Enlightening Night At BBC Stargazing Live Inspired Astronomy Event
held by the Liverpool Astronomical Society, was one of many events
run across the UK which were run in association with BBC Learning,
who had put out a fantastic programme that same week called:- 'Stargazing
LIVE'. This event which we attended, at the Sefton Coast and
Countryside Service's Ainsdale Discovery Centre, was one of two
hosted on Merseyside by the Society. Sadly, the clouds struck yet
again and the chances of good observations through the several
telescopes Society members had brought with them were dashed. It was
hoped that members of the public could have looked through them to
see views of the planet Jupiter, and many night sky objects. As many
who like astronomy know, in the UK you can bank on the cloud getting
in the way, so, in effect, the Society had a backup plan. So packing
out the class room in the centre were total beginners as well as
many amateur astronomers of all ages, listening to a fascinating
series of illustrated talks. For all who attended, the Society also
gave out an invaluable tool for free, a 'BBC
Stargazing LIVE - Star Guide', that has many useful bits of
information to aid stargazers to discover more about the night sky.
If you want to learn more about Astronomy, why not log onto the
website. You can also find a
comprehensive starter guide to the night sky by visiting:-
Our Related News Features:-
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NEXT OF KIN APPEAL - ANGELA GILBERT
Officers are appealing for the next of kin of 67 year old Angela
Gilbert, who died at her home address in Newton-le-Willows, St
Helens, Merseyside, to contact them. Mrs Gilbert (previously Cotton)
died at her home on Ashton Road on Monday, 3 January 2011. There are
no suspicious circumstances surrounding her death, but the Coroner’s
office is trying to locate her family. It is believed that Mrs
Gilbert may have had sons living in the Merseyside or Cheshire
areas. Anyone who has any information is asked to contact the
Coroner's Office at the Whiston Hospital on:- 0151 430 1238.
Planck's new view of the cosmic theatre
with thanks to ESA
scientific results from ESA's Planck mission were released at a
press briefing in Paris. The findings focus on the coldest objects
in the Universe, from within our Galaxy to the distant reaches of
space. If William Shakespeare were an astronomer living today, he
might write that:- "All the Universe is a stage, and all the
galaxies merely players." Planck is bringing us new views of
both the stage and players, revealing the drama of the evolution of
our Universe. Following the publication by ESA of the first full-sky
Planck image in July last year, today sees the release of the first
scientific results from the mission. These results are being
presented by the Planck Collaboration at a major scientific
conference in Paris this week, based on 25 papers submitted to the
journal Astronomy & Astrophysics. The basis of many of these results
is the Planck mission's 'Early Release Compact Source
Catalogue', the equivalent of a cast list.
Drawn from Planck's continuing survey of the entire sky at
millimetre and submillimetre wavelengths, the catalogue contains
thousands of very cold, individual sources which the scientific
community is now free to explore.
"This is a great moment for Planck. Until now, everything has been
about collecting data and showing off their potential. Now, at last,
we can begin the discoveries." says Jan Tauber, ESA Project
Scientist for Planck. We can think of the Universe as a stage on
which the great cosmic drama plays out over three acts.
Visible-light telescopes see little more than the final act: the
tapestry of galaxies around us. But by making measurements at
wavelengths between the infrared and radio, Planck is able to work
back in time and show us the preceding two acts. The results
released today contain important new information about the middle
act, when the galaxies were being assembled. Planck has found
evidence for an otherwise invisible population of galaxies shrouded
in dust billions of years in the past, which formed stars at rates
some 10-1000 times higher than we see in our own Galaxy today.
Measurements of this population had never been made at these
wavelengths before. "This is a first step, we are just
learning how to work with these data and extract the most
information." said Jean-Loup Puget, CNRS-Université Paris
Sud, Orsay, France.
Eventually, Planck will show us the best views yet of the Universe's
first act: the formation of the first large-scale structures in the
Universe, where the galaxies were later born. These structures are
traced by the cosmic microwave background radiation, released just
380 000 years after the Big Bang, as the Universe was cooling.
However, in order to see it properly, contaminating emission from a
whole host of foreground sources must first be removed. These
include the individual objects contained in the Early Release
Compact Source Catalogue, as well as various sources of diffuse
Today, an important step towards removing this contamination was
also announced. The 'anomalous microwave emission' is a diffuse glow
most strongly associated with the dense, dusty regions of our
Galaxy, but its origin has been a puzzle for decades.
However, data collected across Planck's unprecedented wide
wavelength range confirm the theory that it is coming from dust
grains set spinning at several tens of billion times a second by
collisions with either fast-moving atoms or packets of ultraviolet
This new understanding helps to remove this local microwave 'fog'
from the Planck data with greater precision, leaving the cosmic
microwave background untouched.
"This is a great result made possible by the exceptional quality of
the Planck data." added Clive Dickinson, University of
Among the many other results presented today, Planck has shown new
details of yet other actors on the cosmic stage: distant clusters of
galaxies. These show up in the Planck data as compact silhouettes
against the cosmic microwave background.
The Planck Collaboration has identified 189 so far, including 20
previously unknown clusters that are being confirmed by ESA's XMM-Newton
By surveying the whole sky, Planck stands the best chance of finding
the most massive examples of these clusters. They are rare and their
number is a sensitive probe of the kind of Universe we live in, how
fast it is expanding, and how much matter it contains.
"These observations will be used as bricks to build our
understanding of the Universe." commented Nabila Aghanim,
CNRS-Université Paris Sud, Orsay, France.
"The results are the tip of the scientific iceberg. Planck is
exceeding expectations thanks to the dedication of everyone involved
in the project. However, beyond those announced in this catalogue
contains the raw material for many more discoveries. Even then, we
haven't got to the real treasure yet, the cosmic microwave
background itself." said David Southwood, ESA Director of
Science and Robotic Exploration.
Planck continues to survey the Universe. Its next data release is
scheduled for January 2013 and will reveal the cosmic microwave
background in unprecedented detail, the opening act of the cosmic
drama, a picture of the beginning of everything.