Year: 2012

Daily cosmobite: asteroid anniversary

December 17, 2012

German astronomer Max Wolf (1863-1932) discovered over 200 asteroids or minor planets. Wolf’s large output resulted from the use of pioneering photographic techniques for his searches. He discovered the asteroid 580 Selene on this day in 1905.

Daily cosmobite: Mars and the Moon

December 15, 2012

The red planet Mars is under intense scrutiny from spacecraft circling the planet plus two rovers on its surface. Scientists are keen to know if water flowed freely on the planet’s surface in the past and, if so, for how long.

Total Solar Eclipse Tour 2012

December 14, 2012

It’s a month today that Sydney Observatory’s Eclipse Tour group stood in almost the middle of nowhere to witness one of the most amazing sights on Earth – a total solar eclipse. Weather prospects were not looking good and by Monday night I had started to consider an inland move for Sydney Observatory’s eclipse group.

Daily cosmobite: Zodiac constellations

December 14, 2012

These are the constellations the Sun passes in front of during the year. Looking from west to east in the early evening the following zodiac constellations are visible: Capricornus, Aquarius, Pisces, Aries, Taurus and Gemini.

Daily cosmobite: meteor shower

December 13, 2012

Early on Friday morning we can view the Geminid Meteor Shower, one of the year’s best. The meteors or streaks of light can appear all over the sky, but those associated with the shower can all be traced back to a point in the north near the constellation of Gemini, the Twins.

Daily cosmobite: stars in the south

December 12, 2012

In the early evening we see Canopus the brightest star of Carina the Keel high in the southern sky. To its right or west is Achernar the brightest star of Eridanus the River. Further to the right, almost due west, is Fomalhaut the brightest star in Piscis Austrinus the Southern Fish.

Daily cosmobite: Venus and the Moon

December 11, 2012

Early risers can see a great sight tomorrow morning before dawn with the brightest planet Venus close to a very thin crescent Moon. This morning the Moon was near the ringed planet Saturn, but tomorrow morning it is closer to the horizon so that it is below and to the right or south of Venus.

The Sydney Observatory November 2012 total solar eclipse video

December 11, 2012

The total solar eclipse of November 14, 2012 is now almost a month old. But with the next one over Australian soil not until 2023 I've posted this short video to make-do until then! The video runs at 40x real-time for the partial phases (where the Sun appears yellow), then in real time during totality.

Vale Sir Patrick Moore 1923-2012

December 10, 2012

Sir Patrick Moore photographed on 13 August 2008. Courtesy Rusty Sheriff and Flickr Astronomers around the world have been saddened by the death of astronomy broadcaster, populizer and prolific author Sir Patrick Moore.

Daily cosmobite: Saturn and the Moon

December 10, 2012

The ringed planet can be seen each morning in the eastern sky before dawn. To find it look above and to the left or north of the bright planet Venus. Tomorrow morning the crescent Moon provides a closer sign post as it is below and to the right or south of Saturn.

Daily cosmobite: Vesta at its closest

December 9, 2012

Today the large 530-km wide space rock or asteroid Vesta is at its closest to the Earth for the year. Vesta is now much better known after NASA’s Dawn spacecraft spent over a year studying the asteroid.

Daily cosmobite: Moon mission anniversary

December 7, 2012

Forty years ago today, at 4:33 pm Eastern Australian summer time, the United States launched its last crewed mission to the Moon. Apollo 17 landed on the Moon’s surface just under six days later. The two astronauts, including the geologist Harrison Schmitt, collected over 100 kg of Moon rock.

Daily cosmobite: the wonderful star II

December 6, 2012

The variable star Mira is high in the northern sky. It is a red giant star with a bloated atmosphere that is 200 times the width of our Sun. When the star is at its faintest its temperature is only (!) 2000 degrees Celsius.

Astronomer Charles Green and Green Island on the Great Barrier Reef

December 5, 2012

Green Island from the Coral Sea. Photo Nick Lomb A few days after the 14 November 2012 total eclipse I visited Green Island on the Great Barrier Reef. This is a coral cay, that is a place where sand has accumulated on the coral, and eventually plant life developed on the sand so that most of the island is covered by rainforest.