Novo 705AZ3!

Constellation of Lea in context with other constellations

Black Hole Found Swallowing a Star

There are some things we do not see often in the world of astronomy, whether amateur buff like myself or professional organizations around the world. A black hole swallowing a star has been theorized as to how it occurs for eons, but more recently we’ve caught glimpses of this rare sight.

News today came out that we not only were able to see one, only about 20 incidents in human history have allowed us a glimpse. Gemma Anderson from Curtin University said during an interview about the amazing event.

“Everything we know about black holes suggests we should see a jet when this happens, but until now they’ve only been detected in a few of the most powerful systems. Now we’ve finally found one in a more normal event.”

What makes this a first is being able to see the material falling into the black home from the star, commonly referred to as an acceleration disc, along with a jet! Never before have we seen both!

BlackHoleEatingStar

A rare glimpse of a black hole swallowing a star.

 

The discovery is the first time scientists have been able to see both a disk of material falling into a black hole, known as an accretion disk, and a jet in a system of this kind.

This is an incredible event to behold, the star almost the size of our own according to our local Independent was not just swallowed up, but partially spit back out.

The wonders of our cosmos and they mysteries of black holes continue to help us understand more about who we are, where we come from, and how it all began.

 

Supermoon, Blood Moon and a Lunar Eclipse.

 

Picture of Blood Moon September 2015

Fabulous picture wish I could have viewed it like this..

What did you think of the Blood Moon? I am guessing if you read my blog you actually did see it! I will be honest I was a bit disappointed, really wanted to see the whole spectacle you know, blood-red freaky moon. What I got was a great lunar eclipse and a diluted blood moon, but at one point in the night in Yorkshire I could see why it was called a supermoon. It was huge being at its closest point to the earth made it dominate the sky, when the clouds were not covering it. Well I hope I get to see the next one in 2033. If you want to check out some cool pictures and time lapsed video from around the globe look here.

Getting a combination of supermoon, blood moon and lunar eclipse is rare, the last one was in 1982. There is a history connected with this event in that it indicates the end of the world, I guess in the past it was a pretty awesome and spectacular event and the people would not know what was happening so associate it with a foretelling of something going to happen. Thank goodness we know better. If you are interested in some of the history surrounding this event The Daily Mail ran a great article on it, really interesting read.

I am just getting to grips with understanding how it all comes together maybe I can share some of the science behind it next time.

Pluto a Planet or not?

Pluto and Charon

Pluto and Charon

Recently the Astronomical society voted out Pluto as a Planet. What is Pluto then if not a Planet? Well I did not first understand and went to a friend who is an astronomer by profession. He told me things which made my knowledge base strong and I could understand. So you would be curious what makes a heavenly body qualify as a planet right! Well there are three aspects:

  1. The body must be revolving round a sun.
  2. It should be round. In astronomical terms it is known as hydro-static equilibrium.
  3. Its neighborhood is clean. Sounds crazy doesn’t it?

Well Pluto is revolving round the Sun and is round. So, what does a clear neighborhood mean? Well it means that the designated planet does not have a body as large as itself in its vicinity. This is not the case with Pluto. Its moon has its own gravitational pull outside Pluto’s influence. Charon is also almost half the size of Pluto. Pluto loses here as a Planet. The Astronomical society has categorized it as a “dwarf planet“. So Pluto loses its category and becomes one of the 44 other dwarfs of our solar system. It is not exactly a planet anymore. There goes the acronym I learned in school – ” My Very Educated Mother Just Showed Us Nine Planets”. Planets is out so is Pluto. So, folks be ready for discovery of a new Planet. We cannot do with only eight in our solar system. Astronomers please look out for a new planet so that my acronym is complete.

Planispheres and space stations

 

A planisphere, the guide to the stars and constellations

I know I have mentioned a planisphere before but not really explained what it was. I eventually bought one but weather being as it has not really done a lot with it over the past couple of months. Feeling much more enthusiastic as the weather improves, guess we all do.

A planisphere is a rotating star chart locator, it is the tool that all the experts say us newbies need to help us learn the constellations and stars. All you have to do is turn it around until the time and date match up and voila the matching sky in real time. wonderful and it never goes out of date – but don’t drop it down a deep muddy hedge, cause then you have to buy another. This is a great website for tips on how to use the planisphere. I treated myself to a new one from Amazon and bought myself  the 2015 Guide to the northern night sky as well. I got the glow in the dark planisphere so I could find it if I dropped it again but my mate complains its distracting – I can’t win, think I might order the Earthsky one.

Going to be out with binoculars later this month so I can try and see the globular cluster in Hercules and the ‘double double’. This is what appears to be a binary star via the binoculars but if seen by telecope there are actually 2 stars hence the name. This can be seen just left of Vega in Lyra is the multiple star system Epsilon Lyrae known as the double double. Later in the month around the 15th & 16th the meteor shower of  Lyrid. Been told not many meteors per hour but as it is a new moon more chance of actually seeing one.

I am actually still trying to see the space station, not managed it as yet but I am hopeful, this site gives details of when the best time to look is ..this month its going to happen, I just know it. let me know if you see it.

 

M27 - The Dumbell Nebula

Dumbell Nebula – photgraph. Fabulous