During the last week of Term 2 we had two schools observing on the Monday night. Craig and Steph headed out to Taylors Lakes and I was off to Charles La Trobe College in McLeod. The night was misty, cold, but the infamous Supermoon was only one day old and the sky was clear enough to see quite a few objects. While still in the suburbs of Melbourne and the Northern ones at that, the two schools experienced a very different sky.
At Taylors Lakes, Craig had planned on giving a talk on Exoplanets but it had been so long since the skies had been clear at Taylors Lakes that they took full advantage of the breaks in the cloud and spent the entire evening observing. So we will just have to stay tuned for Craig’s talk next term, but in the meantime you can have a look at Craig’s gallery of images he has taken with his phone. Here is the report from that evening;
The one star alignment process worked well. We had the best view yet of Saturn by this group and successfully managed to record images of it on a Canon EOS 500D. We discovered that it is quite hard to take an image of Saturn on our mobile phones! We saw the binary system Alpha Centauri. We tried to find the Jewel Box but were unsuccessful.
Overall, it was a very good finish to term two given that we have not been able to use the telescope for the last few weeks due to the weather. Also, this was the first time that we had used the telescope to image an object, a copy of which is included with this report.
This photo shows Paulo pointing at the night sky, he is always full of enthusiasm. During the evening he had his mobile phone out with all the usual apps and was having everyone listening to the sounds of Saturn and then Jupiter as he downloaded them from NASA!
Can’t wait until we see the images you produce next term.
Over at Charles La Trobe, we started the evening playing with a new App I discovered at a TeachMeet (more on that later). The App was created by NASA, an augmented reality program that allows you to look at and interact with the NASA spacecraft in 3D. Spacecraft 3D is free, available on Android and IOS phones and tablets and is so cool! Here is an image of one of the students having a look at Voyager. My hint, Curiosity, the Mars Rover is by far the best – you can make him move!
Outside on the telescope, we had a very nice image of Saturn and then swung around to the South and looked at some star clusters and Alpha Centauri binary stars. The sky was covered in thin low-lying cloud, so only the brighter objects were visible and the West was completely covered. Students, Sarina and Farid took over the telescope and took us on a journey of the night sky.
The highlight of the evening though, was when the Moon finally rose into view. As mentioned, it was one day after the full moon, so we had a fantastic opportunity to image almost the entire face of the Moon, after we all oohed and aahed over the craters of course!
We connected up a Nikon D5100 DSLR to the telescope and took a range of photos across the Moon as it did not fit in the camera aperture. Sarina and Farid also took a range of images of the Moon and Dave from Quantum Victoria stitched them together as a mosaic to produce this image using the Autostitch software for Windows. Many cameras also come with similar software, and you will have to admit that this is a very nice image!
As an aside, I was reading through an edition of the Astronomy magazine and they had an article on the Moon. What took my eye though, was a detailed drawing Cassini (the Astronomer, not the telescope) did of the Moon.
This was the first Scientific drawing of the Moon published in 1679 and included the head of a woman in one of the features. This woman was thought to be his wife and has been replicated in other drawings of the Moon since then. I then had to see if the woman also featured in the Charles La Trobe mosaic of the Moon. Sure enough you can pick out the feature and almost see the Lady on the Moon (and you all thought it was a Man on the Moon…) Let me know if you can spot the Lady or the “Moon Maiden” in our image.
EarthSky has also written a great post on some of the Moon Myths, such as the Dark Side of the Moon, tide in people, etc.