Here you can read the latest Space Scoop, our astronomy news service for children aged 8 and above. The idea behind Space Scoop is to change the way science is often perceived by young children as an outdated and dull subject. By sharing exciting new astronomical discoveries with them, we can inspire children to develop an interest in science and technology. Space Scoop makes a wonderful tool that can be used in the classroom to teach and discuss the latest astronomy news.
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When a Planet is not a Planet
19 January 2012: It’s not just slang words, like “sick” and “wicked”, that can mean something completely different to what you would normally expect. For example, take this new picture of an object in space called a planetary nubula – it actually has nothing at all to do with planets!
11 January 2012: Over the past 16 years, astronomers have found more than 700 planets outside of our Solar System. We call these distant worlds ‘exo-planets’.
A “Fat” Cluster of Galaxies
10 January 2012: What do you get when you smash two of the largest objects in the Universe together? A big fat one!
A Lesson in Astronomy Mumbo Jumbo
4 January 2012: Astronomy involves a lot of technical gobbledygook, right? There are lots of strange words, such as galaxy and nebula. Well, we’re going to let you into a secret: most of them are just translations from ancient languages for everyday words. For example, the word ‘galaxy’ comes from the Greek word for ‘milky white. And ‘nebula’ is a Latin word for ‘cloud’.
The Star with a Slow Pulse
20 December 2011: Weird things happen to stars when they run out of fuel. That’s because the fuel doesn’t just generate light and heat – it is needed to stop stars from collapsing! This is a problem that the bright white star in the right-hand-side of this new space photo has already faced.
Heads or Tails?
20 December 2011: It’s no wonder that the galaxy in this new photo is nicknamed the Silver Coin Galaxy – it looks a giant coin that has been flipped to decide between Heads and Tails! The ‘coin’ also looks well polished and shiny, being one of the brightest galaxies in the night sky.
From Science Fiction to Science Fact!
14 December 2011: You’re probably wondering what on Earth is going on in this picture! Unlike many of the wonderful photos that we bring you in Space Scoop, this picture is an illustration drawn by an artist on a computer.
Sloshing around in Space like a Soda!
13 December 2011: Like a soda drink moving around in a glass, huge clouds of hot gas are sloshing back and forth in this new space picture.
From Starlight to Twilight: A Friendly Vampire Star!
7 December 2011: Astronomers have taken the best photos ever of a star that has lost most of its material to a vampire star!
The Curious Case of the Spinning Star
5 December 2011: Like a team of detectives, a group of astronomers are trying to solve a mystery. They have recently found a weird star that is about 25 times heavier than our Sun and spinning more than 300 times more quickly – it spins faster than any other known heavyweight star!
X-rays Mark the Spot
17 November 2011: The Earth’s atmosphere blocks harmful high-energy radiation from space, such as X-rays, from reaching the ground. To detect this radiation, astronomers have to go beyond the Earth’s atmosphere.
16 November 2011: Dust is just some dirty stuff that has no real purpose, right? Actually, in space, dust is a crucial ingredient for making stars!
The Solar System’s Spare Pieces
11 November 2011: Although they all formed from similar material, it is a mystery why the planets closest to the Sun – Mercury, Venus and Earth – are so different. Astronomers hope to learn more about how they were created by studying asteroids, which are pieces of rock that were surplus to requirements in planet building.
Super-Sized Space Spider!
10 November 2011: Don’t worry if you have a phobia of spiders, it is safe to keep reading! That’s because this wonderful new picture of a star-forming region called the Tarantula Nebula doesn’t show the bright lines of gas that usually make it look like it has the legs of a spider.
Galactic Duo Enjoy their Moment in the Spotlight
2 November 2011: A pair of galaxies has grabbed the attention of astronomers when they were literally thrown into the spotlight. The galaxies were lit up by one of the brightest explosions in the Universe: a ‘Gamma-Ray Burst’.
When the Planet Team Lost a Player
27 October 2011: What is a planet? This sounds like it should have a simple answer, but only a few years ago this question was giving astronomers a headache! When they finally came up with an answer it had big consequences: The number of planets in our Solar System went from nine to eight!
A Bright Night Sky!
19 October 2011: Imagine what it would be like if you moved to the other side of the world, where the landscape is very different to what you are used to. Now, think about a much bigger move: What do you think it would be like if the Earth moved to a different part of our Galaxy?
Lord of the Rings
12 October 2011: This eerie new astronomy picture looks like the 'Eye of Sauron' in the film The Lord of the Rings. In the film, the Eye of Sauron marks the final destination of the character Frodo’s long journey. But the object shown in this picture doesn’t mark the end-point of a journey across space – it’s just one of many distance signposts that are dotted across the Universe!
The Universe has a Murky Past
12 October 2011: Have you ever woken up in the morning and seen that it is very foggy and murky outside, but then the Sun came up and it quickly burned away? Well, something similar happened to the Universe when it was very young.
The Colourful Side of the Moon
7 October 2011: If you were going to paint a picture of the Moon, you would probably use grey and white paint pots. But if you want to create an accurate picture of the Moon, then you would need a few colours on your paint palette too, such as red, blue and brown!
Uranus Impact Wasn't a One Hit Wonder
6 October 2011: The planet Uranus is an oddball. Unlike all of the other planets in our Solar System, it spins on its side! This means that if you were on Uranus you wouldn’t see daytime and nighttime in a day like you see on Earth, as its spin doesn’t affect which parts of the planet see the Sun.
Mercury Shows Us What it Isn’t Made Of
5 October 2011: The spacecraft MESSENGER had a long and tricky journey to Mercury, the closest planet to the Sun. But astronomers working on the MESSENGER mission announced today many new discoveries that show the journey was well worth the effort.
Jigsaw Challenge: Piecing Together a Map of Saturn’s Largest Moon
4 October 2011: Astronomers have pieced together photos taken over six years to create a fantastic map of the surface of Saturn’s largest moon, Titan. A spacecraft called Cassini, which has been in orbit around Saturn since July 2004, took the photos.
A Big Discovery on a Little Space Rock
3 October 2011: Today, scientists working on the spacecraft Dawn made a big impact with an exciting new discovery: one of the largest mountains in the Solar System has been found on an asteroid!
Go Team ALMA!
3 October 2011: Welcome to the star-studded premiere of the most complex telescope on Earth: ALMA! To celebrate the launch of ALMA, astronomers have released the first photo taken by the telescope, which shows a pair of galaxies called the Antennae Galaxies.
Telescopes that Tell Different Tales
29 September 2011: To see the Universe in full, astronomers have to get creative. They combine multiple photos taken by different telescopes to make one colourful picture. For example, in this beautiful new picture of a star-forming cloud, the space telescope called Chandra only captured the purple regions. Meanwhile, another space telescope called Spitzer saw things a bit differently when it observed the same cloud – everything shown here other than the purple bits!
Stellar Top Trumps
28 September 2011: If you were playing the card game Top Trumps about the different types of stars in the Universe, you would definitely want a Yellow Hyper-Giant star in your hand. Just take a look at the stats for the Yellow Hyper-Giant shown in this photo: It is about 20 times heavier, 1000 times wider and it shines 500,000 times more brightly than the Sun! You would be incredibly lucky to be dealt a card like this, though, as Yellow Hyper-Giant stars are very rare.
Invisibility Cloak Deactivated
21 September 2011:
Totally Extreme Exo-planets!
13 September 2011: Some places on Earth are extreme: the North and South Poles with their freezing temperatures, the deep sea where sunlight cannot reach, and the inside of fiery hot volcanoes. But none of these regions come close to comparing to the harsh conditions found on some other planets in the Universe.
Wobble Watching to Find New Worlds
12 September 2011: Our Solar System contains a wonderful mix of planets: small and rocky worlds like the Earth and Mars in the inner region, and Gas Giants, such as Jupiter and Saturn, which are found further out. Astronomers are keen to find out if other solar systems in the Universe are similar to ours. Now, an exciting new discovery of 50 planets around distant stars is helping astronomers to answer this question.
Reds vs Blues
7 September 2011: Space is a colourful place! Take, for example, this beautiful new photo of a bright star cluster surrounded by blue and red clouds of gas (click on it to see it in full).
Mission Impossible: Observing a Star that Shouldn’t Exist
31 August 2011: This photo shows many stars. But according to astronomers, the star that the arrow is pointing towards shouldn’t be there – it should never have been born.
A Pair of Black Holes Hiding Right Under our Noses!
31 August 2011: It’s great that the Earth’s atmosphere blocks harmful radiation from space, such as X-rays, from reaching the ground – we couldn’t survive without it! But astronomers would like to study this radiation because it gives them useful information about objects in the Universe, such as stars and galaxies. So what can they do?
What are You Looking At?
24 August 2011: It isn’t often that astronomers look into space and see another pair of eyes staring back at them, but that’s what we have here. These aren’t the eyes of an alien, but a pair of galaxies nicknamed ‘The Eyes’ because they look like a pair of white eyeballs glowing in the dark! (To see both ‘eyes’ you have to click on the picture.)
What is making the Glow-worms Glow?
17 August 2011: What do you think astronomers call the green thing in this photo? If you guessed “blob”, then you’re right! Well, if we’re being technical, the full name for this type of object is a “Lyman-alpha blob”.
A Rainbow of Stars
9 August 2011:
Raiders of the Lost Stars
3 August 2011: Like a team of real-life Indiana Joneses, scientists have explored our galaxy and found a treasure trove of hidden gems. These gems are much more spectacular than the diamonds that Indiana Jones might hope to find – they are collections of dazzling stars!
Lions in the Cosmic Zoo
27 July 2011: This beautiful photo was taken with a new telescope called the VST. It shows three galaxies that are known as the Leo Triplet. (Click on the photo to see all three galaxies.) Large telescopes can normally study only one of these galaxies at a time. But the VST can get all three members of the group in a single picture!
Blowing Bubbles around our Galaxy!
21 July 2011: The Earth has lots of man-made satellites that orbit our planet. But it only has one natural satellite: the Moon. Our galaxy – the Milky Way – also has some natural satellites that orbit it. These satellites are called ‘dwarf galaxies’ because they are much smaller than normal galaxies like ours. Funnily, astronomers have named one of the dwarf galaxies that orbits our galaxy the Large Magellanic Cloud!
The Scariest Space Monsters Live in the Biggest Galaxies
12 July 2011:
Astronomers Make a Splash with a New Discovery
6 July 2011: Did you know that everything on Earth is made of stuff from stars? If you could look at the world around you with a super-powerful microscope, you would see that everything is made up of tiny things called atoms. Today we know about more than 110 different types of atoms, with hydrogen being the most common atom in the Universe.
A Flash from the Past
29 June 2011: Astronomers can look back in time to when the Universe was younger. But they don’t have to hop into a time travel machine to do this, like in a sci-fi movie. Instead, all they need are powerful telescopes to look at objects that are far away in the Universe, because when we look at space we are looking at the past!
A Big Fiery Giant!
23 June 2011: Stars come in different colours and sizes. This new picture shows the famous Red Giant star called Betelgeuse (you say the name as “Beetle-Juice”). The star looks small in the picture – just a little red circle at the centre. But Betelgeuse is actually huge: If you replaced the Sun in our Solar System with this star, it is so wide that it would reach as far as the planet Jupiter!
Our Universe is big, beautiful… and mostly invisible!
22 June 2011: It’s hard to picture just how big the Universe is. For instance, the Earth seems like a big place to us, but you could fit about one million Earths inside our nearest star, the Sun. And the Sun is just one of billions of stars that make up our galaxy, which is called the Milky Way. When you think about how the Milky Way is just one galaxy in a group of about 40 nearby galaxies, the Universe is starting to seem like a big place!
Astronomy in the Desert!
8 June 2011: Professional astronomers have powerful telescopes that can take amazing pictures of the Universe. But to get the most out of the telescopes, they have to think carefully about where they put them on Earth.
Our Galaxy has a Look-alike!
1 June 2011: Astronomers have taken lots of beautiful images of galaxies in the Universe, but we don’t have a single photo of our own galaxy, the Milky Way. That’s because no astronaut or man-made spacecraft has ever left the Milky Way in order to be able to turn around and take a picture of our home galaxy.
Superstar goes Solo
25 May 2011: Astronomers have found an amazing star: a superstar that is 150 times heavier than the Sun and an incredible 3 million times brighter! The star is found in a huge cloud of gas and dust called the Tarantula Nebula, shown here in this stunning new image.
The Calm before Saturn’s Storm
19 May 2011: Saturn is one of the most beautiful worlds in our Solar System because of the wonderful set of rings that surround the planet. It is much further away from the Sun than the Earth, so its journey around the Sun is much longer. Since a year is the time that it takes a planet to travel once around the Sun, Saturn’s years are much longer than a year on Earth. In the time that it takes Saturn to complete one journey around the Sun, 30 years have passed on Earth!
4 May 2011: The Universe is filled with many galaxies that have perfectly uniform shapes. But the uneven S-shape of the galaxy in this new picture is messy, like a graffiti artist has drawn it by hand!
Galaxies Playing Tug of War
20 April 2011:
Fireworks in Space
13 April 2011: Stars are born in big clouds of gas and dust in the Universe. Young stars are very hot and make the gas in the clouds glow brightly, which means that we can see these clouds through telescopes.
Looking at a Baby Planet Growing
24 February 2011: Astronomers want to learn more about how planets like the Earth are formed. Since all of the planets in our Solar System are already fully grown, they have to use powerful telescopes to look for baby planets around distant stars.
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