Sunday, November 30, 2008
Counting down to the Venus, Jupiter and Moon lineup Tomorrow.
Typical (see blog subtitle), luckily there was a brief hole in the cloud and I was able to get this shot off before the cloud closed over (even then, Venus is partly obscured by cloud, it's the left hand object and should be much brighter than Jupiter (as always, click to enlarge).
Here's hoping tomorrow night is clear, when the tow planets and the Moon are so close they can be covered by your thumb.
Saturday, November 29, 2008
Venus and Jupiter, view from the washing up.
As I've said before, you can see a great deal from the window over the sink. You get a skyshow and clean up at the same time.
Carnival of Space #81 is here.
Labels: carnival of space
Friday, November 28, 2008
In Other News...
Now I just have to read Poisons first chapter throughly, and he can get on his way to being Dr. Poision.
Labels: home life
Smallest One Went to School Today
Labels: home life
Venus and Jupiter Come Closer
Thursday, November 27, 2008
A Leonid Storm in 2009?
So maybe something very good, maybe something just good. The nights will dark with no interference from the moon. Very worth a look. Despite the peaks occuring in daytime for mostAustralia, we shoul see some increased activity, and folks in WA might see quite increased rates.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Looking at stars with exoplanets
Where are the stars with exoplanets? Well, all over really. There is almost no direction that you can look in without you gaze falling on an area that has a star that has an exoplanet around it. True, most of these stars are too faint to see with the unaided eye, or just on the threshold of visibility.
However, two of the three exoplanetary systems that have been observed visually recently are quite bright, and can be easily observed with the unaided eye from the southern hemisphere (sorry northern hemisphere folks, we've got the brightest galaxies and globular clusters too).
Fomalhaut is magnitude 1.3, and beta Pictoris is magnitude 3.9, making them easily visible under suburban skies, you don't have to trek into the bush to see them. Fomalhaut is the easiest to spot at the moment. At around 9:30 pm, look west, take a moment to appreciate Venus and Jupiter, then raise your gaze towards the zenith. The first reasonably bright star you see near the zenith is Fomalhaut, home to a Jupiter sized world orbiting far out.
Beta Pictoris is a little harder to pick up, but only a little. Looking to the South west you will see a very bright yellowish star, this is Canopus, the dimmer star just above and slightly to the left of Canopus is Beta Pictoris.
So, the next fine night, while you are looking at the antics of Venus and Jupiter, take time to have a look at these stars, and tell your friends or kids that alien worlds orbit them.
Venus, Jupiter and the Moon: An Awesome Lineup Coming Up.
I hope you have all been enjoying the antics of Jupiter and Venus in Sagittarius. This week sees a spectacular finale as Venus and Jupiter come together for an amazing lineup in the sky.
At the moment, Venus is easily seen high in the early western evening sky near the handle of the "teapot" of Sagittarius, not far from Jupiter (the brightest object in the sky after Venus). As the week goes on, Venus and Jupiter come much, much closer together. By Saturday 29 November they are nearly side by side. On the 30th they draw closer again, and the thin crescent Moon can be seen below them almost touching the bright star Kaus Borealis in the lid of the "Teapot".
Finally, on Monday December 1 the crescent Moon, Venus and Jupiter form a close triangle that you can cover with your thumb. All three objects will fit into the field of view of a pair of binoculars. A small telescope will show the craters of the Moon, the satellites of Jupiter and the half moon phase of Venus all close by. The dark side of the Moon should show up with the ghostly glow of Earthshine on it. This will be an excellent photo opportunity.
The best time to look is between half an hour and an hour and a half after sunset, although the planets can be seen outside these times.
What Happened to the Leonids?
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
A planet around beta Pictoris?
But I did get to experience the storms that hit Brisbane (see more pictures here), Adelaide storms are very wimpy things, and I hadn't had a good storm for a long time. The Wednesday storm came right over Mum's house, and it was fantastic to smell the approaching rain, and watch the lightning arc across the sky.
At one stage Mum came out and I thought she was going to ask me to come in, but she said "Turn the lights on son, that way you can see the hail better".
Naturally I got no photos of the storm, or of the Venus - Sagittarius conjunction (because of all the lcoud, of course), so here are some photos I took when the family walked downm to the Kiosk for fish and chips. At least its a starfish, and the wired patters the drifting sand made over the hard san were pretty amazing.
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Carnival of Space #80 is here.
Labels: carnival of space
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Venus amongst the Tress
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
I love my camera. The image on the right is of the false comet in Scoropius taken at ISO 800, the one on the left is the false comet, ISO 800, taken in the suburbs. I have to play with the settings more, but it looks like I can really push things wiith this camera.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
For the Birthday, I did a chemistry magic show with pH indicators and dry ice. Warning, if you try this, small children ill try and eat/drink the most toxic thing in your kit.
Labels: home life
Monday, November 17, 2008
Fire in the Sky
Sunday, November 16, 2008
Exoplanets you can actually SEE!
Normally planets around other stars are found by measuring the tiny wobbles in their parent star that the planets orbits produce, or measuring the tiny dips in light when a plants moves in front of its star, or more rarey by graviational lensing. There are the first, actual images of planets. They are fuzzy dots to be sure, but these dots are alien worlds. Just think of that.
Fomalhaut is special to me, as it is easily visible from my back yard, one of the bright southern stars that have accompanied my various stellar adventures. In fact, that Fomalhaut has planets is pretty amazing, given that most planest have been found around stars that are either too dim to see or just visible to the unaided eye (like HR899 in Pegasus, finder charts here).
But you don't want me wittering on about all this, there is a great post over at the Planetary Society by Amir Alexander, Systemic has some interesting musings, Tom has some choice words and Stuart also has a good take on this. And Stuarts name for Fomalhaut b is Sauron, that is the most appropriate planet name ever, We need to lobby the IAU for it to be adopted.
Labels: extrasolar planet
Saturday, November 15, 2008
Venus and the Moon from New Zealand
Friday, November 14, 2008
...and What About the Leonids
Given that the Taurids were really nice, what's happening with the Leonid meteor shower? Well, I more-or-less answered this back in in August. While there is a prediction for a short outburst of possibly 100-150 meteors per hour, the peak falls on around 11:30 am Eastern Daylight savings time on the 18th, well after the sun has risen. A second prediction puts the peak at 10:00 am EDST, again well after the sun has risen. Ther is another possible peak on the 19th, which alos occurs during daylight in the eastern stares, but might be picked up in Western Australia.
As well, the waning Moon is close to the radaint, making it hard to observe meteors. So maybe it may be a good idea to sleep in on Tuesday morning. On the other hand, if the peaks arrive early, we might see something nice.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Venus caps the Teapot
Venus is next to the Lagoon Nebula tonight, unfortunately, it is also behind thick cloud (see subtitle of blog).
Still over the next few days Venus has some interesting encounters. On November 17 and 18 (Monday and Tuesday) Venus forms a very bright "lid" to the teapot of Sagittarius, in the process coming very close to the bright star Kaus Australis. On the 19th and 20th of November (Wednesday and Thursday) Venus will be near the globular cluster M22. This is best seen in binoculars though (or in very dark sky sites).
All the time Venus and Jupiter are coming closer, for a spectacular rendezvous in December.
Animated Comet C/2008 T2 Cardinal
Great Pictures of the Taurids
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Comet C2008 T2 amongst the galaxies
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Venus, the Moon and the ISS.
Tony wasn't happy with the cloud coming over, but I think it lends dramatic atmosphere to the scene. As always, click on the image to enlarge it.
Monday, November 10, 2008
2008 TC3, an asteroid falls to earth
Saturday, November 08, 2008
Venus and the Moon Together
I also got to see Venus snuggle up to the Moon. A truly beautiful sight, and I got to point it out to quite a few kids and adults as we sheltered from the cold, howling wind (luckily the post wedding events were inside an historic farmhouse with really thick walls, but every so often people went outside to smoke, clear heads, run around screaming etc.).
Sadly I didn't have my proper tripod with me (would have helped during the wedding photography too). These images were taken with the camera on one of those tiny portable tripods about the size of you hand, balanced on an old bench. Didn't come out too badly if I say so myself.
As usual, click on the images to enlarge them. In the enlarged image of the bottom photo, you can see Antares and the head of the Scorpion.
The Origin of Life at the Museum of Science
The Museum of Science at Boston has a fantastic interactive web resource on the origins of life. Exploring Lifes Origins has a timeline of lifes evolution (with sliders), and pages on understanding the RNA world and building protocells, with a nice animation of protocell replication. The pages have been made in collaboration with ribozyme guru Jack Szostak and his laboratory, and there is a handy resources page for educators.
If you are interested in our current understanding of the origin of life, this is a very handy starting off point. You can explore ribozymes in more detail with proteopedia.
(Hat tip to Sandra Porter, biology educators should not miss her blog)
Carnival of Space #78 is here.
Labels: carnival of space
Friday, November 07, 2008
Wednesday, November 05, 2008
Taurid Meteor Shower (5-6 November 2008)
Tonight (Wednesday 5th November) , is the peak of the Taurid Meteor shower. The Taurids are linked to debris from comet 2P/Enke, and roughly every 3 years there is an outburst as Earths orbit intersects the debris cloud. This year Earth brushes the edges of the cloud, and it is possible that there may be heightened meteor activity. As the Taurids are relatively weak, this mean that we could possibly see one meteor every 5 minutes of so (rather than one every 15 minutes).
The Taurids are relatively bright, so there is a chance we could see some nice fireballs. The best time to observe the Taurids is from around midnight on the 5th until the early morning of Thursday the 6th. The Taurids radiant, the part of the sky where they will apparently originate from, is just above the inverted V of the Hyades (see chart, click on it to enlarge)
Carnival of Space #77 is here.
(Yes, I know it went live 4 days ago, but I've been involved in secret family business again).
Labels: carnival of space
Sunday, November 02, 2008
Some images of Venus below the Scorpion
Tony (an Cynthia earlier) sent me his images a while ago, but I'm only just putting them up now as I'm slack (oh yeah, and family duties keeping me a thousand or so Km away from my computer).
Saturday, November 01, 2008
Remember that Lunar eclipse
Pretty good I think!