Year: 2014

Daily cosmobite: Pluto discoverer’s birthday

February 4, 2014

Clyde Tombaugh was born on this day in 1906 in Streator, Illinois. With a strong amateur interest in astronomy, he was employed at the Lowell Observatory in Arizona to look for the unknown Planet X. When he made the discovery the new object was considered to be the ninth planet in the solar system.

Daily cosmobite: the Sails

February 3, 2014

The large constellation of Vela the Sails is high in the southern sky, above the Southern Cross in the early evenings. It is one of the three pieces into which the giant constellation Argo the Ship was split in the 19th century.

Daily cosmobite: Canopus

February 1, 2014

By about 10 pm summer time the bright star Canopus is almost directly overhead. It is the brightest star in the constellation of Carina the Keel and the second brightest star in the sky. Although only a little hotter than our Sun it is likely be big enough to contain half a million stars the size of the Sun.

Daily cosmobite: second new Moon for month

January 31, 2014

At 8:38 am this morning the Moon is new, that is, it is in the same direction as the Sun and so it is not visible to us. This is the second new Moon this month as there was also one on 1 January. The second full Moon in a month is called a blue Moon, but there is no name for a second new Moon.

Daily cosmobite: Orion and friends

January 30, 2014

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: stars on the flag

January 29, 2014

January is not an ideal time to look at the Southern Cross in the early evenings for it is low in the southern sky. Those who stay up late at summer parties will get a progressively better view with the cross vertical and high in the southern sky just before dawn.

Daily cosmobite: Venus and the Moon

January 28, 2014

Last month the cloud-covered planet Venus shone brightly in the evenings, but now it is visible in the mornings before sunrise in the east. Through a telescope it is seen as a thin crescent that will grow thicker over the next few months.

Daily cosmobite: Castor

January 27, 2014

Castor, 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: Saturn and the Moon

January 25, 2014

The ringed planet Saturn can be seen in the mornings in the eastern sky before dawn. Those who prefer to view the planet in the evenings will need to wait three months until late April before it becomes an early evening object.

Daily cosmobite: astronomer’s birthday

January 24, 2014

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.

Daily cosmobite: a bright knot in the Milky Way

January 23, 2014

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.

Vale John Dobson

January 22, 2014

John Dobson with Sydney Observatory’s Dobsonian telescope on 20 March 2003. Photo Nick Lomb Last Wednesday, 15 January 2014, famous amateur astronomer John Dobson passed away in Burbank, California at the grand old age of 98.

Daily cosmobite: Mars and the Moon

January 22, 2014

Early risers can see the red planet Mars high in the north-east sky before dawn. Tomorrow morning the gibbous Moon approaches the planet; it is above and to the left or north of Mars, while on Friday morning the Moon, now at last quarter phase, is above and to the right or east of the planet.