Images of stars by the stars

2/3/2014 – Some go for a walk near the lake, others may watch a movie. Former World Champion Viswanathan Anand took a quick break to photograph some astronomical objects in the southern hemisphere – with a remotely controlled 20-inch telescope. He was helped by Dr Christian Sasse, who himself caught a supernova two days ago in a nearby galaxy – the second in a week. Astronomy by chess players.

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Chess players and astronomy

Vishy Anand has, as we all know, many interests and talents. During the Zurich Chess Challenge he programmed – with a little help from his astronomy friend Dr Christian Sasse – a remote i-telescope located in Southern Australia to capture two interesting objects visible in the southern hemisphere in February. The images were taken with a 20-inch telescope and a total exposure time of 1 hour and 40 min for each of the following images.

Centaurus A is a rather curious galaxy with a strange structure, quite close to us at a distance of about 10 million light years. This galaxy is believed to contain a super massive black hole emitting strong x-ray and radio waves, and is recognized to be the result of two merging galaxies. [Click to enlarge]

The Antenna Galaxies are also most intriguing, again the result of two colliding galaxies. Located in the constellation Corvus at a distance of about 50 million light years, the collision resembles the shape of an insect’s antennae, thus the name. These galaxies are of high interest in current astronomy for the study of “tidal tails” – the result of galactic forces between interacting galaxies [Click to enlarge]. This object was previously photographed by John Nunn.

Incidentally it was supernova week at i-telescope. On January 14 Koichi Itagaki and his team discovered a type IIn Supernova in the galaxy NGC 3448, which was caught by amateur astronomer Patrick Wiggins, quite by chance, without a targeted search. [Click to enlarge]

And then a group of astronomy students, taking a quick image at the University of London Observatory (within the London city limits!) on the evening of January 21st at 19:20 UT, spotted a supernova in M82, the famous nearby irregular galaxy in Ursa Major. M82 is a near neighbor as galaxies go, at a distance of 11 or 12 million light-years. The above image was made by Christian Sasse on an i-telescope, without GM assistance. [Click to enlarge]

And while we are at it: this is an image of the sun, taken by GM John Nunn from his garden in Lyne, England, on February 2nd. John used a Canon 7D camera and a 400mm telephonto lens with solar filter attached ("don't try this yourself unless you have a proper solar filter," he says). Those are not lens smudges but sunspots, which you can follow on Tetis here.

John Nunn in his home in England, together with Dr Christian Sasse (left), who set up and runs
i-telescope, and Ken Thompson, the inventor of Unix and C, who is also a keen amateur astronomer

Some previous ChessBase articles on chess and astronomy

  • 2/18/2013 – Asteroid fly-by, giant meteor over Chelyabinsk
    If there is no gravitational connection it is an incredible coincidence: on the day the asteroid 2012 DA14 is due to fly past earth in the closest encounter of a substantial interplanatry object in living history, a meteor exploded over the Siberian city of Chelyabinsk, where last October's FIDE Grand Prix was scheduled to be held (the chess connection!). Here are some scary videos.

  • 1/9/2013 – Sir Patrick Moore, 4 March 1923 – 9 December 2012
    Patrick Alfred Caldwell-Moore was an English astronomer, writer, researcher, and host of the world's longest-running television series with the same original presenter, the BBC's The Sky at Night. He was also an avid chess player, and when his death became known during the London Chess Classic the VIP room was filled with stories about his chess career. Here's one by Carl Portman.

  • 12/8/2011 – Breathtaking: astronomical workshop at the London Chess Classic
    Free day at Olympia in Kensington, but packed full of activities, such as a talk on ChessBase and Fritz 13, and a screening of the new Bobby Fischer film. But the highlight was a lecture delivered by astronomer Dr Christian Sasse together with GMs Vishy Anand and John Nunn, who showed the enthralled spectators how they capture images of distant galaxies using remote telescopes.

  • 11/29/2011 – London Chess Classic – ChessBase, Fischer and astronomy on the free day
    The free day (December 7th) at this event is filled with special activities: at 2.30 p.m. the ChessBase "Geek in Chief" Nick Murphy gives a workshop; at 4 p.m. there's a screening of the award winning documentary Bobby Fischer against the World; and then at 7 p.m. John Nunn, aided by Vishy Anand will look into the night sky using a telescope in Australia. Details and full pairings.

  • 9/13/2010 – Müller: The Beauty of Rook Endings
    Rook endings occur very frequently, so John Nunn’s latest work, Chess Endings Vol. 2, is particularly useful for the tournament player. Nunn is ideally qualified as an author owing to his vast experience in the field, as Dr Karsten Müller explains in his review. We use it to return to the subject of astronomy and explain how the Orion Nebula made it to the cover of a chess book.

  • 9/6/2010 – Chess and Astronomy – live discussion tonight
    One of the most ardent users of Global Rent-a-Scope, a network of remotely operated astronomical telescopes, is chess grandmaster Dr John Nunn. On August 8th a live interview on AFM chat was planned – but had to be postponed due to illness. You can listen in tonight at 18:00 UTC/GMT. Visitor participation is welcome and you have a chance to win telescope time.

  • 6/14/2010 – Chess and Astronomy – Global Rent-a-Scope
    Regular readers of the ChessBase news page know that since his retirement from over-the-board chess John Nunn has developed an increasing interest in astronomy. Other players like Viswanathan Anand have also taken it up as a serious hobby. During the World Championship in Sofia Christian Sasse gave both John and Vishy time on his remote telescopes. John Nunn reports.

  • 11/9/2007 – Solutions to chess problems and astronomical dilemmas
    Recently John Nunn, retired world-class grandmaster, won the 31st World Championship for problem solvers. In our report we showed you some sample problems – today we provide the solutions. John is also an amateur astronomer, who owns a 10-inch Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope. He sent us some pictures he took with a normal digital camera. They include the moon and an exploding comet.


Topics Astronomy
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