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DISPLAYING POSTS TAGGED: astronomy (20)

Five bright planets in the morning sky

Author
by Tanya Hill
Publish date
22 January 2016
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For the first time in more than 10 years, it will be possible to see all five bright planets together in the sky. Around an hour or so before sunrise, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn, the five planets that have been observed since ancient times, will appear in a line that stretches from high in the north to low in the east.

Five bright planets Mercury rises out of the early morning glow to complete the full set of five bright planets.
Source: Museum Victoria/Stellarium
 

The planets are visible from right across Australia in the dawn sky. You can start to look for the lineup from Wednesday, January 20 and it can be seen right through until the end of February.

Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn have been in the morning sky since the beginning of the year. Jupiter is bright in the north, next comes reddish Mars, followed by pale Saturn and lastly brilliant Venus, which shines above the eastern horizon. It is the appearance of Mercury that makes the family complete.

Mercury has just transitioned from an evening object to a morning object. At first it will appear quite low to the eastern horizon and of all the planets it is also the faintest, so it will be hard to see to begin with. However, Mercury will continue to rise higher each morning and by early February it will sit just below bright Venus.

Dates with the moon

If you need something a little more to get you leaping out of bed before sunrise, then here are the dates to mark in your calendar. From the end of January, the moon will travel by each planet and can be used as an easy guide for your planet-spotting.

The moon passes by the planets From January 28 through to February 7, the waning moon will travel through the line up of planets, passing each one in turn.
Source: Museum Victoria/Stellarium
 

On January 28, the moon will be right next to Jupiter. Come February 1, the moon (in its Last Quarter phase) will be alongside Mars, then on the following morning it’ll sit just below the red planet. On the morning of February 4, the crescent moon will be near Saturn. Then on February 6, the moon will be alongside Venus and on February 7, a thin sliver of moon will sit below Mercury.

In line with the sun

The line formed by the planets in the sky closely follows the ecliptic, the apparent path of the sun against the background stars. This path marks the plane of our solar system, visual proof that the planets, including Earth, all orbit the sun on roughly the same plane.

The ecliptic is bordered by the constellations of the zodiac and one of the most recognisable zodiac constellations is Scorpius. If you’re awake before the first rays of the sun begin to drown out the stars, then look for the curved outline of the scorpion between Mars and Saturn. In fact, sitting just above Saturn is the red supergiant star Antares, which marks the heart of the scorpion and its reddish colour makes it the perfect rival for Mars.

Rare oddity

It’s been a long time since the orbits of all five planets have brought them together to the same patch of sky. To make the best of the viewing opportunity try and get to a clear open space where you can see from the north all the way across to the eastern horizon.

Position of the planets Position of the planets in their orbits around the sun as of February 2016.
Source: from www.theplanetstoday.com
 

As early February comes around, I also highly recommend checking out the flight path of the International Space Station via websites such as Heavens Above or NASA’s Spot the Station.

The Station will be flying morning passes over Australia during that time and current predictions for each capital city have it travelling right through or near the line of planets, for example: Darwin (February 3), Brisbane (February 5), Perth (February 6), Sydney (February 7), Canberra (February 7), Adelaide (February 8), Melbourne (February 9) and Hobart (February 11). The predictions can change slightly, so best to check the websites closer to the date and be sure to enter your precise location to obtain the most accurate timing for the pass.

Finally, there’s still more to come. This August the five planets will be together again, visible in the evening sky, so stay tuned for more planet watching in 2016.

The Conversation

Tanya Hill, Honorary Fellow of the University of Melbourne and Senior Curator (Astronomy), Museum Victoria

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

New worlds to be named by popular vote (and their stars too!)

Author
by Tanya Hill
Publish date
27 October 2015
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Exoplanet Twenty planetary systems will be named by the public, but get in quick as voting closes soon.
Source: ESO/L. Calçada, CC BY

Twenty years ago this month, astronomers announced the discovery of the first planet found orbiting an ordinary star, one quite similar to our sun but a few billion years older. The star was 51 Pegasi and its planet was designated 51 Pegasi b. Now it’s up to you to give them both new names.

Until October 31, people world-wide are invited to vote on a popular name for 51 Pegasi and its planet (along with 20 other planetary systems). In the running are Carl and Dot to honour the popular American astronomer Carl Sagan and acknowledge his poetic description of Earth as a “pale blue dot”.

Although, considering that 51 Pegasi b is known as a hot Jupiter – it’s a giant planet that orbits so close to 51 Pegasi that its surface temperature is almost 1,000 degrees Celsius as it whips around its orbit in just four days – you might consider a vote for Carousel and Carousel Hell b to be more appropriate.

The public vote has been organised by the International Astronomical Union (IAU) via its NameExoWorlds program. The IAU governs the names given to astronomical objects, a role it began in 1922 when it standardised and formally recognised the 88 constellations that map the entire sky.

Name me a planet

Close to 2,000 exoplanets (an abbreviation of extrasolar planets) have been discovered in the past 20 years and the list of exoplanets awaiting confirmation now stands at more than 3,500. It’s not surprising that the NameExoWorlds program has culled this down to a much more reasonable number.

100 billion exoplanets It’s estimated there are at least 100 billion exoplanets within the Milky Way Galaxy, more than enough for every individual on Earth to potentially name at least one.
Source: NASA, ESA, and M. Kornmesser (ESO)
 

With the help of Astronomy clubs and non-profit organisations the IAU produced a top 20 listing of the most popular planetary systems. Some of the systems contain multiple planets, giving a total of 32 exoplanets to be named and each astronomy group was given the special privilege of proposing names for one complete planetary system in the top 20 list.

To ensure that the exoplanets were all well-established, every system was discovered prior to 2009. This also means that these are giant worlds; most are comparable to or even more massive than Jupiter. It’s only in recent times that Earth-like planets have been found, thanks to NASA’s highly successful Kepler Space Telescope and instruments such as HARPS (High Accuracy Radial velocity Planet Searcher) operated by the European Southern Observatory (ESO).

Taking the world to the skies

Proposals were received from 45 countries and it’s interesting to see the mix of cultural influences. For example, two of the proposals for the xi Aquila system draw their inspiration from the system’s location in the constellation of Aquila, the eagle. One is Houoh and Kiri and the other is Gobidin and Ewinon.

We’re told that Houoh, is a mythical phoenix-like bird from East Asia and Kiri is the only tree on which it perches. While Gobidin and Ewinon, are eagle and feather in the language of the Beothuk people, a now extinct cultural group who were indigenous to the island of Newfoundland, Canada.

However, there are some proposed names that seem a little odd, particularly Leisurely Fish, Vegetarian, and Starry Bunnies. Although I definitely recommend taking a look at the potential names for the five exoplanet system of 55 Cancri as some interesting themes have been established.

Proposed Names for 55 Cancri and its five planets Proposed Names for 55 Cancri and its five planets
Source: Background image: NASA/JPL-Caltech
 

What’s in a name?

In addition to naming the exoplanets, for the first time in centuries the public can decide the names of fifteen stars. The NameExoWorlds program opens up a genuine opportunity to name a star and for that name to be officially recognised, alongside each star’s scientific designations (stars tend to have multiple of these, for example, 51 Pegasi has forty identifiers).

There are only 15 stars to be named as the other stars that make up the top 20 planetary systems are quite bright and already have common names. Although it’s likely you haven’t heard of them all. One of the stars is Pollux, one of the twin stars found in the constellation Gemini, and named from Greek and Roman mythologies.

The other bright stars, along with almost all of the commonly named stars in the sky, have names derived from Arabic. Many of these originate from the tenth-century Persian astronomer Abd al-Rahman al-Sufi, who based his work on the ancient Greek star catalogue by Ptolemy.

The Arabic names give us: Fomalhaut - the fish’s mouth (found within Piscis Austrinus, the southern fish); Errai - the shepherd (found within Cepheus, king of Ethiopia); Edasich – the hyena (found within Draco, the dragon); and Ain – the eye (found within Taurus, the bull).

The constellation of Taurus, the bull. The constellation of Taurus, the bull as depicted in Al-Sufi’s Book of the Fixed Stars, a revision of Ptolemy’s Almagest with Arabic star names and drawings of the constellations. Dated 1009-10 (A.H. 400).
Source: The Bodleian Library, University of Oxford.

I designate you …

All the other stars in the program are currently recognised only by their catalogue designations. For instance 51 Pegasi, from the northern constellation of Pegasus, is identified by its Flamsteed number ‘51’. This number comes from a star atlas produced in 1712 by Britain’s first Astronomer Royal, John Flamsteed.

Contentiously that atlas was published without Flamsteed’s approval. In fact, he burnt 300 of the 400 copies ever made. Flamsteed’s official catalogue published in 1725, does not even include the numbers that he is now famous for.

So how exactly are the Flamsteed numbers obtained? They relate to the position of each star within its constellation. Just as longitude and latitude are used to locate a specific position on the Earth, astronomers use coordinates known as right ascension and declination to identify the position of all astronomical objects.

Flamsteed’s catalogues, which kept stars grouped together by their constellations, was the first to arrange those groupings in order of increasing right ascension. If you’re looking northward, the Flamsteed number orders stars by their position in a constellation running west to east. It’s not quite so straightforward when looking towards the south, as constellations circle around the south celestial pole and therefore can appear upside down at times.

Looking south For southern constellations, right ascension runs from west to east whenever the constellation is upright or located above the south celestial pole.
Source: Á.R.L-S.
 

From alpha to omega

Before Flamsteed, the original major printed star atlas was the 1603 Uranometria, produced in Germany by Johann Bayer. In this catalogue, stars within a constellation are identified by their Bayer letter. This is generally a letter of the Greek alphabet - for example epsilon Eridani, one of the stars in the NameExoWorlds program that is extremely popular within science fiction.

The epsilon Eridani system The Babylon 5 space station was located in the epsilon Eridani system. In this artist concept of the ‘real’ epsilon Eridani system, there is a well hidden silhouette that may be familiar to fans of the TV series (zoom in towards the lower middle of the image).
Source: NASA/JPL-Caltech
 

For his catalogue, Bayer listed stars by decreasing brightness, assigning letters of the Greek alphabet from alpha to omega. When he ran out of Greek letters, he used a capital A, but then followed this with lowercase letters b through to z (omitting j and v, for some reason).

It’s often pointed out that some stars labelled alpha in the Bayer designation are not actually the brightest stars within their constellation. In fact, there are 16 constellations where this is true. Certainly, stellar magnitudes could not be measured as accurately as they are today, but that’s not the whole story.

It seems that Bayer didn’t strictly order stars by their brightness. Stars of a similar brightness were sometimes ordered by right ascension (just like the Flamsteed numbers), or by declination (denoting their position running north to south), or even by following the general shape of the constellation.

That’s something I find quite interesting about astronomy. Things are not often as precise as you might think, reflecting astronomy’s long history and also the idiosyncrasies that people brought to their work.

The modern era

Stars identified in the modern era are generally part of an extensive catalogue and as result, the naming schemes are typically bland but functional. Stars in the NameExoWorlds program that are identified by their HD number are taken from the Henry Draper Catalogue, a rich spectroscopic catalogue of 225,300 stars published early last century. It was from this catalogue that the Harvard Spectral Classification of stars was produced, which organises stars by their surface temperatures.

Finally, there is the star PSR 1257+12, quite a famous planetary system, as the central star is a pulsar and its three planets were the first exoplanets to ever be discovered; two were found in 1992 and the third in 1994. It follows the usual designation for pulsars, with the acronym PSR identifying it as a pulsar, followed by the pulsar’s celestial coordinates of right ascension and declination.

Pulsar and its planets Bathed in the intense radiation from the pulsar, this is truly a strange environment for three exoplanets.
Source: NASA/JPL-Caltech/R. Hurt (SSC)
 

Pulsars emit beams of radiation and as they rotate, these beams sweep past Earth much like the beam of a lighthouse. For that reason I am quite partial towards naming PSR 1257+12 based on the children’s book ‘Moominpappa at Sea’ by the Finnish author Tove Jansson (a favourite series in my household). The pulsar would become Fyren (Swedish for ‘The Lighthouse’), and its planets would be Lillamy (small and fast), Mumin (a central character to the story) and Marron (the outsider).

Just be sure to visit the NameExoWorlds website before October 31 to vote for your favourites!

The Conversation

Tanya Hill, Honorary Fellow of the University of Melbourne and Senior Curator (Astronomy), Museum Victoria

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Rings around an asteroid

Author
by Tanya
Publish date
31 March 2014
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In a surprise discovery, two rings have been found around the asteroid Chariklo, making it the first small Solar System body known to have rings.

Saturn is known for its magnificent rings and the other gas giants - Jupiter, Uranus and Neptune - have ring systems too, though not quite as impressive. Careful searches had not found any other ring systems within the Solar System and many astronomers were beginning to think that rings might only exist around large objects, until now.

Rings from Chariklo An artist's impression of the newly discovered rings around Chariklo.
Source: ESO/L. Calçada/Nick Risinger (skysurvey.org)
 

Chariklo is just 250km across and lies beyond Saturn, at a billion kilometres away. It is much too small and far away for the rings themselves to be seen, but amazing detail is now known about them. The rings are dense but narrow, just three and seven kilometres wide, and are separated by a clear gap of nine kilometres. If you were standing on the surface of Chariklo, the rings would appear as wide as our Full Moon and stretch from horizon to horizon.

The discovery was made possible because last June, Chariklo passed in front of an obscure star (UCAC4 248-108672). Not only did Chariklo block the star's light for 5 seconds, but two tiny dips in the starlight were seen, just before and after Chariklo moved by. This video from the European Southern Observatory (ESO) shows faint dimming caused by the rings, just before and after Chariklo blocks the star completely.

 

This event, known as an occultation, could only be seen from South America and an observing campaign was coordinated across seven observatories, including two telescopes operated by the ESO at La Silla, Chile. Having observations from all seven observatories, ruled out other possible explanations, except for a ring system.

What I really love is the data from the new high-resolution camera on ESO's 1.54m Danish telescope. (Anyone who has been to my Discover the Night Sky series knows that I am particularly fond of beautiful graphs!) This new camera was developed to search for exoplanets and can take up to 40 images per second. It was actually able to see the gap between the two rings – now that's beautiful science!

Chariklo Data The data captured by ESO's 1.54m Danish telescope, showing Chariklo blocking out the light of the star (the main dip). On either side are two small, double dips, as the rings also passed in front of the star.
Image: F. Braga-Ribas et al.
Source: Reprinted by permission from Macmillan Publishers Ltd: Nature (March, 2014)
 

The Planetarium's astronomer, Dr Tanya Hill, was recently appointed the Australian representative of the European Southern Observatory's Science Outreach Network.

Links:

Great Melbourne Telescope volunteers

Author
by Kate C
Publish date
13 March 2014
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Each Wednesday, a dozen or so engineering and astronomy buffs head to a museum workshop to restore one of Marvellous Melbourne's grandest marvels. The Great Melbourne Telescope (GMT), scorched by the Mount Stromlo fires in 2003, is being resurrected thanks to an estimated 10,000 hours of volunteer work (so far). This group recently received a Certificate of Appreciation in the 2013 Arts Portfolio Leadership Awards.

GMT restoration team Mathew Churchward reading out the Arts Portfolio Award commendation to the Wednesday restoration workshop team.
Source: Museum Victoria
 

The workdays have "a bit of a men's shed feel about them," says Senior Curator Matthew Churchward. He coordinates the project alongside Curator of Engineering Matilda Vaughan. The combined knowledge in the room – all members of the Astronomical Society of Victoria, many with experience in engineering, electronics, astronomy and optics – means this piece of 19th-century technology is in expert hands.

Three men with computer L-R: Barry Cleland, John Cavedon, new volunteer Norm and Stephen Bentley working on technical drawings of GMT parts.
Source: Museum Victoria

Building telescopes is a common pastime for amateur astronomers; volunteer Barry Adcock has a home-built a 14-inch diameter telescope for his backyard dome observatory, plus another telescope that allows him to view the stars from inside his house. For many, stargazing is a habit they picked up when very young. Scottish-born Jim Pollock recalls a lunar eclipse in 1949 during which the moon was bright blue after forest fires in Canada. "In the atmosphere, tiny particles of pinene, the oil from the pine trees, scattered red light beautifully and just let the blue light through." Another volunteer, Barry Clelland, remembers looking up as a kid from his backyard in the suburbs and thinking, "that's half the universe there. You could see the Milky Way in Heidelberg back then."

On this day, a sub-group is working on the mirror polishing and grinding machine, a beautiful hulking contraption with a cast iron frame and gears and shafts. The GMT's half-ton speculum metal mirrors tarnished over time, so every few years they were removed and reconditioned with this machine. "We're still trying to work out exactly how it was driven," says Matthew. The mirror sits on a rotating table and as it moves, the polishing head also rotates, "so it doesn't get a flat spot in any part of the mirror. It keeps moving as it's rubbing." Or, like "patting your head and rubbing your tummy," jokes volunteer David Linke. The team hopes to have the polishing machine working within the next year as a hint of what's to come with the telescope itself.

David Linke with the mirror polishing machine. David Linke with the mirror polishing machine.
Source: Musuem Victoria
 

In the workshop, parts of GMT are laid out on pallets and benches. With a grin, David says, "it's a big jigsaw puzzle, isn't it?" Above it all, for equal parts reference and reverence, hangs a large-scale historical picture of the GMT in operation.

Museum workshop A view of the workshop with the GMT’s lattice tube in the foreground. On the back wall hangs the large historical photograph of the GMT at the Melbourne Observatory.
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Most of the large parts of the GMT were recovered after the 2003 Mt Stromlo fires. "Oh golly, it was a dirty job to get everything out of that cube," recounts David. "The aluminium had melted from the dome and filled up the screw holes so you couldn't see where things were undone." Many months of work saw the GMT dismantled and its surviving parts audited. Fortunately, the GMT had an unofficial champion in Barry Clark, who has been involved with the Melbourne Observatory since 1955. At that time, decommissioned equipment went into storage and was at risk of being lost. Says Matthew, "Barry's been instrumental in recovering bits and pieces that were hidden under the floor. He's discovered some key bits of equipment that went right back to the very earliest observatory at Williamstown."

Detail of the dismantled cube of the GMT. Detail of the dismantled cube of the GMT.
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Lengthy reverse-engineering is recreating the missing parts. "We go out there with a ruler and pencil and paper, take measurements and sketch it up roughly," says Campbell Johns. The measurements are made in imperial units to match Irish manufacturer Thomas Grubb's original specifications, before conversion to metric for fabrication. Some of the team with technical drawing expertise convert the workshop sketches into digital CAD files. There's a lot of cross-checking with old photographs, drawings and the extant parts.

"We don't even know if there was ever a full set of working drawings," says Matthew. "It appears they did the basic layout and started building it before they had the detailed design. You can see evidence in the way parts were modified during the construction process, like spots flattened out of a casting to make a seat for another component." A volunteer adds, "Pretty amazing given in those days there were no angle grinders or power drills or oxy welders. It was all done with cold chisels."

Three men with computers L-R: Barry Clark, Barry Adcock and Mal Poulton working on optics design specifications for the GMT.
Source: Museum Victoria

So why are these men devoting their spare time to this project? It's evident from the way they talk about the GMT that they admire its history and innovation. In addition to its astronomical achievements, including the first observations of southern nebulae, the ingenious nature of its design bewitches them. It had two axes and counterweights that allowed just one person to move the beautifully balanced telescope. In its lifetime there were larger scopes, but none so nimble. Matthew's view is that it's an opportunity of a lifetime for amateur enthusiasts to build such a large telescope; few individuals would have the resources to do so alone. Other volunteers nominate restoring an important part of Melbourne's history as their prime incentive – they want to see it back in its old home.

Indeed, the end goal is to return the working telescope to the Melbourne Observatory for public viewings. Its original configuration restored, there may be new electronic additions to allow digital photography or remote operation via the web. As Matthew says "It could be very inspiring for astronomy in Victoria."

Links:

The Great Melbourne Telescope website contains the story of the telescope, and updates about its restoration through the ASV's Phoenix newsletter

Follow the GMT project on twitter: @GMT21stC

Great Melbourne Telescope on Collections Online

The problem with Pluto

Author
by Tanya
Publish date
18 February 2013
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On 18 February 1930, Clyde Tombaugh achieved an amazing feat - he discovered Pluto. It’s said that he was a meticulous astronomer and I’m sure he must have needed all that mettle to have stumbled upon the tiny speck that was Pluto.

Over six years ago, Pluto grabbed headlines when astronomers famously ‘demoted’ the planet and designated it as the first of the dwarf planets. Some were disappointed by this – but I have to say that Pluto has always been a bit of an odd-ball. It was something we had explored a year earlier with the release of our planetarium show, The Problem with Pluto, in 2005.

The Problem With Pluto In this planetarium show, Lucy is on a research craft with her mother Lillian, a scientist, and together they are gathering data to discover just what Pluto’s status should be.
Image: Melbourne Planetarium
Source: Museum Victoria
 

A fellow astronomer shared with me his interesting way to explain it. Imagine, as a child, having a case full of pencils. The pencils came in all different colours but at their heart they were the same; except for one. It was a bit odd, still good for colouring-in just like a pencil, but there was something different about it. Nonetheless, it was the only one you’d even seen and it had always been in the pencil case, so you called it a pencil along with all the others. Then, one day at a friend’s house, you opened their pencil case and it was filled with something called crayons. Your eyes lit up with recognition. That odd-ball pencil you’d been worried about wasn’t odd after all, it was in fact a crayon.

When Pluto was discovered, it was one of a kind at the edge of the Solar System. It wasn’t a terrestrial planet, it wasn’t a gas giant, but it did orbit the Sun. Seventy years on, we now know of thousands of objects orbiting alongside Pluto. They are the icy worlds that make up the Kuiper Belt. Pluto, because it is big enough to be round, is still a bit special and so it now goes by the new label of dwarf planet.

On Pluto Day, I’ll be celebrating that Pluto has now found its rightful place in the Solar System.

New Horizons spacecraft Right now, a real research craft is on its way to Pluto. Called New Horizons it will fly by Pluto in July 2015 and journey on to discover more about the Kuiper Belt.
Source: NASA
                       

Links

The Problem with Pluto will be showing at the Melbourne Planetarium at 2pm, 18 February to 4 March.

Siding Spring Observatory

Author
by Tanya
Publish date
14 January 2013
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Like other Australian astronomers last night, I was glued to the computer watching as a fire raged across the Warrumbungle National Park in NSW, home to Australia's world-class optical and infrared telescopes at Sliding Spring Observatory. I think the hardest thing was knowing that it's almost 10 years ago to the day, that fires destroyed the Mt Stromlo Observatory in Canberra. Could this really be happening again?

Fire around telescope A truly frightening image, as Australia's largest optical telescope, the Australian Astronomical Telescope (AAT), is engulfed in smoke.
Source: Rural Fire Services
 

Fires around telescope Fires blaze around cottages in front of the AAT. To the top right of the image are the flames that engulfed the lodge.
Source: FTS webcam
 

Fire at astronomer's lodge The glow as the astronomer's lodge is destroyed. Temperatures at the AAT were measured to be over 100 degrees.
Source: FTS webcam
 

Thankfully, lessons were learnt from that event and there is much hope that measures put into place may have saved the dozen or so telescopes on the mountain. We'll have to wait and see as the damage is assessed over the next few days.

The good news is that all 18 staff were evacuated safely. Many telescope domes are still standing, as new images come through this morning. The building which has been destroyed was the lodge which provided accommodation for astronomers during their observing runs. 

Fire around telescope Electronics were not meant to survive such temperatures.
Source: HATSouth webcam
 

Telescope dome after fire The picture I wanted to see today. The AAT dome still stands, but there will be a wait to access how the telescope fared inside.
Source: LCOGT webcam
 

Our thoughts are with the community of Coonabarabran and those who have been affected by the fires, and our thanks go out to fire services for their great efforts. 

If the telescopes had been destroyed it would have been devastating for Australian astronomical research, all but ending our ability to do continue doing optical astronomy here. Hundreds of researchers and students rely on those telescopes. And it would also have affected the Coonabarabran community, many of whom rely on the telescopes for their livelihoods too.

Images of the event, many taken from the webcams that are normally used by astronomers to check sky conditions during their nightly observations, tell the story.

burnt astronomer's lodge building The burnt out remains of the astronomers lodge. I have fond memories of Margaret's delicious chocolate pudding, which I would devour there, before heading up to the telescope for the night's observing run!
Source: Rural Fire Services

Telescope dome after fire The square "dome" on the left houses the ANU's 2.3 metre telescope which stayed a comfortable 20 degrees throughout the fire. The dome to the top right is the new SkyMapper telescope, led by Nobel Laureate Brian Schmidt and built to continue the work of the Great Melbourne Telescope after it was destroyed in the Mt Stromlo fires. Temperatures there peaked at 65 °C.
Source: Rural Fire Services
 

UPDATE: 

The Warrumbungle Shire Council has set up a Warrumbungle Shire Mayor’s Bushfire Appeal with donations being used solely to assist residents affected by the fire. The NSW Rural Fire Service are reporting that some 40 properties and over 110 out-buildings have been confirmed lost as well as a large number of livestock and farm machinery.

 

Links:

Siding Spring after the fires of January 2013 via Observations Blog, Sydney Observatory

Report from The Australian

Astropixie liveblogging the fire: Sunday night and Monday morning

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Updates on what's happening at Melbourne Museum, the Immigration Museum, Scienceworks, the Royal Exhibition Building, and beyond.

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