Astro Blog

24 February 2012

What Can You See in the Night Sky This Week? Algol!

Algol, otherwise known as the demon star, is a bright triplet star system located in the constellation Perseus, and can be seen by the naked eye. It takes light 93 years to travel from Algol to Earth, meaning that when you look at Algol, you are seeing it as it was in 1919! To give you an idea of what 93 light-years is in galactic terms, our closest stellar neighbour is Alpha Centauri, and is 4.4 light years from us, writes Paul Brook.

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16 February 2012

What Can You See in the Night Sky This Week? Jupiter!

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.

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11 February 2012

What Can You See in the Night Sky This Week - The Sombrero Galaxy!

Astronomers sometimes lack imagination when it comes to naming their beloved telescopes and objects in the night sky, but this particular marvel is quite aptly known as ‘The Sombrero Galaxy’. It is in fact an unbarred spiral galaxy, however its orientation with respect to us means that we see it almost edge-on. This gives it the appearance of a Mexican wide-brimmed hat, writes Sarah White.

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08 February 2012

Get involved with your local astro society

Interested in getting more involved and finding out a bit more about astronomy? Why not investigate your local astronomy society? Here's a list of the ones you can find around Oxford.

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06 February 2012

What Can You See in the Night Sky This Week? Venus!

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.

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31 January 2012

What Can You See in the Night Sky This Week?

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?

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18 January 2012

What's Going To Happen To Betelgeuse?

BBC Stargazing Live is great TV - but watching #bbcstargazing on Twitter at the same time makes it even more fun. A few of us astronomers have been answering viewers' questions in real time, as they wonder about the Universe with Brian Cox and company. But here's one that had me stumped: what's going to happen to Betelgeuse? Time to call SPI-MAX...

Here's @KaatieT's question in full:

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18 January 2012

Into the Unknown: darkmatter

"Be prepared to be catapulted through space-time," writes progressive artist Marion Yorston, "and navigated over the threshold from the known into the unknown." At Stargazing Oxford we are hosting an exhibition of Marion's installation artwork - and it's piqued a bit of curiosity around the sub-department. We caught up with her in the middle of her preparations and asked her a few questions. Welcome to the enigmatic world of darkmatter.

Marion, you're an artist, but your artwork seems to all be science-related. What got you started in this direction?

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17 January 2012

Stargazing Oxford: Thinking Big

Stargazing Oxford is more than just a local astronomy fair - it will represent what we at Oxford Astrophysics are all about. Think big: come and explore the Universe from the Denys Wilkinson Building!

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17 January 2012

Goonhilly Dishes to Sharpen Up UK SKA Pathfinder

Steve Rawlings reports on the incorporation of the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) company - and gets Melvin Hoare, Chair of the Consortium of Universities for Goonhilly Astronomy (CUGA), to outline plans to enhance the UK's SKA Pathfinder, e-MERLIN, through the addition of large dishes at the Goonhilly satellite station on the Lizard Peninsula in Cornwall.

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