Year: 2014

Daily cosmobite: Constellation Grus, the Crane

October 22, 2014

The constellation Grus, the Crane, is high overhead at present. It first appeared on a celestial globe by Petrus Plancius in 1598. It is one of nine celestial birds but it looks more like a scimitar to me.

Gough & Margaret Whitlam: thanks for your time.

October 21, 2014

  Today Edward Gough Whitlam AC QC, Prime Minister for Australia from 1972 to 1975, has died at the age of 98. Gough Whitlam was a scholar, a social reformer and he acted on his passion for Australians to shake off our cultural cringes and narrow mindedness and make our own future.

Daily cosmobite: Orionids meteor shower is peaking

October 21, 2014

The Orionids meteor shower reaches its peak on October 20 or 21. The meteors are caused by dust from Halley's comet entering our atmosphere. Look for them after midnight from a dark place.           Orion is in the north-east sky at 2am in mid-October.

Daily cosmobite: Mercury reaches inferior conjunction today

October 17, 2014

Today the innermost planet, Mercury, passes between Earth and the Sun. This is referred to as an "inferior conjunction". It will next be visible into the pre-dawn sky at the end of this month.     The Messenger spacecraft continues to monitor Mercury.

Daily cosmobite: Happy 40th Birthday AAT!

October 16, 2014

The Anglo-Australian Telescope (AAT), Australia's largest optical telescope, was officially opened 40 years ago on October 16, 1974 by Prince Charles. Happy Birthday!       The Anglo-Australian Telescope dome all wrapped up for its birthday celebrations during StarFest, October 4, 2014.

Daily cosmobite: Warrumbungles view from Mt Woorut

October 15, 2014

Harley Wood's site searching eventually resulted in the selection of Mt Woorut as the site for the Siding Spring Observatory.   The view into the Warrumbungle National Park from Mt Woorut, c1959.

Daily cosmobite: The Earth is a sphere

October 13, 2014

Aristotle, the ancient Greek philosopher, is said to have used the curved shadow of Earth seen during a lunar eclipse to support his theory of a spherical Earth. Modern measurements show Earth is slightly pear-shaped and knobbly.

A bird’s eye view of the eclipse over Sydney

October 11, 2014

Wednesday night saw the second of a tetrad of lunar eclipses. The evening was not clear with two layers of cloud moving in from different directions, but fortunately there were some occasional gaps in the cloud cover providing glimpses of the Moon.

Daily cosmobite: Why is there not always a lunar eclipse at full Moon?

October 10, 2014

The Moon's orbit around the Earth is tilted by about 5-degrees to the orbit the Earth takes around the Sun. So the Moon usually passes above or below Earth's shadow when it is full. Only about twice each year do the orbits align causing the Moon to pass through Earth's shadow - this is a lunar eclipse.

Daily cosmobite: Full Moon and synchronous coral spawning

October 9, 2014

 Many corals on the Great Barrier Reef will begin their synchronous spawning between one to six days after the first full Moon in October - that would be about now!     A male star coral, Montastraea cavernosa, releases sperm into the water.