Observations

Daily cosmobite: a close pair

June 24, 2014

Nick Lomb
Visible high in the north-east, Spica is the brightest star in the constellation of Virgo the Maiden. It consists of a pair of hot massive stars that are too close to be seen as separate even in a telescope.

Daily cosmobite: Venus and the Moon

June 23, 2014

Nick Lomb
Early risers can see the brilliant planet Venus in the north-east sky each morning before dawn. This month the crescent Moon makes its regular pass by of Venus tomorrow morning when the it is above and to the left or north of the planet, while on Wednesday morning it is below and to the right or east.

Daily cosmobite: the shortest day

June 21, 2014

Nick Lomb
At 8:51 pm the Sun is at its most northerly position for the year. This is the day of the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year. From tomorrow onwards the length of daylight, the interval between sunrise and sunset, will start getting longer.

Daily cosmobite: dark energy

June 20, 2014

Nick Lomb
About two thirds of the energy in the Universe is made up of mysterious dark energy. Astronomers discovered this force only in the last decade or so when they realised that galaxies are not only moving away from each other but at an increasing rate.

Daily cosmobite: from what is the Universe made?

June 19, 2014

Nick Lomb
Surprisingly ordinary matter like the matter in what we see around us such as people and buildings makes up only five per cent of the Universe. According to the results from the Planck space mission released in March 2013, the remainder is made of 27 per cent mysterious dark matter and 68 per cent of even more mysterious dark energy.

Farewell to famous Australian comet hunter Bill Bradfield

June 18, 2014

Nick Lomb
Bill Bradfield (right) photographed in about 2004 with Paul Curnow of the Astronomical Society of South Australia. Bradfield’s comet seeker telescope is between them. Photo courtesy Paul Curnow I am sad to report that Bill Bradfield, the most prolific visual comet discoverer of the 20th century, died on Monday 9 June 2014.

Daily cosmobite: 1st US space woman anniversary

June 18, 2014

Nick Lomb
The first American female astronaut, Sally Ride, flew into space aboard the Space Shuttle Challenger on this day in 1983. During the six-day mission the shuttle crew launched two satellites. Dr Ride flew on another mission in the following year and was active in encouraging girls and young women to study science.

Winter solstice 2014 is on Saturday 21 June

June 17, 2014

Nick Lomb
Sunset on Port Hacking, Sydney, NSW on 17 May 2012. Photo Nick Lomb The winter solstice is the day when the Sun reaches its furthest north position in the sky and starts moving back towards the south.

Daily cosmobite: the Scorpion

June 17, 2014

Nick Lomb
The winter constellation of Scorpius the Scorpion is prominent in the eastern sky. In the early evening it is lying on its side with its tail or sting curving down to the right or south and its claws to the left or north.

Daily cosmobite: anniversary 1st space woman

June 16, 2014

Nick Lomb
On this day in 1963 the Soviet Union launched the first woman into space, Valentina Tereshkova, on the Vostok 6 spacecraft. During her flight Tereshkova circled the Earth 48 times and spent almost three days in space.

Daily cosmobite: zodiac constellations

June 14, 2014

Nick Lomb
These are the constellations that the sun passes through during the course of a year. Looking from west to east in the early evening the following zodiac constellations are visible: Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpius and part of Sagittarius.

Daily cosmobite: Canopus again

June 13, 2014

Nick Lomb
In the early evening this bright star is in the south-west. It is the brightest star in the constellation of Carina the Keel and the second brightest star in the sky after Sirius. Located approximately 300 light years away, it is a supergiant star that shines over 10,000 times brighter than our Sun.

Daily cosmobite: Canopus

June 12, 2014

Nick Lomb
This bright star is in the south-west in the early evening. We can locate it easily by extending a line through two of the stars of the Southern Cross, Gamma, the highest one in the sky, and Delta, the one on the right or west, and the first bright star the line meets is Canopus.