The Sun, the Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn are visible to the naked eye. People have seen them for thousands of years. Other Solar System bodies were discoveries, but who discovered them?
Earth's moon is "the Moon” because it was the only one people had ever seen until 1610. That's when Galileo discovered moons orbiting Jupiter. Why did it take until 1877 for someone to find the moons of our neighbor Mars?
Thousands of years ago a comet broke up. A remnant still visits Earth, adding to the debris stream fuelling the annual Taurid meteor shower. The shower peaks near Halloween and may produce brilliant meteors – its nickname is 'Halloween Fireballs'. But is there something deadly in the Beta Taurids?
October 4, 1957. A small object had people around the globe looking excitedly - or anxiously - up at the sky. Satellites are now such a fact of life, it's hard to imagine the effect of the first one. In sending up Sputnik, the USSR had thrown down the gauntlet for the Cold War space race.
Imagine yourself under a dark autumn or winter northern hemisphere sky. You're looking towards the “W” of Cassiopeia, and notice a hazy patch between Cassiopeia and the constellation Andromeda. That is the Andromeda Galaxy (M31). Here are some fascinating facts about this stunning object.
The Herschels were one of the greatest astronomical families of all time. A partnership of two brothers and a sister built the best telescopes of their time, and with those telescopes mapped the deep sky. They changed the way astronomers understood the heavens.
Join me on a Halloween astronomical tour. See a cosmic witch and cosmic ghosts, spiders and snakes, and a fiery skull. But have no fear. It's a virtual tour and all these things are a very long way away.
Halloween falls midway between an equinox and a solstice. In the ancient Celtic world it was the new year's eve and start of winter - time to prepare for survival in the darkening days. But also a time when the boundary between our world and the otherworld weakened. Who knew what might cross it?