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Looking forward to an astronomical 2018

What a year 2017 has been with a total solar eclipse viewed by millions across North America, and a partial Lunar Eclipse seen from Australia. We saw Jupiter and Saturn at opposition, a conjunction of Venus and Jupiter, the Geminids put on a meteor shower and we had an excellent telescope viewing night and program of speakers at our monthly meeting at Sydney Observatory. You can view our past speakers by clicking on this link.

There were many discoveries which shaped our view of our Solar System, the Milky Way Galaxy and beyond. 2017 discoveries included the discovery of more Earth-like planets around other Suns; gravitational waves were proven and the researchers responsible won a Nobel Prize for their discovery; NASA's Dawn mission continued to reveal more about dwarf planet Ceres; Cassini completed its mission and then plummeted into Saturn; New Horizons mission temporarily awoke from hibernation as it passed through the Kuiper belt; there were new theories about super massive black holes and dark matter and so much more.

2017 also saw further research into Australian Aboriginal Peoples' cultural connections with the night sky.

Video installation 'Songlines: Tracking the Seven Sisters' photo T. Stevenson

Museums engaged with storytellers, artists and scientists to communicate this extraordinary relationship which has existed for tens of thousands of years. The Songlines: Tracking the Seven Sisters exhibition at the National Museum of Australia in Canberra is a must-see. The exhibition includes spectacular artworks, immersive virtual reality film 'Collisions' by Lynette Wallworth and engaging stories. The exhibition is on now until 25 February 2018.

2018 will be an astronomical year as I have found reading my 2018 Australasian Skyguide by honorary Sydney City Skywatchers member, Dr Nick Lomb. Observable astronomy events include a number of highlights: two total eclipses of the Moon (31 Jan and 28 July); a favourable opposition of Mars; and a close approach by a comet in mid December 2018 and there will be news about our closest star, the Sun, when NASA launches a research probe. Furthermore there are bound to be celebrations when, on 5 June, Sydney Observatory will turn 160 years old.

Profesor Iver Cairns with cubesat, photo: The University of Sydney

On Monday 5 February our first keynote speaker for the year is Professor Iver Cairns who has a fascinating presentation about the research projects he is working on which launched into space in 2017. To find out more and attend monthly meetings with great speakers you can become a Sydney City Skywatchers member by completing the pdf membership form on this website and sending it to our secretary. Have a Happy New Year!

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