Archive for January, 2013
What’s up in The Night Sky for the month ahead.
For the latest news and events, more details, keep (BIG) Bang up to date on my Blog:
Eagleseye Astronomy Blog.
ASTEROID 2012 DA14
This 45m wide asteroid passes extremely close to the Earth on the 15th of the month.
It reaches magnitude 7 at its closest but fades rapidly after it rises here, but it will still be visible in binoculars or a small telescope.
Click here for more details and maps of its path.
If predictions are right 2013 could also bring us two extremely bright comets.
Comet PANSTARRS graces us with its presence this month and should be a naked eye object in the western sky after sunset, from the 8th of March.
More details and images of its possible appearance are in my full Sky Diary here.
Comet ISON will be visible much later in the year.
More news here.
Click here for some animations of their possible appearances.
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).
The January Sky.
High overhead at this time of night the indistinct constellation of The Lynx meanders between Ursa Major and Gemini. Beneath the feet of The Great Bear is Leo Minor, marked by an indistinct triangle of stars. In the southern sky the brightest star Sirius twinkles many colours, an effect caused by our turbulent atmosphere. Have a look carefully at this star in a scope. Can you see its 8.3 magnitude companion “The Pup” close by? This challenging white dwarf is moving further from its brilliant partner, so will become a bit easier to resolve over the next decade. In the western sky Pegasus has all but disappeared, with Andromeda following close behind. In the eastern sky the bright yellow star Arcturus is rising, with Virgo and Corona Borealis not far behind.
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:
13th 04h, 16th 01h, 18th 22h.
The Moon and its phases this month.
Moon phase calendar above generated using Graphdark By Richard Fleet.
Last Qtr. – 3rd.
New – 10th.
First Qtr. – 17th.
Full – 25th.
As an aid to identifying the planets and stars, the Moon will be close to:
Spica on the 2nd.
Saturn on the 3rd.
Antares on the 5th.
Mercury & Mars on the 11th.
Jupiter on the 18th.
Regulus on the 25th
Quickly moves out of the Suns glare in the western evening sky for the best apparition of the year this month.
It is visible low down in the evening twilight it reaches greatest eastern elongation of 18 degrees on the 16th.
Mars very close to mercury on the evening of the 8th.
Now too close to the Sun to be seen in the morning sky as it moves towards superior conjunction next month.
Still just about hanging on low down in the south western sky after sunset. Starts to get lost in the encroaching twilight by the end of the month but remains teasingly just ahead of the Sun for a few weeks yet. Close to Mercury in the western evening sky on the 8th
Moves slowly above the Hyades star cluster throughout the month.
Just past its best it still remains very bright at magnitude -2 but is still a magnificent sight through any telescope as the disk stays so large.
Located between Virgo and Libra during the month rising at around 22:00 by the middle of the month. The rings are favourably tilted towards the Earth making a wonderful sight in even a modest scope.
An 11.5 magnitude star passes through Saturn’s rings in the early hours of the 25th of February.
More details here.
Still visible in the evening sky but becoming less favourable as it gets lower in altitude after sunset.
Now lost in the Sun’s glare.
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!
I attended the monthly meeting of Bedford Astronomical Society last night.
The main speaker was John Lyle from ARUP who are the main contractors for the building that will house the E-ELT.
This European Southern Observatory project is being funded by many countries (As soon as everyone agrees to pay!), so it really is an International Project.
I then did a run down of the coming months night sky highlights. Also for good measure I put in detail about the two Comets that are expected this year: PANSTARRS in March-April and ISON November – January.
For more details see my previous posts:
Darren Jehan then reminisced of his two visits (with Stargazers Lounge) to Patrick Moore’s House Farthings to renovate his observatories. A great man who will be sorely missed by the astronomical community.
Being such a clear night, I thought I would try and bag Comet ISON as it was so close to Castor in Gemini.
At 16th magnitude, I didn’t think I had a hope.
But if you don’t try.
My trusty C2A software led me from Castor to the field the comet should have been in. I took 15x 2 minute exposures and stacked them on the comet, which I could see slowly moving almost in the centre of the field of view.
The comet is round and the stars are trailed. RESULT!!! Get in there!
Here is the whole field with the subs stacked on the stars cropped in the area around the comet, showing some faint galaxies in the same field of view. The comet looks trailed in this image.
I’d like to know the magnitude of the galaxy marked “?” in my image.
A much tighter crop of the area shows the comets trail distinctly.
On the 15th of February a big lump of rock will pass extremely close to the Earth.
So close in fact that it will come closer in than the geosynchronous satellites.
Now that’s close!
Asteroid 2012 DA14 was discovered in February 2012 and is about 45 meters in diameter and will pass close to the Earth at a distance of only 13,870 miles.
THERE IS NO CHANCE OF IT HITTING THE EARTH!
Moving northwards it starts the evening too far south for us to see. It will be at its closest to Earth at about 18:00h on the 15th of February, when it will be too far south for us to see in the UK. For those further south who will be able to view it will probably disappear into the Earth’s shadow for about 18 minutes, 4 minutes after its closest approach.
At this time it should be at about magnitude 7.4 and at its closest the the Earth. So although it won’t be visible to the naked eye (just), it should be easily visible in binoculars or a small telescope as a fairly bright “star” moving northwards through the background stars.
For those further south who will be able to view it will probably disappear into the Earth’s shadow for about 18 minutes, 4 minutes after its closest approach.
THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF THIS PASS.
Unfortunately my prediction software failed to take account of the gravitational effect of the Earth on the objects orbit as it passed the Earth. My prediction published here previously was about 2 hours behind.
I have now run an ephemeris using the HORIZONS Web site for my location in mid UK:
The asteroid rises just after 19:50h that evening with an apparent magnitude of 7.59.
Heading quickly north, it passes to the east of Denebola in the tail of Leo at around 20:00h, by this time it has faded to 8th magnitude.
By 20:20 it will be passing through or very close to Melotte 111, the star cluster in Coma Berenices.
At 21:00h it will have faded to magnitude 8.6 and be located in Canes Venatici and still heading swiftly north.
It will cross through the handle of The Plough around 21:32h, now just below 9th magnitude.
Thankfully the BAA Minor planets section has produced a prediction based on a location on the south coast of the UK and produced two very fine finder charts for that evening.
Below are their images of the predicted path that evening:
I had yet another trip to Wales. So I took my camera and new lens along with me in hope. This was the first time I had enjoyed a trip to the much darker skies of Wales without rain or the full Moon. So I made the most of my evenings as they were clear.
A view of Tresaith from the beach with Orion rising behind.
The view from the same vantage point out to sea.
The plough near the cliffs from the same beach.
Orion passing between trees.
The Milky Way in all its glory.
Stargazing Live starts tonight on BBC 2.
Don’t forget to attend some of the stargazing live events organised near you.
I will be involved with two of the three events organised by Northampton Natural History Society.
More details on their Web site: http://www.nnhs.info/astro/
The details of their events are below.
To find an event near you, go to the Stargazing Live website below:
Stargazing Live Website.
To register, please click click here. We will try and post any changes or updates to the events on this webpage.
19 January, 18:00-20:00. Salcey Forest, Hartwell
Apologies, but due to the icy weather and snow forecast for the end of this week, the event at Salcey Forest has had to be cancelled.
Please feel very welcome to come along to our next meeting.
To contact us, click here
A brief clear spell and I was ready.
Setup on Comet LINEAR C/2012 K5 first to get a few subs this time for a better image.
Then used the 5x Powermate with the DSLR to try and get a close up of the Trapezium in The Great Orion Nebula. You cannot almost see the other two trapezium stars as blobs on the side of the brighter stars.
Two nights. Two clear spells.
Just need a clear all-nighter now to really get in the mood.
The clouds finally parted at a time when I was able to get out and do some astronomy.
It seems such a long time ago since I’ve been out.
I wanted to test my new 10-20mm lens that my wife gave me money towards for my combined Xmas & birthday prezzie.
Despite the light pollution from my back garden I was able to reveal the Milky way stretching right from Gemini (Open Star Cluster M35 is down in bottom right), into Cygnus (Deneb top left).
I see that I am going to have so much fun with this lens…
I then set the scope up to take an image of Comet C/LINEAR 2012K5.
It was in the southern part of Auriga and just visible in my main scope as a hazy smudge.
Unfortunately, just as I got 3 images in the bag, it clouded over again bringing my great observing start to 2013 to a crashing halt.
A small taster of what might be coming later in the year?