A Desert Scorpion

28th Mar 2017

Johannes Hevelius ScorpiusWhat a spectacular southern hemisphere constellation Scorpius is with its beautiful arrangement of stars tracing out its bright and distinctive scorpion outline. The Kalahari desert abounds in scorpions; they are an element of the night landscape: it seems fitting to have our celestial scorpion gracing our skies once more.

Through what has been gleaned from the remnants of cuneiform tablets and artifacts found in the valley of the Euphrates River, Scorpius goes back as far as the Akkadian and Sumerian

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Visiting Our Nearest Neighbour

potw1343aLast night I visited our closest stellar neighbour – Proxima Centauri, the red dwarf 4.24 light years from us. It is a fascinating little star, quite apart from the fact it is the nearest star to the sun.

It’s part of the Alpha Centauri system. The two main stars, Alpha Centauri A and B, form a binary pair and orbit a common centre of gravity every 80 years. The average distance between them is about 11 astronomical units – about

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Star Clouds

N6520#2I don’t think any term in astronomy captures my imagination more than “star clouds”. It conjures up images of exactly what they are… countless stars spanning vast stretches of the night sky; the glow of immeasurable starlight resembling enormous silvery night clouds. No photo can do a star cloud justice; even the most stunning image flattens the glut of bright, sparkling stars into an even flatness of shiny dots, whereas in the telescope, star clouds appear to shimmer and take

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