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Stargazing Oxford 2015 Photo Competition

Posted: 18 Dec 2014

Hello everyone! I'm sure you're all looking forward to the Christmas holiday, and so are we in Oxford Astrophysics. But we're also thinking ahead to the New Year and there's plenty to be excited about. Stargazing Oxford returns on the 17th of January, and with it our annual Astrophotography competition.

Rosetta Mission Excitement Builds

Posted: 23 Oct 2014

Recently, Chris North from Cardiff University and The Sky at Night, sat down with Alan Fitzsimmons, from Queen's University Belfast and Oxford's own PhD student Becky Smethurst to discuss the excitement surrounding the Rosetta Mission, which is set to land on Comet 67P on November 12th 2014.

Check out the video here:

Could we detect life... on Earth?

Posted: 02 Sep 2014

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.

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

Posted: 06 Aug 2014

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.

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

Posted: 07 Jul 2014

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.

Prize-winning research leads to cool science

Posted: 02 Jul 2014

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:

A Small Satellite with Big Plans: TechDemoSat-1

Posted: 13 Jun 2014

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!

Stargazing Oxford 2014 photography competition - the winners

Posted: 02 Apr 2014

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.

The weird world GJ 1214b: an update

Posted: 12 Mar 2014

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.

SN2014J - the nearest supernova for 10 years!

Posted: 24 Jan 2014

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.