Older News From The Royal Observatory

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ROEWhere and when to look for asteroid 2012DA14

15th February2013

Asteroid 2012DA14 will pass by Earth tonight, and if the sky is clear and you have a reasonably dark sky, you should be able to see it with a pair of binoculars. It is due to pop over the horizon in the ENE shortly before 2000 this evening (viewed from the Edinburgh area), will pass through the Plough about 2130 and continue on roughly towards the Pole Star.

More detailed skychart

UK ATCVISTA: a celebration - Workshop

17th - 18th January 2013

VISTA is delivering fabulous survey science to the European community and this is due to the hard work of those involved in delivering the project and the key leadership of the science surveys in the UK. VISTA was a challenging project to deliver and this meeting is in three-parts: to review the complexity of the novel design and the history of the project itself; the science data taking and the results of the current surveys; plans for future surveys using VISTA.

More Information about the Workshop

UK ATCDark Sky Discovery sites in the UK hit the big 50 as Stargazing LIVE gets underway

8th Jan 2013

The Dark Sky Discovery (DSD) network is today unveiling six new Dark Sky Discovery Sites on the day that BBC Two’s Stargazing LIVE gets underway. Dark Sky Discovery Sites are areas identified by the public as safe, accessible viewing spots where it is dark enough to view stars in the night sky.

Full text of the Press Release

UK ATC24-armed giant led from the UK successfully installed on ESO's Very Large Telescope

12th Dec 2012

A two and a half ton instrument that can look back billions of years, simultaneously pinpointing 24 galaxies and uncovering intricate detail about each of them, has made its first observations in Chile. The K-band Multi Object Spectrometer (KMOS) has been successfully tested on the world’s most advanced optical telescope, the European Southern Observatory (ESO) Very Large Telescope (VLT). KMOS is such a step forward in capability that it can achieve in just months what previous generations of instruments would have taken years to uncover. It will allow astronomers to discover the important processes at work during the formation of galaxies in the very early Universe billions of years ago. The achievement of ‘first light’ follows years of design and construction by teams in the UK, in Germany and at ESO. The KMOS team is led in the UK by Durham University and the instrument was assembled at STFC’s UK Astronomy Technology Centre (UK ATC).

Full text of the Press Release

IFA Logo

Astronomers Shed New Light On Cosmic Dawn

12th Dec 2012

University of Edinburgh astronomers have used the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope to reveal a population of primitive galaxies that formed more than 13 billion years ago, when the Universe was less than 4% of its present age. One of these is probably the most distant galaxy found to date (at redshift 12). These new observations shed new light on the earliest years of cosmic history.

Full text of the press release

IFA Logo"Cosmic GDP" crashes 97% as star formation slumps

7th November 2012

While parts of the world experience economic hardship, a team of astronomers co-led by Professsor Philip Best at the Institute for Astronomy in Edinburgh has found an even bigger slump happening on a cosmic scale.

Full text of the press release

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Euclid mission jumps final hurdle

22nd June 2012

The European Space Agency (ESA) has formally adopted the Euclid mission into their Cosmic Vision programme.

To make this adoption a success, the largest astronomical collaboration in history has been formed, and the University of Edinburgh plays leading roles in this endeavour. Adoption marks the final phase in a 6-year selection process and means that the scientists, industry partners and ESA can now start to aim for the expected launch date in 7 years' time.

Full text of the press release

UK ATCWorld's largest ground-based telescope is given 'go ahead'

11th June 2012

The governing Council of the European Southern Observatory (link opens in a new window) has today approved the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT) programme – the world’s largest ground-based optical telescope.

Construction will not commence until provisional votes by four of the member states, including the UK, have been confirmed and 90% of the funding required has been secured. The E-ELT is a 39-m diameter optical/infrared telescope, planned to be tens of times more sensitive than any current telescope of its kind.

Full text of the Press Release

UK ATCFirst instrument for the JWST is completed and handed over to NASA

09 May 2012

After more than ten years of work by more than 200 engineers, the Mid InfraRed Instrument (MIRI), a camera so sensitive it could see a candle on one of Jupiter’s moons, has been declared ready for delivery by the European Space Agency and NASA. The MIRI Optical System is an instrument for the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) that will eventually take up a position four times further away from the Earth than the Moon. It will now be shipped to NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center where it will be integrated with the other three instruments and the telescope.

Full text of the Press Release

IFA LogoBlack hole caught red-handed in a stellar homicide

3rd May 2012

British Astronomers have helped to gather the most direct evidence yet of a supermassive black hole shredding a star that wandered too close.

Full text of the press release

ROEWish You Were Here? Searching for Exoplanets

12 April 2012

"Wish You Were Here? Searching for Exoplanets" is a Scottish Government Science Engagement grant funded project and collaboration between ROE, Edinburgh College of Art and the University of St Andrews.

For the project, two teams of current and former ECA students have been working with astronomers to produce two short documentary films relating to work on exoplanets in Scotland.

The films have been completed and will premiere at the Edinburgh International Science Festival on Sunday 15th April, 8pm, in the National Museum of Scotland Auditorium. The films will then go on tour across Scotland, from Hoy to Wigtown!

More details about the films and screening locations.

ROEMid-Kent Astronomical Society begins work with the telescope

2nd April 2012

Members of the Mid-Kent Astronomical Society made a visit to the Royal Observatory on Monday the 2nd of March 2012 to begin the operation to remove the delicate optics from the old 20" IfA telescope prior to moving the instrument to its new home in Kent.

More information about the Mid-Kent Astronomical Society visit

ROE'Can-do' Kids meet at Royal Observatory

27 March 2012

Seven teams of high school students from across Scotland will compete to launch a space experiment that fits into a soft drinks can (a ‘CanSat’) at the STFC Royal Observatory Edinburgh this week. The competition is part of a Europe-wide programme organised by the European Space Agency. The cans have been provided by Irn Bru, and the Scottish CanSats are now ready to launch.

Full text of the Press Release.

ROENew SCUBA-2 camera reveals wild youth of the universe

27th March 2012

A team of astronomers from the UK, Canada and the Netherlands have commenced a revolutionary new study of cosmic star-formation history, looking back in time to when the universe was still in its lively and somewhat unruly youth! The consortium, co-led by University of Edinburgh astrophysicist Professor James Dunlop, is using a brand new camera called SCUBA-2, the most powerful camera ever developed for observing light at "sub-mm" wavelengths (i.e. light of wavelength 1000 times longer than we can see with our eyes).

Full text of the Press Release.

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