Observations

Year: 2014

Daily cosmobite: the Southern Cross

July 7, 2014

Nick Lomb
This constellation, known as Crux to astronomers, is high in the southern sky. Five stars are visible to the unaided eye in Crux: four mark the arms of the cross and the fifth one is inside. Seeing Epsilon, the faintest star, is getting harder from brightly lit urban areas.

Astronomical heritage – celebrating the birth of radio astronomy

July 6, 2014

Toner Stevenson
The 'Birth of Radio Astronomy' walk, held on Sunday 6 July 2014, was a great opportunity for participants to find out some of the behind-the-scenes details from Professor Miller Goss, radio astronomer and author of 'Making Waves: the story of Ruby Payne Scott, Australian pioneer radio astronomer' plus enjoy a morning in the sunshine at spectacular locations.

Daily cosmobite: Mars and the Moon

July 6, 2014

Nick Lomb
The red planet Mars is high in the north each evening after dusk. Tonight the gibbous Moon is to the right or east of the planet. To add extra interest to the sight we also have the bright star Spica above the Moon, while the ringed planet Saturn is to the right or east of the tight group of three.

Daily cosmobite: Earth furthest from Sun

July 4, 2014

Nick Lomb
This morning at 10:13 am AEST the Earth was at aphelion, the furthest point in its annual journey around the Sun. At this point the distance to the Sun is 152,097,350 km, which is about 5 million km more than the distance at the closest point in January.

Daily cosmobite: the Bear-watcher

July 3, 2014

Nick Lomb
Arcturus, the brightest star in the constellation of Boötes the Herdsman is prominent in the northern sky in the early evenings. It is easily recognised as it is bright and has a reddish colour. The name comes from the Greek and means the Bear-watcher or Bear-guard.

Daily cosmobite: what if the Moon didn’t exist?

July 2, 2014

Nick Lomb
If there was no Moon there would be no tides. Our day would be much shorter as the tides act as a brake on the Earth's rotation. Life would be much less romantic and where would the astronauts have landed in 1969?

Is there life in space 1?

July 1, 2014

Nick Lomb
An artist's concept of some of the multi-planet systems discovered by the Kepler spacecraft. Courtesy NASA The possibility of life elsewhere in the Universe is a fascinating and much discussed subject.

Daily cosmobite: a ball of stars

July 1, 2014

Nick Lomb
A pair of binoculars shows a fuzzy ball of stars above the Southern Cross and the pointer stars in the evenings. This is Omega Centauri, a globular cluster containing several million old stars. It is the most massive of the 160 or so globular clusters circling the centre of our galaxy.

Daily cosmobite: Tunguska event anniversary

June 30, 2014

Nick Lomb
In the early morning on this day in 1908 there was a colossal explosion in a remote area of Siberia near the Tunguska River. A small asteroid about 60 metres across is believed responsible. Though the effects of the impact were noticed as far away as London, scientists did not explore the area until 1927.

Revealing Lives: Women in science 1830-2000

June 29, 2014

Toner Stevenson
I recently visited the UK to attend an international conference about women in science titled 'Revealing Lives: Women in science 1830-2000' at the Royal Society, London. The conference was organised by the Women in Science Research Network (WISRNet).  In the keynote address experimental physicist at Cambridge University, Professor Dame Athene Donald, DBE FRS, described how women working in science had been stereotyped and 'hidden' for centuries within the history of science.

Daily cosmobite: Jupiter and the Moon

June 29, 2014

Nick Lomb
The bright planet Jupiter can be seen low in the north-west sky each evening after dusk. The Moon was near the planet at the beginning of the month and since then it has made a circuit of the Earth and is once again nearby in the sky, Tonight the crescent Moon passes near the planet; it is above and to the left or west of Jupiter.

Daily cosmobite: new Moon

June 27, 2014

Nick Lomb
Tonight at 6:08 pm the Moon is new since it is in the same direction as the Sun. As the Moon moves away from the Sun we first see it as a very narrow crescent after a following sunset. This time we should be able to glimpse it in the western sky on Saturday evening about half an hour after the Sun has set.

Daily cosmobite: the Water Snake

June 26, 2014

Nick Lomb
Hydra the Water Snake, the longest of all the 88 constellations, stretches high above our heads in the early evening. The snake's head is down near Procyon in the west while its tail ends in the east near Spica.

Daily cosmobite: Picasso approaches

June 25, 2014

Nick Lomb
Today at a distance of 217 million km the space rock or asteroid 4221 Picasso is at its closest to the Earth for the year. Discovered by the astronomer, photographer and artist Jeff Alu at Palomar Observatory in 1988, it is named after the Spanish artist Pablo Picasso.