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August 2009: Impact

August 2009

In our only episode for August, we bring you an interview with Professor Miller Goss about pioneering Australian radio astronomer Ruby Payne Scott, the latest astronomical news, what you can see in the August night sky, and your feedback.

The News

In the news this month:

A profile of Ruby Payne Scott

Professor Miller Goss (NRAO) describes the life and work of pioneering Australian radio astronomer Ruby Payne Scott.

Ruby Payne-ScottPayne-Scott had a remarkable career at CSIRO as a radio astronomer due to her participation at the Division of Radiophysics where she worked on the development of World War II radar. She and Joseph L. Pawsey carried out an initial radio astronomy experiment in March 1944 from the Madsen Building on the Sydney University grounds. In 1945, Payne-Scott carried out some of the key early solar radio astronomy observations at Dover Heights (Sydney). In the years 1945 to 1947, she discovered three of the five categories of solar bursts originating in the solar corona and made major contributions to the techniques of radio astronomy. Solar bursts represented large, rapid increases, at the time scale of seconds, of radio emission from the solar corona usually observed at low radio frequencies.

In a remarkably short period, Payne-Scott played a key role in the rapid growth of radio astronomy in the immediate post war environment. She provided scientific leadership during the period as well as technical insights. In her seven years as a radio astronomer (1944-1951), she made monumental contributions to this new science in which Australia excelled and helped lay the foundations for many future decades of world leadership in radio astronomy.

Miller's book - "Under the Radar - The Life and Times of Ruby Payne Scott, pioneer female radio astronomer" - will be available on Amazon later in the year. It should hopefully also be available via your local library service.

The Night Sky

Ian Morison tells us what we can see in the night sky during August 2009. This month, on the night sky pages, the images of the month show LRO images of the Apollo landing sites. It is also worth visiting the Lunar World Record 2009 and Google Moon.

Northern Hemisphere

Leo is setting in the glare of the Sun but it is still just possible to see Saturn and then Mercury in the first few weeks. Higher up is the constellation of Bootes. Just to the left of Bootes is Corona Borealis - the Northern Crown. Moving up towards the south you'll see the constellation of Hercules. It has four stars making up the keystone. Looking up the right hand side of the keystone you'll see globular cluster M13. Below Hercules is Ophiuchus and below that is Scorpius with its lovely red star Antares. To the left is the constellation of Sagittarius - The Archer - which does look like a rather nice representation of a teapot. Where the liquid would leave the spout, with binoculars you might see the little fuzzy glow of open cluster M7. Above the teapot is the Lagoon Nebula. Over to the east in the sky you'll see the lovely region of the Summer Triangle with Aquila, Lyra and Cygnus.

The Planets


Southern Hemisphere

Looking north at about 8pm in mid-August you have a lovely view of the Milky Way arcing high overhead. Below Sagittarius we have Aquila the Eagle and lower in the north east is Lyra. Down to the right of Aquila is Delphinus the dolphin. Looking towards the south there is the Milky Way dropping down to the south west. There are the constellations of Centaurus, Crux, Musca, Vela and Carina - a very rich part of the Milky Way. Fairly low in the sky is Vela which has a fairly large cross of stars that is often confused with the smaller Southern Cross. Almost due south is the Large Magellanic Cloud and up to the left of that is the Small Magellanic Cloud with globular cluster 47 Tucanae just above. To the right of LMC is the Tarantula Nebula (30 Doradus).

Odds and Ends

NASA's Near-Earth Object Program Office at JPL have launched Asteroid Watch to keep us up-to-date on objects which could be a threat to Earth. You can subscribe to their RSS feed, sign up to email updates and even follow them on Twitter.

At London's Science Museum, an exhibition has just opened titled "Cosmos & Culture: how astronomy has shaped our world". The exhibition is free and features various exhibits including a Moon map by Thomas Harrison.

Jesper Johag wrote in to tell us about a Swedish radio broadcast called "Space Age Questions" (MP3) from December 1959. It starts in Swedish but features and interview with Sir Bernard Lovell at about 28 minutes in.

David Burden told us that he had created a Tranquility Base simulation in Second Life which overlays the moon terrain with the maps of where they walked, and keys in the photographs and video to the places they were taken.

Show Credits

News:Megan Argo
Noticias en Español - Agosto 2009:Lizette Ramirez
Interview:Prof Miller Goss and Stuart Lowe
Night sky this month:Ian Morison
Presenters:David Ault, Jen Gupta, Stuart Lowe and Neil Young
Editor:Stuart Lowe
Intro:David Ault and Jack Ward
Segment voice:Danny Wong-McSweeney
Website:Stuart Lowe
Cover art:Hubble Space Telescope image of Jupiter collision Credit: NASA/ESA/H. Hammel/Jupiter Impact Team

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