Friday, February 5, 2016
Friday, January 29, 2016
Wednesday, December 9, 2015
Thursday, October 15, 2015
Wednesday, October 14, 2015
Friday, October 9, 2015
If only they could use their internet skills to actually help and track the asteroids through one of the many citizen science projects.So that brings us back to "crying wolf". Asoep's famous fable (at least in western culture) about the shepherd boy who "cried wolf" when he got bored and wanted to see some action. The town's people would come running out to come and investigate and found no risk to the flock. After a while people began to ignore him and the inevitable happened, a real wolf showed up. The questions the media should be asking:
1) what is being done to further research the apparent "cluster" of large asteroids coming inside the earth-moon distance [1 Lunar distance (LD)] between 2026 and 2030
2) What is being done to research the number of >300m near earth asteroids listed as "Lost" There are many good things happening in asteroid research. Professional scientists are investing in new surveys, Panstarrs Survey is now fully operational. Amateur Astronomers regularly collaborate with professionals and do amazing follow up work. The gap in the southern sky above 30 degrees south declination left by the closure of the E12 Survey at Siding Spring has been picked up by, Panstarrs reaching further south, a repurposing of the WISE Space telescope, the Sonear Observatory in Brazil, the new ISON-South telescope, and the amateur astronomers who use iTelescope.net's Siding Spring Observatory telescopes. So let's not cry wolf, let's educate and understand, let's progress our knowledge and support the effort to protect our home by getting positively involved. I am certain there will be more than one "end of the world" party on Friday April 13th 2029 when asteroid Apophis (2nd on the Sentry Risk Table) misses Earth by about 200 thousand kilometers and streaks across the sky as a naked eye object. You will be able to pull out the deck chair and pop the bubbly, safe in the knowledge that scientists that you funded have done the math, and you'll be able to relax and enjoy the spectacle. http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?feature=4531 https://www.nasa.gov/content/asteroid-data-hunter-challenge-0 http://www.asteroidmission.org/get-involved/target-asteroids/
Monday, August 24, 2015
Friday 21st Aug The ANU/RSAA Stargazing night smashed two world record's for single-site and multiple-site observers with telescopes observing the night sky for 10 consecutive minutes. We were all a bit nervous about the weather, but the clouds cleared out just in time to ensure the night was a great success and everyone had a great time observing some fantastic sights through the larger telescopes. 76 people from the school community and nearby residents came out for one of the many local Melbourne sites at Norwood Secondary College in Ringwood. My trusty 14inch dobbie (dobsonian) was a hit, with people stunned and amazed looking at individual craters on the moons and counting the moons of Saturn which could be seen beyond the glare of the magnificent rings.
Mt Stromlo observatory in Canberra smashed the single-site Guinness Book of Record with a massive turnout of 1800 observers. The tally for the multi-site is still being finalized but was believed to have been over 10,000 people around the country. Once official it should easily eclipse the previous record of 3006 set in April 2013 in Mexico. Go Aussie!
Saturday 22nd Aug was a great night as well. The Scienceworks' Festival of Astronomy and Light opened up Scienceworks into the evening and I took the dobbie along again as one of the astronomers providing telescopes for viewing by the general public. Its amazing to watch kids who have never seen a telescope before walk up to one and try and work out which end/lens/mirror to look through. All are completely amazed at whats going on with all the lens and mirrors and when they see a crater on the moon as big as Tasmania it just blows them away. I have often described Astronomy as the "cupid's arrow of science", because of the emotional impact on people the first time they see the rings of Saturn or the craters of the moon. [That's original you have to quote me ;-) ]
As a veteran of many starparties it takes a bit to impress me, however I was not to be disappointed ........ a WORKING Tile from the Murchison Array had me fan-boying with selfies. It was sitting there on the grass collecting signals from the universe quite happily. Some 128 of these tiles currently form the Murchison Array, and will be a key part of the Square Kilometer Array that will put Australia at the forefront Astronomy research. If your dream is to win the nobel prize for Astrophysicis - Get into astronomy, go to the ANU or Curtain Uni in WA, and get onto the SKA (once built) and start data mining!!!!
NASA's OSIRIS-REx Mission working with University of Arizona's Citizen Science Project - Target Asteroids. Laneway Learning, a novel idea that started as a way to increase traffic to a little coffee shop called the Little Mule Cafe (in a dead end laneway), has now gone global due to its outstanding success. Laneway Learning run eccentric little classes on just about anything to promote community engagement and sharing of ideas. I have run three "Asteroid Hunting" classes and become a regular at their Sunday Science Spectacular during Science Week.
Over a couple of hours about 10-20 people helped classify and record the photometry of asteroid Magellan, an analog of asteroid Bennu, the target of the 2018 OSIRIS-REx NASA New Horizons Mission. Asteroid Bennu is a carbonaceous asteroid and 3rd on the Sentry Risk Table that requires careful watching by amateur and professional astronomers alike. Bennu is a 492m asteroid that (at this stage) will pass at about 1/3 the distance to the moon in 2182. Saving the lives of your great grandchildren on a Sunday afternoon during science week - what could be better than that!
This is a photo of my little booth at Captain Melville's for the Sunday Science Spectacular.
All in all a great effort, thanks to Norwwod Secondary College, Mount Burnett Observatory, Scienceworks, Captain Melville's and Laneway Learning for putting up with me enthusiastically waving my arms about and carting large telescopes, screens and computers around.