Friday, June 29, 2012

Astroswanny joins the 1000 club

In Australia, I have a friend who wrote a very famous song called "I made a hundred in the backyard at Mum's".

Its a sporting analogy about the dreams we wish for - in this case as they relate to the game of Cricket, which reaches its height every 4 years when the "Convicts" play the "Ye olde Country" in the ashes.

Not all dreams relate to cricket, ...... so today I was very excited to receive a Certificate recognising 1000 observations of Variable Stars to the AAVSO, which apparently they were gracious enough to send me even though I didn't show up for the meeting in Big Bear California. ;-)

So ..... "I bagged a 1000 in the front yard of our universe" ;-)

Thanks Arne, Mike Simonsen & everyone at the #AAVSO.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Top Ten Tweets after Melbourne/Vic Earthquake

Well did the earth move for you?

Melbourne, Victoria had a 5.5M Earthquake between Moe and Leongatha tonight, the earth has been moving out there for a while now. The Geoscience website listed the earthquake as the strongest in 109 years in Victoria.

Ironically we were watching "Big Bang" theory not long before and one of the daughters came in and said did you feel those vibrations?

Well the earthquake wasn't the half of it: the whacky Aussie sense of humor wasn't far behind - So I bring you the top ten Tweets about the Victorian earthquake.

10) The lame, and over used, (common guys its being going around for over a year) - toppled over garden chair Memed with "we will rebuild"

9) Some helpful people actually supplied a map ;-) However 9th place goes to Coles Supermarkets who tweeted "RT if you were in a Coles Supermarket" - clearly there's a "prices are way down, deeper down" angle going on there somewhere".

8) "We're restaurant staff we were too busy to feel the earthquake" - (but apparently not to busy to tweet about not feeling it)

7) Photo of spilled bottle of red wine on carpet.

6) "The penny just dropped @theage #fairfax #media"

5) "NOT all quiet on the western front @westernbulldogs #footscray"

4) Dog photo Meme "I like the earthquake better when it was an underground movement"

3) Photo of State Library street art in Swanson st -"Entire building swallowed in Melbourne earthquake"

2) "I asked for that Martini STIRRED not shaken"

And wait for it.....yes .....fell on the floor laughing at this one!!!

1) "Millions of dollars of improvement done to Federation Square in Melbourne earthquake"

Follow the madness here:

Sleep well Victoria!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Asteroid 2012 LZ1

Asteroid 2012 LZ1 was discovered by Robert McNaught on the evening of the 12 June 2012. An asteroid moving past earth at 12 lunar distances is not necessarily noteworthy even for a potentially hazardous object (MOID= < 0.05AU).

What was noteworthy is the professional surveys have already found over 90% of objects over 1 klm wide, this one at 500-700m is very large for a new discovery, basically because it is in a highly inclined orbit and was detected at -61 Declination in the southern hemisphere - ie in Robert's favourite comet hunting territory.

What does this mean - basically that it is on a highly inclined orbit, not un-heard of but not common. The inclination is why it would not have been picked up as part of the more than 90% of big asteroids already detected, more commonly along the plane of the solar system.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Transit of Venus - Have a Captain Cook!

And so it was, what a great day. Hundreds of people visited Siding Spring. 13,000 watched it around the world. Despite some backend technical hitches - All were happy. We got all 4 contacts despite having a bit of a close call with weather and having to move the telescope 20 mins before contact 3. The highlight for me was a 12 year old at the eyepiece of the main scope calling contact 4 at 2:43:50 pm Local time - another generation of astronomers is born!

On Wednesday 6th June (Australian time....5th Elsewhere), it is the last chance to observe a transit of Venus in front of the Sun till the year 2117.

Due to the tilt of the orbit of Venus relative to earth of 3.2 degrees, Transits of Venus come in pairs 8 years apart separated by 105 years and 121 years in a 234 year cycle.

Captain James Cook was dispatched by the Royal Society for the transit in 1769 which was observed from Tahiti. Next stop was Terra Australis Incognita where upon he fulfilled the rest of his journey's goals.

The transit of Venus has been a traditional way of measuring the size of the solar system with a number of useful calculations performed by early astronomers. Today thousands of astronomers, amateurs and citizen scientists, will measure the four contact points and report the timings from their location through social media, smart phone apps, and tweets, giving us perhaps the most accurate measurements recorded.

Elsewhere other astronomers will be looking at the spectroscopic analysis of the atmosphere of Venus as it passes in front of the sun and others will use the near full moon as a mirror and measure the changes in the specra of light reflected off the moon.

Many people will be observing and streaming the transit live online, so there is no need to go to far to get your view of the transit.

I should give the standard safety disclaimer: DON'T LOOK DIRECTLY AT THE SUN - unless you have the specialist equipment required to do this.

You can safely enjoy the transit by following the above embedded broadcast of the Transit brought to you live from Siding Spring, thanks to the ANU, AAO and You might even see a few familiar faces!

So in the time honored tradition of Aussie rhyming slang - Have a "Captain Cook" at this - he did, so should you!


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