16 03 2009

On a typical night, looking into the sky, you can see somewhere between 500 and 6000 stars, depending on how dark your night sky is. If you live in a reasonably dark area, you may be lucky enough to see a faint, diffuse band stretching across the sky, from horizon to horizon. This band, known as the Milky Way, is the plane of our home galaxy.

It was Galileo who discovered that this band consisted of an almost uncountable number of stars, after he turned his telescope to the sky. Prior to this, it was believed that the Milky Way was a ‘cloud’ that spanned the entire sky.

360-degree photographic panorama of the Milky Way. (Digital Sky LLC)

360-degree photographic panorama of the Milky Way. (Digital Sky LLC)

Read the rest of this entry »


Build your own Newtonian Reflector…

11 03 2009

Well done everyone who helped build the class telescope last night – I hope you all enjoyed the experience of putting your very own telescope together and getting a chance to view a lovely full moon through it too.

If you want to get hold of your own kit, it is available from here:, although stocks are often low, so order now!

Carl Sagan – Pale Blue Dot

11 03 2009

pale_blue_dot_uitsnedeThe Pale Blue Dot is a photograph of planet Earth taken in 1990 by Voyager 1 from a record distance, showing it against the vastness of space. Both the idea for taking the distant photo and the title came from scientist and astronomer Carl Sagan, who also wrote the 1994 book of the same name. In 2001, it was selected by as one of the top ten space science photos.

The photo was taken as Voyager was 3.7 billion miles from Earth. Read the rest of this entry »

The Galileoscope™: An IYA2009 Cornerstone Project

10 03 2009

The Galileoscope™ is a high-quality, low-cost telescope kit developed for the International Year of Astronomy 2009 by a team of leading astronomers, optical engineers, and science educators. No matter where you live, with this easy-to-assemble, 50-mm (2-inch) diameter, 25- to 50-power achromatic refractor, you can see the celestial wonders that Galileo Galilei first glimpsed 400 years ago and that still delight stargazers today. These include lunar craters and mountains, four moons circling Jupiter, the phases of Venus, Saturn’s rings, and countless stars invisible to the unaided eye. Read the rest of this entry »

The Sun – lifecycle

3 03 2009

Over the course of a human lifetime, the Sun is an unchanging, constant companion – bringer of light and heat and champion of the day. It is often tempting to believe that it will always be here and always has been here. The truth, however, is quite different.

Read the rest of this entry »