Reverend Bob Evans with his telescope at Linden Observatory – picture Nick Lomb
Last weekend Nick together with a Sydney Observatory colleague and with the president of Sydney City Skywatchers had a rare opportunity to get away from Sydney’s bright sky at Linden Observatory in the Blue Mountains. Linden Observatory, not surprisingly in Linden, was begun by the extraordinary telescope maker Ken Beames (more about him in a later post). Today another extraordinary person is associated with the observatory, the supernova discover Reverend Bob Evans. At last count Bob has discovered 40 exploding stars or supernovae, far more than anyone else ever before.
The evening started off promisingly with a sky clear except for some smoke haze near the horizon from the bush fires further up the mountain. An enthusiastic group of amateur astronomers from the Western Sydney Amateur Astronomy Group set up with lots of electronic gear ready for a good night’s observing.
Nick was most impressed with the sight of the globular cluster 47 Tucanae through Bob Evans’ 40-cm telescope, which is shown above complete with notches on the tube indicating the supernova discoveries made with it. Of course, Bob is really interested in much fainter and more distant objects. He showed a number of galaxies including the giant radio galaxy Fornax A and the large barred spiral galaxy NGC 1365. Unfortunately, these two were situated in the east where the sky was brightest due to light pollution from Sydney and only the brightest central areas of the galaxies were discernable.
Other objects seen through various telescopes and binoculars included 30 Doradus in the Large Magellanic Cloud, the Great Nebula in Orion and the Andromeda Galaxy low in the northern sky. Disappointingly an hour or so after dark clouds and/or smoke started to roll in and cut short the observing.
Watch out for future posts on Ken Beames who founded Linden Observatory, on Woodford Academy from where a team from Sydney Observatory observed the 1874 transit of Venus and on the site of Parramatta Observatory in Parramatta Park.