Year: 2013

Daily cosmobite: zodiac constellations

November 16, 2013

These are the constellations the Sun passes in front of during the year. Looking from west to east in the early evening the following zodiac constellations are visible: Scorpius, Sagittarius, Capricornus, Aquarius, Pisces, Aries and part of Taurus.

Daily cosmobite: happy birthday William!

November 15, 2013

British astronomer William Herschel was born on this day in 1738. Born in Hannover, Germany, he moved to Bath in England to start a career as a musician and a composer. Developing an interest in astronomy he discovered the planet Uranus with a small telescope and then built and used increasingly larger ones.

Daily cosmobite: where do stars get their energy?

November 14, 2013

Stars create energy in their central regions by nuclear reactions. Hydrogen nuclei come together to form helium nuclei. This process is called fusion and can only take place because of the huge pressures and temperatures of over ten million degrees Celsius at the centres of stars.

Daily cosmobite: the Water Carrier

November 13, 2013

The zodiac constellation of Aquarius the Water Carrier is very high in the north-west in the early evening. Old star maps usually show it as a figure emptying a jar of water into the mouth of a nearby constellation, Piscis Austrinus the Southern Fish.

Harry is thrilled to view an X2.3 flare on the Sun

November 12, 2013

The X2.3 flare from sunspot group AR11875. Sketch and copyright Harry Roberts ©, all rights reserved Catching solar transients requires both ‘persistence’ and a lot of luck. On the morning of Oct 30 the GOES X-ray plot was a flat line and flares seemed unlikely – so H-alpha was deferred while a white light record of AR11882 was begun: a lengthy process.

Daily cosmobite: space probe anniversary

November 12, 2013

The Voyager 1 spacecraft encountered the ringed planet Saturn on this day in 1980. After observing Saturn and its rings, the spacecraft passed so close to the large moon Titan that its path was bent away from the plane in which the planets circle the Sun.

Daily cosmobite: the Swordfish

November 11, 2013

Dorado the Swordfish is a faint constellation in the south-east in the early evening. It is just above the bright star Canopus. Like Tucana the Toucan it is distinguished only because it contains one of the most famous objects in the southern sky, the Large Magellanic Cloud.

Daily cosmobite: meteorite fall anniversary

November 9, 2013

Sunday is the anniversary of the day in 1823 that a stone from the sky broke through the roof of a house in Waseda, Yedo in Japan, an area now in the bustling Shinjuku ward of Tokyo. Nothing is known of the present whereabouts of the meteorite or about the reactions of the inhabitants of the house to their surprise celestial visitor.

Daily cosmobite: comet discoverer’s birthday

November 8, 2013

Edmond Halley of Halley's Comet fame was born in the borough of Hackney, near London on this day in 1656. Halley applied Newton's work on gravity to determine the path of the bright comet that he had observed in 1682 and realised that it was the same comet that had appeared previously in 1531 and 1607.

Daily cosmobite: the dwarf planet Pluto

November 7, 2013

The object named Pluto is no longer regarded as a planet but has been relegated to the status of a dwarf planet. As one of the minor bodies in the solar system it has been assigned a number, 134340, which is to be used in addition to the name.

Harry sees some bright flares on the Sun

November 6, 2013

X-ray flux from the Sun from 23 to 26 October 2013. Courtesy US National Weather Service Space Weather Prediction Center The transit of two large and active spot groups across the Sun on the third week of October meant dozens of C-class flares, punctuated by an M-class every half day or so.

Daily cosmobite: Venus and the Moon

November 6, 2013

The bright planet Venus can be seen each evening in the western sky after dusk. It is shining very brightly as it is now on the part of its path around the Sun that brings it closer to Earth. Tonight we have the pleasing sight of the crescent Moon below Venus, while tomorrow evening it is to the right or north of the planet.

Daily cosmobite: de Lacaille’s constellations

November 5, 2013

The French astronomer de Lacaille observed the southern stars from South Africa from 1751 to 1752. He introduced 14 new constellations that he named after the latest inventions of his day. In the early evening high in the south-east we can find a number of them including Fornax the Chemical Furnace.

Daily cosmobite: the last constellations

November 4, 2013

Astronomers recognise 88 star groups or constellations. Some constellations go back to ancient times while other ones are more recent. The latest ones that astronomers accept are those introduced by the French astronomer Nicolas Louis de Lacaille in 1754.