Saturn Occulted

After a few days build-up under superb skies here in Queensland, the big day comes and it clouds over! It is surprisingly rare that the moon passes in front of our solar system neighbours, so when it happens we get excited. These events are special in their beauty and rarity more than for any scientific value and 2014 has given us Australians three chances to watch Saturn disappear. This was the second and only partially successful for me as I recorded glimpses of the event through thick cloud.

Others have done much better and I’ll post some links as I get them!Saturn

Venus Occults Star

Planetary occultations of naked eye stars have got to be one of the rarest celestial events. I had forgotten just how bad the ‘seeing’ was in my pre-dawn sky, but captured Lambda Aquarii emerging from the dark side of Venus this morning.

I’d been hoping to post a nice light curve of brightening as the star popped through the atmosphere, but the bad conditions made the video a little wild!

Very beautiful in its own way…

2014 DX110

This one came from nowhere!

2014 DX110 was discovered only three days ago, and flew by tonight at less than a Moons distance from us. It is on the Possible Impactors list with an impact with Earth scheduled for 2046 – As we learn more, and refine the known orbit, we will hopefully remove it from the list!!!

Whilst it’s probably under 50m, I still would prefer to avoid it (if I live that long)

Sorry for the poor quality, it was a misty night and low in the North…

Ularra Orion

Ularra

I guess that on Australia Day I should have been pointing towards the Southern Cross, but the camp site is directed otherwise!

Ularra is an old Gold town high up on the range in Northern NSW. At 1000m (3300ft) its a very different climate to Brisbane and MUCH colder at only 15 degrees C this evening and a stiff breeze to make it feel much less. Brrr…

This shot shows just how starry the sky is up here with Orion foremost in the shot. It’s a four photo collage from zenith to the ground which explains why the tall trees on the right come in from the side!

Iridium Flare over Samford

Ever seen an Iridium Flare?

The Iridium communications satellites turn their solar panels towards the sun at predictable times during their orbits and cause them to brighten dramatically for a few seconds as they pass.

I photographed this one this morning at 4am, not normally a time I’d be up, but the dog was demanding attention and then my Iridium flare app started screaming too! I took the camera out as well; this is the first time I have tried to capture one and am glad I did as the event was bright at mag -8 and passing high in the West.
So go find an app (there are plenty freebies) and have a look – they are very lovely to watch and happen every few days – Happy hunting!
Iridium_flare [For the photographers: Canon 650d, Samyang 14mm, ISO 400 for 30 seconds]

Samford Eclipse

A combination of Brisbane’s light glow and stitching artefacts have combined to
give this 360 panorama of the garden/house/observatory a rather eclipse like
quality.

I love the diamond ring over the observatory dome, prominences
caused by house and street lights and even the coronal mass visible to the
south!

The image is made up of 20 photos taken at 3am this morning and stitched together using an effect called ‘Little planet’ which gives an amazing, if bizarre, result.

DiamondRing

2013 NJ comes out to play

Well, after weeks of cloud, I get a break just when I needed it! NEO 2013 NJ has been on my hit list for a while and its a deep southern object, not unlike 2012 DA14 for that matter, and a reasonable mag 14. These Earth skimming rocks are quite fast moving and at 2.5 Lunar distances this one is going at nearly an arc min every min – which means it can be seen clearly moving in real time.

Here’s the Youtube: It’s been getting a fair pounding thanks to a plug on Universe today and a retweet by the MPC

It’s Q79!

After a number of abortive attempts to get my observatory recognised officially by the Minor Planet Centre, the recent long spell of clear weather allowed me to make enough observations of several asteroids over a sufficient period of time to demonstrate an acceptable level of accuracy and Samford Valley Observatory now bears the code Q79. Hurrah.

This code will mean that I can send my observations directly to them rather than through third parties, and even better, can generate lists of expected positions of asteroids (more properly known as ephemerides) without having to enter my location each time, just the code.

Previous attempts to get a code had been scuppered by weather, weather and weather…

The Centre of the Galaxy

The Australia Telescope Compact Array, near Narrabri hosted an open day to celebrate its 25th birthday today. I made the most of this is a rare opportunity to go behind the scenes of one of the most powerful radio telescopes on the planet, and hung around later to take some nightscapes

This was taken as the telescope was looking at the centre of the galaxy – it seemed to be sucking it in!

 Narrabri

The Goondiwindi Glow

Headed off for an open day at the Paul Wild radio telescope near Narrabri in NSW and stopped over in Goondiwindi for the night.  I captured this nightscape of a very photogenic wind turbine in the grounds of the campsite on a stunning moonless night, The Town lights glowing gently behind.

GoondiwindiGlow