Year: 2013

Sydney Observatory’s Geoff Sims is on his way back from the South Pole

January 24, 2013

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).

Daily cosmobite: astronomer’s birthday

January 24, 2013

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.

Finding south using the Southern Cross

January 23, 2013

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.

Daily cosmobite: Orion and friends

January 23, 2013

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.

Daily cosmobite: Jupiter and the Moon

January 22, 2013

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.

Daily cosmobite: the January sky

January 21, 2013

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.

Daily cosmobite: Pluto mission anniversary

January 19, 2013

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.

Daily cosmobite: Pollux

January 18, 2013

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.

Daily cosmobite: Castor

January 17, 2013

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.

Daily cosmobite: the Twins

January 16, 2013

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.

Harry is alertly watching the new large sunspot group AR11654

January 15, 2013

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.

Daily cosmobite: zodiac constellations

January 15, 2013

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.

Siding Spring after the fires of January 2013

January 14, 2013

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.