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An artist’s conception of a of gamma ray burst. ESO/NAOJ

Gamma ray bursts and biases: let’s stop fitting data to the model

Our understanding of gamma ray bursts (GRBs) – flashes of gamma rays from explosions in distant galaxies – since they were discovered more than 50 years ago may not be as solid as first thought. Research…
Image captured December 2013 of several Geminids meteors seen from the Observatorio del Teide (IAC) in Tenerife. Flickr/StarryEarth

The Geminids meteor shower should be one of the best this year

The best meteor shower of the year should put on an impressive display this weekend – weather permitting – with the annual Geminids poised to light up the sky with bright, long meteors visible as frequently…
Night sky over Lake Tyrrel in Western Victoria – home of the Wergaia people. Alex Cherney

Stories from the sky: astronomy in Indigenous knowledge

Indigenous Australian practices, developed and honed over thousands of years, weave science with storytelling. In this Indigenous science series, we’ll look at different aspects of First Australians' traditional…
Square away your personal philosophy now; proof of life beyond earth is coming. Stargazing image via www.shutterstock.com

Is your religion ready to meet ET?

How will humankind react after astronomers hand over rock-solid scientific evidence for the existence of life beyond the Earth? No more speculating. No more wondering. The moment scientists announce this…
The stars over Tidal River in Wilsons Promontory, Victoria. Alex Cherney

The Great World Wide Star Count

How many stars can you see at night? Right now people all over the world are being asked to go out and count them! It’s part of a dark-sky awareness campaign that’s been held each October for the past…
Artist’s impression of exocomets around Beta Pictoris. ESO/L. Calçada

Comet families similar to our own are found around another star

A detailed study of comets orbiting the young nearby star Beta Pictoris is published today in the journal Nature, and it reveals striking similarities to the comets found in our solar system. Over the…
Eclipse at sunrise over Richmond, Virginia, USA in November 2013. Sky Noir (Bill Dickinson)/Flickr

Explainer: what is a solar eclipse?

Each month, at the time of new moon, the sun and moon are together in the daytime sky. Most of the time the moon passes by unnoticed. But at least twice a year, somewhere on Earth will see the moon pass…
Meteors streak outwards from the top of Orion’s head as seen in 2012 from central Victoria. Phil Hart

See one of the year’s best meteor showers, thanks to Halley’s comet

As Earth orbits the sun, it continually ploughs through dust and debris left behind by passing comets and asteroids. On any night of the year, a keen-eyed observer might see five, or even ten, meteors…
An artist’s impression of a galactic protocluster forming in the early universe. European Southern Observatory

From galactic pile-ups, stars are born: a crash course in clusters

Clusters of galaxies have back-stories worthy of a Hollywood blockbuster: their existences are marked by violence, death and birth, arising after extragalactic pile-ups where groups of galaxies crashed…
Just before totality on a total lunar eclipse. Flickr/John Johnson

Explainer: what is a lunar eclipse?

At least twice a year, Earth comes between the sun and the moon. The result is a lunar eclipse, where we see the splendid sight of Earth’s shadow falling across the moon. Lunar eclipses are wonderful to…

Get ready for a total lunar eclipse

Look up towards the east on Wednesday night (October 8) and a total lunar eclipse will be visible from across Australia. The moon will slowly move through Earth’s shadow, as the sun, Earth and moon fall…

We are all made of stars

Astronomers spend most of their time contemplating the universe, quite comfortable in the knowledge that we are just a speck among billions of planets, stars and galaxies. But last week, the Australian…
There are some massive galaxies out there, and we now know a little about their early life. Lauro Roger McAllister/Flickr

It’s about time: young galaxies were dense, intense star-makers

A piece of the galaxy formation puzzle may have fallen into place, thanks to a team of European and American astronomers peering into the depths of our early universe. According to new research published…

Mars, Saturn and the claws of Scorpius

Look up at the night sky this week and you’ll find Mars and Saturn together in the west. Mars stands out with its reddish colouring and you might just be able to detect a faint yellow tinge to Saturn…
What future for the Parkes radio telescope amid the CSIRO cutbacks? CSIRO/Wayne England

Australia’s astronomy future in a climate of cutbacks

The future looks very bright for Australian radio astronomy but it was somewhat clouded earlier this year when CSIRO’s radio astronomy program took a dramatic hit in the Australian federal budget. CSIRO…

Northern Perseids battle the moon

Over in the northern hemisphere, where summer is in full swing, it’s the time of the Perseids meteor shower. Generally it’s their best shower of the year, with 100 meteors predicted each hour over August…

Rosetta’s rendezvous with a comet

After a decade of travelling through space, and years before that of mission planning, the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Rosetta spacecraft is right on track to deliver a superb mission. Already it has…

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