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Skywatching

Search for aliens

Aug 16, 2019 / 11:00 am

On page 190 of the Observer's Book of Astronomy, published in 1962, author Patrick Moore wrote about Mars: "The planet cannot be regarded as...

Star light, stars very bright

Aug 9, 2019 / 11:00 am

During clear evenings at this time of year, almost overhead you'll see the bright, bluish star Vega. Now, scan westward to find the bright, orange star...

Earth having meteor shower

Aug 2, 2019 / 6:00 am

We are about to pass through a stream of meteoric material once again. Most of it is made up of dust and sand grain sized particles of rock or ice, but there...

Dark matter is everywhere

Jul 26, 2019 / 11:00 am

An unfortunate thing about science is that important discoveries take a long time to hatch. They can be utterly ignored for decades, until a new discovery makes...

Footprints on the moon

Jul 19, 2019 / 11:00 am

Fifty years ago, in July, 1969, people all over the world were glued to their televisions or radios, monitoring the progress of mankind's first manned...

Spinning in space

Jul 12, 2019 / 11:00 am

Long sojourns by astronauts on the International Space Station have shown us that people can recover from extended periods of being weightless under free fall....

Jupiter rising

Jul 5, 2019 / 6:00 am

For the last couple of months Jupiter has been the most spectacular object in the sky after the sun and moon. The giant planet lies in the south-east after...

Free falling in space

Jul 1, 2019 / 2:55 pm

We often hear people explaining that "Things float around in space because there is no gravity.” This is not true. Gravity extends across the whole...

Exploding stars tell a story

Jun 21, 2019 / 11:00 am

Understanding the expansion of the universe depends on our ability to measure the distances of very far-off galaxies. Most of these are so remote even our...

Another near miss

Jun 14, 2019 / 11:00 am

This autumn, we will have a close encounter with asteroid 2006 QV89. At its closest, it is estimated to be about 6.7 million kilometres away (around 17 times...

Our debt to starlight

Jun 7, 2019 / 3:55 pm

Everything we have ever seen, we have seen by starlight. During the day, our surroundings are lit by the sun, a yellow dwarf star. On a clear night, we can see...

How big is the universe?

May 31, 2019 / 3:00 pm

The universe has been described as a tremendous amount of space, which we are still trying to understand, contaminated with traces of gas and dust, in the form...

ALMA is a winner

May 24, 2019 / 6:00 am

Despite its austere beauty, the Atacama Plateau in Chile is one of the least hospitable places on Earth. It is a 1,000-kilometre strip of land west of the Andes...

Drowning in data

May 17, 2019 / 11:19 am

That recent successful experiment to image a black hole produced an enormous amount of data. It all had to be shipped to the processing facility; there was far...

Canada got there first

May 10, 2019 / 11:00 am

n the 1960s, Canada was the first country to successfully use a radio telescope thousands of kilometres in diameter. A technique was developed to make multiple...

Dark energy matters

May 6, 2019 / 11:00 am

Until very recently, one of the wry jokes about fast radio bursts (FRBs) is that the number of theories attempting to explain them was bigger than the number of...

Cosmic dust in your eyes

Apr 29, 2019 / 3:00 pm

Dust might not sound like a very exciting subject compared with, say, black holes, but actually it is. Not only is it the raw material for making new planets,...

A hole in time and space

Apr 22, 2019 / 11:00 am

We have just seen released one of the most important astronomical images in years: an image of a black hole. It shows a black, circular blob surrounded by a...

Searching for aliens

Apr 13, 2019 / 11:00 am

Our planet is surrounded by a sphere of radio waves. That sphere is expanding at the speed of light and now has a radius of about 100 light years. A light year...

Space: the final frontier?

Apr 6, 2019 / 3:00 pm

Somebody described space as what stops everything from being in the same place. For a long time that is exactly how we saw it — a void, nothingness, with...

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