Observations

Year: 2014

Daily cosmobite: Sydney Observatory astronomer’s anniversary

July 31, 2014

Nick Lomb
Dr Harley Wood was Government Astronomer for NSW from 1943 to 1974. He was born on this day in 1911 in Gulgong NSW. He was educated at Mudgee High School and at Sydney University. In 1965 the University awarded him the degree of Doctor of Science for his studies of the positions and motions of stars.

Daily cosmobite: stars in the north

July 30, 2014

Nick Lomb
Looking north in the early evening we see Spica, the brightest star in the constellation of Virgo the Maiden, very high in the sky directly in front of us. Don’t confuse Spica with the planets Mars and Saturn, which are to its right or east.

Revisiting Apollo 8 and the famous Earthrise image at a Chicago museum

July 29, 2014

Nick Lomb
The historic Apollo 8 capsule that circled the Moon in December 1968 is on display in the Henry Crown Space Centre. Photo Nick Lomb In early July during a short trip to the United States I took the opportunity to pay a brief visit the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, the country’s largest museum.

Daily cosmobite: a giant galaxy

July 29, 2014

Nick Lomb
M87, which is number 87 on a list of fuzzy objects discovered by the French astronomer Charles Messier, is one of the most interesting galaxies in the sky. Scientists using X-ray and optical observations recently calculated that at its centre there is a supermassive black hole with a mass six billion times that of the Sun.

Daily cosmobite: watch for the crescent Moon

July 28, 2014

Nick Lomb
This month the first visibility of the crescent Moon after the astronomical instant of new Moon is of particular significance in the Islamic calendar. The Moon was new on Sunday at 8:42 am. After sunset this evening the Moon will have moved sufficiently away from the glare of the Sun to be briefly visible as a thin crescent in the western sky.

Daily cosmobite: lunar flight anniversary

July 26, 2014

Nick Lomb
Apollo 15 was launched towards the Moon on this date in 1971. Two astronauts, David Scott and James Irwin landed four days later next to the spectacular scenery of the Apennine Mountains. In a lunar first they travelled about 28 km in a Lunar Roving Vehicle.

Daily cosmobite: stars in the south

July 25, 2014

Nick Lomb
Facing south in the early evening we see the reddish star Antares among the stars of Scorpius to our left or east. In front of us the Southern Cross with its bright stars stands vertically high in the sky while the two pointers are to its left and almost horizontal.

August 2014 night sky guide podcast, transcript and sky chart

July 25, 2014

Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences
To help you learn about the southern night sky, Sydney Observatory provides an audio guide/podcast, transcript of that audio, and a sky map or chart each month. This month's guide is presented by Melissa Hulbert, Sydney Observatory Astronomy Educator.

Daily cosmobite: Venus and the Moon

July 24, 2014

Nick Lomb
Early risers can see Venus each morning before dawn low in the north-east. Those who are not early birds will need to wait until November when Venus will switch to the evening sky. Tomorrow morning a thin crescent Moon is near Venus; it is above and to the right or east of the planet.

Destination Solar System at the Adler Planetarium in Chicago

July 23, 2014

Nick Lomb
The entrance of the Adler Planetarium. Note the large poster advertising the planetarium's premier sky show, Destination Solar System, on the left, while on the right a poster advertises the popular exhibition for young children, Planet Explorers.

Daily cosmobite: Centaurus A

July 23, 2014

Nick Lomb
The southern galaxy Centaurus A is relatively nearby at a distance of only 12 million light years from us. From a dark place away from city lights, it is easily visible through a small telescope. At its centre there is a massive black hole with a mass 55 million times that of our Sun.

Harry watches the gentle giant sunspot AR12109

July 22, 2014

Nick Lomb
Changes in sunspot group AR12109 plotted on four separate days. Sketch and copyright Harry Roberts ©, all rights reserved The first week of 2014 July saw the Sun’s south-eastern hemisphere ‘peppered’ with large and complex sunspots – some reached (suitably protected) ‘naked-eye’ size!

Daily cosmobite: Neptune rings anniversary

July 22, 2014

Nick Lomb
Each of the gas giants in the outer solar system are circled by rings. The rings of the outermost planet Neptune were first discovered as arcs on this day in 1984. Five years later the Voyager 2 spacecraft imaged five rings as it passed the planet.

Daily cosmobite: a constellation of astronomers

July 21, 2014

Nick Lomb
Australia’s research astronomers have gathered at Macquarie University for the annual scientific meeting of the Astronomical Society of Australia. They are discussing the latest studies of the origin of the Universe and the formation of galaxies as well the development of new instruments.

Daily cosmobite: astronomy festival

July 19, 2014

Nick Lomb
This weekend the Central West Astronomical Society holds its annual AstroFest in the NSW country town of Parkes, the home of “The Dish”. During the day on Saturday there are a series of fascinating talks while in the evening the winners of the prestigious David Malin Awards photography competition are to be announced.