Return from Ridge A We have recently returned from 6 days / 5 nights camping on the high Antarctic plateau at a place known as Ridge A: the driest and possibly coldest place on Earth. Our mission was to refuel and refurbish an existing robotic observatory (the Plateau Observatory; PLATO), which supplies power and communications to a 0.6 m terahertz telescope (the High Elevation Antarctic Terahertz telescope; HEAT).
American astronomer Harold Babcock was born on this day in 1882 in the small town of Edgerton, Wisconsin. Almost all of Babcock’s working life was spent at Mount Wilson Observatory, which is just outside Los Angeles.
Two methods of finding south using the Southern Cross. Drawing Nick Lomb In the Southern Hemisphere we are fortunate in being able to enjoy a view of the bright stars that form the Southern Cross. They are also useful for they can provide a calendar, a clock as well as indicators for finding south.
Orion the Hunter is high in the north-east sky in the early evening. There are lots of bright stars surrounding Orion. Due east and to the right of Orion is Sirius, the brightest star in the sky. Below Sirius is Procyon, the brightest star in the constellation of Canis Minor, the Little Dog.
A sketch of the 28-km wide Crater Proclus. Sketch and copyright Harry Roberts ©, all rights reserved Perhaps the most eye-catching feature of the first quarter Moon is the bright area between the maria Crisium and Tranquillitatis called, enigmatically, Palus Somnii - the ’Marsh of Sleep’!
Now is a good time to look at the giant planet Jupiter through a small telescope as it is favourably placed in the northern sky after dark. Through the telescope its cloud bands and its four largest moons can be seen.
This month after dusk we have a good view of favourite constellation of the Australian summer sky, Orion, high in the northern sky. Above and to the right or east of Orion is Sirius, the brightest star in the sky, while closer to the horizon are the twin bright stars Pollux and Castor.
The New Horizons spacecraft was launched on this day (American time) in 2006 towards the then major planet Pluto. To the disappointment of some of the scientists involved with the mission, later that year the International Astronomical Union demoted the planet to dwarf status.
This star is the second of the two bright stars of Gemini the Twins. It is above and to the right or east of Castor. The name Pollux means the Boxer. It is a giant reddish star that is ten times the width of our Sun and is 34 light years from us.
This star, one of the two bright stars of Gemini the Twins, is low in the north-east in the evenings. It is a most unusual star. A telescope shows it as a double star, but each of these stars in turn is a very close double.
The Sun with large sunspots on the morning of 16 January 2013. Photo Nick Lomb Sunspot group AR1654 is a large one with strong magnetic fields and is a likely candidate for the emission of a strong flare.
Pollux and Castor are the two bright stars of Gemini the Twins. In the early evening they are low in the north-east, directly below Orion. Being a constellation named in the northern hemisphere the twins are upside down with the two bright stars representing the heads of the twins at the bottom.
A sketch of the large sunspot group AR11564 observed in white light on the morning of Friday 11 January 2013 (Australian time). Sketch and copyright Harry Roberts ©, all rights reserved This is a large complex sunspot group – one with some unusual features.
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: Aquarius, Pisces, Aries, Taurus, Gemini and Cancer.
Ten years ago, on January 18 2003, Mt Stromlo observtory was devestated by a bushfire. Now, almost exactly ten years later, in some peverse cosmic cycle the other major optical observatory in Australia has been partially burnt out by another bushfire.