Nasa Image of the Day
Ceres Seen From NASA's Dawn Spacecraft

Ceres Seen From NASA's Dawn Spacecraft

NASA's Dawn spacecraft has become the first mission to achieve orbit around a dwarf planet. The spacecraft was approximately 38,000 miles (61,000) kilometers from Ceres when it was captured by the dwarf planet’s gravity at about 4:39 a.m. PST (7:39 a.m. EST) Friday, March 6. This image of Ceres was taken by the Dawn spacecraft on March 1, just a few days before the mission achieved orbit around the previously unexplored world. The image shows Ceres as a crescent, mostly in shadow because the spacecraft's trajectory put it on a side of Ceres that faces away from the sun until mid-April. When Dawn emerges from Ceres' dark side, it will deliver ever-sharper images as it spirals to lower orbits around the planet. The image was obtained at a distance of about 30,000 miles (about 48,000 kilometers) at a sun-Ceres-spacecraft angle, or phase angle, of 123 degrees. Image scale on Ceres is 1.9 miles (2.9 kilometers) per pixel. Ceres has an average diameter of about 590 miles (950 kilometers). Dawn's mission is managed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. Dawn is a project of the directorate's Discovery Program, managed by NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. The University of California, Los Angeles, is responsible for overall Dawn mission science. Orbital ATK Inc., in Dulles, Virginia, designed and built the spacecraft. The German Aerospace Center, the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, the Italian Space Agency and the Italian National Astrophysical Institute are international partners on the mission team. For a complete list of acknowledgments, http://dawn.jpl.nasa.gov/mission. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA

Book Store
New Atlas of the MoonNew Atlas of the Moon

Astronomy.co.uk has teamed up with Amazon.co.uk 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!

Astronomy News
Hubble Sees Supernova Split into Four Images by Cosmic Lens
Thu, 05 Mar 2015 14:00:00 -0500Hubble Image

Three-leaf clover plants abound everywhere: on lawns, in gardens, and in forests. But spotting a four-leaf clover is a rare, lucky find. Astronomers using the Hubble Space Telescope have found the equivalent of a four-leaf clover with the discovery of four images of the same supernova. The images are arranged around a giant foreground elliptical galaxy embedded in a cluster of galaxies. The arrangement forms a cross-shaped pattern called an Einstein Cross. The powerful gravity from both the elliptical galaxy and its galaxy cluster magnifies the light from the supernova behind them in an effect called gravitational lensing. The elliptical galaxy and its galaxy cluster, MACS J1149.6+2223, are 5 billion light-years away from Earth. The supernova behind it is 9.3 billion light-years away.



Improved vision for James Webb Space Telescope - Read more >
Wed, 25 Feb 2015 11:00:00 +0100


Key science elements of the James Webb Space Telescope have been upgraded ahead of the observatory’s launch in 2018.




Hubble Gets Best View of a Circumstellar Debris Disk Distorted by a Planet
Thu, 19 Feb 2015 14:00:00 -0500Hubble Image

Over a decade before planets were found orbiting normal stars, the astronomy world was intrigued by the discovery of a vast, edge-on, pancake-flat disk of dust and gas encircling the newborn star Beta Pictoris. It appeared to validate the hypothesis by the German philosopher Immanuel Kant, 230 years ago, that our solar system was born when planets condensed from nebular material in the plane of such a disk. (This model was independently proposed by French scholar Pierre-Simon Laplace in 1796.) Kant regarded the coplanar obits of the planets a fossil skeleton of the long-ago disintegrated disk. Though nearly two dozen circumstellar debris disks have been viewed by the Hubble Space Telescope to date, Beta Pictoris is the first and best example of what a forming young planetary system looks like. That's because it can be seen edge on, and it is the only disk to date where a planet has also been imaged. Hubble has been used to intensively study the disk for the past two decades and this latest picture when compared to previous observations shows that the disk particles appear to smoothly revolve around the star like a majestic carousel. Ground-based telescopes found a Jupiter-sized world embedded in the disk in 2009, and future observations may yield more planetary objects.



Mars hills hide icy past - Read more >
Thu, 19 Feb 2015 11:00:00 +0100


A complex network of isolated hills, ridges and small basins spanning 1400 km on Mars is thought to hide large quantities of water-ice.




Mystery Mars plume baffles scientists - Read more >
Mon, 16 Feb 2015 17:00:00 +0100


Plumes seen reaching high above the surface of Mars are causing a stir among scientists studying the atmosphere on the Red Planet.




Hubble Captures Rare Triple-Moon Conjunction
Thu, 05 Feb 2015 10:00:00 -0500Hubble Image

Firing off a string of snapshots like a sports photographer at a NASCAR race, NASA's Hubble Space Telescope captured a rare look at three of Jupiter's largest moons zipping across the banded face of the gas-giant planet: Europa, Callisto, and Io. Jupiter's four largest moons can commonly be seen transiting the face of the giant planet and casting shadows onto its cloud tops. However, seeing three moons transiting the face of Jupiter at the same time is rare, occurring only once or twice a decade. Missing from the sequence, taken on January 24, 2015, is the moon Ganymede that was too far from Jupiter in angular separation to be part of the conjunction.



Planck reveals first stars were born late - Read more >
Thu, 05 Feb 2015 15:00:00 +0100


New maps from ESA’s Planck satellite uncover the ‘polarised’ light from the early Universe across the entire sky, revealing that the first stars formed much later than previously thought.




Rosetta swoops in for a close encounter - Read more >
Wed, 04 Feb 2015 14:30:00 +0100


ESA’s Rosetta probe is preparing to make a close encounter with its comet on 14 February, passing just 6 km from the surface.




Planck: gravitational waves remain elusive - Read more >
Fri, 30 Jan 2015 18:00:00 +0100


Despite earlier reports of a possible detection, a joint analysis of data from ESA’s Planck satellite and the ground-based BICEP2 and Keck Array experiments has found no conclusive evidence of primordial gravitational waves. 




Hubble Spies a Loopy Galaxy
Thu, 29 Jan 2015 10:00:00 -0500Hubble Image

At first glance, galaxy NGC 7714 resembles a partial golden ring from an amusement park ride. This unusual structure is a river of Sun-like stars that has been pulled deep into space by the gravitational tug of a bypassing galaxy (not seen in this Hubble Space Telescope photo). Though the universe is full of such colliding galaxies that are distorted in a gravitational taffy-pull, NGC 7714 is particularly striking for the seeming fluidity of the stars along a vast arc. The near-collision between the galaxies happened at least 100 million years ago.



Rosetta watches comet shed its dusty coat - Read more >
Mon, 26 Jan 2015 17:00:00 +0100


ESA’s Rosetta mission is providing unique insight into the life cycle of a comet’s dusty surface, watching 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko as it sheds the dusty coat it has accumulated over the past four years.




Getting to know Rosetta’s comet - Read more >
Thu, 22 Jan 2015 20:00:00 +0100


Rosetta is revealing its host comet as having a remarkable array of surface features and with many processes contributing to its activity, painting a complex picture of its evolution.




Mysteries in Nili Fossae - Read more >
Thu, 22 Jan 2015 11:26:00 +0100


These new images from the high-resolution stereo camera on ESA’s Mars Express show Nili Fossae, one of the most enticing regions on Mars. This ‘graben system’ lies northeast of the volcanic region of Syrtis Major on the northwestern edge of the large Isidis impact basin – and intriguing hints of methane have been seen here.




Beagle-2 lander found on Mars - Read more >
Fri, 16 Jan 2015 11:00:00 +0100


The UK-led Beagle-2 Mars lander, which hitched a ride on ESA’s Mars Express mission and was lost on Mars since 2003, has been found in images taken by a NASA orbiter at the Red Planet.




Hubble Discovers that Milky Way Core Drives Wind at 2 Million Miles Per Hour
Mon, 05 Jan 2015 17:15:00 -0500Hubble Image

At a time when our earliest human ancestors had recently mastered walking upright, the heart of our Milky Way galaxy underwent a titanic eruption, driving gases and other material outward at 2 million miles per hour. Now, at least 2 million years later, astronomers are witnessing the aftermath of the explosion: billowing clouds of gas towering about 30,000 light-years above and below the plane of our galaxy.



Hubble's High-Definition Panoramic View of the Andromeda Galaxy
Mon, 05 Jan 2015 17:15:00 -0500Hubble Image

The largest NASA Hubble Space Telescope image ever assembled, this sweeping view of a portion of the Andromeda galaxy (M31) is the sharpest large composite image ever taken of our galactic neighbor. Though the galaxy is over 2 million light-years away, the Hubble telescope is powerful enough to resolve individual stars in a 61,000-light-year-long section of the galaxy's pancake-shaped disk. It's like photographing a beach and resolving individual grains of sand. And, there are lots of stars in this sweeping view over 100 million, with some of them in thousands of star clusters seen embedded in the disk. This ambitious photographic cartography of the Andromeda galaxy represents a new benchmark for precision studies of large spiral galaxies which dominate the universe's population of over 100 billion galaxies. Never before have astronomers been able to see individual stars over a major portion of an external spiral galaxy. Most of the stars in the universe live inside such majestic star cities, and this is the first data that reveal populations of stars in context to their home galaxy.



Hubble Goes High Def to Revisit the Iconic 'Pillars of Creation'
Mon, 05 Jan 2015 17:15:00 -0500Hubble Image

Although NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has taken many breathtaking images of the universe, one snapshot stands out from the rest: the iconic view of the so-called "Pillars of Creation." The jaw-dropping photo, taken in 1995, revealed never-before-seen details of three giant columns of cold gas bathed in the scorching ultraviolet light from a cluster of young, massive stars in a small region of the Eagle Nebula, or M16.



Origin of high-latitude auroras revealed - Read more >
Thu, 18 Dec 2014 20:00:00 +0100


Auroras are the most visible manifestation of the Sun’s effect on Earth, but many aspects of these spectacular displays are still poorly understood. Thanks to ESA’s Cluster and NASA’s Image satellites working together, a particular type of very high-latitude aurora has now been explained.




Flying over Becquerel - Read more >
Thu, 18 Dec 2014 14:00:00 +0100


This latest release from the camera on ESA’s Mars Express is a simulated flight over the Becquerel crater, showing large-scale deposits of sedimentary material.




Institute Astronomers Share Prize for Discovery of Accelerating Universe
Tue, 16 Dec 2014 15:00:00 -0500Hubble Image

It's the stuff of a science fiction movie: a mysterious form of energy that is pulling the universe apart at an ever-faster rate. Astronomers around the world are befuddled and are marshaling the world's most powerful telescopes in their search for clues to understanding what this "dark force" could be. Who knows how the story will end?



Venus Express goes gently into the night - Read more >
Tue, 16 Dec 2014 18:30:00 +0100


ESA’s Venus Express has ended its eight-year mission after far exceeding its planned life. The spacecraft exhausted its propellant during a series of thruster burns to raise its orbit following the low-altitude aerobraking earlier this year. 




Rosetta fuels debate on origin of Earth’s oceans - Read more >
Wed, 10 Dec 2014 20:00:00 +0100


ESA’s Rosetta spacecraft has found the water vapour from its target comet to be significantly different to that found on Earth. The discovery fuels the debate on the origin of our planet’s oceans.




Frost-covered chaos on Mars - Read more >
Thu, 27 Nov 2014 11:00:00 +0100


Thanks to a break in the dusty ‘weather’ over the giant Hellas Basin at the beginning of this year, ESA’s Mars Express was able to look down into the seven kilometre-deep basin and onto the frosty surface of Hellas Chaos.




STScI Astronomer Margaret Meixner Elected AAAS Fellow
Mon, 24 Nov 2014 13:00:00 -0500Hubble Image

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Council has elected Margaret Meixner of the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) and 401 other AAAS members as Fellows of AAAS. Election as an AAAS Fellow is an honor bestowed upon AAAS members by their peers.



AURA Announces Selection of New AURA President
Mon, 24 Nov 2014 08:15:00 -0500Hubble Image

The Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) announced today that Dr. Matt Mountain, Director of the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Maryland, will become AURA President beginning March 1, 2015. Mountain will succeed William S. Smith who served as President since 2000. In announcing the selection, the Chair of the AURA Board of Directors, Dr. Richard Green, said, "AURA is heading into an exciting period, and Matt has enormous experience in large program and large facility management in ground- and space-based organizations. This will be a great asset for AURA as we complete construction on the Daniel K. Inoue Solar Telescope, the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope, and the James Webb Space Telescope."



Pioneering Philae completes main mission before hibernation - Read more >
Sat, 15 Nov 2014 10:30:00 +0100


Rosetta’s lander has completed its primary science mission after nearly 57 hours on Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko.




Three touchdowns for Rosetta’s lander - Read more >
Fri, 14 Nov 2014 12:40:00 +0100


After achieving touchdown on a comet for the first time in history, scientists and engineers are busy analysing this new world and the nature of the landing. 




Touchdown! Rosetta’s Philae probe lands on comet - Read more >
Wed, 12 Nov 2014 17:30:00 +0100


ESA’s Rosetta mission has soft-landed its Philae probe on a comet, the first time in history that such an extraordinary feat has been achieved.



Buy A Star Gift - Name a star for any occasion, view it live on Google Sky
Universal Star Registry Certificate

Astronomy.co.uk 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 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!


Follow AstronomyUK on Twitter