Stargazing in El Paso

The old moon in the arms of the new, Virgen del Pino, El Paso, La Palma
April 21, 2015

  On Monday and Tuesday I showed a journalist around for the Tourist Board. On Monday night we went stargazing with Astrolapalma. I loved it. Agustín was very enthusiastic, and now I understand why people enjoy my enthusiasm so much. We started off just after sunset, and we had a lovely view of the old moon in the arms of the new. That’s the poetic name for when you can…

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Spring is here

  Spring is obviously here. Some people look for the swifts returning or flowers blooming, but I know it’s spring when the solar telescopes start work after their summer break. It’s not very easy to see whether the Swedish Solar Telescope is working unless you’re close, but yesterday, the Dutch Open Telescope had the clamshell dome down and they were clearly open for science. It must be time to buy…

April 3, 2015
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Landing on a Comet

Philae heading for the comet
November 12, 2014

  The Philae lander is SAFELY down on the comet, half a billion miles 28 light minutes from Earth. ( See Rosetta and the Comet) Yay for the European Space Agency – nobody’s ever done this before.

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Planet Birth

Planets forming around a star
November 7, 2014

  The Alma radio telescope took this amazing picture of planets forming around the sun-like star, HL Tau. This is a baby star, less than a million years old, which is 450 light years from Earth in the constellation Taurus. And the disc of dust and gas around the star is already forming planets and asteroids – that’s what makes the dark rings in the brighter dust. It’s the first…

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Star birth

Stars being born inside the Sharpless 2-106 Nebula (S106)
October 10, 2014

  This amazing picture of stars being born inside a nebula was taken by Daniel Lopez using Grantecan. Near the centre of the picture is a dark red spot – that’s the new star which shines mostly in the infrared. The butterfly shape is a large disk of dust and gas orbiting the star. The gas near the star shines because it is ionized (like the inside of a flourescent…

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The sun at different wavelenths

September 23, 2014

  Light is made of electromagnetic waves, and our eyes see different wavelengths as different colours. But our eyes can’t see most wavelengths at all, which is a pity – think how different the human body looks when you see it in x-rays. This is the sun at 13 different wavelengths.

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