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Astronomical connections: Dalrymple, Halley and Cook

It is now 250 years since James Cook and the crew and scientists on the Endeavour sighted the shoreline of the land we now call Australia. This blog explores a twist of fate and history and the possibility that Cook may not have been chosen as the commander because there were other options(1). I will provide background to the decision to choose Cook to command the Endeavour on an ambitious journey and why other influential people were keen for him to explore the possibilities of a ‘Great South Land’ after the transit of Venus was achieved. One of these people shares my name, Dalrymple. The term ‘Terra Australis Incognita’ was used as far back as the ancient Greeks to mean the unknown Great S

Did you know? Dwarf stars

This month . . . Dwarfs. No, not Snow White and her seven companions. Dwarf stars. They come in a variety of colours and are the last stage in a star’s life. It is believed our own Sun will become a white dwarf at the end of its life. White dwarf stars are relatively rare. There are only eight known white dwarf stars in the 100 star systems closest to the Sun, with the closest known one to us being Sirius B, 8.6 light years away. White dwarfs are incredibly dense. A teaspoon of white dwarf material would weigh about 5 tons ! Red dwarf stars have very long life spans and live for trillions of years. Their masses can be used to estimate the age of star clusters of all types as well as determin

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