Arthur C. Clarke once described the Universe as a device contrived for the perpetual astonishment of astronomers. Anyone can discover that sense of wonder. You just have to look up. It’s a common belief you need some form of optical equipment to witness those astonishing sights but that is not the case.
A new comet discovered by Terry Lovejoy (his 5th!), official name C/2014 Q2, is heading North and has gradually brightened. Currently it shines at magnitude 5.5, barely visible with the unaided eye even in a very dark sky, but relatively easy in binoculars.
IAA member John C McConnell has imaged the comet - shown here, taken with a 50mm lens at f2.2 for 10 seconds.
Over the past two decades more than one thousand planets have been discovered outside our Solar System. What is even more interesting is that we have started to investigate atmospheres of these planets using telescopes both on the ground and in space. In this talk I will show how we can study the atmospheres of these alien worlds, and what we have learned from these observations.