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Historical archive of remarkable news






Comet Lovejoy brightens, 28 December,
Comet Lovejoy (C/2014 Q2) has been a naked-eye object for the observers from the Southern Hemisphere. In recent days has been seen from southerly latitudes in the Northern Hemisphere. And soon, it’ll be high in Northern Hemisphere skies!

The path of the comet can be seen in the map


Physics Photo Contest International Year of light

The "Catalan Society of Physics", has announced the list of the 6 awarded images

mxim New Horizons wakes up on Pluto's doorstep, 7 December,
After a voyage of nearly nine years and three billion miles —the farthest any space mission has ever traveled to reach its primary target – NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft came out of hibernation on Dec. 6th for its long-awaited 2015 encounter with the Pluto system.


International Conference outreach Activities
Gaia Team from UB have organized outreach activities to secundary school students, and general public.

  • Guided visit to the exhibition" Mil milions d'ulls per a mil milions d'estrelles".On the ground floor of the Sciences courtyard of the Historical Building
  • Talk: "Gaia i l'odissea galctica". Paranimf of the Historical Building.
  • Date:2 December 2014
  • Hour: 18:00-19:30
The activities are part of the International Conference "The Milky Way unravelled by Gaia" that is going to be held in the UB Historic Building.
More deails: here

mxim Geminid Meteor Shower, 1 December,
Earth is entering a stream of gravelly debris from "rock comet" 3200 Phaethon, source of the annual Geminid meteor shower. On the night of Nov. 30-Dec. 1, NASA's network of all-sky cameras detected three Geminid fireballs over the USA (see the image). This specimen from the desert southwest was clearly visible despite the glare from the waxing gibbous Moon. Meteor sightings will increase in the nights ahead as Earth plunges deeper into the debris stream. Forecasters expect peak rates to occur on Dec. 13-14, when dark-sky observers in both hemispheres could see as many as 120 meteors per hour.


mxim The last news about Rosetta Mission

mxim Mars Spacecraft Reveal Comet Flyby Effects on Martian Atmosphere, 7 November,
Two NASA and one European spacecraft that obtained the first up-close observations of a comet flyby of Mars on Oct. 19, have gathered new information about the basic properties of the comet’s nucleus and directly detected the effects on the Martian atmosphere.

mxim Black hole gamma-ray lightning, 6 November,
The MAGIC telescopes at La Palma have recorded the fastest gamma-ray flares seen to date, produced in the vicinity of a super-massive black hole. The scientists explain this phenomenon by a mechanism similar to that producing lightning in a storm. This result, with an important Spanish contribution, is published today in Science.

mxim Revolutionary ALMA Image Reveals Planetary Genesis, 6 November,
This new image from ALMA, the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array, reveals extraordinarily fine detail that has never been seen before in the planet-forming disc around a young star. These are the first observations that have used ALMA in its near-final configuration and the sharpest pictures ever made at submillimetre wavelengths. The new results are an enormous step forward in the observation of how protoplanetary discs develop and how planets form.

mxim NASA Rocket Experiment Finds the Universe Brighter Than We Thought, 6 November,
A NASA sounding rocket experiment has detected a surprising surplus of infrared light in the dark space between galaxies, a diffuse cosmic glow as bright as all known galaxies combined. The glow is thought to be from orphaned stars flung out of galaxies.

mxim VLTI Detects Exozodiacal Light, 3 November,
By using the full power of the Very Large Telescope Interferometer an international team of astronomers has discovered exozodiacal light close to the habitable zones around nine nearby stars. This light is starlight reflected from dust created as the result of collisions between asteroids, and the evaporation of comets. The presence of such large amounts of dust in the inner regions around some stars may pose an obstacle to the direct imaging of Earth-like planets in the future.


mxim Planet-forming Lifeline Discovered in a Binary Star System, 30 October,
For the first time, researchers using ALMA have detected a streamer of gas flowing from a massive outer disc toward the inner reaches of a binary star system. This never-before-seen feature may be responsible for sustaining a second, smaller disc of planet-forming material that otherwise would have disappeared long ago. Half of Sun-like stars are born in binary systems, meaning that these findings will have major consequences for the hunt for exoplanets. The results are published in the journal Nature on 30 October 2014.

mxim Two Families of Comets Found Around Nearby Star, 23 October,
The HARPS instrument at ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile has been used to make the most complete census of comets around another star ever created. A French team of astronomers has studied nearly 500 individual comets orbiting the star Beta Pictoris and has discovered that they belong to two distinct families of exocomets: old exocomets that have made multiple passages near the star, and younger exocomets that probably came from the recent breakup of one or more larger objects. The new results will appear in the journal Nature on 23 October 2014.

mxim Partial eclipse, 22 October,
On Thursday, Oct. 23rd, the Moon will pass in front of the sun, off center, producing a partial solar eclipse visible from almost all of North America. Greatest eclipse occurs at 21:44:31 TU with a magnitude of 0.811. At that time, the axis of the Moon's shadow will pass about 675 km above Earth's surface. The eclipse will begin near the Kamchatka Peninsula in eastern Sibera,as it moves east, much of North America will be able to see a partial solar eclipse. The maximum eclipse will take place over Canada's Nunavut Territory near Prince of Wales Island.

mxim MONSTER SUNSPOT, 21 October,
The biggest sunspot of the current solar cycle is turning toward Earth. This behemoth active region is 125,000 km wide, almost as big as the planet Jupiter. A few days ago, AR2192 unleashed an X1-class solar flare. Since then the sunspot has almost doubled in size and developed an increasingly unstable 'beta-gamma-delta' magnetic field. It would seem to be just a matter of time before another strong explosion occurs..

mxim Mars Orbiter Image Shows Comet Nucleus is Small, 20 October,
The High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter captured views of comet C/2013 A1 Siding Spring while that visitor sped past Mars on Sunday (Oct. 19), yielding information about its nucleus.

mxim NASA’s Hubble Finds Extremely Distant Galaxy through Cosmic Magnifying Glass, 16 October,
Peering through a giant cosmic magnifying glass, NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has spotted a tiny, faint galaxy -- one of the farthest galaxies ever seen. The diminutive object is estimated to be more than 13 billion light-years away.

mxim NASA Spacecraft Provides New Information About Sun’s Atmosphere, 16 October,
NASA's Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph (IRIS) has provided scientists with five new findings into how the sun’s atmosphere, or corona, is heated far hotter than its surface, what causes the sun’s constant outflow of particles called the solar wind, and what mechanisms accelerate particles that power solar flares.

mxim NASA’s Hubble Telescope Finds Potential Kuiper Belt Targets for New Horizons Pluto Mission, 15 October,
This is an artist’s impression of a Kuiper Belt object (KBO), located on the outer rim of our solar system at a staggering distance of 4 billion miles from the Sun. A HST survey uncovered three KBOs that are potentially reachable by NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft after it passes by Pluto in mid-2015

mxim ESA confirms the primary landing site for Rosetta, 15 October,
ESA has given the green light for its Rosetta mission to deliver its lander, Philae, to the primary site on 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko on 12 November, in the first-ever attempt at a soft touchdown on a comet.

mxim Construction Secrets of a Galactic Metropolis, 15 October,
Astronomers have used the APEX telescope to probe a huge galaxy cluster that is forming in the early Universe and revealed that much of the star formation taking place is not only hidden by dust, but also occurring in unexpected places. This is the first time that a full census of the star formation in such an object has been possible.

mxim Astronomical Hackathon: A Universe of data
The Astronomical Hackathon is dedicated to astronomy and data. A universe of data that show us our universe as we know it, with a collection of fascinating facts. How many planets we know? How many of these could have life? What are their characteristics and where are they? What do we explain the electromagnetic data? We invite all amateur and professional astronomers to participate on Saturday 11 October at the laboratory of the exhibition Big Bang Data.With he introduction and advising of Xavi Luri (professor in the Department of Astronomy and Meteorology of the UB and ICCUB / IEEC researcher).
Project: Astronomical Hackathon
Organizing by: ZZZINC and Outliers
Dates: Saturday 11th October since 11h to 20h
_Image: xkcd, CC BY-NC_

mxim NASA Prepares its Science Fleet for Oct. 19 Mars Comet Encounter, 9 October 2014,
NASA’s extensive fleet of science assets, particularly those orbiting and roving Mars, have front row seats to image and study a once-in-a-lifetime comet flyby on Sunday, Oct. 19. Comet C/2013 A1, also known as comet Siding Spring, will pass within about 87,000 miles (139,500 kilometers) of the Red Planet -- less than half the distance between Earth and our moon and less than one-tenth the distance of any known comet flyby of Earth.

mxim Lunar Eclipse, 8 October, a Total Lunar Eclipse eclipse took place on 8 October at 10:54 TU. The Eclipse wasn't visible from Catalonia, and was best seen from the Pacific Ocean and bordering regions.The eclipse occurs at the Moon's descending node in southern Pisces, two days after perigee (October 06 at 09:41 UT). This means that the Moon will appear 5.3% larger than it did during the April 15 eclipse (32.7 vs. 31.3 arc-minutes)

Spaceweather Image Gallery

Image by Morris Maduro, California

mxim World Space Week at Catalonia, 4 October 2014,
World Space Week is the celebration at the international level for the contributions of space science and technology to the betterment of the human condition.
Barcelona Activities Programme
Castelldefels Activities Programme

mxim NASA Mission Points to Origin of “Ocean of Storms” on Earth’s Moon, 1 October 2014,
Early theories suggested the craggy outline of a region of the moon’s surface known as Oceanus Procellarum, or the Ocean of Storms, was caused by an asteroid impact. If this theory had been correct, the basin it formed would be the largest asteroid impact basin on the moon. However, mission scientists studying GRAIL data believe they have found evidence the craggy outline of this rectangular region -- roughly 1,600 miles (2,600 kilometers) across -- is actually the result of the formation of ancient rift valleys.

mxim Why sibling stars look alike: early, fast mixing in star-birth clouds, 1 October 2014,
Early, fast, turbulent mixing of gas within giant molecular clouds—the birthplaces of stars— means all stars formed from a single cloud bear the same unique chemical “tag” or “DNA fingerprint,” finds computational astronomers at University of California, Santa Cruz

mxim Wild Ducks Take Flight in Open Cluster 1 October 2014,
The Wide Field Imager on the MPG/ESO 2.2-metre telescope at ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile has taken this beautiful image, dappled with blue stars, of one of the most star-rich open clusters currently known — Messier 11, also known as NGC 6705 or the Wild Duck Cluster.

September 2014

mxim Violent Origins of Disc Galaxies Probed by ALMA 17 Septembre 2014,
For decades scientists have believed that galaxy mergers usually result in the formation of elliptical galaxies. Now, for the the first time, researchers using ALMA and a host of other radio telescopes have found direct evidence that merging galaxies can instead form disc galaxies, and that this outcome is in fact quite common. This surprising result could explain why there are so many spiral galaxies like the Milky Way in the Universe.

mxim Hubble helps find smallest known galaxy containing a supermassive black hole 17 September 2014,
Astronomers using data from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope and ground observation have found an unlikely object in an improbable place -- a monster black hole lurking inside one of the tiniest galaxies ever known.

mxim Hubble Helps Find Smallest Known Galaxy Containing a Supermassive Black Hole 17 September 2014,
A new catalogue of the visible part of the northern part of our home galaxy, the Milky Way, includes no fewer than 219 million stars. Geert Barentsen of the University of Hertfordshire led a team who assembled the catalogue in a ten year programme using the Isaac Newton Telescope (INT) on La Palma in the Canary Islands.

mxim NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory Finds Planet That Makes Star Act Deceptively Old 16 September 2014,
A planet may be causing the star it orbits to act much older than it actually is, according to new data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory. This discovery shows how a massive planet can affect the behavior of its parent star.

mxim Gaia discovers its first supernova, 12 September,
While scanning the sky to measure the positions and movements of stars in our Galaxy, Gaia has discovered a supernova, called Gaia 14aaa, in a galaxy located about 500 million light years away.
The sudden rise in the galaxy brightness detected between one observation on August 30th and another one made one month before, indicated the possibility of a supernova. This galaxy showed a a 6 factor change of its brightness.
Position measurements were made to corroborate the hypothesis that it was a supernova and to reject the option of outbursts caused by the mass-devouring supermassive black hole at the galaxy centre. The position of the bright spot of light was slightly offset from the galaxy’s core, suggesting that it was unlikely to be related to a central black hole. The astronomers analysed the light spectrum to seek signatures of various chemical elements typical of those kind of phenomenon. Complementary observations were made with terrestrial Telescopes such as the Isaac Newton Telescope (INT) and the Liverpool Telescope, both placed at the La Palma Island. All information confirmed that the phenomenon was a supernova and also indicated its nature: a Type Ia supernova, correspondent to the explosion of a white dwarf locked in a binary system with a companion star.
It was just the firts discovery of the many that will occur during the 5 years of the mission.

More information about the supernova
GaiaUB Group
Follow the mision with the GaiaApp

Gaia is an ESA mission to survey one billion stars in our Galaxy and local galactic neighbourhood in order to build the most precise 3D map of the Milky Way and answer questions about its origin and evolution. It was launched on 19 December 2013. The Gaia Group of the University of Barcelona-Institute of Cosmos Sciences- Institute of Spatial Studies of Catalonia, has a important contribution in this mission.

mxim Esa's bug-eyed telescope to spot risky asteroids 10 September 2014,
Spotting Earth-threatening asteroids is tough partly because the sky is so big. But insects offer an answer, since they figured out long ago how to look in many directions at once.

mxim Hubble Finds Supernova Companion Star after Two Decades of Searching 9 September 2014,
Using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, astronomers have discovered a companion star to a rare type of supernova. The discovery confirms a long-held theory that the supernova, dubbed SN 1993J, occurred inside what is called a binary system, where two interacting stars caused a cosmic explosion.

mxim Rosetta comet observed with Very Large Telescope 8 September 2014,
Since early August 2014, Rosetta has been enjoying a close-up view of comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko. Meanwhile, astronomers on Earth have been busy following the comet with ground-based telescopes. As Rosetta is deep inside the ‘atmosphere’ coma – it was 100 km from the nucleus on 6 August, and has been getting much closer since then – the only way to view the whole comet is to ‘stand back’ and observe it from Earth.

mxim Cosmic Forecast: Dark Clouds Will Give Way to Sunshine 3 September 2014,
Lupus 4, a spider-shaped blob of gas and dust, blots out background stars like a dark cloud on a moonless night in this intriguing new image. Although gloomy for now, dense pockets of material within clouds such as Lupus 4 are where new stars form and where they will later burst into radiant life. The Wide Field Imager on the MPG/ESO 2.2-metre telescope at ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile captured this new picture.

mxim Gaia in your pocket - Mapping the Galaxy with the new Gaia App 1 September 2014,
You can follow the mission’s progress with a new app created by the University of Barcelona. Being able to track the progress of this groundbreaking mission via your iPhone, iPad or iPod means the stars have never been closer!

mxim XI Scientific Meeting of the Spanish Society of Astronomy 1 September 2014,
The Spanish Society of Astronomy (SEA) cellebrate its XI Scientific Meeting at Teruel from 8 to 12 September 2014.
As on previous occasions, the main idea of this meeting is to create a science discussion forum where Spanish Astronomy and its guests can present and discuss their latests works, create new collaborations and organize themselves to face new challenges.
This meeting is thought as a meeting point for every astronomer and as a place where the youngest members of our society can improve in their research.

mxim Magnetar discoveed close to Supernova remnant KESTEVEN 79 1 September 2014,
Massive stars end their life with a bang, exploding as supernovas and releasing massive amounts of energy and matter. What remains of the star is a small and extremely dense remnant: a neutron star or a black hole.
This image depicts two very different neutron stars that were observed in the same patch of the sky with XMM-Newton. The green and pink bubble dominating the image is Kesteven 79, the remnant of a supernova explosion located about 23,000 light-years away from us.

August 2014

mxim How Rosetta arrives at a comet 2 August 2014,
After travelling nearly 6.4 billion kilometres through the Solar System, ESA’s Rosetta is closing in on its target. But how does a spacecraft actually arrive at a comet?

July 2014


Gaia: Go for science 30 July 2014,
Following extensive in-orbit commissioning and several unexpected challenges, ESA’s billion-star surveyor, Gaia, is now ready to begin its science mission.
The satellite was launched on 19 December 2013, and is orbiting a virtual location in space 1.5 million kilometres from Earth.

mxim Nearby M33 galaxy blossoming with star birth 28 July 2014,
The spiral galaxy M33, also known as the Triangulum Galaxy, is one of our closest cosmic neighbours, just three million light-years away. Home to some forty billion stars, it is the third largest in the Local Group of galaxies after the Andromeda Galaxy (M31) and our own Milky Way.
This image, from ESA's Herschel space observatory, shows M33 in far-infrared light, revealing the glow of cosmic dust in the interstellar medium that permeates the galaxy. The patchy, disorganised structure of M33's spiral arms resembles a tuft of wool, leading astronomers to classify it as a flocculent spiral galaxy.

mxim Hubble Finds Three Surprisingly Dry Exoplanets 24 July 2014,
Astronomers using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope have gone looking for water vapor in the atmospheres of three planets orbiting stars similar to the sun -- and have come up nearly dry.
The three planets, known as HD 189733b, HD 209458b, and WASP-12b, are between 60 and 900 light-years away from Earth and were thought to be ideal candidates for detecting water vapor in their atmospheres because of their high temperatures where water turns into a measurable vapor.

mxim Lives and Deaths of Sibling Stars 23 July 2014,
In this striking new image from ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile young stars huddle together against a backdrop of clouds of glowing gas and lanes of dust. The star cluster, known as NGC 3293, would have been just a cloud of gas and dust itself about ten million years ago, but as stars began to form it became the bright group of stars we see here. Clusters like this are celestial laboratories that allow astronomers to learn more about how stars evolve.

mxim Bizarre nearby blast mimics Universe'smost ancient stars 11 July 2014,
ESA’s XMM-Newton observatory has helped to uncover how the Universe’s first stars ended their lives in giant explosions.
Astronomers studied the gamma-ray burst GRB130925A – a flash of very energetic radiation streaming from a star in a distant galaxy 5.6 billion light years from Earth – using space- and ground-based observatories.

mxim NASA Spacecraft Observes Further Evidence of Dry Ice Gullies on Mars 10 July 2014,
Repeated high-resolution observations made by NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) indicate the gullies on Mars’ surface are primarily formed by the seasonal freezing of carbon dioxide, not liquid water.
mxim NameExoWorlds: An IAU World wide Contest to name Exoplanets and their Host Stars 9 July 2014,
For the first time, in response to the public’s increased interest in being part of discoveries in astronomy, the International Astronomical Union (IAU) is organizing a worldwide contest to give popular names to selected exoplanets along with their host stars. The proposed names will be submitted by astronomy clubs and non-profit organisations interested in astronomy, and votes will be cast by the public from across the world through the web platform NameExoWorlds.
Spanish Blog

mxim VLT Clears Up Dusty Mystery 9 July 2014,
A group of astronomers has been able to follow stardust being made in real time — during the aftermath of a supernova explosion. For the first time they show that these cosmic dust factories make their grains in a two-stage process, starting soon after the explosion, but continuing for years afterwards.

mxim Farewell Lutetia! 7 July 2014,
This ethereal image shows a stunning sliver of large main-belt asteroid Lutetia from the viewpoint of ESA’s Rosetta spacecraft, taken as Rosetta passed by on its 10-year voyage towards comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko.

mxim Ocean on Saturn Moon Could be as Salty as the Dead Sea 2 July 2014,
scientists analyzing data from NASA’s Cassini mission have firm evidence the ocean inside Saturn's largest moon, Titan, might be as salty as the Earth's Dead Sea.

mxim Young sun'sviolent history solves meteorite mystery 1 July 2014
, Astronomers using ESA’s Herschel space observatory to probe the turbulent beginnings of a Sun-like star have found evidence of mighty stellar winds that could solve a puzzling meteorite mystery in our own back yard.

mxim Nanda Rea receives the Zeldovich Medal 1 July 2014
, Dr. Nanda Rea, research scientist of the Institute of Space Sciences (CSIC) / Institute of Space Studies of Catalunya (IEEC), receives the Zeldovich Medal, awarded by the Committee on Space Research (COSPAR) and the Russian Academy of Sciences.

mxim Discovery of Near Earth Asteroid 2014 LU14 with the Isaac Newton Telescope 1 July 2014,
LU14 is the first Near Earth Asteroid (NEA) discovered using the Isaac Newton Telescope and the first ever from La Palma. Having an absolute magnitude of H=18.6, the discovered NEA has an estimated size of about half a kilometer (assuming a mean albedo of 0.2), and will become better visible in July 2014 (estimated magnitude V=20).

June 2014

mxim Puzzling X rays point to dark matter 17 June
Astronomers using ESA and NASA high-energy observatories have discovered a tantalising clue that hints at an elusive ingredient of our Universe: dark matter.

mxim New moleculas around old starss 17 June
Using ESA’s Herschel space observatory, astronomers have discovered that a molecule vital for creating water exists in the burning embers of dying Sun-like stars.

mxim Gigantic Explosions Buried in Dust 14 June
Observations from the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) have for the first time directly mapped out the molecular gas and dust in the host galaxies of gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) — the biggest explosions in the Universe.

mxim Black Hole ‘Batteries’ Keep Blazars Going and Going 3 June
Astronomers studying two classes of black-hole-powered galaxies monitored by NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope have found evidence that they represent different sides of the same cosmic coin. By unraveling how these objects, called blazars, are distributed throughout the universe, the scientists suggest that apparently distinctive properties defining each class more likely reflect a change in the way the galaxies extract energy from their central black holes.

mxim Astronomers Confounded By Massive Rocky World 2 June
Astronomers have discovered a rocky planet that weighs 17 times as much as Earth and is more than twice as large in size. This discovery has planet formation theorists challenged to explain how such a world could have formed.

May 2014

mxim A peppering of craters at the Moon's south pole 26 May
The dark and shadowed regions of the Moon fascinate astronomers and Pink Floyd fans alike. Our Moon’s rotation axis has a tilt of 1.5, meaning that some parts of its polar regions never see sunlight – the bottoms of certain craters, for example, are always in shadow.

mxim Camelopardalid meteor shower 26 May
That's not what a meteor storm looks like. On May 24th, as predicted, Earth passed through a stream of debris from Comet 209P/LINEAR, and the encounter did produce a number of fine meteors. However, contrary to some forecasts, there was no intense outburst. Typical naked-eye meteor rates were no more than 5 or 10 per hour, a far cry from the "meteor storm" some headlines anticipated.

mxim A Star Cluster in the Wake of Carina 21 May
This colourful new image from the MPG/ESO 2.2-metre telescope at ESO's La Silla Observatory in Chile shows the star cluster NGC 3590. These stars shine brightly in front of a dramatic landscape of dark patches of dust and richly hued clouds of glowing gas. This small stellar gathering gives astronomers clues about how these stars form and evolve — as well as giving hints about the structure of our galaxy's pinwheeling arms.

mxim Hubble sees aurora on Saturn 19 May
Astronomers using the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope have captured new images of the dancing auroral lights at Saturn’s north pole. Taken in April and May 2013 from Hubble’s perspective in orbit around Earth, these observations provide a detailed look at previously unseen dynamics in the choreography of the auroral glow.

mxim Magnetar Formation Mystery Solved? 14 May
Magnetars are the bizarre super-dense remnants of supernova explosions. They are the strongest magnets known in the Universe — millions of times more powerful than the strongest magnets on Earth. A team of European astronomers using ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) now believe they’ve found the partner star of a magnetar for the first time. This discovery helps to explain how magnetars form — a conundrum dating back 35 years — and why this particular star didn’t collapse into a black hole as astronomers would expect.

mxim A new Meteor Shower on May 24? 9 May
On the morning of May 24 we could see a new meteor shower. HelveticaNeue, 'Helvetica Neue', Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 13px; line-height: 18px;">It’s predicted for the night of May 23-24. This possible shower stems from Comet 209P/LINEAR, discovered in 2004. If the predictions hold true, Earth might be sandblasted with debris from this comet, resulting in a fine display of meteors, or HelveticaNeue, 'Helvetica Neue', Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif; line-height: 18px;">shooting starsHelveticaNeue, 'Helvetica Neue', Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 13px; line-height: 18px;"> on the evening of May 23, and the morning of May 24. Mid-northern North American latitudes are favored.

mxim Astronomers Create First Realistic Virtual Universe 7 May
Astronomers have created the first realistic virtual universe using a computer simulation called "Illustris." Illustris can recreate 13 billion years of cosmic evolution in a cube 350 million light-years on a side with unprecedented resolution.

mxim Planck takes magnetic fingerprint of our Galaxy 6 May
Our Galaxy’s magnetic field is revealed in a new image from ESA’s Planck satellite. This image was compiled from the first all-sky observations of ‘polarised’ light emitted by interstellar dust in the Milky Way.

mxim Saturn's rainbow rings 5 May
This colourful cosmic rainbow portrays a section of Saturn’s beautiful rings, four centuries after they were discovered by Galileo Galilei.

April 2014

mxim Length of Exoplanet Day Measured for First Time 30 April
Observations from ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) have, for the first time, determined the rotation rate of an exoplanet. Beta Pictoris b has been found to have a day that lasts only eight hours. This is much quicker than any planet in the Solar System — its equator is moving at almost 100 000 kilometres per hour. This new result extends the relation between mass and rotation seen in the Solar System to exoplanets. Similar techniques will allow astronomers to map exoplanets in detail in the future with the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT).

mxim M82 Galaxy and Supernova SN2014J29 April
On the 21st January 2014 astronomers reported the discovery of supernova SN2014J which reached its peak brightness on the 31st January. Some days later, this type Ia supernova started to fade. The image demonstrates that SN2014J (marked with black lines) continued to be the brightest optical object in the galaxy even one month after the discovery.

mxim Asteroids as Seen From Mars; A Curiosity Rover First 25 April
A new image from NASA's Curiosity Mars rover is the first ever from the surface of Mars to show an asteroid, and it shows two: Ceres and Vesta. These two -- the largest and third-largest bodies in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter -- are the destinations of NASA's Dawn mission. Dawn orbited Vesta in 2011 and 2012, and is on its way to begin orbiting Ceres next year. Ceres is a dwarf planet, as well as an asteroid.

mxim Total Lunar Eclipse 15 April
The entire event is visible from both North and South America. Observers in the western Pacific miss the first half of the eclipse because it occurs before moonrise. Likewise most of Europe and Africa experience moonset just as the eclipse begins. None of the eclipse is visible from north/east Europe, eastern Africa, the Middle East or Central Asia..
NASA offered live via its website the event. Those who have not been able to enjoy such a spectacle, can see the best images that different observers have uploaded at the group that created NASA in flick called
"NASA Lunar Eclipse Group".




The DAM Gaia group on the fair Live research

The Gaia group of our Department has participated on the fair Live research. The fair is an exhibition of contemporary research organized annually by the Barcelona Science Park (Parc Cientfic de Barcelona) in collaboration with the University of Barcelona (UB).

The aim of the fair is to improve scientific understanding and awareness in our society by presenting research that is currently being undertaken in Barcelona to the public, and for real researchers to explain to the general public the main characteristics of the scientific method.

At the same time the Fair presents research being performed in Barcelona in a coordinated way, exhibiting projects of research groups from different R&D institutions and centres in the city. These bring part of their laboratories to the Fair so that members of the public can interact with the instruments that are central to research in Barcelona and ask whatever questions they fancy.

Dates: 8-10 April 2014
Place: Aula Capella of the UB Historic Building
Time: From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
and 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Free entrance from 4 p.m.
Free entrance
Groups of more than 10 people need to reserve in advance.

mxim Faraway Moon or Faint Star? Possible Exomoon Found 10 April
NASA-funded researchers have spotted the first signs of an "exomoon," and though they say it's impossible to confirm its presence, the finding is a tantalizing first step toward locating others. The discovery was made by watching a chance encounter of objects in our galaxy, which can be witnessed only once. "We won't have a chance to observe the exomoon candidate again," said David Bennett of the University of Notre Dame, Ind., lead author of a new paper on the findings appearing in the Astrophysical Journal. "But we can expect more unexpected finds like this." The international study is led by the joint Japan-New Zealand-American Microlensing Observations in Astrophysics (MOA) and the Probing Lensing Anomalies NETwork (PLANET) programs, using telescopes in New Zealand and Tasmania. Their technique, called gravitational microlensing, takes advantage of chance alignments between stars. When a foreground star passes between us and a more distant star, the closer star can act like a magnifying glass to focus and brighten the light of the more distant one. These brightening events usually last about a month..

mxim Galactic Serial Killer 2 April
This new image from the MPG/ESO 2.2-metre telescope at ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile shows two contrasting galaxies: NGC 1316, and its smaller neighbour NGC 1317. These two are quite close to each other in space, but they have very different histories. The small spiral NGC 1317 has led an uneventful life, but NGC 1316 has engulfed several other galaxies in its violent history and shows the battle scars.


mxim Redefining Solar System's Edge 26 March
The solar system has a new most-distant family member. Scientists using ground based observatories have discovered an object that is believed to have the most distant orbit found beyond the known edge of our solar system. Named 2012 VP113, the observations of the object -- possibly a dwarf planet -- were obtained and analyzed with a grant from NASA. A dwarf planet is an object in orbit around the sun that is large enough to have its own gravity pull itself into a spherical, or nearly round, shape.

mxim First Ring System Around Asteroid 26 March
Observations at many sites in South America, including ESO’s La Silla Observatory, have made the surprise discovery that the remote asteroid Chariklo is surrounded by two dense and narrow rings. This is the smallest object by far found to have rings and only the fifth body in the Solar System — after the much larger planets Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune — to have this feature. The origin of these rings remains a mystery, but they may be the result of a collision that created a disc of debris.

mxim VLT Spots Largest Yellow Hypergiant Star 12 March
ESO’s Very Large Telescope Interferometer has revealed the largest yellow star — and one of the ten largest stars found so far. This hypergiant has been found to measure more than 1300 times the diameter of the Sun, and to be part of a double star system, with the second component so close that it is in contact with the main star. Observations spanning over sixty years, some from amateur observers, also indicate that this rare and remarkable object is changing very rapidly and has been caught during a very brief phase of its life.

The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has photographed the never-before-seen break-up of an asteroid, which has fragmented into as many as ten smaller pieces. Although fragile comet nuclei have been seen to fall apart as they approach the Sun, nothing like the breakup of this asteroid, P/2013 R3, has ever been observed before in the asteroid belt.

mxim Star factory NGC 7538 3 March
The billowing clouds portrayed in this image from ESA’s Herschel observatory are part of NGC 7538, a stellar nursery for massive stars. Located around 9000 light-years away, this is one of the few regions of massive-star formation that are relatively close to us, allowing astronomers to investigate this process in great detail.


mxim Coming Around Again: Giant Sunspot Makes Third Trip Across the Sun, 28 February
A giant sunspot – a magnetically strong and complex region on the sun's surface – has just appeared over the sun's horizon. This is the third trip for this region across the face of the sun, which takes approximately 27 days to make a complete rotation.

mxim NASA's Kepler Mission Announces a Planet Bonanza, 715 New Worlds, 26 February
NASA's Kepler mission announced Wednesday the discovery of 715 new planets. These newly-verified worlds orbit 305 stars, revealing multiple-planet systems much like our own solar system.

mxim NASA Spacecraft Get a 360-Degree View of Saturn's Auroras, 12 February
NASA trained several pairs of eyes on Saturn as the planet put on a dancing light show at its poles. While NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, orbiting around Earth, was able to observe the northern auroras in ultraviolet wavelengths, NASA's Cassini spacecraft, orbiting around Saturn, got complementary close-up views in infrared, visible-light and ultraviolet wavelengths. Cassini could also see northern and southern parts of Saturn that don't face Earth.

mxim Largest Solar System Moon Detailed in Geologic Map, 12 February
A group of scientists led by Geoffrey Collins of Wheaton College has produced the first global geologic map of Ganymede, Jupiter’s seventh moon. The map combines the best images obtained during flybys conducted by NASA's Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft (1979) and Galileo orbiter (1995 to 2003) and is now published by the U. S. Geological Survey as a global map. It technically illustrates the varied geologic character of Ganymede’s surface and is the first global, geologic map of this icy, outer-planet moon.

mxim Un mes a L2, 12 de febrer
Gaia ha estat en la seva rbita operacional al voltant de L2 durant al voltant d'un mes. Es troba en un programa de proves molt rigors abans de comenar les seves principals observacions cientfiques. Igual que en moltes reubicacions, li pot portar el seu temps installar-se, sobretot a un satllit que exigeix \x{200b}\x{200b}condicions molt precises i estables per a un bon funcionament.

mxim A good year to find a comet, 12 February
A team of European astronomers has found a previously unknown comet, detected as a tiny blob of light orbiting our Sun deep in the Solar System.
Europe’s Teide Observatory Tenerife Asteroid Survey team has been credited with discovering comet P/2014 C1, named ‘TOTAS’ in recognition of the teamwork involved in the find.


Gaia comes into focus, 6 February
ESA’s billion-star surveyor Gaia is slowly being brought into focus. This test image shows a dense cluster of stars in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a satellite galaxy of our Milky Way.
Once Gaia starts making routine measurements, it will generate truly enormous amounts of data. To maximise the key science of the mission, only small ‘cut-outs’ centred on each of the stars it detects will be sent back to Earth for analysis.
This test picture, taken as part of commissioning the mission to ‘fine tune’ the behaviour of the instruments, is one of the first proper ‘images’ to be seen from Gaia, but ironically, it will also be one of the last.
Before Gaia is ready to enter its five-year operational phase the telescopes must be aligned and focused, ad the instruments calibrated, a painstaking procedure that will take several months.


mxim The supernova found in M82 could have reached its peak of brightness, January 31
The supernova SN 2014 J was located in the Cigar Galaxy, last January 21, by a group of students and their teacher, S. Fossey, while doing practical astronomy at the observatory of the University of London.Press Release
The supernova continues continues to swell, becoming easier to see with small telescopes and even binoculars. Seems to be reaching a maximum of 10.6 V magnitude. The next few days with the crescent moon will be good opportunity to observe it. In the evening is up in the northeast: Right ascension 9h 55m 42.2s, declination +69 40′ 26″.
Sky & Telescope
Artculo relacionado

mxim First Weather Map of Brown Dwarf, January 29
ESO's Very Large Telescope has been used to create the first ever map of the weather on the surface of the nearest brown dwarf to Earth. An international team has made a chart of the dark and light features on WISE J104915.57-531906.1B, which is informally known as Luhman 16B and is one of two recently discovered brown dwarfs forming a pair only six light-years from the Sun. The new results are being published in the 30 January 2014 issue of the journal Nature.

mxim Herschel discovers water vapour around dwarf planet Ceres, 22 January
ESA’s Herschel space observatory has discovered water vapour around Ceres, the first unambiguous detection of water vapour around an object in the asteroid belt.

mxim ESA/ESO Collaboration Successfully Tracks Its First Potentially Threatening Near-Earth Object, 21 January
The first Near-Earth Object (NEO) recovery campaign has been successfully carried out by a new collaboration between the European Space Agency (ESA) and ESO. Up to now the asteroid 2009 FD had been ranked among the top five objects in a list of the most dangerous objects, but new observations with ESO's Very Large Telescope (VLT) have now shown that it is far less likely to hit the Earth than had been feared.



portada.jpg Gaia, successful launch,
The video of the launch
Gaia mission blasted off successfully on 19th
at 9:12:18 UT
Go to the serviastro Gaia mission page
or to the Gaia special page

mxim Ison Comet,
Ison comet flew through the solar atmosphere but the encounter did not go well.
Just before reaching perihelion the comet appeared to disintegrate. But after that was seen that a portion of it had survived the encounter.
For the moment it is still not known what remains of the comet.


Comet ISON is brightening rapidly as it plunges into the sun's atmosphere. At closest approach on Nov. 28th the comet will be little more than a million kilometers above the sun's fiery surface. Temperatures around ISON's icy nucleus could rise as high as 5000 F. No one knows if it can survive that kind of baking--but if it does, it could emerge as a splendid naked-eye comet in early December. Right now, the best views of the comet are coming from theSolar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO).


Guia mensual del cometa al 2013


Observatori Solar y Heliosfrico (SOHO)


4th Montsec Astronomy days

On November 16 starting at the Centre d'Observaci de l'Univers the fourth Montsec Astronomy Days.
This year: "Astronomy in our day to day"


mxim * New date for Gaia launching
Desember 20 at 09:08:14* UT is the new date and time set for the launching of satellite Gaia.
ESA decided to postpone the launch of Gaia mission after a technical issue was identified in another satellite already in orbit.Gaia shares some of the components involved in this technical issue and prompt notification of this problem has allowed engineers working on the final preparations for Gaia’s launch to take additional precautionary measures.

mxim * Weekend Solar Eclipse, 3rd November 2013
On Sunday morning, Nov. 3rd, the New Moon passed in front of the sun, producing a solar eclipse visible from the east Coast of North America to the western side of Africa.


mxim * Gaia sunshield deployment test successful, 18 October 2013
Ahead of its launch on 20 November 2013, Gaia has passed its critical sunshield deployment test. The sunshield has been fabricated by the Spanish company SENER. During the test at Europe's spaceport in Kourou the shield's twelve carbon fibre folding frames were opened successfully in the cleanroom. As the Deployable Sunshield assembly (DSA) was not designed to support its own weight in the one-g environment at Earth's surface, support cables and counterweights attached to the shield provided a realistic test environment. In space the 10.5 metre diameter sunshield will shade the spacecraft's telescope from the sun. It will also help to provide a stable and low temperature environment.
Gaia sushield deployment time-lapse sequence


mxim * Preparing for comet ISON, 23 September 2013
ESA’s space missions are getting ready to observe an icy visitor to the inner Solar System: Comet ISON, which might also be visible in the night sky later this year as a naked eye object. The comet was discovered in images taken on 21 September 2012 by astronomers Artyom Novichonok and Vitali Nevski using a 40 cm-diameter telescope that is part of the International Scientific Optical Network, ISON.

mxim *Billion stars in the most accurate map of the Milky Way, September 3, 2013
El Pas Sociedad

mxim * Fly your experiment to the edge of the Space, September 2, 2013
The opportunity to fly experiments high into the stratosphere or even to the edge of space is now open again for university students. Up to 10 teams will be selected to fly a balloon experiment during autumn 2014 or a rocket experiment in spring 2015.


mxim * Waking up to a new year, 19 August 2013
In the time it takes you to complete a single workday, or get a full night’s sleep, a small fireball of a planet 700 light-years away has already completed an entire year.


mxim * Dance of the X -Rays, 29 July 2013
Like car tail lights streaking through a busy city at night, this unique image records over a thousand movements made by ESA’s XMM-Newton space telescope as it shifts its gaze from one X-ray object to another.

mxim * Starburst to Star Bust, 25 July 2013
New observations from the ALMA telescope in Chile have given astronomers the best view yet of how vigorous star formation can blast gas out of a galaxy and starve future generations of stars of the fuel they need to form and grow.

mxim * Side by side Solar eruptions, 22nd July 2013
Two solar eruptions expand side-by-side into space in this movie, playing out in front of the ESA/NASA Solar and Heliospheric Observatory, SOHO, on 1–2 July 2013.

mxim * Ripped Apart by a Black Hole, 17th July 2013
New observations from ESO’s Very Large Telescope show for the first time a gas cloud being ripped apart by the supermassive black hole at the centre of the galaxy. The cloud is now so stretched that its front part has passed the closest point and is travelling away from the black hole at more than 10 million km/h, whilst the tail is still falling towards it.

mxim *Fly through a canyon on Mars, 16th July 2013
Glide through part of the largest canyon on Mars, Valles Marineris, in this stunning colour movie from ESA’s Mars Express. Valles Marineris is not just the largest canyon on Mars, but at 4000 km long, 200 km wide and 10 km deep it is the largest in the entire Solar System.

mxim * World Premiere of IMAX 3D Film Hidden Universe , July 1st 2013
The 3D production Hidden Universe has been released in IMAX theatres and giant-screen cinemas around the globe, with world premieres on 28 June 2013 at Great Lakes Science Center in Cleveland, Ohio, USA, and on 29 June at the Tycho Brahe Planetarium in Copenhagen, Denmark. The film shows state-of-the-art telescopes in high-resolution time-lapse, mesmerising 3D versions of celestial structures, and a 3D simulation of the evolution of the Universe.

June 2013

mxim * Europe bids Gaia a safe journey
ESA's billion-star surveyor, Gaia, has completed final preparations in Europe and is ready to depart for its launch site in French Guiana, set to embark on a five-year mission to map the stars with unprecedented precision.

To explain all this information to the public, investigators from the Department of Astronomy and Meteorology from the University of Barcelona has produced the exhibition "Mil milions d'ulls per a mil milions d'estrelles" . It was presented at the Parc astronomic del Montsec the ast July 1st. The exhibition also can be seen in digital format: Mil milions d'ulls per a mil milions d'estrelles + info

mxim * Three Planets in Habitable Zone of Nearby Star , June 25th 2013
A team of astronomers has combined new observations of Gliese 667C with existing data from HARPS at ESO’s 3.6-metre telescope in Chile, to reveal a system with at least six planets. A record-breaking three of these planets are super-Earths lying in the zone around the star where liquid water could exist, making them possible candidates for the presence of life. This is the first system found with a fully packed habitable zone.

mxim * The port of Barcelona from space, June 21th 2013
The Japanese ALOS satellite has photographed from space Barcelona, in the northeast coast of the Iberian Peninsula.

mxim * First woman in Space, Valentina , June 16th 2013
After the first human spaceflight by Yuri Gagarin, the selection of female cosmonaut trainees was authorised by the Soviet government, with the aim of ensuring the first woman in space was a Soviet citizen.

mxim * New Kind of Variable Star Discovered , June 12th 2013
Astronomers using the Swiss 1.2-metre Euler telescope at ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile have found a new type of variable star. The discovery was based on the detection of very tiny changes in brightness of stars in a cluster. The observations revealed previously unknown properties of these stars that defy current theories and raise questions about the origin of the variations.

mxim * Ten years at Mars; New global views plot the red planet's History , June 3rd, 2013
New global maps of Mars released on the 10th anniversary of the launch of ESA's Mars Express trace the history of water and volcanic activity on the Red Planet, and identify sites of special interest for the next generation of Mars explorers.

May 2013

mxim * On May 31, 2013, asteroid 1998 QE2, May 27th, 2013
Asteroid 1998 QE2 will sail serenely past Earth, getting no closer than about 3.6 million miles (5.8 million kilometers), or about 15 times the distance between Earth and the moon. And while QE2 is not of much interest to those astronomers and scientists on the lookout for hazardous asteroids, it is of interest to those who dabble in radar astronomy and have a 230-foot (70-meter) -- or larger -- radar telescope at their disposal.

mxim * ESO's Very Large Telescope Celebrates 15 Years of Success, May 23rd, 2013
This new picture celebrates an important anniversary for the Very Large Telescope – it is fifteen years since the first light on the first of its four Unit Telescopes, on 25 May 1998. Since then the four original giant telescopes have been joined by the four small Auxiliary Telescopes that form part of the VLT Interferometer (VLTI). The VLT is one of the most powerful and productive ground-based astronomical facilities in existence. In 2012 more than 600 refereed scientific papers based on data from the VLT and VLTI were published (ann13009).

mxim * Lunar Impact, May 17th, 2013
An object about the size of a small boulder has hit the lunar surface in Mare Imbrium. Anyone looking at the Moon at the moment of impact could have seen the explosion--no telescope required. For about one second, the impact site was glowing like a 4th magnitude star.

mxim * Solar activity surges, May 14th, mayo 2013
A sunspot on the sun's eastern limb is crackling with powerful X-class solar flares. Just-numbered AR1748 announced itself during the early hours of May 13th with an X1.7-class eruption (0217 UT), quickly followed by an X2.8-class flare (1609 UT) and an X3.2-class flare (0117 UT on May 14). These are the strongest flares of the year so far, and they signal a significant increase in solar activity. NOAA forecasters estimate a 40% chance of more X-flares during the next 24 hours.
Space Weather

mxim * No return trip to Mars, May 10th, 2013
Interview with Josep Manel Carrasco on "Migdia" of 8TV to discuss the project "Mars-One" that intends to send in 2023 four volunteers with no possibility of return to Earth.

Composici en la qual es veu una bona part del Sol, amb una gran taca irregular a la part inferior esquerra de la imatge i unes altres, una mica ms petites i molt ms redones, en la part superior dreta del Sol: el planeta Mercuri en diferents moments del trnsit

ServiAstro webcast its first live phenomenon 10 years ago. It was the Mercuri Transit on May 7, 2003.

Since then, ServiAstro have broadcast the most important astronomical phenomena visible from Catalonia, offering detailed information on both their nature and their observation conditions.
Our server has also wanted to cover other astronomical phenomena of special interest that were not visible from here, and to make it possible, some members of our department have moved to different parts of the world and they have webcast them live.

mxim * An Anarchic Region of Star Formation, May 2nd 2013
NGC 6559 is a cloud of gas and dust located at a distance of about 5000 light-years from Earth, in the constellation of Sagittarius (The Archer). The glowing region is a relatively small object, just a few light-years across, in contrast to the one hundred light-years and more spanned by its famous neighbour, the Lagoon Nebula (Messier 8, eso0936). Although it is usually overlooked in favour of its distinguished companion, NGC 6559 has the leading role in this new picture.

April 2013

mxim * Herschel closes its eyes on the Universe, 29th April 2013
ESA’s Herschel space observatory has exhausted its supply of liquid helium coolant, ending more than three years of pioneering observations of the cool Universe.
The event was not unexpected: the mission began with over 2300 litres of liquid helium, which has been slowly evaporating since the final top-up the day before Herschel’s launch on 14 May 2009.

mxim * Arrels II School from Solsona wins the Soncube contest _ , 25th April 2013
Two students of this center will be responsible for designing and building the experiment that will be probed into the stratosphere.
Next September, SonCube probe driven by a helium balloon will take off for the second time since MnNatura Pyrenees (High neu, Lleida), following its goal to reach the public and especially to the younger the interest by experimentation and space sciences.
On this occasion, the Institute of Space Studies of Catalonia (IEEC), the University of Barcelona (UB) and Catalunya-La Pedrera Foundation participated in the contest organization "SonCube, experiences on the border of the space "that aims to enable a group of high school students with the most elaborate and original proposed design and build the main experiment that SonCube will carry

mxim * Discovery of the First Isolated Compact Elliptical (cE) Galaxy, 24th April 2013
Compact ellipticals (cEs) are a rare type of dwarf galaxy, possessing small effective radii and high central surface brightnesses. The best example is M32, a companion to the nearby Andromeda Galaxy. All of those found to date are close to massive galaxies, so many astronomers believe that their unusual features are the consequence of the tidal stripping of a much larger progenitor galaxy by the very massive host. Others, however, have argued that cEs are formed in the same manner as all elliptical galaxies, and are simply the rare low-mass examples.

mxim * A Whiff of Dark Matter on the ISS, 23rd April 2013
ESA’s Herschel space observatory has solved a long-standing mystery as to the origin of water in the upper atmosphere of Jupiter, finding conclusive evidence that it was delivered by the dramatic impact of comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 in July 1994. During the spectacular week-long collision, a string of 21 comet fragments pounded into the southern hemisphere of Jupiter, leaving dark scars in the planet’s atmosphere that persisted for several weeks.

mxim * "UN PASEO POR EL ESPACIO", 23rd April 2013
"Un paseo por el espacio" approaches all publics the mills and space technologies, showing the benefits they bring to the quality of life of people.
The book is published by the Spanish space industry, represented in the Proespacio of TEDAE Comission, in collaboration with the European Space Agency. In addition to the paper version, the book can be viewed and downloaded for free from the website of TEDAE and ESA with the objective of expand its outreach to all ages


* Give the universe a blind child! "A Touch of The Universe" non-profit project aims to build 30 sets of tactile astronomy kits addressed to children with both normal or vision impairments. The kits will be distributed among educators and teachers in underdeveloped countries in Americas, Asia and Africa.

We need to raise funds to build 30 kits astronomy touch. To make a donation visit the project website:

"A Touch Of The Universe" is supported by the Astronomy Office for Development of International Astronomical Union, Astronomical Observatory of the Valencia University, Universe Awareness (UNAWE), Astronoms Without Borders (AWB), Galileo Teachers Training Program (GTTP), Galileo Mobile, NASA-CXO, and Astronomical Observatori of Padova / INAF.

mxim * A Dust-Obscured Massive Maximum-Starburst Galaxy in the Early Universe, 17th April 2013
Astronomers of the Herschel Multi-tiered Extragalactic Survey (HerMES) project announce in the journal Nature the discovery of an unusually massive, maximum-starburst galaxy at a redshift of 6.34, or when the Universe was only 880 million years old. Because current theories of galaxy formation and evolution predict smaller galaxies with slower rates of star production in the early Universe, the detection of such a galaxy is challenging.

mxim * A Whiff of Dark Matter on the ISS, 15th April 2013
On April 3rd, researchers led by Nobel Laureate Samuel Ting of MIT announced that the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer, a particle detector operating onboard the International Space Station since 2011, has counted more than 400,000 positrons, the antimatter equivalent of electrons. There’s no danger of an explosion, but the discovery is sending shock waves through the scientific community.

mxim * A Ghostly Green Bubble, 10th April 2013
Stars the size of the Sun end their lives as tiny and faint white dwarf stars. But as they make the final transition into retirement their atmospheres are blown away into space. For a few tens of thousands of years they are surrounded by the spectacular and colourful glowing clouds of ionised gas known as planetary nebulae.


mxim * Collision Course? A Comet Heads for Mars, 27th March 2013
"There is a small but non-negligible chance that Comet 2013 A1 will strike Mars next year in October of 2014," says Don Yeomans of NASA's Near-Earth Object Program at JPL. "Current solutions put the odds of impact at 1 in 2000." The nucleus of the comet is probably 1 to 3 km in diameter, and it is coming in fast, around 56 km/s (125,000 mph).

mxim * Montsec, Starlight Tourist Destination, March 21 2013
Starlight Fundations, supported by UNESCO, gave the Certificate to Montsec for good conditions for star gazing

mxim * Planck unveils the cosmic microwaves backgrounds, 21 March 2013
Acquired by ESA’s Planck space telescope, the most detailed map ever created of the cosmic microwave background – the relic radiation from the Big Bang – was released revealing the existence of features that challenge the foundations of our current understanding of the Universe.

mxim * ALMA Rewrites History of Universe's Stellar Baby Boom, 13th March 2013
Observations with the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) show that the most vigorous bursts of star birth in the cosmos took place much earlier than previously thought.

mxim * PAN STARRS comet visible to the naked eye,7th March 2013
Comets visible to the naked eye are a rare delicacy in the celestial smorgasbord of objects in the nighttime sky. Scientists estimate that the opportunity to see one of these icy dirtballs advertising their cosmic presence so brilliantly they can be seen without the aid of a telescope or binoculars happens only once every five to 10 years. That said, there may be two naked-eye comets available for your viewing pleasure this year.
More information about visiblity at this link
and at this.
Comet Images.

mxim * Next March 13th, ALMA Inauguration (Atacama Large Millimeter Array), 6th March 2013
The Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), an international partnership of Europe, North America and East Asia in cooperation with the Republic of Chile, is the largest astronomical project in existence. ALMA will be a single telescope of revolutionary design, composed initially of 66 high precision antennas located on the Chajnantor plateau, 5000 meters altitude in northern Chile.
ESO will broadcast on streaming the inauguration. It can be seen in this link.

mxim * Cassini spies Venus from Saturn orbit, 4th March 2013
A distant world gleaming in sunlight, Venus shines like a bright beacon through Saturn’s rings in this image taken by the international Cassini spacecraft.



December 2012

mxim * Christmas Sky Show, 21st of december: The Moon and Jupiter are converging for a heavenly sky show on Christmas 2012. Got a telescope? Something is happening on Jupiter that makes it an extra-interesting target for backyard optics.

mxim * Saturn's Transit of Venus on Dec. 21, 2012: "On Friday, Dec. 21st, there will be a transit of Venus visible from Saturn, and we will be watching it using the Cassini spacecraft"

whitedwarf.jpg *How white dwarfs mimic black holes, 17 of december: A group of astronomers has revealed that bright X-ray flares in nearby galaxies, once assumed to indicate the presence of black holes, can in fact be produced by white dwarfs.

maya.jpg * Why the World Didn't End Yesterday, 14th of december: NASA is so sure the world won't come to an end on Dec. 21, 2012, that they already released a video for the day after.

geminidsnorth.jpg * The Geminids, 13th of december:The annual Geminid meteor shower will peak on 13 and 14 December 2012. The show, which has its origin in an unusual "rock comet", could produce more than 100 meteors per hour during the dark hours before dawn on Thursday and Friday.
In the picture you can see where is the radiant of the shower.
Rock Comet Meteor Shower
Monografic about Meteor Showers (in catalan)

Titan s Nile River small.jpg * Cassini spots mini Nile River on Saturn Moon, 12th of December:
The international Cassini mission has spotted what appears to be a miniature extraterrestrial version of the Nile River: a river valley on Saturn’s moon Titan that stretches more than 400 km from its ‘headwaters’ to a large sea.

710733main Edgett-2-pia16469-673.jpg * NASA Mars Rover Fully Analyzes First Soil Samples , 3rd of Desember:
Mars Curiosity rover has used its full array of instruments to analyze Martian soil for the first time, and found a complex chemistry within the Martian soil. Water and sulfur and chlorine-containing substances, among other ingredients, showed up in samples Curiosity's arm delivered to an analytical laboratory inside the rover

November 2012

eso1248a.jpg * Even Brown Dwarfs May Grow Rocky Planets, 30th of November:
Astronomers using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) have for the first time found that the outer region of a dusty disc encircling a brown dwarf contains millimetre-sized solid grains like those found in denser discs around newborn stars. The surprising finding challenges theories of how rocky, Earth-scale planets form, and suggests that rocky planets may be even more common in the Universe than expected.

eso1247a.jpg * Biggest Black Hole Blast Discovered, 28th November:
Astronomers using ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) have discovered a quasar with the most energetic outflow ever seen, at least five times more powerful than any that have been observed to date. Quasars are extremely bright galactic centres powered by supermassive black holes. Many blast huge amounts of material out into their host galaxies, and these outflows play a key role in the evolution of galaxies. But, until now, observed quasar outflows weren’t as powerful as predicted by theorists.

708264main1 solarmin-max-670.jpg * Solar Minimum; Solar Maximum, 26th November:
The picture on the left shows a calm sun from Oct. 2010. The right side, from Oct. 2012, shows a much more active and varied solar atmosphere as the sun moves closer to peak solar activity, a peak known as solar maximum, predicted for 2013. Both images were captured by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) observing light emitted from the 1 million degree plasma, which is a good temperature for observing the quiet corona.

eso1246a.jpg * Dwarf Planet Makemake Lacks Atmosphere, 21st of november:
Astronomers have used three telescopes at ESO’s observatories in Chile to observe the dwarf planet Makemake as it drifted in front of a distant star and blocked its light. The new observations have allowed them to check for the first time whether Makemake is surrounded by an atmosphere. This chilly world has an orbit lying in the outer Solar System and was expected to have an atmosphere like Pluto (eso0908), but this is now shown not to be the case. The scientists also measured Makemake’s density for the first time.

eso1245a.jpg * Lost in Space: Rogue Planet Spotted?, 14 de novembre:
Astronomers using ESO’s Very Large Telescope and the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope have identified a body that is very probably a planet wandering through space without a parent star. This is the most exciting free-floating planet candidate so far and the closest such object to the Solar System at a distance of about 100 light-years. Its comparative proximity, and the absence of a bright star very close to it, has allowed the team to study its atmosphere in great detail. This object also gives astronomers a preview of the exoplanets that future instruments aim to image around stars other than the Sun.

DSC 02094.jpg * Proba-2 soaks up three solar eclipses, 14th November:
ESA’s Sun-watching Proba-2 satellite experienced three partial solar eclipses last night while lucky observers watching from northern Australia were treated to a total solar eclipse.

TSE2012PhilHart 6999 900px.jpg * Total Solar Eclipse, 13th of november:
A total eclipse of the Sun was visible from within a narrow corridor that traverses Earth's Southern Hemisphere. The path of the Moon's umbral shadow began in northern Australia and crossed the South Pacific Ocean with no other landfall. More information

7cdf43ff18ebe63050bbbbcf2a408d53.jpg * Scientists discover new super-Earth: Conditions on planet may be just right to support life, 8th november:
An international team of astronomers led by the Universities of Hertfordshire (Mikko Tuomi) and Gttingen (Guillem Anglada Escud) has discovered a new super-Earth with conditions that may be just right to support life.

pia16296-640.jpg * NASA Radar Images Asteroid 2007 PA8, 5th November: Scientists working with NASA's 230-foot-wide (70-meter) Deep Space Network antenna at Goldstone, Calif., have obtained several radar images depicting near-Earth asteroid 2007 PA8. The images were generated from data collected at Goldstone on Oct. 28, 29 and 30, 2012. The asteroid's distance from Earth on Oct. 28 was 6.5 million miles (10 million kilometers). The asteroid's distance to Earth was 5.6 million miles (9 million kilometers) on Oct. 30. The perspective in the images is analogous to seeing the asteroid from above its north pole. Each of the three images is shown at the same scale.

HENRIETTA.jpg * The Strange Case of Henrietta Leavitt, 5th November: New outreach videoblog of the Institute of Astrophysics of Andalusia.
She worked at the observatory of Harvard and spent his days sitting in front of a photographic plate, counting stars. Her name was Henrietta Swan Leavitt and belonged to the so-called "Pickering's Harem", a group of women who were contracted, from 1877 to 1919, by the director of the Harvard Observatory, Edward Charles Pickering, in order to make systematic and laborious astronomical works , for the price of 25 cents an hour.

October, 2012

eso1243a.jpg * Stars Ancient and Modern?, 31th October: Globular star clusters are among the oldest objects in the Universe, and NGC 6362 cannot hide its age in this picture. The many yellowish stars in the cluster have already run through much of their lives and become red giant stars. .

ngc4178 525 roll.jpg * NGC 4178: Revealing a Mini-Supermassive Black Hole, 24th October:
One of the lowest mass supermassive black holes ever observed in the middle of a galaxy has been identified, thanks to NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and several other observatories.

valles 3d H large0.jpg * The Solar System’s grandest canyon, 22th October:
Earth’s Grand Canyon inspires awe for anyone who casts eyes upon the vast river-cut valley, but it would seem nothing more than a scratch next to the cavernous scar of Valles Marineris that marks the face of Mars.

GAIA Cam01 2 M1.jpg * The ESA presents the Gaia mission in which participate 30 UB researchers, 30th October: The Gaia mission begins its countdown. In one year, it will take place the launch of this satellite of the European Space Agency (ESA) that will map more than a thousand million stars throughout our Galaxy with an unparalleled precision, and will test the theories of formation and evolution of our Galaxy. The main object of this mission is to create the most accurate galactic census of the Milky Way. More than 400 scientists collaborate in this project, and thirty researchers and technicians from the Department of Astronomy and Meteorology of the University of Barcelona have performed a really important role in the conception and design of the instrument and in processing and simulating the mission's data.
Gaia Video (available in english, catalan and spanish)
For media

eso1241a.jpg * Planet Found in Nearest Star System to Earth, 16th October: European astronomers have discovered a planet with about the mass of the Earth orbiting a star in the Alpha Centauri system — the nearest to Earth. It is also the lightest exoplanet ever discovered around a star like the Sun. The planet was detected using the HARPS instrument on the 3.6-metre telescope at ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile..

eso1239a.jpg * Surprising Spiral Structure Spotted by ALMA, 10th October: Astronomers using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) have discovered a totally unexpected spiral structure in the material around the old star R Sculptoris. This is the first time that such a structure, along with an outer spherical shell, has been found around a red giant star. It is also the first time that astronomers could get full three-dimensional information about such a spiral. The strange shape was probably created by a hidden companion star orbiting the red giant. .

Finkelstein Img1.jpg * CANDELS team discovers dusty galaxies at ancient epoch with Hubble Space Telescope; tracks build-up of star- and planet-forming material, 9 October 2012: Dust is an annoyance in everyday life, but an important building block of stars and planets. As such, astronomers need to understand how cosmic dust forms over time — it's an integral step in figuring out the evolution of galaxies, and the stars and planets within them.

694432main newblackhole-466.jpg * NASA's Swift Satellite Discovers a New Black Hole in our Galaxy, 5th October: NASA's Swift satellite recently detected a rising tide of high-energy X-rays from a source toward the center of our Milky Way galaxy. The outburst, produced by a rare X-ray nova, announced the presence of a previously unknown stellar-mass black hole.

olivine L.jpg * Comet crystals found in a nearby planetary system, 3th October: Pristine material that matches comets in our own Solar System have been found in a dust belt around the young star Beta Pictoris by ESA’s Herschel space observatory.

20121003-pic1-vera.jpg * Mass of Dark Matter Revealed by Precise Measurements of the Galaxy , 3rd October: A research team has succeeded in precisely determining the astronomical yardstick for the Galaxy based upon the precise distance measurements with advanced radio telescopes.The new findings are that the distance from the Sun to the Galactic center is 26,100 light-years, and that the Galactic rotation velocity in the Solar System is 240km/s.

msl20110602 PIA14175-br.jpg * Following Curiosity

September, 2012

C2012S1 2012Sep22 H06--644x362.jpg * BIG SUN-DIVING COMET DISCOVERED:, 21 september 2012:
Astronomy forums are buzzing with speculation about newly-discovered Comet C/2012 S1 (ISON). Currently located beyond the orbit of Jupiter, Comet ISON is heading for a very close encounter with the sun next year. In Nov. 2013, it will pass less than 0.012 AU (1.8 million km) from the solar surface. The fierce heating it experiences then could turn the comet into a bright naked-eye object.

April, 2012

  • Uranus auroras glimpsed from Earth, 25th of april:
    for the first time, scientists have captured images of auroras above the giant ice planet Uranus, finding further evidence of just how peculiar a world that distant planet is. Detected by means of carefully scheduled observations from the Hubble Space Telescope, the newly witnessed Uranian light show consisted of short-lived, faint, glowing dots – a world of difference from the colorful curtains of light that often ring Earth's poles.

  • Herschel spots comet massacre around nearby star,13 de abril:
    ESA's Herschel Space Observatory has studied the dusty belt around the nearby star Fomalhaut. The dust appears to be coming from collisions that destroy up to thousands of icy comets every day.

March, 2012

  • Space Observations of Mercury Transits Yield Precise Solar Radius, 20th of march:
    a group of scientists from Hawaii, Brazil and California has measured the diameter of the Sun with unprecedented accuracy by using a spacecraft to time the transits of the planet Mercury across the face of the Sun in 2003 and 2006. They measured the Sun’s radius as 696,342 km (432,687 miles) with an uncertainty of only 65 km (40 miles). This was achieved by using the solar telescope aboard a NASA satellite, thereby bypassing the blurring caused by Earth’s atmosphere that occurs when observations are made from the ground.

  • Powerhouse in the Crab Nebula, March 30:
    the pulsar at the centre of the famous Crab Nebula is a veritable bundle of energy. This was now confirmed by the two MAGIC (Major Atmospheric Gamma-Ray Imaging Cherenkov) Telescopes on the Canary island of La Palma. They observed the pulsar in the area of very high energy gamma radiation from 25 up to 400 gigaelectronvolts (GeV), a region that was previously difficult to access with high energy instruments, and discovered that it actually emits pulses with the maximum energy of up to 400 GeV -- 50 to 100 times higher than theorists thought possible.

February, 2012

  • A Pocket of Star Formation, 1 february:
    This new view shows a stellar nursery called NGC 3324. It was taken using the Wide Field Imager on the MPG/ESO 2.2-metre telescope at the La Silla Observatory in Chile.

  • BEX: Glimpses of the Interstellar Material Beyond our Solar System, 1 february
    A great magnetic bubble surrounds the solar system as it cruises through the galaxy. The sun pumps the inside of the bubble full of solar particles that stream out to the edge until they collide with the material that fills the rest of the galaxy, at a complex boundary called the heliosheath. On the other side of the boundary, electrically charged particles from the galactic wind blow by, but rebound off the heliosheath, never to enter the solar system. Neutral particles, on the other hand, are a different story. They saunter across the boundary as if it weren't there, continuing on another 7.5 billion miles for 30 years until they get caught by the sun's gravity, and sling shot around the star.

January, 2012

  • NASA's Kepler Announces 11 Planetary Systems Hosting 26 Planets, 26 January:
    These discoveries nearly double the number of verified Kepler planets and triple the number of stars known to have more than one planet that transits, or passes in front of, its host star. Such systems will help astronomers better understand how planets form.

  • The Wild Early Lives of Today's Most Massive Galaxies, 25 January:
    Using the APEX telescope, a team of astronomers has found the strongest link so far between the most powerful bursts of star formation in the early Universe, and the most massive galaxies found today.

  • Solar storm hits the Earth, 25 de gener:
    A large solar flare, at 03:59 GMT on Monday, triggered a coronal mass ejection (CME) travelling at 1400 km/s that reached the Earth in the afternoon of 24 January.

  • The Helix in New Colours, 19 January: ESO’s VISTA telescope, at the Paranal Observatory in Chile, has captured a striking new image of the Helix Nebula. This picture, taken in infrared light, reveals strands of cold nebular gas that are invisible in images taken in visible light, as well as bringing to light a rich background of stars and galaxies.

  • Kepler Discovers a Tiny Solar System, January 11, 2012:
    Astronomers using data from NASA's Kepler mission have discovered the three smallest planets yet detected orbiting a star beyond our sun. The planets orbit a single star, called KOI-961, and are 0.78, 0.73 and 0.57 times the radius of Earth. The smallest is about the size of Mars.

  • Planets around stars are the rule rather than the exception,11 January 2012:
    An international team, including three astronomers from the European Southern Observatory (ESO), has used the technique of gravitational microlensing to measure how common planets are in the Milky Way. After a six-year search that surveyed millions of stars, the team concludes that planets around stars are the rule rather than the exception. The results will appear in the journal Nature on 12 January 2012.

  • El Gordo — A “Fat” Distant Galaxy Cluster, 10 January 2012:
    An extremely hot, massive young galaxy cluster — the largest ever seen in the distant Universe — has been studied by an international team using ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) in the Atacama Desert in Chile along with NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and the Atacama Cosmology Telescope. The new results are being announced on 10 January 2012 at the 219th meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Austin, Texas.



  • Space Mountain Produces Terrestrial Meteorites, Dec. 30, 2011:
    When NASA's Dawn spacecraft entered orbit around giant asteroid Vesta in July, scientists fully expected the probe to reveal some surprising sights. But no one expected a 13-mile high mountain, two and a half times higher than Mount Everest, to be one of them.

  • VLT founds a star with a record speed rotation. 05/12/2011.
    The ESO Very Large Telescope at Cerro Paranal (Chile), detected the star with fastest rotation known. This young, massive and bright star is situated in our neighboring galaxy the Large Magellanic Cloud, about 160 000 light years from Earth. Astronomers believe that could have a violent past and would have been ejected from a binary star system after the explosion of his companion.

  • NASA's Voyager Hits New Region at Solar System Edge, 05/12/2011. NASA's Voyager 1 spacecraft has entered a new region between our solar system and interstellar space. Data obtained from Voyager over the last year reveal this new region to be a kind of cosmic purgatory. In it, the wind of charged particles streaming out from our sun has calmed, our solar system's magnetic field is piled up, and higher-energy particles from inside our solar system appear to be leaking out into interstellar space. NASA's Kepler Mission Confirms Its First Planet in Habitable Zone of Sun-like Star

  • NASA's Kepler mission has confirmed its first planet in the "habitable zone,"05/12/2011 NASA's Kepler mission has confirmed its first planet in the "habitable zone," the region where liquid water could exist on a planet’s surface. Kepler also has discovered more than 1,000 new planet candidates, nearly doubling its previously known count. Ten of these candidates are near-Earth-size and orbit in the habitable zone of their host star. Candidates require follow-up observations to verify they are actual planets

  • Study: Giant Super-Earths made of diamond are possible, 05/12/2011. A planet made of diamonds may sound lovely, but you wouldn’t want to live there.A new study suggests that some stars in the Milky Way could harbor “carbon super-Earths” – giant terrestrial planets that contain up to 50 percent diamond. But if they exist, those planets are likely devoid of life as we know it.

October, 2011

  • NASA's Spitzer Detects Comet Storm In Nearby Solar System: The NASA Espace Telescope Spitzer, has detected signs of ice masses that fall as rain in an alien solar system. This rain of comets is similar to what possibly occurred in our own solar system several billion years ago, during a period known as "Late Heavy Bombardment."

September, 2011

  • Neutrinos: Ghostly Particles with Unstable Egos, 06/09/2011: So far it is unknown which rules neutrinos follow when they alter their identity. A study has now revealed that even the last of the three parameters, which describe the oscillation of neutrinos is most likely to be greater than zero.

  • NASA Spacecraft Images Offer Sharper Views Of Apollo Landing Sites, 06/09/2011: NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) captured the sharpest images ever taken from space of the Apollo 12, 14 and 17 landing sites. Images show the twists and turns of the paths made when the astronauts explored the lunar surface.
  • Stellar Pulsations, discussed in Granada, 05/09/2011: The "Instituto de Astrofsica de Andaluca" (IAA), belonging to the "Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientficas" (CSIC), organises the 20th Stellar Pulsation Conference Series in Granada (Spain).

  • Eclipse total de Luna, 02/12/2011. Despertar antes de la salida del Sol puede ser difcil, especialmente durante el fin de semana. El sbado 10 de diciembre, posiblemente le de gusto haberlo hecho. Durante las primeras horas de la maana, en el Oeste de Amrica del Norte, se podr ver un eclipse total de Luna. El evento se iniciar alrededor de las 4:45 de la madrugada (hora oficial del Pacfico), cuando la gran sombra roja de la Tierra caiga sobre el disco lunar. Hacia las 6:05 de la maana (hora oficial del Pacfico), la Luna estar completamente envuelta en luz roja. Este evento (el ltimo eclipse total de Luna hasta el ao 2014) ser visible desde el lado del Pacfico de Amrica del Norte, a travs de todo el Ocano Pacfico, hasta Asia y Europa Oriental.


The Phoenix Lander arrives near the north pole of Mars

Globe at Night (Not available in english)

Research in action in Montsec observatory (Not available in english)

MESSENGER's first Mercury flyby, the first since more than 30 years ago
Today, 14th January 2008, the MESSENGER spacecraft will fly by Mercury, obtaining new and important data and images of the smallest planet in the Solar System.
Unexpected appearance of the comet 17P/Holmes
In the early morning of 24th October 2007, the astronomer Juan Antonio Henrquez, in Tenerife, discovered an unexpected increase of luminosity of the comet 17P/Holmes, of magnitude 16.5 only some days before.
Detection of an Earth-like planet at a planetary system 20.5 light-years far away.
A team of european astronomers working at the ESO has just made public the first detection of an Earth-like planet very likely remaining inside the habitable zone of its system
Appearance of a bright comet in the sky, the C/2006 P1 (McNaught)
The comet is visible as of today, 9th January 2007, to the naked eye in the sky at the sunset.
New definition of planet
In August 2006 at Prague, took place a meeting of the IAU which had a main goal: reorganize the nomenclature for the objects of the Solar System. It was at this meeting that Pluto was proposed and decided to be a "dwarf planet".
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