Australian Sky & Telescope

Australian Sky & Telescope May/June 2019

Australian Sky & Telescope is a world-class magazine about the science and hobby of astronomy.  Combining the formidable worldwide resources of its venerable parent magazine with the talents of the best science writers and photographers in Australia, Australian Sky & Telescope is a magazine produced specifically for the Southern Hemisphere’s astronomers.

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1 minutos
astroquest needs you!

ONE OF THE JOYS OF ASTRONOMY is that the non-professional has always had an opportunity to take part in scientific research. From the days of the self-funded ‘gentleman astronomer’ to the era of coordinated amateur observing programs run by the likes of the AAVSO, BAA, IMO, RAZNZ and so on (look them up!), the everyday non-professionally trained person has been able to find their niche. In this digital era, however, it has reached the stage where you don’t even need a telescope — or to have ever looked through one — in order to take part in serious research programs. Citizen science, it is called. There are numerous fascinating scientific programs in which you can participate that require nothing more than a computer, Internet connection and a few hours of your…

2 minutos
lunar craters reveal recent impact history

RESEARCHERS USING A NEW method to estimate ages of lunar craters have found that the rate of large impacts — on both the Moon and Earth — nearly tripled 290 million years ago. In the January 18 issue of Science, Sara Mazrouei (University of Toronto) and colleagues came up with a new way of dating craters, based on the fading warmth of their impact debris. Younger craters, they realised, will be surrounded by larger rocks than older craters are, because space weathering grinds down debris with time. Since larger rocks take more time to cool during lunar night, younger craters must also appear warmer. Using the Diviner thermal radiometer onboard NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, the team measured the temperatures, and thus ages, of 111 craters. The researchers limited their study to craters…

2 minutos
quasar ‘standard candles’ shed light on dark energy

ASTRONOMERS HAVE FOUND a way to use quasars to measure the evolution of dark energy, the repulsive pressure that accelerates our universe’s expansion. The results, which appeared January 28 in Nature Astronomy, have potentially far-reaching implications for cosmology. Cosmology is based on accurate gauges of distance, and detonating white dwarfs known as Type Ia supernovae have long been the standard candle of choice. Their intrinsic luminosities are known, so their distances are, too. With these objects astronomers have probed the universe at a time when dark energy began to dominate its expansion. To see even earlier times, before dark energy took over, Guido Risaliti (University of Florence, Italy) and Elisabeta Lusso (Durham University, UK) turned to quasars, gas-guzzling supermassive black holes that are brilliant enough to be seen when the universe was…

1 minutos
queensland’s mount kent observatory expands

THE UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN Queensland’s (USQ) Mount Kent Observatory is being expanded to help it continue its astronomical work, including in the hunt for exoplanets. Once the expansion is complete, the expanded $6 million facility will have a total of 13 telescopes and other new technology to enable researchers and students to be at the forefront of ongoing planet discovery work — including NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), in which USQ is playing a leading role. At the launch of the facility upgrade on March 20, USQ Vice-Chancellor Professor Geraldine Mackenzie noted that “USQ astrophysicists have contributed to the discovery of more than 100 exoplanets, with more than 30 alone in the past 12 months. Just this week the team has detected two more new exoplanets from the NASA TESS mission. With…

1 minutos
impact spotted during lunar eclipse

DURING THE JANUARY 20–21 total lunar eclipse, at least two binocular observers and more than a dozen others with cameras spotted a probable meteoroid impact on the Moon. The flash appeared west of Mare Humorum, southwest of the crater Byrgius, only seconds into totality. According to analysis by Jorge Zuluaga (University of Antioquia, Colombia) and colleagues, the body had a mass between 7 and 40 kilograms, a diameter of 10 to 27 cm, and it probably made a crater 5 to 10 metres in size — within NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter imaging capabilities. Such impacts are common: NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office uses twin 35-cm telescopes equipped with video cameras to keep watch; it recorded 435 flashes between 2005 and 2018. But the circumstances of this event — a total lunar eclipse visible…

1 minutos
astronomers identify jupiter weather cycle

PLANETARY SCIENTISTS HAVE realised that the upper cloud layer at Jupiter’s equator clears out in a predictable cycle. What’s more, professionals and amateurs alike confirm that the planet is now undergoing another cloud-clearing event. A team of scientists using data from NASA’s Infrared Telescope Facility have published evidence of a recurring cycle: Every six or seven years the planet’s Equatorial Zone, typically dark at infrared wavelengths, becomes bright. Comparing the infrared cycle to a large database spanning more than four decades of observations, the scientists found it corresponds to a visible shift in cloud cover. “Jupiter’s equator is normally completely clouded over, appearing dark in the infrared because those cold ammonia clouds appear in silhouette against Jupiter’s warm internal glow,” notes Arrate Antuñano (University of Leicester, UK), who led the study. “Those…