A Bright Nova in Sagittarius

Artist conception of a nova (NASA)

Artist conception of a nova (NASA)

A nova has flared up in the constellation Sagittarius, and it’s grown bright enough to see with the naked eye in the pre-dawn sky. As of this weekend, according to Sky and Telescope, the nova has reached an impressive magnitude 4.3 which is plenty bright enough to see without optical aid in clear sky. The flaring star has been officially named Nova Sagittarii 2015 No.2.

“Nova” is a pre-telescopic term which means “new star”, because a nova seems to appear in a place where no star appeared before.

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25th Anniversary of the ‘Pale Blue Dot’


In late 1980, the Voyager 1 spacecraft had completed its primary mission to explore Jupiter and Saturn and was continuing forward, heading out of the solar system towards interstellar space. Before it turned away from Earth forever, the astronomer Carl Sagan, sensing a unique opportunity, asked NASA to turn one of the spacecraft’s cameras towards Earth to take an image. NASA engineers refused. They were concerned an attempt to image Earth might damage the camera if it accidentally aimed at the Sun.

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Thor’s Helmet

Thors Helmet NGC2359-Quick-HancockThis blazing maelstrom is Thor’s Helmet, a cloud of interstellar gas and stellar entrails set alight by a hot, unstable star nearing the end of its days. In this image by astrophotographers Kim Quick and Terry Hancock, the color and structure of this emission nebula hint at its youth and unusual nature.

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A Short Video of the ALMA Observatory

“The View From Mars: Part One: ALMA (Atacama Large Millimetre Array)” by Jonathan de Villiers – NOWNESS from NOWNESS on Vimeo.

There’s plenty of good science going on under the bone-dry skies of northern Chile in the Atacama Desert. In this poetic short video, Jonathan de Villiers takes a look at ALMA, the Atacama Large Millimeter Array, perhaps the greatest and most promising telescope on Earth. Decades in the making, this immense and ambitious telescope has finally come online in the past couple of years, and it already has a handful of startling images and discoveries to its credit.

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