Friday, March 20, 2009

20th March at 11:44

Happy vernal equinox! The Sun moves North into the summer zone as it passes the origin of right ascension. How's that for a technical sounding sentence? What does it mean...? ah now that would be telling, but spring has sprung and for those of you with winter gloom the bright few days we've had recently have rather symbolically illustrated the astronomical seasonal shift.

For Right Ascension, the zero point is known as the First Point of Aries, which is the place in the sky where the Sun crosses the celestial equator at the March equinox.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

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Monday, March 9, 2009


As you no doubt, now realise, the launch of Kepler was a success. So, it's all go now as we try to track down Earthlike planets over the next 4-6 years of observations.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Kepler launch imminent

Only a few hours to go now before the launch of one of the most exciting space missions yet. The Kepler telescope will gradually make its way to an earth-trailing orbit which balances out the gravitational pull and minimises the torque on the spacecraft allowing it to be stable and afix its gaze on a patch of sky and stare and stare and stare! Looking at the light from stars to detect the clues that reveal planets. It will be able to reach down to Earth size detection, something that has not been achievable to date. Any such detection of a planet like this in the 'goldilocks' zone around another star will be a great achievement, so fingers crossed for a successful launch.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Cosmology - an introduction

Our next video episode is an overview of some ideas that underpin cosmology. We'll be returning to these in later editions and in other articles on this blog (eg expansion of the Universe, background radiation, dark matter and distorted space), but for the moment this, hopefully, sets the scene. It's a bit long and I'm afraid I speak a little slowly this time, but with any luck the beauty of the images and the sheer profundity of the subject will carry you through!