Solar Filaments, Prominences, and Sunspots

sun h alpha

Filaments seen floating above the chromosphere, and protruding from the edge as prominences. This is a H alpha image taken from my back garden on 17th of September 2014, processed in Pixelmator

 

Here I describe the incredible power and features of the Sun, while displaying some of my best images…

 

Huge gas clouds, prominences, and spots

You are right now orbiting a huge nuclear reactor, like millions of nuclear explosions all happening at once. A mass of immensely powerful magnetic fields, twisting and snapping, and releasing massive amounts of energy. The magnetic fields interweave with super heated plasma that is continually in motion forming channels and Read more →

Venus and Jupiter Conjunction, 18th of August 2014

Venus Jupiter 18th Aug copy

About

As planetary conjunctions go this one is very very close, and well worth a look in the pre dawn hours of August the 18th. Earth’s sister world Venus, lines up with the gas giant planet Jupiter as they both rise from the north east before sunrise. Venus has been with us in the morning sky for a while now and will continue to do so until mid September when it goes back into the glare of the Sun, before then returning as an evening planet at the start of Read more →

Camelopardalid Meteor Shower

Camels meteors

The Comet

You may be in for a celestial treat during the night of Friday the 23rd/early hours of Saturday 24th of May 2014. The Earth is due to pass through a dense cloud of dust cast off from the periodic Comet 209P/LINEAR, to maybe produce a meteor shower of 100 to 200 per hour. Some even say there could be a small chance of higher rates than 200 meteors per hour, a so called meteor storm of up top a 1000 per hour.

Comets, relics from the formation of the Sun and planets 4.5 billion years ago, leave their dusty trails around Read more →

Earth From NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter

Earth above Moon

The Earth as seen from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, Feb 1st 2014 (Credit Nasa)

Every now and then a picture emerges that symbolises how small we actually are in the grand scheme of things. Planet Earth seems a very big place in reality, its vast continents, oceans, deserts, and mountain ranges. But come a little way out, like to our closest neighbour in space the Moon and look back. All of a Read more →

Venus and Crescent Moon Conjunction 26th February

Moon Venus conjunction

You’ll be able to see, if clear skies allow, a fantastic close conjunction of the waning crescent Moon and the planet Venus. This happens during the early morning of the 26th of February 2014, as the moon rises in the south east. Moonrise occurs at 5.00 am GMT, and this is when Venus will be closest to the Moon along our line of sight, at just 0.3 degrees separation. In reality they will be nowhere near each other in space of course, the Moon being Read more →

The Colours of Orion

Orion by Stefan Franczuk

Orion by Stefan Franczuk

Thanks Stefan for posting this one on the Flickr Group. The constellation of Orion is of one of the most famous in the sky, or more accurately the winter night sky. Orion the hunter is an impressive sight especially if you can admire it from a dark place. It’s one of the only constellations that you can quite easily see Read more →

Saturn and Mercury Conjunction, 26th of November

Saturn & Mercury 26th Nov

Saturn and Mercury conjunction

Saturn and Mercury will be in a close conjunction on the morning of 26th of November 2013.

The first planet Mercury, and the sixth planet Saturn will line up along your line of sight in the late autumn pre dawn skies. This one is worth taking a look at, as they are less than half a degree apart and will present a good imaging/photo opportunity if you have a clear south eastern sky.

Mercury is the most elusive planet, and never strays far from the Sun. By this particular morning it is on its way Read more →

Crescent Moon and Venus

Venus & Moon

Venus and the crescent Moon setting in the SW after sunset on the 6th of November.

If you have clear skies on the evening of the 6th of November, look low to the south west after sunset. The waxing crescent Moon makes an attractive pairing with the planet Venus as they both set in early evening. Venus at 57, 632, 600 miles away is shining brightly at magnitude -4.12, and will get slightly brighter up to its peak brilliance of Read more →

Looking Down On Saturn

Saturn

Image credit Nasa/Gordon Ugarkovic

I’ve seen many jaw dropping images of Saturn in my time, but this one blows my socks off. The Nasa Cassini Spacecraft was high above the ringed gas world at this point, looking down towards its north pole far below on the 10th of October 2013. This is planetary eye candy…the giant orb of the planet, nearly 10 Earths across, sits inside those fabulous rings. Intricate details of rings and ringlets can be seen in the ring system, and the dark band that Read more →

Venus From 36,000 Feet

Venus from flight

Venus blazes in the west

While flying over Istanbul, Turkey on the 23rd of September 2013, I saw a really nice sky out of the plane window. Looking west the scene was of glowing pink, red, and deep blue after the sun had set, and with virtually no light pollution the ground was completely dark. At over 89 million miles hanging away in the sky above was the planet Venus shining brightly, Earth’s sister world. So I grabbed my iPhone and took this shot out of the window. I could Read more →

The Sun Erupts

Coronal mass ejection

The Sun launches a spectacular explosion into space, SOHO 4th January 2002

I love this shot by the SOHO satellite from way back in January 2002, it shows in glorious graphic detail the overwhelming power of the Sun. Huge curving filaments of solar plasma race outwards hundreds of thousands of miles into space. This is a coronal mass ejection, a colossal explosion of Read more →

“The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, and the Mars Curiosity Rover will be attempting to image Comet ISON on or around September the 27th when the comet comes close to the red planet”

Astronomy: The Size of Stuff

The vast majority of objects out there in the universe are pretty big…moons, planets, stars, galaxies, so it can be difficult sometimes to get your head round their actual size. Here you’ll see how some space stuff out there compares to Earth stuff down here…

Neutron Star

Neutron star size

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 →

How Big Is The Universe?

 

Hubble Ultra Deep Field

The Hubble Ultra Deep Field, roughly 10,000 galaxies populate this image.

Here you can appreciate just how enormous the universe is, even though we all find it hard to grasp. From the nearest stars to vast superclusters of galaxies, and out billions of light years to the very edge of what is possible to see. What lies beyond, is this just a tiny part…?

The universe is big…really, really big. You have no idea just how gargantuan it actually is. The universe is everything in existence, so it is thought. Unless there are others, and ours is just one among trillions, but Read more →

Measuring Degrees In The Night Sky

Moon and planets

In astronomy you’ll often see objects described as being so many degrees apart, or 3 arc minutes wide. What on Earth do these numbers mean? Here you’ll find out, including how to accurately measure the sky with your hands and fingers…

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 →

The Night Sky With Binoculars Tonight

Thursday 30th of October 2014

Own a good pair of binoculars? With this page you’ll be able to see some of the best sights in the sky, no telescope required…

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 →

The Red Supergiant Star Betelgeuse

Betelgeuse position in Orion

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 →

Planets To See In The Sky Tonight

Thursday 30th of October 2014

Solar System Planets“What planets can I see in the sky tonight?”

“Is Mars visible?”

Look no further, with this page you can keep track of the planets daily. I tell you where they are in the sky if visible, with rising/setting times, and interesting details on each. Also information about how long you’ll be able to see them in the sky. Apart from Neptune, it is possible to see all with your unaided eyes…

Read more →

Eta Carinae, a Giant Star’s Path to Supernova

Eta Carinae

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 →

Our Barred Spiral Galaxy, The Milky Way

The Milky Way

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 →

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