Category Archives: Space & Sky

Space pic this week: Jupiter and Venus

Jupiter & Venus on 20 March 2012. Taken with my compact small camera.

No, they are not aircraft landing lights, but the two brightest worlds in the sky, Venus and Jupiter. I was amazed that I was able to see the two most brilliant worlds-the brightest lights of Venus and Jupiter pop out at evening dusk with unaided eyes. They are the closest in years – March 2012 and near the moon by the month’s end.

I just got off from work, and it was around 8.00pm AEDT in Sydney on 20 March. The two worlds look a little to the north of west as the sky starts becoming dark. I was lucky had my compact camera in my handbag, used the surface of my car to provide firm support for my camera. It is relatively easy to photograph such bright planets without the Moon light.

According to Sydney Observatory, “the position of Venus and Jupiter from 6 to 26 March 2012 low in the north-west can be seen in the sky. Each evening they are in a slightly different position with respect to each other. Arguably, the best sight will be on 26 March when the crescent Moon moves between the two bright planets. That will definitely be worth seeing and photographing. Conjunctions of Venus and Jupiter do happen every few years and are always worth observing. The most recent similar conjunction was the wonderful ‘smiley face’ one of 1 December 2008 when the Moon joined the two bright planets to form a smiling face.” If you are in Sydney – Australia, try this Monthly Sky Guides to help you find your way around the sky.

Good luck with observing the two close worlds this month in March 2012. No matter where you are on Earth now, you can’t miss these two worlds in the west as darkness falls! 😉


Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights)

Dancing Aurora Borealis. Photo by Ann Sissel, in Nordlys — Sandnessjøen, Norway on 31 January 2012.


Aurora Borealis V. Aurora Australis

Three weeks ago, Sweden and Norway’s far north was treated to a spectacular solar Northern Lights show as the Solar Maximum – a massive storm of solar energy treated stargazers to an incredible Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) display on earth. Well, I missed the spectacular show but thanks to my friend Ann from Norway shared her photo with me.

I further my search, since December 2011 kicked off the start of the northern lights season this year is the best ever according to some Swedish online news. And thing are likely to only get better as scientists predicting a peak in a 11 year cycle of solar eruptions sometime in next year to 2013. An advantage of Sweden and Norway’s geographical location in Scandinavia is its proximity to the Arctic Circle. The lights usually red, green, or purple in colour, they dance and flying across the sky like curtains, lasting anywhere from a few minutes to several hours.

So, where are the best places to see the Northern Lights?

Simple. Head as far north as possible, out of town where light pollution will not interfere. It usually occurs during the winter months from October through to spring when far north nights dark and clear to provide a backdrop to the lights. According to my local friends in Sweden and Norway, they recommend the Viewing Location to see the Northern Lights are:

1. Bjorkliden, Sweden, far north close to border of Norway and Sweden
2. Kiruna / Icehotel inJukkasjärvi, Sweden
3. Nordlys in Sandnessjøen, Norway
4. Swedish Lapland, Sweden

But what about Aurora Australis (the Southern Lights)?

The Southern Lights – surrounding the Antarctic Circle as opposed to the Arctic Circle, one far north and one far south. So I did some research on the Southern Lights, found this gorgeous Aurora Australis (the Sourthern Lights) show appears to float above the nighttime sky captured in stunning time-lapse just outside of Melbourne Australia by Alex Cherney on 22th January 2012.

I had a fancy to go see the Northern Lights. But now I’ll jot down “See the Southern Lights” on my travelling bucket list. Hopefully there will be more to come as solar activity peak in 2012-13.

Check out my favourite Lights Show videos below:
~ Norway Northern Lights on 24 Jan 2012 in far north Norway.
~ Red Aurora Australis on 22 Jan 2012 in Melbourne Australia.
~ Powerful Solar Storms on 24 Jan 2012 in Sweden.



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