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January 2011
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Due to the lack of meaningful atmosphere the Moon's temperature ranges between 123º C and -233º C.


January 1st: Day 1 of the Gregorian calendar.
History:. In 1925, in a meeting of the American Astronomical Society and of the American Association for Science Development in Washington, D.C., Edwin Hubble reports that he has discovered Cepheids in the "spiral nebulae".

This was the beginning of the fall of the hypothesis that said that our Milky Way was the entire Universe, because it led to the discovery that we live in one of many galaxies.
In 2001, the NEAT (Near Earth Asteroid Tracking) mission discovers an asteroid with a diameter of 1.5 km that passes near Mars (2001AA). This object was dubbed with nickname of Millennium Asteroid.
Observations: Moon at perigee at 21h (UT). You might have some luck observing some early falls of the Quadrantid meteor shower.

January 2nd: Day 2 of the Gregorian calendar.
History:. In 1959, the soviet probe Luna 1was launched .

Observations: Use this night to observe the Great Orion Nebula (M42).

January 3rd: Day 3 of the Gregorian calendar.
History:. In 1999, the probes Mars Polar Lander and Deep Space 2 were launched.
In 2000, the probe Galileo made a flyby near Jupiter's moon Europa at a height of 351 km.
Observations: Earth at perihelion at 00h (UT). The Quadrantid meteor shower will peak on the dawn of the 4th.

January 4th: Day 4 of the Gregorian calendar.
History:. In 1610, 400 years ago the next days were probably the most important days of Astronomy History.

Since 1609 Galileo Galilei has been pointing his telescope to the sky and observed the craters of the Moon, sunspots that allow him to deduce the Sun's rotation, and the stars of the Milky Way.
Observations: New Moon at 9h03 (UTC). Partial Solar Eclipse seen in Europe (see second article of First Astronomical Observations).

January 5th: Day 5 of the Gregorian calendar.
History:. In 1969, the soviet probe Venera 5 is launched to Venus.

Observations: Binoculars and telescopes will show a 5.9 magnitude blue Uranus at about 0.5º of Jupiter.

January 6th: Day 6 of the Gregorian calendar.
Observations: A small Moon crescent can be seen at dusk.
Mercury can be seen at East before sunrise.

January 7th: Day 7 of the Gregorian calendar.
History:. In 1610 Galileo observed with his telescope what he described at the time as "three fixed stars, totally invisible by their smallness," all close to Jupiter, and lying on a straight line through it. Observations on subsequent nights showed that the positions of these "stars" relative to Jupiter were changing in a way that would have been inexplicable if they had really been fixed stars. On January 10th, Galileo noted that one of them had disappeared, an observation which he attributed to its being hidden behind Jupiter. Within a few days he concluded that they were orbiting Jupiter: He had discovered three of Jupiter's four largest satellites (moons): Io, Europa, and Callisto.
This is a nice time to make observations of the Moon looking at the lunar terminator with a small telescope.

January 8th: Day 8 of the Gregorian calendar.
History:. In 1977 the soviet mission Luna 21 was launched.
In 1994, the Russian cosmonaut Valeri Polyakov departs on the Soyuz TM-18 to Mir. where he will stay until March 22nd, 1995, with a record of 437 days in Space.

Observations: Venus is at its maximum west elongation (47º).

January 9th: Day 9 of the Gregorian calendar.
Observations: Mercury is at its maximum west elongation (23º).

January 10th: Day 10 of the Gregorian calendar.
History:.In 1969, the probe Venera 6 (USSR) was launched. It reached Venus on May 17th, 1969. The atmospheric research send back data to Earth until 11 km above surface where the probe was destroyed.
Observations: The crescent Moon is at the right of Jupiter.

January 11th: Day 11 of the Gregorian calendar.
History:. In 1787, William Herschel discovers Oberon and Titania, the biggest moons of Uranus.
Observations: Take the night to explore the Taurus constellation as we suggest in First Astronomical Observations.

January 12th: Day 12 of the Gregorian calendar.
History:. In 1820 the "British Royal Astronomical Society" is founded.

In 2005 the probe Deep Impact was launched from Cape Canaveral.
Observations: First Quarter Moon at 11h31 (UTC).

January 13th: Day 13 of the Gregorian calendar.
History:. In 1610, Galileo discovered the fourth Galilean moon, Ganymede.

In 2000, black holes were discovered drifting along the Galaxy.
Use the night to observe M35 and NGC2158 this month's challenge for the Advanced Astronomical Observations. Make a picture and send it to us.

January 14th: Day 14 of the Gregorian calendar.
History:. In 2005 the probe Huygens landed on Saturn's moon Titan.

Observations: Try to take a picture of Jupiter this night.

Jan 15th: Day 15 of the Gregorian calendar.
History:. In 1965, the Soviet Union launched Soyuz 5.

Observations: Venus is 8ºN from Antares.

January 16th: Day 16 of the Gregorian calendar.
History:. In 2007 Space Shuttle Columbia was launched for mission STS-107, that would be its last..

January 17th: Day 17 of the Gregorian calendar.
History:. In 2003, a Delta 2 rocket that transported GPS2R satellite explodes 13 seconds after ignition leaving 250 tons of burned debris on the launching platform.
Observations: Make a picture of the Double Cluster of Perseus.

January 18th: Day 18 of the Gregorian calendar.
History:. In 1896 Roentgen presented the first X-ray detector.

Observations: The Triangulum constellation is close to the zenith at about 20h. The challenge is is to spot the galaxy M33.

January 19th: Day 19 of the Gregorian calendar.
History:. In 1747, Johann Bode, the author of Titius-Bode law, was born.
In 1851, Jacobus Kapteyn was born. He created the first modern model of the dynamic of the Milky Way.

Observations: Full Moon at 9h21 (UTC).

January 20th: Day 20 of the Gregorian calendar.
History:. In 1969, Jocelyn Bell discovers the first known pulsar in the Crab Nebula.

Algol has its minimum at about 01h32 (UTC) of the 21st.

January 21st: Day 21 of the Gregorian calendar.
History:. In 2004, NASA "lost" contact with the rover Spirit, a problem that would be solved remotely on February 6th.

January 22nd: Day 22 of the Gregorian calendar.
History:. In 1968, Apollo 5 was launched transporting the first lunar module.
In 1992, Roberta Bondar became the first Canadian woman in Space on board of the STS-42.  

In 2000 the launch platform Vandenburg was demolished.
In 2003, contact with the probe Pioneer 10 was lost.

Observations: The Pegasus Square is still high in the sky. Try to find out where the Andromeda Galaxy is. You can see it with small binoculars (7x50).

January 23rd: Day 23 of the Gregorian calendar.
History:. In 1987, a supernova in the Great Magellanic Cloud became visible as the result of the explosion of the blue supergiant Sanduleak 69. Known as SN1987A, it was the first "close" supernova of the last three centuries.

Observations: If you already found M35, maybe you might consider searching for open clusters M36, M37 and M38 in Auriga that are nearby.

January 24th: Day 24 of the Gregorian calendar.
History:. In 1969 the probe Mariner 6 was launched.
In 1979, the probe Solwind P78-1was launched.
In 1996 the probe Polar was launched.

January 25th: Day 25 of the Gregorian calendar.
History:. In 2004, the rover Opportunity(MER-B) lands on the surface of Mars.

Observations: A wanning Moon is close to Saturn (to its right) and the Moon and Saturn make a triangle with Spica.

January 26th: Day 26 of the Gregorian calendar.
History:. In 1978 the satellite "International Ultraviolet Explorer" (IUE) is launched into a geosynchronous orbit.

Last Quarter of the Moon at 12h57 (UTC)

January 27th: Day 27 of the Gregorian calendar.
History:. In 1613, Galileo observes for the second time Neptune, marking it as a star (the first time was in December 28th, 1612).
In 1967, the astronauts of Apollo 1 - Virgil (Gus) Grissom, Edward H. White II e Roger B. Chaffee - are killed in a fire during test Apollo 204 (AS-204), of what was intended to be the first manned mission to the Moon.

Calisto will pass in front of Jupiter at about 00h (UTC).

January 28th: Day 28 of the Gregorian calendar.
History:. In 1611, Hevelius was born. He would be the first astronomer to observe the phases of Mercury and he died on the same day in 1687.

In 1986, Space Shuttle Challenger explodes 73 seconds after take-off.

January 29th: Day 29 of the Gregorian calendar.
History:. In 1986 the incident Height 611 occurred.
The wanning crescent of the Moon is 3ºS of bright Venus.

January 30th: Day 30 of the Gregorian calendar.
History:. In 1964, the probe Ranger 6 was launched.

In 1996, Comet Hyakutake was discovered by Yuji Hyakutake.
Observations: Ceres is in conjunction with the Sun.

January 31st: Day 31 of the Gregorian calendar.
History:. In 1862, Alvan Graham Clark Jr. discovers the faint companion of Sirius, dubbed Sirius B.
In 1958, Explorer I, the first American satellite was launched.

In 1966, Luna 9 was launched.
In 1971, Apollo 14 was launched to the Moon.
Observations: Orion is high in the southern sky at about 21h00. Try to make a picture of M42 the Big Orion Nebula.


Welcome to 2011!

As every month the newsletter brings you to the most relevant facts about what has been happening within the organization. This month EAAE President Rosa Maria Ros makes a balance of the organization's activities during the last year and the webteam keeps you up with all new features developed in 2010.

The newsletter also provides you links to access the information about the major astronomical discoveries that happened during the previous month on the section "Last Month's highlights from EAAE News" .

On the left side section you can find a curiosity as well as what happened along history during this month in astronomical terms. You can also see what are the observational highlights for each day of the month.

On the "First Astronomical Observations" we dedicate this month to the constellation of Taurus (the Bull) and to the Solar Parcial Eclipse that will be visible across Europe on January 4th, 2011. On the second section "Advanced Astronomical Observations") the highlight goes to M35.

We will also have a section about astronomical software and a review of an internet tool that can be used in school projects.

The newsletter will also have a ludic activity on a section we called "Students Corner". This month we selected a "Solar System Sudoku" and a crossword puzzle.

This month we selected a picture of M82 for our Picture Gallery.

We hope you enjoy it.


After a year of the new EC it is a good moment in order to revise our work chairing EAAE.

At present EAAE has a very active website created by Alexandre Costa our webmaster. With the new way of our association the website is the point of contact of all of our activities and an active and attractive site is very important for our objectives. Alexandre will explain with more details all the aspects of this new site.

It had been created a new Working Group WG1 of Cooperative Projects. This WG1 was chaired by Charles Henri Eyraud until before the summer and after that by Ederlinda Viñuales. The projects that were organized by WG1 during 2010 are:

a) Sunrise Project coordinated by Sakari Ekko who proposed to build a simple pinhole camera and observe the Sun path in different latitudes and to compare the results between all the participants.

Pinhole Camera Sunrise done between the 18 and 30.3.2010, in Turku, Finland, 60.5ºN 22.3ºE. Photographers Jessina Nieminen and Stella Tähtinen under the supervision of teacher Roope Kurkijarvi first name.last
(Click on the image to see a bigger image)

b) Eratosthenes Project, that had school measures coordinated by Anna Artigas, with Antonio Perez-Verde working on the website and Charles-Henri Eyraud coordinating the video-conference. This project that also involved an on-line connection with Alexandria was developed to develop a global cooperation experiment involving school teacher and students repeating the Eratosthenes experiment and achieving an accurate measurement of Earth's circumference. The average perimeter measured by the participant schools that were from Europe, Africa Asia and Oceania was 39621.7 Km, a measurement that has a 0.96% deviation from the assumed value of 40008.00 km.

Eratosthenes measurement done on June 21st, 2010, by the students of teacher Joanna Kokotanekova at the Astronomic Observatory of the Youth Center in Haskovo, Bulgaria

c) Project Moonwalkers coordinated by Veselka Radeva ( project to discover step by step the Moon)

At present there are two new projects to begin in 2011. One concerns pictures and drawing of celestial bodies by students called "Space Art" that will be coordinated by Carla Ribeiro and another project about Sundials coordinated by Ederlinda Viñuales.
Working Group WG2 that will work on the launch of "Catch a Star" is chaired by Janet Hilton and Veselka Radeva. The new edition of “Catch a Star” is planned to be launched in the beginning of February 2011.

WG3 of Summer Schools is chaired by Rosa M. Ros and the main objective is to organize courses in the different European countries members of EAAE in cooperation with other international institutions in the area of Astronomy. The courses were organized as follows:
a) The 14th SS, held in Varna in September 2010, was organized by Veselka Radeva in cooperation with International Astronomical Union.

A group picture during the Summer School in Varna, Bulgaria.

b) The 15th SS was held in Heidelberg in November 2011 by Cecilia Scorza in cooperation with Max Plank Institute.
c) It was not possible to organize the course in Cadiz, Spain, in cooperation with Comenius program because the Ministry of Education in Spain changed the period of time to begin courses after the holidays a week and the course that had been previously planned felt on classes period.

This WG has a web project on which Francis Berthomieu and myself are putting the majority of WS of previous SS. At present the majority of papers from the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 11th, 12th and 13th  Summer Schools (this is the last course in Madrid) are already uploaded. This work will continue in 2011 by finishing the courses between 2002 and 2006.
At present the WG3 is involved in astronomy courses for teachers during the hole year. Probably we will have to change the name of the group from Summer Schools to Astronomy Courses in Europe because we do not work only during the summer.

The secretary of EAAE, Cristina Palici is coordinating the National Representatives of EAAE. She is making an excellent work in order to revise all the information that we have and to contact all NR periodically. We have new national representative in new countries involved in EAAE (Ireland, Turkey, Croatia and Romania) and there were some changes in other countries (Germany and Netherlands). We want to thanks to the all NR in both of them, Werner Warland and Gert Schooten, for their work for EAAE in their countries and we want to welcome to Cecilia Scorza and Robert Wielinga as NR in the future adventures of EAAE. At present our webmaster, Alexandre Costa is helping the NR that have shown their interest in having a national site in our website. It is important to have the opportunity to explain the activities planned by EAAE for 2011 in a national approach and in the language that students and teachers use normally in their school .

There were also some changes in the Executive Council of EAAE. Some members had changed their job and their increase their level or work in the new personal situation and they asked to be replaced by other members of EAAE who have more time to work for our association. The members that finish their activities sin the EC are Charles-Henri Eyraud and Felisbela Martins and they will be replaced by Ederlinda Viñuales and Carla Ribeiro. Welcome to both of them and we would like to thank to Charles-Henri and Felisbela for their work in the EAAE during the last years and for a lot of years during which they supported our association and the astronomy in Europe in general.

I would like to thank to Fernand Wagner, the EAAE past president, for his support in several aspects of the association. His experience is useful always in the new way for the EC.

I would like to invite to all EAAE members to participate in our activities and to create new ones. Our association and our website are open to all of you. We are waiting for your proposals.

Best wishes for 2011. Clear skies

Rosa M. Ros
EAAE President


  Following the EAAE web strategy that was proposed in Madrid on the General Assembly, considerable efforts were made in order to give visibility to the organization in the world wide web. The new webteam has started to work in late December 2009 and almost all the work of the new websites and newsletters (as this one you are reading) has been developed along 2010.

A screenshot of the Social Bookmark at Facebook.

Besides maintaining the webpage update, specific websites were created for the events that have been developed along the year. On the image gallery bellow you can navigate using the thumbnails in order to see a screenshot of all websites and blogs that have been managed by the webteam in 2010.

EAAE dissemination on the internet for public that searches accuracy has been a major concern during the last year. The EAAE now has a webpage explaining the organization and with links to the the major projects at Wikipedia as well as minor links, in pages like, for instance, Summer Schools. The major Wikipedia page about the organization is also mirrored on Facebook.

The EAAE Summer Schools has its own website, that thanks to the immense task of the project's webmaster Francis Berthomieu with the help of Rosa Maria Ros has made available online the proceedings of the workshops of most of the Summer Schools.

During most of the year Bob Larcher fed the blog "Observational Highlights" with news about the night-time observations that could be done. Unfortunately for personal reasons he had to stop during the last part of the year.

Though webdesign was mostly guaranteed by the webmaster, several web project managers were very important to keep up the website in all its components. Charles-Henry Eyraud kept up with the WG1 webpage and Anders Västerberg kept up the Astronomy Olympiads webpage. António Perez-Verde was the project Webmaster for the "Eratosthenes Project" Section. This year we will count on Luís Santos to be project Webmaster for the "Space Art" project's section.

At the moment the website consists of 5 different PHP based platforms (Home, News, Eratosthenes, Moonwalkers, Sunrise) and one HTML website (WG3-Summer Schools) and during 2011 three other PHP based platforms will be created (Space Art, Catch a Stars and Students Corner) and a web project for the Sundials Project will also be created. Articulation between all platforms is a big challenge but we enjoy it very much.

A big increase in EAAE's visibility has been the news blog. The EAAE News has produced 330 news during 2010 (at the moment this text is being written) and has followers all around the world. I have to appreciate the contributions of Bob Larcher, Deirdre Kelleghan and Veselka Radeva, that helped to achieve this number. Some hundreds registered on the blog, several dozen of followers that receive our news every day by e-mail by registration on Feedburner and many others that are followers on social networks where the EAAE News is mirrored.

Social networks are a very powerful communication media at the present and EAAE News has mirrors on Facebook, Twitter, TOPSY, LinkedIn and we are now finishing work preparing sites on Digg and on Flickr. EAAE News has also been accepted as credible blog by "Portal to the Universe" that now mirrors every post for all astronomical community. As can be seen in the following article, many of the articles every month have been presented as featured articles due to their quality or to the fact that they have been published on the net on EAAE News before they have been published by any other blog.

Screenshot of the mirror at "Portal to the Universe".

Another important achievement was the publication of a webpage about the EAAE at Wikipedia. This gives the EAAE recognition as an organization that is not negligeable since Wikipedia is a major source of information on the World Wide Web and is the fifth more visit site at a global scale. Only relevant organizations like ESO, ESA, NASA or IAU have a page dedicated to them on Wikipedia. Wikipedia also mirrors their organizations webpages on Facebook, what increases also EAAE's visibility.

A screenshot of the Wikipedia webpage about EAAE.

This has been a year of many achievements. We hope 2011 will be even better. We would also like to have every members cooperation by sending us articles and pictures about school astronomy activities on your country.

Happy 2011 for everybody.

Clear skies.

Alexandre Costa
EAAE's Editor/Webmaster .



Last Month's highlights from EAAE News Blog

The links bellow will take you to the EAAE News that were published on our blog during December 2010. The news marked in bold were considered relevant enough to be presented as featured news on the Portal to the Universe. This happens normally when the blog is the first to present relevant news.




During this month, at about 21h00 you will see Taurus at its highest if you look to South.

Taurus is high at south in southern Europe at 21h00 in the middle of January. This image that presents a mythological view of the night sky was made using Stellarium.

Taurus, the Bull, is an ancient constellation that dates back to when bulls were worshipped in the Middle East. His face is marked by the V-shaped cluster of stars called the Hyades, his glinting red eye is the bright star Aldebaran and his long horns are tipped by the stars Zeta and Beta Tauri. Another beautiful open cluster is the Pleiades.

Stellar field showing the Hyades (low left) and the Pleiades (right top).

The Hyades (also catalogued as Melotte 25, Collinder 50 or Caldwell 41) is the nearest open cluster to the Sun and one of the most characteristic features in the sky. In Greek mythology they were a sisterhood of nymphs that bring rain, the daughters of Aethra and Atlas and half-sisters to the Pleiades and to the Hesperides . The Greeks told that the Hyades nursed the infant Dionysus, a son of Zeus, and were rewarded with a place in the sky.

Stellar field looking south where we van see the constellation of Taurus above the constellation of Orion. .This image was made using Stellarium.

The Pleiades, or Seven Sisters (Messier object 45), is an open star cluster containing middle-aged hot B-type stars located in the constellation of Taurus. It is among the nearest star clusters to Earth and is the cluster most obvious to the naked eye in the night sky. Pleiades has several meanings in different cultures and traditions.

Stellar field looking south where we van see the constellation of Taurus above the constellation of Orion. Image credit: NASA, ESA, AURA/Caltech, Palomar Observatory.


The cluster is dominated by hot blue and extremely luminous stars that have formed within the last 100 million years. Dust that forms a faint reflection nebulosity around the brightest stars was thought at first to be left over from the formation of the cluster. Astronomers estimate that the cluster will survive for about another 250 million years, after which it will disperse due to gravitational interactions with its galactic neighborhood.





After almost all Europe missed the Total Lunar Eclipse on December 21st, 2010, European teachers have new chance on the first Tuesday of next year. On January 4th, 2011, a partial eclipse of the Sun will be widely visible across Europe and as far east as India (view the following NASA's animation to see the areas where the eclipse will be most visible).The first solar eclipse of 2011 occurs at the Moon's ascending node in eastern Sagittarius.

Animation of the solar eclipse. Image credit: NASA/GSFC

The penumbral shadow first touches Earth's surface in northern Algeria at 06:40:11 UTC. As the shadow travels east, Western Europe will be treated to a partial eclipse at sunrise. The eclipse magnitude from European cities like Madrid (0.576), Paris (0.732), London (0.747), and Copenhagen (0.826) will give early morning risers an excellent opportunity to photograph the sunrise eclipse with interesting foreground scenery.

Greatest eclipse occurs at 08:50:35 UTC in northern Sweden where the eclipse in the horizon will have a magnitude of 0.858. At that time, the axis of the Moon's shadow will pass a mere 510 km above Earth's surface. Most of northern Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia also lie in the penumbra's path.

A sunset eclipse will be visible from central Russia, Kazakhstan, Mongolia and northwest China. The partial eclipse ends when the penumbra leaves Earth at 11:00:54 UTC.

A partial solar eclipse occurs in the polar regions of the Earth when the center of the moon's shadow misses the Earth.

Solar eclipse map of path on earth. Image credit: NASA/GSFC


If you are going to see the eclipse with you students there are some safety rules you should teach them first. The Sun can be viewed safely with the naked eye only during the few brief seconds or minutes of a total solar eclipse. Partial eclipses, annular eclipses, and the partial phases of total eclipses are never safe to watch without taking special precautions. Even when 99% of the Sun's surface is obscured the remaining photospheric crescent is intensely bright and cannot be viewed safely without eye protection

Do not attempt to observe this eclipse with the naked eye. Failure to use appropriate filtration may result in permanent eye damage or even blindness!

To observe the eclipse the safest and most inexpensive of these methods is by projection, in which a pinhole or small opening is used to cast the image of the Sun on a screen placed a half-meter or more beyond the opening. Projected images of the Sun may even be seen on the ground in the small openings created by interlacing fingers, or fringes between leafs of trees or bushes.

Binoculars and telescopes can also be used to project a magnified image of the Sun on a white card, but you must avoid the temptation of using these instruments for direct viewing without filters because blindness will occur almost instantaneously.

To look directly at the eclipse proper eye protection is needed. Mylar eyeglasses can be used. You also need filters for the telescopes and photographic cameras.

The Sun can be viewed directly only when using filters specifically designed for this purpose that attenuate ultraviolet, visible, and infrared radiation coming from the Sun. Aluminized mylar filters offer a quite inexpensive alternative. Mylar can easily be cut with scissors and adapted to any kind of box or viewing device. But pay attention: no filter is safe to use with any optical device (i.e. - telescope, binoculars, etc.) unless it has been specifically designed for that purpose.

A proper filter only lets pass the sunlight and even sunlight is very dim.


Once again project Moonwalkers will make a follow-up of this eclipse and will upload on the website all works that are sent to the archive's e-mail (

Good luck with the weather and your observations.


M35 and NGC2158
  During this month we challenge you to seek for Messier 35 located at Right Ascension 06h08.9min and Declination +24º 20' an open cluster in the constellation Gemini, the zodiacal constellation next to Taurus constellation..

Messier 35 (also known as M 35, or NGC 2168) was discovered by Philippe Loys de Chéseaux in 1745 and independently discovered by John Bevis before 1750. The cluster is scattered over an area of the sky almost the size of the full moon and is located 850 parsecs (2,800 light-years) from Earth. The mass of M35 was found to be between 1600 and 3200 solar masses.

Messier 35 (hole image) and NGC 2158 (the cluster at lower right).
Credit: N.A.Sharp/NOAO/AURA/NSF

This cluster can be found in naked eye near the 3 "foot stars" of the two Gemini if you have good observing conditions. Binoculars will resolve the brighter stars and make it a nearly circular cluster with rather uniform stellar distribution at low magnifications. Using telescopes with low magnification and wide-field eyepieces will give you the best view of M35.

With large telescopes one might also see its fainter neighbor, NGC 2158 that is situated just about 15 arc minutes southwest of M35. NGC 2158 is about mag 8.6 and about 5 arc minutes angular diameter. This cluster contains many more stars, is much more compact and is five times more remote than M35 at a distance of 16,000 light years.





New software developed by ESA makes available online to everyone, everywhere at anytime, the entire library of images from the SOHO solar and heliospheric observatory. Just download the viewer and begin exploring the Sun.

A screenshot from the program JHelioviewer, developed by ESA.
Image credits: ESA JHelioviewer Team

JHelioviewer is new visualization software that enables everyone to explore the Sun. Developed as part of the ESA/NASA Helioviewer Project, it provides a desktop program that enables users to call up images of the Sun from the past 15 years. More than a million images from SOHO can already be accessed, and new images from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory are being added every day. The downloadable JHelioviewer is complemented by the website, a web-based image browser.

JHelioviewer is new visualization software that enables everyone to explore the Sun. Developed as part of the ESA/NASA Helioviewer Project, it provides a desktop program that enables users to call up images of the Sun from the past 15 years. More than a million images from SOHO can already be accessed, and new images from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory are being added every day. The downloadable JHelioviewer is complemented by the website, a web-based image browser.


Another  screenshot from the program JHelioviewer, developed by ESA.
Image credits: ESA JHelioviewer Team


JHelioviewer is written in the Java programming language, hence the ‘J’ at the beginning of its name. It is open-source software, meaning that all its components are freely available so others can help to improve the program. The code can even be reused for other purposes; it is already being used for Mars data and in medical research. This is because JHelioviewer does not need to download entire data sets, which can often be huge – it can just choose enough data to stream smoothly over the Internet.

JHelioviewer webpage


Zooniverse launches Planet Hunters

Screenshot of Planet Hunters website

Ever dreamed of being the first to make a discovery? Want to find a planet of your own? Thanks to, the latest Zooniverse project, you might just be able to, using data from NASA's Kepler mission. Kepler's goal is to catch the slight dip in brightness that's caused by a planet passing in front of its parent star.

NASA's Kepler spacecraft is one of the most powerful tools in the hunt for extrasolar planets. The Kepler Team computers are sifting through the data, but we at Planet Hunters are betting that there will be planets which can only be found via the remarkable human ability for pattern recognition.

The Kepler Team computers are sifting through the data, but we at Planet Hunters are betting that there will be planets which can only be found via the remarkable human ability for pattern recognition. This is a gamble, a bet, if you will, on the ability of humans to beat machines just occasionally - and for us to have a chance we need your help. Fancy giving it a try? If you do, you could be the first to spot an new planet – it may be a Jupiter-size behemoth or even an Earth-sized rock.

PlanetHunters Project






Solar System Sudoku is an EAAE transformation of the famous Japanese Sudoku. You have to put on each the nine symbols on each row, each column and each of the nine small nine spaces squares. This means each one of the nine symbols has to appear nine times on the Sudoku puzzle.

Instead of numbers, we use symbols of the nine major celestial objects of the solar system (Sun, Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune).

This month's challenge is the puzzle we present bellow.

To confirm and print the solution click here.







To confirm and print the solution click here.

  M82 - Credit: NASA, ESA, The Hubble Heritage Team, (STScI / AURA),M. Mountain (STScI), P. Puxley (NSF), J. Gallagher (U. Wisconsin)  
  (click on the image to see a bigger version)  

This month's picture is of a beautiful galaxy that can be seen in northern hemisphere with small telescopes towards the constellation of the Great Bear (Ursa Major) if the sky is dark enough. This irregular galaxy is known as M82, has had a close encounter with the large spiral galaxy M81 and this has increased starburst on his galaxy. This doesn't fully explain the source of the red-glowing outwardly expanding gas, however. Recent evidence indicates that this gas is being driven out by the combined emerging particle winds of many stars, together creating a galactic superwind. The above photographic mosaic highlights a specific color of red light strongly emitted by ionized hydrogen gas, showing detailed filaments of this gas. The filaments extend for over 10,000 light years. At a distance of 12-million light-years the Cigar Galaxy is the brightest galaxy in the sky in infrared emmision.

European Association for Astronomy Education