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The Astronomy, Technology and Space Science News Podcast.
SpaceTime with Stuart Gary Series 24 Episode 51
*China launches its new space station
China has success...
The Astronomy, Technology and Space Science News Podcast.
SpaceTime with Stuart Gary Series 24 Episode 51
*China launches its new space station
China has successfully launched the first module of its new space station giving the communist part a permanent presence in space.
*MOXIE makes oxygen on Mars
An experiment aboard NASA’s Mars Perseverance Rover has successfully produced oxygen out of the red planet’s thin carbon dioxide atmosphere.
*Carbon dioxide rich water found in ancient meteorite
Scientists have found water inclusions containing at least 15 percent carbon dioxide in an ancient meteorite.
*Apollo 11 astronaut Michael Collins dies aged 90
The world has paid tribute to Apollo 11 command module pilot astronaut Michael Collins who has passed away aged 90.
The constellation Scorpius the Scorpion, the spectacular M4 globular cluster, and the Eta-Aquarids meteor shower are among the highlights of the May night skies.
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The Astronomy, Space, Technology & Science News Podcast.
SpaceTime 20210507 Series 24 Episode 51 AI Transcript
[00:00:00] This is space time series 24 episode 51 for broadcast on the 7th of May, 2021. Coming up on space time. China launches its new space station. Moxie shows how to make oxygen on Mars and carbon dioxide. Rich water discovered inside an ancient meteorite, all that and more coming up. Um, space time. Welcome to space time with steward, Gary
China has successfully launched the first module of its new space station, giving the Chinese communist party, a permanent presence in space. The 22,600 kilogram, TN he or heavenly harmony module was blasted into orbit about a long [00:01:00] March five Bay rocket from the Wayne Chang satellite low and center on the Southern Ireland province of his Nan.
The 17 meter module will form the core of Beijing's new orbiting our post with at least 10 more missions planned to complete construction of the facility. The core modules designed to provide life support and living quarters for a crew of three for up to six months and provides guidance, navigation, and orientation controls for the station.
It includes a docking hub with a series of ports at one end, a habitation section in the middle and a service section at the other end housing, the stations, power propulsion and life support systems. At least two more modules are planned at this time. The 20 ton when Tiana quest for the heavens and main TN or dreaming of the heavens modules, will each be about 14.4 meters long and provide, Oh, by the laboratories for research.
When completed later next year, the T-shaped space stations expected have a massive around 66 tons orbiting an altitude of around [00:02:00] 380 kilometers. However Beijing says it could ultimately expand out to as many as six modules. The launch came as Russia announced plans to develop a joint lunar space station with China and to leave the international space station in 2025, withdraw from being part of the lunar gateway space station project, and to build its own space station in low earth orbit.
In October, 2003, Beijing became only the third nation on earth. Capable of launching a human into space. China launched a pair of experimental single module space stations Tiangong or heavenly palace one and its success at Yangon to the first bird up and crashed back to earth after it went out of control and its orbit to Cade the second, and it took a successful control deorbit re-entry in 2018.
Right now Beijing's training at least 12 target knots to live and work on the space station. The first spacecraft, the visit that Tiani core module should be the Changi two cargo ship. Later this month, [00:03:00] that will be followed by the Shenzhou 12 capsule, carrying three targets in June, the TNG three cargo ship and the send you 13, man spacecraft are also scheduled to visit the space station in September and October respectively.
This spacetime still the com Moxie makes oxygen on Mars and come the oxide rich water found in an ancient media ride, all that and more store to come on. Space time.
An experiment of board NASA's Mars, perseverance Rover as for the first time successfully produced oxygen out of the red planets thing. The oxide atmosphere, well, much of the attendance Jen of late has been on the historic first flight on another planet by NASA's Mars, ingenuity helicopter, [00:04:00] the mass perseverance Rover, which carried the little rotorcraft on its 278 million kilometer journey from earth to the red planet has been undertaking important research of its own.
The car size six wheeled Rover landed in crater on February the 18th it's primary mission is to search for signs of ancient life, but a number of N sorry, missions are also underway. And one of those is Moxie. The Mars oxygen in situ resource utilization experiment. It's designed to test the process for converting carbon dioxide into oxygen.
Carbon dioxide makes up about 96% of the Martian atmosphere. Well, oxygen makes up just a tiny fraction, just 0.13%. By comparison, here on earth, oxygen makes up about 21% of the atmosphere. The test is size Moxie's Madden, a small gold box. Incorporate it into the Mars, perseverance Rover. It uses solid oxide, electrolysis technology to produce [00:05:00] oxygen out of carbon dioxide.
And in the early evening on April the 20th or early morning sell 60 mission Tama mozzies measured in salts or Marsh day. The process produced 5.4 grams of oxygen directly out of the carbon dioxide atmosphere. Moxie's oxygen production. This involves taking in atmospheric carbon dioxide, which is then compressed and filter to remove dust and other contaminants.
It's then heated we're over 800 degrees Celsius in order to split the carbon dioxide into oxygen and carbon monoxide, the system has the potential to produce up to 12 grams of oxygen an hour. That's about the same as a tree on earth. The experiment is an important step in developing man missions to Mars.
See both people and rocket engines, breathe oxygen. For example, a team of four astronauts will need to breathe about a ton of oxygen during their year long. Stay on the red planet. It's a launch those same four people off the surface of Mars and back towards the earth will require more than [00:06:00] 25 tons of oxygen as well as seven tons of propellant.
Mission managers now want a test Moxie under a range of different conditions at different times of the day and over different seasons. This space-time still the calm, calm dioxide, rich water found in an ancient meteorite and the constellations. Scorpius the scorpion, the spectacular M four globular cluster and the edit ackwards meteor shower are among the highlights of the main night skies.
On sky watch
I found water inclusions into any at least 15% carbon dioxide in an ancient media meteorite. The findings reported in the journal. Science advances suggested media, right? Which was part of the famous Sutter's mill impact event was most [00:07:00] likely formed in the outer solar system, somewhere beyond the hub.
What if Jupiter water is abandoned in the solar system, in its liquid form. It's a prerequisite for life. As we know it. Beyond earth astronomists have found water ice on the moon, on Mars, on the moons of Jupiter and satin as well as in Sandton spectacular ring system. And of course, incompetent asteroids and liquid water has also been beyond the earth in our solar system, including on Mars and under the surface of the city attorney in moon and syllabus.
And there's also a strong evidence for a liquid water ocean beneath the crust of the frozen ice moon Europa. And it doesn't end there. Traces of water vapor have been detected in the scorching atmosphere. Venus scientists have also found water in the form of hydroxyl molecules on the lunar surface and in media writers, hydrous minerals.
These are basically solids with some ionic or molecular water incorporated within them. Even more exciting [00:08:00] microscopically, small droplets of liquid water have been found in acquiesce float inclusions inside the minerals of some meteorites. A curious, a GMO from Ritsumeikan university wanted to see if he could find liquid water inclusions in a form of calcium carbonate count side in samples of the satis mill meteorite.
The satins mill medial was the carbonaceous chondrites which airburst on April the 22nd, 2012 in the skies above Saturn's mill, California, satis mill was best known for sparking the California gold rush. 79 fragments of the 4.6 billion year old medial have so far been recovered. Using advanced microscopy.
So Sharon colleagues found a calcite crystal in Tanny and nanoscale, acquiesced fluid, liquid water inclusion with at least 15% carbon dioxide. The presence of these inclusions within the Situs mill meteorite has interesting implications concerning the origin of the media was parent asteroid and the early history of our [00:09:00] solar system.
The inclusions likely occurred due to the parent asteroid forming with bits of frozen water and carbon dioxide inside it. This would require the asteroid to a formed in a part of the solar system, cold enough for water and carbon dioxide to freeze. And these conditions would place the side of formation far outside the orbit of earth and likely even beyond the orbit of Jupiter, the asteroid must then have been transported to the inner regions of the solar system where fragments could later collide with the earth.
Yeah, this hypothesis is consistent with recent theoretical studies of the solar systems evolution, suggesting that asteroids rich in small volatile molecules, like water and carbon dioxide formed well beyond Jupiter's orbit in the cold outer reaches of the solar system and will then flying into the inner solar system through gravitational perturbations caused by the planetary migration of Jupiter and satin.
And we know, thanks to evidence of the late heavy bombardment that Jupiter and satins outward migration [00:10:00] occurred about 3.9 billion years ago, which would have been when the asteroid, which produced the satis mill meteorite fragments would have been flying into the inner solar system. So you see these findings are providing important insights into the processes at work in the solar system, during its early history.
The world has paid tribute to Apollo 11 command module, pilot astronauts, Michael Collins, who is passed away, age 90. Collins was best known for remaining a board, the Apollo 11 command module in 1969 while fellow astronauts, Neil Armstrong and Edwin buzz Aldrin traveled down to the lunar surface undertake man's historic first steps on the moon [00:11:00] in a brief statement, the Collins family said the former test pilot, an astronaut died of cancer.
In 1979 to Mark the 10th anniversary of the moon landing, Collins said it was human nature to stretch, to go to sea to understand he said exploration was not really a choice, but an imperative. Born on October the 31st, 1930 Collins flew fad six saber fighters for the us air force before becoming a military test pilot, where he flew B 57 Canberra's T3 shooting stars and F a four star fighters.
His first space flight was about Jim and I 10 in 1966, fellow Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong. The first man to walk on the surface of another world, passed away back in 2012. Now only bears older and remains. Although both Armstrong and Collins will live on forever in history. Spacetime.
[00:12:00] And Tom out of 10 are wise to the skies and check out the celestial sphere for the month of may on sky watch maze. The fifth month of the year in birth, the Julian angered Gorian calendars. The month was named for the Greek goddess Meyer, who was [00:13:00] identified with a Roman era goddess of fertility. Gr is festival was held in may.
Yes. More importantly for many of our listeners may typically marks the start of summer vacation season in the United States and Canada. Let's start out to her the night skies, but looking East where you'll see the constellation. Scorpius the scorpion in Greek mythology. The constellation was named after Scorpius, who was sent to earth by the goddess sky in order to slay arrive in the Hunter.
After he bursted that he could kill all the animals on earth, scorpion, stung Orion in the shoulder, but a Ryan's life was spared by a vicious, the healer. And it was placed in the heavens along with Scorpius, who continues to pursue him for eternity. Uh, Ryan, the Hunter has become the hunted forever with Scorpius rising in the East this time of year to triumphantly chase and the feeder Ryan who sits in the West.
Meanwhile, over useless, the healer rises in the East, following behind Scorpius to chase and crush him into the earth as the [00:14:00] scorpion sets in the West. And so this ancient story continues to play out in the heavens year after year. Interestingly part of this story predate the Greeks with Orion known in ancient Egypt as a Cyrus, the God of the underworld and of regeneration.
The brightest star at scorpion is alpha Scorpio or Antara is a Scorpion's heart in ancient Greek. The name Antari means the equal arrival of Mars. The God of war that's because it's got an orange appearance is similar to the red planet and it passes very close to Mars, every 780 years. Easily seen with the unaided eye and terrorists is some 550 light years away, but it looks so bright because it's around 57,500 times.
This is luminous as the sun, and he's one of the largest known stars in the universe. And terrorists is a red supergiant about 18 times the mass and 883 times that I am under the sun. Weren't [00:15:00] placed with a sun is in our solar system, building golf, all the terrestrial, planets, mercury, Venus earth and Mars, and its visible surface would extend almost as far out as Jupiter.
A light year is about 10 trillion kilometers. The distance of fert on can travel in a year at 300,000 kilometers per second. The speed of light in a vacuum and the ultimate speed limit of the universe. Astronomers believe Antares began life around 12 million years ago as a spectrum of type O or B blue star astronomers described stars in terms of special types, a classification system based on temperature and characteristics, the hottest most massive and most luminous stars I known as spectrum type out blue stars.
A followed by spectral type B blue white stars. Then spectrum type a white stars, spectra type F white is yellow stars, spectral type G yellow stars. That's her son fits in. Then this spectrum type K orange stars and the coolest and least massive stars and own a spectrum [00:16:00] type M red stars. Each neutral classification system can also be subdivided using a numeric digit to represent temperature with zero being the hardest and nine, the coolest.
And then you add a Roman your, to represent luminosity. So put it all together. And you can describe our son as being a G two V or G2 five yellow dwarf star, one of millions spread across our galaxy also included in the stellar classification system, a special types LT, and Y which are assigned to failed stars, known as Brown dwarves.
Some of which were actually born a spectra type M red stars, but became Brown dwarves after losing some of their mass. Brown dwarves fit into a unique category between the largest planets, which are about 13 times the mass of Jupiter and the smallest spectrum type em red Wolf, which are about 75 to 80 times, the mass of Jupiter or zero points, zero eight, solar masses, like the similar sized red giant Betelgeuse and the constellation Orion.
[00:17:00] And Terry's almost certainly end its life as a spectacular type two or core collapse supernova, probably sometime within the next a hundred thousand years or so. When it does explode at Lapeer as bright as the full moon for several months on end and will be clearly visible during daylight hours here on earth.
And Terry says a companion star and terrorists be located between 224 and 529 astronomical units away from the primary and astronomical unit is the average distance between the earth and the sun, which is about 150 million kilometers or 8.3 light minutes. Spectral analysis of Antares B indicates. It's pulling a lot of material off it's bloated red, super giant companion located near Antares is the M four globular cluster.
Globular clusters, a tight balls, densely packed with thousands to millions of stars, which were either all originally formed at the same time, from the collapse of the same molecular gas and dust cloud, [00:18:00] or alternatively they're galactic centers, the remains of ancient galaxies that be merged into the Milky way.
Galaxy over billions of years, M four is composed of a million or stars originally born some 12 billion years ago. The info globular cluster is located some 7,200 light years away making it one of the nearest globular clusters to worth easily seen through a pair of small binoculars. It covers an area of the sky as seen from earth as big as the full moon astronomers estimate.
There are some 150 or so globular clusters orbiting in the halo of the Milky way, located near the tail of the scorpion, uh, to OpenStack clusters known as M six in M seven. Weapon star class. There's a loosely bound groups of a few thousand stars, which all originally formed from the same molecular gas and dust cloud at the same time, but a not as densely bound as globular clusters, open clusters generally survive for a few hundred million years with the most massive ones [00:19:00] surviving for maybe a few billion years.
Now, in contrast the far more massive globular clusters exert fast, stronger gravitational attraction on their members, which is why they can survive so much longer. M six, which is also known as the butterfly cluster is some 12 light years across and located about 1600 light years away. It contains around 80 stars, which are all less than a hundred million years old, which is quite young in cosmic terms.
The M seven or Tommy cluster is named after the famous Greek astronomer and mathematician. Claudius Ptolemy. It's about 980 light years away and is far more dispersed than M six covering an area around 25 light years across. And at around 200 million years, it's about twice as old, by the way, the M in terms like M four M six and M seven are abbreviations for messier in honor, of the 18th century, French astronomer, Charles messier, who developed an astronomical catalog of fuzzy nebulous objects in the [00:20:00] skies see messy.
It was a common Hunter and he compile the list of 103 fuzzy objects, which one comets and serve from his perspective could be ignored. Later other astronomers added additional celestial objects to the list, bringing the present catalog up to 110, our solar system. In fact, most of the stars we see when we look up in the night sky are located in the Milky way.
Galaxies, Orion, arm Irena, also known as the Orion spur or the Orion Cygnus arm, depending on which name you prefer is some 3,500 light is wide and around 10,000 light years long. The Ryan arm is named after the Ryan constellation, which is one of the most prominent constellations in the Southern hemisphere, summer and Northern hemisphere, winter, some of the brightest and most famous celestial objects in the constellation.
Betelgeuse, Rajul the stars of the Ryan built and the Ryan Nebula all located within the Orion arm. The Orion arm is [00:21:00] located between the Crainer Sagittarius arm, which is more towards the galactic center from our position and the Perseus arm, which is more towards the outer edge of the galaxy. From our point of view, the Perseus arm is one of the two major arms of the Milky way.
The other being the tourism. Long thought of as a minus structure spur, if you will, between the two longer adjacent arms Perseus and Corrina Sagittarius evidence was presented in mid 2013, that the rhino might actually be a branch of the Perseus arm or possibly a completely independent arm segment itself.
Within the Orion arm, our solar system, the sun, the earth, and all the other planets we know are located close to the inner rim in what's known as the local bubble about halfway along the rhino arms length, approximately 26,000 light years from the galactic center. The local bubble is a cavity in the interstellar medium in the Rhine arm, in tanning, among other things, the local interstellar cloud, which contains our solar system and the G [00:22:00] cloud.
It's at least 300 light is a crass and it is, there's a neutral hydrogen density of just 0.05 atoms per cubic centimeter. That's just one 10th of the average for the interstellar medium across the Milky way at about a six that of the local interstellar cloud, the hot diffuse gets in the local bubble emits x-rays and is the result of a supernova that exploded sometime during the past 10 to 20 million years.
It was once thought that the most likely candidate for the remains of the supernova was Jenga a Pulser and the constellation Gemini. However later, it was suggested that model supernova in a subgroup B one of the Pleiades moving group was more likely responsible becoming a remnant super shell. Our solar system has been traveling through this region of space occupied by the local bubble for the last five to 10 million years.
It's current location is in, what's known as the local interstellar cloud, a minor region of slightly denser material within the bubble. The cloud [00:23:00] formed when the local bubble and another bubble called the loop one bubble met gas within the local interstellar cloud, as a density of about 0.3 atoms per cubic centimeter.
From what we can tell the local bubble isn't spherical, but seems to be narrow in the galactic plane becoming somewhat egg-shaped or elliptical, and may even become wider above and below the galactic plane becoming shaped more like an hourglass and it's not alone. It's abutting other bubbles of less, a dense interstellar medium, including the loop one bubble.
The loop one bubble was created by supernova. They instill a wins in the Scorpio scent tourist association, some 500 light years from the sun. The loop one bubble also contains the star Antares that we spoke about earlier. Astronomers have identified several, well, I guess you'd call them tunnels, which connect the cavities of the local bubble.
Would that have the loop one bubble collectively there've been referred to as the lupus tunnel, other the bubbles, which are adjacent to our local bubble. And then it's the loop to bubble. [00:24:00] And the loop three bubble looks like astronomers still have a problem when it comes to thinking up cool names. Also visible this month is the ETA Accurate's media or shower, which is generated as the earth passes through the dust and debris trail left behind by Halley's comet.
Come at PYN Holly's a well-known short period comment, which visits the inner solar system every 75 to 76 years. The 15 kilometer wide mountain of rock and ice will make its next closeup appearance in 2061. It's named in honor of the British astronomer Edmund Halley, who in 1705 after examining ancient Chinese Babylonian and medieval European records successfully predicted its return in 1758.
However, he died in 1742 before his prediction could be confirmed. The comments highly elliptical and elongated orbit takes it from between the orbits of mercury and Venus out almost as far as the orbit of Pluto. Holly's orbit is in retrograde, meaning over to the sun [00:25:00] in the opposite direction to the planets that is clockwise from above the son's Northern pole.
This retrograde orbit results in having one of the highest velocities relative to the earth of any object in the solar system, traveling at some 70.56 kilometers per second, or if you prefer 250, 4,016 kilometers per hour. As well as the accurate meteor shower, every may Halley's comet also produces the Orion it's media or shower in late October astronomers think comment.
Holly was originally a long period comment, which took thousands of years to travel to the inner solar system from the Oort cloud, but it was gravitationally perturbed into its Karen orbit by close encounters with the giant outer planets. The odd cloud is a hypothetical sphere of comets and asteroids beyond the heliosphere and mixture of vagabonds from the solar system and objects from deep space, which have been collected by the sun's gravitational pool.
Occasionally as the sun passes by another star, an all cloud object will [00:26:00] get perturbed and be Frank towards the inner solar system. The Edwards meteor shower runs from the 19th of April through to the 28th of May peeking around may the fifth with around 55 meters an hour, making it one of the Southern hemispheres best.
So let's showers. However, back in 1975, they were running 95. Media was an hour and in 1980, it was up to 110, even better. The bright yellow media was often appears streaks known as trains. As their name suggests they radiate out from the direction of the constellation Aquarius and the star ETA. Ackery just look towards the East after midnight and before Dawn for the best view.
Joining us now is Jonathan Nalli from Australian sky and telescope magazine for the rest of our tour of the main night skies on sky watch. Could I show it well in the Southern hemisphere down here, we're heading into winter course and our friends in the North going into summer, so different things to see in the night sky.
Winter is a great time [00:27:00] for stargazing in the Southern hemisphere, even though it's cold. I mean, it's getting cold. I mean, I know, I know in Australia here, we don't have real cold compared to other parts of the world, but for us it feels cold and going out in an idea, you might think, Oh, I don't want to go there.
It's too cold. Nothing to see, but there's actually lots of them. Lots of great stuff to see at this time of year. It's probably the best time of year for something. So where we start, we start down the South, but nobody's stopped down the South, not down the South. You've got the Southern cross, which for once is standing up right.
At this time of year it's it's up nice and high and it's standing up straight up and down. It looks like a kite shape. It's not a, like a plus symbol cross. It's a crucifix cross. Yeah. In fact, the proper name for the constellation is not Southern cross. It is crooks C R U X crooks. Proper pronunciation of it.
And that might mean like a crucifix. So that's really easy to see at the moment you've got the, the two point of stars and centers near it. They've never easy to see as well. And you've got the, these wonderful constellations. We talk about a lot. You've got Karena and Vienna of Papas, which are the old constellations or the auger Nevis constellation full of wonderful [00:28:00] staff fields.
And typically you can just get to binoculars and sweep through there. Lots and lots of great stuff to see. There's the star cluster, omegas and tour that you can spot. It's 17,000 light years away. It's a global cluster on the outskirts of our galaxy 10 million stars. And even with a pair of binoculars, you're not going to make it individual stars, but you can see as like this little ball, a little intense ball in space, it's not a point source like a star and it doesn't look like a planet.
It doesn't look like a Nebula is full of stars, 10 million of them, 17,000 light years away should, it's fabulous to look at it and think, okay, it might not look much, but when you think of what it is, It's quite amazing that you can see it. You can actually even spot it with the unaided eye. If you are in a dark enough spot in your eyes or the dark adapted, is it the heart of a, another galaxy that was eaten by the Milky way?
Or do you think it's just a really thick grouping of stars that all formed at the same time? Which side of the, uh, I'm I'm sitting on the fence on that one? Yeah, I would just consider the globular clusters are considered to be groups of stars. [00:29:00] Well, I went to Germany. That's what they were, that's what they were considered.
But the tide is changing my friend. Yeah. Some people consider that they are the sort of heart of, um, smaller galaxies that have been stripped of all the other stars and gas and stuff. And they just went with what's left because the Milky way has gobbled up lots of galaxies over the years. And the main 30, 40 years ago, we knew that it might've gobbled up one or two, but now it's gobbled up a lot more innocent in the process of continuing to do so.
So, um, yeah, but it wouldn't at all surprised me one way or the other world, whether these globular clusters are at least some of them move the remnants of small galaxies global up or whether they are their own thing. But anyway, the thing is that you can go out and have a look at it. You can, you can see it with the United I just, as a small.
Fuzzy point of light, get some binoculars on it. And if you're going to tell us
is the best looking globular star cluster in the entire sky, and it's very fast out. So you can only see it from here. So if you get a chance to have a little bit of please do, and not far [00:30:00] from it, you've got another thing that you can see too, which also it looks like a little fuzzy blob of light to the unaided eye looks better through binoculars and it looks great through a telescope and that's a galaxy called NGC.
Five one, two eight, sometimes called centaurs a so weird looking galaxies, but this big dark slang going through it. And it's, it's in the shape of a bowl with this big outline, sort of splitting it in half. Some people call it the hamburger galaxy because it looks a bit like that. I suppose a lot of people use the name, Centaurus AE, or the galaxy.
Some people call it. Well, it's catalog number NGC five one two eight. I was slapped on the wrist by astronomy years and years and years ago for calling the galaxy Centaurus. Hey, but Centura is a really refers to the radio source that is inside the galaxy. The galaxy itself is Capitol Olga's NGC five one two eight.
This is not going to mean a lot of most people listening, but I just thought I mentioned it because I didn't get slapped on the wrist by a famous astronomer. I said, you shouldn't call it. Center is the source of radio, right. Is coming from the inside of the galaxy itself. It's catalog number. Five one, two eight, but it's 10 to 15 million light years [00:31:00] away.
And you can see it. You can actually see this thing with a pair of binoculars, get onto it and it just looks, it looks fantastic. So see if you can spot that, cause you're gonna need a star map to have a look at that or some sort of program or an app on your mobile phone. But, um, it's, it's pretty easy to find tourists say it's one of the strongest radio sources in the sky as well, which is one of its claims to fame.
Speaking of a claim to fame, you mentioned a mega Suntory moment ago. It was discovered by a local Sydney boy. James Dunlop who lived in the Sydney suburb of Paramatta, uh, 1826, I think from memory back then, of course, Parrametta, wasn't drowned in the bright lights of the city. Like it is now that's back in the days when you had people who were called gentlemen astronomers, they typically had other jobs.
They might have been someone in the government, or it might've been a solicitor or this or that, but their real passion was astronomy and they were independently wealthy and they could pull themselves around a tree. And while of course the indigenous populations of the. The Southern countries had long looked at the sky and did the best they could with the naked eye was only when I suppose [00:32:00] European technology reached the Southern latitudes with telescopes and things that people could start discovering things that were not visible to the unaided eye.
Things like galaxies and stuff, that kind of thing. So these people who were called gentlemen, astronomers, that could do it. They did a lot of that back then. They weren't. Professional scientists. Most people weren't professional, even, even scientists my professional back in those days, you know, a little bit, uh, just, just did it for the love of it.
Indeed. Paramita was the second settlement in, in Sydney. You had the settlement in Sydney Cove and then you had European settlement, European settlement in Sydney. And then the first. Twice outside of Sydney was, was Paramatta where the old government house still stands. And yeah, you can go there and you can see the remains of geometries there quite a historic place, at least in Australian terms in 1826, I was very young, but not too, not too long after, um, the British arrived in Australia and set up camp.
Pretty amazing. Really life was very hard back then. So it was great that some astronomy was getting done over in the West where the sun is just [00:33:00] set. Of course. And it's nice and dark now. You've got the constellation of Ryan, which we'll talk about a lot, but it is setting. So it's potentially gone for the year.
Might be back until summertime for us nearby. You've got Sirius, which is the brightest star in the night sky and the brightest star in the constellation canis major, or the greater dog, a little bit to the North. There's another fairly bright stock or porcelain, which is the brightest star in Kenneth minor.
Alyssa dog. Both of those are really lovely, beautiful, bright stars. The Northern half of the sky, this time of year for us down in the South, it doesn't seem to be very interesting. It doesn't have many bright stars, throttle, famous constellations near there. You've got Leo and cancer, the ones in Zodiac, of course, and astronomers, amateur, astronomers love Virgo because there are some big galaxy classes in there.
You can't see with the naked eye, but you get some telescopes onto it. And, uh, and you can see. These there's amazing galaxies, but if you wait a few hours until around midnight or so then some mighty constellations are coming up of the Eastern horizon this time of year. And I'm talking about in particular Sagittarius and school vias, because those two constellations are right [00:34:00] in the middle of the Milky way.
Sagittarius. In fact, when you look in that direction of that, you're looking towards the middle of the Milky way out galaxy, and that means there's lots and lots of stuff to see. You got incredible staff fields and stock clusters and neighborly. You get some binoculars onto that area. It's just tremendous.
It really is amazing. So that's one of the reasons why particularly solving astronomers love winter time, because the center of our galaxy is up nice and high in the sky and can be seen. So it's great from an amateur astronomer perspective, lots of stuff, proceeds great from a professional astronomer perspective, because there are lots of interesting objects, including the black hole in the middle of the galaxy and lots of other stuff that are.
In, in the thick of it, if you like, because we're looking into the heart into the dense, inner regions of our galaxy. So that's really one of the reasons why that Southern hemisphere astronomy is so good. And that is because our galaxy center is up nice and high. So from the Northern hemisphere, it's down very low on the horizon or for fairly low on the horizon where you don't get as good a view.
Anyway, let's have a look at what's happening with planets. Now, both of the inner planets, mercury and Venus will have been out of [00:35:00] view for a while. And I was out of view pretty much all of a lost in the sun's glare that both of them are going to slowly start to reappear above the Western horizon. After sunset, during may, we won't get very high.
It might be a bit hard to see, could be impossible to see if you've got Hills and trees and buildings and things in the way, but Venus, which is nice and being bright will slowly get higher and higher above the Western horizon. That is. And it will continue climbing higher as the next few months progress.
So you won't be able to miss Snus, Venus, still looking out, roughly that direction, looking in the North West after sunset, you should be able to say mom kind of MAs pretty easy to spot. It's more big and broad. In fact, it's getting dimmer and dimmer. Cause it's quite a long way from us now, but pretty easy to spot because it looks like a medium brand new style with a really obvious, uh, reddish, orangy sort of color.
So that, that should be, that should make it easy to have a look at it. Um, and, um, when you do that, please bear in mind all the rovers and the helicopter and the satellites orbiting Mars at the moment. That's what I like to do when I [00:36:00] look at the planet. So I think. What's there nothing it's saddened at the moment, but Mazda stacks and stuff at miles.
So you look at Mazda, need tens and tens and tens of millions of kilometers away. And there were these little robots sent there from earth and they're buzzing around there right now, even as we speak. It's just incredible to think about that. I think, um, it's never, never fails to amaze me. The other two planets we can see at the moment, uh, Jupiter and settling, but you're going to have to wait up until about midnight or even beyond midnight to spot them rising in the East.
Saturn rises first around about actually that quarter to midnight at the beginning of may, but a bit earlier towards the end of the month. And Jupiter follows the bathroom hour lighter. Now there's an eclipse of the moon coming up this month on may the 26th, anywhere in the world can see it. But fortunately for us, uh, people in New Zealand and Australia, a guy to be able to see it, but it's not going to be a very long one.
So an eclipse of the moon is where the moon goes into the earth shadow. Right? Typically it lasts for a fair while, but this one that we're only going to get 18 [00:37:00] minutes. Of totality, right? So the, you get the partial phase first and the moon is going to go completely into the darkest part of a shadow.
That's called totality. And that's only going to last 18 minutes. This time, the total phase is going to begin at about 10 past nine in the evening, Eastern Australian time. So Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane time, and it will finish only 18 minutes light up at nine 28. And then it goes to the partial phases phases out of the shadow.
Again. Two weeks off the, that is going to be another eclipse. We won't see it down here. It's going to be an annular eclipse of the sun. And it's going to be seen across parts of the Northern hemisphere, far Northern parts of the famous VA Greenland places like that. It's an annual rate flips to the sun, which means that it's not quite total.
When the moon moves in front of the sun, because the moon is a little bit further away from us in its orbit, it appears to be a bit smaller and it doesn't completely cover up the sign. You get this ring of fire or thin ring, ring of sunlight still around the edges. Yeah. Very spectacular. Of course, you still shouldn't look at it because even 1% of the sun's sunlight is [00:38:00] too bright for the naked eye.
So you need to take all the standard precautions of any sort of salary clips, even when you're only getting a tiny little thin ring ring of sunlight. If someone wants to describe the eclipse of the moon and the reddish color that it turns during such an event as. Seeing all the world's sunrises and sunsets at war.
Yeah. That's nice. Isn't it? You do know that as George Kemo said famously a long time ago, that scientists have actually proved that the moon is better than some other proof that the moon is better than Suncoast. When you say the moon, it shines at night when everything's dark, when you need it yet. So I can see where you're going and everything, but the sun shines during the daytime when it's a lot.
Anyway, there you go. Jonathan Nelly, the editor of Australian sky and telescope magazine. And don't forget if you're having trouble getting your copy of Australian sky and telescope magazine from your usual retailer because of the current lockdown and travel restrictions, you can always get a print or digital subscription and have the magazine delivered directly to your letterbox or inbox.
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Editor Australian Sky & Telescope Magazine
Our editor, Jonathan Nally, is well known to members of both the amateur and professional astronomical communities. In 1987 he founded Australia’s first astronomy magazine, Sky & Space, and in 2005 became the launch editor for Australian Sky & Telescope. He has written for other major science magazines and technology magazines, and has authored, contributed to or edited many astronomy, nature, history and technology books. In 2000 the Astronomical Society of Australia awarded him the inaugural David Allen Prize for Excellence in the promotion of Astronomy to the public.