Nasa Image of the Day
Rose-Colored Jupiter

Rose-Colored Jupiter

This image captures a close-up view of a storm with bright cloud tops in the northern hemisphere of Jupiter.

Book Store
Wonders of the UniverseWonders of the Universe has teamed up with to bring you the finest selection of astronomy related books at the best prices.

Browse through our bookstore and check out our fine selection of books from star charts and astrophotography to mathematical astronomy. We are sure you will find the book that best suits your needs.

Sky View Cafe
Sky View Cafe

Sky View Café is a Java applet that lets you use your web browser to see many types of astronomical information, in both graphical and numerical form. You can see which stars and planets will be out tonight in the sky above your home town, see how the next solar or lunar eclipse will look from London, or find out when the Moon rose over Sydney on your birthday ten years ago. Sky View Café includes star charts, a 3-D orrery, displays of the moons of Jupiter and Saturn, an astronomical event calendar, an ephemeris generator, and many other features. Enter Sky View Café now!

Buy A Star Gift - Name a star for any occasion, view it live on Google Sky
Universal Star Registry Certificate Star Naming Service
Name a star for yourself or for that special person as the perfect gift that will sparkle for a lifetime! Ideal for any occassion, birthdays, christenings, anniversaries and memorials. Reserve a place in the heavens for your loved ones

The Sky Tonight Astronomy News
Stephen Hawking (1942-2018) - Read more >
Fri, 16 Mar 2018 09:00:00 +0100

ESA is saddened by the news of the passing of Professor Stephen Hawking, FRS, cosmologist and one of the pioneers of theoretical studies of black holes, on 14 March at the age of 76.

Arrested Development: Hubble Finds Relic Galaxy Close to Home
Mon, 12 Mar 2018 14:00:00 EDTHubble Image

Ghostly-Looking Galaxy Stopped Making Stars Long Ago

The adventuring cinema archeologist Indiana Jones would be delighted to find a long-sought relic in his own backyard. Astronomers have gotten lucky enough to achieve such a quest. They identified a very rare and odd assemblage of stars that has remained essentially unchanged for the past 10 billion years. The diffuse stellar island provides valuable new insights into the origin and evolution of galaxies billions of years ago.

As far as galaxy evolution goes, this object is clearly a case of “arrested development.” The galaxy, NGC 1277, started its life with a bang long ago, ferociously churning out stars 1,000 times faster than seen in our own Milky Way today. But it abruptly went quiescent as the baby boomer stars aged and grew ever redder. Though Hubble has seen such “red and dead” galaxies in the early universe, one has never been conclusively found nearby. Where the early galaxies are so distant, they are just red dots in Hubble deep-sky images. NGC 1277 offers a unique opportunity to see one up close and personal.

The telltale sign of the galaxy’s state lies in the ancient globular clusters that swarm around it. Massive galaxies tend to have both metal-poor (appearing blue) and metal-rich (appearing red) globular clusters. The red clusters are believed to form as the galaxy forms, while the blue clusters are later brought in as smaller satellites are swallowed by the central galaxy. However, NGC 1277 is almost entirely lacking in blue globular clusters. The red clusters are the strongest evidence that the galaxy went out of the star-making business long ago. However, the lack of blue clusters suggests that NGC 1277 never grew further by gobbling up surrounding galaxies.

Spaceport calling - Read more >
Mon, 12 Mar 2018 09:50:00 +0100

Space Science Image of the Week: New views of BepiColombo as teams prepare to move to Europe's spaceport in Kourou

NASA's Webb Telescope to Make a Splash in the Search for Interstellar Water
Fri, 09 Mar 2018 10:00:00 ESTHubble Image

NASA's Webb Telescope Will Map Cosmic Ices

Most of the water in the universe floats in vast reservoirs called molecular clouds. It coats the surface of dust grains, turning them into cosmic snowflakes. When stars and planets form, those snowflakes get swept up, delivering key ingredients for life. NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope will map water and other cosmic ices to gain new insights into these building blocks for habitable planets.

BepiColombo gets green light for launch site - Read more >
Fri, 09 Mar 2018 11:00:00 +0100

Europe’s first mission to Mercury will soon be ready for shipping to the spaceport to begin final preparations for launch.

Hubble Finds Huge System of Dusty Material Enveloping the Young Star HR 4796A
Tue, 06 Mar 2018 13:00:00 ESTHubble Image

Newly discovered, vast, complex dust structure, about 150 billion miles across, envelopes the young star HR 4796A

Finding lots of dust around stars may not sound like anything astronomers would get excited about. The universe is a dusty place. But dust around a young star can be evidence that planet formation is taking place. This isn’t a new idea. In 1755, German Philosopher Immanuel Kant first proposed that planets formed around our Sun in a debris disk of gas and dust. Astronomers imagined that this process might take place around other stars.

They had to wait until the early 1980s for the first observational evidence for a debris disk around any star to be uncovered. An edge-on debris disk was photographed around the southern star Beta Pictoris. Beta Pictoris remained the poster child for such debris systems until the late 1990s when the Hubble Space Telescope’s second-generation instruments, which had the capability of blocking out the glare of a central star, allowed many more disks to be photographed. Now, they are thought to be common around stars. About 40 such systems have been imaged to date, largely by Hubble.

In this recent image, Hubble uncovers a vast, complex dust structure, about 150 billion miles across, enveloping the young star HR 4796A. A bright, narrow inner ring of dust is already known to encircle the star, based on much earlier Hubble photographs. It may have been corralled by the gravitational pull of an unseen giant planet. This newly discovered huge dust structure around the system may have implications for what this yet-unseen planetary system looks like around the 8-million-year-old star, which is in its formative years of planet construction.

Donor star breathes life into zombie companion - Read more >
Mon, 05 Mar 2018 10:00:00 +0100

ESA’s Integral space observatory has witnessed a rare event: the moment that winds emitted by a swollen red giant star revived its slow-spinning companion, the core of a dead star, bringing it back to life in a flash of X-rays.

NASA Finds a Large Amount of Water in an Exoplanet's Atmosphere
Thu, 01 Mar 2018 13:00:00 ESTHubble Image

Researchers Surprised by How Much Water Found in Atmosphere of WASP-39b

Using Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes, scientists studied the “hot Saturn” called WASP-39b — a hot, bloated, Saturn-mass exoplanet located about 700 light-years from Earth. By dissecting starlight filtering through the planet’s atmosphere into its component colors, the team found clear evidence for a large amount of water vapor. In fact, WASP-39b has three times as much water as Saturn does. Although the researchers predicted they’d see water, they were surprised by how much they found. This suggests that the planet formed farther out from the star, where it was bombarded by a lot of icy material. Because WASP-39b has so much more water than Saturn, it must have formed differently from our famously ringed neighbor.

Mars Express views moons set against Saturn's rings - Read more >
Thu, 01 Mar 2018 11:00:00 +0100

New images and video from ESA’s Mars Express show Phobos and Deimos drifting in front of Saturn and background stars, revealing more about the positioning and surfaces of the Red Planet’s mysterious moons.

Improved Hubble Yardstick Gives Fresh Evidence for New Physics in the Universe
Thu, 22 Feb 2018 15:00:00 ESTHubble Image

New Survey Is the Most Precise Measurement of the Universe's Expansion Rate

The good news: Astronomers have made the most precise measurement to date of the rate at which the universe is expanding since the big bang. The possibly unsettling news: This may mean that there is something unknown about the makeup of the universe. The new numbers remain at odds with independent measurements of the early universe's expansion. Is something unpredicted going on in the depths of space?

Astronomers have come a long way since the early 1900s when they didn't have a clue that we lived in an expanding universe. Before this could be realized, astronomers needed an accurate celestial measuring stick to calculate distances to far-flung objects. At that time, faint, fuzzy patches of light that we now know as galaxies were thought by many astronomers to be objects inside our Milky Way. But, in 1913, Harvard astronomer Henrietta Leavitt discovered unique pulsating stars that maintain a consistent brightness no matter where they reside. Called Cepheid variables, these stars became reliable yardsticks for astronomers to measure cosmic distances from Earth.

A few years later, building on Leavitt's pioneering work, astronomer Edwin Hubble found a Cepheid variable star in the Andromeda nebula. By measuring the star's tremendous distance, Hubble proved that the nebula was really an entire galaxy — a separate island of billions of stars far outside our Milky Way.

He went on to find many more galaxies across space. When he used Cepheid variables to measure galaxy distances, he found that the farther away a galaxy is, the faster it appears to be receding from us. This led him to the monumental discovery that our universe is uniformly expanding in all directions. And, even the universe's age, which today we know is 13.8 billion years, could be calculated from the expansion rate.

Little would Leavitt have imagined that her Cepheid variable work would become the solid bottom rung of a cosmic distance ladder of interlinked techniques that would allow for measurements across billions of light-years.

The latest Hubble telescope results that solidify the cosmic ladder confirm a nagging discrepancy showing the universe is expanding faster now than was expected from its trajectory seen shortly after the big bang. Researchers suggest that there may be new physics at work to explain the inconsistency. One idea is that the universe contains a new high-speed subatomic particle. Another possibility is that dark energy, already known to be accelerating the cosmos, may be shoving galaxies away from each other with even greater — or growing — strength.

The Hubble study extends the number of Cepheid stars analyzed to distances of up to 10 times farther across our galaxy than previous Hubble results. The new measurements help reduce the chance that the discrepancy in the values is a coincidence to 1 in 5,000.

Surfing complete - Read more >
Wed, 21 Feb 2018 11:00:00 +0100

Slowed by skimming through the very top of the upper atmosphere, ESA’s ExoMars has lowered itself into a planet-hugging orbit and is about ready to begin sniffing the Red Planet for methane.

NASA's James Webb Space Telescope to Reveal Secrets of the Red Planet
Tue, 20 Feb 2018 10:00:00 ESTHubble Image

Webb will investigate how Mars went from wet to dry

Mars rovers and orbiters have found signs that Mars once hosted liquid water on its surface. Much of that water escaped over time. How much water was lost, and how does the water that’s left move from ice to atmosphere to soil? During its first year of operations, NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope will seek answers. Webb also will study mysterious methane plumes that hint at possible geological or even biological activity.

Hubble Sees Neptune's Mysterious Shrinking Storm
Thu, 15 Feb 2018 13:00:00 ESTHubble Image

Storms on Neptune Play Peek-A-Boo With Planetary Astronomers

Three billion miles away on the farthest known major planet in our solar system, an ominous, stinky, dark storm is shrinking out of existence as seen in pictures of Neptune taken by the Hubble Space Telescope. Immense dark storms on Neptune were first discovered in the late 1980s by the Voyager 2 spacecraft. Since then, only Hubble has tracked these elusive features that play a game of peek-a-boo over the years. Hubble found two dark storms that appeared in the mid-1990s and then vanished. This latest storm was first seen in 2015, but is now shrinking away. The dark spot material may be hydrogen sulfide, with the pungent smell of rotten eggs.

Leaky atmosphere linked to lightweight planet - Read more >
Thu, 08 Feb 2018 13:03:00 +0100

The Red Planet’s low gravity and lack of magnetic field makes its outermost atmosphere an easy target to be swept away by the solar wind, but new evidence from ESA’s Mars Express spacecraft shows that the Sun’s radiation may play a surprising role in its escape.

Hubble Probes Atmospheres of Exoplanets in TRAPPIST-1 Habitable Zone
Mon, 05 Feb 2018 11:00:00 ESTHubble Image

Worlds in the Star’s Habitable Zone Are Not Smothered Under Primordial Atmospheres

Only 40 light-years away — a stone’s throw on the scale of our galaxy — several Earth-sized planets orbit the red dwarf star TRAPPIST-1. Four of the planets lie in the star’s habitable zone, a region at a distance from the star where liquid water, the key to life as we know it, could exist on the planets’ surfaces.

Astronomers using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope have conducted the first spectroscopic survey of these worlds. Hubble reveals that at least three of the exoplanets do not seem to contain puffy, hydrogen-rich atmospheres similar to gaseous planets such as Neptune. This means the atmospheres may be more shallow and rich in heavier gases like those found in Earth’s atmosphere, such as carbon dioxide, methane, and oxygen.

Astronomers plan to use NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, scheduled to launch in 2019, to probe deeper into the planetary atmospheres to search for the presence of such elements that could offer hints of whether these far-flung worlds are habitable.

ESA creates quietest place in space - Read more >
Mon, 05 Feb 2018 16:00:00 +0100

Imagine a packed party: music is blaring and you can feel the bass vibrate in your chest, lights are flashing, balloons are falling from the ceiling and the air is filled with hundreds of separate conversations. At the same time your cell phone is vibrating in your pocket and your drink is fizzing in the glass. Now imagine you can block out this assault on your senses to create a perfectly quiet bubble around you, only letting in the unmistakable voice of your best friend who’s trying to get your attention from the other side of the room.

Stellar winds behaving unexpectedly - Read more >
Fri, 02 Feb 2018 15:00:00 +0100

ESA’s XMM-Newton has spotted surprising changes in the powerful streams of gas from two massive stars, suggesting that colliding stellar winds don’t behave as expected.

LISA Pathfinder wins American Astronautical Society award - Read more >
Wed, 24 Jan 2018 15:00:00 +0100

ESA’s LISA Pathfinder mission has been honoured with the 2017 Space Technology Award of the American Astronautical Society.

Crater Neukum named after Mars Express founder - Read more >
Thu, 18 Jan 2018 11:00:00 +0100

A fascinating martian crater has been chosen to honour the German physicist and planetary scientist, Gerhard Neukum, one of the founders of ESA’s Mars Express mission.

Rosetta and Planck honoured in annual Royal Astronomical Society awards - Read more >
Fri, 12 Jan 2018 17:00:00 +0100

ESA’s Matt Taylor has been awarded the 2018 Service Award for Geophysics by the Royal Astronomical Society for his outstanding contribution to the Rosetta mission, while the Planck mission has been honoured with the Group Achievement Award for their extraordinary achievements in cosmology.

Hubble Finds Substellar Objects in the Orion Nebula
Thu, 11 Jan 2018 14:15:00 ESTHubble Image

Deep Survey Looks for Faint Objects in Nearby Stellar Nursery

Using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope to peer deep into the vast stellar nursery called the Orion Nebula, astronomers searched for small, faint bodies. What they found was the largest population yet of brown dwarfs — objects that are more massive than planets but do not shine like stars. Researchers identified 17 brown dwarf companions to red dwarf stars, one brown dwarf pair, and one brown dwarf with a planetary companion. They also found three giant planets, including a binary system where two planets orbit each other in the absence of a parent star. This survey could only be done with Hubble’s exceptional resolution and infrared sensitivity.

NASA's Great Observatories Team Up to Find Magnified and Stretched Out Image of Distant Galaxy
Thu, 11 Jan 2018 10:15:00 ESTHubble Image

Small, Embryonic Galaxy Formed Just 500 Million Years After the Big Bang

As powerful as NASA’s Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes are, they need a little help from nature in seeking out the farthest, and hence earliest galaxies that first appeared in the universe after the big bang. This help comes from a natural zoom lens in the universe, formed by the warping of space by intense gravitational fields.

The most powerful “zoom lenses” out there are formed by very massive foreground clusters that bend space like a bowling ball rolling across a soft mattress. The lens boosts the brightness of distant background objects. The farthest candidates simply appear as red dots in Hubble photos because of their small size and great distance.

However, astronomers got very lucky when they looked at galaxy cluster SPT-CL J0615-5746. Embedded in the photo is an arc-like structure that is not only the amplified image of a background galaxy, but an image that has been smeared into a crescent-shape. This image allowed astronomers to estimate that the diminutive galaxy weighs in at no more than 3 billion solar masses (roughly 1/100th the mass of our fully grown Milky Way galaxy). It is less than 2,500 light-years across, half the size of the Small Magellanic Cloud, a satellite galaxy of our Milky Way. The object is considered prototypical of young galaxies that emerged during the epoch shortly after the big bang. Hubble’s clarity, combined with Spitzer’s infrared sensitivity to light reddened by the expanding universe, allowed for the object’s vast distance to be calculated.

Hubble Probes the Archeology of Our Milky Way's Ancient Hub
Thu, 11 Jan 2018 10:15:00 ESTHubble Image

Swarms of Young and Older Stars Yield Clues to our Galaxy’s Formation

Every star has a story to tell. Study a star and it will give you information about its composition, age, and possibly even clues to where it first formed. The stars residing in the oldest structure of our Milky Way galaxy, the central bulge, offer insight into how our pinwheel-shaped island of myriad stars evolved over billions of years. Think of our Milky Way as a pancake-shaped structure with a big round dollop of butter in the middle — that would be our galaxy’s central hub.

For many years, astronomers had a simple view of our Milky Way’s bulge as a quiescent place composed of old stars, the earliest homesteaders of our galaxy. A new analysis of about 10,000 normal Sun-like stars in the bulge reveals that our galaxy’s hub is a dynamic environment of variously aged stars zipping around at different speeds, like travelers bustling about a busy airport. This conclusion is based on nine years’ worth of archival data from the Hubble Space Telescope. The faster-moving and later-generation stars may have arrived at the hub through our Milky Way cannibalizing smaller galaxies. They mingle with a different population of older, slowing-moving stars. Currently, only Hubble has sharp enough resolution to simultaneously measure the motions of thousands of Sun-like stars at the bulge's distance from Earth.

Researchers Catch Supermassive Black Hole Burping — Twice
Thu, 11 Jan 2018 10:15:00 ESTHubble Image

NASA Great Observatories Team-up to Identify Flickering Black Hole

Supermassive black holes, weighing millions of times as much as our Sun, are gatherers not hunters. Embedded in the hearts of galaxies, they will lie dormant for a long time until the next meal happens to come along.

The team of astronomers using observations from the Hubble Space Telescope, the Chandra X-ray Observatory, and as well as the W.M. Keck Observatory in Mauna Kea, Hawaii, and the Apache Point Observatory (APO) near Sunspot, New Mexico, zeroed in on a flickering black hole.

A black hole in the center of galaxy SDSS J1354+1327, located about 800 million light-years away, appears to have consumed large amounts of gas while blasting off an outflow of high-energy particles. The fresh burst of fuel might have been supplied by a bypassing galaxy. The outflow eventually switched off then turned back on about 100,000 years later. This is strong evidence that accreting black holes can switch their power output off and on again over timescales that are short compared to the 13.8-billion-year age of the universe.

NASA Space Telescopes Provide a 3D Journey Through the Orion Nebula
Thu, 11 Jan 2018 10:00:00 ESTHubble Image

Unprecedented Fly-through Combines the Visible and Infrared Vision of the Hubble and Spitzer Space Telescopes

By combining the visible and infrared capabilities of the Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes, astronomers and visualization specialists from NASA's Universe of Learning program have created a spectacular, three-dimensional, fly-through movie of the magnificent Orion nebula, a nearby stellar nursery. Using actual scientific data along with Hollywood techniques, a team at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Maryland, and the Caltech/IPAC in Pasadena, California, has produced the best and most detailed multi-wavelength visualization yet of the Orion nebula. The three-minute movie allows viewers to glide through the picturesque star-forming region and experience the universe in an exciting new way.

NASA's Webb Telescope to Investigate Mysterious Brown Dwarfs
Thu, 04 Jan 2018 11:00:00 ESTHubble Image

Strange Star or Rogue Planet? Brown Dwarfs Defy Definition

Brown dwarfs are often described as failed stars. However, this label misrepresents the true nature of these unusual objects. They may live in the fuzzy boundary between planets and stars, but it’s that exact ambiguity that makes them so intriguing to scientists. NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope will study brown dwarfs to measure their properties and probe their origins.

Günther Hasinger appointed as ESA Director of Science - Read more >
Thu, 14 Dec 2017 15:00:00 +0100

The Council of the European Space Agency announced the appointment of Günther Hasinger as the next Director of Science. He will succeed Alvaro Giménez, who has served in the position since 2011.

Mars upside down - Read more >
Thu, 14 Dec 2017 11:00:00 +0100

Which way is up in space? Planets are usually shown with the north pole at the top and the south pole at the bottom. In this remarkable image taken by ESA’s Mars Express, the Red Planet is seen with north at the bottom, and the equator at the top.

Two tales of one galaxy - Read more >
Wed, 13 Dec 2017 14:50:00 +0100

Explore the stars in our galactic neighbour, the Large Magellanic Cloud, as viewed by ESA’s Gaia satellite

Hubble's Celestial Snow Globe
Tue, 12 Dec 2017 13:00:00 ESTHubble Image

A Hubble Space Telescope View of Globular Cluster M79

It's beginning to look a lot like the holiday season in this NASA Hubble Space Telescope image of a blizzard of stars, which resembles a swirling snowstorm in a snow globe. The stars are residents of the globular star cluster Messier 79, or M79, located 41,000 light-years from Earth, in the constellation Lepus. The cluster is also known as NGC 1904.

Hot and cold - Read more >
Fri, 08 Dec 2017 10:55:00 +0100

BepiColombo module withstands extreme temperatures in final space simulation

NASA's James Webb Space Telescope Early Science Observations Revealed
Mon, 13 Nov 2017 10:00:00 ESTHubble Image

First Publicly Available Science Observations for Webb Announced

The Space Telescope Science Institute is announcing some of the first science programs NASA's James Webb Space Telescope will conduct following its launch and commissioning. These specific observations are part of a program of Director’s Discretionary Early Release Science (DD-ERS), which will provide the scientific community with immediate access to Webb data. These data will help inform proposals for observations in the second year of Webb operations. The 13 ERS programs will address a broad variety of science areas, from black hole growth and the assembly of galaxies to star formation and the study of exoplanets.

Hubble Movie Shows Movement of Light Echo Around Exploded Star
Thu, 09 Nov 2017 13:00:00 ESTHubble Image

Light from Supernova Bouncing Off Giant Dust Cloud

Voices reverberating off mountains and the sound of footsteps bouncing off walls are examples of an echo. Echoes happen when sound waves ricochet off surfaces and return to the listener.

Space has its own version of an echo. It’s not made with sound but with light, and occurs when light bounces off dust clouds.

The Hubble telescope has just captured one of these cosmic echoes, called a “light echo,” in the nearby starburst galaxy M82, located 11.4 million light-years away. A movie assembled from more than two years’ worth of Hubble images reveals an expanding shell of light from a supernova explosion sweeping through interstellar space three years after the stellar blast was discovered. The “echoing” light looks like a ripple expanding on a pond. The supernova, called SN 2014J, was discovered on Jan. 21, 2014.

A light echo occurs because light from the stellar blast travels different distances to arrive at Earth. Some light comes to Earth directly from the supernova blast. Other light is delayed because it travels indirectly. In this case, the light is bouncing off a huge dust cloud that extends 300 to 1,600 light-years around the supernova and is being reflected toward Earth.

So far, astronomers have spotted only 15 light echoes around supernovae outside our Milky Way galaxy. Light echo detections from supernovae are rarely seen because they must be nearby for a telescope to resolve them.

Hubble Sees Nearby Asteroids Photobombing Distant Galaxies
Thu, 02 Nov 2017 13:00:00 EDTHubble Image

Asteroid Trails Streak Across This Deep-Space View of Thousands of Galaxies

Photobombing asteroids from our solar system have snuck their way into this deep image of the universe taken by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope. These asteroids are right around the corner in astronomical terms, residing roughly 160 million miles from Earth. Yet they’ve horned their way into this picture of thousands of galaxies scattered across space and time at inconceivably farther distances.

From stars to galaxies - Read more >
Thu, 21 Sep 2017 12:00:00 +0200

Explore stellar nurseries in our Milky Way and other galaxies as viewed through the infrared eye of the Herschel space observatory

Parting views - Read more >
Fri, 15 Sep 2017 15:10:00 +0200

Cassini’s last look around Saturn’s neighbourhood before concluding its 13-year journey of discovery

This Month's Sky Map
This Month's Sky Map

Take a look at this month's Sky Map to help you explore the wonders of the night sky!

Ideal for all sky watchers including beginners to astronomy.

The Sky Map will help you identify planets, bright stars, constellations and nebulae!
Printable version available too!

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