ASTRO SPACE NEWS

A DIVISION OF MID NORTH COAST ASTRONOMY (NSW)

(ASTRO) DAVE RENEKE

SPACE WRITER - MEDIA PERSONALITY - SCIENCE CORRESPONDENT ABC/COMMERCIAL RADIO - LECTURER - ASTRONOMY OUTREACH PROGRAMS - ASTRONOMY TOUR GUIDE - TELESCOPE SALES/SERVICE/LESSONS - MID NORTH COAST ASTRONOMY GROUP (Est. 2002)   Enquiries: (02) 6585 2260       Mobile: 0400 636 363        Email: davereneke@gmail.com

TAKING ENQUIRIES NOW FOR OUR 2024 TOUR

Nestled amidst the vast expanse of the South Pacific Ocean, Norfolk Island stands as a haven for those seeking to escape the clutches of urban light pollution and immerse themselves in the celestial splendor of the night sky. Far removed from the twinkling metropolises and sprawling suburbs, this remote island boasts one of the darkest skies on Earth, earning it the prestigious Gold Level Dark Sky certification.

As the sun sets and darkness takes over, Norfolk Island becomes an excellent spot for stargazing. The lack of light pollution and the island's warm, clear nights create perfect conditions for observing the celestial wonders. The sky gradually fills with stars, including the mesmerizing Milky Way, making it a paradise for those who love to look up and appreciate the beauty of the universe. 

Join our guided stargazing tour and let an experienced astronomer guide you through the celestial wonders that abound. Learn to identify constellations, from the familiar Orion to the enigmatic Scorpio, each with its own captivating mythology and rich cultural significance.  

Join our guided stargazing tour and let an experienced astronomer guide you through the celestial wonders that abound. Learn to identify constellations, from the familiar Orion to the enigmatic Scorpio, each with its own captivating mythology and rich cultural significance.   Discover the wonders of the cosmos, from the majestic planets of our solar system to the distant nebulae and galaxies. Looking through a powerful telescope on Norfolk Island reveals some cool stuff in the sky. Saturn's rings look like a celestial hula hoop, and the Jewel Box star cluster has colors that'll blow your mind.

But the stargazing on Norfolk Island is more than just looking at cool things. It's an experience that goes beyond just watching—it's about feeling a deep connection with the universe. Standing under the starry sky in the quiet of the island, you can't help but feel small and humble. It's a reminder of how tiny we are in the vastness of the universe. 

Stargazing tours on Norfolk Island aren't just for seeing space stuff. They're a chance to reconnect with yourself, to rediscover the wonder that often gets lost in our busy lives. It's an invitation to slow down, take a breath, and think about the beauty and vastness of the universe, finding comfort and inspiration in its celestial hug. 

***NEW for 2024...You can pay off your trip by instalments with us OR just your airfare. Speak to us!

FOR BOOKING ENQUIRIES/COSTS ETC  Australian Mobile 0402 335 005 - Email: norfolkislandstargazing@gmail.com

NASA's Autonomous Space Robots: Pioneering Off-World Construction for Moon and Mars Missions

In a groundbreaking move towards establishing a sustainable presence on the Moon and paving the way for future Mars missions, NASA has introduced a revolutionary technology named ARMADAS (Automated Reconfigurable Mission Adaptive Digital Assembly Systems). The agency envisions a future where autonomous space robots construct habitats, power stations, and communication towers on extraterrestrial surfaces.

The Challenge: As part of NASA's Artemis program, which aims to return astronauts to the Moon, the focus is on creating a long-term lunar presence. This serves as a stepping stone for developing the necessary technology to facilitate human exploration and habitation on Mars. The challenge lies in building and maintaining infrastructure on these celestial bodies, including habitats and solar arrays.

The Solution: To tackle the enormous costs associated with manufacturing structures on Earth and transporting them into space, NASA has devised an ingenious approach. ARMADAS utilizes autonomous space robots capable of constructing off-world structures using basic building blocks made from local resources. This includes materials found on the Moon and other planetary bodies.

The Technology in Action: The ARMADAS demonstration, detailed in a recent Science Robotics paper, featured three space robots: two Scaling Omnidirectional Lattice Locomoting Explorers (SOLL-Es) and one Mobile Metamaterial Internal Co-Integrator (MMIC-I). The SOLL-Es, shaped like arched tubes, move like inchworms and carry wire-frame building blocks called "voxels." These voxels can be made from various materials, with the long-term goal of using locally sourced materials.

The MMIC-I, a smaller inchworm-like robot, operates inside the voxels, fastening the building blocks together. During a 100-hour demo, the robots autonomously constructed a shelter the size of a shed using 256 voxels. Notably, the robots relied on software algorithms for decision-making, showcasing a high level of autonomy without external measurements or machine vision.

Looking to the Future: NASA plans to further develop ARMADAS, with a focus on training the robots to work with different types of building blocks, such as shielding and solar panels. The agency emphasizes the cost-effectiveness of constructing large structures from small building blocks, envisioning a future where the size of structures is only limited by the availability of building blocks.

As ARMADAS continues to evolve, it represents a crucial leap forward in the quest for sustainable human exploration and habitation beyond Earth, showcasing NASA's commitment to innovative and cost-effective solutions for the challenges of off-world construction.

The Challenges of Finding Another Earth

In the vast expanse of the cosmos, the quest to find another Earth-like planet has captured the imagination of scientists and space enthusiasts alike. With our impressive array of giant telescopes and advanced technology, one might wonder why we haven't yet stumbled upon a duplicate Earth. In this exploration, we delve into the challenges of locating such a celestial sibling, the ongoing search for habitable exoplanets, and the tantalizing possibilities that lie beyond our cosmic backyard.

The Challenge of Distance: One of the primary obstacles in the search for Earth's twin is the sheer vastness of space. Even with the most powerful telescopes, the distances involved make it incredibly challenging to detect faint signals from potential habitable planets. The universe is home to billions of stars, and sifting through this cosmic sea requires not only advanced technology but also time and patience.

Advanced Telescopes and Exoplanet Hunting: The past few decades have witnessed remarkable advancements in telescope technology. Instruments like the Hubble Space Telescope, Kepler Space Telescope, and the upcoming James Webb Space Telescope have expanded our understanding of the cosmos. However, pinpointing an Earth-like planet requires more than just a keen eye; it demands innovative techniques like the transit method and radial velocity measurements.

The Transit Method: Scientists use the transit method to detect exoplanets by observing the slight dimming of a star's light as a planet passes in front of it. While this method has proven successful, it requires precise alignment between the observer, the star, and the potential planet – a cosmic dance that limits our ability to detect distant worlds.

Radial Velocity Measurements: Another approach involves measuring the gravitational tug a planet exerts on its host star, causing it to wobble. While this method allows scientists to estimate a planet's mass, it is challenging to discern if the planet is rocky, gaseous, or even potentially habitable.

Goldilocks Zone and Signs of Life: The habitable zone, often referred to as the "Goldilocks zone," is a region around a star where conditions are just right for liquid water to exist. Identifying planets within this zone is a crucial step in the search for habitable worlds. Future telescopes and advancements in technology may enable us to analyse exoplanet atmospheres for signs of life, such as the presence of oxygen or other biomarkers.

Finding a second Earth-like planet could be a game-changer for us. Identifying a duplicate planet could address critical challenges facing humanity like solving our overcrowding and resource problems. It's not just about surviving; it's an exciting chance for a fresh start and a bigger, brighter future. It offers a potential solution to overpopulation and resource depletion, providing an alternative habitat for human settlement. Furthermore, it could mitigate the impact of global catastrophic events, serving as a backup for human civilization.

Conclusion: As we continue our cosmic exploration, the search for Earth's twin remains a thrilling scientific Endeavor. Despite the challenges posed by vast distances and the limitations of current technology, the ongoing efforts of astronomers and the promise of upcoming telescopes fuel our hope that one day, we may gaze upon a distant world with conditions akin to our own. In the ever-expanding universe, the quest for habitable planets is a testament to humanity's insatiable curiosity and our desire to uncover the mysteries of the cosmos.

U.S. Fears Russia Might Put a Nuclear Weapon in Space

The Soviets Launched the Only Known Armed Spacecraft | The Vintage News Images may be subject to copyright. L
The Soviets Launched the Only Known Armed Spacecraft | The Vintage News Images may be subject to copyright. L

It had to happen; we might be witnessing the long-dreaded militarizing if Space! When Russia conducted a series of secret military satellite launches around the time of its invasion of Ukraine in early 2022, American intelligence officials began delving into the mystery of what, exactly, the Russians were doing.

Later, spy agencies discovered Russia was working on a new kind of space-based weapon that could threaten the thousands of satellites that keep the world connected.

In recent weeks, a new warning has circulated from America's spy agencies: Another launch may be in the works, and the question is whether Russia plans to use it to put a real nuclear weapon into space — a violation of a half-century-old treaty. The agencies are divided on the likelihood that President Vladimir V. Putin would go so far, but nonetheless the intelligence is an urgent concern to the Biden administration.

Even if Russia does place a nuclear weapon in orbit, U.S. officials are in agreement in their assessment that the weapon would not be detonated. Instead, it would lurk as a time bomb in low orbit, a reminder from Mr. Putin that if he was pressed too hard with sanctions, or military opposition to his ambitions in Ukraine or beyond, he could destroy economies without targeting humans on earth.

Despite the uncertainties, Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken raised the possibility of the Russian nuclear move with his Chinese and Indian counterparts on Friday and Saturday on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference.

Mr. Blinken's message was blunt: Any nuclear detonation in space would take out not only American satellites but also those in Beijing and New Delhi.

In addition, U.S. officials and outside analysts say, global communications systems would fail, making everything from emergency services to cell phones to the regulation of generators and pumps go awry. Debris from the explosion would scatter throughout low-earth orbit and make navigation difficult if not impossible for everything from Starlink satellites, used for internet communications, to spy satellites.

Autumn Skies: A Sparkling Spectacle

It's only a few weeks to Autumn, and the skies are already putting on a dazzling show. I love sky gazing this time of year for one main reason: it's finally comfortable outside! No more sweltering heat or bone-chilling cold, just perfect stargazing weather. You can stay out late at night and watch the stars rise majestically in the east, their westward trek unfolding over just a few hours. It's like a celestial parade that's been playing out for millennia.

Speaking of ancient times, did you know that astronomy is the oldest of human sciences, yet also the newest? Most of what we know about the universe has been discovered in recent times. So, why do constellations matter? Well, it's all about history. We owe our understanding of the night sky to ancient civilizations like the Chinese, Babylonians, Greeks, and Romans, who saw patterns in the stars and named them.

Have you ever stretched out on a blanket on a crisp autumn night and talked about the stars and constellations? It's a timeless human experience! While most of us are familiar with the twelve zodiac constellations, there are actually 88 official constellations recognized by astronomers. Interestingly, no new constellations have been officially added for centuries!

These constellations are our celestial map, the fixed points in the ever-changing night sky. We use them to track the movements of planets, predict meteor showers, and even navigate. Many recurring meteor showers, like the Perseids and Geminids, are named after constellations.

Want to find your way around the starry expanse? Download an app like Sky Safari or Google Sky Map for a real-time view of the constellations, complete with fascinating details. Just hold your phone or tablet to the sky, and it will show you all the constellations, planets, and stars visible from your location.

Speaking of stars, where do they all go during the day? They don't disappear, of course; they're simply outshined by the bright sun. It's like watching a fireworks show during the day – the dazzling colours are still there, but they're overwhelmed by the sunlight.

Remember how I mentioned the worst time to view the moon is when it's full? Well, this weekend is the perfect time because it's in its half phase. The bright half is now on the left side, towards the east, catching the rays of the dawning sun. At this "last quarter" phase, the moon is actually ahead of Earth in our orbit around the sun. So, when you see it in the sky, imagine that 3½ hours later, Earth will be occupying the same spot in space!

The moon's phases are caused by its dance around Earth. As the moon revolves around our planet, different parts of its surface are bathed in sunlight, creating the familiar cycle from full moon to new moon. This entire cycle takes about 29.5 days, the time it takes the moon to complete one orbit around Earth.

Stargazing with apps has become increasingly popular, thanks to the convenience of technology and the wealth of information available at our fingertips. Here are some astronomy apps that enhance the stargazing experience:

1. SkyView: Explore the Universe

• Platform: iOS, Android

• Features: SkyView uses augmented reality (AR) to overlay constellations, stars, and planets on your device's camera view. Simply point your device at the sky, and the app will identify celestial objects in real-time. It also provides information about stars, planets, and other celestial bodies.

2. Star Walk 2

• Platform: iOS, Android

• Features: Star Walk 2 is a user-friendly app that offers real-time tracking of stars, planets, and constellations. It includes a time machine feature, allowing users to explore the night sky at different times in the past or future. The app also provides detailed information about celestial objects and upcoming astronomical events.

3. SkySafari

• Platform: iOS, Android

• Features: SkySafari is a powerful astronomy app suitable for both beginners and experienced stargazers. It offers a comprehensive database of stars, planets, and deep-sky objects. The app includes telescope control functionality for compatible devices, allowing users to point their telescope at specific celestial targets.

4. Night Sky

• Platform: iOS

• Features: Night Sky is another app that utilizes AR to display an interactive map of the night sky. It provides information on stars, planets, satellites, and constellations. The app also includes a time-lapse feature, allowing users to see how the night sky changes over time.

5. NASA App

• Platform: iOS, Android

• Features: The official NASA app offers a wealth of information about space exploration, including images, videos, and news. It also provides real-time tracking of the International Space Station (ISS) and other satellites. The app is an excellent resource for staying updated on the latest space missions and discoveries.

6. Heavens-Above

• Platform: iOS, Android

• Features: Heavens-Above is a practical app for tracking satellites, including the ISS and other man-made objects orbiting the Earth. It provides precise pass predictions for your location, making it easy to spot satellites during stargazing sessions.

7. SkyWiki

• Platform: iOS, Android

• Features: SkyWiki is an educational app that combines stargazing with informative content. It includes an extensive celestial object database, and users can learn about stars, planets, and other astronomical phenomena through interactive visualizations.

8. Stellarium • Platform: iOS, Android

• Features: Stellarium is a free and open-source planetarium software that provides a realistic 3D view of the night sky. It can display stars, constellations, planets, and other celestial objects, as well as simulate astronomical events. 

***When choosing an astronomy app, consider your level of expertise and specific interests. Many of these apps offer free versions with essential features, while premium versions unlock additional functionalities. Experiment with a few to find the one that best suits your stargazing preferences.

There' s a Monster On The Sun; What's the Buzz?

The core of "Martian sunspot" AR3576 photographed by amateur astronomer Eduardo Schaberger Poupeau of Rafaela, Argentina
The core of "Martian sunspot" AR3576 photographed by amateur astronomer Eduardo Schaberger Poupeau of Rafaela, Argentina

Look up, folks! Our Sun has a surprise for us – a colossal sunspot called AR3576, making waves as it turns to face Earth. This space spectacle was first spotted by NASA's Perseverance rover on Mars, and it's been growing ever since. Now it is 10 times wider than Earth and still growing.

Eduardo Schaberger Poupeau, a stargazer from Argentina, shared his excitement after catching a glimpse of AR3576. He describes it as a "large archipelago containing a multitude of dark cores." In plain terms, it's a big, dark area on the Sun's surface, visible even without a telescope.

What's more, this sunspot is not just big; it's magnetically complex. NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory mapped out the magnetic dance happening in AR3576, and it's like a magnet's party with mixed polarities. This magnetic jamboree can lead to cool stuff like solar flares and coronal mass ejections – basically, the Sun showing off its cosmic fireworks.

But here's the deal – while we enjoy the Sun's dazzling show, there's a little risk involved. Solar activity, like sunspots, can mess with our tech on Earth. Luckily, Mother Earth has our back. Our planet has a fantastic atmosphere and a magnetic field that shields us from most of the Sun's drama. That's why we can bask in the Sun's warmth without worrying too much.

But what about the brave astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS)? Well, space isn't as cozy as Earth, and the ISS doesn't have our protective atmosphere. But fear not! The ISS has its own shields – literally. The station's walls are made of materials that help block some of the pesky radiation. The ISS crew also has a plan: if things get a bit too spicy with solar activity, they can take shelter in specific parts of the station.

So, as we gaze at AR3576 and its magnetic antics, let's soak in the wonder of our Sun's wild side. It's like a cosmic dance party up there! Keep your eyes on the sky, and let's appreciate the Sun's dazzling show while being grateful for the shields that keep us safe – both on Earth and in the outer space neighborhood. The Sun's got moves, and we're here for it!

NASA exoplanet telescope discovers 'super-Earth' in its star's Goldilocks zone

In a cosmic revelation that reads like a page-turner, NASA's Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) has uncovered a celestial secret—a 'super-Earth' named TOI-715 b, quietly orbiting a red dwarf star just a cosmic stone's throw away. This unassuming star, smaller and cooler than our sun, has long been a candidate for hosting planets with the potential for harboring life.

TOI-715 b, about 1.5 times the size of our Earth, has found its sweet spot in the 'Goldilocks zone'—a region where liquid water could exist without the extremes of boiling or freezing. Picture a cosmic Goldilocks, searching for the perfect spot, and there you have it.

This star-studded discovery comes courtesy of an international team led by the brilliant Georgina Dransfield from the University of Birmingham. Using TESS, our cosmic detective, they spotted the super-Earth casually crossing the face of its red dwarf parent, TOI-715, located just 137 light-years away. That's practically next door in cosmic terms.

TESS, armed with its unique transit method, has been scanning the skies since 2018, catching planets in the act as they pass in front of their stars, causing a tiny dip in light. Think of it as the universe's version of a cosmic catwalk.

What sets TOI-715 b apart is not just its nearness to us but the fact that it resides snugly in a habitable zone near its cool star. This makes it a prime target for the cosmic detective duo of TESS and the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), set to unveil more secrets.

Now, let's not jump to conclusions. Just because a planet hangs out in the 'habitable zone' doesn't guarantee it's ready for life. We're like distant observers admiring our sun and its planets—Venus, Earth, and Mars all seem to hit the cosmic jackpot. But from our cosmic perspective, only one is truly habitable. It's a reminder that looks can be deceiving even in the vastness of space.

With the JWST's probing eyes, astronomers aim to unlock TOI-715 b's secrets. How massive is it? Does it still boast an atmosphere? Is it a 'water world,' offering tantalizing hints about potential habitability? The cosmic plot thickens.

But that's not the end of our stellar tale. Brace yourself for a potential sequel—scientists are hot on the trail of TOI-715 c, the smaller, Earth-sized sibling of our captivating super-Earth. If confirmed, it would be TESS's smallest cosmic catch yet, adding another layer to this cosmic mystery that unfolds in the boundless pages of our universe.

When Worlds Collide!

The Andromeda Galaxy is about 2.537 million light-years away from our Milky Way. But here's the fun twist: unlike most distant galaxies that are sprinting away from us due to the universe's expansion (like kids running away when it's time to do chores), Andromeda is actually heading towards us! That's right, it's on a collision course with the Milky Way, but don't worry, the cosmic fender-bender is not scheduled for another 4 billion years.

Now, let's put this cosmic distance into a "down-to-earth" perspective, cosmic expansion included. Imagine you're a cosmic hitchhiker, thumb out, waiting for a lift to Andromeda. If you hitched a ride on the fastest spacecraft ever built by humans, NASA's Parker Solar Probe, which zips through space at a breezy 430,000 miles per hour, you'd still be in for a long haul. How long? Well, it would take you about 6 billion years to get there. That's over 40 times the age of human civilization!

But let's say you're in no rush and you fancy a stroll. Walking at a brisk pace (about 3 mph), you'd arrive at the Andromeda Galaxy in about 20 quintillion years (that's a 20 with 18 zeros after it)! On the bright side, you wouldn't need to pack snacks for the trip; you'd be snacking on galaxies as they merge together, considering that Andromeda and the Milky Way are set to collide in a cosmic tango in about 4 billion years.

But here's where cosmic expansion throws a cosmic-sized wrench into our travel plans. For galaxies beyond our local group, the universe's expansion makes them recede from us faster the further away they are. It's like trying to walk to the end of a treadmill that's constantly stretching itself longer. The good news? Andromeda, our neighborly galaxy, isn't playing this game of cosmic keep-away. It's actually defying the universe's trend of expansion and moving closer to us, gearing up for a grand galactic mashup.

So, while you won't need to account for cosmic expansion when visiting Andromeda, you might want to pack a cosmic calendar. The merger of our two galaxies is going to be the biggest event on the block – happening in a mere 4 billion years.

Starry-Eyed Science or Celestial Soap Opera? Unpacking Astrology and Astronomy

Gazing at the night sky, a tapestry of twinkling diamonds, has ignited curiosity and wonder since the dawn of humankind. Stars have guided travelers, inspired artists, and fueled both scientific inquiry and fantastical beliefs. But two distinct fields have emerged from this shared fascination: astronomy, the rigorous pursuit of celestial knowledge, and astrology, the ancient art of interpreting the stars' influence on human lives. While often intertwined in popular imagination, their differences are vast and fascinating.

A Glimpse into the Past: When the Stars Held the Key

Astrology boasts a rich history, dating back millennia. From the Babylonians charting constellations to the Greeks weaving myths around the zodiac, our ancestors sought meaning and order in the cosmos. They believed celestial bodies held sway over earthly affairs, dictating personal destinies, societal cycles, and even the rise and fall of empires. This belief system, deeply embedded in culture and religion, fueled astronomical observation and laid the groundwork for later scientific advancements.

The Dawn of Science: When Stars Became Data Points

However, as scientific methods evolved, astronomy branched off. Telescopes replaced naked eyes, meticulous calculations replaced symbolic interpretations, and the focus shifted from predicting human events to understanding the universe's fundamental laws. Kepler charted planetary orbits, Galileo discovered moons orbiting Jupiter, and Newton unveiled the principles of gravity. Astronomy shed its mystical cloak and embraced the rigorous pursuit of verifiable knowledge, becoming a cornerstone of modern science.

So, What's the Difference? A Tale of Two Stars

Imagine two friends gazing at the same star. The astronomer, armed with a telescope and scientific knowledge, might be analyzing its composition, temperature, and distance from Earth. They'd be seeking to understand the star's place in the grand cosmic dance, its life cycle, and its potential for harboring life.

The astrologer, on the other hand, might see a symbol, a celestial influencer. They might associate it with a specific zodiac sign, believing its position affects personalities, relationships, or even major life events. Their interpretation would be based on a belief system, passed down through generations, rather than on rigorous scientific testing and data analysis.

The Belief Factor: Stars in Newspapers, Not Labs

This brings us to the crucial point: astrology is not a science. While it shares a common ancestor with astronomy, it lacks the rigorous methodology, peer-reviewed research, and testable hypotheses that define the scientific method. Numerous studies have found no correlation between celestial alignments and human behavior, personality, or life events.

Yet, the allure of the stars remains strong. Millions worldwide read their daily horoscopes, seeking guidance and comfort in the celestial soap opera. This isn't surprising. Astrology taps into a primal human desire to understand ourselves and our place in the universe. It offers a narrative framework, a sense of connection to something bigger than ourselves.

Celebrating Both: When Stars Inspire and Inform

So, should we dismiss astrology entirely? Not necessarily. It serves a cultural purpose, providing a shared language and narrative, and encouraging introspection and self-reflection. It can even spark curiosity and lead people to explore the wonders of the actual cosmos.

The key is to appreciate both astronomy and astrology for their distinct roles. Astronomy empowers us with knowledge, revealing the awe-inspiring reality of the universe. Astrology, while not scientific, offers a lens through which we can contemplate our place in the grand scheme of things.

Ultimately, whether you see the stars as celestial data points or celestial storytellers, remember, they hold the power to ignite both scientific inquiry and personal wonder. So, the next time you gaze at the night sky, let your curiosity soar, but remember, the true magic lies not in predicting your future, but in understanding the incredible reality of our universe.

Some Mind-Boggling Facts About The Universe You Might Have Once Pondered

Explore the mind-boggling facts and mysteries of the universe that will leave you in awe. From our mighty sun to the farthest corners of the observable universe, here's a glimpse into the vastness of space.

  1. OUR SUN - CAPACITY

    • To power our planet for one year, it would take 1/1000th of the sun's total energy output.
    • Additional Insight: If somehow harnessed entirely, the sun's energy could sustain our planet for an astonishing billion years.
  2. THE LARGEST STAR IN THE UNIVERSE

    • UY Scuti boasts an enormous diameter of 2.5 billion km.
    • A beam of light, traveling at 300,000 km/sec, would take a staggering 4 hours to circumnavigate this colossal star.
  3. STAR MADE OF PURE DIAMOND

    • Meet "Lucy," a crystallized white dwarf in the Centaurus constellation, located 50 light-years away.
    • Interesting Fact: Scientists speculate that Lucy is primarily composed of crystallized carbon and oxygen, essentially forming a diamond in the vastness of space.
  4. VENUS ROTATES BACKWARDS – DAY IS LONGER THAN ITS YEAR

    • Venus, the enigmatic neighbor, exhibits a reverse rotation.
    • Time Quirk: While a year on Venus lasts 227 days, a day is surprisingly longer, spanning 243 Earth days.
  5. VASTNESS OF THE UNIVERSE

    • The observable universe is estimated to be about 93 billion light-years in diameter.
    • Mind-Bending Reality: Imagine the expansiveness of a cosmos that extends beyond our comprehension.
  6. WHAT SIZE IS THE BIGGEST BLACK HOLE

    • In the Coma Berenices constellation lies the largest known black hole, with a mass approximately 66 billion times that of the Sun.
    • Cosmic Distance: This colossal black hole resides a mind-boggling 10 billion light-years away from Earth.
  7. HOW MANY STARS IN OBSERVABLE UNIVERSE

    • Awaiting Discovery: The precise number of stars in the observable universe remains an ongoing exploration for astronomers, revealing the endless wonders yet to be unveiled   

Aboriginal Dreamtime Stories Related To The Night Sky

The Aboriginal people of Australia possess a rich cultural heritage that is deeply intertwined with their connection to the land and the celestial realm. Central to their spiritual beliefs are Dreamtime stories, which serve as a repository of cultural knowledge and provide a framework for understanding the world. Among these narratives, there exist profound accounts that delve into the mysteries of the cosmos, exploring the origins of celestial bodies and the interconnectedness of all existence.

Dreamtime, also known as the Dreaming, is a sacred concept in Aboriginal cultures, representing the spiritual realm where ancestral beings created the world and its features. In Aboriginal astronomy, celestial bodies are not just distant lights in the night sky; they are celestial ancestors, each with its own story and significance.

Dreamtime stories teach that the celestial realm is not separate from the physical world but rather an integral part of it. By understanding the stories behind the stars, the Aboriginal people connect with the natural cycles of the Earth, enabling them to navigate and thrive in harmony with the cosmos.

  • The Emu in the Sky (Various Indigenous Groups): The dark rift of the Milky Way is often seen as the shape of an emu in Aboriginal astronomy. Different groups have variations of a story where an emu played a significant role in creation.
  • The Seven Sisters (Various Indigenous Groups): The Pleiades star cluster represents seven sisters fleeing from a man who is depicted by the star Orion. Each group has its own unique narrative around this celestial arrangement.
  • The Sun-Woman and the Moon-Man (Yolngu People): In Yolngu mythology, the Sun and Moon are said to be siblings who were once human. They transformed into celestial bodies, continuing their eternal journey across the sky.
  • Baiame and the Skyworld (Wiradjuri People): Baiame, the creator god, is associated with the sky. The stars are seen as campfires in the Skyworld, where Baiame resides, watching over and guiding the people.
  • The Celestial Campfire (Arrernte People): The stars are believed to be embers from a celestial campfire, where ancestors gather. The flickering lights represent the spirits sharing their wisdom.
  • The Morning Star Lovers (Boorong People): Venus, the morning star, is seen as a man chasing two sisters (Pleiades). The sisters transform into birds to escape his advances, creating the dawn.
  • The Cosmic Serpent (Kija People): A celestial serpent, forming the Milky Way, slithers across the sky. Its movements are linked to the changing seasons and natural cycles.
  • Jabiru and the Night Sky (Bininj People): The Jabiru constellation is associated with a bird that flies across the night sky, signalling the arrival of the wet season.
  • The Cosmic Kangaroo (Wiradjuri People): The dark spaces between stars create the shape of a celestial kangaroo. Its hopping across the sky is a symbol of continuity and regeneration.
  • The Moon's Journey (Yolngu People): The phases of the moon are explained by a story where the Moon embarks on a cyclic journey, waxing and waning as it travels through the celestial landscape.
  • The Starry River (Wotjobaluk People): The Milky Way is thought to be a river in the sky, representing the journey of souls. Departed spirits are believed to follow this celestial river.
  • The Celestial Brolga Dance (Various Indigenous Groups): The Brolga constellation mirrors the dance of these elegant birds on Earth. It is a symbol of grace and harmony in the cosmic order.
  • The Night Owl's Wisdom (Ngarinyin People): The Owl constellation imparts wisdom to those who gaze upon it. Its presence in the night sky is a reminder to seek knowledge and guidance.
  • The Three Brothers (Wiradjuri People): Three prominent stars are seen as brothers who, through their actions, influence the seasons and bring balance to the natural world.
  • The Quinkans and the Dark Spaces (Yolngu People): Dark spaces between stars are believed to be Quinkans, mischievous spirits. The twinkling lights are their campfires.
  • The Eternal Campfire (Noongar People): The stars are thought to be the campfires of ancestors, burning eternally. Each star represents a connection to the past and a guiding presence for the future.

'ASTRO DAVE' RENEKE - A Personal Perspective

I've often been asked what I do, where I've been and what sort of activities I've engaged in throughout my 50 years involvement in astronomy and space. Here is an interview i did with Delving with Des Kennedy on Rhema 99.9 recently. 

David Reneke, a highly regarded Australian amateur astronomer and lecturer with over 50 years of experience, has established himself as a prominent figure in the field of astronomy. With affiliations to leading global astronomical institutions, David serves as the Editor for Australia's Astro-Space News Magazine and has previously held key editorial roles with Sky & Space Magazine and Australasian Science magazine.

His extensive background includes teaching astronomy at the college level, being a featured speaker at astronomy conventions across Australia, and contributing as a science correspondent for both ABC and commercial radio stations. David's weekly radio interviews, reaching around 3 million listeners, cover the latest developments in astronomy and space exploration.

As a media personality, David's presence extends to regional, national, and international TV, with appearances on prominent platforms such as Good Morning America, American MSNBC news, the BBC, and Sky News in Australia. His own radio program has earned him major Australasian awards for outstanding service.

David is recognized for his engaging and unique style of presenting astronomy and space discovery, having entertained and educated large audiences throughout Australia. In addition to his presentations, he produces educational materials for beginners and runs a popular radio program in Hastings, NSW, with a substantial following and multiple awards for his radio presentations.

In 2004, David initiated the 'Astronomy Outreach' program, touring primary and secondary schools in NSW to provide an interactive astronomy and space education experience. Sponsored by Tasco Australia, Austar, and Discovery Science channel, the program donated telescopes and grants to schools during a special tour in 2009, contributing to the promotion of astronomy education in Australia. BELOW Is the recorded interview  

INTRODUCING OUR NEW PARTNER & ASTRO SUPPLIER

Many thanks to Peter and the crew at ASTRO ANARCHY Queensland. A New business with the amateur astronomer firmly in mind.  Astro Anarchy has the experience, the stock and the knowledge to set up the first timer, to assist in the development of our hobby for the experienced observer OR cater to any other size need or desire in the field of amateur astronomy. 

ATRO ANARCHY AS OUR SPONSOR: My business partner Peter Davies and I have set up a new Astro Tourism business focusing on the recently 'Dark Sky Town' accredited to Norfolk Island. We call it 'Norfolk Island STARGAZING'. When approached, Pete from Astro Anarchy had no hesitation in organizing and supplying all our Telescopes, Binoculars and associated gear to get started. Nothing was any trouble allowing us more than enough time to set up and become fully operational. He and he and his business come highly recommended for anyone wanting any astronomical gear in Australia.

Web: https://www.astroanarchy.com.au/    Sales: sales@astroanarchy.com.au   Phone: 0412 085 224


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'Astro Dave' Is Radio-Active 

Heard On DOZENS Of Stations Weekly - CLICK for past interviews