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.
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.
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!
After nearly two months offline due to a broken drive motor, the Philip Wetton Telescope is now back observing the night sky! This has enabled us to take the next image in our Comet ISON project, which we started at Stargazing Oxford back in January. It looks like the coma and tail have got a bit bigger since we last saw it in late January. We've also started getting data for other projects, and at the bottom of the page there's a sneak peak at a future 'pretty pic'...
Congratulations to everyone who entered our photo competition! We were extremely impressed with the quality and variety of the entries, and the photos made a beautiful display.
For those of you eagerly awaiting the next installment of comet ISON, I'm afraid all we have to report is a broken telescope! However, you can track a solar system body for yourself tonight (15th Feb 2013), as asteroid 2012-DA14 flies by the Earth at only 35,000km and should be visible in binoculars.
Comet Incoming! Here is the first image of Comet ISON taken for our 2013 PWT Stargazer's project. ISON is still as far away as Jupiter, but already a small tail is starting to develop... For this project, we will be imaging the comet every 2 weeks this year with the Philip Wetton Telescope (PWT) telescope here in Oxford. Check back to see how the comet develops, and if it delivers on its promise to be the brightest comet in 40 years!
Jupiter reached opposition (directly opposite the Sun, as seen from Earth) on the 3rd of December 2012. This year's opposition is particularly favourable for us Northern hemispherites, with Jupiter climbing high in the Southern sky at midnight. We took the opportunity to grab some images of Jupiter with the Philip Wetton Telescope here in Oxford, showing the bands in the atmosphere, a well placed Great Red Spot, and the four Galilean moons. What's more, the image has a challenge for you solve...
As part of this year's Stargazing Oxford open day (details to be announced shortly), we are running a photo competition. The deadline for submission is midnight on Tuesday the 8th of January, and all entries will be displayed to the public during the open day on January 12th. Details are included below. We look forward to receiving your beautiful images of the night sky!