Monthly Archives: February 2013

The Double Lunar Occultation of Feb 18, 2013

It was a bit of a mixed bag on Monday night with the moon passing in front of Jupiter.

I first went out for look while twilight was just kicking in. The moon was at its highest point in the sky, almost due north and not very high. Jupiter was barely visible to the east (right) of the moon. As the sky darkened Jupiter shone more brightly, becoming easily visible beside our nearest neighbour, slowly closing in.

I recalled studying the diagram in this post where I said Jupiter would disappear behind the lower right hand side of the moon. I assumed the terminator (day-night line) would be vertical. Jupiter seemed to be lined up almost exactly with the centre of the moon’s terminator. Chalk it up to a small and difficult to read section of the diagram. And me not quite knowing what I was doing!

Animation of Lunar Occultation of Jupiter 18 Feb 2013

Animation of Lunar Occultation of Jupiter 18 Feb 2013

As the hour of action drew closer I noticed Jupiter was dropping in the sky relative to the moon. But if anyone was using what I wrote last week as a guide to finding Jupiter they should have had no trouble. It was so bright you couldn’t miss it, even when it came close to the moon’s night side. I was snapping pics every few minutes with my DSLR and its standard 55 mm lens. Here’s an animation I put together of frames spanning the 35 minutes leading up to occultation, plus a bit more.

Each frame is roughly 3 minutes apart except the last few where the moon darkens. These were taken about 15 and 20 minutes after Jupiter disappeared. The darkening was caused by smoke from a grass fire north of Melbourne hanging on the western horizon, effectively occulting the moon just as Jupiter was scheduled to emerge from behind the moon 40 minutes after the beginning of occultation.

So a beautifully clear 35 degree day that promised perfect conditions for viewing the occultation, ended in disappointment for those of us in the east who, instead of seeing the end of occultation with the re-emerging Jupiter, witnessed a Lunar occultation of a different kind: that of the moon completely obscured by grass fire smoke.

Sunday Snippets Critique Blog Hop #4

This week I’m continuing with Jennifer M Eaton’s Sunday Snippets Critique Blog Hop in which writers post 250 words of their current Work in Progress and then hop around and critique everyone else’s snippets. To join,  click here to sign up and add your name and web site address to the list.

Thanks again to everyone who took the time last week to offer a critique of my work.

This week’s snippet follows a little way after the 250 words featured last week from my novel Rani’s Right. I’ve skipped over a paragraph that will likely be cut. Again, in keeping with my laziness, I haven’t rewritten anything since last week so it’s still the same old draft. Our narrator is still trying to sort out what she actually wants to write but is starting to get her act together.

I should explain where we are rather than ramble all about the place. I’m writing this on August 21st 2004. Two months to the day. I’m back in Melbourne, Alfred Hospital burns unit. I was sent back not long after Rani’s death. I didn’t even get to say goodbye properly. Attend her funeral, I mean. Her body was shipped back to Singapore with all the other cargo. How degrading. I don’t even know if she had a funeral. I haven’t heard a thing from her family. Actually, Rani said on the plane during our brief conversation that her brother went away somewhere about four years ago and she hasn’t heard from him since. Her father was killed about six months before that in a work accident or something. Her mother is now widowed and without either of her children, poor woman. I’d never met her but felt that I knew her like my own mother from everything Rani told me during that year she was staying in Omeo. I desperately wanted to give her a hug and tell her that her daughter is a hero and that she didn’t die in vain. One day, I might see my wish granted. Maybe.

It’s a tad shorter than 250 but it ends at a natural break so I didn’t try to pad it out.

Please have a look at and, if possible, critique the work of these authors, while you’re here. look for this logo. It will take you to their latest critique post:Sunday Snippets


Guest Blog: TheLifeOfAThinker – The imPRESSive Blog Event

G’day everyone! Today I hand over my blog to Liam O’Dell, TheLifeOfAThinker, just long enough for him to hit CTRL-V and click Publish for his guest post about his upcoming blogging event, imPRESSive. Over to you Liam!

*** Fancy dividing line in words ***

Ever Wanted To Start A Blog? Need some blogging tips? Check out imPRESSive! – A Guest Post by The Life of a Thinker

Hello, I’m Liam (of The Life of a Thinker) and I was fortunate to be able to do a guest blog post on my friend Richard’s blog. So, I thought that I’d seize the opportunity, and explain more about an upcoming blog event on my blog, called imPRESSive.

imPRESSive is an idea I formed early this year, and I started it with the hope of inspiring more people to set up a blog, and – for those who already have done – provide useful advice from both the WordPress team themselves and fellow blogger friends of mine.

Every week on Saturday, starting on the 23rd February, I will provide tips on six different areas of blogging, which should lead to the project ending on the 30th March. Each one is different, and all should provide ideas for comments on each post. I really want to get a discussion going with this project, and hopefully inspire more people to set up blogs!

Sounds good, doesn’t it? Want to get involved? You can! Here are just the many ways you can get involved and spread the word about imPRESSive…

  1. Follow @lifeofathinker on Twitter, and tweet the hashtag, #DocPRESS.
  2. Like “The Life of a Thinker Blog” on Facebook, and confirm that you are going to my blog event “imPRESSive” – I will be asking questions on there throughout the project!
  3. Follow my blog!
  4. Allow me to guest blog on your blog!

These may all seem a bit selfish, but the project was created with you (the blogger, or the ordinary viewer) in mind. Spread the word, and you can help loads of other people out in the process! Already the hype is building, I hope to make this project the best one yet! So please spread the word!


Meteors, Asteroids? Bah! Jupiter is About to Disappear…

It’s a big week in astronomy. You’ve no doubt heard about the meteor lighting up the Russian sky earlier today. And in a few hours time a 50 metre wide asteroid will be closer to us that some of our geostationary satellites. It will be 4:30 AM here. I won’t be watching it because I can’t find my binoculars and it’s too dim and fast-moving to be easy to find with the naked eye. Never mind.

Anyway, the original purpose of this post was to talk about a disappearance. In January I noticed the moon passing suspiciously close to Jupiter in the sky and wondered when was the last time I paid any attention to lunar occultations – when the moon passes in front of a planet or a star or something interesting other than the sun (because that’s known as a solar eclipse and is orders of magnitude more spectacular).

As it turns out from Melbourne, Australia on the Monday 18th of February the moon will in fact pass in front of Jupiter, briefly winking it out of view for about 40 minutes or so. Check out this confusing diagram (or click it to get the original at the Astronomy Almanac Online!):


Shadow diagram of Moon-Jupiter Occultation Feb 18 2013 (reproduced from The Astronomical Almanac Online and produced by the U.S. Naval Observatory and H.M. Nautical Almanac Office.)

The diagram shows the shadow of the moon cast by Jupiter on the Earth at ten minute intervals from start of occultation in the Indian Ocean (marked by the tiny red shadow) to the end, about 3 hours later in Tasmania at the other red shadow.

Now, assuming I interpret this diagram correctly, Melbourne will be near the top of the Lunar shadow, so from here Jupiter will be seen to disappear behind the night side near the north end of the first quarter moon. Look at the bottom right of the moon when gazing up towards the moon in the north western sky from Victoria . This will be the most dramatic part visible. It will be much easier to see the bright planet vanish behind the unlit half of the moon’s disc than trying to watch it reappear in the glare of the moon’ day side.

In fact the flat side of those half-oval shapes is the moon-set line across the Earth so Tasmanians will see the moon set just as Jupiter emerges from behind it, about 70 minutes after it disappeared.

When can you see this you may ask? Well, from the above diagram it’s difficult to get an accurate estimate but working backwards from the last shadow in Tasmania at 13:13 UT (00:13 19 Feb) The shadow will be over Melbourne between 12:23 UT (23:23 AEDT) and just after local midnight. But I don’t guarantee anything in case I read the diagram incorrectly. The moon will be on its way down in the west so it is recommended to have a clear view of the western and north western horizon.

Hope the skies are clear on the night and enjoy seeing our humble little moon obscure the mightiest planet in our solar system. Adelaide and Perth will see it too, just earlier in the evening than Victoria.

Take that 2012 DA 14!

Write a Story with Jennifer M Eaton – Part 30

My turn has come around again for Write a Story With Jennifer M Eaton. Click here to find out what this is all about.

Check out the story so far here.

I thought I’d add a little twist to mine this time round by ending in the middle of the sentence so you’ll have to come back next week just to find out how the sentence ends. Enjoy!

Part 30

Janelle was already out the bedroom door before realising the old woman was still fumbling for her walking stick. She watched helplessly as Morana shuffled unsteadily across the short distance from the bed to the other side of the night-stand where her walking stick rested, using the night-stand for support. Janelle’s mood fell as she realised how frail the old lady now was. Her magic could only do so much.

“I’m sorry, Morana. I wasn’t aware you cannot -”

“I can do this, Young Fairy. I must do this”, Morana said.

Janelle, said nothing, guilt building within her. To drag this weak old dear out into the cold night to help a woman giving birth seemed to be a cruel irony. Patience, Janelle, patience. At the same time she needed to hurry. The longer Natalia was without proper assistance the more dangerous the situation became.

Morana finally had the support of her stick and began a steady rhythm of shuffling towards the door and out of the house. Janelle, to ease her impatience and peace of mind, would fly up and down the street and patrol the area while Morana hobbled slowly towards Natalia’s residence. At the end of every run she would check on Natalia through the window, carefully ensuring she was still in a stable condition, sometimes offering reassurance that help was on its way.

On the way back she would arrive with relief to find that Morana had made significant progress walking up the street. This continued for several shortening laps until, to Janelle’s horror,

Sunday Snippets Critique Blog Hop #3

Jennifer M Eaton has started a Sunday Snippets Critique Blog Hop in which writers post 250 words of their current Work in Progress and then hop around and critique everyone else’s snippets. To join,  click here to sign up and add your name and web site address to the list.

Thanks again to everyone who took the time last week to offer a critique of my work.

This week’s snippet follows immediately from the first 250 words featured last week from my novel Rani’s Right. It continues from the same paragraph. Again I haven’t rewritten anything since last week so it’s still the same old draft. This week’s snippet may actually explain some things or it may not.

Rani was my best friend (albeit a long lost one), she pulled me and my boyfriend from the wreck. Then she kept going back and grabbing people and helping them out of the inferno until she collapsed in a flaming heap. For two weeks from that day it looked like we were all recovering from an ordinary aircraft accident. Ordinary? Well, we all thought it was ordinary. Until Rani was shot.

I’ve just been staring at that last bit for 15 minutes now. I don’t think I’ve acknowledged that before. Directly, I mean, to anyone. Or myself. I haven’t said the words. Even in that first draft which is now sitting at the local rubbish dump.

Why am I writing this? Well, right at this minute it’s my therapy and I don’t care if it doesn’t make any sense. My mind spins faster than my hand can move so if I’m all over the place like a blowie round a cow pat, just bear with me. Long term, I don’t know. I guess I just want Rani to be remembered. She was my idol, my soul mate at a time when I felt strangled and isolated. I want to see justice done, too. I want there to be a record of her legacy. People need to know. I don’t even know who I’m writing this for. Me? My family? Rani’s family? I don’t know. No one in particular. At the moment it’s just therapy.

Please have a look at and, if possible, critique the work of these authors, while you’re here. look for this logo. It will take you to their latest critique post:Sunday Snippets

The Bat Out of Hell Takes Out Three Train Lines

Can you believe the lack of luck? Yesterday morning the train signalling system died just down from the junction of three of Melbourne busiest train lines. Actually this is a reasonably common occurrence; a small inconvenience that takes a few hours to fix and it’s fine by the following peak. Continue reading