Here’s what heaven on Earth looks like to an amateur astronomer.
It’s a cottage all to myself under some of the darkest skies on Earth, and in the southern hemisphere where all the best stuff is in the sky. This is Timor Cottage near Coonabarabran, NSW, Australia, the self-proclaimed Astronomy Capital of Australia. Near Coona sits Siding Spring Observatory, home to Australia’s largest collection of optical research telescopes. I’m staying nearby, at this cottage under the stars doing my own southern sky explorations.
I was here in December 2010 but had to contend with torrential rains and floods two years ago. As you can see, the weather is much better in 2012!
This is a one minute exposure looking south, toward the most prominent objects in the southern evening sky at this time of year: the two Magellanic Clouds. They look like detached parts of the Milky Way but are separate dwarf galaxies orbiting our Galaxy and in the process of being ripped apart by our Galaxy’s tidal forces.
The red light at left is my other camera taking a shot of the Clouds through a telescope, the subject of my next blog.
It’s a perfect night when the only clouds in the sky are the Magellanic Clouds!
– Alan, December 6, 2012 / © 2012 Alan Dyer