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Australasian Sky

Australasian Sky column

Total Solar Eclipse and November star chart

By David Reneke

Your guide to the solar eclipse on 14 November, and your map of the night sky this month

A total eclipse of the Sun is arguably nature's most spectacular and awe-inspiring phenomenon. Australia will play host to such an event next week and all eyes will be on the horizon overlooking the Coral Sea in Tropical North Queensland as the total solar eclipse casts an incredible shadow across the region on November 14.

Port Douglas and Cairns will be the best places in the world to witness this natural phenomenon and well known Australian astronomer Dave Reneke, writer and publicist for Australasian Science magazine, will be on hand to record it all.

September 2012 guide and star chart

By David Reneke

Your guide to the night skies this month.

Someone who once tried to count them said there were more stars in the Universe than heartbeats for every human who ever lived! Now that’s a big number. Have you ever wondered where the names of some of the stars come from?

There are billions and billions of stars but only some 6,000 or so are visible to the naked eye. Of those only a handful of the brightest have proper names like Sirius or Betelgeuse, the rest are simply given letters of the Greek alphabet.

October 2012 Star Chart

By Dr Martin Anderson

Your guide to the night sky this month.

Star Chart for June

By David Reneke

Find out about the transit of Venus and download the Sydney Observatory's star chart for June.

It’s a twice in a lifetime moment. On Wednesday morning, June 6, an event that takes place only four times every two centuries will enthrall the world's astronomers, as it has ever since the 1600s.

People all over the world will be craning their necks to get a look at one of the rarest sky events possible, the Transit of Venus – and nobody alive will ever see this again. The next one will be in 2117.

Dazzling Local Autumn Sky Show

By Dave Reneke

A spectacular alignment will occur on 26-27 March.

Autumn in Australia is great for sky gazers. We have some of the best skies in the world. The sky is full of bright stars, prominent constellations and fascinating celestial sights. Sometimes, when conditions are right, the skies put on an awesome show just for our viewing pleasure.

Get set for one of those rare events because your view of the evening night sky is going to be spectacular on March 26. It’s an alignment of planets with the Moon, and they don’t happen all that often!

The Moon, Venus and Jupiter are the three brightest objects in the night sky.

Star Chart for March 2012

By Dave Reneke

Read about some special features in the night sky from February 23, and download the Sydney Observatory's star chart for March 2012.

Attention all budding sky watchers, grab your telescopes. What you’re about to read might give you an uncontrollable urge to dash outside. The brightest planets in the solar system are lining up in the evening sky, and you can see the formation, some of it at least from 23 February.

Go out at sunset and look west. Venus and Jupiter pop out of the twilight even before the sky fades completely black. The two brilliant planets surrounded by evening blue is a spellbinding sight. Hey, grab your smartphone, hold it steady and see what a pic looks like.

Advice for First Time Telescope Buyers

By David Reneke

There are many junk telescopes out there, but decent starter scopes are not too expensive.

What’s on the top of your Xmas list this year? Maybe a telescope?

I get a lot of people asking me about the best telescope to buy. Well, the short answer is, the dearest one you can afford.

Modern telescopes are a compromise between price and quality and any telescope in this country under $300 is not going to do any serious work for you. Don’t buy from a department store. Buy from a dealer who knows about telescopes, a camera shop for instance, or a telescope retailer.

Stargazing, January/February 2012

By Sydney Observatory

Your guide and star chart for the night skies this month.

Stargazing, December 2011

By David Reneke

Your guide and star chart for the night sky this month.

David Reneke is one of Australia’s leading astronomers, lecturers and teachers. He’s a feature writer for Australasian Science magazine and a science correspondent for ABC and commercial radio.

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Stargazing in November

By David Reneke

Your guide to the night skies

The night sky this week is fairly dark with a nice half moon in sight and that's good for watching meteors over the next week or so. This month’s are frequently bright, slow moving and noted for producing colourful ‘meteor showers.’ Fantastic sights if they happen so don't forget to keep your camera handy - just in case.

So, what exactly are meteor showers? As comets orbit the Sun, they shed an icy, dusty debris stream along the comet's orbit. If Earth travels through this stream, we will see a meteor shower. By the way, when meteors hit the ground they’re called meteorites.