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A joyride through the vernal sky

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 tl;dr - One week ago, two students of the astronomy group joined a virtual sightseeing tour through the vernal sky, led by their teacher Christof Wiedemair. With the remotely controlled camera and telescope of 'torretta observatory' the three eagerly jumped from one celestial gem to the next, taking pictures and discussing the physics behind the various objects. We, beyond any doubt, live in a beautiful part of the world. However, when it comes to observational astronomy it all boils down to three key factors: a clear sky, steady air and no light pollution. Unfortunately, from that point of view the heart of the Alps is not a privileged spot at all. While light pollution is still okay though worsening, the god of weather often puts on a ruthless show here in South Tyrol, especially in spring time. Usually, from March to May there is little hope to get hold of a decent night. As soon as the capricious spring rains cease, wind arises and when it after days finally tails off the

Three godesses and a random guy

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 tl;dr - Evi Lerchner (4aR) has recently used the telescope of the 'torretta' observatory to hunt down the bright asteroid '18 Melpomene'. By chance there happened to be three more asteroids in the same field. One enigmatic body was less than 17 mag bright. There are almost 800,000 known asteroids in our solar system. Most of them have very cryptic names like  the Earth's trojan asteroid 2010 TK 7 , or the recently discovered near Earth binary asteroid 2020 BX 12 . On the other hand, 22,000 of the bigger ones have quite common names. They are named after gods, scientists, musicians, artists or just ordinary people. So roaming above your heads you can find Curie , Freddiemercury , Monty Python , James Bond or even Mr. Spock .  Last winter Evi Lerchner (4aR) took part in a challenge proposed by our school's library. The task was to thoroughly inspect an endless long list of asteroid names and extract all of the bodies that were named after writers, dead or alive.

Tumbling hometown - An asteroid's lightcurve

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tl;dr - Maximilian Komar, 'senior member' of our  students  astronomy group, determined the rotational period of the main belt asteroid '11538 Brunico'  during his internship at 'Planetarium Südtirol'. He worked on data collected in September 2020 by his teacher Christof Wiedemair in the school's observatory and after two weeks of analysis he nailed down the result: the distant rock spins with a period of 9.5 hours. Sadly, the next opportunity to monitor Bruneck in detail will only be in 2027, when the asteroid will again be close enough to bring it into reach of our telescope. Bruneck is not only the most beautiful and picturesque town in the vicinity of the 'astrocusanus observatory' (It is the only town in the vicinity and the hometown of Astrocusanus 😉) but also the German name of the asteroid 11538 Brunico, named so in 2011 in recognition of our ongoing collaboration with Christiaan Sterken from  Brussels  University.  After our leap in telesco

Don't stop at the red light

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 tl;dr -  Recently the astronomy students' group 'astrocusanus' has started remote imaging of various celestial objects using the observatory 'torretta' on the roof of our neighboring school IPC. Maximilian Komar laid his focus upon hydrogen clouds that emit most of their light in the deep red color. The highlights are shown here. As our faithful readers learned in our last blog article, our astronomy group sought and found a way to at least partially overcome the limitations imposed by the ongoing pandemic. We went remote! The refractor dwelling in the dome on the roof of our neighboring school 'Istituto pluricomprensivo di Brunico' may be small however, it does the trick. Along with a black and white CMOS cam from Starlight XPress it delivers free and sharp images straight to our junior astronomers' hard disks, where they then linger for further processing with the free software Siril. Recently Maximilian Komar, who is about to graduate from our school

Against stellar distancing - Astrocusanus goes remote!

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 After a gap year our students' astronomy group is back in business!  It is true, the hassle of the Covid pandemic has thwarted even our keenest and most devoted members for a while. However, the halt was only temporary and now, in the midst of the second wave, we have successfully overcome the painful 'stellar distancing'. You ask how we managed to do so, although the curfew hooks its cruel claws still into us? We went remote! Ever since its installation we have kindly been allowed to use the observatory 'torretta' on the roof of our neighboring school 'Istitituto Plurocomprensivo Brunico', an opportunity for which we are infinitely grateful. So far we have only used it occasionally for lunar and solar observations, now are attempting our first dives into deep space.  Fig. 1: Torretta observatory in action. The telescope is a 6-inch refractor with a  focal length of 1000mm on a GM2000QCI mount. A Starlight Xpress Trius SX694 cam with color filter wheel is a

A stellar university experience

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*************************************************************************** This is the English version of our blog article from 30 September 2019. Translation by Vera Oberhauser (5aR). *************************************************************************** At the beginning of the 2019/2020 school year, three students of the astronomy group were given the very special opportunity to undertake an internship at the university observatory in Munich. Dr. Arno Riffeser, who was born in Eppan and is a very dear friend of our astronomy group took Pauline, Dominik and Vera under his wings and granted them an insight into the world of an astrophysicist. Vera describes this five day adventure in the following report. Once again, September was just around the corner which for a lot of us meant back to school season. Before we let that happen though, some students of our astronomy group went out into the field! Pauline (Matura 2019), Dominik (5dR) and Vera (5aR) set off for Mun

Hunting down some supernovae

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******************************************************************* This is the English version of our blog article from 22 April 2019. Translation by Johannes Rubner (3aR) . ******************************************************************* The small town Ponte di Piave, located in the Po Plain, is home to a very special person; an elderly, very lovable gentleman. You would‘ve never guessed the kind of predator that lies behind that kind face. Paolo Campaner, that's his name, is actually one of the world‘s best and most renowned supernova-hunters; he was able to track down an astonishing number of 12 of these star explosions in the last five years, which is an amazing achievement, especially in such a highly competitive field. But what is a supernova? Whenever a huge, massive star has reached the end of its lifespan, it doesn’t simply disappear: It dies in a huge explosion; you could say it dies with passion. One of these explosions can release such tremendous amoun