Neptune at Opposition


Neptune at Opposition

This month is a great time to see the solar system’s outermost gas giant planet, if you have a telescope and a little patience.

The above image of the planet Neptune was obtained during a test of the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope array in northern Chile, in July 2018.

Image credit: ESO/P. Weilbacher (AIP)

On Tuesday 10th September Planet Neptune was almost directly opposite the sun in the sky. That means that the planet is at its highest point in the night sky around midnight. Neptune is visible for most of the night in the constellation Aquarius. Neptune is also bigger and brighter as seen from Earth than any other time of year, thanks to the current cosmic alignment. It’s also at the closest point to Earth in its orbit. And because Neptune is directly opposite the sun in Earth’s sky, its Earth-facing side is almost entirely illuminated by sunlight. Much in the same way that our moon has phases, so do the planets, and on 10th September we had a “full” Neptune!

Source –


In This Post –

Neptune at Opposition

Our next public meeting

Earth – A Rocky Planet

Exo-planet discovery

Our new Nikon P1000 camera

2019 Beatrice Hill Lecture


Our next public meeting –

This Tuesday 24th September 2019

Our telescopes will be operating

telescope 1

On 24th September –

The Moon will not be visible.

Jupiter and Saturn will be positioned in the central sky.

Other bright objects will be Vega and Altair (north), Rigil Kentaurus and Hadar (south west), and Achernar (south east).

At 7.30pm the on-screen presentation will be –

Earth – A Rocky Planet (part 2)

happy earth

At our last meeting two weeks ago we touched on the first of a two-part documentary that examines EARTH a rocky planet – from the surface to the core. Tonight we view part 2 investigating our planet’s structure heading towards the heated core.


We’ll also take a look at the latest exoplanet discovery.

Where else might life exist? One of humanity’s great outstanding questions, locating planets where extrasolar life might survive took a step forward recently with the discovery of a significant amount of water vapor in the atmosphere of distant exoplanet K2-18b. The planet and its parent star, K2-18, lie about 124 light years away toward the constellation of the Lion (Leo). The exoplanet is significantly larger and more massive than our Earth, but orbits in the habitable zone of its home star. K2-18, although more red than our Sun, shines in K2-18b‘s sky with a brightness similar to the Sun in Earth’s sky. The discovery was made in data from three space telescopes: HubbleSpitzer, and Kepler, by noting the absorption of water-vapour colours when the planet moved in front of the star.



The illustration imagines exoplanet K2-18b on the right, its parent red dwarf star K2-18 on the left, and an unconfirmed sister planet between them.

Illustration Credit: ESANASAHubble; Artist: M. Kornmesser



Our new Nikon P1000 Camera

P1000 [1]

Recently our committee purchased a new Nikon COOLPIX P1000 Digital Camera (above) that will allow us to take superior astronomical photos. The camera is adept at shooting at staggering distances with the 125x Nikon optical zoom. This camera, which has a 16MP backside illuminated CMOS sensor, features a built-in NIKKOR lens with a 35mm equivalent focal length range of 24-3000mm. You can zoom even further with the 250x Dynamic Fine digital zoom, which will give you an equivalent focal length of 6000mm. It’s Wi-Fi capable, with video. All you do is point and shoot.

Our president David Greig couldn’t wait to put the camera through its paces. With it, David took photos of the Moon. Here’s two.


The above photo was taken on 2nd September. “I have over-exposed the Moon to show the Earth-shine illuminating the dark part of the Moon,” said David.


This one was taken on 5th September ….“before the clouds rolled back in again. The Moon is 374,600 km in [this] photo, 6.54 days old and 41% illuminated. Photos taken directly with Nikon P1000 in Moon mode”.


Advance Notice

2019 Beatrice Hill Lecture

The Tauranga Astronomical Society sponsors an annual address by a prominent international astronomer / scientist organised by the Royal Astronomical Society NZ.

This years’ lecturer is Babak Tafreshi. Born in Tehran, Babak is a photojournalist and science communicator. He is the National Geographic night sky photographer merging art and science. Babak is also the founder and director of The World At Night program, a board member of Astronomers Without Borders organization, a contributing photographer to Sky&Telescope magazine and the European Southern Observatory.

Babak’s Tauranga address is scheduled for Friday 11th October 2019. More details in our next post. Not to be missed!


 Our next public meeting then –

Tuesday 24th September

Fergusson Park Observatory, Tilby Drive, Matua, Tauranga.

Viewing – both astronomical and on-screen

On-screen program at 7.30pm –

Planet Earth

exo-planet discovery

… and a deep space mystery.


Admission to our meetings –

Door entry $5.

Members & children free.

Payment by cash only.

No EFTPOS facility available.


Annual subscriptions are due –

$30 each adult

or $40 each family

$10 students.

Payment on-line or

cash at meetings.

No EFTPOS facility available.


On-line payment is easy, to –


Bank account number

03 0435 0659752 00

Please indicate

“Subscription” and your name.

Once payment is received your nametag(s) will be available at subsequent meetings.


telescope 2

Telescope viewing possible only with zero or minimum cloud cover.

Happy skies everyone.


Kevin Patmore


Tauranga Astronomical Society


TAS large




Affliated With:


With funding support from:


Slooh Space Camera


NASA astronomy picture of the day