Astro Blog

14 December 2012

Jupiter and the Galilean Moons

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...

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11 December 2012

Stargazing Oxford 2013 photo competition

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!

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02 November 2012

What is an Astrophysicist?

Megan (aged 4 1/2 years) wrote to us to ask as two questions: What is an astrophysicist? And where could she get an astrophysicist's toy? Phil Marshall wrote back, with some partial answers and an astrophysics investigation to get her started...

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06 August 2012

Exploring the Frontier

Whilst we go about our busy lives, a host of unmanned space probes are investigating other worlds. Oxford astronomer Joseph Caruana takes a look at some of the spacecraft currently exploring our Solar System.

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15 July 2012

Sunspots, solar flares, and aurorae

Oxford astronomer and exoplanet researcher Amy McQuillan was in Tel Aviv this week for a research visit. Taking photos early one evening, she noticed something strange on the disc of the Sun. A little while later, she posted what she'd seen on FaceBook:

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06 July 2012

Exoplanet GJ1214b: What a wonderful world!

The field of extra-solar planet research is still a young one, but progress over the last few years has been startling. Now that we've found hundreds of exoplanets, the time is ripe to start asking interesting questions about what their atmospheres are like, says Jo Barstow.

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21 June 2012

The Milky Way and Andromeda galaxy are on a collision course!

Forget global warming baking the Earth - how about something even bigger, like the destruction of the entire Milky Way galaxy? Celia Escamilla Rivera looks at new evidence that predicts a cataclysmic fate for our own galaxy.

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08 June 2012

The Biggest Questions in Astrophysics: Jocelyn Bell Burnell

Jocelyn Bell Burnell is visiting Professor of astrophysics here at the University of Oxford and is one of Britain’s most respected physicists. Professor Bell Burnell discovered pulsars as a PhD student and became the first female president of the Institute of Physics. I asked for her thoughts regarding the current big questions in astrophysics, and after acknowledging that Dark Energy and Dark Matter are issues that of course loom large, Professor Bell Burnell went on to highlight the importance of obtaining a direct detection of gravitational waves.

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05 June 2012

Transiting planet visible with the naked eye!

In the early hours of this Wednesday morning, Venus will pass directly in front of the Sun, in a transit event that won't happen again within your lifetime (unless you live till 2117). Astronomers in Oxfordshire are marking the event in a range of ways: Suzanne Aigrain has gone to Sweden for a better view, and the Abingdon Astronomical Society are heading up to the Ridgeway to watch the Sun, and Venus, rise.

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30 March 2012

Beacons or Fireworks?

In the local, old Universe we only see intense bursts of star formation when galaxies collide - but the young Universe was a very different place, it seems. Georgios Magdis is using the Herschel and VLA telescopes to measure the amount of gas in massive galaxies 1-4 billion years after the Big Bang, and finding that mergers weren't so important back then. Some galaxies had so much gas they could sustain long periods of star formation, without the need for a merger to compress the gas at all - they look more like beacons than fireworks.

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