Observing Diary: Super Blue Blood Moon

Date: 31 January 2018

Location: Melbourne, Australia

Super Blue Blood Moon
Super Blue Blood Moon

I set up a small telescope in my driveway and spent the evening explaining the details for the Super Blue Blood Moon to curious passers by.

A Super Moon occurs when the Moon is Full and at perigee (Its closest approach to Earth in its orbit) The Moon appears slightly larger than usual, but you’d need to be an expert observer to realise it.

A Blue Moon is simply the second full Moon in the same calendar month. January 2018 started with a full Moon and so we just got a second in the same month.

A Blood Moon is a Lunar Eclipse, when the Moon passes through the shadow cast by the Earth. As the Earth’s shadow fall on the Moon, its colour changes, initially blacking-out portions of the Moon and then changing the Moon’s usual silver-grey to a red-orange colour.

The Full Moon
The Full Moon
Lunar Eclipse - The Moon Disappears
Lunar Eclipse – The Moon Disappears
Copper colours start to show
Full Eclipse
Full Eclipse

Observing Diary: International #ObserveTheMoon Night (IOMN) 2017

Date: 28 October 2017

Location: Melbourne, Australia

The Moon on International Observe The Moon Night 2017

International Observe the Moon Night (InOMN) is an annual worldwide public event that encourages observation, appreciation, and understanding of our Moon and its connection to planetary science and exploration, as well as the cultural and personal connections we all have with Earth’s nearest neighbour.
We had our best observing conditions early in the evening with The Moon high in the sky.
This shot was taken with a Canon DSLR camera in video mode, shooting through an 8″ SCT Telescope. I took a 20 second video and stacked the resulting frames in Autostakkert. Then I tweaked the contrast and saturation in The GIMP.

Observing Diary: VicSouth Desert Spring Star Party 2017

Date: 20 – 23 October 2017
Location: Little Desert Nature Lodge, Nhill, Australia

Startrails over Vic South

A great time was had by all at the annual Vic South Star Party.

This was my first visit to Vic South, so was didn’t know what to expect and had tried to plan for all eventualities, carrying plenty of battery power along with my ‘scopes and cameras. I needn’t have worried. The event was very well organised and the facilities were excellent.
I arrived at the Little Desert Nature Lodge in Nhill on Friday afternoon and found a large group of astronomers setting up their equipment on the lawn with thoughtfully-provided electrical power and guidelines for the best places to set up.
Visual observers were directed to one end of the field and astrophotographers to the other, with laptop screens facing away from the visual observers. This ensured that no-matter what style of observing was planned, you’d have a place to do it. Even the windows of the lodge rooms had been covered to minimise stray light during the night.

As darkness fell on Friday night, the winds dropped and we were treated to a dazzling display of the night sky with the Milky Way and Orionid meteors on show throughout the night.
At around 2:00AM the whole field erupted in gasps as an Orionid fireball ploughed slowly across the sky, leaving a glowing trail in its wake which lasted for at least 10 minutes. (My camera was pointing in the wrong direction!)
The sun was due to rise at about 6:30AM and, as if on cue, the clouds rolled across the whole sky just after 5:00AM to lower the curtain on a fabulous night’s observing.

For these events I deliberately do not have a pre-planned observing schedule, preferring to leave the night open for random observations and to meet other astronomers and discuss their projects.

Following a quick sleep, at breakfast I was surrounded by astrophotographers studiously tapping away at their laptops, processing images from the previous night and comparing their results.

The clouds obstinately refused to budge for Saturday night, but the crowd settled-in for an evening of Movies and Astro-Gossip before catching up on much-needed sleep.

Sign me up for 2018

Little Desert National Park
Observing Field at Vic South
Kangaroos Guest Star at Vic South
Indoor Activities
The Horsehead Nebula
The Milky Way
Astrophotography in action
The Great Orion Nebula

Success Story: Amelia – Life on Exoplanets

Amelia and her Father, approached us to ask for help with a project for the Victorian Science Talent Search 2017. Amelia is concerned about the future of Human life on Earth as we damage the planet with pollution and climate change takes hold.
Amelia wanted to explore the possibilities of Human life on other planets, outside our solar system. Do exoplanets exist? Can we travel to them? Can we live on them?
Amelia used our “Exoplanet Transit Tracking” project to allow her to locate and observe a real exoplanet and in-so-doing, learn more about exoplanets and the possibilities of Human colonization.

You can read more about her project here.
Life on Exoplanets

Great job Amelia!

Amelia is a big fan of professional Astrophysicist Prof. Alan Duffy. Here is what he had had to say at the beginning of her project.

Observing Diary – The Moon, Jupiter and Saturn

Date: 4 May 2017

Location: My Backyard, Melbourne Australia

An unexpectedly cloudy evening meant some creative cloud-dodging, exploring the Moon early on, followed by Jupiter and Saturn.

All three of these shots were taken as short video grabs with a ZWO colour camera mounted on a 10 Inch RC scope and processed in AutoStakkert.

The Moon – The Vallis Alpes and the Cassini Crater
Jupiter with the Great Red Spot