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Artist’s concept of Giant Magellan Telescope once completed, with its seven mirrors. Giant Magellan Telescope - GMTO Corporation

Extremely large telescopes will add more firepower to search the cosmos

As an astronomer, I get a lot of requests for help. “I’d like to buy a telescope,” the conversation usually goes. “Can you give me some tips on what to look for?” Sadly, there’s little advice I can offer…
Artist’s impression of two white dwarf stars destined to merge and create a Type Ia supernova in 700-million years time. ESO/L. Calçada

White dwarf merger is set to prove supernova theory

Two white dwarfs found orbiting each other at the centre of a planetary nebula are now known to have enough mass that they will eventually trigger a special kind of supernova, according to research published…
A bright fireball over the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array, ALMA, in Chile, marks the fiery death of a small grain of space debris, high in the atmosphere. ESO/C. Malin

Explainer: why meteors light up the night sky

Meteors have been seen since people first looked at the night sky. They are comprised of small pieces of debris, typically no larger than a grain of dust or sand, which continually crash into the Earth’s…
A fast radio burst was detected live at Parkes in May 2014. Flickr/Wayne England

A faster response needed to see Fast Radio Bursts in the universe

Astronomers are trying to improve their hunt for rapid bursts of radio emission in the universe called Fast Radio Bursts (FRBs) so they can better observe these mysterious events, which are thought to…
A group of excited observers during a peak of the Geminids meteor shower. Flickr/Tasayu Tasnaphun

Nature’s fireworks: the best meteor showers coming in 2015

Watching meteors in the night sky can be fun, although typically you only see a few flashes an hour. But there are certain times of the year when you can see many more – events known as meteor showers…
What was the celestial body the three wise men followed 2,000 years ago? epSos.de

Can astronomy explain the biblical Star of Bethlehem?

Bright stars top Christmas trees in Christian homes around much of the world. The faithful sing about the Star of Wonder that guided the wise men to a manger in the little town of Bethlehem, where Jesus…
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 concept of Comet Siding Spring (2013 A1) and Mars. NASA

Comet Siding Spring’s close encounter with Mars draws near

Astronomers world-wide are gearing up for what NASA calls a “once in a lifetime” event: the Comet Siding Spring will swing…
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…

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