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Wednesday, November 14, 2018

 

Two years without Jack

Mum was devastated when Jack died. She would carry a photo of him around with her in her purse "so he wouldn't get lonely". Later, in the nursing home, as her body failed her, that same picture of Jack would watch over her as she slept through the long marches of the night. When mum died, one of Jack's childhood drawings accompanied mum on her last journey.

Two years on from that terrible day so much has changed and so little. SmallestOne's birthday is now bracketed by two sad event's, the loss of his gran and his brother. He may not fully understand why we didn't want to buy him Call of Duty, Black Ops on the 100th anniversary of the end of the War to End all Wars, with the memory of his decorated gran's poppy service still fresh. Now he is swinging with Spider Man instead.

Two years on and we are no closer to knowing why Jack died. SmallestOne has been given a clean bill of health, but they want to do more tests on me to check for some rare possibilities.

Two years on we follow his friends progress through their lives. There has been ups and down, but they are progressing well, becoming confident young men in a larger world.

Peta and I cry less at random bitter sweet reminders of his life, but I still can't listen to Paul Kelly's "Making Gravy" without tears. I have no idea why this song reminds me of Jack so much or fill me with such loss.

Two years on and SmallestOne progressively faces the challenges of being on the Spectrum, he can ride a bike now, a feat he could not achieve before. This has changed him measurably and he faces the world with more confidence.

Tonight, on the second anniversary of Jack's death, MiddleOne plays in the final concert of his first year at Uni as a Sonic Arts student. The next year without Jack will start with Avant Gard sounds and new hope for the future.

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Tuesday, November 13, 2018

 

The Sky This Week - Thursday November 15 to Thursday November 22

The First Quarter Quarter Moon is Friday, November 16.  This is the last week to see four bright unaided eye planets in the early evening sky. Mercury climbs higher and is close to the star Antares all this week. Saturn and Mars are visible in the evening skies. Venus returns to the morning sky. Leonid meteor shower peaks Sunday 18th. Comet 46P visible in binoculars.

The First Quarter Quarter Moon is Friday, November 16.  The Moon is at apogee, when it is furthest to Earth, on the 15th.

Morning twilight sky on Thursday, November 15 looking east as seen from Adelaide at 5:34 ACDST (30 minutes before sunrise). Venus and the bright that Spica  are close together above the horizon. The inset shows the telescopic view of Venus at this time.

Similar views will be seen elsewhere in Australia at the equivalent local time (30 minutes before sunrise)




Evening twilight sky on Thursday, November 15 looking west as seen from Adelaide at 20:28 ACDST (30 minutes after sunset). Jupiter is just above the horizon. Mercury and  the bright star Antares are close together.

Similar views will be seen elsewhere in Australia at the equivalent local time (60 minutes after sunset)
 






Evening sky on Friday, November 16 as seen looking west from Adelaide at 21:38 ACDST (90 minutes after sunset). Mercury is just on the horizon with Saturn above and Mars is close to the first quarter Moon.

Similar views will be seen throughout Australia at the equivalent local time (90 minutes after sunset, click to embiggen).






Evening sky on Friday, November 16 as seen looking east from Adelaide at 21:38 ACDST (90 minutes after sunset).  The location of comet 46 is show with a cross. Similar views will be seen elsewhere in Australia at the equivalent local time (and most of the Southern Hemisphere 90 minutes after sunset)). Click to embiggen.


Comet 46P is rapidly brightening and is roughly magnitude 6.5 now, readily seen as a fuzzy blob in binoculars. I may become bright enough to (just) see with the unaided eye in December.





Morning sky looking north-east as seen from Adelaide at 4:38 am local daylight saving time on Sunday November 18 and Monday November 19 (90 minutes before sunrise) showing Leo, with the Leonid Meteor shower radiant indicated with a starburst. 

Similar views will be seen elsewhere at the equivalent local time (90 minutes before sunrise). Click to embiggen.
 
On the morning of Sunday November 18 the Leonid Meteor shower peaks (from the point of view of Australians, that's 17 November UT), with the best time being between 3-4 am.
Despite the peaks, very few meteors will be visible (maybe one every 5-10 minutes).

Printable PDF maps of the Eastern sky at 10 pm AEST, Western sky at 10 pm AEST. For further details and more information on what's up in the sky, see Southern Skywatch.



 Venus is has returned to the morning skies and is close to the bright star Spica low above the eastern horizon on the 15th.

Mercury is high in the early evening skies and is above the bright star Antares.

Jupiter  is low above the western horizon in the early twilight. By the end of the week it will no longer be visible.

Mars is in Capricornius and is readily seen in the evening. Mars is now rapidly dimming and shrinking. In a telescope you can see a few features as the huge dust storm has abated, the polar cap is obvious in even small telescopes. It is close to the First Quarter Moon on the 16th

Saturn is in the north-western evening sky in the early evening and is setting around 11 pm. It is still within binocular range of the Trifid and Lagoon nebulae but is slowly moving towards the globular cluster M22. However, its closeness to the hrrizon may wash these clusters and nebula out.

Printable PDF maps of the Eastern sky at 10 pm AEST, Western sky at 10 pm AEST. For further details and more information on what's up in the sky, see Southern Skywatch.

Cloud cover predictions can be found at SkippySky.

Here is the near-real time satellite view of the clouds (day and night) http://satview.bom.gov.au/

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Sunday, November 11, 2018

 

Vale Monica Margaret Musgrave, 1922-2018

My mother, Monica Margaret Musgrave (nee Palmer), passed away peacefully in her sleep on the morning of 28 October at 96 years old. This post is based on a personal reflection I gave at her funeral.

No person is a single thing in the course of their life, there are many threads that weave through and today we have heard some of the important strands that made up mum’s life. No one word can sum up a rich life of so many years, but in this personal reflection of my mum I think the word “service”
provides the warp to the weft of mums life.

The most vivid memory I have of mum, I was never there for. Mum and dad wanted us boys to have a good education, and to have opportunities that they never had. So mum lined up outside the gates of Brisbane State High School at 4 am so that myself and Ben could be enrolled in the free intake. We have no idea how she got there (did dad take her?) and mum never really spoke of it, but it was typical of the kinds of lengths mum would go to for us kids.

So many things mum did, from teaching us to climb trees with the poinsettia in the front yard, to sewing us “Dutch Girl” costumes for some scout play (afterwards she would tell us that it was okay to wear a dress occasionally but “we shouldn’t make a habit of it”). Mum was well known for knitting and crocheting, and would crochet everything to within an inch of its life.

No greater love has a young man for his mother than accepting crocheted clothes hangers and hanging them in his cupboard. When I designed a logo for the Queensland Institute of Technology Bushwalking club (euphoniously named QUIT BWUCK) mum laboriously converted it to a knitting pattern and knitted a tasteful black and yellow jumper for me … thanks mum.

On the holidays at Coolum mum would play endless games of Zookeeper with us (I always tried to collect Pachyderms and Reptiles, Ben favoured Big cats), Mum and Ben would team up to tickle me mercilessly. On family picnics, mum’s wicker picnic basket made every picnic a special event. Well-ordered Plates, Knives, forks, and billy tea made over an open fire.

When we were attending QIT mum would wait up for us to come home, not necessarily what a young lad wants when coming back late, although I was mostly studying late at the library, some of the late nights putting the student Newspaper together were not mums idea of what I should be doing. Ben can tell you his stories in person. Mum would always have dinner waiting for me when I got home however late.

Mums cooking skills were legendary, my brother Ben commented she could burn water, but at that hour dehydrated meat and anonymous mashed vegetables were ambrosia. When writing up my final year project with my lab partner Joy Brush mum stayed up far too late converting my horrible writing into neat typing.

If mum was notorious for her cooking her cups of tea were renowned. Visitors to mums place were always greeted with a cup of tea (or later, more sophisticated Nescafe 43). I have very warm memories of my friends crammed around the tiny table in our tiny kitchen quaffing mums tea. My tall friend Rob Walpole would stride up and down the kitchen expounding on some topic or other while tiny mum chased after him with his cuppa.

From 1944 to 1946 Mum served in the Women’s Royal Australian Naval Service as a tele-typiste. During her two years with WRANS her service to her country was acknowledged when Mum was awarded the war medal. Her service was acknowledged further at the funeral by her casket bearing the white ensign and the WRANS performing a poppy service.

Mum was also devoted to the Bowls club, she and dad were foundation members, and later mum would be made a life member and have a green named after her. 

But over the years the cuppas remained constant. In the later years when I visited, we would sit companionably side by side with a cuppa each watching TV (turned up to a volume that shook the windows). When looking at the photos in preparing for this I know that there are more people who enriched her life and in turn who enriched hers, than I have had a chance to acknowledge, her beloved sisters, nieces and nephews, grandchildren and great grandchildren, friends and neighbours.


Many could sadly not be at the funeral, as the threads of their lives unravelled by time, but many family and friends made the sometimes-difficult journey to celebrate the weave of mum's life, and were important threads in that weave.

I will leave you with this last image, mum curled up asleep in her chair in the flickering light of the TV, watched over by pictures of Frank, my son Jack, and all the other family and friends from Bowls and WRANS, at peace and safe in their regard.

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Tuesday, October 23, 2018

 

The Sky This Week - Thursday October 25 to Thursday November 1

The Last Quarter Moon is Thursday, November 1.  Four bright unaided eye planets are seen in the early evening sky. Mercury climbs higher and is close to Jupiter all this week. Saturn and Mars are visible in the evening skies.

The Last Quarter Moon is Thursday, November 1. The Moon is at perigee, when it is closest to Earth, on the 1st.

Evening twilight sky on Saturday, October 27 looking west as seen from Adelaide at 20:39 ACDST (60 minutes after sunset). Mercury and  Jupiter are close together above the horizon.

Similar views will be seen elsewhere in Australia at the equivalent local time (60 minutes after sunset)


Evening sky on Saturday, October 27 as seen looking northwest from Adelaide at 21:12 ACDST (90 minutes after sunset). All  4 bright planets are clearly visible.

Similar views will be seen throughout Australia at the equivalent local time (90 minutes after sunset, click to embiggen).







 Venus is lost to view and will return to the morning skies later in November.

Mercury climbs higher in the evening skies and is close to Jupiter form the 27th to the 1st of November.

Jupiter  is in the early evening sky above the western horizon just above Mercury. It is setting around 30 minutes after astronomical twilight when the sky is fully dark.

Mars is in Capricornius and is readily seen in the evening. Mars is now rapidly dimming and shrinking. In a telescope you can see a few features as the huge dust storm has abated, the polar cap is obvious in even small telescopes.

Saturn is in the north-western evening sky in the early evening and is a good telescopic object in the early-evening sky, setting around mif=dnight. It is still within binocular range of the Trifid and Lagoon nebulae but is slowly moving towards the globular cluster M22.

Printable PDF maps of the Eastern sky at 10 pm AEST, Western sky at 10 pm AEST. For further details and more information on what's up in the sky, see Southern Skywatch.

Cloud cover predictions can be found at SkippySky.

Here is the near-real time satellite view of the clouds (day and night) http://satview.bom.gov.au/

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Thursday, October 18, 2018

 

Orionid Meteor Shower, Morning 21-23 October 2018

Morning sky as seen from Adelaide facing north-east at 2:00 am ACDST on 22 October, the Orionid radiant is indicated with a starburst. Similar views will be seen elsewhere in Australia at an equivalent local time. Click to embiggen.

The Orionids are a worthwhile shower that somewhat favours the Southern Hemisphere,best seen between 2-5 am, the radiant, the point where meteors appear to originate from, being just under Betelgeuse, the bright red star in Orion.

If you draw an imaginary line between Procyon and Aldebaran, then drop another imaginary line from Betelgeuse to the horizon, the radiant is just next to the intersection of those two lines.

The Orionids are the debris from Halley's comet. The Orionids maximum is on October 21 UT (October 22 Australian time).

This year the nearly full Moon interferes with the shower, but is far enough away that you can block its light out for reasonable viewing.

The best viewing is the morning of the 22nd, when between 3-5 am under dark skies you should see about a meteor every 3-4 minutes, although reasonable rates will be seen the mornings before and after (see table below).

You can find out the predicted rates for your location using the NASA meteor flux estimator (use 8 Orionids and make sure you set the dates to 21-22 October 2018).
 
Unfortunately, both Chrome and Firefox have changed their security settings to prevent plugins from running, and the flux estimator only runs under Internet Explorer now.
You can follow the progress of the shower at the IMO Orionids live page.

If you decide to get up, allow at least 5 minutes for your eyes to adjust, and be patient, it may be several minutes before you are rewarded with you first meteor, then a couple will come along in quick succession.

Choose a viewing spot where you can see a large swathe of sky without trees or buildings getting in the way, or with street-lights getting in your eyes. The darker the spot the better (but do be sensible, don't choose a spot in an unsalubrious park for example). Look to the north-east, and the distinctive red star Betelgeuse below the saucepan will be easy to spot. The meteors should originate just below here. However, let your eyes roam a bit to pick up meteors that begin their "burn" a fair distance from the radiant.

A lawn chair or something similar will make your observing comfortable (or a picnic rug spread on the ground and a nice pillow), and having a Thermos of hot coffee, tea or chocolate to swig while watching will increase your comfort. (Here's some hints on dark adaption of your eyes so you can see meteors better).

The following table show the predicted peak rates at around 5 am local time on the mornings of the 21st, 22nd and 23rd of October for a number of cities under dark sky conditions (rates under suburban or city light conditions will be lower). Rates will be similar at the same latitude as these cities, and rates will be intermediate at spots between these cities.

TownMorning October 21Morning October 22Morning October 23
Adelaide10 meteors/hr14 meteors/hr11 meteors/hr
Brisbane12 meteors/hr16 meteors/hr15 meteors/hr
Darwin15 meteors/hr19 meteors/hr19 meteors/hr
Perth11 meteors/hr15 meteors/hr12 meteors/hr
Melbourne10 meteors/hr13 meteors/hr10 meteors/hr

Here is the near-real time satellite view of the clouds http://satview.bom.gov.au/
Cloud cover predictions can be found at SkippySky.   

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Wednesday, October 17, 2018

 

The Sky This Week - Thursday October 18 to Thursday October 25

The Full Moon is Thursday, October 25.  This is the last week to see all 5 bright unaided eye planets in the early evening sky. Venus rapidly heads towards the horizon moving away from Mercury and is lost to view by the end of the week. Mercury climbs higher and approaches Jupiter. Saturn and Mars are visible in the evening skies with  Mars and the Moon closest on the 18th. Uranius is at opposition on the 24th.

The Full Moon is Thursday, October 25.

Evening  twilight sky on Saturday October 20 looking west as seen from Adelaide at 20:00 ACDST (30 minutes after sunset). Venus is low above the horizon with Mercury and  Jupiter above. You will need a level, unobstructed western horizon to see Venus at its best.


The insets shows  simulated telescopic views of Venus, Mercury and Jupiter as seen with a 5mm telescopic eyepiece on Saturday October 20. Venus is a clear crescent in small telescopes.
 Similar views will be seen throughout Australia at the equivalent local time (30 minutes after sunset, click to embiggen).

Brilliant Venus is visible in the evening an hour after sunset in the early aprt of the week.  This week Venus continues to move away from Mercury and rapidly to sinks towards the horizon. It is lost to view by the end of the week.


Whole sky view of the evening sky on Saturday October 20 as seen from Adelaide at 20:00 ACDST (30 minutes after sunset).  Five bright planets are visible in the early evening sky. The Moon is above Mars.

Similar views will be seen throughout Australia at the equivalent local time (just after 30 minutes after sunset, click to embiggen).



Evening sky on Thursday October 18 as seen from Adelaide at 21:00 ACDST (90 minutes after sunset). Saturn and Mars are clearly visible. The Moon is near Mars. The insets are simulated telescopic views of Saturn and Mars as seen with a 5mm telescopic eyepiece.

Similar views will be seen throughout Australia at the equivalent local time (90 minutes after sunset, click to embiggen).



Evening sky on Wednesday October 24 as seen from Adelaide at 23:00 ACDST. Uranus is at opposition, when it is brigest as seen from Earth.The Moon is near Uranus. The star Omicron Pisscium is indicated as a guide star to find Uranus, within a binocular field omicron Piscium and Uranus are the two brightest objects visible.

Similar views will be seen throughout Australia at the equivalent local time (90 minutes after sunset, click to embiggen).


 Venus  is  visible above the horizon in the early evening early in the week.  It is bright enough to be visible from just on sunset and sets 60 minutes after sunset at nautical twilight in the early part of the week, but rapidly moves towards the horizon and is lost to view by the end of the week.  During the week Venus head away Mercury.
 
Mercury climbs higher in the evening skies as it heads towards Jupiter.

Jupiter  is in the early evening sky above the western horizon just above Mercury. It is  a good telescopic object for only a short period in the early evening and is setting around 45 minutes after astronomical twilight.

Mars is in Capricornius and is readily seen in the evening. Mars is now rapidly dimming and shrinking. In a telescope you can see a few features as the huge dust storm has abated, the polar cap is obvious in even small telescopes. Mars is close to the Moon on the 18th.

Saturn is now high in the north-western evening sky in the early evening, and is a good telescopic object in the mid evening sky. It is still within binocular range of  the Trifid and Lagoon nebulae, but is slowly moving towards the globular cluster M22. 

Printable PDF maps of the Eastern sky at 10 pm AEST, Western sky at 10 pm AEST. For further details and more information on what's up in the sky, see Southern Skywatch.

Cloud cover predictions can be found at SkippySky.

Here is the near-real time satellite view of the clouds (day and night) http://satview.bom.gov.au/

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Wednesday, October 10, 2018

 

The Sky This Week - Thursday October 11 to Thursday October 18

The First quarter Moon is Wednesday, October 17.  All 5 bright unaided eye planets can now be seen in the evening sky. Venus is low in the early evening sky just below Jupiter. Venus and the crescent Moon are close on the 11th with Mercury below. Jupiter and the crescent Moon are closest on the 12th. Mercury and Venus are at their closest on the 16th. Saturn and Mars are visible in the evening skies with Saturn and the Moon closest on the 15th.

The First quarter Moon is Wednesday, October 17. The Moon is at apogee, when it is furthest from the Earth, on the 18th.

Evening  twilight sky on Tuesday October 16 looking west as seen from Adelaide at 20:27 ACDST (60 minutes after sunset). Mercury and Venus are at their closest with  Jupiter above. You will need a level, unobstructed western horizon to see Mercury at its best.


The insets shows  simulated telescopic views of Venus and Jupiter as seen with a 5mm telescopic eyepiece on Tuesday October 16. Venus is a clear crescent in small telescopes. Europa is passing in front of Jupiter

 Similar views will be seen throughout Australia at the equivalent local time (30 minutes after sunset, click to embiggen).
 

Evening twilight sky on Thursday October 11 looking west as seen from Adelaide at 20:22 ACDST (60 minutes after sunset). Venus is above the horizon, not far from the crescent Moon and below Jupiter.


The insets shows  simulated telescopic views of Venus, Mercury  and Jupiter as seen with a 5mm telescopic eyepiece on Thursday October 11. Venus is a clear crescent in small telescopes.

 Similar views will be seen throughout Australia at the equivalent local time (60 minutes after sunset, click to embiggen).

Brilliant Venus is visible in the evening until full dark. Venus is visible to the unaided eye from before sunset, easy to see shortly after sunset and sets around 90 minutes after sunset. This week Venus continues to move away from Jupiter and rapidly to sinks towards the horizon and Mercury.


Whole sky view of the evening sky on Friday October 12 as seen from Adelaide at 20:27 ACDST (60 minutes after sunset).  Five bright planets are visible in the early evening sky. The crescent Moon is near Jupiter.

Similar views will be seen throughout Australia at the equivalent local time (just after 60 minutes after sunset, click to embiggen).



Evening sky on Monday October 15 as seen from Adelaide at 20:58 ACDST (90 minutes after sunset). Saturn and Mars are clearly visible. The insets are simulated telescopic views of Saturn and Mars as seen with a 5mm telescopic eyepiece.

Similar views will be seen throughout Australia at the equivalent local time (90 minutes after sunset, click to embiggen).

 Venus  is  readily visible above the horizon in the early evening.  It is bright enough to be visible from just on sunset and sets 90 minutes after sunset at full dark.  During the week Venus continues to head away from Jupiter rapidly moving towards Mercury and the horizon. Venus is close to the crescent Moon on the 11th and at its closest to Mercury on the 16th.
 
Mercury climbs higher in the evening skies as it heads towards Venus. The pair are closest on the 16th.

Jupiter  is in the early evening sky above the western horizon just above Venus. It was at Opposition on the May 9th, and is still visible during the evening. It is  a good telescopic object for only a short period in the early evening and is setting around 45 minutes after astronomical twilight. Jupiter is close to the crescent Moon on the 12th.

Mars is in Capricornius and is readily seen in the evening. Mars was at opposition on July 27th,  when it was biggest and brightest as seen from Earth. This was the best opposition since 2003.  Mars is now rapidly dimming and shrinking. In a telescope you can see a few features as the huge dust storm has abated, the polar cap is obvious in even small telescopes. 

Saturn is now high in the northern evening sky in the early evening, and is a good telescopic object in the mid to late evening sky. It was at opposition, when Saturn is biggest and brightest as seen from Earth, on June the 27th. It is still within binocular range of  the Trifid and Lagoon nebulae, but is slowly moving towards the globular cluster M22.  Saturn is close to the waxing Moon on the 15th.

Printable PDF maps of the Eastern sky at 10 pm AEST, Western sky at 10 pm AEST. For further details and more information on what's up in the sky, see Southern Skywatch.

Cloud cover predictions can be found at SkippySky.

Here is the near-real time satellite view of the clouds (day and night) http://satview.bom.gov.au/

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