Category Archives: The universe

A close encounter with an asteroid

Radar image of asteroid 2005 YU55

At this precise moment, 11:28pm UK time, asteroid 2005 YU55 is passing just 201,700 miles (324,600 kilometers) from the Earth, its closest approach for at least the last 200 years. [1]

It’s travelling at a speed of 30,680 miles (49,370 kilometres) per hour, which is 8.523 miles (13.71 kilometers) every second! [2] [3]

The Clay Center Observatory in Brookline, Massachusetts, is broadcasting a live video from their 25-inch telescope (see their Facebook post).  The Keck Observatory in Hawaii is also broadcasting a live video, available here and here (see their Facebook posts).

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Supernova in dark galaxy captured by Hubble

NGC 4526 galaxy with SN 1994D supernova

Some photos taken by the Hubble Space Telescope receive large amounts of media attention, such as the recent “rose of galaxies” photo. But the telescope takes a lot of photos – 750,000 in its first 15 years! [1] So it’s inevitable that the archives will contain many beautiful images which few people stumble upon.

I recently came across the photo above, taken in 1994 and released in 1999, showing Supernova 1994D (the bright star near the bottom-left corner) in the galaxy NGC 4526, about 50 million light-years away.

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Hubble observes awesome star fields

Hubble ACS SWEEPS Field

Recently, NASA released two spectacular photos taken by the Hubble Space Telescope, showing very dense star fields in our own Milky Way galaxy and in the Andromeda Galaxy.

The photo above shows the Sagittarius-I Window “in the crowded central bulge of our galaxy, 26,000 light-years away”. [1]

The size of the field of view on the sky is roughly that of the thickness of a human fingernail held at arm’s length, and within this region, Hubble sees about a quarter million stars towards the bulge. [1]

I highly recommend you check out the larger versions of this photo, to fully appreciate the extraordinary quantity of stars.

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Four planets dance before dawn

2011 conjunction of four planets

The planets Jupiter, Venus, Mercury and Mars are currently performing a beautiful dance in the morning sky just before sunrise. From late April until late May, these four planets will appear very close together. (Photo taken by Bill Collison on 13th May 2011, Creative Commons license, brightened and labelled by me.)

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