These Rings of Wonder

Saturn – The Ringed Planet


Sat turned head.

Although reflection from the rings increases Saturn’s brightness, they are not visible from Earth with unaided vision.

In 1610, the year after Galileo Galilei first turned a telescope to the sky, he became the very first person to observe Saturn’s rings, though he could not see them well enough to discern their true nature.






Continue reading “These Rings of Wonder”


Life is blooming in tumbler land just with jupiter

Blooming life





Hubble is so important to our understanding (universe of cats)

Spiral Galaxy 

A spiral galaxy is a certain kind of galaxy originally described by Edwin Hubble in his 1936 work The Realm of the Nebulae and, as such, forms part of the Hubble sequence. Spiral galaxies consist of a flat, rotating disc containing stars, gas and dust, and a central concentration of stars known as the bulge. These are surrounded by a much fainter halo of stars, many of which reside in globular clusters.

Edwin will never know Hubble



UK’s First Astronaut In Space

Tim Peake

Just one month after boarding the International Space Station, Peake has completed his first Spacewalk with fellow astronaut Tim Kopra. It’s fair to say the UK was firmly gripped by “Spacewalk fever” on January 15 2015.

Tim Peake takes a moment on the Spacewalk for a selfie.

UK astronaut Tim Peake described his first walk in space as “exhilarating”, as he posted photos – including a selfie – of the feat on Twitter.It will “be etched in my memory forever – quite an incredible feeling,” said Peake, the first astronaut representing the UK to carry out a spacewalk.He and US colleague Tim Kopra were outside the International Space Station (ISS) for four hours and 43 minutes.But their spacewalk was cut short after water leaked into Col Kopra’s helmet.The pair had already replaced a failed electrical box, which was their main objective.

Source – BBC News

UK newspaper The Guardian had this to say…

The moment was hardly lost on him. As Tim Peake clambered out of the International Space Station he nodded to the union flag emblazoned on his shoulder. To wear the patch was, he said, “a huge privilege, and a proud moment”.

Britain’s first European Space Agency astronaut began his maiden spacewalk shortly before 1pm on Friday as the orbiting station soared 250 miles above Australia. By the time he returned inside, he had circled the planet at least three times and witnessed six stunning sunsets or sunrises.

Emerging from the Quest airlock into the darkness of Earth’s shadow, Peake joined Nasa’s Tim Kopra for more than four hours of challenging work. Under the direction of ground staff in Houston, the astronauts overcame snagged tethers, a brief carbon dioxide scare, and a torn glove before the day was done.



Saturn and Cassini again I say

logo planet head
Saturn Cassini Passed through My Head

Flybys are a major element of Cassini’s tour. The spacecraft’s looping, elliptical path around Saturn is carefully designed to enable occasional visits to the many moons in the system. All flybys provide an opportunity to learn more about Saturn’s icy satellites, and encounters with giant Titan are actually used to navigate the spacecraft, changing its orbit or setting up future flybys.
Many of the most exciting encounters are “targeted” flybys, for which Cassini’s flight path is steered so the spacecraft will pass by a specific moon at a predetermined distance, referred to as “closest approach.” Cassini’s targeted flybys have yielded incredible close-up views and many groundbreaking science results. Visits to Dione and Hyperion, for example, as well as the daring Oct. 2008 dives through the Enceladus plume, have provided some of the great highlights of the mission.



Richard Dawkins says UK cinemas should screen the Lord’s Prayer | World news | The Guardian

via Richard Dawkins says UK cinemas should screen the Lord’s Prayer | World news | The Guardian.

This is going to start the very dull “politically correct ” taking over Christmas usual stuff we get every year. The Cinema chain didn’t want to show it because that would remind people christmas means consumerism – you are a commodity, if you believe in God or not.








It’s Cassini importance that counts




They survey and sniff, analyze and scrutinize. And of course, they take stunning images in various visible spectra. The 12 science instruments onboard the Cassini spacecraft are seemingly capable of doing it all. Each instrument is designed to carry out sophisticated scientific studies of Saturn, from collecting data in multiple regions of the electromagnetic spectrum, to studying dust particles, to characterizing Saturn’s plasma environment and magnetosphere.

The instruments gather data for 27 diverse science investigations, providing scientists with an enormous amount of information on the most beautiful planet in our Solar System.

Cassini other instruments










Lepus is under Orion

When the sky is clear – you can even see Lepus on the horizon

I can make out Lepus tonight with my naked eye. The best view so far this autumn. Of course, Orion looks glorious as it always does on a clear night, though I find it much harder to see Lepus in such detail usually.

Lepus is a constellation lying just south of the celestial equator, immediately south of Orion. Its name is Latin for hare. Although the hare does not represent any particular figure in Greek mythology, Lepus was one of the 48 constellations listed by the 2nd century astronomer Ptolemy, and it remains one of the 88 modern constellations. It is located below the constellation Orion (the hunter), and is sometimes represented as a hare being chased by Orion or, alternatively, by Orion’s hunting dogs.


Orion and Lepus clip

Quote is via Wiki

This constellation should not be confused with Lupus, the wolf.





Astronomy halloween with jupiter ghost


William Herschel discovered the nebula on February 7, 1785, and cataloged it as H IV.27. John Herschel observed it from the Cape of Good Hope, South Africa, in the 1830s, and numbered it as h 3248, and included it in the 1864 General Catalogue as GC 2102; this became NGC 3242 in J. L. E. Dreyer’s New General Catalogue of 1888.

This planetary nebula is most frequently called the Ghost of Jupiter, or Jupiter’s Ghost due to its similar size to the planet, but it is also sometimes referred to as the Eye Nebula.

The nebula measures around two light years long from end to end, and contains a central white dwarf with an apparent magnitude of eleven. The inner layers of the nebula
were formed some 1,500 years ago.

The two ends of the nebula are marked by FLIERs, lobes of fasting moving gas often tinted red in false-color pictures. NGC 3242 can easily be observed with amateur telescopes, and appears bluish-green to most observers. Larger telescopes can distinguish the outer halo as well.




definition of astronomer amateur

Amateur astronomy is a hobby whose participants enjoy watching the sky, and the abundance of objects found in it with the unaided eye, binoculars, or telescopes. Even though scientific research is not their main goal, many amateur astronomers make a contribution to astronomy by monitoring variable stars, tracking asteroids and discovering transient objects, such as comets and novae.

The typical amateur astronomer is one who does not depend on the field of astronomy as a primary source of income or support, and does not have a professional degree or advanced academic training in the subject. Many amateurs are beginners or hobbyists, while others have a high degree of experience in astronomy and often assist and work alongside professional astronomers.


Amateur astronomy is usually associated with viewing the night sky when most celestial objects and events are visible, but sometimes amateur astronomers also operate during the day for events such as sunspots and solar eclipses. Amateur astronomers often look at the sky using nothing more than their eyes, but common tools for amateur astronomy include portable telescopes and binoculars.

People have studied the sky throughout history in an amateur framework, without any formal method of funding. It is only within about the past century, however, that amateur astronomy has become an activity clearly distinguished from professional astronomy, and other related activities.



The Law according to Hubble

Universe Expansion 

Objects observed in deep space (extragalactic space, ~10 megaparsecs or more) are found to have a Doppler shift interpretable as relative velocity away from the Earth;
This Doppler-shift-measured velocity, of various galaxies receding from the Earth, is approximately proportional to their distance from the Earth for galaxies up to a few hundred megaparsecs away.

Hubble’s law is considered the first observational basis for the expansion of the universe and today serves as one of the pieces of evidence most often cited in support of the Big
Bang model. The motion of astronomical objects due solely to this expansion is known as the Hubble flow.

Although widely attributed to Edwin Hubble, the law was first derived from the general relativity equations by Georges Lemaître in a 1927 article where he proposed the expansion of the universe and suggested an estimated value of the rate of expansion, now called the Hubble constant.

Two years later Edwin Hubble confirmed the existence of that law and determined a more accurate value for the constant that now bears his name. Hubble inferred the recession velocity of the objects from their redshifts, many of which were earlier measured and related to velocity by Vesto Slipher in 1917.

The law is often expressed by the equation v = H0D, with H0 the constant of proportionality (Hubble constant) between the “proper distance” D to a galaxy (which can change over time, unlike the comoving distance) and its velocity v (i.e. the derivative of proper distance with respect to cosmological time coordinate; see Uses of the proper distance for some discussion of the subtleties of this definition of ‘velocity’). The SI unit of H0 is s−1 but it is most frequently quoted in (km/s)/Mpc, thus giving the speed in km/s of a galaxy 1 megaparsec (3.09×1019 km) away. The reciprocal of H0 is the Hubble time.



The emu of the milky way

The ancient night sky was studied and defined by the dark patches seen – not by the stars seen, in ancient aboriginal astronomy.

Dark patches in the sky


Unlike Greek celestial tradition, which focuses almost exclusively on stars, Aboriginal astronomy focuses on the Milky Way and often incorporates the dark patches between stars.

The Emu in the Sky, a story common to many Aboriginal groups, is an example of this — its body is made up of the dark patches in the Milky Way. The Boorong people saw the
same dark patches as the smoke from the fires of Nurrumbunguttias, the old spirits. The Kaurna people saw the Milky Way — called Wodliparri or hut river — as a large river
where a Yura (monster) lives in the dark patches.


Continue reading “The emu of the milky way”


The man behind the Maunder Minimum

Edward Walter Maunder

Serious Sunspots Study Started With Maunder…………

About the man…(12 April 1851 – 21 March 1928) was a British astronomer best remembered for his study of sunspots and the solar magnetic cycle that led to his identification of the period from 1645 to 1715 that is now known as the Maunder Minimum.

Edward Walter Maunder was born in 1851, in London, the youngest child of a minister of the Wesleyan Society. He attended King’s College London but never graduated. He took a job in a London bank to finance his studies. 


In 1873 Maunder returned to the Royal Observatory, taking a position as a spectroscopic assistant. Shortly after, in 1875, he married Edith Hannah Bustin, who gave birth to six children, 3 sons, 2 daughters and a son who died in infancy. Following the death of Edith in 1888, he met Annie Scott Dill Russell (1868–1947) in 1890, a mathematician and astronomer with whom he collaborated for the remainder of his life. In 1895 Maunder and Russell married. In 1916 Annie Maunder became one of the first women accepted by the Royal Astronomical Society.

Part of Maunder’s job at the Observatory involved photographing and measuring sunspots, and in doing so he observed that the solar latitudes at which sunspots occur varies in a regular way over the course of the 11 year cycle. After 1891, he was assisted in his work by his second wife, Annie Scott Dill Maunder (née Russell), a mathematician educated at Girton College in Cambridge. She worked as a “lady computer” at the Observatory from 1890 to 1895. In 1904, he published their results in the form of the “butterfly” diagram.

After studying the work of Gustav Spörer, who examined old records from the different observatories archives looking for changes of the heliographic latitude of sunspots, Maunder announced Spörer’s conclusions in own paper edited in 1894. The period, recognised earlier by Spörer, now bears Maunder’s name.

He travelled extensively for observations going to places such as the West Indies, Lapland, India, Algiers, Mauritius. His last eclipse expedition was to Labrador for the Solar eclipse of 30 August 1905 at the invitation of the Canadian government.




Mars its been a long journey

How Did We Get To Here…

Starting with the M.R.O.

Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) is a multipurpose spacecraft designed to conduct reconnaissance and exploration of Mars from orbit. The US$720 million spacecraft was built by Lockheed Martin under the supervision of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The mission is managed by the California Institute of Technology, at the JPL, in La Cañada Flintridge, California, for the NASA Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C. It was launched August 12, 2005, and attained Martian orbit on March 10, 2006. In November 2006, after five months of aerobraking, it entered its final science orbit and began its primary science phase.

As MRO entered orbit, it joined five other active spacecraft which were either in orbit or on the planet’s surface:Mars Global Surveyor, Mars Express, 2001 Mars Odyssey, and the two Mars Exploration Rovers (Spirit and Opportunity); at the time, this set a record for the most operational spacecraft in the immediate vicinity of Mars. Mars Global Surveyor and the Spirit rover have since ceased to function; the remainder remain operational as of July 2015.

MRO contains a host of scientific instruments such as cameras, spectrometers, and radar, which are used to analyze the landforms, stratigraphy, minerals, and ice of Mars. It paves the way for future spacecraft by monitoring Mars’ daily weather and surface conditions, studying potential landing sites, and hosting a new telecommunications system. MRO’s telecommunications system will transfer more data back to Earth than all previous interplanetary missions combined, and MRO will serve as a highly capable relay satellite for future missions.





I wish I could take images of the lunar eclipse

Super Moon – Lunar Eclipse Night

If you have a half decent camera, I hope you are trying to capture some of the amazing sights of the Moon.

Get some tips from the space website – it has a good short film that gives you times of the changing eclipse. Good to watch even for a non-photographer like me.




this galaxy is intermediate – lenticular

lenticular galaxy is a type of galaxy which is intermediate between an elliptical galaxy and a spiral galaxy in galaxy morphological classification schemes. Lenticular galaxies are disc galaxies (like spiral galaxies) which have used up or lost most of their interstellar matter and therefore have very little ongoing star formation.

They may, however, retain significant dust in their disks. As a result, they consist mainly of aging stars (like elliptical galaxies). Because of their ill-defined spiral arms, if they are inclined face-on it is often difficult to distinguish between them and elliptical galaxies.

Despite the morphological differences, lenticular and elliptical galaxies share common properties like spectral features, scaling relations and both can be considered early type galaxies which are passively evolving, at least in the local universe.





A view on gravitational lensing

A gravitational lens refers to a distribution of matter (such as a cluster of galaxies) between a distant source and an observer, that is capable of bending the light from the source, as it travels towards the observer. This effect is known as gravitational lensing and the amount of bending is one of the predictions of Albert Einstein‘s general theory of relativity. (Classical physics also predicts bending of light, but only half that of general relativity’s.)

Although Orest Chwolson (1924) or Frantisek Klin (1936) are sometimes credited as being the first ones to discuss the effect in print, the effect is more commonly associated with Einstein, who published a more famous article on the subject in 1936.

Fritz Zwicky posited in 1937 that the effect could allow galaxy clusters to act as gravitational lenses. It was not until 1979 that this effect was confirmed by observation of the so-called “Twin QSO” SBS 0957+561.

Unlike an optical lens, maximum ‘bending’ occurs closest to, and minimum ‘bending’ furthest from, the center of a gravitational lens. Consequently, a gravitational lens has no single focal point, but a focal line instead. If the (light) source, the massive lensing object, and the observer lie in a straight line, the original light source will appear as a ring around the massive lensing object. If there is any misalignment the observer will see an arc segment instead.

This phenomenon was first mentioned in 1924 by the St. Petersburg physicist Orest Chwolson, and quantified by Albert Einstein in 1936. It is usually referred to in the literature as an Einstein ring, since Chwolson did not concern himself with the flux or radius of the ring image. More commonly, where the lensing mass is complex (such as a galaxy group or cluster) and does not cause a spherical distortion of space–time, the source will resemble partial arcs scattered around the lens. The observer may then see multiple distorted images of the same source; the number and shape of these depending upon the relative positions of the source, lens, and observer, and the shape of the gravitational well of the lensing object.



friday night astronomy feature

The Orion Nebula 

The nebula is visible with the naked eye even from areas affected by some light pollution. It is seen as the middle “star” in the sword of Orion, which are the three stars located south of Orion’s Belt. The star appears fuzzy to sharp-eyed observers, and the nebulosity is obvious through binoculars or a small telescope. The peak surface brightness of the central region is about 17 Mag/arcsec2 (about 14 millinits) and the outer bluish glow has a peak surface brightness of 21.3 Mag/arcsec2 (about 0.27 millinits). (In the photos shown here the brightness, or luminance, is enhanced by a large factor.)

The Orion Nebula contains a very young open cluster, known as the Trapezium due to the asterism of its primary four stars. Two of these can be resolved into their component binary systems on nights with good seeing, giving a total of six stars. The stars of the Trapezium, along with many other stars, are still in their early years. The Trapezium may be a component of the much larger Orion Nebula Cluster, an association of about 2,000 stars within a diameter of 20 light years. Two million years ago this cluster may have been the home of the runaway stars AE Aurigae53 Arietis, and Mu Columbae, which are currently moving away from the nebula at velocities greater than 100 km/s.




see seven sisters in the night sky




Not the easiset to see with the naked eye. When you look to the right or left of it, you can see it a bit better.

Locate the constellation of Taurus to find it.

See more about Pleiades by taking a look at this post I did a couple of years ago…

Seven Sisters




Friday night astronomy feature

The California Nebula

NGC 1499 is an emission nebula located in the constellation Perseus. It is so named because it appears to resemble the outline of the US State of California on long exposure photographs. It is almost 2.5° long on the sky and, because of its very low surface brightness, it is extremely difficult to observe visually.

It can be observed with a Hβ filter (isolates the Hβ line at 486 nm) in a rich-field telescope under dark skies. It lies at a distance of about 1,000 light years from Earth. Its fluorescence is due to excitation of the Hβ line in the nebula by the nearby prodigiously energetic O7 star, xi Persei (also known as Menkib).





Galaxies a go go in pegasus

Stephan’s Quintet


Stephan’s Quintet in the constellation Pegasus is a visual grouping of five galaxies of which four form the first compact galaxy group ever discovered. The group was discovered by Édouard Stephan in 1877 at Marseille Observatory. The group is the most studied of all the compact galaxy groups. The brightest member of the visual grouping is NGC 7320 that is shown to have extensive H II regions, identified as red blobs, where active star formation is occurring.

These galaxies are of interest because of their violent collisions. Four of the five galaxies in Stephan’s Quintet form a physical association, Hickson Compact Group 92, and are involved in a cosmic dance that most likely will end with the galaxies merging. Radio observations in the early 1970s revealed a mysterious filament of emission which lies in inter-galactic space between the galaxies in the group.

This same region is also detected in the faint glow of ionized atomic hydrogen seen in the visible part of the spectrum as the magnificent green arc in the picture to the right. Two space telescopes have recently provided new insight into the nature of the strange filament, which is now believed to be a giant intergalactic shock-wave (similar to a sonic boom but traveling in intergalactic gas rather than air) caused by one galaxy (NGC 7318B) falling into the center of the group at several millions of miles per hour.

Molecular hydrogen emission

Perhaps even more unexpected is the discovery of very powerful molecular hydrogen signals from the shock wave, seen by the NASA Spitzer Space Telescope which detects infrared radiation. The molecular hydrogen emission, which is seen through infrared spectral analysis using the Spitzer Space Telescope is one of the most turbulent formations of molecular hydrogen ever seen, and the strongest emission originates near the center of the green area in the visible light picture discussed earlier.

This phenomenon was discovered by an international team led by scientists at the California Institute of Technology and includes scientists from Australia, Germany and China. The detection of molecular hydrogen from the collision was initially unexpected because the hydrogen molecule is very fragile and is easily destroyed in shock waves of the kind expected in Stephan’s Quintet.

However, one solution is that when a shock front moves through a cloudy medium like the center of the group, millions of smaller shocks are produced in a turbulent layer, and this can allow molecular hydrogen to survive. Most notable is the fact that this collision can help provide a view into what happened in the postulated beginning of the universe some 14 billion years ago, since shocked molecular hydrogen is likely to be present in the early universe.




Not just any old remnant

This is a Supernova Remnant

A supernova remnant (SNR) is the structure resulting from the explosion of a star in a supernova. The supernova remnant is bounded by an expanding shock wave, and consists of ejected material expanding from the explosion, and the interstellar material it sweeps up and shocks along the way.

There are two common routes to a supernova: either a massive star may run out of fuel, ceasing to generate fusion energy in its core, and collapsing inward under the force of its own gravity to form a neutron star or a black hole; or a white dwarf star may accumulate (accrete) material from a companion star until it reaches a critical mass and undergoes a thermonuclear explosion.

In either case, the resulting supernova explosion expels much or all of the stellar material with velocities as much as 10% the speed of light, that is, about 30,000 km/s. These ejecta are highly supersonic: assuming a typical temperature of the interstellar medium of 10,000 K, the Mach number can initially be > 1000. Therefore, a strong shock wave forms ahead of the ejecta, that heats the upstream plasma up to temperatures well above millions of K. The shock continuously slows down over time as it sweeps up the ambient medium, but it can expand over hundreds or thousands of years and over tens of parsecsbefore its speed falls below the local sound speed.

One of the best observed young supernova remnants was formed by SN 1987A, a supernova in the Large Magellanic Cloud that was observed in February 1987. Other well-known supernova remnants include the Crab Nebula, Tycho, the remnant of SN 1572, named after Tycho Brahe who recorded the brightness of its original explosion, and Kepler, the remnant of SN 1604, named after Johannes Kepler. The youngest known remnant in our galaxy is G1.9+0.3, discovered in the galactic center.




Within a giant molecular cloud

An open cluster, also known as galactic cluster, is a group of up to a few thousand stars that were formed from the same giant molecular cloud and have roughly the same age.

In my own Open Cluster

Continue reading “Within a giant molecular cloud”


Calling out to callisto

Callisto is a moon of the planet Jupiter. It was discovered in 1610 by Galileo Galilei. It is the third-largest moon in the Solar System and the second largest in the Jovian system, after Ganymede, and the largest object in the Solar System not to be properly differentiated. At 4821 km in diameter, Callisto has about 99% the diameter of the planet Mercury but only about a third of its mass. It is the fourth Galilean moon of Jupiter by distance, with an orbital radius of about 1880000 km. It is not part of the orbital resonance that affects three inner Galilean satellites—Io, Europa and Ganymede—and thus does not experience appreciable tidal heating. Callisto’s rotation is tidally locked to its orbit around Jupiter, so that the same hemisphere always faces inward; Jupiter appears to stand nearly still in Callisto’s sky. It is less affected by Jupiter’s magnetosphere than the other inner satellites because of its more remote orbit, located just outside Jupiter’s main radiation belt.

I'm with Callisto
I’m with Callisto

Callisto is composed of approximately equal amounts of rock and ices, with a mean density of about 1.83 g/cm3, the lowest density and surface gravity of Jupiter’s major moons. Compounds detected spectroscopically on the surface include water icecarbon dioxidesilicates, and organic compounds. Investigation by the Galileo spacecraft revealed that Callisto may have a small silicate core and possibly a subsurface ocean of liquid water at depths greater than 100 km.


The surface of Callisto is the oldest and most heavily cratered in the Solar System. It does not show any signatures of subsurface processes such as plate tectonics or volcanism, with no signs that geological activity in general has ever occurred, and is thought to have evolved predominantly under the influence of impacts. Prominent surface features include multi-ring structures, variously shaped impact craters, and chains of craters (catenae) and associated scarps, ridges and deposits. At a small scale, the surface is varied and made up of small, sparkly frost deposits at the tips of high spots, surrounded by a low-lying, smooth blanket of dark material. This is thought to result from the sublimation-driven degradation of small landforms, which is supported by the general deficit of small impact craters and the presence of numerous small knobs, considered to be their remnants. The absolute ages of the landforms are not known.

Callisto is surrounded by an extremely thin atmosphere composed of carbon dioxide and probably molecular oxygen as well as by a rather intense ionosphere. Callisto is thought to have formed by slow accretion from the disk of the gas and dust that surrounded Jupiter after its formation. Callisto’s gradual accretion and the lack of tidal heating meant that not enough heat was available for rapid differentiation. The slow convection in the interior of Callisto, which commenced soon after formation, led to partial differentiation and possibly to the formation of a subsurface ocean at a depth of 100–150 km and a small, rocky core.

The likely presence of an ocean within Callisto leaves open the possibility that it could harbor life. However, conditions are thought to be less favorable than on nearby Europa . Various space probes from Pioneers 10 and 11 to Galileo and Cassini have studied Callisto. Because of its low radiation levels, Callisto has long been considered the most suitable place for a human base for future exploration of the Jovian system.





The Great Cluster in Hercules

Messier 13 (M13), also designated NGC 6205 and sometimes called the Great Globular Cluster in Hercules or the Hercules Globular Cluster, is a globular cluster of about 300,000 stars in the constellation of Hercules.

M13 was discovered by Edmond Halley in 1714, and catalogued by Charles Messier on June 1, 1764. It is located at right ascension 16h 41.7m and declination +36° 28′. With an apparent magnitude of 5.8, it is barely visible with the naked eye on a very clear night. Its diameter is about 23 arc minutes and it is readily viewable in small telescopes. Nearby is NGC 6207, a 12th magnitude edge-on galaxy that lies 28 arc minutes directly north east. A small galaxy, IC 4617, lies halfway between NGC 6207 and M13, north-northeast of the large globular cluster’s center.


M13 is about 145 light-years in diameter, and it is composed of several hundred thousand stars, the brightest of which is a red giant, the variable star V11, with an apparent visual magnitude of 11.95. M13 is 25,100 light-years away from Earth.

Main Text Source


centaurus stars

Centaurus contains several very bright stars because of its position in the Milky Way; in addition, its alpha and beta stars are used to find the constellation Crux. The constellation has 281 stars above magnitude 6.5, meaning that they are visible to the unaided eye, the most of any constellation. Alpha Centauri, the closest star to the Sun, has a high proper motion; it will be a mere half-degree from Beta Centauri in approximately 4000 years.

Tree in Centaurus non-specified!

Alpha Centauri is a triple star system that contains Proxima Centauri, the nearest star to the Sun. Traditionally called Rigil Kentaurus or Toliman, meaning “foot of the centaur”, the system has an overall magnitude of -0.28 and is 4.4 light-years from Earth. The primary and secondary are both yellow-hued stars; the primary, is of magnitude -0.01 and the secondary is of magnitude 1.35. Proxima, the tertiary star, is a red dwarf of magnitude 11.0; it is almost 2 degrees away from the primary and secondary and has a period of approximately one million years. Also a flare star, Proxima has minutes-long outbursts where it brightens by over a magnitude. The primary and secondary have a period of 80 years and will be closest to each other as seen from Earth in 2037 and 2038.

In addition to Alpha Centauri (the 3rd brightest star in the sky), a second first magnitudestar, Beta Centauri, is part of Centaurus. Also called Hadar and Agena, Beta Centauri is a double star; the primary is a blue-hued giant star of magnitude 0.6, 525 light-years from Earth. The secondary is of magnitude 4.0 and has a very small separation. A bright binary star in Centaurus is Gamma Centauri, which appears to the naked eye at magnitude 2.2. The primary and secondary are both blue-white hued stars of magnitude 2.9; their period is 85 years.

Centaurus also has many dimmer double stars and binary stars. 3 Centauri is a double star with a blue-white hued primary of magnitude 4.6 and a secondary of magnitude 6.1. The primary is 298 light-years from Earth.

Centaurus is home to many variable starsR Centauri is a Mira variable star with a minimum magnitude of 11.8 and a maximum magnitude of 5.3; it is 2100 light-years from Earth and has a period of 18 months. V810 Centauri is a semiregular variable.

BPM 37093 is a white dwarf star whose carbon atoms are thought to have formed a crystalline structure. Since diamond also consists of carbon arranged in a crystalline lattice (though of a different configuration), scientists have nicknamed this star “Lucy” after the Beatles song “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.”




The centaurus constellation

In The Southern Hemisphere  

Tree in Centaurus non-specified!

Centaurus is a bright constellation in the southern skyOne of the largest constellations, Centaurus was included among the 48 constellations listed by the 2nd century astronomer Ptolemy, and it remains one of the 88 modern constellations. In Greek mythology, Centaurus represents a centaur; a creature that is half human, half horse (another constellation named after a centaur is one from the zodiacSagittarius). Notable stars include Alpha Centauri, the nearest star system to our own Solar System, its neighbour in the sky Beta Centauri, and V766 Centauri, one of the largest stars yet discovered. The constellation also contains Omega Centauri, the brightest globular cluster as visible from Earth and one of the largest known.





Oh No – It’s that damned Dark Energy thang

In physical cosmology and astronomy, dark energy is an unknown form of energy which is hypothesized to permeate all of space, tending to accelerate the expansion of the universe.

Radiation Photo Effect.

Dark energy is the most accepted hypothesis to explain the observations since the 1990s indicating that the universe is expanding at an accelerating rate.

According to the Planck mission team, and based on the standard model of cosmology, on a mass–energy equivalence basis, the observable universe contains 26.8% dark matter, 68.3% dark energy (for a total of 95.1%) and 4.9% ordinary matter.

Again on a mass–energy equivalence basis, the density of dark energy (6.91 × 10−27 kg/m3) is very low, much less than the density of ordinary matter or dark matter within galaxies.

However, it comes to dominate the mass–energy of the universe because it is uniform across space.


Stellar End Points – Exotic Stars

An exotic star is a hypothetical compact star composed of something other than electronsprotons, and neutrons balanced against gravitational collapse by degeneracy pressure or other quantum properties. These include strange stars (composed of strange matter) and the more speculative preon stars (composed of preons).


Exotic stars are hypothetical, but observations released by the Chandra X-Ray Observatory on April 10, 2002 detected two candidate strange stars, designated RX J1856.5-3754and 3C58, which had previously been thought to be neutron stars. Based on the known laws of physics, the former appeared much smaller and the latter much colder than they should, suggesting that they are composed of material denser than neutronium. However, these observations are met with skepticism by researchers who say the results were not conclusive.

Quark stars and strange stars

If neutrons are squeezed enough at a high temperature, they will decompose into their component quarks, forming what is known as a quark matter. In this case, the star will shrink further and become denser, but instead of a total collapse into a black hole, it is possible, that the star may stabilize itself and survive in this state indefinitely, as long as no extra mass is added. It has, to some extent, become a very large nucleon. A star in this hypothetical state is called a quark star or more specifically a strange star. The pulsars RX J1856.5-3754 and 3C58 have been suggested as possible quark stars. Most neutron stars are thought to hold a core of quark matter, but it has proven hard to determine observationally.

I like to get involved.


Preon stars

preon star is a proposed type of compact star made of preons, a group of hypothetical subatomic particles. Preon stars would be expected to have huge densities, exceeding 1023 kilogram per cubic meter – intermediate between quark stars and black holes. Preon stars could originate from supernova explosions or the big bang; however, current observations from particle accelerators speak against the existence of preons.

Q stars

  Q stars are hypothetical compact, heavier neutron stars with an exotic state of matter where particle numbers are preserved. Q stars are also called “gray holes”.

Electroweak stars

An electroweak star is a theoretical type of exotic star, whereby the gravitational collapse of the star is prevented by radiation pressure resulting from electroweak burning, that is, the energy released by conversion of quarks to leptons through the electroweak force. This process occurs in a volume at the star’s core approximately the size of an apple, coleycontaining about two Earth masses.





Stellar End Points – Black Holes

As more mass is accumulated, equilibrium against gravitational collapse reaches its breaking point. The star’s pressure is insufficient to counterbalance gravity and a catastrophic gravitational collapse occurs in milliseconds. The escape velocity at the surface, already at least 1/3 light speed, quickly reaches the velocity of light. No energy or matter can escape: a black hole has formed. All light will be trapped within an event horizon, and so a black hole appears truly black, except for the possibility of Hawking radiation. It is presumed that the collapse will continue.

I can see the event horizon from here.

In the classical theory of general relativity, a gravitational singularity occupying no more than a point will form. There may be a new halt of the catastrophic gravitational collapse at a size comparable to the Planck length, but at these lengths there is no known theory of gravity to predict what will happen. Adding any extra mass to the black hole will cause the radius of the event horizon to increase linearly with the mass of the central singularity. This will induce certain changes in the properties of the black hole, such as reducing the tidal stress near the event horizon, and reducing the gravitational field strength at the horizon. However, there will not be any further qualitative changes in the structure associated with any mass increase.

Alternative black hole models




Stellar End Points – Neutron Stars

In certain binary stars containing a white dwarf, mass is transferred from the companion star onto the white dwarf, eventually pushing it over the Chandrasekhar limit. Electrons react with protons to form neutrons and thus no longer supply the necessary pressure to resist gravity, causing the star to collapse. If the center of the star is composed mostly of carbon and oxygen then such a gravitational collapse will ignite runaway fusion of the carbon and oxygen, resulting in a Type Ia supernova that entirely blows apart the star before the collapse can become irreversible.


If the center is composed mostly of magnesium or heavier elements, the collapse continues. As the density further increases, the remaining electrons react with the protons to form more neutrons. The collapse continues until (at higher density) the neutrons become degenerate. A new equilibrium is possible after the star shrinks by three orders of magnitude, to a radius between 10 and 20 km. This is a neutron star.

Although the first neutron star was not observed until 1967 when the first radio pulsar was discovered, neutron stars were proposed by Baade and Zwicky in 1933, only one year after the neutron was discovered in 1932. They realized that because neutron stars are so dense, the collapse of an ordinary star to a neutron star would liberate a large amount of gravitational potential energy, providing a possible explanation for supernovae. This is the explanation for supernovae of types Ib, Ic, and II. Such supernovae occur when the iron core of a massive star exceeds the Chandrasekhar limit and collapses to a neutron star.

Like electrons, neutrons are fermions. They therefore provide neutron degeneracy pressure to support a neutron star against collapse. In addition, repulsive neutron-neutron interactions provide additional pressure. Like the Chandrasekhar limit for white dwarfs, there is a limiting mass for neutron stars: the Tolman-Oppenheimer-Volkoff limit, where these forces are no longer sufficient to hold up the star. As the forces in dense hadronic matter are not well understood, this limit is not known exactly but is thought to be between 2 and 3 M. If more mass accretes onto a neutron star, eventually this mass limit will be reached. What happens next is not completely clear.



Stellar End Points – White Dwarfs

A.K.A. Degenerate dwarfs

The stars called degenerate dwarfs or, more usually, white dwarfs are made up mainly of degenerate matter—typically, carbon and oxygen nuclei in a sea of degenerate electrons. White dwarfs arise from the cores of main-sequence stars and are therefore very hot when they are formed. As they cool they will redden and dim until they eventually become dark black dwarfs. White dwarfs were observed in the 19th century, but the extremely high densities and pressures they contain were not explained until the 1920s.


The equation of state for degenerate matter is “soft”, meaning that adding more mass will result in a smaller object. Continuing to add mass to what is now a white dwarf, the object shrinks and the central density becomes even larger, with higher degenerate-electron energies. The star’s radius has now shrunk to only a few thousand kilometers, and the mass is approaching the theoretical upper limit of the mass of a white dwarf, the Chandrasekhar limit, about 1.4 times the mass of the Sun (M).

If we were to take matter from the center of our white dwarf and slowly start to compress it, we would first see electrons forced to combine with nuclei, changing their protons to neutrons by inverse beta decay.

The equilibrium would shift towards heavier, neutron-richer nuclei that are not stable at everyday densities. As the density increases, these nuclei become still larger and less well-bound. At a critical density of about 4·1014 kg/m³, called the neutron drip line, the atomic nucleus would tend to fall apart into protons and neutrons. Eventually we would reach a point where the matter is on the order of the density (~2·1017 kg/m³) of an atomic nucleus. At this point the matter is chiefly free neutrons, with a small amount of protons and electrons.



Stellar End Points

The Compact Star

In astronomy, the term compact star (sometimes compact object) is used to refer collectively to white dwarfs, neutron stars, other exotic dense stars, and black holes.

Most compact stars are the endpoints of stellar evolution and are thus often referred to as stellar remnants, the form of the remnant depending primarily on the mass of the star when it formed. These objects are all small in volume for their mass, giving them a very high density. The term compact star is often used when the exact nature of the star is not known, but evidence suggests that it is very massive and has a small radius, thus implying one of the above-mentioned categories. A compact star that is not a black hole may be called a degenerate star.

The usual endpoint of stellar evolution is the formation of a compact star.

Most stars will eventually come to a point in their evolution, when the outward radiation pressure from the nuclear fusions in its interior can no longer resist the ever present gravitational forces. When this happens, the star collapses under its own weight and undergo the process of stellar death. For most stars, this will result in the formation of a very dense and compact stellar remnant, also known as a compact star.

Compact stars have no internal energy production, but will – with the exception of black holes – usually radiate for millions of years with excess heat left from the collapse itself.

According to the most recent understanding, compact stars could also form during the phase separations of the early Universe following the Big Bang. Primordial origins of known compact objects have not been determined with certainty.




Drop it like it’s hot

NGC 2440

Ngc 2440 is a planetary nebula, one of many in our galaxy. Its central star, HD62166, is possibly the hottest known white dwarf. The nebula is situated in the Puppis constellation.

It was discovered by William Herschel on March 4, 1790. He described it as “a beautiful planetary nebula of a considerable degree of brightness, not very well defined.” The nebula is located about 1.23 kiloparsecs (3.79×1019 m) or about 4,000 light years from the Sun.

HD 62166 White Dwarf

HD 62166 has an exceptionally high surface temperature of about 200,000 kelvins and a luminosity 1,100 times that of the Sun. This dense star, with an estimated 0.6 solar mass
and 0.028 solar radius, has an apparent magnitude of 17.5.


Image by hst- ngc2440-added a coleyartastro





Time for Nebula


The Engraved Hourglass Nebula (also known as MyCn 18) is a young planetary nebula situated in the southern constellation Musca about 8,000 light-years away from Earth. It was discovered by Annie Jump Cannon and Margaret W. Mayall during their work on an extended Henry Draper Catalogue (the catalogue was built between 1918 and 1924). At the time, it was designated simply as a small faint planetary nebula.

The Hourglass Nebula was photographed by the Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2 of the Hubble Space Telescope.

Much improved telescopes and imaging techniques allowed the hourglass shape of the nebula to be discovered by Raghvendra Sahai and John Trauger of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory on January 18, 1996. It is conjectured that MyCn 18’s hourglass shape is produced by the expansion of a fast stellar wind within a slowly expanding cloud which is denser near its equator than its poles.



The Wolf and the First Trojan Asteroid

Maximilian Franz Joseph Cornelius Wolf (June 21, 1863 – October 3, 1932) was a German astronomer and a pioneer in the field of astrophotography. He was Chairman of Astronomy at the University of Heidelberg and Director of the Landessternwarte Heidelberg-Königstuhl observatory from 1902 to 1932.


Continue reading “The Wolf and the First Trojan Asteroid”


the Johann Bayer Designation

Bayer Portrait

Johann Bayer (1572 – 7 March 1625) was a German lawyer and uranographer (celestial cartographer). He was born in Rain, Lower Bavaria, in 1572. At twenty, in 1592 he began his study of philosophy and law at the University of Ingolstadt, after which he moved to Augsburg to begin work as a lawyer, becoming legal adviser to the city council in 1612.

Bayer had several interests outside his work, including archaeology and mathematics. However, he is primarily known for his work in astronomy; particularly for his work on determining the positions of objects on the celestial sphere. He remained unmarried and died in 1625.

Bayer is most famous for his star atlas Uranometria Omnium Asterismorum (“Uraniometry of all the asterisms”), which was first published in 1603 in Augsburg and dedicated to two prominent local citizens. This was the first atlas to cover the entire celestial sphere.

It was based upon the work of Tycho Brahe and may have borrowed from Alessandro Piccolomini’s 1540 star atlas, De le stelle fisse (“Of the fixed stars”), although Bayer included an additional 1,000 stars. The Uranometria introduced a new system of star designation which has become known as the Bayer designation. Bayer’s atlas added twelve new constellations to fill in the far south of the night sky, which was unknown to ancient Greece and Rome.

The crater Bayer on the Moon is named after him.






Nebula with a slice of lemon


The Lemon slice nebula, also known as IC 3568, is a planetary nebula that is 1.3 kiloparsecs (4500 ly) away from Earth in the constellation of Camelopardalis (just 7.5 degrees from Polaris). It is a relatively young nebula and has a core diameter of only about 0.4 light years.

The Lemon slice nebula is one of the most simple nebulae known, with an almost perfectly spherical morphology. It appears very similar to a lemon, for which it is named. The core of the nebula does not have a distinctly visible structure in formation and is mostly composed of ionized helium.

The central star is a very hot and bright asymptotic red giant, and can be seen as a red-orange hue in an amateur’s telescope. A faint halo of interstellar dust surrounds the nebula.




Swimming with Delphinus

Delphinus is a constellation in the northern sky, close to the celestial equator. Its name is Latin for dolphin. Delphinus was one of the 48 constellations listed by the 2nd century astronomer Ptolemy, and it remains among the 88 modern constellations recognized by the International Astronomical Union. It is one of the smaller constellations, ranked 69th in size.

Delphinus’ brightest stars form a distinctive asterism that can easily be recognized. It is bordered (clockwise from north) by Vulpecula the fox, Sagitta the arrow, Aquila the eagle, Aquarius the water-carrier, Equuleus the foal and Pegasus the flying horse.

Delphinus does not have any bright stars; its brightest star is of magnitude 3.8. The main asterism in Delphinus is Job’s Coffin, formed from the four brightest stars: Alpha, Beta, Gamma, and Delta Delphini. Alpha and Beta Delphini are named Sualocin and Rotanev, respectively. When read backwards, they read as Nicolaus Venator, the Latinized name of Palermo Observatory‘s former director, Niccolò Cacciatore. However, Delphinus is in a rich Milky Way star field.

Alpha Delphini, called Sualocin, is a blue-white hued main sequence star of magnitude 3.8, 241 light-years from Earth. Beta Delphini, called Rotanev, is a close binary star and the brightest in Delphinus, divisible in only large amateur telescopes. To the unaided eye, it appears to be a white star of magnitude 3.6. It has a period of 27 years and is 97 light-years from Earth. Gamma Delphini is a celebrated binary star among amateur astronomers. The primary is a gold-colored star of magnitude 4.3 and the secondary is a yellow-tinged star of magnitude 5.1. 102 light-years away, the components of Gamma Delphini are divisible in a small amateur telescope. The secondary, also described as green, is 10 arcseconds from the primary. Struve 2725, called the “Ghost Double”, is a pair that appears similar to a dimmer Gamma Delphini. Its components of magnitudes 7.6 and 8.4 are separated by 6 arcseconds and are 15 arcminutes from Gamma Delphini itself.

There are several dimmer stars in Delphinus. Delta Delphini is a type A7 IIIp star of magnitude 4.43. Epsilon Delphini, called Deneb Dulfim, meaning “tail of the Dolphin”, is a star of spectral class B6 III and magnitude 4.

Delphinus is also home to several variable stars. R Delphini is a Mira-type variable star with a period of 285.5 days. Its magnitude ranges between a maximum of 7.6 and a minimum of 13.8.

Rho Aquilae moved across the border into Delphinus in 1992.

HR Delphini was a nova that brightened to magnitude 3.5 in December 1967. On 14 August 2013, a possible nova was discovered by amateur astronomer Koichi Itagaki, initially labelled PNV J20233073+2046041, now labelled Nova Delphini 2013.



going over my oberon

Big Moon of Uranus

Oberon, also designated Uranus IV, is the outermost major moon of the planet Uranus. It is the second-largest and second most massive of the Uranian moons, and the ninth most massive moon in the Solar System. Discovered by William Herschel in 1787, Oberon is named after the mythical king of the fairies who appears as a character in Shakespeare‘s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Its orbit lies partially outside Uranus’s magnetosphere.

It is likely that Oberon formed from the accretion disk that surrounded Uranus just after the planet’s formation. The moon consists of approximately equal amounts of ice and rock, and is probably differentiated into a rocky core and an icy mantle. A layer of liquid water may be present at the boundary between the mantle and the core. The surface of Oberon, which is dark and slightly red in color, appears to have been primarily shaped by asteroid and comet impacts. It is covered by numerous impact craters reaching 210 km in diameter. Oberon possesses a system of chasmata (graben or scarps) formed during crustal extension as a result of the expansion of its interior during its early evolution.

The Uranian system has been studied up close only once: the spacecraft Voyager 2 took several images of Oberon in January 1986, allowing 40% of the moon’s surface to be mapped.


Oberon orbits Uranus at a distance of about 584,000 km, being the farthest from the planet among its five major moons. Oberon’s orbit has a small orbital eccentricity and inclination relative to the equator of Uranus. Its orbital period is around 13.5 days, coincident with its rotational period. In other words, Oberon is a synchronous satellitetidally locked, with one face always pointing toward the planet. Oberon spends a significant part of its orbit outside the Uranian magnetosphere. As a result, its surface is directly struck by the solar wind. This is important, because the trailing hemispheres of satellites orbiting inside a magnetosphere are struck by the magnetospheric plasma, which co–rotates with the planet. This bombardment may lead to the darkening of the trailing hemispheres, which is actually observed for all Uranian moons except Oberon.

Because Uranus orbits the Sun almost on its side, and its moons orbit in the planet’s equatorial plane, they (including Oberon) are subject to an extreme seasonal cycle. Both northern and southern poles spend 42 years in a complete darkness, and another 42 years in continuous sunlight, with the sun rising close to the zenith over one of the poles at each solstice. The Voyager 2 flyby coincided with the southern hemisphere’s 1986 summer solstice, when nearly the entire northern hemisphere was in darkness. Once every 42 years, when Uranus has an equinox and its equatorial plane intersects the Earth, mutual occultations of Uranus’s moons become possible. One such event, which lasted for about six minutes, was observed on May 4, 2007, when Oberon occulted Umbriel.



Uranus moons is nothing to do with innuendo

Discovery and  History

Uranus, the seventh planet of the Solar System, has 27 known moons, all of which are named after characters from the works of William Shakespeare and Alexander Pope. William Herschel discovered the first two moons, Titania and Oberon, in 1787, and the other three ellipsoidal moons were discovered in 1851 by William Lassell (Ariel and Umbriel) and in 1948 by Gerard Kuiper (Miranda). These five have planetary mass, and so would be considered (dwarf) planets if they were in direct orbit about the Sun. The remaining moons were discovered after 1985, either during the Voyager 2 flyby mission or with the aid of advanced Earth-based telescopes.

Uranian moons are divided into three groups: thirteen inner moons, five major moons, and nine irregular moons. The inner moons are small dark bodies that share common properties and origins with the planet’s rings. The five major moons are massive enough to have achieved hydrostatic equilibrium, and four of them show signs of internally driven processes such as canyon formation and volcanism on their surfaces. The largest of these five, Titania, is 1,578 km in diameter and the eighth-largest moon in the Solar System, and about one-twentieth the mass of the Moon. Uranus’s irregular moons have elliptical and strongly inclined (mostly retrograde) orbits at great distances from the planet.







Under my umbriel

Umbriel is a moon of Uranus discovered on October 24, 1851, by William Lassell. It was discovered at the same time as Ariel and named after a character in Alexander Pope‘s poem The Rape of the Lock. Umbriel consists mainly of ice with a substantial fraction of rock, and may be differentiated into a rocky core and an icy mantle. The surface is the darkest among Uranian moons, and appears to have been shaped primarily by impacts. However, the presence of canyons suggests early endogenic processes, and the moon may have undergone an early endogenically driven resurfacing event that obliterated its older surface.

Covered by numerous impact craters reaching 210 km (130 mi) in diameter, Umbriel is the second most heavily cratered satellite of Uranus after Oberon. The most prominent surface feature is a ring of bright material on the floor of Wunda crater. This moon, like all moons of Uranus, probably formed from an accretion disk that surrounded the planet just after its formation. The Uranian system has been studied up close only once, by the spacecraft Voyager 2 in January 1986. It took several images of Umbriel, which allowed mapping of about 40% of the moon’s surface.



Umbriel, along with another Uranian satellite, Ariel, was discovered by William Lassell on October 24, 1851. Although William Herschel, the discoverer of Titania and Oberon, claimed at the end of the 18th century that he had observed four additional moons of Uranus, his observations were not confirmed and those four objects are now thought to be spurious.

All of Uranus’s moons are named after characters created by William Shakespeare or Alexander Pope. The names of all four satellites of Uranus then known were suggested by John Herschel in 1852 at the request of Lassell. Umbriel is the ‘dusky melancholy sprite’ in Alexander Pope’s The Rape of the Lock, and the name suggests the Latin umbra, meaning shadow. The moon is also designated Uranus II.




Cat’s Paw Nebula

The Cat’s Paw Nebula – is a vast region of star formation. NGC 6334 is one of the most active nurseries of massive stars in our galaxy and has been extensively studied by astronomers.

#NakedEyeDarkSky Nebula Eye

Continue reading “Cat’s Paw Nebula”

Theory for the Rings

“It [Saturn] is surrounded by a thin, flat, ring, nowhere touching, inclined to the ecliptic”.

How did Saturn get surrounded by rings

In 1655, Christiaan Huygens became the first person to suggest that Saturn was surrounded by a ring. Using a 50 power refracting telescope that he designed himself, far superior to those available to Galileo, Huygens observed Saturn and wrote that “It [Saturn] is surrounded by a thin, flat, ring, nowhere touching, inclined to the ecliptic”. Robert Hooke was another early observer of the rings of Saturn, and noted the casting of shadows on the rings.

In 1675, Giovanni Domenico Cassini determined that Saturn’s ring was composed of multiple smaller rings with gaps between them; the largest of these gaps was later named the Cassini Division. This division is a 4,800 km-wide region between the A Ring and B Ring.

In 1787, Pierre-Simon Laplace suggested that the rings were composed of a large number of solid ringlets.



Naked Eye Dark Sky


Von Zach Non Stop

He organised the “Celestial Police”, a group of twenty-four astronomers.

Baron Franz Xaver von Zach (4 June 1754 – 2 September 1832) was a Hungarian astronomer born at Pest, Hungary (now Budapest in Hungary). He studied physics in Pest, Hungary, and served for some time in the Austrian army. He taught at the University of Lemberg (now Lviv, Ukraine). 

He lived in Paris in 1780-83, and in London from 1783 to 1786 as tutor in the house of the Saxon ambassador, Hans Moritz von Brühl. In Paris and London he entered the circles of astronomers likeJoseph de Lalande, Pierre-Simon Laplace and William Herschel. In 1786 he was appointed by Ernest II, Duke of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg director of the new observatory on Seeberg hill at Gotha, which was finished in 1791. 


At the close of the 18th century, he [Von Zach] organised the “Celestial Police”, a group of twenty-four astronomers, to prepare for a systematic search for the “missing planet”
predicted by the Titius-Bode law between Mars and Jupiter. Ceres was discovered by accident just as the search was getting underway.

Using predictions made of the position of Ceres by Carl Friedrich Gauss, on 31 December 1801/1 January 1802, Zach (and, independently one night later, Heinrich Wilhelm
Matthias Olbers) recovered Ceres after it was lost during its passage behind the Sun.

After the death of the duke in 1804, Zach accompanied the duke’s widow on her travels in the south of Europe, and the two settled in Genoa in 1815 where he directed
the Capodimonte Observatory. He moved back to Paris in 1827 and died there in 1832.