M45: Pleiades

Picture taken by D.Nash February 2005

M45 Pleiades or Seven Sisters is an Open Cluster and most people are amazed that Messier deemed it fitting to include it in his catalogue.

[Read more about M45: Pleiades]

M97: Owl Nebula

Photo by Michael Paur taken in 2009

M97 or the Owl Nebula is a Planetary Nebula found in Ursa Major.  M97 lies some 2,030 Light Years away. [Read more about M97: Owl Nebula]

"Believe nothing,
No matter where you read it,
Or who has said it,
Not even if I have said it,
Unless it agrees with your own reason
And your own common sense"

- Buddha

"It is often stated that of all the theories proposed in this century, the silliest is quantum theory. In fact, some say that the only thing that quantum theory has going for it is that it is unquestionably correct."

- Michio Kaku

If scientists show us unintuitive, weird stuff that breaks every notion of common sense but is happening every moment in the Universe, and new age mysticism presents us with similar incredible claims; how do we tell them apart? [Read more about Speculation Primer: The Double-Slit Experiment]

In brief:

  • Comet ISON disintigrates as it passes the sun.
  • Signature of water found in five exoplanets.
  • New record distance for planet found orbiting a star. 

Thumbnail of NASA's Jewelbox Sun pictureNASA have put together a fascinating video of the sun, viewed at different wavelengths, in rotating bands.  Choose an interestng area on the sun's surface, and see different detail:

  • Yellow light generally comes from material of about 6000℃, which represents the surface of the sun
  • Extreme ultraviolet light (coloured green in NASA's images) comes from atoms about 6 million ℃, making it good for observing solar flares which reach that temperature.

In brief:

  • Gaia Space Observatory launched, on mission to make an exquisitely accurate map of the Milky Way.
  • A New Method for Measuring Exoplanets' Mass

Mercury rushes up into the evening twilight sky from mid January until the first week of February [Read more about January 2014 Planetary Skylights ]

New Year Meteors

Quadrantids Meteor Shower.  Picture from Astronomy Magazine website.With a New moon on the 1st, you may spot a few shooting stars early in the New Year; especially on the evening of the 3rd, when the Quadrantids meteor shower peaks. [Read more about New Year Meteors ]

Intro In-Focus

This is Mark's page for adding in-depth articles to include in the newsletter. [Read more about Intro In-Focus]