Archive for December, 2012
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Eagleseye Astronomy Blog.
If predictions are right 2013 could bring us two extremely bright comets.
One in March to April 2013 and one from November 2013 into early 2014.
More news here.
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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).
High overhead at this time of night Auriga and the bright yellow star Capella. This constellation abounds with many open clusters, so hunt them down. South of Auriga are Gemini and Taurus. This whole area is along the plane of the Milky Way so contains a great deal of objects to observe. High in the south if the mighty Orion, with the bright stars Betelgeuse and Rigel, both showing contrasting colours. Lower down is The Great Dog, Canis Major. Its brightest star Sirius is in fact a double star. The white dwarf companion sounds like an easy 8.3 magnitude target, but due to its proximity is dazzled by the main star. The two stars are separating over the next few years, so I’m sure it won’t be long before amateurs can view and image them as separate objects.
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:
1st 04h, 6th 22h, 21st 6h, 24th 3h, 26th 23h, 29th 20h.
The Moon and its phases this month.
Moon phase calendar above generated using Graphdark By Richard Fleet.
Click here to download.
Last Qtr. – 5th.
New – 11th.
First Qtr. – 18th.
Full – 27th.
As an aid to identifying the planets and stars, the Moon will be close to:
Regulus on the 1st, 2nd, 27th & 28th.
Spica on the 5th & 6th.
Saturn on the 7th.
Antares on the 9th.
Venus on the 10th.
Mars on the 13th.
Jupiter on the 21st.
Reaches superior conjunction on the 18th, when it starts to move into the morning eastern sky by the end of the month. It will be difficult to in the western sky after sunset. Becomes much easier to see next month.
Now starting to slip into the Suns glare in the morning sky, it is still very bright and visible low in the eastern sky before sunrise. It will be very difficult to see in the twilight by the end of the month as it approaches the Sun.
Still lingering in the south western sky and hanging in the same place in the evening twilight throughout the month, but really difficult to observe. Starts to get lost in the encroaching twilight by the end of the month but stays teasingly away from the Sun for a few weeks yet.
Moving retrograde above the Hyades in Taurus throughout the month. At magnitude -2.5 it is big, bold and bright and now at its very best for observing after a very favourable opposition last month.
Have a look our for Red Spot Junior, or try and resolve the Moons as disks, particularly Ganymede being so large?
Located between Virgo and Libra during the month. Rises before 2:00am by the middle of the month. The rings are favourably tilted towards the Earth and are a wonderful sight through even a small scope.
Still visible in the evening sky but becoming less favourable as they get lower in altitude after sunset.
Now very low in the western sky after sunset.
Quadrantid Meteor Shower
These meteors are at maximum on the 3rd. With a maximum predicted at 80 per hour and the Moon well out of the way in the morning sky, we should be in for a good show.
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 Hydrogen Alpha 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.
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Eagles Eye On The Sky.
Keep Looking Up!
It is sad news that dear old Patrick died this weekend aged 89.
He is certainly someone who inspired me all those years ago.
He will be sadly missed.
While preparing for work I glanced out of the window and saw it was clear.
Knowing Mercury was meant to be visible, I could see it above the neighbours houses, despite being less than 5 degrees above the horizon.
The skies were still clear by the time I had got my act together and assembled the camera on the tripod.
I took these image out of the first floor window.
The show Arcturus top right, with Saturn, Venus and Mercury just above the houses.
A nice capture before getting out of the house to go to work.
Jupiter reaches opposition on the 3rd of December, when it is at its biggest and best for the year.
With a clear sky and hard frost, I went out in the dome to take a few images of Jupiter and its moons.
The bright gibbous Moon rising early evening prevented me from doing any deep-sky stuff.
Jupiter looked fabulous. Careful scrutiny of the Galilean Moons showed that they were different sized disks.
Unfortunately, no detail could be seen on the extremely small disks.
Calsky had previously alerted me to a transit of the ISS across the northern part of the Moon at just gone midnight.
I tried to use my DSLR to take a movie, but the low light level at higher magnification meant to slow an exposure, so although I did capture the event, the images of the ISS I captured was blurred.
I called it a night and awoke about 6.00am.
So I thought I would go out and try and quickly image Saturn, Venus and Mercury rising in the eastern sky.
Some chance I thought, considering the altitude of Mercury at that time and the closeness of my neighbours houses.
But, there was a small window of opportunity for all three. Saturn had just reappeared from behind a neighbours chimney. Venus was just about to disappear behind it, and Mercury was less than 6 degrees above the horizon, but amazingly was visible in the scope. Very wobbly, but there it was before it too disappeared behind the neighbours house.
A great nights and mornings observing and imaging, but boy was it cold.