Radio Galaxy Zoo – Help Hunt Down Supermassive Black Holes

Another great program from the crew at Zooniverse and using the data from Australian telescopes! Also check out Pulse@Parkes for more real radio astronomy.

Universe @ CSIRO

Lurking at the core of most galaxies, supermassive black holes sometimes give themselves away through huge jets of radio emission streaming out vast distances into space. We can’t “see” these using optical telescopes, rather astronomers use radio telescopes to make an image of the region. Now you can help astronomers find more of these jets and the associated radio galaxy by taking part in Radio Galaxy Zoo.

Launched today, Radio Galaxy Zoo is the latest project in Galaxy Zoo, a highly successful citizen project that now forms part of the Zooniverse that co-funder Dr Chris Lintott discussed recently. In Radio Galaxy Zoo you will help identify radio galaxies using data from CSIRO’s Australia Telescope Compact Array by comparing them with infrared images from the WISE  survey using the Spitzer Space Telescope.

By participating you will help astronomers trying to answer questions such as:

  • How do galaxies form…

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Professional Development Part III

In the last week or so I have attended two Professional Development workshops, Phil Hart’s Night Sky Photography and the Teach Meet Melbourne at The Huddle.

Phil’s workshop was a whirlwind of great pointers, hints and things to consider while photographing the night sky. We looked at twilight, lunar, constellations and conjunctions, star trails, bioluminescence, aurora and time lapse photos. We also went through the equipment required, the camera settings in detail and post image production. While we essentially went through Phil’s e-book – Shooting Stars, his advice and the opportunity to ask questions were invaluable. That was for three hours at Michael’s Camera House on the Friday.

On the Sunday night a few of us braved the cold and wind and the ever present clouds and headed out to a relatively dark spot at Kinglake, north of Melbourne. As promised by Phil, the clouds dispersed and we spent a good amount of time exploring our cameras and lenses, focusing on the Melbourne lights manually. Once the focal distance and aperture settings were explored and set, we were then able to think about taking images of our surounds. I was really concentrating on framing the picture, looking at my horizon – very tricky in the dark on a hill and frozen hands… I also started to explore Star Trails which got severely hampered by moving clouds – next time.

Below are a few images taken before we got attacked by dew and had to shut up shop. Although I have to say my favourite shot of the night was the dew covered Venus over Melbourne. Lesson to be learnt – just keep shooting and you never know what will pop up on the screen. There was also a satellite and a couple of planes too!

Magellanic Clouds processed in Digital Photo Professional

Magellanic Clouds processed in Digital Photo Professional

Magellanic Clouds processed in Adobe Photoshop Elements

Magellanic Clouds processed in Adobe Photoshop Elements

These two images above are from the same RAW file but processed with different software. Both have the same functionality but with different results. The second image could be a little over processed, but the Magellanic Clouds are much clearer. One of Phil’s big pointers was that there is often a lot more in the photos than can be seen on the back of the camera – so persist and if you shoot in RAW you will see a lot more detail.

focal length 18mm, aperture f/3.5, ISO 1600, exposure time 30sec.

Orion rising - you can see the sword (and the Great Orion Nebula) and his belt. The red line was a plane passing by.

Orion rising – you can see the sword (and the Great Orion Nebula) and his belt. The red line was a plane passing by.

In this image you can see the constellation Orion rising in the East. The large fuzzy star on the right just above the tree is actually the Great Orion Nebula. We also watched quite a few planes go across as well.

focal length 18mm, aperture f/3.5, ISO 1600, exposure time 30sec.

Venus over the city lights of Melbourne after the dew had set in.

Venus over the city lights of Melbourne after the dew had set in.

One of my favourites for the evening, although it had been exciting capturing the Magellanic Clouds and Orion.  love the colours and the halo around Venus. That is always the surprising thing about Night Sky Photography – you are never sure what colours are going to emerge, when you look at a basically black sky!

focal length 18mm, aperture f/3.5, ISO 1600, exposure time 33sec.

All photos had been taken on a Canon 700D EOS DSLR with the EF-S18-55 lens

On Saturday I also went along to my second Teach Meet Melbourne and once again met an amazing bunch of educators doing some very exciting stuff with technology, in classrooms and thinking about education policy. I was also able to tell some more people about the TiS program with interest from a range of schools, locations and educators. If you are interested in finding out more, head to the Teach Meet wiki site, come along to the next one on Feb 8 at Pug Malones or search and follow the #tmmelb on Twitter.

Next Teachmeet Melbourne hosted by DLTVic

Next Teachmeet Melbourne hosted by DLTVic

One of the programs presented at Teach Meet was an integrated topic over three days for Year 7 students where they work in small groups to create their own country, including flag, economy, language, national dress, native animal and so much more encompassing all of the Key Learning Areas. The students then package the whole lot into a tourism video. Amazing post-exam/report program to get the kids excited and thinking. If you are interested on how the program goes this week you can follow @cathspurritt and  as Catherine Spurritt works her magic at Avila College, some great stuff already.

Follow Avila College

Follow Avila College

For the whole story, check out Celia Coffa’s Storify.