A new star might be visible tonight – keep an eye out for SPOLARIS-1

1st April 2024 – Australian amateur space scientists plan a launch later today to solve long-term observing problem for astronomers in the Southern Hemisphere. 

We’ve heard from a number of unreliable sources that today is the launch of a new class of spacecraft – those to help amateur astronomers instead of posing problems like Elon Musk’s Starlink satellites.

Professor Trevor Zipman from the Australian Space Infrastructure Foundation (ASIF), a non profit organization aiming to modify the night sky to better suit amateur astronomers, spoke exclusively with BINTEL about their immediate plans.

Finally – a pole star for the Southern Hemisphere.

“Frankly, it’s it’s a pain in the bee-hind trying to get polar alignment in Australia from what I’ve read.  Up north of the equator, there’s a nice bright star called Polaris where you point your mount and off you go. No mucking around.  The central planning committee of ASIF thought this oversight sounded like a perfect first cab off the rank in terms of our space launches.” ranted Professor Zipman.

“Basically, we’re putting up a large, lightweight balloon, right into geosynchronous orbit so it will sit at exactly where the southern pole star would be if the powers that be saw fit to install one in the first place.” he continued with a wink.

Professor Zipman from ASIF with a 10th scale mock up of SPOLARIS-1

SPOLARIS-1, is a 20m diameter reflective balloon that will be launched later today from their new facility near Bogan Gate NSW, not far from the famous Parkes radio telescope and aims to be the new south pole star to help with polar alignment in the southern hemisphere.

“All going to plan, and especially if the guidance system points our launch vehicle point in the right direction, we’ll have SPOLARIS-1 in place and shining brightly this Monday. The first two test launches of the new launch system, Direct Reach into Near Geo Orbit (DRONGO), placed their payloads into wildly, unplanned paths.”

Professor Zipman, or “Mungo” to his friends, colleagues and wildlife on and around his midget Alpaca farm where he retreats on weekends,  commented that “unlike that Musk bloke who blows his spacecraft  a few times and calls it success, we get ’em up there. We just don’t know where exactly “there” is. They go and and stay up and don’t crash back down to Earth. At least not on anyone who’s made a kerfuffle about it thus far.”

BIG plans for ASIF

Mungo admits he’s not an astronomer and it’s been a while since he looked through a telescope that didn’t involve putting in a 20c coin and pointing it scenery . He’d also not consulted either professional or amateur astronomers when laying out future missions.   Despite this, he and ASIF have some exciting plans for the future.

“It’s always bugged me how the Southern Cross has a single extra star in the corner. We’re seeking funding to fix that stuff up and don’t get me started on why Orion’s belt is upside down Downunder.”

“My take is that if you’re going to have space junk whizzing around up there, it might as well be bloody useful.” Mungo concluded.

How to see SPOLARIS-1

Simply head outside just after dark and look directly south and up at the same angle as your latitude. For example,  if the SPOLARIS-1 launch is successful, a bright star will be visible from Sydney at about this angle. It also won’t move during the night and can be used for the polar alignment of your telescope.

The crosshairs show were SPOLARIS-1 will (hopefully) be located  as seen from Sydney from evening of the first of April, 2024.

Definitely something to keep an eye out for!


Earl White


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