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The October 2014 issue of Astronomy Now is on sale! Order direct from our store (free 1st class post & to UK addresses). Astronomy Now is the only astronomy magazine specially designed to be read on tablets and phones. Download the app from Google Play Store or the Apple App Store.

Book Reviews

Deep Space Propulsion: A Roadmap to Interstellar Flight

The Story of Astronomy

Exoplanets: Finding, Exploring and Understanding Alien Worlds

Space Probes: 50 Years of Exploration from Luna 1 to New Horizons

Deep Sky Wonders: A Tour of the Universe




6 & 7 February 2015

European AstroFest 2015

The greatest astronomy show on Earth returns to London.

Shuttle Movies

The most complete source of video from the countdown, launch and mission of space shuttle Discovery is available here! Spaceflight Now's STS-121 archive includes more than 200 movies you can watch online or download to your computer.

Video Collection

Comet Siding Spring makes close encounter with Mars

Comet Siding Spring makes a close encounter with the Mars on Sunday coming within 132,000 kilometres (82,000 miles) of the red planet.

NuSTAR telescope discovers shockingly bright dead star
Astronomers have found a pulsating, dead star beaming with the energy of about 10 million suns. This is the brightest pulsar -- a dense stellar remnant left over from a supernova explosion -- ever recorded. The discovery was made with NASA's Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or NuSTAR.
Total eclipse of the Moon across two continents
One of nature's greatest offerings can be seen on 8 October when the Moon fully enters the Earth's dark shadow and experiences a total eclipse. North America and Australia/New Zealand are well placed so see at least some of this great event, but Europe and Africa miss out this time.
Candidate landing sites selected for ESA Mars rover
The European Space Agency has announced four candidate landing sites for the ExoMars rover, as a deadline looms to secure full funding for the mission in time for a scheduled launch to the red planet in 2018.
India, NASA plot science campaign for Mars orbiters
Officials working on India's Mars orbiter project are finalizing plans for a six-month science campaign after the spacecraft arrived in orbit last week, an achievement that has already satisfied the mission's primary objectives, the head of India's space agency said Monday.
India puts interplanetary probe in orbit at Mars
India's first interplanetary mission went into orbit around Mars late Tuesday, vaulting India into rarefied company among the countries that have successfully sent a mission to the red planet.
NASA's MAVEN spacecraft enters orbit around Mars
NASA's MAVEN spacecraft braked into orbit around Mars on Sunday after a 10-month interplanetary cruise from Earth, positioning the probe to help scientists learn how water and air were stripped from the red planet's ancient atmosphere, killing off life that may have once existed there.
Radiation strike slows down NASA's Dawn spacecraft
Next year's arrival of NASA's Dawn spacecraft at Ceres, an unexplored icy dwarf planet between Mars and Jupiter, has been pushed back about a month after a blitz of cosmic rays interrupted the probe's ion thrusting, officials said.
Astronomy Photographer of the Year winners
The Astronomy Photographer of the Year attracted more than 2,500 entries this year and here are the winning images. An exhibition of the photographs runs until 22nd February 2015 at the Royal Observatory Greenwich.
ESA reveals target site for risky comet landing
European scientists have selected an aim point for the landing of Philae, a small probe riding piggyback on the Rosetta spacecraft set for the first-ever descent to a comet's nucleus in November.
Star blotted-out by asteroid
Have you ever seen a star completely wink out, disappearing completely from view for a few seconds? On the morning of 10 September there is a great chance to see just that but the event is only visible along a narrow, 90-kilometre path across Northern Ireland and Scotland.
Reviewers say Curiosity rover lacks 'scientific focus'
An independent panel of scientists slammed the $2.5 billion Curiosity Mars rover's management team in a report released Wednesday, saying the mission's plan "lacked scientific focus and detail."
Venus buzzes Regulus
Venus has a close encounter with first magnitude star Regulus, constellation Leo's luminary, in the dawn twilight on the mornings of 5 and 6 September.
Search continues for New Horizons follow-up target
Speeding through the outer solar system nearly 2.8 billion miles from Earth, NASA's New Horizons spacecraft was put into hibernation mode Friday for the last in a series of power-saving sleeps as scientists on Earth prepare for a make-or-break encounter with Pluto next summer.
Moon, Mars and Saturn put on spectacular sky show
Sunday evening there was a spectacular coming together of the Moon, Mars and Saturn in the south-western sky, visible shortly after sunset.
Asteroid buzzes Earth
Early Saturday morning, the Near-Earth Object (NEO) 2002 CU11 has a close shave with our planet, passing within 13.5 lunar distances or 5,191,046 kilometres.
Neptune at opposition
The outermost planet Neptune is at its best now, coming to opposition on 29 August moving retrograde (westwards) among the stars of Aquarius.
Five finalist sites chosen for historic comet landing
Scientists have narrowed a list of candidate landing sites for the Philae lander, a piggyback probe on Europe's Rosetta mission that will attempt the first ever descent to a comet this fall and latch onto its jagged surface.
Voyager map details Neptune's moon Triton
NASA's Voyager 2 spacecraft gave humanity its first close-up glimpse of Neptune and its moon Triton in the summer of 1989. Like an old film, Voyager's historic footage of Triton has been "restored" and used to construct the best-ever global color map of that strange moon.
Chandra searches for trigger of nearby supernova
New data from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory offer a glimpse into the environment of a star before it exploded earlier this year, and insight into what triggered one of the closest supernovas witnessed in decades.
Brighter Perseids should shine through the Moonlight
It's time for the Perseids, most observers' favourite meteor shower and usually one of the summer's premier observing events. The bad news is that the Moon will be just past full so observations of the fainter Perseids will be hampered to a large extent.
NASA's Pluto-bound probe sees its distant target
Heading toward a speedy encounter next summer, NASA's New Horizons spacecraft has glimpsed Pluto and its moon Charon in a cosmic orbital dance from a distance of more than 260 million miles.
   FULL STORY - with images!
Rosetta reaches comet after decade-long pursuit
Europe's Rosetta spacecraft pulled alongside an oddball comet Wednesday, concluding a decade-long journey from Earth for the most comprehensive exploration of a comet in history.
Sample cache, oxygen generator to fly to Mars
NASA's next Mars rover will identify, gather and store rock core samples for possible pickup by future robots or astronauts, continue the quest for evidence of past life, and likely employ redesigned wheels to avoid the dings and holes now afflicting the Curiosity rover on the red planet.
Rosetta's target comet too warm to be an icy world
Initial observations from an imaging spectrometer aboard Europe's Rosetta spacecraft show the comet it is chasing has a dark, dusty surface instead of one covered in ice, scientists said Friday.
Rosetta's camera seeing more of unexplored comet
On course for an historic rendezvous next week, the European Space Agency's Rosetta spacecraft is revealing new details of the oddball comet the probe has pursued for more than a decade.
Extension granted for NASA's Spitzer telescope
NASA officials said this week they plan to keep funding the Spitzer observatory for two more years, reversing a preliminary decision this spring to shut down the space-based infrared telescope due to budget concerns.
Rosetta sees surprising shape to spinning comet
Closing in to begin a thorough investigation in August, a camera on Europe's Rosetta comet-chasing probe has revealed its target has a few surprises in store for scientists.
Space planes, rocket launches on UK's wish list
The British government has announced plans to develop a spaceport, revealing candidate sites across the United Kingdom and fostering closer ties with the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration to revamp regulations and lure space tourism, and potentially small satellite launches, to Britain.
Comet ISON's dramatic final hours revealed
A new analysis of data from the ESA/NASA Solar and Heliospheric Observatory spacecraft has revealed that comet 2012/S1 (ISON) stopped producing dust and gas shortly before it raced past the Sun and disintegrated.
ESA plans to build world's largest X-ray telescope
A half-year after the European Space Agency formally prioritized high-energy astrophysics for its next flagship-class science mission, officials announced Friday the selection of a European-led X-ray observatory named Athena for launch in 2028.
Hubble successor ATLAST?
Planning for a new giant space telescope armed with an unfolding mirror with a diameter of 8-16 metres should begin now to provide the true successor to Hubble by the 2030s, according to the President of the Royal Astronomical Society, Professor Martin Barstow of the University of Leicester.
The Sun's sausage waves and super solar flares
Pulsing tubes of magnetic energy on the Sun and super-flares of enormous power were just some of the exciting solar subjects under discussion at the National Astronomy Meeting in Portsmouth this week.
Rain and jets of plasma inside the Sun's atmosphere
If you think our weather is bad, wait until you have seen the weather on the Sun, where there are 'rainstorms' of plasma, each droplet the size of Ireland and produced by a cycle of heating, evaporation and cooling.
Organic conundrum in Large Magellanic Cloud
A group of organic chemicals that are considered carcinogens and pollutants today on Earth, but are also thought to be the building blocks for the origins of life, may hold clues to how carbon-rich chemicals created in stars are processed and recycled in space.
Mountain blast is huge step forward for giant telescope
The top of a mountain was blown away for the base of what will become the world's largest telescope.
Hubble tasked to find target for New Horizons probe
NASA has directed the Hubble Space Telescope to scan the outer frontier of the solar system for a second destination for the New Horizons space probe after it records historic first-time views of Pluto on a flyby next year.
Giant telescopes pair up to image near-Earth asteroid
NASA scientists using Earth-based radar have produced sharp views of a recently discovered asteroid as it slid silently past our planet. Captured on June 8, 2014, the new views of the object designated "2014 HQ124" are some of the most detailed radar images of a near-Earth asteroid ever obtained.
   FULL STORY - with video!
New suspect identified in supernova explosion
Supernovas are often thought of as the tremendous explosions that mark the ends of massive stars' lives. While this is true, not all supernovas occur in this fashion. A common supernova class, called Type Ia, involves the detonation of white dwarfs -- small, dense stars that are already dead.
Hubble team unveils most colorful view of Universe
Astronomers using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope have assembled a comprehensive picture of the evolving Universe -- among the most colorful deep space images ever captured by the 24-year-old telescope.
Planet-hunting Kepler telescope back in action
NASA's planet-hunting Kepler space telescope, given a new lease on life after an endorsement by a science review panel last month, has resumed scanning the cosmos for the tell-tale signatures of alien worlds lurking around distant stars.
It's the Godzilla of Earths!
Astronomers announced Monday that they have discovered a new type of planet, a rocky world weighing 17 times as much as Earth.
Spitzer in the crosshairs of budget-constrained NASA
Challenged by a lean budget withered by the development of the multibillion-dollar James Webb Space Telescope, NASA will likely have to shut down the infrared Spitzer telescope, one of the agency's famed Great Observatories, after an independent panel of scientists concluded there was not enough money to extend the mission.
Birth of a meteor shower? The May Camelopardalids
The night of May 23/24 could go down in astronomical history for the first appearance of the Camelopardalids, a new meteor shower spawned by the periodic comet 209P/LINEAR, discovered ten years ago and languishing in obscurity up until now.
Mercury's evening show in the Northern Hemisphere
Mercury is well positioned now in the evening sky, putting on its best showing of the year for Northern Hemisphere observers. Fleet-footed Mercury, the innermost planet, reaches greatest eastern elongation from the Sun on 25 May but it's in the evening sky now and will remain there for the rest of the month.
NASA spacecraft snaps view of Earthrise from the moon
Earlier this year, NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter turned away from the moon and recorded an image of Earth looming above the lunar horizon, a modern version of the iconic "Earthrise" photograph taken by the Apollo 8 astronauts 45 years ago.
May is prime time for observing Saturn and rings
There is no finer sight in the night sky than the beautiful ringed planet Saturn in the eyepiece. The gas giant comes to opposition -- the planet directly opposite the Sun -- among the stars of Libra on 10 May, when it's 1,331 million kilometres from Earth and observable for much of the night.
Colin Pillinger, 1943-2014
Professor Colin Pillinger, the man behind the UK's Beagle 2 mission to Mars, has died aged 70. Pillinger, who worked at the universities of Bristol and Cambridge before joining the Open University in 1984, was one of Britain's most recognisable space scientists and regularly appeared on television and radio.
Curiosity rover drills into Martian sandstone
NASA's Curiosity Mars rover, stationed at a site selected for closer scientific scrutiny, has drilled into a sandstone outcrop to collect its first sample of rock powder in a year for delivery into the mobile robot's internal instruments for a thorough analysis.
Ultra-faint galaxy is a fossil from the ancient Universe
Located some 75,000 light years from us, a galaxy known as Segue 1 has some unusual properties: It is the faintest galaxy ever detected. It is very small, containing only about 1,000 stars. And it has a rare chemical composition, with vanishingly small amounts of metallic elements present.
Brown dwarf found lurking 7.2 light-years away
NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer and Spitzer Space Telescope have discovered what appears to be the coldest "brown dwarf" known -- a dim, star-like body that surprisingly is as frosty as Earth's North Pole.
Pair of supermassive black holes in an ordinary galaxy
A pair of supermassive black holes in orbit around one another have been discovered by an international research team. This is the first time such a pair could be found in an ordinary galaxy. They were discovered because they ripped apart a star when ESA's space observatory XMM-Newton happened to be looking in their direction.
Earth's 'cousin' planet lies 500 light-years away
Astronomers using NASA's Kepler space telescope have found the first Earth-sized planet around another star that might harbor life-sustaining liquid water, raising hopes for detecting more rocky Earth-like worlds closer to home.
Cassini spots possible formation of new moon
NASA's Cassini spacecraft has documented the formation of a small icy object within the rings of Saturn that may be a new moon, and may also provide clues to the formation of the planet's known moons.
Asteroids Ceres and Vesta are at their best in April
It's not just the red planet Mars which is wowing astronomers this month. The dwarf planet Ceres and the brightest minor planet Vesta lie a mere two degrees apart, just 15 degrees northeast of Mars among the stars of Virgo.
Mars finally comes to opposition this week
The planet Mars is at its best on 8 April when it lies opposite the Sun in the sky and is observable for most of the night, shining at magnitude -1.47 among the stars of Virgo, just south of the celestial equator.
Earth's frightening close call with a solar super storm
On 23 July 2012 the Sun launched a magnetic attack that only narrowly missed Earth by nine days -- a relatively close and terrifying call.
NASA space assets detect ocean inside Saturn moon
NASA's Cassini spacecraft and Deep Space Network have uncovered evidence Saturn's moon Enceladus harbours a large underground ocean of liquid water, furthering scientific interest in the moon as a potential home to extraterrestrial microbes.
Possible new nova flares up in constellation of Cygnus
A new star, a possible nova, has been discovered by Japanese astronomers in Cygnus the Swan, the summer's signature constellation.
Rosetta's pioneering Philae comet lander reactivated
Europe's Rosetta spacecraft has returned an image of its distant comet target as ground controllers received the first signals from probe's piggyback Philae lander Friday after hibernating nearly three years in a power-saving sleep mode.
New discovery may redefine solar system's outer frontier
One of the most distant icy bodies ever seen in the Solar System has been found, but its strange orbit hints at something even more extraordinary: an undiscovered planet larger than Earth even further away from the Sun, corralling objects within the inner Oort Cloud into looping, elongated orbits.
Hubble spots Mars-bound comet sprout multiple jets
The Hubble Space Telescope has imaged a comet that will pass close to Mars later this year, revealing what appear to be two jets of dust coming off the nucleus in opposite directions.
Scientists find asteroid with remarkable ring system
Observations at many sites in South America, including ESO's La Silla Observatory, have made the surprise discovery that the remote asteroid Chariklo is surrounded by two dense and narrow rings.
Herschel completes survey of dust in local Universe
The largest census of dust in local galaxies has been completed using data from ESA's Herschel space observatory, providing a huge legacy to the scientific community.
Leo's brightest star set to disappear for N. America
Look out for the best asteroid occultation ever from North America as the bright naked eye star Regulus winks out this week!
Gravitational waves provide strong evidence for inflation
The first direct evidence for not only the inflation of the Universe when it was a mere fraction of a second old, but also the presence of gravitational waves rippling through space, has come to light following observations made by the BICEP2 telescope located at the South Pole.
NASA's WISE survey turns up no sign of Planet X
After searching hundreds of millions of objects across our sky, NASA's Wide-Field Infrared Survey Explorer has turned up no evidence of the hypothesized celestial body in our solar system commonly dubbed "Planet X."
Economics, water plumes to drive Europa mission study
NASA plans to use funding proposed by the Obama administration to narrow concepts for a billion-dollar mission to Jupiter's icy moon Europa, according to NASA officials eyeing a launch of the long-awaited probe in the mid-2020s.
Astronomers surprised SOFIA fell under budget axe
NASA's proposed budget for 2015 would slash funding for a U.S.-German airborne infrared observatory unless international partners or other institutions supply money to keep the sophisticated astronomy platform in the sky.
Cassini mission completes 100th fly of Titan
NASA's Cassini spacecraft, in the final months of its first decade spiraling around Saturn, zipped past the moon Titan on Thursday for the 100th time, continuing an unbroken string of flybys of one of the most Earth-like worlds in the known universe.
ExoMars rover on track despite funding gap
The lead builder of Europe's ExoMars rover, the British division of Airbus Defence and Space, has started procuring critical components for the Mars mission as the European Space Agency culls the continent to close a funding gap.
Astronomers spot record-breaking lunar impact
A meteorite with the mass of a small car crashed into the Moon last September, according to Spanish astronomers. The impact, the biggest seen to date, produced a bright flash and would have been easy to spot from the Earth.
Europe to build planet-hunting observatory
The European Space Agency has selected an observatory for launch in the next decade to stare at up to a million nearby stars for signs of habitable worlds and probe their size, mass and composition.
Scientists reveal the anatomy of an asteroid
ESO's New Technology Telescope has been used to find the first evidence that asteroids can have a highly varied internal structure. By making exquisitely precise measurements astronomers have found that different parts of the asteroid Itokawa have different densities.
Mars rover sees Earth as brilliant evening star
Reminiscent of the iconic pale blue dot photograph from the Voyager 1 space probe, the Curiosity Mars rover has sent home another cosmic postcard showing the Earth hanging over the rugged Martian horizon as an evening star.
Another AstroFest success!
Thousands of astronomers and enthusiasts converged on London for AstroFest 2014! Relive the action on our social media accounts for news and images from exhibitors and speakers.
Space telescopes help study burned-out galaxies
Astronomers using NASA's Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes, and Europe's Herschel Space Observatory, have pieced together the evolutionary sequence of compact elliptical galaxies that erupted and burned out early in the history of the universe.
Exoplanet probe leads pack of ESA mission candidates
A space-based observatory to hunt for habitable planets around other stars is the leading candidate to win the financial backing of the European Space Agency later this month.
ESA says Rosetta in good shape after snooze
A first look at the European Space Agency's Rosetta spacecraft after its reactivation last week shows the probe endured an unprecedented power-saving hibernation with few problems, giving engineers confidence the mission can continue the final leg of its decade-long pursuit of a little-known comet thought to harbor the building blocks of life.
NASA moon probe captures fleeting view of sister craft
Coupling a fortuitous orbital alignment with meticulous planning, a camera aboard NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter caught a smeared glimpse of another moon probe in an image released Wednesday.
Bright, young supernova outburst in Messier 82
In what could be one of the observing highlights of 2014, a very young, bright supernova has been discovered in the popular, nearby and well-placed galaxy Messier 82 in Ursa Major.
Rosetta's comet chase is on
Fresh out of an unprecedented power-saving sleep mode, Europe's comet-chasing Rosetta spacecraft awakened and phoned home Monday on the way to an enigmatic ball of rock and ice for a daring close-up inspection later this year.
European Space Agency's Gaia mission settles in at L2
The star-surveying Gaia observatory completed a tricky manoeuvre Tuesday to park itself nearly a million miles from Earth, arriving at a remote operating post to begin scanning the galaxy to plot the locations and motions of a billion stars.
Curiosity rover spotted in imagery from Mars orbiter
A high-resolution camera mounted on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has collected imagery showing the Curiosity rover's trek across Gale Crater toward a three-mile-high mountain.
A Jovian spectacular!
Jupiter, the king of the planets comes to opposition, opposite the Sun in the sky, on 5 January to present close to the very best possible observing opportunity the gas giant ever can.
Revered Spirit rover landed on Mars a decade ago
Ten years ago Friday, the Spirit rover made an airbag-cushioned landing on Mars to begin a six-year exploration of Gusev Crater, outlasting even the most enthusiastic of prognostications from the mission's engineering and science teams.
Quadrantids begin the 2014 meteor shower calendar
The Quadrantids is the first meteor shower of the year and kicks things off in fine fashion on the night of January 3/4, although inclement weather can often disappoint keen observers wrapped up warm in the long January night.

For more news stories see our News Archive

The Planets
From tiny Mercury to distant Neptune and Pluto, The Planets profiles each of the Solar System's members in depth, featuring the latest imagery from space missions. The tallest mountains, the deepest canyons, the strongest winds, raging atmospheric storms, terrain studded with craters and vast worlds of ice are just some of the sights you'll see on this 100-page tour of the planets.

Hubble Reborn
Hubble Reborn takes the reader on a journey through the Universe with spectacular full-colour pictures of galaxies, nebulae, planets and stars as seen through Hubble's eyes, along the way telling the dramatic story of the space telescope, including interviews with key scientists and astronauts.

3D Universe
Witness the most awesome sights of the Universe as they were meant to be seen in this 100-page extravaganza of planets, galaxies and star-scapes, all in 3D!


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