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TrES-2b ~ TrES-2b, aka the Coal Planet, is the darkest extrasolar planet so far discovered. It orbits the yellow sun-like star GSC 03549-02811, around 750 light years away and reflects less than 1% of the light that hits it, making it darker than coal or black acrylic paint. It is a gas giant rather larger than Jupiter, but it is very hot and emits a faint red glow, like a burning ember…
Triton ~ After the four Galilean moons of Jupiter, Saturn’s Titan and our own companion satellite, Triton is the seventh largest moon in our Solar System. It is unusual in several ways, not least because it orbits Neptune and is the only large moon to move retrograde around its focal planet. Triton is extremely cold, thus much of its surface is coated with frozen Nitrogen.
Twilight Times ~ We have talked about twilight before. It is a complicated concept that covers the transition from night to day and vice versa, technically defined by the distance of the Sun below the horizon. Astronomical twilight is imperceptible to most folk. The sky’s luminance increases in nautical twilight; then civil twilight is the interface between dawn or dusk and a visible Sun…
Two Bright Comets During 2013? ~ During March, some say Comet C/2011 L4 (PANSTARRS) could rival Venus in its brilliance, while by November Comet C/2012 S1 (ISON) may get bright enough to remain visible during the day. Comets are notoriously hard to predict, but with the former now in Scorpio and the latter in Gemini, there is much excitement in the air…
Universe Today ~ This site combines stunning astronomical imagery, the very latest astronomical news updated constantly, a current guide on what to look for in the sky tonight and a heaving forum where everybody shows off their latest celestial discoveries. It’s a bit of a black hole in the nicest way, because it’s really easy to get drawn in…
Venera - Soviet Missions to Venus ~ You would imagine the early Eighties were a long time ago in space exploration terms, but all our pictures of the surface of Venus date from the two decades preceding this point. The Venera missions were the only source and rather like the manned lunar landings of the same vintage, they are just not happening anymore…
Venus - NSSDC Image Catalog ~ The National Space Science Data Center (NSSDC) maintains NASA’s archive of space mission data. Images of the surface of Venus all originate from the Soviet Venera missions between 1975-81. The best is a colour panorama from Venera 13. The lander survived over two hours, at an average surface temperature of 464°C…
Views of the Solar System ~ Another excellent astronomy site, a prolonged visit to which is strongly recommended. You’ll find a special focus on the best space photography, including many original images. No compromise is made in bringing you the latest information about our solar system and what lies beyond…
Washed-out Astronomy ~ Here in the UK some enjoy the total darkness necessary for great stargazing, but most suffer with light pollution and must either learn to live with these conditions, or abandon all hope of keeping one eye on the sky. The author of this website tackles these issues, offering helpful tips and pointers for amateur astronomers in particular.
WEBDA ~ An open cluster, also known as a galactic cluster, is a gathering of up to a few thousand stars that were formed from the same molecular cloud, and so are of roughly an identical age. A number of these groups have been spotted in the Milky Way, while plenty more are believed to exist. This site is a centralised resource for all current knowledge and opinion…
Weekly Information About Bright Comets ~ As Comet Lulin slowly fades into the night, it’s good to know there are always plenty of comets around and that many return on a regular and predictable basis. This website keeps astronomers updated with all the latest happenings, though remember it takes a magnitude smaller than six for visibility to the naked eye…
When To See The Planets: 2019 ~ Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn are visible to the naked eye, if you know when to look. Some include Uranus in this number, but you’d be extremely lucky, since even Mercury in close proximity to the Sun represents a big ask. You can certainly see the remaining cosmic quartet though, with the help of these guidelines during 2019.
Where To See The Planets ~ This slideshow covers the seven true planets, from Mercury through to Neptune. You will be hard pressed to spot Uranus or Neptune without any specialist equipment, while Mercury proves tricky in such close proximity to the Sun. But Venus, Jupiter, Mars and even Saturn are all relatively spectacular. Find out when to observe them and where to look.
Windows to the Universe ~ A work in progress since 1995, Windows to the Universe is aimed at teachers and learners within formal education and potentially outside. It’s a rich source of information about our planet, solar system, galaxy and beyond catering for three reading levels in two languages, plus a text only version suiting screen readers…
Worldwide Meteor Reports ~ Possibly my final recommendation in a short series highlighting the business of meteorite collecting and how difficult it can be to find or even purchase, a real shooting star. This blog collects and collates, the latest sightings from around the globe of fireballs, meteors and their kin. Take notice, if one occurs nearby, as you never know your luck.
Xena Shrinking! ~ My thanks to John Townley for this one, his site is always worth a visit as I believe I’ve said before. Still in May 2006 without an official name, 2003 UB313, known to the world as Xena, is now much smaller than originally thought. It is certainly tough being a new planet, only scraping in today at an estimated 5% larger than Pluto…
Your Sky ~ Every student of astrology, whether in a formal or informal capacity, will at some point wish to relate their astrological knowledge to the majesty of the night sky. This site is the perfect starting point, with interactive star maps for every location and full astronomical details of the celestial bodies that you’ll find there.
Your Weight on Other Worlds ~ Struggling with your diet? Travel to another planet! Find how much weight you could instantly loose, although don’t choose the neutron star unless you’re fond of unpleasant surprises. Follow the links at the bottom of this page, for your age on other planets and for some great aurora pictures…