Astronomy, Bushfires and Hail

Welcome to my first post for 2020. It may look slightly different this year, because I finally took the plunge and started using the WordPress block editor. It turned out to be much simpler than I thought and it provides more options – although it doesn’t always behave itself.

No astronomy over the last two months. It seems like an age!

I took the above image back in 2013. It features the Milky Way in Scorpius.

That’s Scorpius, not Scorpio!

Canon 60D, 5 min, f/4, ISO 3200.

Here in New South Wales, we’ve experienced the abrupt arrival of Climate Change, a tipping point, in the form of unprecedented bushfires. At the time of writing, over 10.7 million hectares (107,000 sq km or 41,313 sq miles) have burned.

There have been welcome rainfalls this week but although conditions have eased, the fires are not out and the drought persists.

If the total area of the fire-grounds was transposed onto a map of central England and Wales it would stretch from Blackpool and Hull to Cardiff and Canterbury:

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 2020-01-18-bush-fire-area.jpg
Source: The Guardian

Lives and homes have been lost and an estimated one billion animals were killed. 😞

<political rant>

Meanwhile, the right wing extremist Australian government plows onwards, dominated by a ship of fools who really believe they know better than the experts.

After belatedly realising there is a bushfire crisis, they mobilised the National defence forces. Well, that was commendable – but it was three months too late.

Whilst they seem happy to fund short-term disaster repair, they (have not, do not and) will not invest in long-term disaster avoidance.

</political rant>

Well, it looks like a golf ball, it’s sized like a golf ball but it’s a freshly landed hailstone. One of many that crashed on us just now. Now I’ve got to inspect the roof solar panels for damage. In the last few days we’ve had rain, we’ve had electrical storms and today we’ve had hail.

I’ve missed being out in the field, watching the crescent Moon set, waiting for the stars to appear, hoping that wretched cloud will not linger.

First come the planets and bright stars, then the dimmer ones. Then the Milky Way is revealed, arching across the darkened sky. Magellanic Clouds appear in the South.

It’s magic – and that’s just with the naked eye.


Hopefully, it will not be much longer before I can get out under the stars. The air quality index is back in the normal range for the first time in weeks – and some fine cloudless nights are coming up……. 😳

2018-03-10 Telescope & Roger

Images © Roger Powell

I’m one of the founder members of Macarthur Astronomical Society, Australia. 🙃


  1. It’s good to hear from you again. The news from your way has been sad. Now on top of it you have hail. Are you not living right? 🤔

    We’ve had persistent clouds in the central US. The recent 2 weekends had snow and then ice coating streets and trees. Now it is cold around 0 F one night. I’m glad I don’t have to travel.


    1. If I was wintering at 0 degrees F. I would probably not have become an amateur astronomer!

      I think they are starting to get on top of the fires now. No smoke haze here for several days. Hoping to squeeze in a field session one evening this week…


  2. My husband and I are volunteer firefighters in southwest New Mexico USA, which is a dry area of the country. Hubby also does seasonal work for our Forest Service as a communications technician on wild fires throughout the country. Big fires never go out until Nature puts them out. So terrible what you’ve had to endure. America has more than its share of climate deniers too. We seem to be stuck in a period where people only see Blue Team and Red Team, not reality. Better luck and clear skies to you.


    1. Hello Kate. I have nothing but admiration for the volunteer firefighters who risk everything for the community. I worry that the job is set to become so much more difficult.

      The fires are mostly out now, thanks to belated storms. Just twenty-one of them left here in NSW – all contained.

      It’s a strange world when political ideology picks and chooses which science to “believe”.

      Thanks for your comment and congratulations for the volunteer work that you do.

      Best regards from Down Under. 🙃

      Liked by 1 person

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