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Book review: "The Georgian Star" by Michael D. Lemonick

MBO has an extensive library which is available to members and one member, Martin Mebalds, has kindly taken the time to review a title that he has been reading.


The Georgian Star by Michael D. Lemonick - review by Martin Mebalds - shelved under Astronomy History

This book is not about the discovery of Uranus by William Herschel, although the book does cover the discovery.  It’s not about Caroline Herschel, William’s sister who surpassed Charles Messier by many thousands in discovering and cataloguing nebulae, although that is also covered.

The book is about the beginnings of modern techniques in the study of astronomy. While cataloguing stars sand double stars, it’s about a musician who turned to astronomy in his thirties, and though untrained in astronomy, with original thinking made his mark.  He not only swept the skies cataloguing stars with his own telescopes, he built them and they were the best made anywhere at the time.  The story is also about team work and women in science at the time, how they were treated and how Caroline defied the odds and made her own significant contributions to astronomy. She was the one that documented all William’s 8,760 observations and calculated all of their coordinates.  This was the start of the star catalogues astronomers rely on today.

The book is also about the progress of science in general, the progress in thinking and the many stumbles along the way.  For example, William Herschel believed that most planets and the moon were inhabited because ‘why would god go to all that trouble if it weren’t populated?’

This book is a treat to read, it’s full of surprises and insights about the progress of science and the early beginnings of cosmology.  I have only given a small sample of the discoveries made by these two wonderful 18th century astronomers. Less than 200 pages, it is suitable for any astronomy enthusiast from teens to nonagenarians and beyond!

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MBO "Seeing Stars" Astrophotography Exhibition at Yarra Ranges Regional Museum

The exhibition Seeing Stars: Astrophotography from the Dandenong Ranges is now being presented in the Chambers Gallery of the Yarra Ranges Regional Museum from 29 October 2016 – 29 January 2017. The exhibition coincides with another exhibition on display at the Museum at the same time called Science on the Move from Questacon in Canberra.

The Yarra Ranges Regional Museum is at 35-37 Castella St, Lilydale, and is open 7 days a week from 10am through to 4pm and entry is free.

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Volunteer for the "Deeper, Wider, Faster" astronomical survey!

The Deeper, Wider, Faster astronomical survey is currently running a campaign (based at the University of Melbourne but involving people from many institutes, including Swinburne) and they are looking for volunteers with an interest in astronomy to assist during working hours (they already have volunteers for other times) for days through to August 7th.

This survey is looking for transient phenomena using a number of ground and space based telescopes and the volunteers will be trained to evaluate incoming images that have been detected by supercomputers and flag real detections for further investigation.

You can give just an hour of your time, or as much as you are able to, and you'll be able to say you've worked on a real astronomical survey and if you're *really* *really* lucky you'll be able to say you played a part in a discovery.

There isn't a lot of public information about this survey but the recent CSIRO "Australian Telescope National Facility" Daily Astronomy Picture has a (more technical) description of the project here: http://www.atnf.csiro.au/ATNF-DailyImage/archive/2016/13-Jul-2016.html

To participate see your email and look for the message from Ray with the subject "Mt Burnett Observatory EXTRA", it has contact details for the person who is coordinating volunteer efforts.

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Crowdfunding the new MBO Dome & Telescope

This crowdfunding campaign is now complete, thank you so much for your support!  The new dome and telescope are operational with first light on the (then) manually steered telescope on 8th December 2017 and first guided usage a week later on Friday 15th December 2017!