August observing report – What’s Up ?

Much like in this photo from 2004,  Members of Gove astronomers gathered at our Dhupma Rd site for an observing night on Sat 18th Aug 2012. Using a refracting telescope that is similar (but shorter focal length) than the one pictured, we took in some classic deep sky targets.

  • The first constellation visible on the night was, as is usual this time of the year, the bright stars of Alpha & Beta Centaurus. They point the way to the southern cross & this was our first target .
  • The sparkling stars of the aptly named Jewel Box adjacent to the blue/white star Beta Crux and its dim red companion Ruby Crux made a fine trio in the wide angle low power view offered with the combination of a 600mm Refractor and a 32mm pan-optic eyepiece. Giving a magnification of just 18.75x allowing all 3 targets to be easily seen.
  • With the obvious pairing of Mars, Saturn & Spica this was clearly our next target. The rings of Saturn being just visible at this low magnification.
  • The fully dark sky now beckoned us to look at the dim fuzzy ball that is Omega Centuri, the faintest object to the naked eye in Centaurus. However with the scope a  ball of 1000’s of stars is revealed as a fuzzy cotton ball. Just a hint of what through a larger aperture telescope, is a sparkling bowl of diamonds.
  • Pointing the little scope almost straight up to the Zenith revealed the dual star cluster’s & Nebulas of the Trifid & Lagoon nebulae in Sagittarius, again easily fitting in the field of view.
  • Some searching along the rich star field of the Milky Way revealed many star clusters and some interesting “asterisms” of stars making chain like patterns against the myriad of stars of the spiral arms of our grand galaxy.
  • Stretching the little scope to its limits I sought out the dim smoke ring of the well named Ring Nebula, a stellar remnant in the constellation of Lyra ‘The Harp”

Much of the night was spent relaxing in camp chairs looking at the glorious vista of the Milky Way stretched out before us. This time spent patiently looking at the clear night sky was rewarded several times with some spectacular Meteors. One of which was orange in colour and lasted for several seconds.

Its was great to see so many members of Gove Astronomers out under the night sky (about 20) several of whom are new members in the club. 

The next observing night for GAA will be on Saturday the 15th of September, with I hope by then our large aperture (18″) scope “Big Blue” back in action for an observing session up at the Gun Club, where we plan to establish a more permanent observatory for Gove Amateur Astronomers.

August Skies 2012

The month of August has already proved interesting with the Perseid meteor shower putting on a good display on the 12th and 13th.

Jupiter & Venus

Jupiter and Venus continue to make a good pairing in the morning sky after their close conjunction on the 12th with the moon. Venus is always worth a look through the scope to check out it’s current Phase & the constantly changing face of Jupiter with the dancing moons, Io, Ganymede, Callisto & Europa providing a constantly changing visual feast.

Mars & Saturn

The western early evening sky hosts two other planets in close conjunction with the bright star Spica in Virgo. On the 21st Spica, Saturn and the Moon have a close encounter, followed by the Moon and Mars the next night on the 22nd. Mars is little more than a small red dot as it recedes from the earth in its orbit. However Saturn never fails to impress with it’s gossamer thin glowing rings.

Blue Moon

There is a “Once in a Blue Moon” event this month, well literally, as there is a “Blue Moon” on the 31st. Well not actually Blue, but being the second full moon for the month it is classified as a Blue Moon.

So there you go, lots to see, so rug up and get out under the night sky with your Star Disc and Red light to discover the Secrets of the night sky this month.

Not The End of The World – Mayan Calendar revealed

This is the clincher; it’s not the end of the world on the 21st of December as some would have us believe. The Mayan Calendar DOES go beyond the 21st of December 2012.

My mind is made up, I will certainly be having a “NOT the end of the World” – Summer Solstice Astronomy Festival.
Come on Conspiracy theorists tell us that somehow it is coming, I will be there waiting with telescopes pointed skyward !

Full Story:

The Lyrids Meteor Shower Report

Well I made the effort and got up at 4am on the morning of Sunday the 22nd of April 2012 for a look at the Lyrid Meteor shower. Easy to here in the top end of the NT as the mornings are barely even cool.

In an observing session that went for an hour from 4:15 to 5:15 am I saw 5 bright Lyrids and an equal number of bright sporadics (or perhaps another shower?) as they all moved from east to west and noticeably faster than the Lyrids.

Well worth the effort despite the low numbers.

A little further reading has alerted me to the Pi-pupids which peak on the 23rd (tonight) and continue till the 27th April. The Pi Pupids have low rates of just several per hour but are noted for the high numbers of yellow meteors and persistent “Trains”  (lingering smoke trails)

I hope you were able to see the Lyrids and I look forward to your comments.

Solar Glasses

3. Solar Shades

ABSOLUTELY SAFE FOR DIRECT SOLAR VIEWING. Eclipse Shades® provide the ultimate in protection from harmful solar radiation.The Solar Glasses Lenses are made from exclusive scratch resistant optical density 5, “Black Polymer” material. Eclipse Shades filter out 100% of harmful ultra-violet, 100% of harmful infrared, and 99.999% of intense visible light. These premium filters create a sharper ORANGE colored image of the sun.

Just $4 including postage anywhere in Australia.
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IMPORTANT: Instructions for use, printed on glasses, must be read & followed prior to use. NEVER use Solar Shades with any other optical device.

Red LED Solar Torch

A Red light is an essential accessory for astronomy, (also camping, boating, fish & other night navigation activities) allowing you to see, while preserving your night vision. White light will ruin your night vision, spoiling your view of the glorious velvet blackness of the night sky.

With solar recharging of the inbuilt battery, true Red LED’s, Tough ABS plastic shell and the convenience of being on your key ring, it will always be close at hand and ready to use. The perfect accessory to go with your Star Disk, Star Chart or Moon Chart.

Just $7.50 mailed to you anywhere in Australia.

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So why do we think the red LED Solar Torch is the best astronomy torch available ? After over 10 years of doing Astronomy nights using various red light torches, torches covered with brown paper or red cellophane, bike lights and other red LED lights requiring batteries, I finally sourced this great little Solar charging red LED torch. The inbuilt battery will last you for hundreds of astronomy nights. When the battery starts to run down and the light begins to fade, simply place in the sun for a few hours and you are good to go again. I have lost count of the hours wasted finding button batteries for other RED led key chain lights.   The NightSkySecrets red LED solar torch, solves all these problems and is shipped to you in all Australian states and territories for just $7.50 including postage.

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Star Disk

The Star Disc double-sided Planisphere for the Southern Hemisphere. A very comprehensive Star Disk with all the constellations you will see. An absolute necessity for the amateur astronomer. I have used a star Disk for over 20 years as an essential reference to the night sky, wherever I am.


North and South sides give greater space and clarity.
Major stars, galaxies, nebulae and clusters in color.
Comes with a reference guide with lists of Stars and binocular objects and planet positions for the next 5 years.
Size: 27 x 24 cm, Suitable for latitudes in (Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Argentina & Chile.) Buy now including Postage Australia Wide $15

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Moon Phases

Moon Planting Calendar

9.Moon Planting Calendar

Learn when to plant, what phase of the moon will be most beneficial for your different plants. Excellent tips throughout.This perpetual Moon Calendar unlocks the secrets of the lunar cycles with easy-to-follow directions on the right time to plant, when to fertilise, when to cultivate and even when to fish. Including postage to anywhere in Australia $15
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Posters Australia and NZ from Space

Posters-Australia & NZ From Space

This poster will amaze you with the stunning detail of Australia and New Zealand seen from space. A great addition to any home you will find yourself scanning the detail of the poster looking for the hard to find signs of human settlement. Packed securely in a poster roll and shipped anywhere in Australia $12
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