Uranus Revisited?

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Uranus & rings

Uranus Revisited?   In April this year, a group of influential scientists spoke to NASA about future planetary space missions. Their number one recommendation is a spacecraft to visit Uranus. Their vision is a space probe to go into orbit around Uranus. It would investigate the planet and take a close look at some of… Read more »

Worlds in a spin.

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Solar System NASA

Spinning planets   Recently in Wonderdome planetarium, a Year 5 child asked ‘Why do the planets spin round?’ Like many simple questions it has a complex answer. So, just why are all the worlds in a spin?   Planets of the Solar System,  Credit: NASA   The question relates to the rotation of a planet… Read more »

Perseverance on Mars

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Perseverance NASA

Perseverance rover on Mars   The Perseverance rover.   Credit: NASA / JPL   July 2020 saw the launch of the latest NASA probe tom Mars. On February 18, 2021, the Perseverance rover landed on the red planet. The mission objectives included searching for signs of ancient alien life. It would also collect rock samples for… Read more »

Globular Clusters: Great balls of fire!

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NGC 1866 Hubble ESA / NASA

Globular Star Clusters   Globular star clusters are some of the most spectacular deep space objects.   M13 Globular Cluster.   Photo: NASA   They can easily be observed with backyard telescopes. And early summer is a great time to look, with the best globular clusters on view. These clusters are some of the most distant… Read more »

Back to the Moon: the Space Launch System

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SLS launch

Back to the Moon   Artemis Mission.  Credit: NASA   In our last blog, we looked at Apollo 16, the penultimate Moon landing. The Apollo project ended in December 1972, when Apollo 17 returned to Earth.   Now NASA is looking to return astronauts to the Moon. Their new project is called Artemis after the… Read more »

Apollo 16: 50 years on.

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Apollo 16 patch

Apollo 16     Fifty years ago,  April 16, 1972, saw the launch of the penultimate mission to the Moon. Apollo 16 was the fifth Moon landing. It’s aim was to explore the area of the Descartes Highlands. Geologists thought this area showed signs of volcanic activity. The crew would collect a variety of rocks… Read more »

Springtime Stars

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May 2021 stargazing

Springtime Stars   The winter constellations marshalled by Orion are now sinking in the west. They are being replaced by our Springtime stars, centred around the celestial lion. Our star maps come from Stellarium, the software we use in Wonderdome planetarium. Stellarium shows you the stars on any night, past, present or future from any… Read more »

Radio Astronomy: Part 2

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Parkes Radio Telescope

Radio Astronomy: Part 2   In Part 1, we looked at the beginnings of radio astronomy and at radio observatories. This time we explore the imagery and important discoveries of the science.   Images Optical telescopes are ‘big eyes’. The photographs they produce use visible light. But radio telescopes deal with radiation invisible to our… Read more »

Radio Astronomy: Part 1

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Parkes Radio Telescope

Radio Astronomy Radio Astronomy has become a key part of modern astronomical research. It has literally given us a new view of the universe. So what is radio astronomy? What is a radio astronomy observatory like? Parkes Radio Telescope, NSW, Australia Photo: Dennis Ashton Beginnings Until the 1930s, our view of the universe came through… Read more »

Aurora: Northern Lights

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Aurora Mcgrath2r

The Northern Lights In recent months displays of the aurora, Northern Lights, have been seen in Britain. And aurorae are often seen further north, in Iceland for example. So what causes these spectacular natural light shows? And what exactly do they look like? Photo: Dennis Ashton The Sun and aurorae The Sun gives out radiation… Read more »


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