Archive for 2014

Daily cosmobite: Alpha Centauri

Published by Nick Lomb on April 18, 2014 No Comments

18_Pointer stars_Beta Cen on top_15 May 2010_Nick LombThe brightest of the two pointer stars to the Southern Cross is Alpha Centauri, also known as Rigel Kentaurus. Even a small telescope reveals it as a beautiful double star. The two components take about 80 years to circle around each other and will be at their closest for a while in November 2015.

Alpha Centauri is the lower of the two pointer stars in this image. Image Nick Lomb

Daily cosmobite: the Southern Cross

Published by Nick Lomb on April 17, 2014 No Comments

17_The Southern Cross over SO_Nick LombThis is the best-known star group or constellation in the southern sky. At this time of the year it is high in the southern sky in the evenings. It is easy to recognise as it is always accompanied by two bright stars, the pointers.

The Southern Cross appears above the Sydney Observatory time ball. Image Nick Lomb

Daily cosmobite: zodiac constellations

Published by Nick Lomb on April 16, 2014 No Comments

16_Gemini_StellariumThese 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: Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo and Libra.

The constellation of Gemini the Twins with the main stars shown. Courtesy Stellarium

15 April 2014 Moon eclipse from Melbourne

Published by Nick Lomb on April 15, 2014 No Comments

15 April Moon eclipse_end of totality_Nick Lomb

The Moon eclipse of 15 April 2014 soon after the end of totality. Picture Nick Lomb

The sky was gloriously clear in Melbourne and once the Moon cleared the trees it was a magnificent eclipse.

Moon eclipse_partial phase_Nick lomb

The partial phase of the Moon eclipse after the end of totality. Photo Nick Lomb

The part of the Moon still in the Earth’s shadow remained reddish well into the partial phase even as the other part already had direct sunlight.

Let’s hope for a clear sky in Sydney for the next Moon eclipse on 8 October 2014!

This is the view north giving you an idea of the sky conditions tonight. Conditions are similar to the east - but without the Harbour Bridge

This is the view north giving you an idea of the sky conditions tonight. Conditions are similar to the east – but without the Harbour Bridge. Photo by Geoffrey Wyatt

We had moments of hope that the clouds would clear – especially when we saw the glorious sunsets from Sydney Observatory (see below). But we are having bouts of intermittent rain and have had no clear views of the lunar eclipse. Maybe next time….

In the meanwhile, Griffith Observatory in LA has been showing great streaming video of the eclipse.

Here are the sunsets from just over an hour ago that gave us hope….

Glorious sunset from Sydney Observatory

Glorious sunset from Sydney Observatory. Photo by Irma Havlicek.

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Toner Stevenson, Manager of Sydney Observatory, showing Lynne McNairn (who will be covering the event in social media) where the 15 April 2014 total eclipse of the Moon will be visible

Toner Stevenson (Sydney Observatory Manager), showing Lynne McNairn (Powerhouse web team) where today’s lunar eclipse would be visible if only the weather would cooperate. Photo by Irma Havlicek.

Under a brighter sky, last Thursday Toner Stevenson showed Lynne McNairn where the fully eclipsed red Moon would rise at 5.28pm today. It will rise there, and it will be red. Whether the cloud will clear and we will see it is another matter….

Toner and Lynne are standing on what was part of the Fort Phillip wall, just near the signal station.

Johathan Fowler in the North Dome setting up for the live stream of the total lunar eclipse.

Jonathan Fowler in the North Dome setting up for the live stream of the total lunar eclipse. Jonathan (Powerhouse Theatres), worked with Michael Mitchell (Powerhouse IT) to finalise our connection. Thanks, guys. Photo by Irma Havlicek.

This morning our broadcast systems were connected to the internet in the Sydney Observatory north dome to enable live streaming of today’s total lunar eclipse. The link is now live on our lunar eclipses page. The stream won’t be showing anything until just before the time of the eclipse at 5.28pm.

Even then, whether we get to see the eclipse will depend on the weather. Sadly, that is the lot of Earth-bound astronomers using optical devices to look at the night sky. (For more stories about the weather thwarting or enabling astronomical observations through history, check out Dr Nick Lomb’s fantastic book, ‘Transit of Venus‘.)

Lynne McNairn, Zoltan Nemes-Nemeth and Jonathan Fowler in the North Dome during the set up for the video stream of the total lunar eclipse on 15 April 2014.

(From left) Lynne McNairn (Web), Zoltan Nemes-Nemeth (AV) and Jonathan Fowler (Theatres) in the North Dome during the set up for the video stream of the total lunar eclipse on 15 April 2014. Photo by Irma Havlicek.

Felix Warmuth setting up the equipment for the video live stream of the 15 April 2014 lunar eclipse

Felix Warmuth setting up the equipment for the video live stream of the 15 April 2014 lunar eclipse. Photo by Irma Havlicek.

One of the things we plan to bring you is a live video stream of today’s total lunar eclipse on our lunar eclipses page.

Preparations started last week, and involve staff from across the Museum. We need to be sure the telescope image is captured by video camera, and then relayed through a computer to YouTube from where we will stream the video to our website.

Here are some photos of some of the set up work being done in Sydney Observatory’s north dome last Thursday.

Andrew Smith, Felix Warmuth, Lynne McNairn and Geoff Wyatt in the North Dome as Felix sets up the camera and telescope for live streaming of the total lunar eclipse on 15 April.

(From left) Andrew Smith, Felix Warmuth, Lynne McNairn and Geoff Wyatt in the North Dome as Felix sets up the camera and telescope for live streaming of the total lunar eclipse on 15 April. Photo by Irma Havlicek.

Andrew Smith, Felix Warmuth, Lynne McNairn and Geoff Wyatt in the North Dome as Felix sets up the camera and telescope for live streaming of the total lunar eclipse on 15 April.

(From left) Andrew Smith, Felix Warmuth, Lynne McNairn and Geoff Wyatt in the North Dome as Felix sets up the camera and telescope for live streaming of the total lunar eclipse on 15 April. Photo by Irma Havlicek.

Andrew Smith,  Geoff Wyatt and Lynne McNairn in the North Dome during the set up for live streaming of the total lunar eclipse on 15 April.

(From left) Andrew Smith, Geoff Wyatt and Lynne McNairn in the North Dome during the set up for live streaming of the total lunar eclipse on 15 April. Photo by Irma Havlicek.

Daily cosmobite: red Moon rising

Published by Nick Lomb on 3 Comments

15_Eclipsed-Moon-and-the-Sydney-Observatory-time-ball_10 December 2011_Geoff WyattTonight, weather permitting, people in Sydney, Melbourne and most places in Australia will have the wonderful sight of a fully eclipsed Moon rising in the east. During a total eclipse the Moon is in the Earth’s shadow, but is faintly lit by red light bent through the atmosphere of the Earth. The Moon will start moving out of the shadow at 6:25 pm.

Full details on the Sydney Observatory lunar eclipses page.

The eclipsed Moon and the Sydney Observatory time ball on 10 December 2011. Image Geoff Wyatt, Sydney Observatory

Daily cosmobite: Mars and the Moon

Published by Nick Lomb on April 14, 2014 No Comments

14_Mars and the Moon_Nick LombThough it is almost a week after it was at opposition, Mars is at is closest to Earth today. It is bright and favourably placed for observation. In the evenings after dusk it can be seen low in the eastern sky. Tonight it is joined by the gibbous Moon, which is above and to the left or north of the planet.

Mars and the Moon on the evening of 14 April 2014. Chart Nick Lomb

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