48 years ago this July, Apollo 11 blasted off on it’s three day journey to the moon. On July 21st 1969 Neil Armstrong became the first human to step foot on the moon. Mankind looked on in awe. It was the dawn of a new era, heralding in what was to be a fantastic voyage of discovery that started with the moon, moved to Mars and beyond and eventually further into our solar system and perhaps even journeying to neighbouring star systems.
Of all the sights visible in a telescope, there is none so breathtaking as the planet Saturn. Simply put, it is magnificent. Saturn is surrounded by a series of icy rings that circle the planet, making it look like a lolo ball. Unfortunately a telescope is needed to see the rings. Even a small telescope of decent quality will do, and now is the perfect time to see the planet.
27 years ago, in April 1990 the Space Shuttle Discovery blasted off carrying what was to become one of the most successful scientific missions of all time, The Hubble Space Telescope. Hubble and the images it produces, have more than any other mission since the heady days of the Apollo space programme, brought the magic of space to the public. Hubble has probed the depths of space and brought it’s wonders to our magazines, televisions and computer screens where humanity has looked on in awe.
For the last number of months, Venus had dominated the western sky after sunset. Now it is moving into the twilight on it’s journey around the Sun. In the evening sky, the planet Jupiter will dominate proceedings over the coming months. Jupiter, a gas giant consisting primarily of hydrogen and helium gases is the largest planet in our solar system with a diameter of almost 140,000 km. These nights, Jupiter rises in the east shortly after eight o’clock and there is no mistaking it, as only the moon or Venus shines brighter in the night sky. It glows with a silvery brilliance that is unmistakable.
In a previous post, I discussed Pluto and the existence of planets in orbit around other stars (exoplanets). Since then, NASA has announced and held a press conference on Wednesday announcing further discoveries in this field. In the conference, NASA provided details of an exoplanet system located around a relatively close star. The star, Trappist-1 is an ultra cool red dwarf, much smaller than our Sun and located 39 light years from Earth. The star plays host to a remarkable planetary system.