Babe Among the Stars: A Smiley Face in Space

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Galaxy Babe's column banner, showing a full moon and some little folk looking up at the sky

Mortal as I am, I know that I am born for a day. But when I follow at my pleasure the serried multitude of the stars in their circular course, my feet no longer touch the earth - Ptolemy

A Smiley Face in Space

It's amazing what you can do in your spare time if you have Internet access. One of the zooites, which is a name I coined for people who participate in Citizen Science, discovered something quite remarkable from the Hubble archive. Judy Schmidt submitted her find, Smiley Face in Space, to Hubble's Hidden Treasures project in 2012. The image contains three galaxies perfectly aligned to form two eyes and a button nose, surrounded by an Einstein ring to create a 'smile' and the 'head'. Einstein rings are the result of gravitational lensing; basically they are background galaxies directly behind a forefront one, and the one in front acts like a lens. I found some Einstein rings while participating in Galaxy Zoo but I never saw one as cool as the 'smiley face in space'.

March 2015 Diary Dates

This month there is a total solar eclipse but it's only viewable from North Atlantic regions, the Faroe Islands and the North Pole. There's an opportunity to see partial totality in Europe - parts of the UK will experience up to 97% totality. Aberdeen in Scotland and Belfast in Northern Ireland (clouds permitting) should both experience 93% totality. My neck of the woods is promised 88% totality so I'll be digging out my eclipse glasses. If you intend viewing the eclipse, do take adequate precautions to protect your eyesight and that of any children nearby. To coincide with this event, the BBC's Stargazing Live programme returns on 18 March, with another two shows on the following two nights. Broadcasts will be from Jodrell Bank and will be presented by Dara Ó Briain and Prof Brian Cox as usual, with guests.

  • 01: Venus and Mars have a close encounter just after sunset
  • 02: Asteroid 2015 DS53 will pass Earth beyond the orbit of the Moon
  • 03: The Moon passes 5° south of Jupiter
  • 04: Venus is within a tenth of a degree of Uranus
  • 05: The Moon is at apogee (furthest from Earth)
  • 05: Full Moon - the Worm Moon
  • 11: Mars passes 0.3° north of Uranus
  • 12: The Moon and Saturn are within 2°
  • 18: The Moon passes 4° north of Neptune
  • 19: The Moon passes 5° north of Mercury
  • 19: The Moon is at perigee (closest to Earth)
  • 20: New Moon
  • 20: Vernal equinox (first day of Spring in the Northern Hemisphere/first day of Autumn in the Southern Hemisphere)
  • 20: Total solar eclipse visible from North Atlantic regions, the Faroe Islands and the North Pole
  • 21: The Moon is within a tenth of a degree of Uranus
  • 21: The Moon passes 1° south of Mars
  • 22: The Moon passes 3° south of Venus
  • 25: The Moon passes within a degree of Aldebaran (alpha Tauri)
  • 27: Asteroid 2014 YB35 will pass Earth beyond the orbit of the Moon
  • 30: The Moon passes 6° south of Jupiter
  • 31: Eta Draconids meteor shower peaks

  • Chat about your celestial observances at the H2G2 Astronomy Society. Comment on anything in this edition of Babe Among the Stars by starting a new conversation below.

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