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We welcome your letters E-mail me with your message. (Subject) ‘Mailbag’ davereneke@gmail.com

Good morning. I live in Deniliquin and listen to you and AD on ABC local radio from Wagga every Monday morning. Thank you so much for letting us in the Riverina know about the space station passing over on Tuesday. I got up, rugged up well and went out in the frost and was so excited to see it pass over our horizon.  I am an Aged Care Worker and told my lovely group I work with all about it and showed them the space station live photos too. They were all fascinated as am I. Thank you so much for your constant updated information in a simple language we can all understand and participate in. Shirlee from Den


Hi Dave. Hopefully you can answer this. As you will be aware North Korea recently fired a missile and it was reported to have reached an altitude in excess of 2,500 kms. If this was the case wouldn’t it burn up reentering the earth’s atmosphere? Doesn’t “space” start about 100 km from earth? Love your segments on the radio. Kind regards, Geoff Thomas

Hi Geoff, Thanks for the kind words and interesting question. You’re getting height mixed up with distance. The Hwasong-10 is a North Korean designed intermediate-range ballistic missile with range capabilities of up to 2,490 km and could carry a nuclear warhead. That’s distance along the earth, not height reached. It isn’t moving fast enough to burn up, you’d have to be doing something like 30-50km a second for that. Hope that helps 🙂


Hey David, something I want to ask you ! It has nothing to do with this post ! It’s about the van Allen belt … is it true we cannot get thru it !? Nova Levshin

Hi Nova, I’m glad you asked me first. This is a silly claim made by people who don’t understand space. The belts are very thin, we pass through quickly and its not strong radiation. The astronauts receive about 2 or 3 chest xray strength that’s about all and pass through the belts very quickly. No danger.


Hi Dave. I heard your segment on the ABC radio tonight regarding the ISS. I saw a very bright light cross over in the direction you said. At the same time a very small light like a star passed in the opposite direction. There were also to planes flying over at the same time. I’m just a little confused though as the star like light was very small. The planes were quite small but had flashing lights. However the ISS was very bright and much lower. Would the ISS not be much further away than the plane, therefore a smaller light? Hope I am making sense!! Many thanks, Kate

Hi Kate. Nice to hear from you and glad you got to see the space station. The small light moving in the opposite direction was one of the other 800 satellites orbiting the earth. They don’t all cross in the same direction by the way. The starlike object (satellite) was easily maybe 1,000 kms distant and not as big as the ISS. The ISS is the size of a football field with HUGE solar panels that reflect a LOT of sunlight back to you making it a beacon in the sky … AND it is only 330 km high. It’s the size of the panels that make the ISS look big and bright. So the plane would look quite small and only have tiny lights compared to the station. Thanks  for the question and hope this helps.


Hi Dave, On 1/6/17 at approx 3.45am and again at 4.00am, my father-in-law was travelling west on the Pacific Hwy on Waterfall way, near Bellingen. To the north-east, he noticed a stationary, super, super, bright, white light in a diamond point type shape. At first he thought it was a plane leaving Coffs Harbour airport but by the time he arrived home in Bellingen he saw the light again and realised it was in fact, stationary and therefore not a plane! My father-in-law is perplexed as to what it could possibly have been. Just wondering if you could please enlighten us as to what this super, bright light could have be?


Hi Dave. We live in Encounter Bay on the Fluerieu Peninsula south of Adelaide, & last night (14/3), @ 8.45pm, we saw the most spectacular moon we have ever seen.  It was rising in the East, just above the horizon of the Bay & it was a brilliant orange colour, it was just so huge!! Can you possibly explain this extraordinary sight to us & why it was so orange? Cheers, Lesley W.


G’day Dave. I  enjoyed your chat with Sarah on the ABC,, but have a question that I’d be happy if you could answer it. why if the earth is spinning at 1000mph & hurtling thru space & orbiting the sun at 92miles per second,, why are the constellations the same every night & they have been for thousands of years. The Polaris star is always in the same place,, how does that happen? Cheers mate. Sean
Hi Sean. Good to hear from you and thanks for the interesting question. Stars do move, but for most of the stars we can see in the sky, it takes a few millenia for us to notice their motion. Since human beings don’t live this long, the stars will stay in pretty much the same place during any person’s lifetime.  If we could live much longer, we would see the stars slowly but surely move, and eventually all the constellations we see in the sky will look completely different.

It is in fact the planet Earth turning that gives the stars their apparent motion through the night sky.  The stars do move, it just takes a very long time for them to move a noticeable amount.  Think about it like this: when you are driving, don’t buildings or mountains farther away seem not to move as fast by you as things that are closer? The farther away something is, the slower it seems to pass, doesn’t it? The whole process is called ‘Perspective.’ Or how we see things from OUR point of view or our position in the Universe in relation to everything else. Hope that helps. J


 Hi Dave. Listen to when ever you are on the radio in Adelaide.  Can you please tell me the truth about the so called Planet X. I do not believe it but would like to know the facts on its derivation. Thanks. Brian Hodge
Hi Brian. Good to hear from you and thanks for the question. Doomsayers seem to pop up every few years. Last time, it was the alignment of the planets that somehow managed not to destroy the earth back in 2000. Now, we have Planet X. A few people are claiming that a previously unknown planet in our solar system is on a very long, elliptical orbit. In May 2003, it was supposed to pass close enough to the Earth to affect it in some way, causing it to flip over and go to cause many other huge disasters. Did anything happen to you? Me either.)

Brian there are a large number of web pages, chat rooms and books about Planet X and its horrible effects on the Earth. So the question is, does this planet exist, and will it come by in future years and cause us harm? No, and no. As much as I know anything in science, I know that there is no Planet X as described by this latest crop of weirdos.  Just avoid any arm-chair astronomers online mate,  what they say is patently false. Believe me, if there was such an object as big a they claim on a collision course astronomers and solar system probes would have seen it way before now. Hope that helps.


Hi Dave
We are very basic astronomers and we love your Monday morning segments with Anne Delaney on ABC Radio Riverina.  Thanks to your program we have seen the ISS orbits, comets and meteor showers.  Great stuff!! We are a keen fishers and heard you give a fishing tip on this morning’s program related to the lunar cycle and the best times for fishing.   Is there somewhere that this information can be accessed?   Alternatively could you give a brief summary of the tip by email? Thanking you. JOHN & CHRISTINE THOMAS


Hi Dave, we were briefly outside approx 10.15pm my wife exclaimed of a very bright flashing spot in central sky , 60-70 degree up from east horizon, slightly south of east,,like a exploding star, but continued to flash at varied brightness  ,varied intervals.10 to 20 seconds apart or even longer,though there did not seem to be any progressive change in position,obvious for couple of minutes,,we watched for about 5 minutes but brightness faded to nil, We did not see any sign of aircraft movement or plane flash at that height.

There was a south bound flight at the eastern route,flashing normally and a north bound over Tamworth which goes very much overhead. though we did not see it.( as per flight 24) I work at Tamworth Airport doing baggage for Virgin so watch flight paths constantly. The brightness of the flashes was amazing,, would the sun hit on satelights at that time  of night in that manner. We would be interested in your thoughts of this…(We did not stay out more than our sighting)  Thanks, Daryl


Dear Dave, Thanks again for your interesting articles.  I read (again) the articles about long-term weightlessness of space and how it can effect a person’s vision in particular ~ along with other difficult bodily complications.But could the problem not be easily solved using centrifugal motion (with a comfortable radius of rotation, of course)?

If there’s one thing I believe as realistic about the film “2001 Space Oddessy”, it’s the architecture of the enormous craft made to rotate about as it travels ~ giving the astronauts an effective artificial gravity.I’ve often wondered why the International Space Station was not constructed similarly.Perhaps, at the time of its construction, no one thought zero gravity any serious problem ~ and it does seem astronauts quite relish it.But I wonder how they will now make future space stations. Les


Hey Dave, It’s been a while since I’ve annoyed you !!! While driving back to Newcastle from Walgettin the early hours, I saw a meteorite. It blazed a white tail, but just before it disappeared. it went green (light). It wasn’t a flare because of the white tail and it was green for a second. Why was this ??? Merry Christmas mate and a Happy New Year !!!  John Pinkevitch


Hi there Dave!  My name is Hope. I was just taking a peek at your website “Space and Astronomy”. I am interested in getting a telescope for the family. Mainly for our boy that turns 4 in 2 weeks. He is obsessed with the planets and stars (especially Jupiter). I want to get a really good one. I am not sure if you sell them? Or you just advertise them. I was browsing your site and saw this one:1309 EQ2 – 5.2 inch Reflecting Telescope System. I am interested in this one.  What can you suggest? We are no experts, but want a good one so we can all enjoy it. Our little guy would be super pumped if he could see all the planets and further. Thank you: Hope Vande Beek


 Hi. I’m looking at buying a telescope for my daughter. She’s an intelligent 10 year old with a desire to see the night sky in more detail. I was heading towards the Australian Geographic Skywatcher 130 Dob ($239) but I have have been interested in some of the telescopes on your website. She is keen on seeing the planets, especially their moons and rings. She’s not bothered by land, just the sky. I’d like something fairly simple to set up for her, and to use, and I want to buy right first time and have a telescope that will last. Would you be kind enough to give me your recommendations, the main differences between these models and the prices for these to Brisbane 4159. Many thanks for your time, Xoe Attridge


Hey Dave. I am looking at purchasing the Saxon 3″ (3-inch) Mini Dobsonian w Accessory Kit for my 7 year old son who has an interest in science / planets & stars etc and came across your site and I was hoping you might be able to help me out. Can you advise if this Saxon 3″ (3-inch) Mini Dobsonian w Accessory Kit would be a suitable option. I’m not looking at spending a fortune but would like something that will last him for the next couple of years increasing his interest. Any advice would be great. Many Thanks in advance!Regards, Kristy


Hi Dave! I appreciate your assistance this morning. My on air team, Robin Terry and Bob wanted me to pass along their thanks. We’ll be posting the audio to our website and sharing it across our social media also. Please find the attached aircheck, feel free to share any feedback. Kind regards. Allan Sheppard973 Assistant Breakfast Producer – 97.3fm


Hi Dave, I just wanted to say thank you for continuing to send me the Astro Space News. I really enjoy reading it when it arrives in my inbox. Best wishes to you and those dear to you for a Happy Christmas and peaceful New Year. Dr Andrew Shaw. Brisbane


Hi David. Thank you for all your assistance – as usual your promotions were integral to the success of the shows exposure. Look forward to working with you again David. Did you just enjoy the show itself? Being a hard core space expert I would appreciate your thoughts on the show? Many thanks. Ricky c/o Mars – Live In Australia Nov 2016


Hi Dave, Have listened to your enthusiastic sessions on the ABC and recently subscribed to your Web site and was hoping to indore your good nature to ask a  question. A close friend whom i trust very much has realized that he wont get around to using the telescope he bought 10 years ago and we are negotiating a sale. It is a celestron brightstar xlt 8 inch, with a software driven star finding platform also from celestron. The original price was around $2900. The price is $400 which seems good to me but it is still a 10 year old model. Does this seem on the surface of it a reasonable deal. Apologies for lack of data here. Cheers and thank you in advance 🙂 Nigel

Hi Nigel. Thanks for the email and sorry for the delay, got caught up in a deadline I couldn’t avoid.Now this is a nice scope, capable of doing a lot for you. With what seems to be ‘go-to’ auto tracking and object finding  its a bargain. The price is very good, but  always haggle anyway. Shoot for around $350 BUT take it at $400 if he insists.Being 10 years old is not an issue as long as the mirror is not corroded (it can be easily cleaned) and the scope comes with a few eyepieces. Scopes don’t wear out, the mirrors usually are the problem areas, if any.Good luck


Thanks Dave R. I thank you for your welcome and your public service in general. Should I mention a question that puzzled me for a time? I’m astonished that the SETI program continues to search for radio signal from other star systems ~ whereas I’d imagine any such signals would be so rarefied from their vast distances as to be virtually undetectable (even with the most sensitive receivers known). Wouldn’t radio signals need something of the broadcasting power of quasars to be detectable from stellar distances? I could elaborate further ~ but I’ll keep it this brief for now.


Hi David, my name is Lachlan Graham and I’m a year 12 student at Macksville High School. I have applied for a bachelor of astronomy and astrophysics at Maquarie university and I was wondering what career and job opportunities there are in astronomy and how many are available for someone who has completed this degree just so i can decide if to take on this degree or not. This would be much appreciated as I am still deciding on what university degree to take and where to go after i have finished school.


Hi Dave, I recently took a trip with my daughter to visit some family, and along the way we stopped in Roswell (very cool place). My daughter is now fascinated by aliens and UFOs and has been spending a good deal of time looking for more information. She really enjoyed your page, http://www.davidreneke.com/astronomers-and-ufos and asked me to send you a thanks. She also requested that I share another page with you that she found, http://www.halloweencostumes.com/ufo-history-and-folklore.html . She really enjoyed the UFO history and folklore and was hoping that you might consider adding the page to your resources. Best, Tonya & Annie


Hi Dave. Just wanted to thank you for the heads up about the pass of the ISS across the skies of Wagga Wagga this afternoon. I always listen to your interviews with Anne Delaney on Riverina ABC.  Love your work. Steve Granger


 Hello Dave,  I have heard you on the radio talking about the wonders of the night sky. You may be able to help to identify an object in the morning sky.  My daughter took a picture of the sun rising this morning. In the picture a few degrees above the eastern horizon was a bright object. Her phone picture can be focussed to show a split in the object. My research on an old star gazing disc leads me to think that it may be the star Capella. Is this possible…I thought that capella may be a northen hemisphere star. Can you help to identify the star? Thanks for your help and interesting radio. Allan Nugent


Good evening David, A caller rang the John Laws Show this morning about some planet or whatever currently behind the sun that sounds to be some sort of terrible threat to us and the man stated that David Suzuki has been talking a lot about it too .         I know nothing about it but thought that as usual you would definitely know all about this ??  Look forward to hearing from you soon and hope that you are really well and busy as usual ??   Thank you,  Chris McLoughlin  P.S. Maybe you could ring the John Laws Show next week about it ,  think that they would be very interested to hear from you.


Hello Dave, Thank you for a wonderful presentation last evening at the Tacking Point Lions Club meeting, but you have left me in a quandary.  Where am I to get further guest speakers of a similar calibre? As I said last evening, I have never seen our members so captivated and with that level of participation. We wish you continued success and good health to carry you into the future.  Regards also to your charming partner Roin. Best wishes. Geoff Best – Guest Speaker Coordinator – Lions Club of Port Macquarie Tacking Point.


David, I really enjoy your site and use it often. But that annoying little shit that keeps waving at me whilst I try and read your articles is truly annoying. I already have subscribed and find this constant waving a distraction, You should read one your self and see how off putting this is. Can you stop the little bastard continually waving  ? When you do you site could be the best on the net.  Thanks for reading this. Regards Joey


Hi Dave. I was just after a bit of advise regarding purchasing my first telescope.  I am mainly interested in observing the moon and planets but i want something that will be able to go a bit further later on.  I don’t want to purchase something that I will out grow in a few months. Ive been looking at the Saxon 909 refractor or the Saxon 1309 reflector.  I am not sure which path to go down.  I am after something that is going to give me the best view at the highest magnification.  I understand that the views are better at the lower mag but something that is going to give me a better higher magnification if that makes sense.  I am leaning towards the reflector because of the bigger aperture, on the assumption it will give me a closer view of the planets, but not sure if its going to give me a better and closer view than the 909 refractor. How much extra is the motor drive on the reflector as I am assuming the motor will enable tracking to be easier and smoother. Thanks and Regards Domenic


Mr. Dave Reneke, I suppose you been asked this  question many times before, but I am persistently reading on you tube  and Facebook about UFOs being seen and how there is some form of life on Mars and the moon, what’s your view on this is their other alien life out there if so why is it being concealed from us. Regards, Noel Addis
Hi Neil. Good to hear from you and thanks for the question. My answer is short because it’s an easy one to answer. There are a LOT of nutters out there and the internet is rife with UFO rumours. Most of them from uneducated conspiracy theorists. There is NO life on Mars – we have sent dozens of probes there and examined the surface sufficiently. It is a dead dry and barren world. No UFOs either as the nutters claim. Nothing! Same goes for the Moon. PLEASE do not swallow the crap out there about this.

I believe the universe is teeming with life and one day we will find it. I DO NOT believe we have crashed UFOS or dead alien bodies. I honestly believe the governments of the world don’t know much more than anyone else about UFO activity. Let me say in all these claims not ONE shred of evidence has been produced. NOTHING except words.


Hello Dave. I wanted to add comment to article re superlunimous supernova, but could only do so at the site via facebook. Believe it or not  there are some, a spare few, retro people on Earth such as myself who do not subscribe to fbook! Therefore I write the comment that occurred to me via email: What If? what if the superlume observed was the result of an exploding black hole? Are we certain that a black hole could not become so vast, so dense, so unwieldy that a critical mass would occur triggering a superluminous event? We  know so little about the phenom known as a black hole and very little about superlumes. The stupendous energy burst must have a stupendous mass to support it.  Herbert


Good morning Dave. My name is Paul Barry and you may recall I introduced myself after your presentation last Tuesday at the Probus South meeting at the Port Macquarie Golf Club. Firstly, let me reiterate what a wonderful presentation you gave on the Planets, Stars and Constellations of our night skies. It certainly garnered a lot of interest at question time from the members, a sure sign that it was a most enjoyable and informative talk. Well done.You may also recall that I mentioned that I was the Guest Speaker Liaison officer for another club, Port Macquarie Combined Probus and cheekily asked if you might consider being our Guest Speaker later this year. I hope you can consider our invitation. Looking forward to hearing from you and I note that you have presented to our club back in 2009! Many new members since then though but still quite a few that recall your talk and highly recommend you.


Hello David, How are ya, .. I don’t know if this is a silly question or not but, how does an astronaut go to the moon without suffering from radiation sickness ? They must go through the radiation belt that is between the earth and the moon… Just wondering, m8
Hi Darren. Thanks for the good question. Any human being travelling through the van Allen belt would have been rendered either extremely ill or actually killed by the radiation within a short time thereof.’ This is complete and utter nonsense. Most scientists and space engineers knows how to deal with the Van Allen belts in a safe way. The van Allen belts are regions above the Earth’s surface where the Earth’s magnetic field has trapped particles of the solar wind. An unprotected man would indeed get a lethal dose of radiation, if he stayed there long enough.

Actually, the spaceship travelled through the belts pretty quickly, getting past them in an hour or so. There simply wasn’t enough time to get a lethal dose, and, as a matter of fact, the metal hull of the spaceship did indeed block most of the radiation.


Again Dave thanks for the Astro Space News. It is a brilliant way to bring myself to focus on the incredible things in life as opposed to the worries and things that bring you down. Love hearing you on ABC Overnights too for the same reasons. Cheers, Best wishes, John Pinkevitch


Dave. Firstly how much are tickets to go to the Planetarium in Adelaide? It’s my granddaughters 9th birthday on the 9th of March and it’s so hard being up here in Tokyo, and trying to not only find something suitable for her, but then sending it down there, the postage can be as expensive as the present sometimes. I was wondering if I bought 4 entry tickets for the family to go there, you might be able to post them across to my son in Adelaide please?


Hello Dave. I wanted to add comment to article re superlunimous supernova, but could only do so at the site via facebook. Believe it or not  there are some, a spare few, retro people on Earth such as myself who do not subscribe to fbook! Therefore I write the comment that occurred to me via email: What If? what if the superlume observed was the result of an exploding black hole? Are we certain that a black hole could not become so vast, so dense, so unwieldy that a critical mass would occur triggering a superluminous event? We  know so little about the phenom known as a black hole and very little about superlumes. The stupendous energy burst must have a stupendous mass to support it.  Herbert


Hi David Reneke I wanted to ask you a couple of astronomy questions please . is there a tenth planet Niribu.? And is the southern cross near a black hole.?


Hi Dave, I hope you do not mind me contacting you. This is a bit random and I really didn’t know where to start so I googled astronomers in the Southern Hemisphere and your page came up. Basically, I live in the U.K. And I’m looking for someone in the Southern Hemisphere who could take a photograph of a star for me. Our friends daughter was sadly stillborn almost a year ago.For Christmas we gave our friends a star named after her.They’ve done some research and apparently it’s only visible in the Southern Hemisphere. They have all the details/co ordinates etc (please excuse my ignorance, I really don’t know anything about this). It is lizzie’s birthday/anniversary next week and it felt like the right time to try to find someone who could help us get a photo for our friends of the star.Do you know anyone I could contact who could help me with this? I really just don’t know where to begin or who to contact. Any help or advice you can give would be so appreciated and I hope you don’t mind me bothering you.Thanks in advance, Felicity Hubbard

Dave, You said earlier that there was a maybe planet beyond Pluto…….WAY beyond ! how wonderful! The scientists are now agreeing.  Can’t wait for latest news. When do you think we will have more positive news? Tell me more! Is there more than one? Cheers.


Hi David, I love your show on 5AA, I have just finished watching a very interesting show on SBS 25/1/2016 at 7.30pm.It was called Cosmic Dawn, real moment of creation. It showed the science of the search for the first stars before the Big Bang.I thought it would be something you would be interested in, it had my husband and myself riveted. I have listen to and been educated with your program and I was able to appreciate this program Cosmic Dawn. Hope you will take time out to view this program on catch up TV.  Thanks,your star fan,Jane Rowe


Good morning Dave. My name is Paul Barry and you may recall I introduced myself after your presentation last Tuesday at the Probus South meeting at the Port Macquarie Golf Club. Firstly, let me reiterate what a wonderful presentation you gave on the Planets, Stars and Constellations of our night skies. It certainly garnered a lot of interest at question time from the members, a sure sign that it was a most enjoyable and informative talk. Well done. You may also recall that I mentioned that I was the Guest Speaker Liaison officer for another club, Port Macquarie Combined Probus and cheekily asked if you might consider being our Guest Speaker later this year. I hope you can consider our invitation.


Hi Dave, Thank you for your very  interesting informative  talk you gave together with the screen presentation of the Planets , Stars etc. at our Probus Club today. I know that it has left a lot of our members thinking about the Universe and I dare say that there will be more stargazing people about now . On behalf of our members we wish you all the best in your future developments . Regards ,Peter GoodwinGuest Speaker Liaison Officer .


Hi Dave, Saw a large, bright meteor on a shallow trajectory to the west at approx. 1930hrs. Was very bright and seemed to be in the sky for a long time because of the flat trajectory. Went behind a hill so did not see its end. No sound. Has anyone else reported this one tonight? Regards, Michael Miles


Hey Dave, Maybe you could tell me if Celestron Astromaster 70 is a proper stargazer to start with. My two sons have their birthday close, so they will receive one stargazer each. (No, their not spoiled; 20 / 30 years old …) I found these gazer’s to a very low price on Amazon. Suits my pocket, yes. Meanwhile I really appreciate your generous eBook. Arne Berg

Hi Arne. The Celestron AZ70 suits most needs. It’s compact and light enough to transport easily, it has GREAT optics and a VERY strong tripod and Starfinder. The Celestron Astromaster telescope is a great little starter scope. The tripod is perfect for beginners as you just use it like a normal camera tripod. If you are new to amateur astronomy you should do some research try to learn what to expect when buying a telescope so you can know what to expect view with it. This is a great telescope for viewing the moon and other planetary viewing, it also serves well for terrestrial viewing.

This scope is plenty powerful enough to check out the moon in great detail, Jupiter (you can see the cloud bands) and Saturn (rings are visible). It is also fine for the larger and brighter Messier objects like M31 (Andromeda Galaxy) and M42 (Orion Nebula). I do suggest eventually getting the Celestron lens addon kit for it though as that opens up so many more options and the lenses are just a better quality. Dave


Dave, attached a mail which I have sent to Michele Maggiore, Theoretical Astrophysics Professor at UniGe. I have has no reply and was wondering if you have an idea about that. Since Gravtational waves have just been confirmed, may I ask what is your position re Graviton.Many thanks, Best regards,   Albert Mizrahi


Dave, just a thought from an Old guy if we can land a fridge size payload on a comet why could it not be able to place something like numerous shade sails between the sun and earth forming lots of eclipsess.  I know it would be expensive but so is allowing the environment to heat up. I realise that they would have to be in a moving orbit and that light can bend around them. I might be bonkers let me know. David Commins


Hi, Dave.  I hope you’re well.We’ve just put together an article called ’12 Historic Space Images. We take a look through history with the first rocket launch in 1950 from Cape Canaveral, all the way to Neil Armstrong preparing to take his first step on the Earths moon and placing the flag.Is this something the readers might enjoy? Please let me know if this is of any and I’ll send it over. I would love to hear your feedback.Thanks, Aaron


Hi Dave, I have a question on space travel that I hope you can help with. I heard recently that the space probe that went out to Pluto(?) direction was travelling at 40km/sec once up to velocity.  As we know the speed of light travels at 300,000km/sec and with Alpha Centuari being the closest to earth at 12 light years, how long in earth years would it take to reach that star travelling at 40km/sec? I have had several attempts to work this out but end up with too many zeros. If you have an answer could you please tell how you worked it out?

Hi Alan. Good to hear from you. Geez you sure come up with the toughies but here goes.:)For the record, New Horizons is the fastest spaceship ever built. It is travelling at 58 000km/h – more than 25 times the speed of Concorde. Alpha Centauri is 4.36 light years away, you were a long way off with your figures mate :)Let’s convert it to kilometres, we get 41 trillion km. Consider just how big is a trillion? Start counting – a million seconds takes us 11.5 days.

By the time we reach a billion seconds more than 31 years have gone by. Counting to a trillion, a number every second takes more than 31 thousand years.  Let’s point the New Horizons probe at Alpha Centauri. The journey lasts 80 thousand years! And that is only the distance to the nearest star! The whole galaxy is 100 000 light years across and Earth is about 26 000 light years from the centre. Imagine we launch New Horizons towards the galactic core. Expect a journey time of 480 million years. Hope that helps 🙂


Hi Dave, Thanks for the quick reply……with all your radio appearances etc. I expected that I would have expected a long time before I received a reply. I enjoy your appearances on ABC Local radio. I’m new to this area and your show has reinvigorated an interest in astronomy….the skies in Bermagui are 10 time better than the ones in the western suburbs of Melbourne. Thanks again. Cheers, Tad


 Hi Dave. I feel I know you. I met you once briefly at the Laurieton markets, and I enjoy your weekly Space & Astronomy email.  My family gave me a telescope for my 80th birthday, early last year. It’s a Sky Watcher SW906 with AZ3 Mount, it’s a 90mm refractor scope with two eyepieces, red dot finder and 90 degree star diagonal, whatever that all means.
I live in Dunbogan, where my house is surrounded on all sides by trees.  I need your help to (a) understand what I’ve got and how best to put it together and use it, (b) how to protect it once I take it out of the box and carry it about with me to dark sites, and (c) when my several grandkids come to visit, where’s the best place to go so they can share my lifetime fascination with Space and what’s out there (possibly with your commentary at least the first time).


Hi Dave, Hope you’re well and having a good week. My name is Helen and I just wanted to reach out to say how helpful your site www.davidreneke.com has been. Earlier I was just looking around for some educational resources for my daughter who is home-schooled and getting ready for her exams soon and then I came across your site and it really helped me and my daughter out! I have already recommended your site to a few others as well.Whilst having a look around I have also come across a fantastic guide to home-schooling and I thought you could add it to your great list of resources on this page: http://www.davidreneke.com/einsteins-letter-for-god/ I have included it here: www.simplylearningtuition.co.uk/resources/definitive-guide-to-homeschooling/  Since my daughter took up home-schooling because of her disability, she has progressed incredibly quickly and I just feel home-schooling needs to be promoted more as an option. I would love to know your thoughts.  Looking forward to your response and thank you once again. Kind regards, Helen


Hi Dave. We live at Scotts Head, near Macksville. At 2:15 this morning I was woken by a deep booming explosion which rattled our windows. There wasn’t a storm about, although it didn’t quite sound like thunder anyway. I spoke to two locals, both of whom were woken by the sound and vibrations. One said his neighbour was awake and saw a bright flash as well. I’m presuming he saw it in the northern sky. Could it have been a meteorite or large piece of space junk? I’ve put a report on the Sydney Observatory blog, but thought you might have more local knowledge. Since lodging it I’ve spoken to a few other locals, all of whom heard the’explosion’, but only one saw the bright flash. I’ll be interested to hear if anyone else contacted you. Kind regards.  Fiona Waddy
Hello Fiona. Thank you very much for your interesting report. I have checked the meteor reports of your sighting for the last 24 hours but nothing shows up in our region. I will however give you my opinion on what you may have seen, because I’ve seen and heard similar things like this, and so have many others. Because we are in a period of meteor activity this week it sounds to me that you may have experienced what’s called a Fireball. The name itself sounds ominous I know, but believe me these things really pack a punch.What you heard was the fireball, which is actually a meteorite that is on fire, building up so much heat and pressure they literally explode. You experience two things with these, a loud booming noise and bright flashing light. It’s all over in a matter of seconds. One morning here where I live we had exactly the same thing. It was about 4 AM and the house shook, the windows rattled and the whole area filled with blinding light. That was a Fireball and I will never forget it.Okay, that’s the best I can do. The only other thing it maybe, but I doubt it from what your description tells me, it may be space junk. Space junk does not usually carry any noise though. In other words there’s usually no sound associated with space junk but there certainly is a lot of light. Hope this helps. (Dave)


Hi David. I have a couple of questions about the binary stars in the Tarantula Nebula, VFTS 352.The article I read on the IFL site says they are orbiting each other in one Earth day and are sharing 30% of their masses. I would like to know are they also spinning, or would they be tidally locked? If there was a planet orbiting this binary system within the “habitable” zone, and had liquid water on it, could life similar to Earth’s survive there, or would there be too much magnetic, gravitational, and solar wind turbulence? Is the stars individual gravitational pull stronger than the tidal forces between the two as the picture provided (Which does not state weather it is a photo or an artist’s impression.) shows the stars as almost perfect spheres, but I thought, as stars are essentially liquefied gas, they would become elongated spheres. Finally, it is stated that in the next 300 million years they will most likely merge and soon after go nova and form a black hole. As it is likely that as the stars are NOT perfectly identical, isn’t it more likely that at some point, one star will start to absorb more material than the other and at some point, the resulting smaller one would be consumed, or flung off into a long period orbit?   Daniel. Ballarat


Hi Dave, I have a tricky question.  Einstein says that energy never dies, it gets reused, eg a leaf off a tree that has died, that small amout of energy goes (somewhere?).  Anyway, so if humans die, we too have energy that has to go someone.  (Don’t worry, I’m not a religious nut).  But with all the energy and the huge amount of galaxies and worlds, technically human energy would go somewhere.  Do you think there are different ‘planes’ in space and sub universes that MAY use energy in a different light (as in soul)?  Very tricky, but I read a poem of ‘Waterbugs and Dragonflys’ and that made me think of different universes/worlds.  PS Absolutely love you on 5AA.  Christine Mullins


Firstly may I say that you have taken first place in people to deal with, as my question has been to a number of so called telescopic oriented dealers who for some reason find it very hard to even reply  letting you know that they have received your e-mail let alone give any advice.This I find very annoying as they are all very quick to take the money and run when it comes to sales.secondly, it seems that I have stumbled on someone who uses a telescope themselves going on your very interesting advice. John Joslin


Hi Chris. Have received telescope and put it together.  It is wonderful.  Please thank Dave Reneke for making this offer available, Roger can now see what I’m always raving on about in that beautiful black sky above us.  Thanks also for your prompt attention.  What a great team!!!!  Best wishes. Sue Cavanagh


Hi Dave. This was a question for the Wed morning Overnights program. I’ve seen amazing shooting stars, but Haley’s comet was ok through binoculars.I saw a shooting star last week it wasn’t a satellite because it shot through the sky. But it didn’t have a tail. Why did this occur ? Also when is a good time to see the space station ?  When is a good time to see satellites and shooting stars  ? I see many around 6-7 est ? Thanks for your help Dave.  John Pinkevitch.   Newcastle


Hi John. Good to hear from you. ‘Shooting stars’, or meteors, sometimes don’t have a tail, or it may have been a  very indistinct one and not all that clear. Another possibility, and a good one, is you saw a bit of ‘space junk’ burning up.The space station is visible only when over your area and of course only seen at night. Go here and put in your details and it will alert you to future sightings wherever you live. http://spotthestation.nasa.gov/sightings/ You can spot ordinary satellites every night if you gaze at the sky long enough. There are over 8,000 up there and too many to list for you. They are visible all hours of the night. Hope all this helps.


Hi Dave, Thanks for the reply, you have been a great help for my research project and I am extremely grateful.  Thanks, Adam Gallina


Hello David, I recently stumbled upon your website, having the opportunity to read through your well-written posts and wanted to leave you some praise and a greeting.  Your site not only appeals to me visually, it also, in my opinion, has the ability to raise awareness of our common hobby, astronomy. I, too, am enthusiastic about events taking place outside our world and hope that our mutual passions can be beneficial to and increase the visibility of the pastime.  I look forward to enjoying more great content on your website in the future and I want to thank you for your enthusiasm and commitment. I have bookmarked your website already. 🙂 Best,Joshua Taboga


Hi Dave, I phoned 5aa this morning just after your segment to say thanks to you and 5aa for the tickets to the Planetarium. I went on Saturday and really enjoyed it – especially the display of the night sky – it was incredibly realistic. Also loved the last fly-by through all of the galaxies – makes us look so incredibly insignificant. I took one of the Skymaps on offer – but found it really confusing – when I phoned Peter this morning, he remembered how to use it – it all makes sense now! Thanks again for the tickets – much appreciated. Regards, Kathy Stiller, B App Sc, PhD


 Dave. I get Astro News emails from you and live them and wanted to show my appreciation and gratitude Dave… I wonder how the whole thing works and have learned so much already! Look I could rave on for light years… suffice to say you are a star!! Oh one thing you might care to help with… I notice driving form Sydney to Melbourne at night I am guided by one very bright star at night. It is in the South Western direction and very near the horizon. It has a companion equally bright close by, but higher and more Easterly… I got a chart and thought it might be the Dog Star… can you please clarify perhaps?Cheers. Rob Creaser


Hi Rob. Nice to hear from you and thanks very much for the kind words. MUCH appreciated!! Makes it all worthwhile.  I reckon what you are looking at are the two ‘pointer stars’ to the Southern Cross constellation nearby, Alpha Centauri (our closest star) and companion Alpha B. The are close to each other and in a line pointing to the cross. Both bright stars. More than convinced from your description its them. I checked positions as well on my star-map. Good luck and safe driving. 🙂


Hi Chris. Have received telescope and put it together. It is wonderful. Please thank Dave Reneke for making this offer available, Roger can now see what I’m always raving on about in that beautiful black sky above us. Thanks also for your prompt attention. What a great team!!!!Best wishes, Sue Cavanagh


Hi David. My name is Paul Martin, I live in Wauchope, cedar close. And I’m getting my first telescope some time today, alway had a keen interest in astronomy and just wanted to know if I could book a lesson with you some time , I know your a busy man,and I do silly shifts 4 on 4 off. But I’m sure we can work something out.Cheers Paul


Hi Dav, Thanks for the information, I might try and get to one of your nights in the future. I first heard you on overnights with Trevor Chappell about twelve months ago and have been a avid listener since. I lived in Canberra for 4 years and was a regular visitor to the deep space tracking station, and I have also visited meteor crater Arizona and the Lowell observatory Flagstaff. My prize possession is a framed set of 6 photos from the Apollo 11 landing. I got when I was 10. Anyway thanks for your reply and I will catch up sometime in the future. Regards Graeme


Hi Dave, I’ve heard your ABC and 5AA discussions a few times – I usually find astronomy and the universe too scary! but you’re the only one I can listen to, you obviously love what you do, and make it interesting and accessible. Anyway I have an enquiry, not anything major, but you mentioned a poem a few months ago I think on 5AA, something about ‘stars up in the sky’? Would you please tell me the name of it if you can remember.  Would be most grateful, Liz.


Gday Dave, I live in Currawarna nsw. I just walked out side and looked up something. I have done for the last 59 years I have only been here a short time and the site without street lights is fantastic. I have seen some pictures on your site of people taking pictures with expensive telescopes and cameras but i only just have to look up just thought I would share …have a great weekend Dave


 Dear Dave,  I listened to last night’s discussion on ABC radio with interest; hence this contact. You are certainly in an exciting field of work! (with some envy) I write; I would appreciate some details on the work done to date and some latest imagery of the 2 Projects from NASA, as per your discussions please. I look forward to your reply later as I am sure you will be inundated with requests; of course, your personal opinions/ comments will be appreciated too. Regards Les Kennedy


 Hello Dave, I enjoyed the late tune in to your talk on ABC radio last evening and would be very interested in receiving the information regarding the mission you offered? Many thanks in anticipation. Margaret Sharpen


 Dear Dave, Heard you talk about Pluto on ABC Overnight this morning. Would you be opened to children from my class to email you questions re Pluto. Thank you. Yours sincerely, Peter Lynch


Hi my name is Rick and I live up here in Cairns. I heard you on the ABC talk show this morning regarding the Pluto contact. I sent in the txt regarding my thoughts on landing a craft on an asteroid that may be heading on a collision course with planet Earth.If it was possible to bolt the craft to a solid section could you then fire a series of short sharp bursts from several man made rocket systems which could act as retro rockets to make some infitecimal changes to the original path over a long distance so as to miss any planet changing collision. Is this just a pie in the sky idea or is it at all possible ? Please could you send me some recent ideas on this subject. Thank you


Thank you David, Sorry just saw your email. I have been studying the Pythagorean Theory of music and colour over a few years now and I wish to study it more in depth. You don’t happen to know a contact whom can help me find out more about this theory?( I have based a whole teaching philosophy on this for learning the piano and tuned percussion). Thank you for your time, Donna


 Thanks Dave – greatly enjoy your reports and have passed eddress on to several friends. Really enjoying the Pluto Safari app. Peter


 Hi Dave, My name is Mitch, and I am a Year 5/6 Classroom Teacher at St. Mary’s Primary School in Hampton, Melbourne. The reason I am contacting you is that I’m from Shepparton and I’ve read your columns in the Shepparton News, and I was just enquiring as to whether you could come into school at any stage to talk to the kids about space! We are beginning a unit on space next week which will run for 8 weeks, and the kids would really benefit from your enthusiasm and expertise.Thanks Dave. Look forward to hearing from you. Mitch


Hi Dave,  Always good to get the latest from you, and usually its always a good read. I was very surprised that it takes so much hard thinking about the location on Mars taking into consideration that there is so much interestin the area where the face is supposed to be, one would have though that this was a prime target,however I think Nasa will choose a spot where that is nothing of controversy , though that could be quite hard as there is so much about this place that has always raised question. It will be interesting to see if they use the the idea of sending an unmanned version to sit there are make fuel for the return trip or not? John Laccohee-Joslin


Dave – I have been following Dr. Steven Greer since 1997 since he formed the Disclosure group. Google this and see all the videos from the Press Clubs meetings. Then think about what all this means. Are all these people lying or crazy ? I can’t accept they are since many were in held in high esteem in their jobs. Donna
Hi Donna – Sorry but you’re going to be disappointed with my reply. From what I have seen and read over a long period of time qualifications, fame, reputation and all the things that go with making one well known matter ZERO when it comes to producing the goods. These people to me are conspirators, deluded and honestly believe everything they say. A lot of it is for fame and fortune BUT… ask any of ’em for ONE tiny testable bit of evidence and it aint there!!!! I think most of them are bonkers. My opinion and hope this helps.


Good morning, I am considering buying a telescope (actually my wife is buying it for my birthday). The one we are looking at is the 1309 EQ2. We live about 1/2 hour south of Brisbane on acreage so the nights are good and dark. I am retired (late 60’s) and this would be my first telescope. Have always been interested in photography and have a trade background so enjoy creating and making things work. Would this be a good first choice without spending a fortune? I’ve also looked at one of the refractor’s maybe the 909 EQ2 or the 709 EQ. Would these be better or easier to use? How much extra would the motor drive be and would you recommend it? Thanks Kev B.


Dave, If the Dan spacecraft was due to arrive at Ceres in March have we learnt anything yet, two months on? AND why does NASA have the right to name planets or decide which object is a planet or not? Errol Snow
 Hi Errol  -The spacecraft is just now getting distancing shots BUT wait a few more weeks and we should see some really interesting close up ones. No definite data has come back – too early but a few mysteries are showing up like the ‘eyes’ glowing in the dark etc. NASA does not name celestial bodies, that is the job of the International Astronomical Union. The decision to demote Pluto was a joint decision in Prague about 10 years ago… a vote of around 28 members.


David! Hoping you can help. Writing a sci fi short story and was interested in find out if there was an estimate for the age of the red spot on Jupiter beyond the 300-400 year observational age? Cheers!!!!!!! Gary Brown
Hi Gary. The Giant Spot…About 100 years ago, the storm covered over 40,000 km of the surface. It is currently about one half of that size and seems to be shrinking. At the present rate that it is shrinking it could become circular by 2040. It’s not known how long the spot will last..but it is fading.


Hi Dave, I am just inquiring into what your thoughts are on my observations on the nights of Sunday May 3 2015 and Monday May 4 2015 at approximately 8pm in the south west N.S.W. town of Leeton. On the Sunday I was outside and in the distance out towards the west I observed a bright,round, orange/yellow/red light in the night sky. At first I thought it was a plane however I soon realised that it wasn’t as this light was just staying in the same position and over approximately 10-15 minutes moved up higher in the air and then down to very low to the ground, just above the trees in the distance.Also during this time it would be getting duller and brighter and the edges seemed to move around to look kind of like a flame in the sky. It then disappeared.Approximately 5 minutes after I had noticed that it had gone, the same bright orange/yellow/red light that looked kind of like a flame in the sky had reappeared, only this time it was alot closer to where I was standing. It was only about 100-200 metres from where I was and it was just above the level of the trees. It was moving around slowly in all different directions. It was only there for about 1 minute and then within the space of approximately 10 seconds it got further and futher away in a south easterly direction and got duller the further away it got and completely disappeared again.On the Monday the same thing was back again in the distance where I first saw it on the Sunday night only it was not as bright and was moving alot slower and I did not see it close like the night before. I have not seen it as I am currently in Wagga, however apparently the same thing has been back in the same spot in the distance on Tuesday May 5 and Wednesday May 6.  Just interested to know if you have any ideas on what this could be, it has really got me intrigued.  Thank you, Andrew H.


Dave, Keep up the good work on your website. Most informative Astronomy site I’ve seen. Regards, Robert Smeallie


Hi Dave, Thank you for taking my call  today and getting Chris to call me back. I had a pleasant conversation  with Chris and ordered the Saxon 909 EQ with colour filters and extras. Jamie, my grandson would  love to take some “stellar” pictures to show at school. My grandson really loves astronomy and will be so happy with his telescope on his 7th birthday this coming Saturday. He loves to explore astronomy books and Apps with me. He taught me that Venus is hotter than Mercury (which you wouldn’t believe from their relative solar orbits). He got the information from his reading! Thanks for making this gift possible in time for Jamie’s birthday. Also thank you for the great educational and awareness work that you and Chris are so good and enthusiastic about. Kind regards, Arthur Crosby.
Hi Dave: I hope you can help clarify an issue. A good Aussie friend of mine recommended you as a contact. Several astrologers in the US are claiming Planet X, Nibiru is headed toward the earth with video using an IR camera which shows it beside the Sun. The claim it can be seen from the southern hemisphere based on the angle it is approaching the Earth. Is is fact, fiction or hype? Where you you point me for the facts? Regards, Mike B. Jacksonville, FL


David, what can you tell me about the September asteroid that’s supposed to wipe out our planet ?? Please reassure me that it’s all bull !!Nova L.

Nova please believe me. I wouldn’t want to see anything happen to you so believe me when I tell you yes…it is a Great load of what we call Waring B/S. In other words its total conspiracy theorist crap. Dave


Hello Dave, Once again thank you for the excellent articles that you provide us with.  Do you do all your own research?  All this takes a great deal of time. Someone on the internet is saying that there is going to be an asteroid crashing into the earth on the 24th or the 28th September.  I know you said before that there isn’t going to be anything crashing into the earth any time soon. Does that still stand? Frances

Hi Frances, Good to hear from you. Yep, I do all the work on my website…everything and it sure does take a lot of time. Unfortunately there is nobody available to me to assist. Regarding this asteroid…. I call them nut cases. Conspiracy theorists at work again.  The claim that the U.S. government has information about an impending asteroid impact catastrophe, but is keeping the information secret to prevent mass panic, is spreading fast and causing growing anxiety among doomsday believers. There are several versions of the predictions of asteroid impact apocalypse being generated and circulated by the online conspiracy theory rumour mill.

The growing mass hysteria appears to have started with a self proclaimed “prophet,” Rev. Efrain Rodriguez, who  sent a letter to NASA on Nov. 12, 2010, titled “Letter to the Space Agency… meteor heading toward Puerto Rico.” In the letter, he claimed he had received a message from God that an asteroid that would “soon be seen in the alarm systems of NASA” was approaching. He said the asteroid would hit the ocean near Puerto Rico and cause a massive earthquake and tsunami that would devastate the East Coat of the U.S., Mexico, Central, and South America.   Well, we’re still here and he, and others are off on the same story telling merry-go-round again. It is all an internet scam. There is NO object posing any major problem for us – just by-pass nuts like this.  All the best for now.


 Hi Dave. Just stumbled across it when I was doing some random reading while pulled up in the truck on break. Never noticed it before. Apollo 1 is where the three men died in the fire. Then it missed a few numbers. Was Apollo 1 a Saturn 1b or Saturn 5? They used like three types. Kerin Carey

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