It’s a ring!

What a night this was – the evening that three Queenslanders discovered a ring around (50000) Quaoar and almost 18 months later on, today, at long last, the discovery was published in Nature magazine for the world to see!

Myself and many others were observing this event for a main body occultation predicted by Luckystar last year, but seeing that we were well out of the path we decided to take a long-shot and record early and late to see if we could discover anything unusual. And boy did that pay off

I was watching live with Renato Langersek and spotted a ‘blip’ several minutes early and jotted down the time in my observers log. The main event came and went as expected – a miss – but when we reduced the data it was clear that our data, and that of John Broughton, lined up perfectly.

And to quote John : “After downloading a Ser viewer I can confirm the occultation blip is for real! The only conclusion to come to is that Quaoar must have a narrow ring about 10km wide and by implication is indirect evidence of shepherd moons. The fact that only single occultations have been observed from 3 out of 7 sites suggest it’s a ring arc akin to those discovered in the 80s surrounding Neptune, but even those have non-opaque matter in the remainder of the orbit. With that in mind, and extrapolating the Queensland times southward, the NSW observers should look for a 1 or 2-second fade around 10:52:00 UT.”

And that my friends, is history.

The clouds have parted to show the clouds!

This is the Small Magellanic Cloud – one of our nearest galaxies at a mere 200,000 light years away. It’s amazing to be able to see nebulae and globular clusters in a galaxy other than our own, to be honest, with the weather we have been having, just seeing the night sky again is pretty special!

The Carina Nebula

A fabulous deep southern object at any time, but this experimental image was taken during a 98% moon which would normally completely wipe out the sky. Fortunately, technology has come to the rescue with narrow band filters to allow colour cameras to work beautifully at any time!

Hunting the Hunter

The great Orion Nebula and Running man above are a great target in our sky at the moment. And for anyone has been in the game for a few decades can recall, it’s been a terribly difficult object to photograph due to it’s high dynamic range. Fortunately every year, astro cameras get better and better so even lazy astrophotographers like myself can get a half decent image!

L-Enhance L-Agoon

A lit of bit of narrow band imaging with a colour camera. The L-Enhance filter rather cleverly still lets light through in the RGB band passes so that the image has a reasonably natural colour, yet does a fine job of bringing out the finer detail of the nebulosity.

Light Paint your Wagon

Or in this case a rusty piece of farm machinery! An enjoyable evening of bush camping under the stars near Inverell in New South Wales allowed me the chance to play with some new camera and light painting equipment. The sky was not completely obliging, but the end result and colours were very pleasant (as was dinner and a glass of red).

Clouds rolling in

What a lovely evening imaging the star forming region of Eta Carina. Its all been made more colorful by my discovering how to add color from other images. So the detail is all mine, but the colour is borrowed until I get some time to do my own 🙂

Zoom Zoom

It’s the moment an aircraft ‘enhances’ your astro-photograph!
I’m not normally a fan of photo-bombing, but I think this passing Jet made a very ordinary shot of the Galaxy M83 so much more interesting 🙂

Dawn Chorus

Comet Swan has brightened considerably as it approaches the sun and It’s tail is now stretching over 5 degrees in the pre-dawn sky to the East. I captured this mosaic this morning, but I fear its a farewell photo and the comet is heading rapidly towards the Northern Hemisphere and will no longer be visible to folk down under!

And then there were two

Say hello to Samford Valley Solar Observatory! It all came as a bit of a rush as a 3.5m Sirius dome cam available moments before the COVID-19 lockdown. A mad rush to NSW followed by some excellent local concrete work and a permanent place for the Solar scopes is born 🙂

Samford Valley Solar Observatory