Observations

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Accessories to Punctuality: The Sydney Observatory and its Time ball in their urban environment

June 15, 2021

Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences
Guest post by Observatory Resident Dr Nancy Cushing. In October 1859, a letter of complaint was sent to the Sydney Morning Herald about the excessive ringing of church bells in the city.  To the writer, the bells were an annoyance in an urban area where “clocks, and watches, and time-balls, and time-guns, and all sorts of accessories to punctuality, are in everyone’s eyes and ears”.   The reference to the time ball, which had only begun service the previous year, is intriguing.  The time ball was primarily intended to provide the exact time to marine navigators, but was it also a useful addition to Sydney’s urban timescape in the nineteenth century as the letter suggested?  Or did it trundle up and down its mast unnoticed by those around it, and if so, why did they not pay it attention?  Seeking answers to these questions during a two month Residency has taken me deep into the records of the Sydney Observatory, nineteenth century newspapers and transcripts of oral history interviews as well as up to the top of the time ball tower and out into the streets of Millers Point.

June 2021 Southern Sky Guide

June 7, 2021

Melissa Hulbert
Monthly sky maps from the 2021 Australasian Sky Guide published by MAAS Media. What’s in the sky this June? Constellations Constellations represent groups of stars that have been given a name and more recently a border.

May 2021 Southern Sky Guide

May 1, 2021

Melissa Hulbert
Monthly sky maps from the 2021 Australasian Sky Guide published by MAAS Media. What’s in the sky this May? Constellations Constellations are groups of stars that form a picture. These pictures were given names and for millennia have been used as a tool for navigation and to share significant cultural stories.

April 2021 Southern Sky Guide

March 31, 2021

Andrew Jacob
Monthly sky maps from the 2021 Australasian Sky Guide published by MAAS Media. What’s in the sky this April? Constellations Constellations represent groupings of stars that have been given a name.

March 2021 Southern Sky Guide

March 1, 2021

Geoff Wyatt
  What’s in the sky this March? Constellations Constellations represent groups of stars that have been given a name and more recently a border. For millennia they have been used as a tool to share significant cultural stories, events and as markers.

February 2021 Southern Sky Guide

February 1, 2021

Melissa Hulbert
  What’s in the sky this February? Constellations Constellations are groups of stars that form a picture. These pictures were given names and for millennia have been used as a tool for navigation and to share significant cultural stories.

January 2021 Southern Sky Guide

December 31, 2020

Andrew Jacob
What’s in the sky this January? Constellations Constellations represent groupings of stars that have been given a name. For millennia they have been used as a tool to share significant cultural stories.

The Solstice and Persian Culture

December 18, 2020

Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences
Guest post by Tina Baradaran, an astronomer and educator at the Sydney Observatory.  Have you been wondering why the days are getting longer during this time of the year? Every year when the Sun reaches its most southerly position, the summer solstice occurs in the southern hemisphere and the winter solstice in the northern hemisphere.