MV Blog

DISPLAYING POSTS FROM: Jul 2011 (16)

Vesta, the brightest asteroid

Author
by Tanya
Publish date
29 July 2011
Comments
Comments (1)

Now is your chance to see an asteroid from within the asteroid belt. Vesta will be at its best for the next few weeks and it is the only asteroid that can ever be seen with the naked eye. Even thought it's smaller and further away than the dwarf planet Ceres (the largest object in the asteroid belt), Vesta's surface is great at reflecting sunlight.

Mind you, it still won't be easy. Astronomers measure brightness in magnitudes and by historic convention, the lower the magnitude, the brighter the object. The Sun comes in at a whopping -27. Alpha Centauri, a famous bright star and the closest star to the Sun, clocks in at -0.3.

In comparison Vesta, at its brightest, will reach a magnitude of 5.6. That's only just above the naked eye limit. So you will have to get out to a dark location to see it. Of course with binoculars or a small telescope you'll be doing much better. Remember though, it's only 530km across, so it will only ever look star-like.

Finding chart for Vesta at 9pm on 5th August.Finding chart for Vesta looking eastward at 9pm on 5th August, prepared with the help of "Starry Night" software.
Source: Museum Victoria

So what's so special about now? Vesta will be at opposition on the 5th August, which means opposite the Sun in the sky. It will be in the sky all night and all of the Sun's light will be shining on it (just like a Full Moon occurs when the Moon is at opposition).

And there's more - objects are generally closer to us at opposition and this opposition will bring the asteroid particularly close - still 184 million km away, but 27 million km closer than last year.

NASA's Dawn Spacecraft was 5,200km from Vesta when it took this image.NASA's Dawn Spacecraft was 5,200km from Vesta when it took this image.
Source: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA

But for a really close view of Vesta, nothing can beat the Dawn Spacecraft which entered orbit around the asteroid just two weeks ago. Dawn is the first craft to orbit an asteroid and will stay with Vesta for a year before moving on to study Ceres.

Exploring Vesta is sure to uncover some fascinating science. Asteroids are the oldest objects in the Solar System and from them we hope to learn more about how the planets, including Earth, formed.

And did you know that we have more pieces of Vesta here on Earth, than we have of the Moon! It's clear that something crashed into Vesta creating a huge crater and all that rock was sent flying out into space. About 5 percent of all meteorites that fall to Earth are said to have come from that collision.

Asteroids are fascinating relics of the Solar System, if you've ever wanted to see one now's the time to do it.

Melbourne Open House

Author
by Kate C
Publish date
28 July 2011
Comments
Comments (0)

Since 2008, Melbourne’s architectural gems have thrown open their doors for one weekend a year as part of Melbourne Open House. This year the Royal Exhibition Building is among the 75 theatres, tunnels, halls, houses and more that will welcome visitors on 30 and 31 July, 2011.

Royal Exhibition Building interior Interior of the Great Hall of the Royal Exhibition Building with a view of the decorated dome.
Image: John Broomfield
Source: Museum Victoria
 

A new interpretive display on the mezzanine level will provide Melbourne Open House crowds with more information as they admire the REB’s magnificent murals and arches. It includes wonderful historical pictures of the life and times of Melbourne’s World Heritage building – photos of it in the glory days of International Exhibitions, through to its many uses during the mid-20th century, its restoration and World Heritage listing in 2004.

A newly produced documentary exploring the recent reconstruction of the 1880’s parterre beds, scroll garden and ‘German’ garden will be shown in the REB theatrette.

Royal Exhibition Building exterior Royal Exhibition Building exterior, December 2008.
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Links:

Royal Exhibition Building website

Blast off!

Author
by Brendan Williams
Publish date
27 July 2011
Comments
Comments (1)

This guest post is from Brendan, an animator and illustrator who is currently working on Tilt, the Planetarium’s upcoming show.

Whilst the animation of our key characters for the show "Tilt" is well under way, another part of the story is taking shape (and colour). Max's rocket.

With the details still highly classified, it is expected that "Ptolemy" will be able to fly.
Image: Brendan Williams
Source: Museum Victoria

With its chic retro styling and awesome pull-back action "Ptolemy" is just the vehicle for our protagonists.

It may appear to be just a tin toy with painted on details but this rocket packs quite a punch. For reasons of security most of the technical specs are still classified, but we can confirm that the ship does indeed have a lever. The other main technology that gives this ship its futuristic edge is a great deal of buttons and switches, not to mention screens with wiggly lines on them.

Based largely on second hand accounts, this image shows some of the future-tech we can expect in the ship.
Image: Brendan Williams
Source: Museum Victoria

Planetarium captures the world

Author
by Tanya
Publish date
27 July 2011
Comments
Comments (2)

We’re proud of our planetarium shows and know how important it is to deliver high quality productions that speak directly to our local audiences.

But did you know that it's not just Melburnians that get to enjoy our planetarium shows?

World Distribution Map Melbourne Planetarium shows screening around the world. The eight shows are distinguished by colour.
Image: Warik Lawrance
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Since 2007, we have been licensing our shows to play in planetariums around the world. From countries as different as India, South Korea and Turkey, to cities across Europe and the USA, people are enjoying our unique brand of planetarium shows. We’ve even had one show Black Holes: Journey into the Unknown translated into Spanish, Swedish, Finnish and Russian.

Have you seen any Melbourne Planetarium shows on your travels?

Tutankhamun's wardrobe

Author
by Dr Gillian Bowen
Publish date
26 July 2011
Comments
Comments (0)

Dr Gillian Bowen is the Senior Lecturer in Archaeology and Ancient History, Monash University. Join her for "Tutankhamun’s wardrobe", an exploration of Ancient Egyptian attire, Tuesday 26 July 2011, as part of the Tutankhamun Tuesdays Public Lecture Program.

Dr Gillian Bowen Dr Gillian Bowen.
Source: Dr Gillian Bowen
 

In 1922, when Howard Carter first opened the virtually-intact tomb of Tutankhamun, he astounded the world with the vast array of treasure. Among the items, which received little attention from the public but were meticulously recorded by Carter, was the king’s wardrobe: his underwear, tunics, kilts, gloves, socks, shoes and sandals. This is the only substantial collection of items from a royal wardrobe to survive from ancient Egypt.

Many of the garments were poorly preserved as the cloth had disintegrated over the millennia and the elaborate beadwork had fallen off. To preserve these precious items, Carter employed Alfred Lucas, a chemist and specialist conservator. Surprisingly, other clothes were in perfect condition. The garments, along with the iconography such as that shown on the gilded throne, allow us to glimpse the wardrobe of Tutankhamun and his queen, Ankhenenamun. The items represent the height of fashion in the late 18th Dynasty.

Amongst the garments, Carter counted around 145 loincloths, which functioned as underwear, and 81 pieces of footwear. Some of the ceremonial clothes are made of the finest linen which resembles silk and the embroidery and beadwork on these garments and the shoes is exquisite. The marquetry sandals are made of wood, leather, bark, plaster and the decoration is in gold. The scenes show the traditional enemies of Egypt, the so-called “nine bows” on which the king tramples. These items were made by specialist craftsmen as well as the women in the king’s harem. Very few items from Tutankhamun’s wardrobe are on display in the Egyptian Museum and this talk offers one of the few opportunities to view images of the garments.

Lost in Space

Author
by Martin Bush
Publish date
22 July 2011
Comments
Comments (0)

Objects in our collection don’t just go on display at our own museums. It’s also exciting to see them help other people’s exhibitions come to life. I’m particularly happy about seeing items from the space and astronomy collections being prepared for a new exhibition at ACMI called Star Voyager that will run from September this year through to January 2012. The objects being loaned include rare 19th century astronomical lantern slides, a historic surveying telescope and the gloves of a Soviet cosmonaut.

The cosmonaut glove was used by Vladimir Georgiyevich Titov on the Mir space station. Titov left Earth on Soyuz TM-4 on December 21 1987 and returned on Soyuz TM-6 on December 21 1988. He and fellow cosmonaut Musa Manarov had spent just over a whole year in space – a new record at the time. Titov, who had also been on one previous Soyuz mission, would go on to have two further trips to space on the Space Shuttle.

Photo of cosmonaut glove Photgraph of Sokol glove worn by cosmonaut Vladimir Titov.
Image: Marion Parker
Source: Museum Victoria
 

The glove is part of a Sokol KV-2 space suit. Each suit was custom made for a single cosmonaut, including individual moulding of the rubber part of the glove, shaped to the cosmonaut’s fingers. The Sokol suits were pressurised, and the gloves attached to the suits with an aluminium clip.

A lot of work went into making these gloves and there is also a lot of work involved in getting objects ready for display. Unfortunately, historic items like this aren’t always built to last. Museum conservator Marion Parker explains: “Modern materials like this will slowly degrade and we can't do much to stop this. What we can do is to control the conditions the objects are stored and displayed in to slow down these reactions.”

One of the nice things about getting objects out of the collection to show other people is that you get the chance to see them through new eyes and remember how exciting they can be. According to Sarah Tutton, curator at ACMI: “The opportunity to delve into the collection at Scienceworks has been invaluable and has led to some interesting tangents and avenues for exploration.”

I know what she means – it’s easy to get lost in the space collection!

About this blog

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

Categories