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Atmospheric Pluto

A stunning picture taken by the New Horizons probe of a backlit Pluto showing its hazy but stratified atmosphere appeared on Astronomy Picture of the Day on 9/6/16.

Pluto at Night

The Bubble Nebula

This NASA image made from assigning colours to three monochromatic photos taken through the Hubble Telescope was Astronomy Picture of the Day for 22/4/16.

Bubble Nebula

It almost looks like a living cell of some sort.

Charon Fly-over

Yet more fruit from NASA’s New Horizon spacecraft’s visit to Pluto.

An astounding video of Pluto’s moon Charon.

From Astronomy Picture of the Day via You Tube:-

Gravitational Waves

Not only Astronomy Picture of the Day and the Daily Galaxy but also the BBC News majored today on the first detection of gravitational waves.

I first heard of such waves while I was still at University back in the long ago when a Physics Prof at Glasgow University came along to the Alchemists’ Club (as the post-grad Chemists association was called) to tell us all about his research, so it’s been a long time coming.

The discovery is a major confirmation of Einstein’s general theory of relativity certainly but can it really be the opening of a new window onto the universe akin to Galileo’s pointing of a telescope at Jupiter as the TV news had it? Given that the signals are so hard to detect as a result of the disturbances to matter being so small surely the technique cannot become as routine as results from electromagnetic instruments are?

The Origins of Atoms

Here’s a Periodic Table with a difference.

Yes, it lists the elements in the usual way but the information within the boxes is distinctive. It tells where the atoms of each element first came into being whether it was in the big bang – for hydrogen and hydrogen alone – or, for most elements, in stars of varying types, or else by human activity.

From Astronomy Picture of the Day for 25/1/16:-

APOD 25/1/16

Edit:- I’ve just noticed the table has helium also being produced by the big bang. I’m sure it’s made by fusion in stars, though.


Ceres, the largest of the Solar System’s asteroids, has around 150 mysteriously bright spots which are now thought to be composed of a form of hydrated magnesium sulphate.

From Astronomy Picture of the Day 11/12/15 this is the brightest of them:-

Ceres Bright Spot

Pluto’s Volcanoes of Ice

From The Daily Galaxy 10/11/15. Pluto has ice volcanoes. (Some sort of false colouring here obviously.)

Pluto's Volcanoes

These two are called Wright Mons and Piccard Mons:-

Wright Mons and Piccard Mons

The ice may be a mixture of water ice, nitrogen, ammonia, or methane.

From Astronomy Picture of the Day 14/11/15 comes this photo of Wright Mons:-

Wright Mons

Groovy Phobos

I got this one from The Daily Galaxy of 12/11/15.

Mars’s moon, Phobos, is groovy.

Grooves on Phobos

The grooves, and the depression shown below, are apparently due to the moon being slowly torn apart by gravitational tidal forces.


The Moons of Pluto

As seen in a composite image from Astronomy Picture of the Day 26/10/15.

Pluto's Moons

Styx and Kerberos are pretty fuzzy and Hydra shows up as an odd shape but Nix is well delineated.

Charon of course has been photographed as a sphere.

Pluto (and Charon) in Motion

From You Tube (via Astronomy Picture of the Day 6/10/15) this shows the (minor) planet and its moon orbiting their common centre of gravity before flying past and giving a view of Pluto -and its atmosphere – backlit by the sun.

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