Astro Blog

02 September 2014

Could we detect life... on Earth?

What might Earth look like to an alien living 10 light years away? We're assuming he or she has access to a decent space telescope, of course.

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06 August 2014

Rosetta and the Rubber Ducky: arrival at comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko

Today, August 6th 2014, marks a significant milestone in European exploration of our solar system. After a 10-year, 6 billion-kilometre journey, the European Space Agency Rosetta spacecraft achieved a successful rendezvous with comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. At 10 am this morning, Rosetta fired its rockets and altered its trajectory to go into a series of triangular passes around the comet.

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07 July 2014

BOOM! The European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT) project starts with a blast!

On Thursday 19th June 2014 at ~18:45 BST, an explosion high in the Atacama desert in Northern Chile marked the beginning of construction of what will be the largest optical & infrared telescope in the World. The European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT), built by the European Southern Observatory (ESO), will be sited at a high and dry peak on Cerro Armazones, some 20 km away from ESO's Paranal Observatory.

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02 July 2014

Prize-winning research leads to cool science

This blog post was contributed by Prof. Patrick Roche, reporting from Geneva:

Today (2nd July 2014) at the annual European Week of Astronomy and Space Science meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, the 2014 MERAC prize for the best doctoral thesis in astronomical technologies was awarded to Dr Boon Kok Tan (see: http://eas.unige.ch/merac_prizes.jsp).

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13 June 2014

A Small Satellite with Big Plans: TechDemoSat-1

It's been a while since we had a blog post about space instrumentation, so here's first-year DPhil student Peter Hatfield to tell you all about TechDemoSat-1:

"A thrilling moment for the UK space industry is fast approaching. The launch of the satellite TechDemoSat-1, which recently had its launch date announced as July 8th, is now only a few weeks away!

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02 April 2014

Stargazing Oxford 2014 photography competition - the winners

With apologies for the delay in posting these results, here are the winners of this year's Stargazing Oxford photography competition. Once again, the submissions were very impressive and we would like to thank everyone who entered. As for last year's competition, three photographs were shortlisted for each category and a winner selected by our judges, with the public voting on the January 11th open day for their favourite. This year we also offered a prize for young photographers of 16 or under.

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12 March 2014

The weird world GJ 1214b: an update

GJ 1214b orbiting its host star: Artist's impression of GJ 1214b in orbit. Credit: NASA, ESA, and D. Aguilar (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics))GJ 1214b orbiting its host star: Artist's impression of GJ 1214b in orbit. Credit: NASA, ESA, and D. Aguilar (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics))Almost two years ago, I wrote this post about the weird and wonderful super-Earth planet, GJ 1214b. Like its compatriots it doesn't have an especially exciting name, but this is one of the best-studied planets orbiting another star.

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24 January 2014

SN2014J - the nearest supernova for 10 years!

A supernova has exploded in the nearby galaxy M82, aka the 'cigar galaxy', and should get bright enough to be visible with binoculars. This supernova, already given the identifier SN2014J (the 10th supernova confirmed in 2014), is a "type 1a" supernova, which we believe are caused by exploding white dwarf stars. Type 1a's explode with very predictable brightnesses, making them ideal 'standard candles' to measure distances to galaxies accurately. These type of supernovae are the cornerstone of the relatively recent discovery that the Universe's expansion is actually accelerating, contrary to previous models.

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05 December 2013

It's nearly Christmas... so it's photo competition time!

It's December, and that can only mean one thing... ok, maybe not just one thing, but what it certainly does mean is that it's not long until Stargazing Oxford returns. Our open day in 2014 will take place on the 11th of January from 2-10 pm - further details will be posted shortly on the outreach pages.

As we have done in previous years, we are running an astrophotography competition as part of the event. You can see the winning images from last year here.

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26 April 2013

Comet ISON round the Western mark

Comet ISON has made its Western turn, and will now be heading East for the next 8 months... Here's the latest image in our sequence, taken on 19th of April, showing ISON moving slowly against the background stars. You can see a small tail in our image, but unfortunately we can't quite compete with the likes of the Hubble Space Telescope when it comes to impressive images!

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