Tonight is one of our last chances to see the red planet in the evening sky as in a week or so it will fade into the twilight. It will then not reappear until the middle of June in the morning sky. Tonight after dusk it is close to the western horizon with a thin crescent Moon to its right or north.
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On this day in 1820 14 gentlemen sat down to dinner at the Freemason’s Tavern in London. At this dinner the participants decided to set up the Astronomical Society of London. A decade later a royal charter was granted to the new society which became known by its present name of the Royal Astronomical Society.
The astronomer William Herschel discovered Titania and Oberon, the two largest moons of the planet Uranus, on this date in 1787. The next two moons, Ariel and Umbriel, were only found in the middle of the next century.
Today, January 10 2013, at around 11:00am AEST the asteroid 99942 Apophis passed by planet Earth at about 14 million kilometres. That's far away, in fact its no more dangerous than standing beside a highway while trucks drive by!
Early risers can see the bright planet Venus each morning low in the east. Tomorrow morning a very thin crescent Moon will be below Venus, but will not be easy to see as by the time it rises at 5:02 am AEDT the sky will be starting to brighten.
The view towards Sydney City from the Opera House in June 2006. Photo Nick Lomb ‘The more light the better’ is what some people say as we all want to feel safer at night. Nobody wants a major city like Sydney to be completely dark, yet for safety and security it is the quality of the lighting that matters not its quantity.
If we extend a line through Orion’s belt westwards we reach a faint group of stars called the Pleiades or the Seven Sisters. Although without a telescope most people can only see six stars in the group, the Ancient Greeks called them the Seven Sisters.
The giant crater Tycho in the Moon’s southern hemisphere. Sketch and copyright Harry Roberts ©, all rights reserved We’ve all viewed Tycho, the youngest ‘big’ crater on the Moon, generally agreed to be only 110 million years old (110My).
The great theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking was born on this day in 1942 in Oxford, England. Hawking obtained a first class honours degree from Oxford and then moved on to Cambridge to study cosmology.
Some people pine after the expensive fast cars built by the Italian firm of Ferrari. This may have been the case with the astronomers at an observatory in Bologna for they named an asteroid discovered in 1986 after the founder of the firm.
The ringed planet Saturn is one of the best objects to look at through a small telescope. At the moment though you need to rise very early or stay up very late to see it. In the morning twilight it is in the eastern sky, far above and to the left of bright Venus.
The great British scientist Isaac Newton was born on this day in 1643 in the manor house of Woolsthorpe in Lincolnshire. He is best known for his book Philosophiae naturalis principia mathematica. In this book he used his universal law of gravitation to explain the motions of the planets around the Sun.
Yesterday (2nd January, 2013), two weeks after departing Sydney, we arrived at the South Pole. I am here as part of the USAP (United States Antarctic Program), on a joint Australia/American expedition.
In the early evening, from a dark spot away from city lights, you can notice an area of extra brightness in the Milky Way above the Southern Cross. This is a giant region of gas and dust surrounding the massive star Eta Carinae.
Comparing the Sun’s activity in its northern and southern hemispheres until late 2012. Courtesy Solar-Terrestrial Centre of Excellence What’s Down With the Sun was the title of a National Solar Observatory press conference in mid 2011, which announced the (then) current measures of solar activity - activity that was surprisingly weak compared to most of the twentieth century, predicting the demise of sunspots by 2015 and for ten or more years after.