Tag Archives: astronomy

That’s no moon…

an_unidentified_objectHubble-using astro-boffins have seen something they don’t recognise in the boundless worlds of space:

The object also appeared out of nowhere. It just wasn’t there before. In fact, they don’t even know where it is exactly located because it didn’t behave like anything they know. Apparently, it can’t be closer than 130 light-years but it can be as far as 11 billion light-years away. It’s not in any known galaxy either. And they have ruled out a supernova too. It’s something that they have never encountered before. In other words: they don’t have a single clue about where or what the heck this thing is.

That’s a pretty big margin of error! Also check out the paper itself (via Sky and Telescope).

I was surprised to discover, whilst reading Bill Bryson‘s brilliant A Short History of Nearly Everything how difficult it is to ascertain astronomical distances precisely, and how much brain work and observation goes into it.

Anyway I’d love to find out what this is (an OCP perhaps?). Such excitement!

[from Gizmodo][image is credited to Kayle Barbary and others]

Where are the sunspots?

sunspotThey’re scarce this year.

When the sun is more active, several sunspots can appear on a daily basis. However, very few have been spotted in 2008.  It wasn’t until August 21 and 22 that the Solar Influences Data Analysis reported the glimpse of one dark spot….Experts say the question is not when will the sunspots reappear, but rather how fast will their numbers increase once they start to appear.

[Image and story: RedOrbit News]

Words for Worlds: What We’re Calling Pluto Now

pluto-protestYou might think that a dwarf planet is, oh, a planet, and that would settle it. But the International Astronomical Union just decided that the new classification for Pluto-like objects such as Eris, Ceres — and, presumably, Sedna, Orcus, Varuna, and Quaoar — is “plutoid.” Fearless prediction: Nobody is going to like this word. If you were the first to set foot on any of these objects, wouldn’t you want credit for being first on a planet? Bad enough that I have to tell my son that Xena was only the unofficial name for Eris, and that Buffy probably won’t stand as an astronomical name, either.
[Children protest Pluto’s reclassification, c. 2006, Wikimedia Commons]