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Charleville - Day 2

Friday - 3 July 2015

It was very cool overnight because of the clear sky - down to 3 degrees.

On the way into town for papers, we were stopped by a policeman for a RBT. When David suggested that it was a bit early, the policemen suggested that he may have had a big night last night - the result was 0.00, so all OK.

After lunch we decided to pack up as we will want to be on the road early to Barcaldine which is more than 400 km away. This evening we are having a camp oven dinner of beef in a red wine gravy with damper and vegies - it was good. After dinner we went to the Cosmos Observatory which is open air and very cold - about 8 degrees. The overnight temperature is expected to get down to 2 degrees.

The Cosmos Observatory comprises four twelve inch Meade reflecting telescopes in a special building with a roof that rolls back to reveal the night sky. All electronic devices had to be switched off, cameras, I-pods, I-pads, phones - you name it, as they can interfere with the GPS tracking systems on the telescopes. We viewed 5 objects in the night sky, some of which were hard to see with the naked eye because of the very bright full moon.

The first object was Saturn, which along with Venus is very prominent in the early evening sky. The planet is about 12 times larger than the Earth and was clearly visible along with its rings. As well as the rings Saturn has at least 60 moons.

The second object was Alpha Centauri, the brightest of the two pointers to the Southern Cross, and our closest neighbour at 4.3 light years away. The system contains 3 stars, Alpha A and B are a binary pair that orbit a central point of gravity every 80 years. The third star Proxima Centauri is not in the field of view when observing the binary pair. Alpha A and B were clearly visible through the telescope.

The third object was Albireo - a double star clearly showing as a small blue star and larger orange/red star, and often called The Sapphire and the Topaz. Di had no trouble seeing these two stars! They are 385 light years away and are separated by 650 billion km.

The fourth object was the Jewel Box, situated close to Beta Crux in the Southern Cross, and comprising an open cluster of approximately 150 to 200 stars, displaying many different colours. The stars are 7,700 light years away and were discovered in the 1830s by Sir John Herschel. The smallest of the stars are more than 50 times the size of our Sun.

The final object was the full moon with many of its craters clearly visible. The largest craters are 300 km across and 8 km deep.

It may have taken two visits to Charleville, but we finally got to see the stars from the Cosmos Observatory.

Posted by TwoAces 03:16

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