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Thursday, October 30, 2014

 

Comet C/2012 K1 PanSTARRS in November

Evening sky on Saturday November 1 looking south  as seen from Adelaide at 22:00 (10:00 pm) ACDST in South Australia. Comet C/2012 K1 PanSTARRS is just above Canopus.  Similar views will be seen elsewhere at the equivalent local time (click to embiggen).Animation of the path og comet C/2012 K1 PanSTARRS from 1 November to 30 November. The point of view changes mid animation as the comet rises towards the zenith. Click to embiggen.
Printable B&W chart of the comets path over the month of November. Click to embiggen and printPrintable B&W Binocular chart of the comets path over the next week. The circle is the field of view of 10x50 binoculars. Click to embiggen and print

Comet C/2012 K1 Panstarrs is now visible in the evening sky.  From the begining of November it should be high enough above the horizon at 10 pm to pick up.

It  should be easily visible in 10x50 binoculars as a fuzzy dot. At magnitude 7 you will need to let your eyes adapt to darkness to see the comet clearly. You may need to check from night to night to see it move to be certain of your identification.

In a small telescope it looks like a ball of fluffy cotton wool. You will need a decent CCD camera and a larger scope to see the dust tail.

The comet doesn't have any spectacular encounters, but will look nice amongst the stars. On the 2nd it is very close to the star beta Pictoris.

The comet is closest to Earth on the 6th, but the almost full Moon will make it difficult to see. When the Moon leaves the evening sky the comet should be readily visible in binoculars. It may even reach the threshold of visual observation magnitude 6 (although you will need a dark sky site to see it), but this is unlikely.

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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

 

The Sky This Week - Thursday October 30 to Thursday November 6

The First Quarter Moon is Friday October 31. This is a "blue" First Quarter Moon. Saturn is low in the twilight. Mars is in the star clouds of Sagittarius and is close to the globular clusters M28 on November 3 and M22 on the 6th.  Jupiter is prominent in the morning sky. Comet C/212 K1 PanSTARRS is visible in binoculars before midnight.

The First Quarter Moon is Friday October 31. This is the second First Quarter Moon this month and thus a "blue" First Quarter Moon. The Moon is at Perigee, where it is closest to the Earth, on the 3rd of November.

Evening sky on Monday November 3 looking west as seen from Adelaide at 20:45 (8:45 pm) ACDST in South Australia. Saturn is under the head of  Scorpius. The crescent Moon is close to Mars. The inset shows the approximate binocular view of Mars and M28 at this time. Similar views will be seen elsewhere at the equivalent local time (click to embiggen).

Mars  is easily seen in the western evening sky, setting around midnight. Mars was at opposition, when it is biggest and brightest, on the 9th of April, and is still  readily distinguishable as the bright red/orange object above the western horizon in the early evening.

Mars is in the constellation of  Sagittarius and is close to the globular clusters M28 on November 3 and M22 on the 6th. This will look rather nice in binoculars.

Saturn is low in the early western evening sky, getting deeper in  the twilight. This will be the last week to view the ringed planet in the evening this year.

Morning sky on Sunday November 2 looking north-east as seen from Adelaide at 5:00 am ACDST.  Jupiter is above the north-east horizon. (click to embiggen).
  
Mercury  returns to the morning sky, but is too low for easy visibility.

Venus is lost in the glare of the Sun.

 Jupiter  rises higher in the morning twilight, and now is easy to see above the horizon before twilight. Jupiter is the brightest object above the north-eastern horizon. It is now not far from the bright star Regulus in the sickle of Leo (this forms the head of the constellation of the  Lion).

Evening sky on Saturday November 1 looking south  as seen from Adelaide at 23:30 (11:30 pm) ACDST in South Australia. Comet C/2012 K1 PanSTARRS is just above Canopus.  Similar views will be seen elsewhere at the equivalent local time (click to embiggen).

Comet C/2012 K1 Panstarrs is now visible in the evening sky from around 11 pm. It  should be easily visible in 10x50 binoculars as a fuzzy dot. At magnitude 7 you will need to let your eyes adapt to darkness to see the comet clearly. It doesn't have any spectacular encounters, but will look nice amongst the stars. On the 2nd it is very close to the star beta Pictoris. As the week goes on the brightening Moon will make it more difficult to see.

More detailed charts and a printable binocular map  are here.

There are lots of interesting things in the sky to view with a telescope. Especially with Mars and  Saturn  prominent in the early evening 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.

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.

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Sunday, October 26, 2014

 

Near Earth Asteroid 2013 SC324 flies by (25 October)

NEO 2013 SC324 imaged with iTelescope T14 (New Mexico) on 25 October 2014 at 5:45 am. The image is a stack of 7 x 60 second Luminance exposures. The images were  stacked in ImageJ, a MAX Z project made. Click to embiggen so the track is clearer.Animation of 2013 SC324 using the frames in the previous image. Click to embiggen.

Near Earth Asteroid 2013 SC324 is a 65 meter space rock that buzzed by on the 25th, coming within 1.5 Earth Moon distances at 19:20 24 October UT (that was early in the morning of the 25th, Australian time). I imaged it using the New Mexico iTelescope T14 just on Astronomical twilight, when it was around magnitude 17 and the dawn was messing up the image, but I got it all right.

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Saturday, October 25, 2014

 

Giant Sunspot AR2192, Easy Viewing Target, Unleashes X class Flare

Sunspot AR 2192 imaged using my Canon IXUS  (400 ASA) and 4" Newtonian (infinity to infinity focussing with a 25 mm eyepiece), there are multiple sunspots, AR 2192 is the large obvious complex to the right of centre. Click to embiggen3x Zoom under the same conditions as the previous image. Still blurred a bit with 1/640 second exposure. Sun drift and atmospheric turbulence. Click to embiggen

Giant Sunspot AR 2192 is big enough to be seen without magnification, just using eclipse viewing glasses. I could easily see it this afternoon with just eclipse glasses over the past few days. I did get the scope out today as well, as you can see above (EldestOne's High School graduation activities took priority over solar imaging I'm afraid).

Sunspot AR 2192  is readily visible in  other safe solar projection systems. The following link will show you several methods to make pinhole projection systems.

You can also use binocular and telescopic projection systems. This link will show you how to make safe solar viewing and telescope projection systems. Here is my step by step guide to making a binocular projection system, and a guide to aiming your binoculars or telescope when you can't actually look at the Sun. And this is the projection system I use with my refractor telescope.


Sunspot AR 2192 unleashed an X3.1 flare this morning, but sadly there was no coronal mass-ejection with it, so auroral displays are unlikely. As big as Jupiter, this is the biggest sunspot of this current solar cycle, and the largest since sunspot 486 11 years ago. 


The is still a chance that this massive sunspot will produce an auroral-effective flare before it rotates away, but don't get your hopes up.

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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

 

The Sky This Week - Thursday October 23 to Thursday October 30

The New Moon is Friday October 24. Saturn is low in the evening sky. The crescent Moon is near Saturn on the 25th. Mars is in the star clouds of Sagittarius and is close to the Lagoon Nebula on the 27th and 28th. The crescent Moon is also near Mars on the 28th. Jupiter is prominent in the morning sky. Comet C/212 K1 PanSTARRS is visible in binoculars.

The New Moon is Friday October 24.

Evening sky on Tuesday October 28 looking west as seen from Adelaide at 20:45 (8:45 pm) ACDST in South Australia. Saturn is under the head of  Scorpius. The crescent Moon is close to Mars. The inset shows the approximate binocular view of Mars and the Lagoon Nebula at this time. Similar views will be seen elsewhere at the equivalent local time (click to embiggen).
 
Mercury  is lost in the twilight.

Mars  is easily seen in the western evening sky, setting around midnight. Mars was at opposition, when it is biggest and brightest, on the 9th of April, and is still  readily distinguishable as the bright red/orange object above the western horizon in the early evening.

Mars is in the constellation of  Sagittarius and is close to the Lagoon Nebula on the 27th and 28th. This will look rather nice in binoculars. The crescent Moon is also near Mars on the 28th amking for a rather attractive sky to explore with binoculars.

Saturn is low in the early western evening sky, and was at opposition on June 11th. Saturn is visible  in the early evening, setting a bit over two hours after sunset. Saturn is edging closer to the twilight..

Saturn is near the crescent Moon on the 25th.

Morning sky on Saturday October 26 looking north-east as seen from Adelaide at 5:00 am ACDST.  Jupiter is above the north-east horizon. (click to embiggen).

Venus is lost in the glare of the Sun.

 Jupiter  rises higher in the morning twilight, and now is easy to see above the horizon before twilight. Jupiter is now easy to see as the brightest object above the north-eastern horizon.

Evening sky on Saturday October 26 looking up towards the zenith  as seen from Adelaide at 5:00 (5:00 am) ACDST in South Australia. Comet C/2012 K1 PanSTARRS is between the tail of Canis Major and Canopus. The inset shows the comet as seen in binoculars. Similar views will be seen elsewhere at the equivalent local time (click to embiggen).

Comet C/2012 K1 Panstarrs is rising higher in the morning sky. It  should be easily visible in 10x50 binoculars as a fuzzy dot with a stubby tail. At magnitude 7 you will need to let your eyes adapt to darkness to see the comet clearly. It doesn't have any spectacular encounters, but will look nice amongst the stars.

More detailed charts and a printable binocular map  are here.

There are lots of interesting things in the sky to view with a telescope. Especially with Mars and  Saturn  prominent in the early evening 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.

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.

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Monday, October 20, 2014

 

Relive the Comet Siding Spring - Mars Encounter

Comet C/2013 A1 Siding Spring captured 6-7 hours before its closest approach to Mars (big object down the bottom) on October 19. Image by Peter Lake at iTelescope, colours inverted to make the comet easier to see.

Here's the YouTube video he made
http://youtu.be/ehufS2GcWO0

Here's the link to the recording of the live hangout form the encounter that night.
https://plus.google.com/events/c37ac7ps3n0va5j6tibeblnkpfc

The NASA Siding Spring site has links to Flika albums of the encounter
http://mars.nasa.gov/comets/sidingspring/

Terry Lovejoy's Animation
http://vimeo.com/109365734

Via Dan Fischer, all five recorded webcasts, if you have a spare 5 hours!

ESA blog, the spacecraft are all okay. Mars Express images not expected until Thursday.
http://blogs.esa.int/mex/

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An Image of Comet C/2013 A1 Siding Spring - Taken from the Martian Surface!

This is comet Siding Spring, imaged from the surface of Mars, by a robot (Opportunity, the Energiser Bunny of Mars robots). Image credit NASA

https://twitter.com/nivnac/status/524111689399406592/photo/1

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My Image of comet C/2013 A1 Siding Spring just before closest approach.

Comet C/2013 A1 Siding Spring at 9:00 pm ACDST, when it was approximately 18' from Mars (bright glow bottom right-hand side).

Stack of 3x30 second luminance images taken with iTelescope T9.

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Sunday, October 19, 2014

 

Live Webcasts of the comet C/2013 A1 Siding Spring Encounter with Mars October 19.

Simulated in Celestia: Mars and comet C/2013 Siding Spring on October 19, at 18:51 UT when the comet is 138,800 Km from Mars. From Earth they will be a mere 1' 51" apart (that's one arc minute 53 arc seconds, about the width of a human hair).

If you are clouded out on the night of closest approach, there are a number of  live webcasts of the event on the early evening of the 19th.  You will see a fuzzy blob and a bright bob, but this is a scpecial occasion, so there wll be a lot of interesting discussion.

There is a Google Hangout in Australia. 11:00 UT (around 10 pm AEDST)
https://plus.google.com/u/0/events/c37ac7ps3n0va5j6tibeblnkpfc

Sunday, October 19 at 6:45pm in UTC+02
http://www.astrowebtv.org

Live webcast from Slooh
http://www.space.com/19195-night-sky-planets-asteroids-webcasts.html

A much bigger list, including NASA and ESA, borrowed from Yasser Mohammed
here.

1) NASA :
http://mars.nasa.gov/comets/sidingspring/
http://www.nasa.gov/jpl/comet-siding-spring/
http://www.nasa.gov/press/2014/october/nasa-prepares-its-science-fleet-for-oct-19-mars-comet-encounter/#.VEH5JPmSwxU

2) Slooh Observatory :
The Slooh Community Observatory will broadcast a double feature about Comet Siding Spring's close pass by Mars on Sunday (Oct. 19). The first Slooh webcast will start at 2:15 p.m. EDT (1815 GMT), and the second will begin at 8:30 p.m. EDT (0030 Oct. 20 GMT)
http://live.slooh.com/stadium/live/comet-siding-spring-swings-by-on-a-close-approach-to-mars

3) Virtual Telescope :
The Virtual Telescope Project will host a webcast on Oct. 19 starting at 12:45 p.m. EDT (16:45 GMT)
http://www.virtualtelescope.eu/2014/10/09/comet-planet-comet-c2013-a1-siding-spring-meets-planet-mars-19-oct-2014-online-event/
4) Europe Space Agency :
ESA Livestream with lots of experts ( starts at 10:50 PT / 17:50 UT)
http://www.livestream.com/eurospaceagency
http://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Operations/Mars_Express_ready_for_comet_encounter

5) Telescope from Australia :
Amateur astronomer Peter Lake, will broadcast from the iTelescope.net Observatory (Q62) at Siding Spring, though closest approach won't be visible from Australia (broadcast starts at 03:00 PT / 11:00 UT)
http://www.itelescope.net/
https://www.facebook.com/events/679638335464865/?ref=4

6) Living Maths live feeds from South Africa :
Mr S will be interviewing NASA Astronomers and local Astronomers about the Comet that is currently making an appearance. We will talk about chasing comets and even catching them. The Hangout will last 1 hour and afterwards we will take out the telescopes and explore the stars outside. This should be an evening you won’t forget. The event will be streamed live on the Living Maths website at 8:00 pm - 9:00 pm
http://www.livingmaths.com/event/nasa-interview-19-october/
https://www.facebook.com/events/649993841786622/?ref=4

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Comet C/2013 A1 Siding Spring Edges Closer to Mars (17-18 October)

Comet C/2013 A1 Siding Spring amidst the rifts of the Milky Way  on 17 October (you have to click on the image and embbigen it to see the comet at all) Mars is just out of the field at bottom right, you can see the glow. Stack of 6 x 30 second luminance images taken with iTelescope T12, SUMMED in Image J.Images stacked on the comet and SUMMED in ImageJ then cropped down to show the comet (fuzzy blob centred)
Siding Spring on 18 October, the comet has come over the dust clouds, so is easier to see. Mars if now in view at the bottom of the image grossly overexposed. Stack of 2 x 30 second luminance  images taken with iTelescope T12, SUMMED in Image J. Definitely click on the image to embiggen.Images form the 18th stacked on the comet and SUMMED in ImageJ then cropped down to show the comet (fuzzy blob centred). the tail is mucg clearer now.

Tomorrow comet C/2013 A1 Siding Spring comes closest to Mars.  Watched by a flotilla of spacecraft from Mars, and a batallion of amateur and professional observers.

Hopefully the weather will hold. Friday night was clear but I missed observations as I was picking up EldestOne during optimum observing time.  Tonight was cloudy, but the robot scopes at iTelescope picked up the comet for me.

Unfortunately, my kids have used up all the high speed bandwidth, so despite having heaps of pictures, downloading them takes forever. You can see my images of the comet near the butterfly cluster here.

Here's hoping tomorrow night is clearer.

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