Tagged: astronomy

Happy New Year (and a missed Easter) - Out of Space

Duncan Steel Mar 25, 2019

As I write it is March 25th, which was the date of New Year in Great Britain and its colonies until 1752. Indeed, throughout history it was a common date for the start of the civil year in a wide range of European states and principalities, being the traditional date of the vernal equinox, and so the beginning … Read More

Does Earth have a natural prime meridian? - Out of Space

Duncan Steel Mar 20, 2019

We are generally habituated to using the Greenwich meridian as the global standard for mapping and time-keeping, despite it being only 135 years since its adoption. As I show here, if the Catholic Church had adopted in 1582 a more-precise calendar in terms of year length then a natural prime meridian results, in a location that might appear surprising. Read More

It’s crowded at the edge of the solar system   - Out of Space

Duncan Steel Jan 01, 2019

Looking out at the stars it would be easy to think that the solar system is mostly empty, bar the handful of planets circuiting the Sun and the occasional comet we see passing by. The reality, we now know, is that the edge of the solar system contains a vast population of substantial objects orbiting just beyond Neptune, one of … Read More

And so this is Christmas… - Out of Space

Duncan Steel Dec 19, 2018

The date of Christmas is a matter many find confusing, and yet the adopted anniversary is easy to understand if you follow through the history, astronomy and human biology that are involved.  Why is the Nativity commemorated on December 25th, when it is clear Jesus was not actually born on that date? And how can a year be termed “Before … Read More

Skywatching southerners have chance to see selenelion this Saturday morning - Out of Space

Duncan Steel Jul 26, 2018

A few minutes after 8am this Saturday those further south in New Zealand will have a once-in-a-lifetime chance to witness a rare celestial event: a selenelion (or selenehelion). What is that? It’s when the eclipsed Moon can be seen on one horizon, whilst the rising Sun can also be observed near the opposite horizon. One might think … Read More

Stars for sale, but no, you can’t really buy an official star name to remember someone - Guest Work

Guest Author Feb 27, 2018

Brad E Tucker, Australian National University This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article. About once a week, I receive an email like this (note that any identifying details have been removed): I was wondering if you could help me. We are coming to Canberra for 2 nights with our friends whose … Read More

Massive sunspots and huge solar flares mean unexpected space weather for Earth - Guest Work

Guest Author Sep 08, 2017

By Alexa Halford, Dartmouth College; Brett Carter, RMIT University, and Julie Currie, RMIT University If you still have your solar viewing glasses from the eclipse, now is a good time to slap them on and look up at the sun. You’ll see two big dark areas visible on our star. These massive sunspots are … Read More

Considering the Character of Galaxies - A History of NZ Science in 25 Objects

Jean Balchin Jul 04, 2017

One day, when I was seven years old, I decided to camp out in the treehouse with my brother John. It was a poorly planned venture from the start; we misjudged the cold, the ferocity of the mosquitoes and our own temperaments. John got spooked looking at the gnarled bark of the tree, reading faces … Read More

Matariki: reintroducing the tradition of Māori New Year celebrations - Guest Work

Guest Author Jun 30, 2017

Rangi Matamua, Waikato University The Pleiades, or Seven Sisters, is one of the most obvious star groups in the night sky, identifiable to the naked eye. In Aotearoa/New Zealand, the star cluster is known as Matariki. This name is a truncated version of the saying “Ngā mata o te ariki Tāwhirimātea” meaning “the eye of the god … Read More