September 9th, 2011 § Leave a Comment
I haven’t written an Astro roundup for ages, but that doesn’t mean nothing’s been happening. Last month I went to Rufforth Airfield near York to watch the Perseids – it was a cloudy night with a massive count of two(!) shooting stars, but I did get to go up in a glider In case you missed them, this page tells you about all the upcoming meteor showers – there’s no excuse not to get out there with a scarf and a hip flask.
Scientists have discovered the closest bright supernova since 1972. Called PTF 11kly (catchy!) it’s special for a couple of reasons. Firstly because it’s so new – astronomers have been able to pretty much watch the whole event unfold. Secondly, it’s a type 1a supernova, meaning that it’s what scientists refer to as a “standard candle” – it’s light behaves in a known way, and this allows astronomers to measure things like distances really accurately. Handy as a baseline when you’re trying to calculate the expansion of the universe.
I’m a big fan of CERN, especially the whole Higgs Boson search – a particle I learned about in A-Level physics but which doesn’t conclusively exist. Physicists at CERN and the Tevatron (which totally sounds like a transformer) at Fermilab are hoping to find it by the end of the month. If they don’t? Well, say goodbye to the Standard Model.
Finally, the BBC has some truly extraordinary photos from the Astronomy Photographer 2011 awards.