1 March 2013 – today may or not mark the start of the season of spring, but it definitely does see the start of our exciting Alien Season here at the Royal Observatory.
Are we alone in this Universe? If aliens exist, would they be friendly or hostile? Have they in fact already visited Earth?
Free display Alien Revolution opens this morning at the Observatory, taking an intimate look at the history of our relationship with extra-terrestrial life through science and culture from Copernicus to SETI, including E.T., the Mars Curiosity rover, and American couple the Hills who in 1961 were among the first people to claim to have been abducted by aliens.
Alien Revolution explores our obsession with other worlds, from luminous 19th-century paintings of whimsical bat-men and ethereal Moon maidens, through the violent depiction of invading Martians in H.G. Wells’s War of the Worlds, to the first appearances of mysterious crop-circles in 1970s England.
Also starting today is new daily planetarium show We Are Aliens!, narrated by Rupert Grint of Harry Potter fame. The immersive show balances scientific understanding with family entertainment to explore how our understanding of life on Earth guides the hunt for alien life elsewhere in the Universe.
The Royal Observatory’s Alien Season also includes a special-themed evening of activities for Museums at Night; cult classic sci-fi movie screenings; public talks with guest astronomers; and a Summer Science programme of events with unique live shows and a short Aliens in Science Fiction course.
March has been an amazing month for planet-watching and it’s not over yet. Over the last few days we’ve had the Venus-Jupiter conjunction in the west-south-western sky. The two planets approached their closest this Tues, 13 March at just over 2 degrees apart (although still of course separated by a few hundred million miles of space).
Saturn, Mars and Mercury are also clearly visible this month. Mercury is making its best evening showing of the year, visible near the western horizon just after sunset. Mars, near its closest approach to the Earth, shines brightly in the sky all night long. And even distant Saturn is as bright as the brightest stars, visible in the south-eastern sky in the later evening.
Daytime Skywatch: Venus
Come and take a look through the Royal Observatory’s enormous 28-inch telescope at the planet Venus, as it approaches its greatest apparent distance from the Sun on 30 March.
Dates: 17, 24-25, 31 March 2012; further dates in April
Times: 16.30, 17.10, 17.50; cost :£5 | £15 family ticket
Find out more
Venus remains in an excellent position for observing for the whole of March. It then appears to gradually move closer to the Sun, heading towards the historic transit of Venus which begins on 5 June. This won’t occur again for another 105 years. Come and see our Measuring the Universe exhibition which celebrates past transits and what we’ve learnt from them.
The Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition is back! Now in its fourth year, the competition continues to showcase incredible images from amateur astrophotographers all around the world, featuring beautiful objects from within our solar system and far into deep space.
Anyone can enter – whether you’re new to astrophotography or a seasoned amateur, and whatever your age. We’ve had a huge range of images in previous years, from amazing landscape photography that captures the Moon and the Sun to stunning deep space images taken by robotic telescopes. Find out how to enter and what you could win.
Overall winner 2011: Jupiter with lo and Ganymede,
September 2010 by Damian Peach (UK)
To enter the competition you will first need to add your photos to the Astronomy Photographer of the Year group on the photo-sharing website Flickr. Once you have done this, please fill in the relevant online application form on the Astronomy Photographer of the Year website.
The four main competition categories are Earth and Space, Our Solar System, Deep Space and Young Astronomy Photographer of the Year. The judges will also be awarding three additional special prizes: People and Space, Best Newcomer, and Robotic Scope Image of the Year. Find out more about the categories and prizes.
Entries to the competition close at midday (BST) on Friday 29 June 2012.
The winning images will be displayed at the Royal Observatory Greenwich from September in the free Astronomy Photographer of the Year exhibition. There’s still time to see the winning images from 2011 (closes 12 February).
Good luck, and we look forward to seeing your photos in Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2012!
The Royal Observatory, Greenwich is famously the home of the Prime Meridian of the World (0° Longitude) where each day and year officially begins, and of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), as well as of the celebrated Harrison timekeepers.
Now the Royal Observatory is also home to OMEGA‘s London 2012 Countdown Clock. Installed on the Prime Meridian Line by OMEGA, the Official Timekeeper of the Games, the clock will tick away the seconds, minutes, hours and days until the start of the London 2012 Olympic Games – some of which will be hosted in Greenwich Park.
The clock was unveiled yesterday (27 July 2011) in time to celebrate ‘One Year to Go’ to the start of the Games.