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. 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. **Luxury Accommodation, Island Tour, 7-Day Car Hire, Lectures, Telescope Viewings etc all included!  $2,260 

***BONUS  (From 13/4/24) NEXT 5 BOOKINGS GET A WHOPPING $200 OFF DISCOUNT ...PER PERSON! THIS PROMOTION RUNS FOR NEXT 2 WEEKS - To Reserve Your Spot Phone/Text Dave on 0400 636 363 or email


Private mission to save the Hubble Space Telescope raises concerns

In the vastness of space, there's a special eye that has been peering into the secrets of the universe for decades. It's called the Hubble Space Telescope, and it's like a window for scientists to explore distant galaxies, stars, and planets. But recently, there's been a bit of a worry – a private mission wants to save Hubble, and some folks are concerned about it.

First off, let's talk about why Hubble needs saving. It's been up there in space since 1990, sending back incredible pictures and data. But like anything, it's getting older, and it needs a little fixing up to keep doing its job well. Think of it like a car that needs a tune-up.

Usually, when something like Hubble needs fixing, NASA, the space agency, takes care of it. They've got the know-how and the experience to handle these sorts of things. But this time, a private company called Rocket Science Technologies wants to do it instead. They say they can save money and get the job done quicker.

Now, that might sound good at first. Who doesn't like saving money and time? But some experts are worried. They say that fixing Hubble isn't just about money and speed – it's about safety and experience. NASA has been doing this kind of thing for a long time, and they know what they're doing. Plus, they've got lots of eyes watching over them, making sure everything's done right.

But Rocket Science Technologies doesn't have as much experience, and they might not have as many safety measures in place. If something were to go wrong during the mission, it could be a big problem – not just for Hubble, but for the people involved and for space exploration as a whole.

Another concern is about who will own Hubble after it's fixed. Right now, it's owned by NASA, which means it's used for science and research that benefits everyone. But if a private company fixes it, they might want to make money off of it. They could charge scientists and researchers to use it, which could make it harder for some people to study the universe.

Jared Isaacman, a private astronaut who has orbited Earth in a SpaceX capsule, basically has said he'd foot the bill to take a maintenance crew to Hubble if NASA would greenlight such a mission, potentially saving the space agency hundreds of millions of dollars. This offer sounds generous and could indeed save NASA a lot of money. However, it raises questions about accountability and oversight. While Isaacman's intentions may be noble, the risk of entrusting such a crucial mission to a private entity without the same level of scrutiny and regulation as NASA is a concern for many.

Coming Up With Rescue Ideas

Isaacman is known to be an avid pilot who flies jets, including ex-military aircraft, and in 2021 he funded and commanded the first all-civilian flight to orbit, called Inspiration4. Isaacman made his fortune through Shift4, a major payment processing company that he founded "in 1999 at sixteen years old in the basement of his parents' home," according to the company's website. He also co-founded Draken International, a military contractor that has a fleet of fighter jets.

In the first Polaris spaceflight, Isaacman and a crewmate will attempt to step outside a SpaceX capsule. This flight has been repeatedly delayed, with the Polaris Program saying that one delay, for example, was needed to provide "necessary developmental time" to ensure "a safe launch and return" and the completion of mission goals.

In 2022, SpaceX contacted NASA and suggested that the next Polaris flight after this planned spacewalk could involve a Hubble reboost and servicing mission — and that NASA would basically get it for free. NASA officials, who regularly send astronauts up to the International Space Station in SpaceX capsules, took this very seriously.

It's been 15 years since the final space shuttle mission to upgrade and service Hubble. Since then, the 34-year-old telescope has had a remarkable run of good health. A gyroscope, part of its pointing system, sometimes acts up, but NASA says it can operate the telescope without it. And astronomers still clamor to use Hubble, with demand for this powerful telescope far outstripping the available observing time. NASA always faces competing priorities and budget constraints, however, and a mission to extend Hubble's life wasn't in the works.

So, while it might seem exciting that a private mission wants to save Hubble, there are definitely some concerns to think about. Space is a big, wild place, and we've got to make sure we're taking care of it – and the tools we use to explore it – in the best way possible.

Will Saturn's rings really 'disappear' by 2025?

Saturn's rings, visible in the evening sky now, are a stunning sight through a telescope. But recently, rumors spread that they're vanishing by 2025, sparking worry. But fear not, it's just a natural cycle. Here's the deal: Earth's tilt gives us seasons, right? Well, Saturn has a tilt too, leading to its own seasons, only way longer - like, 29 years longer. This tilt makes its rings seem to disappear from our view when we look at them from the side.

Picture this: Hold a piece of paper straight in front of you. Now, tilt it until it's almost invisible from the side. That's what happens with Saturn's rings when it orbits the sun. As Saturn moves around the sun, our view of its rings changes. Sometimes we see the top, sometimes the bottom, and sometimes they almost vanish. It's like a cosmic game of hide-and-seek.

In 2025, we'll see the rings edge-on, making them nearly disappear. But don't fret! This happened before in 2009, and the rings came back. They'll vanish again in March 2025 but gradually return by November. Then, they'll become clearer over time.

So, if you want to catch a glimpse of Saturn's rings, now's your chance. But even if you miss it, they'll be back for us to marvel at in the future.

How far Away Are The Stars?

Did you know your telescope is a 'time machine.' When you gaze up at a clear evening sky, you're actually looking into the past? Even with the naked eye, you can see starlight that was emitted years, or even centuries ago. And if you know where to look, you can see galaxies so far away that their light has been travelling since before humans walked the Earth. With a telescope you'll journey to the time when dinosaurs lived.

Planets are closer than stars so we talk about them in light minutes or light hours. Stars though are a different matter, the nearest star to our solar system, Proxima Centauri, is 4.2 light years away. A light year is the distance light travels in one year, 10 trillion kilometres. So, Proxima is a bit over 40 trillion kms from us. A trip there is today's fastest planes would take a whopping 80,000 years!

Light travels 300,000 kilometres per second. That's a HUGE number! Here's a way to imagine how far it is: to travel 10 trillion kilometres, you would have to circle the whole Earth 233 million times. So, if you see a star tonight that's 70 light-years away, which is relatively close for a star, that means it's 700 trillion kilometres distant and that light from that star has taken 70 years to reach your eye!

To really put things in perspective, consider this. If one of the stars in the familiar 'Saucepan' constellation (Orion) exploded tonight I wouldn't know about it for more than 800 years! I would have to wait here until the 30th century to see it. The light would take that long to reach me. True! Stars are farther away than you can wrap your head around. So even moving faster than anything man has ever created…it takes centuries to thousands and thousands of years for them to visibly have moved.

It gets even more crazy! The Pleiades has to be the most famous star cluster in the whole sky, a stunning sight in binoculars and a telescope. At 440 lightyears away, the sparkling Pleiadean starlight we see on frosty autumn evenings set off on its journey across space around the year 1580. At this time Elizabeth I was on the English throne, Francis Drake sailed back into Plymouth after his second epic voyage of circumnavigation, and Greensleeves was being performed for the first time. Still with me?

About 12.9 billion years ago, at the dawn of time, a star was born we called Earendel. It was 50 times bigger than our Sun and a million times brighter. Earendel's discovery offers a glimpse into the first billion years after the Big Bang, when the Universe was just 7 percent of its current age and 12.9 billion light-years away! If nothing else, keep this in mind....It takes longer than human civilization has been around for the stars to show even a tiny amount of movement from our viewpoint on planet earth!

Answering The 5 Most Common 'Space Myths'

Ah, space. The final frontier, a cosmic playground of swirling galaxies, blazing stars, and...wait, what? Did you just say the Moon's really just a giant balloon? And Pluto's a lonely errant floating asteroid with a grudge against the Sun? Fear not, intrepid space explorers, for we're about to jettison these celestial misconceptions into the void!

Myth 1: The Moon's Made of Cheese: Sorry, Wallace and Gromit, science begs to differ. The lunar surface is actually a rocky wonderland, sculpted by billions of years of meteorite bombardment and volcanic activity. Think craters, not cheddar. And while it's true the moon reflects sunlight; it's not bouncing off a giant Camembert – it's the reflective properties of its mineral composition doing the tango with the photons.

Myth 2: Space doesn't benefit everyday life: Many people believe that space exploration doesn't have direct benefits for the average person. However, technologies developed for space missions often find applications in various industries and improve daily life. For instance, advancements in medical imaging, weather forecasting, and communication satellites all have roots in space research. Its interesting to note that for every $1 spent on the space program, it returns between $7 to $14 back to the economy! That surprised you didn't it?

Myth 3: Shooting Stars Are Falling Stars: Spoiler alert: they're not. These streaks of light are actually tiny bits of debris, leftover comet crumbs, or even meteors burning up in our atmosphere. They're like cosmic fireworks, not falling celestial bodies. So, next time you see one, make a wish – it might just get zapped by atmospheric friction before it reaches the ground. But don't wish too hard, it might just come true!

Myth 4: The Great Wall of China Can Be Seen from Space: Unfortunately, even with the best eagle eyes (or telescope), spotting the Great Wall from the Moon, let alone from the space station, is about as likely as encountering a get rich quick scheme that works! It's simply too thin and narrow to be visible from such a distance. I remember Buzz Aldrin telling me they couldn't see it from the Moon.

Myth 5. It's Too Expensive: While space exploration can be costly, the perception that it consumes an exorbitant portion of a country's budget is often exaggerated. In the United States, for example, NASA's budget is typically less than 1% of the federal budget. The benefits of space exploration often have widespread and long-term impacts. Global research firm IBIS World estimate the Australian space sector generated A$5.7 billion in 2020 alone generating a whopping 15,000 jobs!

Bonus Myth: The Earth is Flat (Its Panadol time ): Look, we're not even going to dignify this one with a rebuttal. Just remember, folks, if the Earth were flat, why don't all nations have daylight at the same time? And that, my friends, is a fact not even the conspiracy theorists can answer.

There you have it, space voyagers! Five celestial misconceptions debunked and sent hurtling back to the realm of fiction. So, the next time someone tells you the moon's made of cheese, remember, science is your friend, and a healthy dose of scepticism is the cosmic equivalent of sunscreen – it protects you from the burns of misinformation. Now, go forth and explore the wonders of the universe with your newfound knowledge, and may your spacefaring journeys be filled with more facts than fiction!

Rare 5 Planetary Alignment June 3

This is a general layout of our Solar System
This is a general layout of our Solar System

A rare astronomical event is coming from June 3rd... a planetary alignment, and you may actually be able to see  five (maybe six) planets align in the sky. So, if you missed the magical display of the northern lights recently, you could get another chance to witness something truly special in the night's sky in just a few weeks. So, what is a planetary alignment? A planetary alignment is an astronomical event that happens when, by coincidence, the orbits of several of the planets of the Solar System bring them to roughly the same side of the Sun at the same time.

This means that they appear in a line on the sky, when we view them from the Earth. In this case, the planets Jupiter, Mercury, Uranus, Mars, Neptune and Saturn will form a line across the sky, in that order. In this instance, 'planetary alignment' refers to the planets visibly lining up in the sky – also known as a 'planetary parade' – but they won't be in actual orbital alignment. It's important to emphasise that the planets aren't forming a straight line in space – that's a much rarer astronomical event called a syzygy.

However, because all the planets – including the Earth – orbit around the Sun in roughly the same orientation (moving in which we call the "Plane of the Ecliptic"), when they're on the same side of the Sun as each other, they appear to form a line in the sky when we view them from Earth. Although the planets' orbits have brought them to the same side of the Sun as each other, they aren't actually close to each in space, they're still millions of miles apart.

This image shows the view from Sydney, Australia, at 6:30 am up till June 24.
This image shows the view from Sydney, Australia, at 6:30 am up till June 24.

The planets are due to line up in the sky in the early morning hours of Monday June 3rd 2024 and are quite common, particularly if you're talking about two, three or even four planets lining up in the sky. However, it's less common to see five or more planets aligning.

So, how to spot the planetary alignment? Unfortunately, it involves getting up very early in the morning. The planetary alignment will be most visible about one hour before sunrise on 3rd June, but will also be visible for a couple of days on either side. The planets will be visible in the east of the sky."

To increase your chances, you need to be in an area with as little light pollution as possible and no obstructions to the horizon, as Jupiter, Mercury (and Uranus if lucky) will all be low in the sky. You'll also need a good pair of binoculars if you want to see all six planets, as Uranus and Neptune are too faint to be visible to the naked eye, and Mercury may also be difficult to spot, as it is quite faint and only rises shortly before the dawn.

The planets can be difficult to spot in the sky, so try and find yourself a good pair of binoculars (and pray for good weather! Jupiter will be the easiest, as it's the second brightest thing in the sky after the moon. Planets don't twinkle like stars do, which may help you to identify them. But the best thing to do is to download a night sky app – free options include Sky Map, Star Chart or Sky Tonight, amongst many others – which you can point at the sky to tell you what you're looking at. Happy planet-hunting!

Astronomers have just spotted a monster on the Sun, and it appears to be getting bigger. One of the largest sunspot groups seen in years. How big is this monster called AR3664? Sprawling almost 200,000 km from end to end, it is 15 times wider than Earth. Now you can understand why we call it a monster.   JUST IN 15/5/24 8am: 

STRONGEST SOLAR FLARE OF THE CURRENT CYCLE: Sunspot AR3664 just unleashed the strongest solar flare of the current solar cycle--an X8.7-category blast from beyond the sun's western limb. X marks the spot in this image of the flare from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory:

Because the sunspot is behind the edge of the solar disk, the flare was partially eclipsed. It was probably even stronger than it appeared. "X8.7" is almost certainly an underestimate of the flare's true strength. Extreme ultraviolet radiation from the flare ionized the top of Earth's atmosphere, causing a deep shortwave radio blackout over the Americas. Ham radio operators, aviators and mariners may have noticed a sudden loss of signal at all frequencies below 30 MHz. Subatomic debris from this event might soon reach Earth, 

 Sunspots spawn solar flares. The bigger the sunspot the more powerful the flare. Solar flare classes increase in strength by magnitude, much as the Richter scale ranks earthquakes. These X-class flares are the biggest you can get and there's probably more on the way!

Sunspot AR3664 has grown so large, it is now rivals the great Carrington sunspot of 1859 in size and visual appearance. To illustrate their similarity, Carrington's famous sketch (to scale) has been added to a NASA picture of today's sun: (see image below). Carrington's sunspot is famous because in August and Sept. 1859 it emitted a series of intense solar flares and CMEs. The resulting geomagnetic storms set fire to telegraph offices and sparked auroras from Cuba to Hawaii.

Solar flares can be pretty damaging because we rely so much now on electronic communication. The sheer electromagnetic power of a really large solar flare could severely damage or destroy any of our communication satellites and overload power stations causing mass blackouts and power outages. Last week we saw solar flares shooting away up to 100,000 kilometres in length!

Most developed countries like Australia are particularly vulnerable because the power infrastructure is highly interconnected, so failures could easily cascade like chains of dominoes. Imagine large cities without power for a week, a month, or a year. The losses could be $1 to $2 trillion, and the effects could be felt for years. So, the next time you get burnt red from being outside too long spare a thought for how powerful that ball of energy is that dominates the daytime sky.

How much energy is in a solar flare? Well, what you are about to read will make you think twice about what we're currently using to power our homes. It's been estimated the most powerful flares have the energy equivalent of a billion hydrogen bombs. Think about that for a moment - enough energy to power the whole world for thousands of years. Still considering solar panels?

The Sun is a star, just like the other stars we see at night only closer at just over 8 light minutes away. We wouldn't be here if the Sun wasn't just the right distance from planet Earth. It produces poem worthy sunsets and releases as much total energy as 1 trillion megaton bombs every second! Wow, that's raw untapped power! By the way, the Sun would hold the earth a million times over! Visit Dave's Website:

The Largest Star In The Universe – A MONSTER

In the vast expanse of the cosmos, where the boundaries of the known and the unknown converge, a celestial enigma looms large, captivating the imagination of astronomers and the public alike. This enigma is none other than UY Scuti, one of the largest stars ever observed in the observable universe. As the night sky unfolds its celestial tapestry, the sheer scale of UY Scuti becomes increasingly apparent. Dwarfing our own sun by an astonishing factor of 1,700, this behemoth of a star would easily engulf the orbits of Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars if placed at the center of our solar system. Imagine, for a moment, the awe-inspiring sight of a star so colossal that it could swallow our home planet whole, with room to spare.

To truly grasp the immensity of UY Scuti, one must consider its staggering dimensions. If you were to embark on a journey around the star's circumference, you would need to travel a distance of nearly 5 billion kilometres – a journey that would take you over 1,100 years to complete, even at the breakneck speed of a spacecraft. This is a scale that defies our everyday comprehension, a testament to the sheer vastness of the universe.

But UY Scuti's grandeur is not without its perils. This celestial giant is a variable star, meaning its brightness fluctuates over time, a testament to its inherent instability. Astronomers have observed that the star's diameter can vary by as much as 20% over the course of its pulsation cycle, a phenomenon that adds an element of suspense and intrigue to its study.

Beneath the surface of this colossal star lies a power that is truly awe-inspiring. UY Scuti is estimated to be emitting an astonishing 380,000 times the energy of our sun, a staggering amount of power that could potentially overwhelm and destroy any nearby celestial bodies. The mere thought of such raw, unbridled energy is enough to instil a sense of fear and reverence in the hearts of those who gaze upon it.

Yet, despite its immense size and power, the future of UY Scuti remains shrouded in uncertainty. As a red supergiant, the star is nearing the end of its life cycle, and its eventual fate is a subject of intense speculation among astronomers. Will it explode in a cataclysmic supernova, or will it slowly fade into obscurity?

The suspense surrounding this celestial enigma only adds to its allure, drawing scientists and the public alike to unravel the mysteries of this colossal star. As we gaze upon the night sky, let us be humbled by the sheer scale and power of UY Scuti, a testament to the grandeur and complexity of the universe we inhabit. For in the face of such cosmic wonders, we are reminded of our own insignificance, and the profound mysteries that still await us in the vast expanse of the unknown.

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'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  


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:    Sales:   Phone: 0412 085 224

'Astro Dave' Is Radio-Active 

Heard On DOZENS Of Stations Weekly - CLICK for past interviews