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Astro news feeds

Before I talk about where I get all my Astronomy news from, I just wanted to share a couple of photos of the Year 9 girls from Pascoe Vale Girls College doing some observing last term. The photos were taken by Mr King, father of year 9 student Zoe King. Thank you so much for taking the photos and letting us share them! The Year 9 girls were joined by Jenny and Steph from The University of Melbourne’s Astrophysics Group.

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Looking through the telescope

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A nice crowd!

So, where do I hear about all my Astrophysics news from? There are a huge number of blogs and news feeds out there dedicated to just all things space and I must get half a dozen each day. Urgh! I hear you say, I don’t have time to read them all and my mailbox is full of spam as it is! Well, read on below for links to my favourites and I have tried to outline the focus of each so you can tailor your inbox to your own interests and tastes. As always, if I have left any out that you think definitely rates a mention, please leave us a comment or two.

E-mail Newsletters – Each of these sites has an e-mail signup

  • General Daily Astronomy News (many of these tend to overlap, so you only really need to follow the one.)

*Universe Today – US based and mainly Astronomy News

EarthSky News – US based with Earth and Space News

Space and Astronomy News daily – Southern Hemisphere based blog (YAY!) from SpaceInfo that is relatively daily.

Phys.Org Newsletter – can be tailored to all your science interests when you sign up.

  • General Weekly Astronomy News

*Sky and Telescope Magazine – UK magazine with interesting articles on Astronomy (they also have an Australian version of the magazine)

Astronomy magazine – US magazine

More specific Astronomy News 

Hubble News and Images – scroll down to the Stay connected section

NASA – have an RSS feed or you can grab an App for iPhone or Android for News and Images of the day, as well as blogs, tweets and flickr

*Melbourne Planetarium – Monthly ‘what’s in the night sky’ for Melbourne via RSS feed.

Just the tip of the iceberg and I haven’t even covered all the Apps, Tweets and Blogs out there!

Some notable mentions though…



  • @earthskyscience
  • @Nightskyonline
  • @abcStarStuff

Just a few to get you started and I am sure more will follow quickly.

Observing last week

Last week saw Telescopes in Schools at three schools in three nights with plenty of observing to be had.

The first night was out at Northcote High School. Wednesday nights haven’t been very successful this year as the weather always seemed to turn bad by the middle of the week. But enough is enough, and rain hail or shine, we were determined to get this telescope out and finally see something. Despite our determination, the clouds persisted and didn’t quite give us the sky we were hoping for. Nevertheless, we got the telescope out, we set up the telescope, aligned the finderscope, went through the alignment process and managed to look at some stars between the clouds. While the clouds did hinder our view somewhat, it was unanimously agreed, the evening was a success, the teachers and students had a great time learning to use the telescope, there were plenty of interesting questions and discussions about science and astronomy as we were also joined by 1st year Med student and Astronomy enthusiast, Laura Breton. We were also serenaded by the beautiful sounds coming from the school concert, not too far away from where we had set up. Everyone is definitely looking forward to the next evening and thank you to Laura who took time out from her busy exam schedule to come along.

Girls at Northcote HS

Girls at Northcote HS with the telescope. Teachers, parent, med student and Yr 8 student! List complete!

The next night was a Professional Development session with one of our new schools, Taylors Lakes Secondary College. Shane and I were joined by 5 teachers and this time with spectacularly clear skies we were able to do a sensational alignment and see a huge amount of objects. The moon, Mars, clusters, the Tarantula Nebula, Uranus and Neptune and more clusters!

Here is what Rob had to say about the night and the program;

We all very much enjoyed last night’s viewing. So thankyou to both of you for demonstrating the alignment procedure.

I would like to very much thank Melbourne University for providing this amazing instrument to this school and for the ongoing support it is providing in the presence of both of you. I understand what you are trying to achieve with the Telescopes in School’s program and would also like to say that I am fully supportive of those goals.

Thank you Rob! We had a fantastic time as well!

Taylors Lakes

Shane instructing the teachers at Taylors Lakes with funky light FX!

Lastly, we went to Gisborne to train the lovely teachers at Gisborne Secondary College. Another perfectly clear night, we set up on the edge of the oval, aligned the finderscope and we were away. Again, the list of objects we looked at was long as we explored the Gisborne night sky, which has a few more stars than those city skies. We also had five teachers come along for the training, including the Principal which is a real treat.


Staff at Gisborne obviously enjoying themselves.

It is great to see all the staff keen to be involved, eager to use the telescope and full of questions. We can’t wait to get back, meet more teachers and the students. It was also fantastic that the Principals were able to take time out of their busy schedule to come to the sessions and to see what was happening and a star or two as well.

Happenings in Astronomy

There has been a lot happening in the world of Astrophysics, but then there always is! Trying to keep up is a full time job in itself, so lucky for you I have compiled a list of some of the coolest things currently going on in Astronomy at the moment and some upcoming events that you may be interested in. So grab a cuppa, put the assignment or marking away and take some time to explore a couple or even all of the links below.

Transit of Venus

You saw the Transit of Venus yourself, now see how the Transit was viewed from two different locations and see the Parallax Effect in action.

New Hubble View of the Universe

Newly processed data from the Hubble Space Telescope sees even more galaxies than before with the eXtreme Deep Field (XDF) Survey. The data collected over a total of 2 million seconds has imaged the most distant galaxies.

More to the Milky Way than meets the eye.

Astronomers have found a gas cloud that surrounds the Milky Way which is hotter than the surface of the Sun and contains enough gas to make up 60 million stars. This may also be the missing Bayonic (or normal) matter.

Oldest Galaxy Found

This Galaxy is 13.2 billion years old

There are lots of events coming up as well:

Australian Institute of Physics Competition

Do an amazing Physics experiment and be the warm-up talk for Nobel Laureate Prof Brian Schmidt at the AIP Congress in Sydney in December. Expressions of Interest closes on 15th Oct, reports are due 15th Nov. Details at;

Solar Week Oct 15-19

With the Total Eclipse coming up, what a great time to get to know the Sun a little better with all the activities and interaction with Solar scientists. The activities can be done anytime with a whole week of lesson plans, games and worksheets, the Solar scientists will only be logging on next week.

Prof Brian Schmidt

Just in case you don’t with the AIP prize, you may still have the chance to chat with Nobel Laureate Prof Brian Schmidt as the Royal Institute of Australia streams a live interview on Thursday 25th October from 11am-12:30pm at

Students will be able to ask questions during the interview, but you must register your class and questions prior to the day.

Total (and Partial) Eclipse

14th November 2012 This link will tell you when and how much of the eclipse you will see if you can’t get to Cairns and how it all works.

Opportunity to see the Total Eclipse

Hands-On UniverseTM 2-day Teacher Professional Development Workshop – Thurs 8th & Fri 9th November

Student Astronomy Education Conference Tues 13th to Fri 16th Nov – “Under a Darkened Star”

Both events will be in Cairns area and students will be taken to the Eclipse site for viewing.

Further details:

Mr David Platz (ASA Assoc Member)

Astronomy Education Program Manager & Head of Senior Schooling

Atherton State High School

Mob 0427 445 296



The Science Teachers Association of Victoria Conference in being held at LaTrobe University again this year on the 29-30th November. There are some Astronomy workshops being offered by our good friends Rob Hollow from CSIRO and Trish Christies from Melbourne Museum as well as ‘yours truly’. There are heaps of other cool workshops on technology as well including quite a few from the guys out at Quantum Victoria. Download the program and register here.

Comet in a years time – Start planning now!

Information on the Comet and how to see it here:

Lastly, some amazing Astrophotography to look at and aspire to.

Rotation of Jupiter

See some amazing Amateur Astrophotography of Jupiter compiled into a video.

A Year of Mars Observations by Efrain Morales

There are lots of other sensational images as well.

Astronomy Photography Winners for 2012


Well, if you managed to get through all of that, you had better get back to work! If you think I have missed anything, please let us know!

Introduction to 3 New Schools

At the end of last term, I had the pleasure of enlisting 3 more schools to the Telescopes in Schools program. We also delivered and installed the telescope and have started with the Professional Development.

The first delivery was to Gisborne Secondary College, Gisborne. We are really looking forward to seeing some very clear skies and little to no light pollution out that way. I can tell you now that the City schools are just a little jealous… Here is a picture of Shane with Mr Barry, our goto teacher at Gisborne SC, with the telescope set up and ready to go.

Gisborne delivery

Mr Barry, telescope and Shane at Gisborne SC

The next delivery was to Taylors Lakes Secondary College, where I was met by Lab Tech, Mr Susnica and Science Teacher, Mr Davie. While setting up the telescope in the Prep room, we had quite a number of on lookers as we unpacked and put the telescope together. Some fantastic questions were also fired at me from some students. Oh the pressure! Telescope construction AND Astronomy grilling at the same time. Looking forward to more of the same come observing time. ; )

The next week, Shane went to the school to give the staff some Professional Development on using the telescope. 9 teachers attended as well as one very keen student. Not such a great night weatherwise, only one star poked its head out of the clouds, but there was plenty of discussion on the use of the telescope, how to align, etc. They are now very keen to put all their new knowledge into practice. Here is a photo of the crowd at Taylors Lakes.

Taylors Lakes Delivery

Taylors Lakes Staff learning how to use the telescope.

Lastly, during the last week of the school holidays, I packed up the car with a telescope and my bags and headed to my home town of Geelong. I headed out to the lovely Bellarine Peninsula and ended up in Ocean Grove to drop off our 9th! telescope to the good folk at Bellarine Secondary College. We spent a good hour unpacking and installing the telescope, discussing the function of each piece of equipment. We then headed outside on the beautifully constructed trolleys to align the finderscope with the main telescope. Mr Thomas and Ms Hall did a sensational job – best alignment yet!

Alignment at Bellarine

Working on the Finderscope Alignment

We then grabbed a quick dinner and sat by the beach to eat it, because when you are in Ocean Grove – you can! I hear a great view can aid the digestion… or maybe it was just the fresh sea air.

It was then back to the school to get the telescope out for it’s first run with the French teacher (who says Astronomy isn’t universal in every way?) and Astronomy enthusiast joining us for the evening. After struggling with the clouds in the North (because that was where we needed the stars for alignment) we finally managed to align the telescope – perfectly! Maybe it was that sea air again or these guys are really quick learners, but the telescope went exactly where it was supposed to go, every time! We had an amazing amount of things to look at as well including Mars, Uranus and Neptune, star clusters, nebulae, binary star systems. They finally let me go home at 9:30 PM! We had a great night and the skies were sensational.

TiS is really looking forward to getting back out to these new schools, seeing more of the skies, meeting the students and demonstrating to anyone who will listen and look, just how cool Astronomy is!

End of Term Three

There is lots of news to pass on this week,

  • How Term Three finished up
  • Three new schools start the program
  • News in Astronomy
  • Upcoming Activities and Events

So it is going to be a week of blogging for me to get you all up-to-date on the program and what is happening in Astronomy at the moment. By no means is this exhaustive and if you have anything you would like to share, please leave a comment or two as we would love to hear from you.

The end of term 3 saw a lot of mixed weather as summer started to move in on winter’s territory, but we did manage to get a couple of observing nights in. So I would like to share a couple of pictures with you.

Firstly, Pascoe Vale Girls College continued with their regular Tuesday night sessions with PhD. Astrophysics student, Jenny and Astro undergrad, Stephanie, helping out and suggesting all sorts of interesting and challenging objects to look at. Some new objects included M7 and M11 the Wild Duck Cluster. The old favourites were also seen, such as Saturn and Mars, Omega Centauri and Alpha Centauri. They also watched the International Space Station cross the sky!

Meanwhile I was out at Suzanne Cory for an impromptu session on the promise of a clear night. We had our very keen Year 9 student Carolin come along and she spent the entire time operating the telescope, learning how to align and find objects. She did a sensational job, well done Caroline!

There was also a session at Charles La Trobe College which was led by Astro PhD student, Mark. It was a cloudy night but well attended.

Caroline's Night

Caroline operating the telescope