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In this Month - January

Happy New Year! 24th January 1986 Voyager 2 encounters Uranus. At its closest the spacecraft came to within 81,500 kilometres of Uranus's cloud tops. As at November 2018 NASA announced that the space probe had crossed the outer edge of the solar system and is now more than 18 billion kilometres from Earth. 31st January 1996 Comet Hyakutake, or to give it its proper designation C/1996 B2, is discovered by Yuji Hyakutake an amateur astronomer from southern Japan using a powerful set of binoculars. It was dubbed “The Great Comet of 1996”. Its passage near Earth was one of the closest cometary approaches for the past 200 years, coming to within 15 million kilometres of Earth. 19th January 2006 N

The Christmas Comet - Ho Ho Hopeless

As a Sydney-based astronomy enthusiast I had visions of Comet 46p/Wirtanen bringing joy to my Christmas celebration. Alas it was very difficult to see and even the intrepid Geoffrey Wyatt, celebrated Astro-photographer and Education Officer at Sydney Observatory, took some rather nice images, but was still disappointed in the view from the less light polluted, and drier environment in Bathurst, NSW: "as promised here is an image of comet 46p/Wirtanen taken from near Bathurst last night. The waxing Moon severely impacted the view. Pentax 75SDHF, Canon 6D, 30 seconds, ISO 6400, EQ6Pro and Orion Star shoot auto guider. The comet was very close the M45 but it hasn't lived up to the hype but that

Did you know - Space Probes, Crashes, LEGO and the missing hyphen

This month we are featuring Space Probes – Crashes, Lego and the missing hyphen The Soviet probe Luna 15 crashed into the surface of the Moon while the Apollo 11 astronauts, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were still on it! Luna 15 was launched three days before the Apollo 11 liftoff, its aim was to land on the lunar surface, collect rock samples, and return to Earth. However it crashed into Mare Crisium, approximately 900 kilometres northeast of the Apollo 11 landing site. The Mariner 1 probe, which was meant to orbit Venus, failed because of a missing hyphen in a line of code. The hyphen was left out causing a major flaw in the software of the guidance system. The mission was aborted approx

In this month - December

6th December 1882 The Transit of Venus, the second and last transit of Venus of the 19th century, the first having taken place eight years earlier in 1874. Sydney Observatory ployed an important part and the NSW Government astronomer, H.C. Russell co-ordinated observations from different sites in NSW including Woodford Academy in the Blue Mountains. Because of its fortuitous location and even though the transit began before local sunrise, New Zealand was able to play an important role in the quest to determine one of astronomy’s fundamental yardsticks, the mean distance from the Earth to the Sun now known as the ‘Astronomical Unit’, or AU. 13th December 1920 Albert Michelson and Francis G. P

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