The changing pole star

Many people know that Polaris, the brightest star in the constellation Ursa Minor (The Little Bear), is also known as the pole star. Indeed, the name Polaris itself was invented in the sixteenth century and is derived from the Latin stella polaris -pole star. The location of Polaris - Image credit Wikimedia Commons Polaris is… Continue reading The changing pole star

Life on Venus?

Many of you will have seen the story widely reported in the media of the discovery of the gas phosphine in the clouds of Venus - if not, you can find the story here: On Earth phosphine is produced by bacteria and it has led to the interesting speculation as to whether there could be… Continue reading Life on Venus?

Surveying the Cosmos – Part II

In a previous post  I talked about the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST), a large telescope being built in Chile which will spend 90% of its time surveying most of the sky a total of  1000 times over a 10 year period (in the remaining 10% it will revisit areas of specific interest).  In this… Continue reading Surveying the Cosmos – Part II

11-12 August 2020 – the Perseids

The night of  11/12  August will be the peak of the Perseids, one of the most famous prolific meteor showers. Meteors (also known as shooting stars) are bright streaks of light caused by small lumps of rock or metal called meteoroids hitting the Earth's atmosphere at a very high speed (in the case of the Perseids… Continue reading 11-12 August 2020 – the Perseids

Surveying the Cosmos – Part I

In this post I'm going to talk about a new 500 million dollar telescope,  the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST), being built at Cerro Pachón in Chile,  and the survey of the cosmos it will  be undertaking over a 10 year period. Cerro Pachón is located in the foothills of the Andes at a latitude… Continue reading Surveying the Cosmos – Part I