Latest Posts

Discord and lawlessness among the planets.

September 15, 2006

Geoff Wyatt
2003 UB313 has finally been named, somewhat appropriately I think, after the Roman God of discord. Eris or more correctly 136199 Eris, is the largest of the three known dwarf planets in the solar system.

September 8 2006 Partial Lunar Eclipse

September 8, 2006

Geoff Wyatt
Despite the "Cloud Curse of Sydney Observatory" as mentioned in the media, 18 intrepid souls joined us for a 4am breakfast to enjoy today's partial Lunar eclipse. Yes there was a lot of cloud but we all managed to see the largest full Moon of the year minus the 19% hidden in the Earth's shadow.

Pluto – how Sydney Observatory voted

September 6, 2006

Nick Lomb
Voting on Pluto (the astronomers in the foreground have already voted) The International Astronomical Union at its recent General Assembly in Prague debated the definition of a planet. After a number of false starts the astronomers approved a definition stating that a planet a) must circle the Sun b) must be sufficiently massive for its gravity to have pulled it into a near sperical shape c) must have cleared out its zone, that is it is the only large object circling the Sun in its region of the solar system.

The travelling astronomer in Budapest 2

September 6, 2006

Nick Lomb
60-cm telescope at Konkoly Observatory The intrepid travelling astronomer visited two very different Budapest observatories yesterday. The first was Konkoly Observatory on the hills above Budapest.

The travelling astronomer in Budapest 1

September 2, 2006

Nick Lomb
Hungary's level marker The travelling astronomer is now in Budapest, Hungary. So far I have not been near any astronomical observatories, but I hope to get to one or two next week. There has been one interesting and relevant site though.

September sky guides – look, listen and explore!

September 1, 2006

Geoff Wyatt
Now you don't even have to read what's happening in the sky. All you have to do is follow the links below. Download a map of the sky this month and listen to the web broadcast online. How easy is that?

The travelling astronomer in Prague 6

August 26, 2006

Nick Lomb
Voting card for the planet vote A long time ago the Seekers sang "The Carnival is Over" and so is the Prague General Assembly of the International Astronomical Union. Wednesday night saw the farewell dinner which itself ended spectacularly with a light show to the music of Czech composer Smetana at the Krizik fountain.

The travelling astronomer in Prague 5

August 23, 2006

Nick Lomb
Debating the definition of a planet Today saw the lunchtime discussion on what is the definition of a planet. Though the proposal put to the meeting had already been somewhat modified there was some strong opposition and heated debate - unusually heated for a group of astronomers.

The travelling astronomer in Prague 4

August 21, 2006

Nick Lomb
Statue of Kepler & Tycho Brahe The travelling astronomer has sore feet after climbing up and down in Prague's castle district in the footsteps of these two famous 16th/17th centuryastronomers. This statue was erected in 1984 near the site where Tycho lived at one stage in Prague.

The travelling astronomer in Prague 3

August 18, 2006

Nick Lomb
Dr Richard Binzel demonstrating one of the new criteria for a planet Yesterday saw the release of the proposed new definition of a planet under which there are at least 12 planets in the solar system.

To be or not to be…

August 17, 2006

Geoff Wyatt
Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Ceres, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto, Charon and "Xena" (2003 UB313). When is a planet really a planet? Astronomers at the International Astronomical Conference Union in Prague are debating this question at the moment.

The travelling astronomer in Prague 2

August 16, 2006

Nick Lomb
Entertainment at the opening ceremony This afternoon was the opening ceremony of the General Assembly. This was a most impressive ceremony with lots of speeches, some very good, as well as some entertainment.

The travelling astronomer in Prague 1

August 15, 2006

Nick Lomb
The Prague astronomical clock at 2 pm I arrived in Prague today to attend a major international gathering of astronomers. This is the three yearly General Assembly of the International Astronomical Union, the last one one of which was held in Sydney in 2003.

Winning sky photos exhibition opens

August 8, 2006

Nick Lomb
The overall winner of the 2006 David Malin Awards Peter Ward flanked by Bishop Christopher Toohey (CWAS President) and Dr David Malin The "Winning sky photos: the David Malin Awards" exhibition opened last night at Sydney Observatory.