Astro Blog articles for what's up
Posted: 28 Mar 2012
Throughout the following days, look towards the South in the evening and you will see a sparkling gem - a bright star called Sirius. In fact, it happens to be the brightest* star you can see in the sky all year round. It is no wonder then that its name is derived from the ancient Greek for "glowing". If you are still not sure which star I am referring to, proceed by first finding the easily identifiable three stars that form Orion's belt (still looking towards the South), then imagine a line running through these and extrapolate it to your left. You will inevitably end up spotting the dazzling Sirius, writes Joseph Caruana
Posted: 08 Mar 2012
Polaris is best known for its position in the night sky: it always appears almost directly North. This is why it is commonly known as both the North Star and the Pole star. To find Polaris, draw a line from the two stars in The Plough which are furthest from its handle (see picture) and keep going; the next prominent star you see will be Polaris, writes David Sinclair.
Posted: 16 Feb 2012
Jupiter is the fifth planet from the Sun and the largest in our solar system - it weighs about two-and-a-half times as much as all the other planets put together! Given its massive size, it seems appropriate that it was named after the Roman king of the gods. This celestial god can be seen from sunset untill just before 10:00pm in the West, writes Tessa Baker.
Posted: 06 Feb 2012
Venus – Earth's sister planet – is the hottest planet in our solar system. It has a sizzling surface temperature of 460 C (860 F). To put that into perspective, the highest recorded temperature on Earth was 57.8 C in Libya on the 13th September, 1922 – around 10% of Venus's average surface temperature. Venus is the second rock from the Sun and is the brightest object in the night sky after the moon, writes Jas Virdee.
Posted: 31 Jan 2012
Every 90 minutes or so, the International Space Station orbits the Earth, it's six inhabitants watching over us as we go about our daily lives. In the dark before dawn or just after dusk, it can be seen crossing the sky - but in a few minutes, its gone again, back into the Earth's shadow. So how do you catch our man-made shooting star?
Posted: 05 Dec 2011
The constellation of Orion - the Hunter - is now beginning to appear in the Southeast at around 8pm. Orion is one of the most-easily recognised constellations and you can spot him by looking for the three bright stars that make up his belt. Once you have found his belt, look for his sword: a triplet of faint objects dropping down to the left of his belt. The middle of these is not a star but the Orion Nebula, a region where stars are forming about 1,300 light years away. This fuzzy blob is a good spot to try and view using a small telescope.
Posted: 01 Dec 2011
Andromeda - the Milky Way’s twin galaxy - is the closest spiral galaxy to us. However, it’s still a long way away! If the Milky Way was the size of a 2p coin, Andromeda would be the size of another 2p coin just over half a metre away. And that’s our nearest neighbour! Unsurprisingly, the Andromeda galaxy is located in the constellation of Andromeda and can be seen from dusk till about 2:30am every night this week, writes Jas Virdee.
Posted: 21 Nov 2011
All that glistens is not gold: sometimes it’s red, or blue, or both. This week, we take a look at some double stars in the night sky and learn the difference between an optical double and a true binary. You will need binoculars or a telescope, and this week’s sky map.
Posted: 15 Nov 2011
What can you see in the night sky this week? Among other things: the giant of the solar system - famously observed by a giant from the history of astronomy.