Mar 15

An Old-looking Galaxy in a Young Universe

Source: ESO Science Release eso1508

Location of the distant dusty galaxy  A1689-zD1 behind the galaxThe rich galaxy cluster Abell 1689. A1689-zD1, is located in the box — although it is still so faint that it is barely seen in this picture. Image credits: NASA; ESA; L. Bradley (Johns Hopkins University); R. Bouwens (University of California, Santa Cruz); H. Ford (Johns Hopkins University); and G. Illingworth (University of California, Santa Cruz)

One of the most distant galaxies ever observed has provided astronomers with the first detection of dust in such a remote star-forming system and tantalising evidence for the rapid evolution of galaxies after the Big Bang. The new observations have used ALMA to pick up the faint glow from cold dust in the galaxy A1689-zD1 and used ESO’s Very Large Telescope to measure its distance. (learn more)

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Mar 15

Puzzling Bright Spots on Dwarf Planet Ceres

Source: NASA Science News

Ceres-bright-spotTwo views of Ceres acquired by Dawn  on Feb. 12, 2015, from a distance of about 83,000 kilometers as the dwarf planet rotated.
Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA

Researchers are puzzled by a number of bright spots on Ceres, which are coming into focus as NASA's Dawn spacecraft approaches the dwarf planet. (read more)

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Mar 15

Dawn’s Arrival at Ceres

Source: Dawn Mission Education and Communications

Note the timeline at upper right.

Dawn will enter Ceres' orbit on the first days of May 2015. This animation gives a three-dimensional view of Dawn’s complex approach to Ceres. The spacecraft deftly maneuvers into orbit with its ion propulsion system, flying to RC3 orbit, which is achieved when the thrust is turned off. (The size of Ceres is exaggerated compared to the size of the orbit here.) At the end, the viewpoint shifts to provide another perspective on the unique trajectory.

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Mar 15

Abell 2597: NASA's Chandra Observatory Finds Cosmic Showers Halt Galaxy Growth

Source: NASA /Chandra

a2597_w11Abell 2597. Image credits: X-ray: NASA/CXC/Michigan State Univ/G.Voit et al; Optical: NASA/STScI & DSS; H-alpha: Carnegie Obs./Magellan/W.Baade Telescope/U.Maryland/M.McDonald.

This galaxy cluster comes from a sample of over 200 that were studied to determine how giant black holes at their centers affect the growth and evolution of their host galaxy, as reported in our latest press release. This study revealed that an unusual form of cosmic precipitation enables a feedback loop of cooling and heating, stifling star formation in the middle of these galaxy clusters.

Abell 2597, shown here, is a galaxy cluster located about one thousand million light years from Earth. This image contains X-rays from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory (blue), optical data from the Hubble Space Telescope and the Digitized Sky Survey (yellow) and emission from hydrogen atoms (red) from the Walter Baade Telescope in Chile.

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Mar 15

20th EAAE Summer School 2015

EAAE Summer Schools for Teachers

London, England, 20th July to 24th July 2015.

The European Association for Astronomy Education (EAAE) is collaborating with the Royal Astronomical Society to organize the 20th EAAE Summer School for Teachers under the theme — Universe in the Classroom. The Summer School will take place from Monday 20th July 2015 to Friday 24th July, Burlington House, that is the home of the Royal Astronomical Society. Burlington House is located in the center of London near the Ritz Hotel, Fortnum & Masons and Eros in Piccadilly and shares the courtyard with the Royal Academy of Arts and their gallery.

The Summer School will explore several themes in astronomy didactic appropriate for teaching since very early ages until college.

Topics since Earth, Moon and Sun relations, atmospheres of the planets, basic concepts of astrophysics, brightness of variable and binary stars, and how do work astronomical imaging in the classroom are the topics of some of the workshops of the Summer School. Since 2015 is the International of Light and Light-based Technologies there will also be a specific workshop concerning the major physical phenomena and properties of light and their application in astronomy.

Highlights include an expedition to Greenwich and guest lectures by Martin Rees, Baron Rees of Ludlow, Astronomer Royal (The next 20 years in Astronomy) and Prof. Martin Barstow, President of the Royal Astronomical Society (European Space Astronomy).

Astronomical observations are also programmed (if the weather conditions allow them). Astronomical lectures will be presented by lecturers from Universities and research centers. The registration fee is 100 (72.5 GBP) euros before the 1st of June 2015.

Between the 1st of June and the 1st of July registration fee will be 150 euros (108.5 GBP).

After this date registration fee will be 200 euros (145 GBP).

The fee covers all astronomical activities and materials. The meals, transport and accommodation are on the participant’s responsibility and not included in the fee. If participants want a sandwich lunch the price for the 4 days (except Greenwich day) is 27£.

The Summer School can have a maximum 60 participants.

This Summer School is done in Association with IAU and NASE.


Registration should be made using the form at the following link


After making your registration the participation fee must transferred to the bank account with the following data

Holder                  EAAE
Bank                    Kreissparkasse München Starnberg BLZ 702 501 50
Account Number  10815850
IBAN                    DE21 7025 0150 0010 8158 50
Swift / BIC             BYLADEM1KMS

Your registration will only be complete when your fee is payed.


  • Fee before the 1st of June - 100 euros (72.5 GBP).
  • Fee from 1st of June to the 1st of July registration- 150 euros (108.5 GBP).
  • Fee after the 1st of July - 200 euros (145 GBP).
  •  Sandwich lunch for the 4 days  at the Royal Astronomical Society (except Greenwich day) is 27£.


Note for Erasmus+ applicants

To apply for Erasmus+, participants should apply on the Key Action 1 (KA1) — Learning mobility of individuals, and present the European Association for Astronomy Education - EAAE as the course provider with the PIC 942480713. If required EAAE will provide a provisional registration to applicants.

Provisional Timetable


20 July


21 July


22 July


23 July


24 July

09:00/10:30 Introduction
and Opening S
Workshop 3 Greenwich Day
Workshop 6 Workshop 9
10:30/10:45 Tea/coffee Tea/coffee Departure for
Tea/coffee Tea/coffee
10:45/12:15 Workshop 1 Workshop 4 Greenwich Workshop 7 Workshop 10
12:15/13:30 Lunch Lunch Greenwich Lunch Lunch
13:30/14:30 Lecture 1 Lecture 2 Greenwich  LEcture 3
M. Rees
14:30/14:45 Tea/coffee Tea/coffee Greenwich Tea/coffee Tea/coffee
14:45/16:15 Workshop 2 Workshop 5 Greenwich Workshop 8  Assessment and
closing S
17:00  Walking Tour 1  Walking Tour 2



  1. The Next 20 years in Astronomy, Martin Rees, Astronomer Royal.
  2. European Space Astronomy, Martin Barstow, President, RAS.
  3. Odysseus, Alexandre da Costa, President, EAAE.

Topics of Workshops

  1. International year of light, Alexandre da Costa.
  2. Chemical Travel trough planetary atmospheres. Episode I, Josep Coromines.
  3. Chemical travel trough planetary atmospheres. Episode II, Josep Coromines.
  4. Parallel Earth, Rosa M. Ros.
  5. Sun and stars in our sky – a demonstrator, Sakari Ekko.
  6. Solar demonstrators, Rosa M. Ros.
  7. Brightness of variable and binary stars, Ederlinda Viñuales Gavín.
  8. What causes the seasons on Earth? Seasons on other planets in the Solar System, Ederlinda Viñuales Gavín.
  9. Astronomical imaging in the classroom, Alexandre da Costa.
  10. Astrophysics The Basics, Alan Pickwick.



Address of Venue.

The Royal Astronomical Society
Burlington House

Google Longitude and latitude:  51.508645, -0.139134

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Mar 15

An explosive quartet

Source: ESA/Hubble

heic1505aGalaxy cluster MACS j1149.5+223 and a supernova four times over.
Image credits:NASA, ESA, S. Rodney (John Hopkins University, USA) and the FrontierSN team; T. Treu (University of California Los Angeles, USA), P. Kelly (University of California Berkeley, USA) and the GLASS team; J. Lotz (STScI) and the Frontier Fields team; M. Postman (STScI) and the CLASH team; and Z. Levay (STScI)


Astronomers using the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope have, for the first time, spotted four images of a distant exploding star. The images are arranged in a cross-shaped pattern by the powerful gravity of a foreground galaxy embedded in a massive cluster of galaxies. The supernova discovery paper will appear on 6 March 2015 in a special issue of Science celebrating the centenary of Albert Einstein’s theory of general relativity.(learn more)

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Mar 15

Subtracting Gravity from Alzheimer's

Credit: NASA Science News

The key to unraveling the mysterious cause of Alzheimer’s disease may not lie in the recesses of the human brain, but rather in the weightless expanse of space.

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Mar 15

Celebrate the Hubble anniversary with a video contest!

Source: ESA/Hubble

On 23 April 2015, the European Space Agency together with NASA celebrate 25 years since the Hubble Space Telescope has been in orbit! We would like to invite you to join the celebrations by promoting an excellent opportunity to engage your students.

The ESA/Hubble Ode to Hubble competition lets anyone inspired by Hubble express their feelings or share their ideas in a creative and innovative way by creating an original short video. Invite your students to get creative and they could win a piece of Hubble!


As long as it can be uploaded as a YouTube, Vine and Instagram video less than three minutes long participants can submit anything. Pan over a drawing, scroll over a poem or text, film your own Hubblecast, film yourself performing or talking about a Hubble topic, create an animation or compose a piece of music and upload it as a video piece. It just has to be innovative, creative and, most of all, inspired by Hubble, or one of its great discoveries or images.


There are two categories for the competition.

with each having five runners up and one winner. If you don’t create a piece of your own, you can still get involved by crowd-judging the entries to whittle the selection down to a shortlist.


The two winners will receive the once-in-a-lifetime prize of a section of Hubble’s solar array mounted in perspex. These little pieces of Hubble are part of the huge solar arrays that spent 3 years orbiting the Earth, giving Hubble its power, until they were replaced in 1993. The winners will also receive a metal-backed copy of the 25th anniversary image signed by astronomers and astronauts who have worked on Hubble. The two winning videos will be featured in our special “Ode to Hubble” Hubblecast. The producers of the five shortlisted videos for each category will receive the wonderful book The Universe through the Eyes of Hubble and their videos will be hosted on the spacetelescope.org website.

Important dates

  • Submit your video by 12 March 2015! (11:59pm CEST)
  • Starting 13 March 2015 crowd-vote the entries until 1 April 2015!
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Feb 15

New infrared view of the Trifid Nebula reveals new variable stars far beyond

Source: ESO Photo Release eso1504

Image cVISTA views the Trifid Nebula and reveals hidden variable starsVISTA views the Trifid Nebula and reveals hidden variable stars.
Image credit: ESO/VVV consortium/D. Minniti

A new image taken with ESO’s VISTA survey telescope reveals the famous Trifid Nebula in a new and ghostly light. By observing in infrared light, astronomers can see right through the dust-filled central parts of the Milky Way and spot many previously hidden objects. In just this tiny part of one of the VISTA surveys, astronomers have discovered two unknown and very distant Cepheid variable stars that lie almost directly behind the Trifid. They are the first such stars found that lie in the central plane of the Milky Way beyond its central bulge. (learn more)

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Jan 15

Cometary globule CG4 aka the Mouth of the Beast

Source: Photo Release eso1503

VLT image of the cometary globule CG4VLT image of the cometary globule CG4.
Image credits:ESO

Like the gaping mouth of a gigantic celestial creature, the cometary globule CG4 glows menacingly in this new image from ESO’s Very Large Telescope. Although it appears to be big and bright in this picture, this is actually a faint nebula, which makes it very hard for amateur astronomers to spot. The exact nature of CG4 remains a mystery.(read more)

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Jan 15

The Rolling Hills of Mercury

This incredible image attests to how the MESSENGER spacecraft is now able to resolve Mercury's surface: with a resolution of a little more than five meters (seventeen feet) per pixel, a person of average walking pace could cross this scene in about an hour. The image shows the fine texture on the inner wall of an unnamed impact basin 100 km (62 mi.) in diameter, situated immediately west of the larger Dali basin. Both this basin and its larger neighbor are filled with smooth plains and deformed by lobate scarps and wrinkle ridges.
This image was acquired as a high-resolution targeted observation. Targeted observations are images of a small area on Mercury's surface at resolutions much higher than the 200-meter/pixel morphology base map. It is not possible to cover all of Mercury's surface at this high resolution, but typically several areas of high scientific interest are imaged in this mode each week.
The MESSENGER spacecraft is the first ever to orbit the planet Mercury, and the spacecraft's seven scientific instruments and radio science investigation are unraveling the history and evolution of the Solar System's innermost planet. In the mission's more than three years of orbital operations, MESSENGER has acquired over 250,000 images and extensive other data sets. MESSENGER is capable of continuing orbital operations until early 2015.
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Jan 15

Science reveals Rosetta's research on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko (67P)

Source: Science

Comet-67P-grand-viewLandscape on the smaller of the two lobes of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko
taken from a distance of  just 5 miles (8 km).
Image credit: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team

A series of scientific papers in journal Science published on January 23rd offers a complete, if preliminary, look at Rosetta’s comet. And what a wonderful and complex world it is.

Taylor & al. made an abstract of the articles that states that the surface of the comet shows evidence of many active processes and is highly complex. The solid nucleus is an object for which neither horizontal nor vertical variations are modest. He also says that the current comet shape model suggests that the mass is 1013 kg (about 100 million times the mass of the international space station), with a bulk density of ~470 kg/m3 (similar to cork, wood, or aerogel). The low mass and density values strongly constrain the composition and internal structure of the nucleus, implying a relatively fluffy nature, with a porosity of 70 to 80%". There is also some ideas about nucleus surface that appears rich in organic materials, with little sign of water ice.

It seems also that the coma produced by ices sublimating from the nucleus is highly variable, displaying large diurnal and possibly seasonal changes. (learn more)

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Jan 15

Mercury and Venus in Conjunction in January

Source: Astronomy Magazine

150106-004-Venus-MercuryVenus & Mercury at dusk on the 6th of January.
Image credits: Derek Rowley.

Mercury reaches greatest elongation on 14th of January, when it lies 19° east of the Sun and hangs 10° above the southwestern horizon a half-hour after sunset. Although the innermost planet glows brightly, at magnitude –0.7, the easiest way to find it is to look 1.3° to the right of brilliant Venus. Binoculars will show you the pair best. When viewed through a telescope, Mercury appears 7" across and slightly more than half-lit.

MercuryandVenusUse brilliant Venus as a guide to its fainter companion Mercury on the 14th of January.
Image credits: Astronomy/Roen Kelly.


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Jan 15

Don't miss comet Lovejoy

Source: Universe Today

Lovejoy-photo-chart-Orion_V4Comet Lovejoy’s nightly position among the winter stars through January 19.
Image credit: Bob King.

Beautiful New Year’s comet – Comet C/2014 Q2 Lovejoy – passed closest to Earth on January 7, 2015 and therefore (probably) now appears at its brightest in our sky. On January 7, it was 70.2 million km away and shining at an apparent magnitude of +4. Many across the globe have already seen this comet as it has brightened in recent weeks. Plus, the moon is no longer a hindrance. More good news. The comet has been moving northward on the sky’s dome. On January 9, it crossed over into the easy-to-find constellation Taurus (the Bull). Look to the photo above to try to spot it in the night sky. (learn more)

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Jan 15

Never before seen new impact crater on Mars

Source: Universe Today

ESP_039148_1980-580x374Before and after.
Image credit: NASA/JPL/UA

The surface of Mars is a well worn place in the Solar System, heavily pounded by countless meteor impacts. And some of these craters are hundreds of millions of years old. So it’s unusual for there to be a completely fresh impact on the surface of Mars: but that’s just what NASA scientists discovered looking through a recent batch of images returned from NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

You’re looking at a composite of two images taken by the Mars Context Camera, an instrument on board the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter the most recnt one on the right and an older photograph taken of the same region in February 2012 on the left. On the older one there was just a bunch of old craters. And then, in the newer image, taken June 2014, this fresh scar on the surface of Mars is clearly visible. (learn more)

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Jan 15

Hubble captures the sharpest ever view of neighbouring spiral Galaxy

Source: ESA/Hubble Photo Release heic1502

Sharpest ever view of the Andromeda GalaxyAndromeda Galaxy.
Image credits: NASAESA, J. Dalcanton (University of Washington, USA),
B. F. Williams (University of Washington, USA), L. C. Johnson
(University of Washington, USA), the PHAT team, and R. Gendler.

The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has captured the sharpest and biggest image ever taken of the Andromeda galaxy — otherwise known as Messier 31. The enormous image is the biggest Hubble image ever released and shows over 100 million stars and thousands of star clusters embedded in a section of the galaxy’s pancake-shaped disc stretching across over 40 000 light-years.(learn more)

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Jan 15

Hubble captures the Pillars of Creation twenty years on

Source: ESA/Hubble Photo Release heic1501

heic1501aThe Pillars of Creation.
Image credit: NASAESA/Hubble and the Hubble Heritage Team

The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has captured many breathtaking images of the Universe, but one snapshot stands out from the rest: the Eagle Nebula’s Pillars of Creation. In 1995 Hubble’s iconic image revealed never-before-seen details in the giant columns and now the telescope is kickstarting its 25th year in orbit with an even clearer, and more stunning, image of these beautiful structures.

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Jan 15

Where Did All the Stars Go?

Source: ESO Photo Release eso1501

The dark nebula LDN 483The Wide Field Imager (WFI) on the MPG/ESO 2.2-metre telescope at the
La Silla Observatory in Chile snapped this image of the dark nebula LDN 483.
Image credit: ESO

Some of the stars appear to be missing in this intriguing new ESO image. But the black gap in this glitteringly beautiful starfield is not really a gap, but rather a region of space clogged with gas and dust. This dark cloud is called LDN 483 — for Lynds Dark Nebula 483. Such clouds are the birthplaces of future stars. The Wide Field Imager, an instrument mounted on the MPG/ESO 2.2-metre telescope at ESO's La Silla Observatory in Chile, captured this image of LDN 483 and its surroundings. (learn more)


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Jan 15

Gemini Planet Imager finds disk of dust from asteroids or comets left behind by planet formation

Source: Gemini Planet Imager

hr4796aFirst light image of thedisk around the young star HR4796A.  Image credit: Marshall Perrin (Space Telescope Science Institute) / the GPI Team.On the left: all radiation; on the right: polarized radiation.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of 51 Peg b, the first exoplanet detected around a Sun-like star. And although the number of sheer detections in the years since have been remarkable, it’s also remarkable how little we still know about these alien worlds, save for their distances from their host stars, their radii, and sometimes their masses.

But the ability to directly image these worlds provides the opportunity to change all that. “It’s the tip of the iceberg,” said Marshall Perrin from the Space Telescope Science Institute in a press conference at the American Astronomical Society’s meeting earlier today. “In the long run, we think that imaging offers perhaps the best path to characterizing rocky planets on Earth-like orbits.”

Perrin highlighted two intriguing results from the Gemini Planet Imager (GPI), an instrument designed not only to resolve the dim light of an exoplanet, but also analyze a planet’s atmospheric temperature and composition.

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Jan 15

How did we find the distance to the Sun?

Source: Universe Today

Sun-CME-NASA-1024x576Credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

How far is the Sun? It seems as if one could hardly ask a more straightforward question. Yet this very inquiry bedeviled astronomers for more than two thousand years.

Certainly it’s a question of nearly unrivaled importance, overshadowed in history perhaps only by the search for the size and mass of the Earth. Known today as the astronomical unit, the distance serves as our reference within the solar system and the baseline for measuring all distances in the Universe.

Thinkers in Ancient Greece were among the first to try and construct a comprehensive model of the cosmos. With nothing but naked-eye observations, a few things could be worked out. The Moon loomed large in the sky so it was probably pretty close. Solar eclipses revealed that the Moon and Sun were almost exactly the same angular size, but the Sun was so much brighter that perhaps it was larger but farther away (this coincidence regarding the apparent size of the Sun and Moon has been of almost indescribable importance in advancing astronomy). The rest of the planets appeared no larger than the stars, yet seemed to move more rapidly; they were likely at some intermediate distance. But, could we do any better than these vague descriptions? With the invention of geometry, the answer became a resounding yes.(...)
Read the rest of How Did We Find the Distance to the Sun?

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