August 2015 night sky guide and sky chart

August 1, 2015

Melissa Hulbert
To help you learn about the southern night sky, Sydney Observatory provides a guide and a sky map or chart each month. This month's guide is presented by Melissa Hulbert, Sydney Observatory Astronomy Programs Coordinator.

Aroma Festival Comes to Sydney Observatory

July 24, 2015

Melissa Hulbert
Coffee/tea and astronomers have long had a symbiotic relationship - there is nothing like a good cuppa at 2am with still a few more hours of observing to go! With that in mind, this Sunday (26th July) is The Rocks Aroma Festival of which Sydney Observatory is a part.

See Venus, Jupiter and the crescent Moon this weekend

July 17, 2015

Andrew Jacob
This weekend, 18 & 19 July 2015, the crescent Moon, Venus and Jupiter make a nice grouping in the western sky in the evening twilight. The Moon may be first visible on Friday night as a thin crescent  below both Venus and Jupiter.

Keeping up with the New Horizons Pluto flyby

July 14, 2015

Andrew Jacob
And finally it's July 14 2015. The New Horizons Pluto fly-by happens today!   After we receive its last approach image at about 5:30pm* AEST New Horizons turns towards Pluto and will be out of touch for many hours.

Pluto – New Horizons images vs the 2010 “Buie” maps

July 7, 2015

Andrew Jacob
In my previous post about Pluto I included three maps, not images, released in 2010 and laboriously made by a team led by Marc Buie of the Southwest Research Institute, Colorado. Fortuitously, the latest New Horizons image also shows three views of Pluto.

Growing up with Pluto #4 – Surface features!

July 7, 2015

Andrew Jacob
In 1996 HST images showed surface features for the first time and revealed a complex, varied terrain. Then in 2010, after seven years of image processing, we saw Pluto in full colour for the first time.

Growing up with Pluto #3 – Two frozen worlds

July 6, 2015

Andrew Jacob
In 1990 the Hubble Space Telescope returned photos of Pluto separated from Charon. Up to that time the best ground based images, from the Canada-France_Hawaii telescope in the image above, still showed Charon as a bump on Pluto.

Growing up with Pluto #2 – First sign of moon Charon

July 5, 2015

Andrew Jacob
In 1978 James Christy discovered the Pluto's moon. He was examining images of Pluto to refine its orbit and noticed a bump on Pluto. It was named Charon. Once again estimates of Pluto's size, and other characteristics, changed.

Growing up with Pluto #1 – Simply a dot in the sky

July 4, 2015

Andrew Jacob
Pluto: mysterious dot to familiar friend. Pluto is in the news lately! As the New Horizons spacecraft approaches this dwarf planet, and former ninth planet, for a high-speed fly-by on July 14, 2015 it's timely to consider how our understanding has evolved over the last 85 years.

July 2015 night sky guide podcast, transcript and sky chart

July 3, 2015

Melissa Hulbert
To help you learn about the southern night sky, Sydney Observatory provides an audio guide/podcast, transcript of that audio, and a sky map or chart each month. This month's guide is presented by Dr Andrew Jacob, Sydney Observatory's Curator of Astronomy.

June 30, 2015 – A busy day in the solar system!

June 30, 2015

Andrew Jacob
What is it about June 30? Everything is happening at once! The EOFY sales are on, our thoughts turn to tax returns and the coolest days of the year are approaching. And in 2015 we also have... Pluto momentarily hides (or occults) a faint star in the constellation Sagittarius.

Pluto – where in the sky is it?

June 29, 2015

Andrew Jacob
Pluto is getting a lot of attention at present (mid-2015). The New Horizons spacecraft is returning increasingly detailed images from the outer reaches of our solar system. The chart above shows where to look for Pluto.