Look to the sky

Stars and celestial objects have held a particular fascination for me for as long as I can remember. Seeing Halley’s Comet in the Australian sky with my Dad in 1986 was probably the starting point. Mark Twain was born in a year of apparition (1835) and he was determined to exit with the next sighting 75 years later (which he did). Halley’s Comet is due back for viewing in 2061 so I may get a second sighting in my lifetime.

Did you see Halley’s Comet?

I found this press clipping with the 1986 appearance times in both hemispheres for those interested.

Giotto is suspected of witnessing the appearance of Halley's Comet in 1301 and modelling his Star of Bethlehem on it.

Image Credit

An astronomical event which I am unlikely to see again after its occurrence this month (short of some serious advances in medical research or time travel which get me to 2117) is the Transit of Venus. Venus passes between the Sun and Earth in a pair of transits every 243 years (with the pair separated by 8 and then more than 100 years). In 2004 I watched a live video stream from home and this year I am going one step further and looking through a solar telescope. I’m hoping to glimpse first contact. The astro-nerd in me is very excited! I may even write a poem about it.

Do the heavens inspire you?

 Image Credit

Visit your local observatory, planetarium or astronomical society for public viewing sessions. You’ll be in good company (historically speaking): Mason and Dixon observed the 1761 transit and Cook claimed New Zealand after viewing the 1769 transit in Tahiti then named New South Wales (my home state) for the British Crown in 1770.


NASA EDGE is webcasting from Hawaii. More details here: http://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/podcasting/nasaedge/index.html


WARNING: Do not look at the Sun directly or through a normal telescope or binoculars. The Transit of Venus can only be safely viewed using a special solar telescope, solar binoculars or special solar glasses.

© Chenoa Fawn. 2012.

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  • © Chenoa Fawn 2010 - 2014. All rights reserved.

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