Archive for September, 2012
Apologies for the delay in the November sky diary.
it should be finished later today.
More dlatest news and events, more details, keep (BIG) Bang up to date on my Blog:
Eagleseye Astronomy Blog.
The Mars Laboratory Curiosity is landed successfully on the surface of Mars on the 5th of August.
See their web page for further details, news and a great video of the landing.
If predictions are right 2013 could bring us two extremely bright comets.
One in March and one from November into early 2014.
More news here.
Any questions, comments or have I made a mistake?
E Mail me: (Dave@eagleseye.co.uk)
Sky condition prediction for Higham Ferrers.
ALL TIMES Universal Time (UT) Unless stated.
The Stars (22:00h on the 1st, 21:00h on the 15th and 20:00h on the 31st of the month).
British Summer Time Ends at 02h on the 28th of the month, when the clocks go back 1hr to GMT (UT) time.
High overhead at this time of night the 5 distinctive stars of the “W” or “M” shaped Cassiopeia shines down. Towards the West, Hercules and Aquila are now getting very low in the sky. The seven stars of The Plough reach their lowest point in the sky towards the north and The Great Bear will now start to claw its way back up into the sky. Low down in the southern sky Aquarius and Cetus are lurking in the gloom. Have you got a good enough horizon to spot the small constellation of Sculptor even lower towards the horizon? Towards the east Taurus is now getting fairly high up at the time of our map. Also rising but a bit lower in that direction are Gemini and Orion, bringing with them the rich winter Milky Way. This area of sky is jam packed with star clusters and nebulosity. So as the cold frosty nights approach (hopefully!), make the most of the clear dark skies, brave the cold and get yourself out and observe this wonderful region of sky.
This bright naked eye variable star is visible from the UK dimming from its usual 2.1 magnitude to 3.4 at the following times:
7th 03.6h, 10th 0.4h, 12th 21.2h, 30th 2.1h.
The Moon and its phases this month.
Moon phase calendar above generated using Graphdark By Richard Fleet.
Click here to download.
Last Qtr. – 8th.
New – 15th.
First Qtr. – 22nd.
Full – 29th.
As an aid to identifying the planets and stars, the Moon will be close to:
The Hyades Star Cluster on the 5th.
Jupiter on the 6th.
Venus on the 12th & 13th.
Mars on the 18th.
Pleiades on the 31st.
Stays too close to the Sun to be seen this month.
Shining like a beacon in Leo at magnitude -4 in the early morning sky a few hours before dawn. Its phase is increasing throughout the month, looking just about gibbous by the end of the month, but now getting smaller in apparent size as it recedes from the Earth. It passes very close to the first magnitude Regulus in Leo on the 3rd.
Also big and bright at magnitude -2, located in Taurus.
Now rising late evening it will reach its highest altitude at about 05am.
Keep a look out for disturbances in the cloud belts which have recently been reported.
Too close to the Sun to be seen this month.
Reaches conjunction with the Sun on the 25th.
Now past opposition at magnitude 5.7, so theoretically it is (just) visible to the naked eye.
Binoculars will help you to find it. It shows a very small blue-green disk through a telescope.
If you find this remote gas planet, can you observe any of its moons?
The brightest is well below magnitude 14.
Favourably placed for observing in Aquarius. At magnitude 7.8 it does require binoculars or a small telescope to find.
Located in northern Sagittarius, not far from the open star cluster M25.
At magnitude 14.14 it will be hard to spot amongst the faint background stars so low down in the sky.
A new solar cycle is now well under way, and the Sun has had a recent flurry of sunspot activity with some nice large spots groups now appearing regularly. There have also been some auroral activity seen as far south as Kent, so keep a look out.
There have also been some large prominences visible from time to time and some quite active flare regions.
So if you have access to a Ha solar scope, take a look.
All graphics for all the events below are in the enlarged PDF file here.
All times UT (BST) Unless otherwise stated.
Thank you for visiting my site, I hope you have found it of interest.
If you have, or even if you have not liked me, please let me know so I can keep making improvements:
Eagles Eye On The Sky.
Keep Looking Up!
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A quick jaunt outside this morning to capture an image of Jupiter with my webcam.
I have finally found a problem with my new scope.
The corrector plate misted up very quickly, even in the dome.
After a while without a really bright comet, we might just be in line for two next year.
If things go as expected, (But you never can tell how comets will behave!).
Or here for animations of their appearances.
Comet C/2011 L4 (PANSTARRS) could be very bright in March, heading north and passing close to the Andromeda Galaxy in early April in the early morning sky.
In November 2013, Comet C/2012 S1 (ISON) could be an extremely bright object as it passes very close to the Sun.
It could be a naked eye object for a couple of months.
It is currently in Gemini, where it will stay for quite a while.
It will then pass through Leo and Virgo by the middle of November 2013.
At the end of November it will pass close to the Sun, then heads almost directly northwards.
It passes not too far from M13 on the 21st of December.
It will then pass a few degrees away from Polaris on the 7th of January.
More details on the Sky & Telescope Web page.
More details will be posted here closer to the events, showing more detailed finder charts.
See the SkyHound Web page for more comet news.
Up until 3:30am on Saturday morning putting the new scope through its paces.
Moon and Jupiter cleared the neighbours house well before midnight.
So out came a 3x Barlow and my webcam that cost £8 (Yes, you read that correctly) to see what the images were like.
Despite the wind, this years Kelling Sky Camp got off to a fabulous start.
As usual, as well as doing astronomy it was a great social event, meeting up with friends and having a great deal of banter.
The Thursday evening started out extremely clear. The Milky Way looked absolutely stunning!
We tried some astrophotography which was hit and miss as the scopes were bouncing around in the wind, so the stars aren’t as pin sharp as we would like.
I also tried M33 – Spiral Galaxy in Triangulum Galaxy, but the wind was too strong and it wouldn’t track properly.
Visually we were observing using my 10″ Dobsonian Telescope taking in views faint planetary nebulae and galaxies. Some fabulous views were had by all.
The Sky stayed clear until until 02:30 BST, when stars disappearing behind clouds called an end to a long night.
Bed for a few hours until I woke at 07:15.
A few cups of tea later, breakfast, then time for a quick power nap to set you up for the day…
(Thanks for taking this photo Steve! NOT!!!).
Friday night was perfect observing conditions. It was probably the best skies I have seen from Kelling since we have been coming here.
So the new scope and my trusty Nikon were put to full use through the scope.
I also did a few general unguided constellation shots.
We finally went to bed as the sky was starting to get light in the east and put an end to my astrophotography. Jupiter & Venus were shining brilliantly in the early morning sky.
Saturday night, after winning a new Bahtinov Mask in the raffle, also turned out to be clear from about 11pm. I managed to pick up a number of technical issues trying to guide that night. But I made good use of my time observing through my good friend Rod Greening’s home made 18″ Dobsonian, and taking some general sky images before finally succumbing to the extreme tiredness and going to bed.
Here’s to next autumn.
Following an amateur astronomers apparent video of a body impacting on Jupiter, I couldn’t resist getting out and having a look to see if I could image an impact scar. Observations from across the world who viewed the previous central transit of Jupiter’s disk reported that they could not see an impact scar. But that wasn’t going to deter me. I was in position as the impact site rotated into view taking images as it did so.
Here’s one result:
So I can confidently confirm that there is no obvious impact scar visible at the moment.
(It should be above and the the left of the Red Spot close to the planets equator).
Oh, and the Moon looked so gorgeous rising in the east as the dawn broke, couldn’t resist taking a picture or two:
On the 10th of September 2012 amateur astronomers reported a flash on Jupiter where a body may have impacted with the planet.
See http://spaceweather.com/ on the 11th of September for more details.
A video of the event has been posted here:
There may possibly be an impact scar visible on the cloud belts over the coming days.
So far no impact scars have yet been recorded by observers seeing the most recent meridian transit.
The times when the impact site will be central on Jupiter’s meridian and visible from the UK are shown below:
(UT = GMT. Add an hour for BST).
Predicted times of the site’s central-meridian crossing: (times and dates in Universal Time):
Sept. 12, 04:43.
Sept. 13, 00:24.
Sept. 14, 05:55.
Sept. 15, 01:36.
What more reason do you need to set an alarm?
So get yourselves out in the early morning to have a look and see what’s happened.
After lots of deliberation and reading reviews, I finally decided to buy a new telescope.
The Skywatcher 190 Makzutov Newtonian seemed to fit most of my requirements.
Its a great imaging setup, but optically excellent to enable high magnification for lunar and planetary imaging as well.
It was delivered yesterday after ordering on Friday from Green Witch Telescopes.
Thanks Lee for arranging the very prompt delivery.
The box as usual looked much bigger when it arrived than I expected.
It really does look the business.
When unpacked it was sporting a very stylish metallic black livery and white mounting rings.
Focuser is dual speed, that will help enormously, and is really smooth as well.
It is designed for photography, but there is an extension tube which can be pulled out of the focuser so you can reach focus visually. The finder was a right angled one, which I thought would be pain to use.
Despite the rising Moon that night, I took the beast out for its first light as soon as it got nearly dark.
A clear night when you have just purchased a new cloud magnet? That doesn’t happen very often.
I didn’t check the collimation at all, just used it straight out of the box, slotted it straight onto the EQ6 head and I was away.
The sky wasn’t quite dark, so my first target was the double-double in Lyra.
Seeing was a little jumpy, but both component in each double was easily visible within its own distinct and almost perfect Airy disk in a 10mm eyepiece.
Cracking up the magnification the 5mm eyepiece really separated them and there was quite a lot of space between each star.
Even using a 2x Barlow the Airy disks were very pronounced despite the wobbly seeing, and even more space visible between the stars. The image really hadn’t degraded as much as I expected as the magnification racked up.
My next stop was Albireo which looked wonderful with its contrasting coloured stars as always.
The sky was getting properly dark now, but the rising gibbous Moons glow could be seen behind my neighbours house.
Popping across the Hercules, I could see M13 shining through the bright glow as the Moon rose in the east, but the sky wasn’t really dark enough for real deep sky observing .
The field of view looked very wide.
Had I made a mistake in buying this scope as I also wanted to do some planetary and lunar stuff with this scope as well as deep sky imaging? The reviews I read did tell me it is capable of very decent planetary images, so I was keeping an open mind for now.
Visually, I was very pleased with my views so far, so here’s the real test.
Popping my camera on I tried a 15 second shot of Vega to see how good the collimation was out of the box
This much zoomed in and much reduced shot shows the result:
(Even with this short exposure, and the Moonlight it captured stars fainter than 15th Magnitude).
Those who a bit pernickety could say that the collimation might just be a smidge off, but would I be able to improve on it by tampering? Probably not.
I then took a few 30 second subs of a couple of objects.
Thin contrails were interfering, so had to dodge those picking clear patches of sky with objects in them.
So here’s the results, all unguided and no light pollution filters were used.
They all need a lot more time, and I did the minimum of processing, but as test shots they really show a lot of promise.
M13 – (9 Subs) What a wide field of view!
Just a 2x 30 second shot revealed part of The Veil. (I’m totally knocked out considering how bright the sky was).
And to finish, as I wanted to see what planetary stuff might be like, I had a quick go at the Moon.
It was partially behind a thick contrail and just above my neighbours house.
Seeing was extremely wobbly.
The craters close to the walls, were casting long thin shadow spikes across the mare.
You can just about see one of them above.
You could see the elongation of crater Messier A, and the Rimae within the crater Janssen really stood out well.
Despite the Moon’s low altitude and seeing the this beat any view through both my 8” and 10” Newtonians hands down.
So, I am now convinced that used with a webcam (or another camera) with the 5x Powermate will enable me to produce some fantastic planetary and lunar images.
So as you can imagine, I’m well chuffed with my purchase.
I think I am going to have so much fun with this scope.
And, Hey there’s no annoying spikes.
A very happy Dave.