Sydney City Skywatchers

Sydney City Skywatchers is a friendly astronomy group for locals
Meetings: 6:30pm till about 8:30pm, first Monday of the month at Sydney Observatory.
Founded in 1895, this is the 120th anniversary of this, the second oldest operating astronomical group in Australia. We encourage new members and no experience is necessary!  The group provides an opportunity for those interested in astronomy to share and broaden their interest in the sky. People at all levels are catered for – from beginners to serious amateur astronomers. Whether you want to listen to a lecture, present your own findings or discuss serious observing through a telescope, this is the club for you. Meetings are held on the first Monday of most months and usually begin with a guest speaker, followed by brief reports on solar activity and other astronomical observations made during the month by club members. Some meetings are dedicated to telescope viewing. There is a charge to cover the cost of a light supper – $2 for members; $5 for non-members. Bookings are not required. Meetings conclude around 8:30pm.
Annual membership is $40 for lots of great benefits ($65 for family membership).Non-members are welcome to attend two meetings before deciding whether to become a member. You can join Sydney City Skywatchers on the evening or take home a membership form.

CELEBRATORY SKY WATCHERS’ DINNER: Friday 13 March 2015, 7pm, 120 years of astronomy.Tickets on sale now at meeting 2 February!

6:30pm, 2 FEBRUARY, 2015
Craig Anderson, Doctoral Candidate, The University of Sydney. 
‘By unfair means: Wresting secrets from active galaxies using preposterously powerful radio telescopes and a little bit of voodoo’.
If you want a Universe that looks like ours 13.8 Billions years after a Big Bang, we now know that active galaxies are a crucial ingredient in the recipe. The energy released from actively feeding black holes is enormous. When this energy is fed back into material in the host galaxy itself, or even into the tenuous material surrounding the galaxy, it can have a profound effect on how these objects subsequently evolve. However, knowing that active galaxies have such an effect does not imply that these processes are well understood. We remain ignorant of many aspects of this basic picture, including (but not limited to) how the activity in these galaxies is triggered, how long it lasts, how the energy emitted by these processes is distributed back into the material in the universe, and how these processes have changed through cosmic time. In this talk I will discuss how an old, promising and slightly sneaky technique — the analysis of a phenomenon called Faraday rotation — is finally coming into its own with the firepower afforded by next generation radio telescopes. I will discuss what Faraday rotation is, why it is such a unique and powerful tool for studying active galaxies, some recent exciting results from the scientific literature, and the exciting science that we can look forward to in the next 10 years and beyond.

Cygnus A. Image courtesy of NRAO/AUI

Bio: Craig Anderson is a 33 year old PhD student working at the University of Sydney. Craig completed his bachelors degree in science in 2003. Following this, he worked for CSIRO in their Minerals division for 6 years, all the while cultivating a lifelong passion for both amateur and professional astronomy. In 2009 he returned to the University of Sydney to study honours level physics, and to undertake research into the processes that trigger the feeding of super-massive black holes in large galaxies. In 2010, he was awarded an Australian Laureate Scholarship to undertake a PhD under the supervision of Prof. Bryan Gaensler and Dr. Ilana Feain. Craig’s PhD thesis involves using one of Australia’s most powerful radio telescopes to study magnetic fields in the structures in and around galaxies containing super-massive black holes. When he’s not working on his research, Craig can be found at Sydney Observatory, eye glued to the eyepiece, indulging his obsession while helping others to make astronomy theirs.


W. J. MacDonnell's observatory in Mosman, c 1907

From left: William John Macdonnell, Mrs Macdonnell, Nathanial Basnett and G. D Hirst in front of Macdonnell’s private observatory in Mosman, c.1907. He was a leading member of the NSW branch of the British Astronomical Association – a forerunner of the Sydney City Skywatchers.