Early tomorrow morning (14 November 2012) there is an eclipse of the Sun that is total as seen from the vicinity of Cairns in Queensland. Elsewhere in Australia the eclipse is partial. From Sydney 67 per cent of the Sun’s width is covered by the Moon while from Melbourne it is 52 per cent.
The Voyager 1 spacecraft encountered the ringed planet Saturn on this day in 1980. After observing Saturn and its rings, the spacecraft passed so close to the large moon Titan that its path was bent away from the plane in which the planets circle the Sun.
The brightest planet Venus is currently a morning object that can be seen before dawn low in the east. One of the most spectacular sights in the sky occurs when the crescent Moon is near Venus. This month that happens on Monday morning when a thin crescent Moon is above and to the right or south of the planet.
While astronomers and enthusiasts world-wide are preparing for the total Solar eclipse which occurs in one week in Northern Queensland I am taking a moment to go back in time and compare our upcoming adventure to that of those attending another Solar Eclipse which occurred in Queensland 141 years ago.
Some stars live longer than other ones. It all depends on their mass. Hot massive stars use up their fuel very quickly and die spectacularly after only a few million years. In contrast a cooler, less massive star like our own Sun is expected to keep shining for 10 thousand million years.
Edmond Halley of Halley's Comet fame was born in the borough of Hackney, near London on this day in 1656. Halley applied Newton's work on gravity to determine the path of the bright comet that he had observed in 1682 and realised that it was the same comet that had appeared previously in 1531 and 1607.
The last total eclipse visible from Australia as it appeared from Woomera, South Australia, on 4 December 2002. Picture Nick Lomb In just a week’s time on the morning of Wednesday 14 November there will be a total eclipse of the Sun visible in the vicinity of Cairns in north Queensland.
The colour of a star indicates its surface temperature. The hottest stars glow blue-white with temperatures of 30 000-40 000°C. White stars are about 10 000°C while the coolest are the red stars with temperatures of around 3000°C.
The planets racing around the Sun. Original solar system image from NASA manipulated by Nick Lomb Excitement is mounting, the race is about to begin. Which race? Today Tuesday 6 November 2012 there are two well publicised races running.
We see most stars as white because our eyes are poor at seeing colour in the dark. Colour is only obvious to the naked eye for a few of the brighter reddish stars like Betelgeuse in Orion. Photographs reveal a greater range of colours for stars including ones that are blue-white, white, yellow and red.
One of the largest dinosaurs, the brontosaurus, was over 20 metres in length. Not only is it extinct, but it never existed as scientists say that it was an incorrectly named Apatosaurus. Still today an asteroid or space rock named 9949 Brontosaurus is making its closest approach to Earth for the year at a distance of 225 million km.
Two views of sunspot group AR11598. Sketch and copyright Harry Roberts ©, all rights reserved As solar cycle number 24 (SC24) unfolds, patterns of development are unclear. An early burst of northern hemisphere activity (2010 – 2011) saw some big spot groups – sun watchers were relieved, as the sunspot minimum had been so deep.
An image of Hurricane Sandy on 28 October 2012, two days before it hit the east coast of the United States. Courtesy NASA GOES Project. On 30 October (Australian time) a huge storm associated with Hurricane Sandy hit the east coast of the United States causing immense damage and discomfort to millions.
'David was quiet and unassuming yet he was always a pleasure to talk to. He was happy to report any science-based or science fiction films showing at the picture theatre where he entertained film-goers with his piano playing' commented Nick Lomb, Sydney Observatory consultant astronomer, who has known David Devenport (1930-2012) for over thirty years.
To help you learn about the southern night sky, Sydney Observatory provides an audio guide/podcast, transcript of that audio, and a sky map or chart each month. This month's guide is presented by Melissa Hulbert, Sydney Observatory Astronomy Educator.