Published on December 23rd, 2012 | by Scott
Virtual Star Party – 23 December, 2012
Paul Stewart first started the show by observing Venus live in the daytime from New Zealand, while Scott and Thad discussed it’s phase and how it’s actually possible to observe celestial bodies while it’s daylight out. From there, Paul moved along to the closest planet to the sun, Mercury, leading the discussion to why it appears so faint in the sky compared to Venus. This reason being that Venus is not only larger than Mercury and closer to Earth, but also is much more reflective of sunlight than Mercury is!
After switching scopes and cameras, Paul observed our closest star, the Sun. His equipment observe light in Hydrogen Alpha, which is a very narrow band of light that is only emitted during a change in energy levels in a Hydrogen atom. The reason why this is beneficial for observing the sun is it allows us to see details of the Sun that are only visible in that range of light. Thad went along to discuss the differences in structures that we were observing on the Sun and the details of why imaging in Hydrogen Alpha is beneficial in many circumstances.
Peter Lake, an astronomer from Australia, joined us at the end of the broadcast to share images from his remote observatory in New Mexico, USA. We had a brief discussion about our broadcast earlier in the month where we observed the transit of the exoplanet Qatar-1b. Peter wowed the audience, along the commentators with an image of the Andromeda Galaxy. What a perfect way to end a broadcast, starting with the closest celestial bodies to Earth and then finishing with an entire galaxy 2.5 Million light-years away from us.
Many thanks to our astronomers Paul Stewart and Peter Lake for sharing their perspective of the Universe with us, along with Thad Szabo for joining Scott in discussing the science!