The vast majority of objects out there in space are pretty big…moons, planets, stars, galaxies, so it can be difficult sometimes to get your head round their actual size.
Here I compare stuff out there to stuff down here.
How a neutron star compares to the North West of England, satellite image credit Nasa
This is how a typical neutron star would compare if it was on Earth, easily fitting right between Liverpool and Warrington in the north west of England. A star that is only around 20 kilometres across? Yes, but this is not any normal run of the mill star you’d see shining in the night sky, this thing is a weird and exotic object. A Read more →
In astronomy you’ll often see objects described as being so many degrees apart, or 3 arc minutes wide, or 45 arc seconds or so. What on Earth do all these numbers mean?
The entire sky is divided up into degrees, The whole sky is in fact 360 degrees. If you look from one horizon the opposite horizon, well that’s 180 degrees. The highest point in the sky is called the meridian, now look from the meridian down to the horizon, and…yes you’ve guessed it, 90 degrees. So objects such as the Moon, stars, and planets’ diameters and Read more →
Tuesday 10th December 2013
All times are GMT, one hour is added for BST between March 25th and October 28th, click images to enlarge.
The shorter nights of mid summer gave only a few hours of proper darkness to observe the night sky. Now with the darker, longer winter nights the stars and planets are much more obvious.
Get yourself outside under the stars if it’s clear, pull up a deck chair, and scan the star clusters, nebulae, and even see other galaxies with your binoculars. Their lower power makes them just perfect for objects such as the larger open clusters, giving you great views and of course as you get to use both eyes, providing almost a 3D view. Just taking in the whole night sky scene and aimlessly wandering along the band of the Milky Way is also Read more →
Betelgeuse position in Orion
Red supergiant Betelgeuse sits at Orion’s left shoulder in the northern winter sky. Everyone has probably looked at it, in this striking constellation. But you will never see it again as just a boring point of light. It is a turbulent, volatile monster of a star on a one way trip to destruction in a supernova.
Maybe just a few million years old, Betelgeuse has evolved at a rapid rate due to its large mass, it is a live fast die young star. In fact it is so large that if it was Read more →
Tuesday 10th of December 2013
This page keeps track of the planets daily, telling you where they are in the sky if visible, with rising/setting times, and highest points. Also information about how long you’ll be able to see them in the night sky, with detailed descriptions of each. Apart from Neptune, it is possible to see all with your unaided eyes.
Read more →
Eta Carinae, the smallest details visible are 10 billion miles across.
Eta Carinae lies in the constellation of Carina, a rare behemoth of a star, a wildly unstable and unpredictable beast that shines with a brightness of 4 million times that of the Sun. An extremely volatile member of our Galaxy that is so big at around 100 times that of our Sun, it just about manages to hold itself together.
But this unique star is still keeping secrets, scientists are not completely sure if this is just one star or a binary Read more →
From a dark location the Milky Way can be an incredible sight
Our home galaxy the Milky Way, a barred spiral galaxy, a colossal 100,000 light year wide disk of hundreds of billions of stars, planets, dust, gas, and dark matter slowly turning in interstellar space. On a clear night from a location without light pollution, the Milky Way arching overhead is an absolutely astounding and amazing sight. Star clouds, dark nebulae,
and star clusters are packed into a narrow band of light that is the Galaxy of which we are part. If you view the Milky Way with imagination and see
the scene as it actually is, the plane of our Galaxy and not just a band of
stars, Read more →