We welcome your letters. E-mail me in confidence 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

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. 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 

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

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.

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

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 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 Dave, 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 

Earlier Letters

Hi Dave. 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 

 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 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. 

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 

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 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 

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. 

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 

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 

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. 

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.

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 

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.

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 

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, 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. 

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 

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