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The ghoul

According to Arabic legend a ghoul is an evil demon that lurks in graveyards and feeds off the dead, a chilling thing to see, eyeing you from the shadows! Yet Arabic astronomers named a star after it because it winks at you from the depths of the night. Known as Algol...

Sun Spots

Over a repeating cycle of 11 years, the sun develops a chronic case of recurring acne, its face becoming pockmarked with ugly black spots and blemishes which eventually fade away only to reappear again in the following cycle. These “sun spots” reflect the slow...

Red Dwarfs

Red Dwarfs may need orbiting satellite telescopes to be viewed, but they are more like our own sun than the colossal stars that make up most of the visible stars. Of the 375 stars that have been identified by telescopes to be within 33 light years of our sun, most of...

Solar Eclipse 2009

On Wednesday, 2009 July 22, a total eclipse of the Sun was visible from within a narrow corridor that traversed half of Earth. The maximum duration of totality was 6 min 39 seconds, something that won’t be repeated again this century – but you had to be...

Scorpio and Gould’s Belt

Scorpio belongs to a massive belt of stars forming a halo 2000 light years across, known as Gould’s belt, the most prominent feature in our region of the Milky Way. On one side lies Scorpio, on the other Orion, with the most brilliant constellations of the Southern...

Extra solar planets

  A minor star, τ Bootis, in the constellation of Bootes, has emerged from relative obscurity to instant celebrity by having a planet detected in orbit around it. Since 1995, over 300 stars have been identified with accompanying planets. Planets around other...