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In this month: May

13 May 1861 John Tebbutt discovers the Great Comet of 1861, also known as Comet C/1861 J1, one of the most brilliant comets known. He sent letters to the Government Astronomer at Sydney Observatory, Rev. William Scott, and to the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper advising of his find. However, at the time there was no means of sending the news quickly to England and when the comet became visible in the northern hemisphere on 29 June 1861 it was a complete surprise to the astronomers in Britain and elsewhere. Tebbutt was acknowledged as the first discoverer of the comet, and the first to compute its approximate orbit. More info here. Image courtesy wikimedia commons of the Great Comet of 1861,

125 years of citizen astronomy!

2020 is an important year for citizen astronomy in New South Wales with the assembly, and first meeting to form the British Astronomical Association New South Wales Branch (now called Sydney City Skywatchers) held on 30 January 1895. John Tebbutt FRAS was appointed the first President. At the second meeting held in March 1895 there were 48 members admitted, including women. A rigorous series of monthly meetings followed with talks and presentations about comets, solar eclipses, planets and stars. You can find out more here. We are now affiliated with the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences and usually meet at Sydney Observatory. This year we have embraced new ways of communicating with the

The morning dance of the planets

Sidewalk Astronomy in the times of COVID-19 As an inner-city dweller who loves astronomy, I have found that one can still enjoy stargazing and telescope viewings in an urban setting. There are certainly limitations to viewing with city light pollution but there are some advantages and if we are to feed our passion in the times of COVID-19 we may have to think outside the box. I invite you to get up early in the next weeks and find a clear view to the east and above and watch the planets dance (in your garden, from a balcony, or through a window). Jupiter, Mars and Saturn are all easily visible high in the eastern sky between 5:30am and 6:30am and Mercury is surprisingly high and visible abov

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