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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

 

The Sky This Week - Thursday September 18 to Thursday September 25

The New Moon is Wednesday September 24. Mercury meets the bright star Spica. Mars enters the head of the Scorpion. Mars and Saturn are prominent in the evening sky forming a line with Mercury and two bright stars. Jupiter becomes more prominent in the morning sky and is visited by the Moon on the 20th. Comets C/2013 A1 Siding Spring and C/2013 V5 are in the reach of small telescopes.
 
The New Moon is Wednesday September 24. The Moon is at apogee (furthest from the Earth) on the 20th.


Evening sky on Saturday September 20 looking west as seen from Adelaide at 19:00 (7:00 pm) ACST in South Australia. Mercury is close to the bright star Spica. Comet C/2013 V5 may be visible in the twilight not far from Mercury. Similar views will be seen elsewhere at the equivalent local time (click to embiggen).

Mercury climbs higher in the evening sky and is now readily visible above the western horizon. It is now easy to see from half an hour after sunset to  an hour and a half after sunset, when the  zippy planet is in dark skies.

The western horizon now has a long string of bright objects making an interesting line in the sky. Mercury, Spica, Saturn, Mars and Antares. The line is topped off by the hook that is the tail of the Scorpion, embedded with clusters and nebula (and comet C/2013 A1, see below).

Mercury is easy to see in the early evening now. It is still climbing rapidly in the sky, and will be less than a finger width from Spica, on the 20th and 21st. On the 22nd Mercury will be at its highest in the evening sky, and will head towards the horizon after this.  

Comet C/2013 V5 is brightening but rapidly becomes lost in the morning twilight. If it survives it's passage of the Sun it will reappear on the evening sky by the weekend. It may be visible to the unaided eye, but should be visible in binoculars if it survives. More detailed viewing maps suitable for binoculars are here.



Evening sky on Thursday September 18 looking west as seen from Adelaide at 22:00 (10:00 pm) ACST in South Australia. Mars is close to Dschubba and Saturn is  under the head of  Scorpius. Similar views will be seen elsewhere at the equivalent local time (click to embiggen).

Mars  is easily seen in the western evening sky, setting just before 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  Scorpius. It forms a line with the red star Antares (which means rival of Mars) and Saturn (and Spica and Mercury). At the beginning  of the week it is half a finger-width from the middle star of the Scorpions head, Dschubba. Thereafter it climbs towards Antares.

Saturn is in the early western evening sky, and was at opposition on June 11th. Saturn is visible  in the early evening, setting just after 10 pm local time. . Saturn is still high enough from twilight for decent telescopic observation for a few hours.

Saturn is in Libra near the head of the constellation of the Scorpion and forms a  line with Mercury, Spica, Mars and Antares.

Morning sky on Saturday September 20 looking north-east as seen from Adelaide at 5:30 am ACST.  Jupiter is above the north-east horizon and close to the crescent Moon. (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 at twilight. During the week Jupiter climbs higher and becomes easier to see as the brightest object above the north-eastern horizon.

On the mornings of the 20thand 21st the crescent Moon is close to Jupiter.


Evening sky on Saturday September 20 looking West as seen from Adelaide at 22:00 (10:00 pm) ACST in South Australia. Comet C/2013 A1 Siding Spring is above  the tail of the Scorpion. Similar views will be seen elsewhere at the equivalent local time (click to embiggen).

Comet C/2013 A1 Siding Spring is rising higher the the evening sky, being highest around midnight. It is currently located just above the  Southern Cross. While at magnitude 8.4 it should be visible in binoculars, it is likely that you will need a small telescope to see it until the waning Moon leaves the evening sky early in the week. A printable black and white chart suitable for binoculars is here. The large circle is the field of view of 10x50 binoculars.


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.

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Sunday, September 14, 2014

 

Comet C/2013A1 Siding Spring and Galaxy NGC 6744

Comet C/2013 A1 Siding Spring and the galaxy NGC 6744. Click to embiggen.

Image is a SUMMED stack of 9 x 60 second images taken with iTelescope T12.

Image significantly affected by
Moon light, but still not bad.

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Saturday, September 13, 2014

 

Comet C/2013 A1 12 September 2014

C/2013 A1 on 12 September 10:12 pm ACST. Image is a MEDIAN stack of 5x60 second luminance exposures taken with iTelescope T9, with light contrast enhancement. Click to embiggen.C/2013 A1 on 12 September 10:12 pm ACST. Image is a SUMMED stack of 5x60 second luminance exposures taken with iTelescope T9, with light contrast enhancement. Click to embiggen.

C/2013 A1 on 24 March, much dimmer than now.

Comet C/2013 A1 Siding Spring has passed it's closest approach to Earth and will now slowly fade as it heads for its close approach to Mars on October 19.

While it never got very bright it still looks very nice in telescopes. It has a nice little fan shaped tail. In the coming weeks it comes close to some rather nice deep sky objects.

Images taken with iTelecope T9 0.32-m f/9.3 Ritchey-Chretien + Focal Reducer Resolution: 0.8 arc-secs/pixel FOV: 13.6 x 20.4 arc-mins.

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Friday, September 12, 2014

 

Saturn, Mars and Antares, 12 September 2014

Zubenelgenubi, Saturn, the middle star of the Scorpions head (Dschubba), Mars and Antares all line up in this image of the Constellation of Scorpios. Click to embiggen.

Stack of 10 x 15 second exposures with my Canon IXUS (ASA 400).

During the week Mars will come closer to Dschubba. The dark rifts of the Milky way show up nicely for a light polluted suburb.

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Aurora Watch Friday 12 September, 2014

A double impact is expected from a glancing blow from a Coronal Mass Ejection from an M class flare, and a nearly full on impact from a CME from an X class flare during this coming Friday.

The Australian IPS has released an aurora watch for Friday (12 September) to early Saturday (13 September). If aurora occur, this may be visible in Tasmania, New Zealand, and possibly Southern Vic, WA and Southern South Australia.

If conditions are right aurora might even extend further north. However, geomagnetic storms are fickle, and the storm may arrive in daylight or well after Moon rise, or may fizzle out entirely .. or might just be spectacular.

Depending on when the incoming coronal Mass Ejection from the X-class flare strikes, we may see Minor Storm to Major Storm periods in the late evening to early morning. At the moment the prediction is for  the X class CME to strike around 10 pm AEST (+/- 7 hours!). 

The Moon is waning after full Moon on the 8th, so the skies will be fairly dark until Moon rise around 10:00 pm. As always look to the south for shifting red/green glows, recently beams have been reported too. As usual, dark sky sites will have the best chance of seeing anything, and always allow  around 5 minutes for your eyes to become dark adapted.

The all sky aurora camera in Southern Tasmania at Cressy may be of help in monitoring for aurora
http://www.ips.gov.au/Geophysical/4/2

SUBJ: IPS GEOMAGNETIC DISTURBANCE WARNING 14/16 ISSUED AT 0510UT/11 SEPTEMBER 2014 BY THE AUSTRALIAN SPACE FORECAST CENTRE.
INCREASED GEOMAGNETIC ACTIVITY EXPECTED DUE TO CORONAL MASS EJECTIONS FROM 11-13 SEPTEMBER 2014
_____________________________________________________________
GEOMAGNETIC ACTIVITY FORECAST
11 Sep: Unsettled with possible Minor Storm periods
12 Sep: Active to Major Storm levels
13 Sep: Active
Cheers! Ian

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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

 

Comet C/2013 V5 Oukaimeden in September 2014

Morning sky facing east showing the path of comet C/2013 V5 (and C/2012 K1) as seen from Adelaide at astronomical twilight from 10-20 September. Printable B & W map. Similar views will be seen elsewhere in the southern hemisphere at the equivalent local time. Click to embiggen and print.GIF animation showing the path of comet C/2013 V5as seen from Adelaide at astronomical twilight in the morning from 10-20 September. Simulated in Stellarium. Click to embiggen
Evening sky facing west showing the path of comet C/2013 V5 (and C/2013 A1and Mars) as seen from Adelaide at astronomical twilight from 18-30 September. Printable B & W map. Similar views will be seen elsewhere in the southern hemisphere at the equivalent local time. Click to embiggen and print.GIF animation showing the path of comet C/2013 V5as seen from Adelaide at astronomical twilight in the evening from 19-30 September. Simulated in Stellarium. Click to embiggen

Comet C/2013 V5 has been unassumingly growing brighter low in the eastern morning sky. It is starting to look quite spectacular in telescopes, and should be visible in binoculars as a fuzzy dot.

Should be is the issue, at the moment the comet is rather diffuse and competing with the bright Moonlight, in the next couple of weeks the light from the waning Moon fades, but the comet approaches the horizon rapidly, coming deeper into the murk near the horizon and harder to see.

By the 20th, it is lost to the morning skies, but may reappear in the evening skies (there is a chance it will break up when it is closest to the Sun). It will rapidly rise in the evening skies (if it has survived) it might be bright enough to (just) see with the unaided eye. Again, in binoculars it will look like a fuzzy dot, possibly with a short tail. it will then rapidly fade. With the waxing Moon brightening the sky will be brightening as the comet fades, making it harder to follow by the end of the month.

Binocular map of C/2013 V5 in the morning. The circle is the field of view of 10x50 binoculars. Click to embiggen and print.Binocular map of C/2013 V5 in the evening. The circle is the field of view of 10x50 binoculars. Click to embiggen and print.

There are few obvious signpost to locate the comet in the morning sky, initially scanning east of Procyon with binoculars should be helpful, but care attention to the maps (using a red light torch to not destroy your night vision) will probably be needed to find this comet in binoculars. Decent sized telescope will have no problem until the comet gets too closer to the horizon.

Morning sky on Saturday September 13 looking north-east as seen from Adelaide at 5:30 am ACST.  Jupiter is above the horizon and comet C/2013 V5 is east of  Procyon. (click to embiggen).

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Southern Skywatch September, 2014 edition is now out!

The Moon looking north-west at 7:00 pm ACST in Adelaide on 26 September. Mercury Spica and the Moon form a triangle in the Sky, while comet C/2013 V5 rises above them (dimly). Similar views will be seen elsewhere at the equivalent local time.

The September edition of Southern Skywatch is now up.  This month features some nice planetary  planetary action this month with Mercury close to Spica, and Mars coming close to Antares. Comet C/2013 V5 may become easy to see in binoculars.

Jupiter rises higher in the morning twilight and is near the Moon on the 20th.

Mars is obvious in the western evening sky.  Mars is near Antares on the 28th.

Saturn is in the western evening sky.

Venus is lost in the twilight.

Mercury enters the evening sky and is close to Spica on the 20th and the Moon on the 26th.

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Tuesday, September 09, 2014

 

The Sky This Week - Thursday September 11 to Thursday September 18

The Last Quarter Moon is Tuesday September 16. Mercury climbs towards the bright star Spica. Mars and Saturn are prominent in the evening sky forming a line with Mercury and two bright stars. Jupiter becomes more prominent in the morning sky. Comets C/2013 A1 Siding Spring and C/2013 V5 are in the reach of small telescopes.
 
The Last Quarter Moon is Tuesday September 16.


Evening sky on Saturday September 13 looking west as seen from Adelaide at 19:00 (7:00 pm) ACST in South Australia. Mercury is now reasonably high above the horizon in the early evening. Similar views will be seen elsewhere at the equivalent local time (click to embiggen).

Mercury climbs higher in the evening sky and is now readily visible above the western horizon. It is now easy to see from half an hour after sunset to  an hour and a half after sunset, when the  zippy planet is in dark skies.

The western horizon now has a long string of bright objects making an interesting line in the sky. Mercury, Spica, Saturn, Mars and Antares. The line is topped off by the hook that is the tail of the Scorpion, embeed with clusters and nebula.

Mercury is climbing rapidly in the sky, coming closer to Spica, next week they will be less than a finger-width apart. 


Evening sky on Saturday September 13 looking west as seen from Adelaide at 22:00 (10:00 pm) ACST in South Australia. Mars and Saturn are  under the head of  Scorpius. Similar views will be seen elsewhere at the equivalent local time (click to embiggen).

Mars  is easily seen in the western evening sky, setting just before 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  Scorpius. It forms a line with the red star Antares (which means rival of Mars) and Saturn (and Spica and Mercury). Over the week Mars draws close to the head of the Scorpion. By the end of the week it is close to the middle star of the Scorpions head, Dschubba.

Saturn is in the early western evening sky, and was at opposition on June 11th. Saturn is visible most of the evening. Saturn is high enough from twilight for decent telescopic observation for a few hours and sets just before 11pm local time.

Saturn is in Libra near the head of the constellation of the Scorpion and forms a  line with Mercury, Spica, Mars and Antares.

Morning sky on Saturday September 13 looking north-east as seen from Adelaide at 5:30 am ACST.  Jupiter is above the horizon and comet C/2013 V5 is east of  Procyon. (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 at twilight. During the week Jupiter climbs higher and becomes easier to see as the brightest object above the north-eastern horizon.

Comet C/2013 V5 is brightening and may become visible to the unaided eye (just) later in the month. Now you may need a small telescope to see it. Although it is magnitude 6.6 and should currently be visible in binoculars, its diffuse nature and the light of the waning Moon may make it difficult to see over the next few days. 

 Evening sky on Saturday September 13 looking South as seen from Adelaide at 22:00 (10:00 pm) ACST in South Australia. Comet C/2013 A1 Siding Spring is above the Southern Cross, heading for the tail of the Scorpion. Similar views will be seen elsewhere at the equivalent local time (click to embiggen).

Comet C/2013 A1 Siding Spring is rising higher the the evening sky, being highest around midnight. It is currently located just above the  Southern Cross. While at magnitude 8.4 it should be visible in binoculars, it is likely that you will need a small telescope to see it until the waning Moon leaves the evening sky early in the week.


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.

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Saturday, September 06, 2014

 

NEO 2014 RC flys by on 7-8 September, 2014




NEO 2014 RC as seen from Siding Springs Observatory from 1:15 am 8 September - 5:15 am (15:15 - 19:15 UT 7 September). The crosses mark the position of the asteroid every 5 minutes. Positions calculated in Horizon Track from JPL horizons data. click to embiggen.

Near Earth Asteroid  2014 RC will  come close to Earth on 18:00 UT 7 September at distance of 0.0003 AU (around 0.15 Earth-Moon distances). It has an estimated diameter of  20m. It is brightest at 17:15 UT though.

The asteroid is currently magnitude 19, and will be a reasonably mag 11.2 at closest approach, despite its small size.

The asteroid is well placed for southern observers, and will be relatively bright (magnitude 13 to 11) from midnight on. Imaging this may be difficult as the asteooid is moving too fast to track. OIndeed you will need a widefield objective to see the asteroid falsh past at cloest approach around 3 am on Sunday. .

NEO 2014 RC as seen from Siding Springs Observatory from 2:50 am 8 September - 3:50 am (16:50 - 17:50 UT 7 September). The crosses mark the position of the asteroid every 5 minutes.

Positions calculated in Horizon Track from JPL horizons data. The circles mark the different location of the Asteroid im MPC (2014 RC) and JPL (2014 RA) data click to embiggen.

NEO 2014 RC  passes from Aquarius through Sculptor and Phoenix to Eriadanus.

The asteroid is visible from start of astronomical twilight in the evening of the 7 September local time (magnitude 14) until end of astronomical twilight on the 8th (local time).

You will need to use a topocentric ephemeris and camp out on the asteroid track.

There is a substantial parallax effect (gretaer than one defree 1 degree), so unless your planetarium program is able to cope with close parallax (most can't), you will need to work from topocentric coordinates. You will need your latitude and longitude for an accurate ephemeris from you position.

For topocentric ephemerides go to http://www.minorplanetcenter.net/iau/MPEph/MPEph.html

Always use the latest possible orbital elements and ephemeris.  The planning guides to viewing YU55 here and here will help organising topocentric ephemerides for close approaching NEO's.

You will need to use unguided exposures. Choose a point where the asteroid will pass and aim at that. 

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The ISS zooms past Saturn, Mars and Antares

The ISS flies past (from bottom to top) Saturn, Mars and Antares on the evening of 6 September. Stack of 3x15 second images. Images taken at 400 ASA with my Canon IXUS, stacked in ImageJ (SUMMED). Click to embiggen for a better view of the planets and stars.

After a long spell of missing the International Space Station (no passes, cloud, driving kids about), tonight's bright pass did not disappoint.

A beautifly clear sky, slightly pale from moonlight. The ISS climed up past Acturus, brightening as it went, the quiclly falsed past Saturn, Mars, throgh the head of the Scorpion, past Antares then glided over the Southern sky.

Very nice indeed. I should have used a shorter exposure, as the ISS rapidly shot through the Scorpion, but here is a 3 frame animated GIF of the flyover.

 There a few more nice bright passes this week, but none quite so beautiful as seen from Adelaide.

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