Nasa Image of the Day
First Light Data for NASA's Parker Solar Probe

First Light Data for NASA's Parker Solar Probe

Just over a month into its mission, NASA's Parker Solar Probe has returned first-light data from each of its four instrument suites. These early observations show that each of the instruments is working well.

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!

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 Astronomy News
Gaia hints at our Galaxy’s turbulent life - Read more >
Wed, 19 Sep 2018 19:00:00 +0200


ESA’s star mapping mission, Gaia, has shown our Milky Way galaxy is still enduring the effects of a near collision that set millions of stars moving like ripples on a pond.




ExoMars highlights radiation risk for Mars astronauts, and watches as dust storm subsides - Read more >
Wed, 19 Sep 2018 09:00:00 +0200


Astronauts on a mission to Mars would be exposed to at least 60% of the total radiation dose limit recommended for their career during the journey itself to and from the Red Planet, according to data from the ESA-Roscosmos ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter being presented at the European Planetary Science Congress, EPSC, in Berlin, Germany, this week.




Hubble Uncovers Never Before Seen Features Around a Neutron Star
Mon, 17 Sep 2018 11:00:00 EDTHubble Image

Imagine crushing more than 50,000 aircraft carriers into the size of a baseball. This describes neutron stars. They are among the strangest objects in the universe. Neutron stars are a case of extreme physics produced by the unforgiving force of gravity. The entire core of an exploded star has been squeezed into a solid ball of neutrons with the density of an atom’s nucleus. Neutron stars spin as fast as a blender on puree. Some spit out death-star beams of intense radiation — like interstellar lighthouses. These are called pulsars.

These beams are normally seen in X-rays, gamma-rays, and radio waves. But astronomers used Hubble's near-infrared (IR) vision to look at a nearby neutron star cataloged RX J0806.4-4123. They were surprised to see a gush of IR light coming from a region around the neutron star. That infrared light might come from a circumstellar disk 18 billion miles across. Another idea is that a wind of subatomic particles from the pulsar’s magnetic field is slamming into interstellar gas. Hubble's IR vision opens a new window into understanding how these "infernal machines" work.



Frosted crater - Read more >
Mon, 17 Sep 2018 09:00:00 +0200


Space Science Image of the Week: Bright carbon dioxide ice clings to the walls of a crater in the south polar region of Mars



Hubble Goes Wide to Seek Out Far-Flung Galaxies
Thu, 13 Sep 2018 11:00:00 EDTHubble Image

The universe is a big place. The Hubble Space Telescope's views burrow deep into space and time, but cover an area a fraction the angular size of the full Moon. The challenge is that these "core samples" of the sky may not fully represent the universe at large. This dilemma for cosmologists is called cosmic variance. By expanding the survey area, such uncertainties in the structure of the universe can be reduced.

A new Hubble observing campaign, called Beyond Ultra-deep Frontier Fields And Legacy Observations (BUFFALO), will boldly expand the space telescope's view into regions that are adjacent to huge galaxy clusters previously photographed by NASA's Spitzer and Hubble space telescopes under a program called Frontier Fields.

The six massive clusters were used as "natural telescopes," to look for amplified images of galaxies and supernovas that are so distant and faint that they could not be photographed by Hubble without the boost of light caused by a phenomenon called gravitational lensing. The clusters' large masses, mainly composed of dark matter, magnify and distort the light coming from distant background galaxies that otherwise could not be detected. The BUFFALO program is designed to identify galaxies in their earliest stages of formation, less than 800 million years after the big bang.



Success in Critical Communications Tests for NASA's James Webb Space Telescope
Wed, 05 Sep 2018 10:00:00 EDTHubble Image

When NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope is en route to and in orbit nearly a million miles from Earth, continuous communications with its Mission Operations Center (MOC) in Baltimore will be essential. Recently, at the Space Telescope Science Institute—home of the MOC—Webb’s Flight Operations Team successfully completed two critical communications tests. The first demonstrated that from the moment Webb launches through the first six hours of flight, complex exchanges could be accomplished among the five different service providers around the world who will alternately convey command and telemetry communications. The second test showed that the MOC could successfully command the telescope.



BepiColombo science orbiters stacked together - Read more >
Fri, 31 Aug 2018 11:00:00 +0200


The two science orbiters of the joint ESA-JAXA BepiColombo mission are connected in their launch configuration and the European science orbiter and transport module have been given the go-ahead to be loaded with propellants.




Retiring Hubble Visualization Expert Blended the Best of Science and Art
Thu, 30 Aug 2018 10:00:00 EDTHubble Image

Astronomy has always been a preeminently visual science, going back thousands of years to the early sky watchers. Hubble’s jaw-dropping views of far-flung planets, nebulas, and galaxies have redefined the universe for whole new generations. Nearly all of Hubble’s dazzling images have been prepared with the skills of Zoltan Levay, in the STScI Office of Public Outreach. Levay is retiring now to pursue his hobby of photography on a more earth-bound plane. He leaves behind a 25-year-long legacy of several thousand colorful space pictures that communicate the mystery and wonder of the universe. Levay blended traditional photographic skills with science data to yield aesthetically pleasing pictures that are both enticing and informative. He carefully balanced the objective and subjective elements of imagery to capture the essence of intrinsically wondrous celestial landscapes.



Artwork unveiled on exoplanet satellite - Read more >
Mon, 27 Aug 2018 17:00:00 +0200


Two plaques etched with thousands of miniaturised drawings made by children have been unveiled in a dedicated ceremony held today in Switzerland.




Infant exoplanet weighed by Hipparcos and Gaia - Read more >
Mon, 20 Aug 2018 17:00:00 +0200


The mass of a very young exoplanet has been revealed for the first time using data from ESA’s star mapping spacecraft Gaia and its predecessor, the quarter-century retired Hipparcos satellite.




Hubble Paints Picture of the Evolving Universe
Thu, 16 Aug 2018 13:00:00 EDTHubble Image

Astronomers have just assembled one of the most comprehensive portraits yet of the universe’s evolutionary history, based on a broad spectrum of observations by the Hubble Space Telescope and other space and ground-based telescopes. In particular, Hubble’s ultraviolet vision opens a new window on the evolving universe, tracking the birth of stars over the last 11 billion years back to the cosmos’ busiest star-forming period, about 3 billion years after the big bang. This photo encompasses a sea of approximately 15,000 galaxies — 12,000 of which are star-forming — widely distributed in time and space.



Students digging into data archive spot mysterious X-ray source - Read more >
Fri, 10 Aug 2018 10:00:00 +0200


An enigmatic X-ray source revealed as part of a data-mining project for high-school students shows unexplored avenues hidden in the vast archive of ESA’s XMM-Newton X-ray Observatory.




Astronomers Uncover New Clues to the Star that Wouldn't Die
Thu, 02 Aug 2018 13:00:00 EDTHubble Image

It takes more than a massive outburst to destroy the mammoth star Eta Carinae, one of the brightest known stars in the Milky Way galaxy. About 170 years ago, Eta Carinae erupted, unleashing almost as much energy as a standard supernova explosion.

Yet that powerful blast wasn’t enough to obliterate the star, and astronomers have been searching for clues to explain the outburst ever since. Although they cannot travel back to the mid-1800s to witness the actual eruption, they can watch a rebroadcast of part of the event — courtesy of some wayward light from the explosion. Rather than heading straight toward Earth, some of the light from the outburst rebounded or “echoed” off of interstellar dust, and is just now arriving at Earth. This effect is called a light echo.

The surprise is that new measurements of the 19th-century eruption, made by ground-based telescopes, reveal material expanding with record-breaking speeds of up to 20 times faster than astronomers expected. The observed velocities are more like the fastest material ejected by the blast wave in a supernova explosion, rather than the relatively slow and gentle winds expected from massive stars before they die.

Based on the new data, researchers suggest that the 1840s eruption may have been triggered by a prolonged stellar brawl among three rowdy sibling stars, which destroyed one star and left the other two in a binary system. This tussle may have culminated with a violent explosion when Eta Carinae devoured one of its two companions, rocketing more than 10 times the mass of our Sun into space. The ejected mass created gigantic bipolar lobes resembling the dumbbell shape seen in present-day images.



Worth the wait - Read more >
Tue, 31 Jul 2018 11:31:00 +0200


A taste of the transformative science that the James Webb Space Telescope will enable, from chasing down the Universe's first galaxies to characterising exoplanets in solar systems beyond our own



Saturn and Mars Team Up to Make Their Closest Approaches to Earth in 2018
Thu, 26 Jul 2018 10:00:00 EDTHubble Image

As Saturn and Mars ventured close to Earth, Hubble captured their portraits in June and July 2018, respectively. The telescope photographed the planets near opposition, when the Sun, Earth and an outer planet are lined up, with Earth sitting in between the Sun and the outer planet. Around the time of opposition, a planet is at its closest distance to Earth in its orbit. Hubble viewed Saturn on June 6, when the ringed world was approximately 1.36 billion miles from Earth, as it approached a June 27 opposition. Mars was captured on July 18, at just 36.9 million miles from Earth, near its July 27 opposition. Hubble saw the planets during summertime in Saturn’s northern hemisphere and springtime in Mars’ southern hemisphere. The increase in sunlight in Saturn’s northern hemisphere heated the atmosphere and triggered a large storm that is now disintegrating in Saturn’s northern polar region. On Mars, a spring dust storm erupted in the southern hemisphere and ballooned into a global event enshrouding the entire planet.



BepiColombo to target mid-October launch - Read more >
Thu, 26 Jul 2018 08:00:00 +0200


Europe’s first mission to Mercury will target the early morning of 19 October for launch, Arianespace and ESA announced today.




Mars Express detects liquid water hidden under planet’s south pole - Read more >
Wed, 25 Jul 2018 16:00:00 +0200


Radar data collected by ESA’s Mars Express point to a pond of liquid water buried under layers of ice and dust in the south polar region of Mars.




Print and play - Read more >
Fri, 13 Jul 2018 17:32:00 +0200


Test your memory and get to know BepiColombo and its journey to Mercury



Hubble and Gaia Team Up to Fuel Cosmic Conundrum
Thu, 12 Jul 2018 10:00:00 EDTHubble Image

Using the powerful Hubble and Gaia space telescopes, astronomers just took a big step toward finding the answer to the Hubble constant, one of the most important and long-sought numbers in all of cosmology. This number measures the rate at which the universe is expanding since the big bang, 13.8 billion years ago. The constant is named for astronomer Edwin Hubble, who nearly a century ago discovered that the universe was uniformly expanding in all directions. Now, researchers have calculated this number with unprecedented accuracy.

Intriguingly, the new results further intensify the discrepancy between measurements for the expansion rate of the nearby universe, and those of the distant, primeval universe — before stars and galaxies even existed. Because the universe is expanding uniformly, these measurements should be the same. The so-called “tension” implies that there could be new physics underlying the foundations of the universe.



NASA's Webb Space Telescope to Inspect Atmospheres of Gas Giant Exoplanets
Wed, 11 Jul 2018 10:00:00 EDTHubble Image

Thousands of exoplanets are known to orbit distant stars. Far fewer have had their atmospheres studied. The Webb telescope will bring new capabilities for determining atmospheric compositions, temperatures, and structures. Some of Webb’s earliest observations will focus on gas giants, whose puffy atmospheres should be easier to inspect. Lessons learned there will apply to later observations of small, rocky worlds.



Our Solar System’s First Known Interstellar Object Gets Unexpected Speed Boost
Wed, 27 Jun 2018 13:00:00 EDTHubble Image

Using observations from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope and ground-based observatories, an international team of scientists have confirmed `Oumuamua (oh-MOO-ah-MOO-ah), the first known interstellar object to travel through our solar system, got an unexpected boost in speed and shift in trajectory as it passed through the inner solar system last year.



Astronomers Release Most Complete Ultraviolet-Light Survey of Nearby Galaxies
Thu, 17 May 2018 13:00:00 EDTHubble Image

Much of the light in the universe comes from stars, and yet, star formation is still a vexing question in astronomy.

To piece together a more complete picture of star birth, astronomers have used the Hubble Space Telescope to look at star formation among galaxies in our own cosmic back yard. The survey of 50 galaxies in the local universe, called the Legacy ExtraGalactic UV Survey (LEGUS), is the sharpest, most comprehensive ultraviolet-light look at nearby star-forming galaxies.

The LEGUS survey combines new Hubble observations with archival Hubble images for star-forming spiral and dwarf galaxies, offering a valuable resource for understanding the complexities of star formation and galaxy evolution. Astronomers are releasing the star catalogs for each of the LEGUS galaxies and cluster catalogs for 30 of the galaxies, as well as images of the galaxies themselves. The catalogs provide detailed information on young, massive stars and star clusters, and how their environment affects their development.

The local universe, stretching across the gulf of space between us and the great Virgo cluster of galaxies, is ideal for study because astronomers can amass a big enough sample of galaxies, and yet, the galaxies are close enough to Earth that Hubble can resolve individual stars. The survey will also help astronomers understand galaxies in the distant universe, where rapid star formation took place.



Stellar family portrait - Read more >
Mon, 14 May 2018 16:00:00 +0200


Explore Gaia’s second data release with this interactive visualisation of the Hertzsprung-Russell diagram, the family portrait of stars in our Milky Way



Hubble Detects Helium in the Atmosphere of an Exoplanet for the First Time
Wed, 02 May 2018 13:00:00 EDTHubble Image

There may be no shortage of balloon-filled birthday parties or people with silly high-pitched voices on the planet WASP-107b. That's because NASA's Hubble Space Telescope was used to detect helium in the atmosphere for the first time ever on a world outside of our solar system. The discovery demonstrates the ability to use infrared spectra to study exoplanet atmospheres.

Though as far back as 2000 helium was predicted to be one of the most readily-detectable gases on giant exoplanets, until now helium had not been found — despite searches for it. Helium was first discovered on the Sun, and is the second-most common element in the universe after hydrogen. It's one of the main constituents of the planets Jupiter and Saturn.

An international team of astronomers led by Jessica Spake of the University of Exeter, UK, used Hubble's Wide Field Camera 3 to discover helium. The atmosphere of WASP-107b must stretch tens of thousands of miles out into space. This is the first time that such an extended atmosphere has been discovered at infrared wavelengths.



Stellar Thief Is the Surviving Companion to a Supernova
Thu, 26 Apr 2018 13:00:00 EDTHubble Image

In the fading afterglow of a supernova explosion, astronomers using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope have photographed the first image of a surviving companion to a supernova. This is the most compelling evidence that some supernovas originate in double-star systems. The companion to supernova 2001ig’s progenitor star was no innocent bystander to the explosion—it siphoned off almost all of the hydrogen from the doomed star’s stellar envelope. SN 2001ig is categorized as a Type IIb stripped-envelope supernova, which is a relatively rare type of supernova in which most, but not all, of the hydrogen is gone prior to the explosion. Perhaps as many as half of all stripped-envelope supernovas have companions—the other half lose their outer envelopes via stellar winds.



NASA's James Webb Space Telescope Could Potentially Detect the First Stars and Black Holes
Wed, 25 Apr 2018 10:00:00 EDTHubble Image

One of the key science goals of NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope is to learn about “first light,” the moment when the first stars and galaxies lit the universe. While the first galaxies will be within Webb’s reach, individual stars shine so faintly that Webb would not be able to detect them without help. That help could come in the form of natural magnification from gravitational lensing, according to a new theoretical paper.

A cluster of galaxies can provide the needed gravitational oomph to bring distant objects into focus via lensing. Typical gravitational lensing can boost a target’s brightness by a factor of 10 to 20. But in special circumstances, the light of a faraway star could be amplified by 10,000 times or more.

If Webb monitors several galaxy clusters a couple of times a year over its lifetime, chances are good that it will detect such a magnified star, or possibly the accretion disk of a black hole from the same era. This would give astronomers a key opportunity to learn about the actual properties of the early universe and compare them to computer models.



Hubble 28th Anniversary Image Captures Roiling Heart of Vast Stellar Nursery
Thu, 19 Apr 2018 10:00:00 EDTHubble Image

For 28 years, NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has been delivering breathtaking views of the universe. Although the telescope has made more than 1.5 million observations of over 40,000 space objects, it is still uncovering stunning celestial gems.

The latest offering is this image of the Lagoon Nebula to celebrate the telescope’s anniversary. Hubble shows this vast stellar nursery in stunning unprecedented detail.

At the center of the photo, a monster young star 200,000 times brighter than our Sun is blasting powerful ultraviolet radiation and hurricane-like stellar winds, carving out a fantasy landscape of ridges, cavities, and mountains of gas and dust. This region epitomizes a typical, raucous stellar nursery full of birth and destruction.



Meet ESA's science fleet - Read more >
Wed, 11 Apr 2018 13:56:00 +0200


Explore 3D models of ESA's science satellites across the Solar System in this interactive tool



Hubble Makes the First Precise Distance Measurement to an Ancient Globular Star Cluster
Wed, 04 Apr 2018 13:00:00 EDTHubble Image

When you want to know the size of a room, you use a measuring tape to calculate its dimensions.

But you can’t use a tape measure to cover the inconceivably vast distances in space. And, until now, astronomers did not have an equally precise method to accurately measure distances to some of the oldest objects in our universe – ancient swarms of stars outside the disk of our galaxy called globular clusters.

Estimated distances to our Milky Way galaxy’s globular clusters were achieved by comparing the brightness and colors of stars to theoretical models and observations of local stars. But the accuracy of these estimates varies, with uncertainties hovering between 10 percent and 20 percent.

Using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, astronomers were able to use the same sort of trigonometry that surveyors use to precisely measure the distance to NGC 6397, one of the closest globular clusters to Earth. The only difference is that the angles measured in Hubble’s camera are infinitesimal by earthly surveyors’ standards.

The new measurement sets the cluster’s distance at 7,800 light-years away, with just a 3 percent margin of error, and provides an independent estimate for the age of the universe. The Hubble astronomers calculated NGC 6397 is 13.4 billion years old and so formed not long after the big bang. The new measurement also will help astronomers improve models of stellar evolution.



NASA Awards Prestigious Postdoctoral Fellowships
Tue, 03 Apr 2018 13:00:00 EDTHubble Image

NASA has selected 24 new Fellows for its prestigious NASA Hubble Fellowship Program (NHFP). The program enables outstanding postdoctoral scientists to pursue independent research in any area of NASA Astrophysics, using theory, observation, experimentation, or instrument development. Each fellowship provides the awardee up to three years of support.



Hubble Uncovers the Farthest Star Ever Seen
Mon, 02 Apr 2018 11:00:00 EDTHubble Image

Through a quirk of nature called “gravitational lensing,” a natural lens in space amplified a very distant star’s light. Astronomers using Hubble took advantage of this phenomenon to pinpoint the faraway star and set a new distance record for the farthest individual star ever seen. They also used the distant star to test one theory of dark matter, and to probe the make-up of a galaxy cluster. The team dubbed the star “Icarus,” after the Greek mythological character who flew too near the Sun on wings of feathers and wax that melted. Its official name is MACS J1149+2223 Lensed Star 1.



Space science starts here - Read more >
Wed, 17 Aug 2016 11:20:00 +0200


Video showcase of ESA's fleet of space science missions and how they are helping us to understand our place in the Universe


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