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Constellations...you can see some sky maps and brief description of the constellations here.

Astronomy Books

Name A Star as a unique symbolic gift.


The Astronomy Picture of the Day always contains some interesting information. Check it out daily!

Jupiter and the Beehive Cluster

The Beehive cluster is a tightly clustered group of a few dozen stars. It's also known as M44 because it was the 44th object on the French astronomer Messier's list of sky objects. It is said that Messier made up his list so that astronomers who were looking for comets would realize that this was just another boring smudge in the sky and to keep looking elsewhere. Now we know that Messier had catalogued some of the most interesting objects in the sky. The Beehive cluster is about 600 light years from the Earth. It was thought to be a nebula until Galileo investigated it with his telescope. Now, you will find it rewarding to look at with good binoculars too.

The Beehive cluster can just barely be seen with the naked eye and you might be able to individual stars through a pair of binoculars. Fortunately for us, in the first week of April 2003, it will be much easier than usual to find the cluster because it will be so near to Jupiter.

If you live in the Northern Hemisphere, you can easily find Jupiter about 2/3 the way of from the Southern horizon. It is the brightest "star" by far in the area. If you hold your hand out at arm's length, the Beehive cluster is just about the width of your little finger away from Jupiter.

Earthshine...treflected sunlight from the Earth lights up the Dark Side of the Moon.

Take this opportunity to look at the Moon and the inner planets which are clearly visible. Use the charts below as a guide. I remember the first time I saw the rings of Saturn through a small telescope! It was an unbelievable sight! If you look at the Moon even through a pair of binoculars you can see so clearly the mountains and plains. You can get some very good binoculars and telescopes from Eagle Optics: The source for binoculars, spotting scopes, tripods and accessories since 1986!

Here's where to look in the northern hemisphere. The chart is for April 3rd but will be useful for a few days more.

Where to find Jupiter and the Beehive Cluster as seen from the northern hemisphere.


If you are in the southern hemisphere use the chart below. The chart is for April 3rd but will be useful for a few days more.

Find Jupiter and the Beehive Cluster here if you are looking from the southern hemisphere.


Useful Books

Philip's Moon Map

Philip's Moon Map

List Price: £5.99
Our Price: £4.79
You Save: £1.20 (20%) Click here to BUY from Amazon.UK

Map revised edition (1996)
Philip's; ISBN: 0540012084

Stephen Hawking's The Illustrated A Brief History of Time

The Illustrated A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking

List Price: £20.00
Our Price: £14.00
You Save: £6.00 (30%) Click here to BUY from Amazon.UK

Hardcover - 248 pages Reissued Revised and Expanded Ed (10 October, 1996)
Bantam Press; ISBN: 0593040597


A few days ago, Katsumi Haseda and Yuji Nakamura, both of Japan, independently discovered a new nova in the constellation of Ophiuchus.

Doug West of Kansas, USA measured the magnitude of the nova to be 9.19. Click here to see Doug’s photograph of the nova.

Aurora Borealis. This was in England earlier this year,but you may see a display anywhere in northern latitudes this week.

October 11th: Aurora

A solar explosion on Tuesday (Oct. 9th at 1110 UT) hurled a full-halo coronal mass ejection toward Earth. The expanding cloud, which sped away from the Sun traveling approximately 1000 km/s, could strike our planet's magnetosphere as soon as Thursday, Oct. 11th. Sky watchers, especially those living above geomagnetic latitude 50 degrees, should remain alert for Northern Lights during the nights ahead. The best time to spot auroras is usually around local midnight. Click here for details.


Fireball over Eastern USA

There were widespread reports of a fireball being seen over the north eastern part of the United States on July 23. The fireball was probably caused by a solitary fragment: either a small comet or asteroid (an asteroid would be made of metal, while a comet consists of frozen gases) 1 to 2 meters across and weighing about 30 metric tons.

Objects of this size enter the Earth's atmosphere about once a month, although rarely over a populated area where so many can see it. Entries of such large objects, unlike meteor showers, are a random occurrence and there is no way to predict them.

On July 23rd hundreds of thousands of people were looking when, unexpected, a fireball appeared over the US east coast. It was 6:15 p.m. local time. The Sun hadn't set, but onlookers had no trouble seeing the fireball in broad daylight. Witnesses from Canada to Virginia agreed that the colorful fireball was brighter than a Full Moon, and some saw a smoky trail lingering long after it had passed.

map of fireball trajectory  by Jim Richardson

Jim Richardson of the American Meteor Society created this July 23, 2001, fireball sighting map. Red stars denote witness locations; the tail on each star points in the direction that the fireball was spotted. Blue stars denote sonic booms. The green rectangle and arrows indicate the approximate trajectory of the fireball.

Did you see the July 23 fireball? If so, click here to fill in a form with your report. They can use your information to refine the trajectory of the meteor and possibly pinpoint the location of meteoritic debris.

More photos and a further story can be obtained by clicking here.


seed pods from Space

Seed pods from a commercial gardening experiment aboard the International Space Station are back on our planet. The far-out pods will liven up Earth-bound biology classrooms and may hold the key to long-term habitation of space.

The International Space Station may be the most technologically advanced house ever built, but at the moment it lacks something found in every home on Earth -- a front door! But not for long. Later this month the space shuttle is slated to deliver a 6-ton airlock to the ISS. US-suited astronauts will finally be able to cross the threshold of their own doorway to space for critical assembly and maintenance tasks -- and for the most thrilling experience of all: spacewalks. This story includes animated tours of the new airlock and a movie showing how the station's robotic arm will install the new chamber. Click here for the FULL STORY!

On June 21st, Mars was closer to the Earth than at any time in the last 12 years. Click here for more details.


If you live in the northern hemisphere you can see it as a prominent red object low in the sky above the southern horizon. If you live in the southern hemisphere, it will be gloriously visible high overhead.

Here, you can see the Astronomy Picture of the Day from NASA. And have a look at this picture of the Space Station from the Shuttle Endeavour! Click on the image for information on the International Space Station.


Did the Moon ever split in two? Read this astonishing story from the twelfth century!

aurora, Alaska, March 26th

A magnificent aurora display, resulting from the increase in sunspot activity and coronal ejection, has recently taken place. Resultant geomagnetic storms in Earth's atmosphere are giving brilliant displays of aurora in latitudes where such sights are a rarity. Watch the skies, wherever you are! The best time is usually at around your local midnight, but it's worth looking shortly after sunset too. Read about Nasa's analysis of "cannibal coronal ejections".

The largest sunspot in 10 years, and still growing, is covering an area of the Sun equivalent to the total surface area of 13 Earths!

Perched on the surface of asteroid 433 Eros, NASA's NEAR spacecraft is beaming back measurements of gamma-rays leaking from the space rock's dusty soil. Find out what scientists hope to learn about Eros, which might be a real-life planetesimal from the dawn of the solar system.

Venus is getting brighter as it comes closer to Earth, and it is truly a fiery planet. These latest pictures from NASA will bring it into focus.

Here's an astonishing first view of Earth's Magnetic Tail streaming out in space towards the Sun.

Is there Life on Mars? Or was there once? Scientists have discovered curious chains of magnetic crystals on a meteorite from Mars which may indicate ancient Martian microbes.

Or is there evidence of fossils on Mars? Click here to see news of layers of sedimentation on the Red Planet.

Does lightning strike twice? It seems that 250 million years ago, an asteroid may have collided with Earth just like the one that caused the extinction of the dinosaurs. The full story is here.

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