Posts

Can't take my eyes off you

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 tl;dr - At the end of the school year 2021/22 we installed an all-sky camera on the roof of our school building. For over three weeks now the gadget has reliably delivered live images of the day and night sky. Our main goal is to catch some impressive meteors and bolides. A few weeks ago we were finally able to set an end to a year-long struggle and installed our DIY all-sky camera on the roof of our school building. The first steps of this project were already made back in December 2019, but soon after, the Corona virus made its dreadful appearance on the global stage and the pandemic showed to be a hard-to-shake-off millstone around the neck of the endeavor.  Now, however, we are past the first test phase of the cam and everything seems to run smoothly. Let us get you acquainted with what we have.  We proudly present our all-sky camera!  In the image you see the fisheye lens (Fujinon 2.7mm), the video camera (ASI 174MM) and the Raspberry Pi 4B along with the waterproof housing. The

CY Aqr - Primus inter pares

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tl;dr -  The study of the variable star CY Aqr is a long-term and well-aged project of our astronomy group. Since 2008 a considerable commitment has been made and it payed off with the publication of several scientific papers. Time for a look back. The star CY Aqr in the constellation of Aquarius is especially dear to our hearts. Our first tries at measuring the changing brightness of this remarkable variable date back to - from the viewpoint of current students - almost prehistoric ages, i.e. the year 2008. Now, more than 13 years later, it is time for an inventory. I figure it's not a spoiler at all if I anticipate to you: We were busy as bees. season nights frames maxima 2008 14 5291 28 2010 12 2346 24 2011 12 3466 29 2012 5 1296 7 2013 7 2242 15 2014 6 3819 16 2015 21 9544 31 2016 10

You can't argue with the Universe

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Dear Universe, you have quite a lot of asteroids strolling about in the outer regions of our Solar System. One of them, the big one with almost 600 km of diameter and an orbital period of about 400 years, the one we call by the odd name 2002 TC302 , that's the reason we are writing you today. Well, this asteroid recently caught the attention of us earthlings, since on 11 November 2021 it is going to occult the 11.7 mag dim star  UCAC4 616-007599 - odd name, too, we know and we swear we had nothing to do with that. However,  the roaming rock will cast its 600 km wide shadow on our home planet Earth and everyone who happens to stand in the right spot, will see the star suddenly vanish for up to 21 seconds.  Sorry, we forgot to duly introduce ourselves: We are four members of the students astronomy group 'astrocusanus' and some of your biggest fans. You probably hear that often, but believe us, this is not the usual 'kiss the Universe's ass' stuff. No, we are the

'First shadow'

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 tl;dr - On the evening of 27 October 2021 we observed the transit of the exoplanet Qatar 4b in front of its host star. The magnitude drop amounted to about 2% and was clearly detected. This measurement is not only a valuable contribution to science, we also consider this a worthy 'first shadow' of our new telescope, which due to the Covid pandemic was left unused for painfully long months. The restrictions and curfews of the last one and a half years have sent our once lively students astronomy group into a quite extended doze. However, with most of the restrictions alleviated this autumn we were ready to give it a go once more. We were especially eager to finally test the capabilities of our new telescope in depth, first and foremost the increased light gathering power. The leap from 10 to 16 inch of primary mirror diameter promises a 60% deeper reach into the universe. While other proud owners of a new scope usually celebrate the start of the new and happy era with a so cal

A gentle kiss

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tl;dr - On 10 June 2021 several students of our school were (once more) able to witness a partial solar eclipse. Although the maximum coverage was of only four lousy percent it was a worthy astronomical finale for this school year. Those who missed the celestial spectacle this time will have to wait for more than one and a half years to get the next chance. On 20 March 2015 a partial solar eclipse was visible over Europe and the students astronomy group 'astrocusanus' tried their best to allow as many students as possible to witness the stunning event. Back then it was a great success and moreover a merry and informal gathering of members of our school community of all ages. So we obviously did not hesitate when sun and moon came to terms to deliver a similar show, right at the end of this school year. Now it has to be admitted that the two made a questionable choice in favoring the two handful of observers in Northern Greenland during their 2021 performance. But who are we to

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.