Christmas 2023 is past, but the daily “astro advent” images in the Astronomy Forum are still there to enjoy. The first eight days included the Carina Nebula, a smiley face on the Sun from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, and a breathtaking skyscape from Norway's Lofoten Islands.
The year 2022 was an exciting year for astronomy and space. James Webb started showing what amazing things it can do, and NASA made it to the Moon and back. Perseverance and Ingenuity have become partners in exploration. The most distant and oldest known star has been an amazing find.
The Sun, the Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn are visible to the naked eye. People have seen them for thousands of years. Other Solar System bodies were discoveries, but who discovered them?
People used to think comets were warnings of disasters. Today we know that they are icy visitors from the most distant regions of the Solar System. Other stars have exoplanets and they seem to have exocomets too.
Imagine midnight on December 31 – fireworks, friendship and celebration greet a new year. But only if you follow the Gregorian calendar. In the past, a year often didn't start on January 1, and for nearly two billion people it still doesn't. So when does a new year begin?
Imagine yourself under a dark autumn or winter northern hemisphere sky. You're looking towards the â€œWâ€ of Cassiopeia, and notice a hazy patch between Cassiopeia and the constellation Andromeda. That is the Andromeda Galaxy (M31). Here are some fascinating facts about this stunning object.
The starter's pistol for the space race was fired on October 4, 1957. It was in the form of a small highly-polished sphere that orbited the Earth every 98 minutes. This was the Soviet Union's Sputnik, Earth's first artificial satellite. It shook up the United States, and there was more to come.
On Christmas day 2003 a British-European space probe called Beagle 2 was lost on Mars and never heard from. It was not only small, but possibly broken and scattered while attempting to land. Since Mars is quite big, it took eleven years to find the little lander.
It went where no space mission had been before! Rosetta caught up with a comet in deep space and went into orbit around it. The lander Philae was the first ever to land on a comet. At the end of the mission, Rosetta also landed on the comet to join it on its journey.
Most of our knowledge of Neptune and Uranus is based on Voyager 2's visits. Its grand tour of the four giant planets used a rare alignment of the planets that let the gravity of each one boost the spacecraft to the next one. No other probe has been to either of the ice giants.