Saturday, May 18, 2013
Aurora Alert 18-20 May, 2013
A second coronal mass ejection will impact us sometime after midday on Sunday May 19, quoting the Australian IPS space weather:
SUBJ: IPS GEOMAGNETIC DISTURBANCE WARNING 13/07
ISSUED AT 0300UT/18 MAY 2013AST CENTRE. A full halo earthward direc
BY THE AUSTRALIAN SPACE FORECted CME was observed on 17-May withy. This may increase geomagnetic activity to Minor Storm levels, with
estimated arrival midway through 19-Maperiods at Major storm level from mid 19-May and into early 20-May. The magnitude of the storm will depend on the orientation of the magnetic field in the CME.
INCREASED GEOMAGNETIC ACTIVITYEXPECTED DUE TO CORONAL MASS EJECTION FROM 19-20 MAY 2013 ___________________________________________________________
GEOMAGNETIC ACTIVITY FORECAST
19 May: Minor Storm
20 May: Active to Minor Storm
Aurora could potentially be seen as far north as southern Victoria and Northern New Zealand.
Again, aurora could occur at anytime during these storm periods, Moonlight will interfere until Moonset in the early hours of the 20th. Dark sky sites are best, and you should be looking south for unusual colours or beams of light.
Friday, May 17, 2013
Venus Returns (and Heralds the Planet Dance), 17 May 2013.
Venus has finally returned to the evening skies. Well, it's been in the evening skies fro a while, but with the lousy weather of the past few week, there was no chance to see it.
Venus is very close to the horizon, and deep in the twilight, but I could see it and Jupiter clearly at 5:40 pm. Venus was a mere three finger-widths from the horizon, and lowere by the time the sky was dark enough for a photo 15 minutes later.
Over the coming week Venus will rise higher in the sky, and Jupiter gets lower, with the pair meeting on the 28th and 29th. Before that Mercury will join them in the evening sky. The next two weeks will be quite interesting.
Thursday, May 16, 2013
At EldestOne's Play
Tuesday, May 14, 2013
The Sky This Week - Thursday May 16 to Thursday May 23
The First Quarter Moon is Saturday May 18.
Saturn is now easily visible above the eastern horizon before midnight in the constellation of Libra. Saturn climbs higher in the evening sky during the week, becoming easier to see. On Thursday the 23rd the Moon is close to Saturn.
Saturn, Arcturus and Aldebaran from a broad triangle above the eastern horizon.
Opposition (when Saturn is biggest and brightest as seen from Earth) was on April 28. However, Saturn will be a worthwhile evening target for telescopes of any size for several months. The sight of this ringed world is always amazing.
The evening sky facing north-east in Darwin on May 22 at 19:00 pm ACST showing the waxing Moon just about to cover Spica (alpha Virginis). (similar views will be seen from other locations north of Bundaberg at a similar local time eg 20:05 AEST Cairns). The inset shows a telescopic view of the Moon at 19:00 ACST, with Spica about to go behind the Moon.
The waxing Moon passes in front of the bright star Spica in the constellation of Virgo on the evening of May 22. Spica is a bright white star visible to the unaided eye (magnitude 1).
The occultation will only be seen from north-eastern Australia, anywhere north of a line running just below Darwin to Bundaderg.
Every where else will see Spica dramatically close to the Moon, it is well worth watching even if you don't have an occultation. In Adelaide and Alice Springs the Moon is less than half a lunar diameter from Spica, and in Brisbane it floats just above the surface, almost grazing. Nambour sees a graze starting at 20:01 AEST.
From Darwin the star disappears behind the dark limb of the Moon at 19:17 ACST, and reapppears at 19:43 ACST. From Rockhampton the star disappears behind the dark limb of the Moon at 20:35 AEST, and reapppears at 21:11 AEST. From Cairns and Townsville the star disappears behind the dark limb of the Moon at 20:05 AEST, and reapppears at 21:07 AEST.
With the Moon nearly Full, this event is really best seen with binoculars or a small telescope (especially for the reappearance of the star on the bright limb of the Moon). If you have a tripod or other stand for your binoculars, it will be much easier to observe. Otherwise try and stabilise your binoculars on the back of a chair, or a car roof or something similarly solid. Set up about half an hour before the occultation to watch the star dissapear (so you are not mucking around with equiment at the last moment).
Mars is lost in the twilight.
Evening sky looking west as seen from Adelaide at 17:45 pm local time on Thursday May 23. Similar views will be seen elsewhere at the equivalent local times indicated here. Click to embiggen.
Mercury returns to the evening skies next week, but is very low in the twilight. You will need a level, unobscured horizon to see it.
Bright white Venusclimbs higher in the evening twilight. It is still difficult to see early in the week, as it is quite close to the horizon, and you need a clear, level horizon like the ocean to see it at its best. As the week progresses it climbs towards Jupiter, making a fine sight in the twilight.
Jupiter is visible low in the early evening and rapidly descends into the twilight, heading towards a rendezvous with Venus and Mercury. Jupiter is setting progressively earlier, by 6:45 pm local time, so the giant world is now not really possible to follow in a telescope. However, with Venus and later on Mercury near it, it is well worth watching.
There are lots of interesting things in the sky to view with a telescope. Especially with Saturn so prominent in the sky. If you don't have a telescope, now is a good time to visit one of your local astronomical societies open nights or the local planetariums. Especially during the school holidays.
Printable PDF maps of the Eastern sky at 10 pm AEST, Western sky at 10 pm AEST. For further details and more information on what's up in the sky, see Southern Skywatch.
Cloud cover predictions can be found at SkippySky.
Labels: weekly sky
Sunday, May 12, 2013
Jupiter and the Moon, Close on Mothers Day, May 12 2013
Start looking half an hour after sunset, if you have a flat, clear horizon you may see Venus just above it.
Friday, May 10, 2013
Quick Images of the Solar Eclipse from Adelaide, 10 May 2013
so I got up at 5:30 am to prepare for the eclipse. Most of that preparation was making the boys lunches early so I didn't have to interrupt eclipse viewing to get them ready. Needn't have bothered as the cloud meant the Sun wasn't visible until after they had left for School.
All the plans I had made for viewing the eclipse were thrown out by the cloud lurking on the horizon. There was no point going to the viewing spot I selected as the cloud rendered it pointless, so I viewed from my back yard instead.
At least that gave me plenty of time to set up my telescope and binocular projection system. I was also going to set up the SLR camera, but the solar filter I had made for it was tidied away in the Great Room Renovation, and I stuck with the two systems I had.
The Sun finally struggled through the clouds, already significantly eclipsed. But it did look quite dramatic with the cloud streaked over it. This was the point everything started to go wrong with the telescope. First I couldn't get the scope pointed, after much struggle and a strategic move of a portable washing line to project the shadow of the scope, I finally got it lined up. Then the camera adaptor wouldn't adapt. I've been using it quite a lot, but this morning I just couldn't get anything to align.
I finally got it set up and taking pictures just before maximum eclipse, and got through util 8:30, when I had to take smallest one to School. He did see the eclipse at maximum, and the pinhole shadows made by the vine leaves though. I was noticeably cool as we walked to school.
When I got back, clouds had come over again. After a bit of futzing around I got imaging again.
Then I had the bright idea of swapping lenses from the 30 mm Plossl to the 25 mm Plossl, we that was a disaster, if I had trouble with the camera adaptor with the 30 mm, the 25 mm was a nightmare. Note that this is my workhorse combination for lunar imaging, so I have no idea why it went pear-shaped today.
Went back to the 30 mm, and started taking snaps, as the Moon edged off the Sun. To capture it clearly, I ran set of 10 auto exposures. It was only after the eclipse was over that I realised that I had forgotten to refocus after swapping lenses, so I have a complete set of the Sun moving off the Moon, out of focus.
Still, I got to see it, and it was awesome.The sight of the eclipsed Sun emerging through the clouds, the crescent shadows, the big bite through the Sun, the cool effects of thin cloud going over, and sharing it with SmallestOne. Who cares if a few photos are out of focus.
Semi-live blogging the Partial Eclipse, May 10
7:15 am, cloud covers the sun
7:30 am, cloud still over the sun, but thin enough I can see the chip out of its side through the sun filt specs
9:18 am live blogging not going well, Maximum eclipse great, saw eclipse shadows, moon about to move off sun
9:30 am clouds covered last bit of Moon exiting sun. Have bad feeling my photos are all out of focus. Off to work now, will post images tonight.
Thursday, May 09, 2013
Comet C/2011 L4 PanSTARRS, May 8
Not bad for a first pass, I've got a few more images to stack and play around with.
Now off to be so I can be ready for the eclipse tomorrow.
Reminder; Annular Eclipse Friday May 10, 2013
Just a reminder that an annular Solar eclipse will take place early this Friday morning, May 10.
The annular eclipse starts in remote Western Australia, and the eclipse track passes through the Northern Territory, over far North QLD, then passes over Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and Gilbert Islands before reaching its greatest eclipse near Kiribati.
Outside the annular eclipse track, people will see a partial eclipse, with most of Australia, North Island New Zealand, Indonesia and many pacific nations such as New Britain, New Caledonia, Micronesia, Vanuatu, Tuvalu and the Marshal Islands seeing significant partial eclipses.
This Google Map from the NASA eclipse site will allow you zoom into the eclipse track. Click anywhere on the map and a pop-up will inform you when the eclipse is (in Universal Time, UT) and how much of the Sun will be covered. Or you may prefer a standard map with eclipse times in UT. Eclipse times for selected cities (Indonesia, Solomon Islands, New Zealand, Fiji, Honolulu etc.) along the path in UT are given in this table.
Full details of the eclipse as seen from Australia, and detailed safe viewing instructions are at my guide to the annular eclipse. I've also written an article for the ABC on viewing the eclipse.
Unlike a total eclipse, there is no time when it is safe to look at the sun without eye protection, do NOT look directly at the Sun, as irreparable eye damage or blindness can occur. Again, detailed safe viewing instructions are at my guide to the annular eclipse.
In Tasmania, the Queen Victoria Museum and Gallery is holding a safe eclipse viewing session. A live webcast will be put on by the SLOOH remote telescope.
For people coming to this page from Radio Australia, I've made the table below which show the eclipse times in local, rather than universal, time for selected localities. Other locations nearby will see similar eclipse times and durations. For the sites with Annular eclipses, the annular duration lasts between 4-5 minutes around the eclipse maximum. (Again, for Australian timings see my guide to the annular eclipse )
|City/Location||Eclipse Start||Mid Eclipse||Eclipse End||% Sun covered|
|Port Moresby||7:30 am||8:55 am||10:37 am||89|
|Milne Bay||7:32 am||8:59 am||10:46 am||95 (annular)|
|Normanby Island||7:33 am||9:00 am||10:48 am||95 (annular)|
|Kimbe, New Britain||7:36 am||9:03 am||10:50 am||83|
|Honiara, Solomon Islands||8:42 am||10:18 am||12:19 pm||88|
|Choiseul, Solomon Islands||8:39||10:15 am||12:12 pm||95 (annular)|
|Rontiki, Micronesia||9:02 am||10:36 am||12:28 am||63|
|Mili Island, Marshal Islands||9:20 am||11:16 am||1:20 pm||83|
|Tuvalu||10:27 am||12:27 pm||2:26 pm||66|
|Bonriki, Kiribati||10:15||12:15 pm||2:22 pm||95 (annular)|