Australian Sky & Telescope

Australian Sky & Telescope October 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.

Paragon Media Pty Ltd
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8 Issues

in this issue

1 min.
living in a golden age

I NEVER CEASE TO BE AMAZED at the accomplishments of amateur astronomers and astrophotographers. Just take a look at the winning images from this year’s David Malin Awards for astrophotography (p. 14–17). The combination of modern, affordable imaging technology, plus the skill, patience and perseverance of the photographers, is seeing them produce images that would have been unthinkable only 20 years ago. And you don’t even need to have the best, most expensive photographic gear in order to take great shots. As we report in this issue (p. 62–65), even smartphones can produce impressive results. Couple them with some free software, and you can achieve some pretty incredible results. We really are spoiled these days, with fantastic imaging gear, well-built telescopes and mounts, software galore and a plethora of information sources. We…

3 min.
nasa announces mission to titan

NASA’S NEW FRONTIER missions have travelled to Pluto, Jupiter and the asteroid Bennu. Now, NASA has announced that the fourth mission in this exploration lineup will head for Titan, Saturn’s largest moon. Elizabeth ‘Zibi’ Turtle (Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory) will lead a team in designing and building Dragonfly, an eight-rotor, rover-size drone that will helicopter around the icy, eerily Earth-like world. Dragonfly will launch in 2026 for an eight-year trajectory through the Solar System before it lands among Titan’s sand dunes in 2034. From there, the drone will conduct dozens of reconnaissance flights, investigating the organics-based grains that make up the dunes before flying farther afield to approach and enter Selk Crater. A long-ago impact melted water ice there, which mixed with organic molecules, mimicking the ingredients for life…

2 min.
two more fast radio burst’s host galaxies found

ASTRONOMERS HAVE HOMED IN on the host galaxies of two non-repeating fast radio bursts (FRBs), and their homes are not what the teams expected. Until recently, astronomers have only been able to identify the host galaxy of FRB 121102 — one of only two FRBs known to flash repeatedly. But on June 27, Keith Bannister (CSIRO) and colleagues reported in the journal Science that they had found the source of FRB 180924 — a millisecond-long flash that hasn’t repeated — using the 36-dish Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP). Then, on July 2, Vikram Ravi (Caltech) and colleagues announced that they’d narrowed down the galaxy hosting a second non-repeater, FRB 190523. Both teams triangulated the sources using radio interferometry. In observations from the Dark Energy Survey, the Very Large Telescope and the…

2 min.
in brief

Sun-studying missions selected NASA has selected two missions to study the Sun-Earth connection. The Polarimeter to Unify the Corona and Heliosphere (PUNCH) consists of four suitcase-size satellites known as microsats that will fly in formation in low-Earth orbit while investigating the solar wind as it leaves the Sun. The spacecraft will also track coronal mass ejections, the solar wind tsunamis that sometimes hurtle toward Earth, affecting satellite communications. PUNCH will gain 3D information about these events by photographing sunlight that has become polarised as it bounces off electrons in the solar wind. Sharing PUNCH’s ride to space, the two spacecraft that make up the Tandem Reconnection and Cusp Electrodynamics Reconnaissance Satellites (Tracers) will study the Sun-Earth connection a bit closer to home, focusing on the regions where the Sun’s magnetic field…

2 min.
did a newly discovered dwarf do a hit-and-run?

A controversial study suggests that the dwarf galaxy Antlia 2, discovered in Gaia data, had a long-ago run-in with the Milky Way galaxy. Starting back in 2009, Sukanya Chakra-barti (Rochester Institute of Technology) began fleshing out a theoretical scenario: The ripples that astronomers observe decorating our galaxy’s outskirts could have been initiated several hundred million years ago when a dwarf galaxy smashed through the Milky Way. At a meeting of the American Astronomical Society, Chakrabarti announced that the dwarf galaxy Antlia 2 might be the guilty party. The stars of Antlia 2 are spread surprisingly thin, suggesting that the dwarf might have tangled gravitationally with the Milky Way. Chakra-barti calculated its possible effects on our galaxy depending on how closely the two approached, while also considering a variety of galactic masses. Although…

2 min.
possible evidence for massive dark matter clump

A STELLAR STREAM known as GD-1 might provide evidence of a dark-matter clump in the outskirts of the Milky Way, announced Ana Bonaca (Center for Astrophysics, Harvard & Smithsonian) at a meeting of the American Astronomical Society. The finding will also appear in the Astrophysical Journal and, if it pans out, could help astronomers understand the nature of dark matter. The GD-1 stream used to be a globular cluster, but gravitational interactions with the Milky Way, starting around 3 billion years ago, pulled the group into a 30,000-light-year-long string of ‘stellar pearls’. Only, it turns out that some of the pearls are missing. Data from the European Space Agency’s Gaia satellite show two gaps in the stream, as well as a spur, where stars fly along on orbits slightly altered from the…