Astronomers have identified the biggest star known to have exoplanets yet, upsetting standard planetary formation models. To date, b Centauri is the biggest star known to host an exoplanet. Estimates of its mass put it at between two and four times the previous record holder, meaning it could be up to ten times bigger than our own Sun.
Some months back, the Astronomical Society of South Africa (ASSA) decided use the upcoming partial annular solar eclipse to promote astronomy in South Africa, and perhaps drum up a few new members for ASSA. Now ASSA has decades of experience with public outreach, but they wanted to try something new: video. My brief, as a committee volunteer, was to help them to live-stream an eclipse. Overall, we felt we’d succeeded in the end, but there were definitely some lessons worth learning. …Continue reading →
This month I made two attempts at imaging the Jewel Box open cluster, more formally identified as Kappa Crucis, or NGC 4755. The first result was mediocre at best, while the second turned out quite nicely, and that means we get to do another “Watch me learn astrophotography” posting! As you’ll know from earlier posts along this topic, I’ve become a believer in data. The more data, I’ve been teaching, the better the result because you’re giving your stacking algorithms …Continue reading →
This entry (Mission to Mars: Why we must go) was originally written for my Now Look Here! blog, but I reckon it’s relevant for Urban Astronomer too: I listened to a series of Naked Scientists podcasts recently, on the various competing plans to launch a human mission to Mars. One episode stood out in particular, asking whether this was something that we need to spend money actually doing.They assembled a panel of various experts and authorities to debate the issue, and while …Continue reading →
A few nights ago, I captured this image of the Small Magellanic Cloud and the nearby globular cluster 47 Tuc. It had been a while since I’d last taken the camera outside, and I wanted to grab something relatively simple while the weather was still clear. So I decided to have another go at capturing a long exposure wide-field image. Previous images of the Milky Way in Sagittarius, and the region around Crux and Carina, had been disappointing because of …Continue reading →