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Sunday, April 23, 2017

 

Geomagnetic warning and Aurora Watch (23-24 April)

The SWS has issued a geomagnetic warning and an aurora watch for 23-24 April due to a high speed stream from a recurrent coronal hole and the arrival of a coronal mass ejection (this caused strong aroral conditions yesterday, which was clouded out for mots of Australia). A G2 storm is predicted to start anywhere between 4pm to 7 pm, with G1 (minor) storm conditions thereafter.

If these geomagnetic events occur and  result in aurora they could be seen from Tasmania and Southern Victoria, weather permitting (the weather is rubbish). 

Currently Hobart Kindex is 5 and Velocity: 689 km/sec Bz: -2.0 nT Density = 8.0 p/cc  (so promising). The Moon is rising late in the morning, so evening skies will have little Moon interference, but cloud cover is predicted for Tasmanian and most of Southern Victoria.  However, the last occurrence saw nice displays through gaps in the cloud. Be patient, as the activity may rise and fall as the magnetic polarity of the wind may fluctuate significantly.

Dark sky sites have the best chance of seeing anything, and always allow around 5 minutes for your eyes to become dark adapted.

As always look to the south for shifting red/green glows, beams have been reported consistently over the last few aurora, as well as bright proton arcs and "picket fences".

If you are up early on the morning of the 24th look for the crescent Moon near Venus.

Here is the near-real time satellite view of the clouds http://satview.bom.gov.au/
Cloud cover predictions can be found at SkippySky.  

The all sky aurora camera in Northern Tasmania at Cressy is being upgraded and is not yet online.

SUBJ: SWS GEOMAGNETIC DISTURBANCE WARNING 17/21 ISSUED AT 2323UT/21 APRIL 2017 BY THE AUSTRALIAN SPACE FORECAST CENTRE.
On 22 April the geomagnetic activity will remain elevated due to a CME arrival.
A recurrent coronal hole is expected to be geoeffective on 23-24 April.
INCREASED GEOMAGNETIC ACTIVITY EXPECTED DUE TO CORONAL HOLE HIGH SPEED WIND STREAM FROM 22-24 APRIL 2017
_____________________________________________________________

GEOMAGNETIC ACTIVITY FORECAST
22 Apr: Active
23 Apr: Active to Minor Storm
24 Apr: Minor Storm
==============================================================
SUBJ: SWS AURORA WATCH
ISSUED AT 0010 UT ON 23 Apr 2017 by Space Weather Services
FROM THE AUSTRALIAN SPACE FORECAST CENTRE

The Earth is currently under the influence of very high solar wind
speeds from a combined effect of the 18 April CME and high speed
streams from a recurrent,negative polarity coronal hole. As a
result,the geomagnetic conditions at earth could reach minor storm
levels today with isolated chance of major storms. Auroras may be
visible tonight (23 April) in Tasmania and possibly from the coastline
of Victoria. Aurora alerts will follow should favourable space weather
activity eventuate.

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Thursday, April 20, 2017

 

Aurora happening NOW (20 April)

Aurora are being reported now in Tasmania from Taranna and Doges Ferry. Cloud is still an issue though. Hobart Kindex is currently 4 with Velocity: 591 km/sec Bz: 0.0 nT Density = 12.0 p/cc  a bit ordinary, but further G1 storms are predicted for tonight/tomorrow morning and it is likely that the aurora will die down and flare up again during the night and early morning. (see also NOAA)

Dark sky sites have the best chance of seeing anything, and always allow around 5 minutes for your eyes to become dark adapted.As always look to the south for shifting red/green glows, beams have been reported consistently over the last few aurora, as well as bright proton arcs and "picket fences".

Here is the near-real time satellite view of the clouds http://satview.bom.gov.au/
Cloud cover predictions can be found at SkippySky.  

The all sky aurora camera in Northern Tasmania at Cressy is being upgraded and is not yet online.

SUBJ: SWS GEOMAGNETIC DISTURBANCE WARNING 17/19
ISSUED AT 2345UT/18 APRIL 2017
BY THE AUSTRALIAN SPACE FORECAST CENTRE.

Recurrent positive polarity coronal hole is expected to be geoeffective.

INCREASED GEOMAGNETIC ACTIVITY EXPECTED
DUE TO CORONAL HOLE HIGH SPEED WIND STREAM
FROM 19-20 APRIL 2017
_____________________________________________________________

GEOMAGNETIC ACTIVITY FORECAST
19 Apr:  Active
20 Apr:  Unsettled to Active

==============================================================
SUBJ: SWS AURORA WATCH
ISSUED AT 0315 UT ON 20 Apr 2017 by Space Weather Services
FROM THE AUSTRALIAN SPACE FORECAST CENTRE

The Earth is now under influence of the High Speed Stream from a
recurrent coronal hole. The geomagnetic activity has reached Minor
Storm level. This may result in increased chances of auroral activity.
Auroras may be visible on the local night of 20-21 April in Tasmania
and possibly near the coastline of Victoria.

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Asteroid 2014 JO25 recedes from view (20 April, 2017)

Asteroid 2014 JO25 ziping along with the scope tracking on the asteroid (the asteroid is the dot near the edge). 20 x 60 second luminance exposures with iTelescope T11 stacked and aligned in ImageJ. Imaging starts at 9:05 UT (3:05 am local time 20th) Click to embiggen.Animation of the same 20 x 60 frames (click to embiggen for animated asteroidal goodness)

As Asteroid 2014 JO25 recedes from earth I was able to get some more images and animations. By the time I took the above images with iTelescope T11 in New Mexico, it had moved far enough away that I could track on the asteroid. Still moving at a fair clip and the stars are trailed.

Asteroid 2014 JO25 zips along receding from Earth with added satellite trails (the asteroid is the dotted line through the centre). 20 x 60 second luminance exposures with iTelescope T14 stacked and aligned in ImageJ. Imaging starts at 3:05 UT (9:05 pm local time 19th) Click to embiggen.Animation of the same 20 x 60 frames (click to embiggen for animated asteroidal goodness)

Earlier in the UT day from T14, also New Mexico. Asteroid is moving too fast to track.

Asteroid 2014 JO25 near galaxy NGC 4710. 7 x 120 second luminance exposures with iTelescope T13 (Siding Spring Observaory) stacked and aligned in ImageJ. Imaging starts at 11:00 UT (9:05 pm local time 20th) Click to embiggen and see more galaxies.Animation of the same 20 x 60 frames (click to embiggen for animated asteroidal goodness). Cloud comes over in the last frames.

Finally an image from telescope T13 at Siding Spring Observatory in Australia, choosing to track on the galaxies rather than the asteroid for a prettier composition. Clouds have ruined any chance of me seeing the asteroid with my own instruments.

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Wednesday, April 19, 2017

 

Capturing asteroid 2014 JO25 (19 April 2017)

Asteroid 2014 JO25 zips past the magnitude 13.1 galaxy NGC 6248 while bracketed by satellite trails (the asteroid is the dotted line through the centre). 10 x 120 second luminance exposures with iTelescope T14 stacked and aligned in ImageJ. Imaging starts at 10:00 UT (4:00 am local time) Click to embiggen and see more galaxies.Animation of the same 10 x 120 frames (click to embiggen for animated asteroidal goodness)

Asteroid 2014 JO25 is, as I type, making its closest approach to Earth (12:24 UT 19 April). Zipping past at 4.6 Earth-Moon distances at closest approach, this asteroid was moving at a speedy 92.2 arc seconds per minute whin I was  trying to image it, making imaging a tad challenging. However, using the remote telescopes of iTelescope in Mayhill New Mexico I succeeded (with a bit of bad luck with some cloud early on). With the wide-field T14 instrument I caught the asteroid zipping through a field of galaxies, looking rather nice.

Asteroid 2014 JO25 also at 10:00 UT taken with iTelescope T5, moving so fast the tracker is just barely coping (hint the asteroid is the only thing that is not a streak).

Australia gets its chance tomorrow, when  the asteroid zips through Virgo. It won't be as bright as at closest approach, but still within reach of modest amateur scopes.

This is the closest approach of asteroid 2015 JO25 for around 400 years, and it wont come this close again for another 500 years. 

The asteroid turn out to be a very interesting object, images from the Arecibo radio telescope show that the asteroid is a contact binary, and about twice the size we though it was, one of the two lobes is around 620 meters in diameter, see here and here of radio telescope "images" and animations from the Goldstone and Arecibo radio telescopes.

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Tuesday, April 18, 2017

 

The Sky This Week - Thursday April 20 to Thursday April 27

The New Moon is Wednesday April 26. Mars is low in the twilight. Jupiter and the bright star Spica are close in the late evening skies. Saturn is low in the late evening sky. Venus climbs higher in the morning sky and is close to the crescent Moon on the 24th. Lyrid meteor shower morning 23rd.

The New Moon is Wednesday April 26.

Evening sky on Saturday April 22 looking west as seen from Adelaide at 18:24 ACST (45 minutes after sunset). Mars is low above the horizon, between Aldebaran and close to the Pleiades.

 Similar views will be seen throughout Australia at the equivalent local time (that is 450 minutes after local sunset, click to embiggen).

Mercury is lost in twilight.

Mars is in the western evening skies in Taurus It is is low in the dusk sky, but is the brightest object above the western horizon low in the late twilight below Aldebaran. Over the week Mars passes between the Pleiades cluster and the Hyades cluster, you will need a clear, unobscured level horizon to see this though.

Evening sky on Saturday April 22 looking east as seen from Adelaide at 19:08 ACST (90 minutes after sunset).  Jupiter is above the horizon between the bright star Spica and the relatively bright star Porrima. The inset shows the telescopic view of Jupiter at 22:40 ACST on the same night with Europa appearing from occultation.

Similar views will be seen elsewhere in Australia at the equivalent local time. that is 90 minutes after local sunset, click to embiggen).

Jupiter is rising at dusk and is now reasonably high above the horizon in the early evening this week. It is in between the bright star Spica, the brightest star in the constellation of Virgo, and the relatively bright star Porrima.

Opposition, when Jupiter is biggest and brightest as seen from Earth, was on the 8th. Jupiter is rising as the sun sets and is visible all night long. Jupiter is a good telescopic target from around 8 pm on, and the dance of its Moons is visible even in binoculars. The following Jupiter events are in AEST.


Fri 21 Apr 1:13 Eur: Transit Begins               T
Fri 21 Apr 1:49 Eur: Shadow Transit Begins        ST
Fri 21 Apr 3:32 GRS: Crosses Central Meridian
Fri 21 Apr 3:36 Eur: Transit Ends                 S
Fri 21 Apr 4:16 Eur: Shadow Transit Ends
Fri 21 Apr 23:23 GRS: Crosses Central Meridian
Sat 22 Apr 3:08 Io : Disappears into Occultation
Sat 22 Apr 5:39 Io : Reappears from Eclipse
Sat 22 Apr 19:15 GRS: Crosses Central Meridian
Sat 22 Apr 20:06 Eur: Disappears into Occultation
Sat 22 Apr 23:12 Eur: Reappears from Eclipse
Sun 23 Apr 0:25 Io : Transit Begins               T
Sun 23 Apr 0:45 Io : Shadow Transit Begins        ST
Sun 23 Apr 2:35 Io : Transit Ends                 S
Sun 23 Apr 2:57 Io : Shadow Transit Ends
Sun 23 Apr 5:10 GRS: Crosses Central Meridian
Sun 23 Apr 21:34 Io : Disappears into Occultation
Mon 24 Apr 0:08 Io : Reappears from Eclipse
Mon 24 Apr 1:01 GRS: Crosses Central Meridian
Mon 24 Apr 18:51 Io : Transit Begins               T
Mon 24 Apr 19:14 Io : Shadow Transit Begins        ST
Mon 24 Apr 20:53 GRS: Crosses Central Meridian
Mon 24 Apr 21:01 Io : Transit Ends                 S
Mon 24 Apr 21:25 Io : Shadow Transit Ends
Tue 25 Apr 18:36 Io : Reappears from Eclipse
Wed 26 Apr 1:01 Gan: Disappears into Occultation
Wed 26 Apr 2:40 GRS: Crosses Central Meridian
Wed 26 Apr 4:59 Gan: Reappears from Eclipse
Wed 26 Apr 22:31 GRS: Crosses Central Meridian
Thu 27 Apr 18:22 GRS: Crosses Central Meridian
 
Evening  sky on Saturday April 22 looking east as seen from Adelaide at 23:00 ACST.  Saturn is reasonably high above the horizon.

The inset shows the telescopic view of Saturn at this time. Similar views will be seen elsewhere in Australia at the equivalent local time. (click to embiggen).

 Saturn is now visible in the late evening skies this week. Saturn is only a good telescopic target from midnight on. It continues to climb into the evening skies as the week progresses. It is within binocular distance of the Triffid and Lagoon nebula and makes a very nice sight in binoculars.

The constellation of Scorpio is a good guide to locating Saturn. The distinctive curl of Scorpio is easy to see above the north-eastern horizon, locate the bright red star, Antares, and the look below that towards the horizon, the next bright object is Saturn.

Morning sky on Monday April 24 looking east as seen from Adelaide at 5:20  ACST (90 minutes before sunrise). The inset shows the telescopic view of Venus at this time.

 Similar views will be seen throughout Australia at the equivalent local time (that is 90 minutes before sunrise, click to embiggen).

Venus  climbs higher in the morning sky and is visible in telescopes as a crescent. On the monring of Monday 24th the crescent Moon is near crescent Venus.

The morning sky looking north as seen from Adelaide at 4:40 am AEST on April 23. The Lyrid radiant is marked with a yellow starburst. Similar views will be seen elsewhere at an equivalent local time. The radiant will be higher in northern Australia, and lower in southern Australia (click to embiggen). 






The Lyrids, the debris of comet C/1861 G1 (Thatcher) are a weak but reliable shower that occurs every year between April 16- April 25, the best time to view the Lyrids in Australia is from 4 am local on the 23rd. 

The predicted ZHR this year is 18 meteors per hour. This means that under ideal conditions, you will see a meteor on average about once every three minutes. In Australia, the rate is even less, around 4-5 meteors an hour in Northern Australia (around one every 10 minutes). For southern Australia, the rate is even lower. If you are dedicated and don't mind waiting a long time between meteors, look north, the meteors will appear near the bright star Vega (the only obvious bright star near the horizon)


There are lots of interesting things in the sky to view with a telescope. 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.
Here is the near-real time satellite view of the clouds (day and night) http://satview.bom.gov.au/

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Monday, April 17, 2017

 

Seeing Asteroid 2014 J025 from Australia (20 April 2017)

Asteroid 2014 JO25 as seen from Adelaide facing north-east at 21:10 ACST 20 April (2 hours after astronomical twilight). Similar views will be seen elsewhere in Australia at the equivalent local time (2 hours after local astronomical twilight), click to embiggen.

Asteroid 2014 JO25 will come close to Earth on 12:24 UT 19 April (19 April 22:24 AEST) at distance of 0.012 AU (around 4.6 Earth-Moon distances). At an estimated diameter of around 650m it is about the size of the Chelyabinsk impactor.

However, it will not be visible from Australia at closest approach (when it will be around magnitude 10.5). We only see the asteroid the following night (20th) when it has faded to magnitude 11.1. This is still within the range of most amateur scopes, but out of the range of all but the most powerful astronomical binoculars under dark skies.

Black and white printable spotters chart for asteroid 2014 JO25 as seen from Adelaide at 19:10 ACST 20 April (astronomical twilight) showing the track of the asteroid. Similar views will be seen elsewhere in Australia at the equivalent local time ( local astronomical twilight), click to embiggen.  The crosses mark the position of the asteroid every 3 hours. The large circle  is the field of view of 10x50 binoculars, the small that of  a 24 mm eyepiece on a 4" Newtonian. Various guide stars are marked for use with the larger scale maps. Click to embiggen and print.

Asteroid 2014 JO25 moves from Coma Bernicies through Virgo on the evening of the 20th and through the 21st and 22nd as well.

Black and white printable chart for asteroid 2014 JO25 showing the track of the asteroid at modest magnification. Similar views will be seen elsewhere in Australia at the equivalent local time ( local astronomical twilight), click to embiggen.

The crosses mark the position of the asteroid every 30 minutes. The large circle  is the field of view of 10x50 binoculars, the small that of  a 24 mm eyepiece on a 4" Newtonian. use the guide stars (see map above) to orient yourself. Click to embiggen and print.

It is not moving as fast as at closest approach, but still fast enough (84 -60 arc seconds/minute aover the course of the night), to visibly move over the space of 10-15 minutes.While there is still some paralax difference btween poistions plotted in a standard planaterium program and a proper topocentric ephemeris the difference is around 4 minutes of arc (mauch smaller than at closest approach and small enough that the charts here as a useful guide for all sites in Australia).

Black and white printable chart for asteroid 2014 JO25 showing the track of the asteroid at telescope magnification. Similar views will be seen elsewhere in Australia at the equivalent local time ( local astronomical twilight), click to embiggen.

The crosses mark the position of the asteroid every 30 minutes. The circle  is the field of view of a 24 mm eyepiece on a 4" Newtonian. Stars down to magnitude 13 are shown use the guide stars (see map above) to orient yourself. Click to embiggen and print.

While theoretically visible from astronomical twilight on the 20th, it will be better to wait until after 20:00 (8pm) as the asteroid will be higer in the sky above the murk of the horizon. The asteroid will be difficult to spot, as it will be too  dim to see in finderscopes, but there are several useful guide stars.

If you draw an imaginary line between Arcturus and Regulus, then drop a line perpendicular to this line from Spica, the asteroid will  be almost at the intersection of these lines, within a binocular field of alpha Coma Cernicies and epsilon Virginis, just down from rho Virginis.Within that area, using the charts above, you can star hop to the location of the asteroid. While faint, you should be able to see it slowly move over a period of several minutes.

For topocentric ephemerides go to http://www.minorplanetcenter.net/iau/MPEph/MPEph.html
type 2014 JO25 in the input box and enter you latitude and longitude (the times give are all UT, so you will need to convert to your local time). Ephemeris start date: is 20170420, and choose 50 output, ephemeris interval 30 minutes.  Here is the ephemeris for Siding Spring Observatory (not to differnt from the ephemeris for Adelaide).

     K14J25O       [H=18.1]
Date       UT      R.A. (J2000) Decl.    Delta     r     El.    Ph.   V      Sky Motion        Object    Sun   Moon                Uncertainty info
            h m s                                                            "/min    P.A.    Azi. Alt.  Alt.  Phase Dist. Alt.    3-sig/" P.A.
... Suppressed ...
2017 04 20 080000 12 54 10.5 +18 47 38   0.020   1.021  146.4  32.9  11.0   83.76    199.6    247  +02   -06   0.41   122  -41        10 063.7 / Map / Offsets
2017 04 20 083000 12 53 12.3 +18 08 47   0.020   1.022  146.9  32.5  11.0   81.18    199.6    243  +08   -12   0.41   122  -43        10 064.1 / Map / Offsets
2017 04 20 090000 12 52 15.8 +17 31 08   0.020   1.022  147.3  32.0  11.1   78.71    199.7    239  +14   -18   0.41   123  -43        10 064.6 / Map / Offsets
2017 04 20 093000 12 51 21.1 +16 54 39   0.021   1.022  147.8  31.6  11.1   76.33    199.7    234  +20   -25   0.41   123  -43        10 065.0 / Map / Offsets
2017 04 20 100000 12 50 28.2 +16 19 16   0.021   1.023  148.1  31.2  11.1   74.05    199.7    229  +26   -31   0.40   124  -41         9 065.5 / Map / Offsets
2017 04 20 103000 12 49 36.8 +15 44 57   0.021   1.023  148.5  30.9  11.1   71.84    199.8    223  +31   -38   0.40   124  -39         9 065.9 / Map / Offsets
2017 04 20 110000 12 48 47.1 +15 11 39   0.022   1.023  148.9  30.5  11.1   69.71    199.8    216  +36   -44   0.40   124  -36         9 066.4 / Map / Offsets
2017 04 20 113000 12 47 59.0 +14 39 20   0.022   1.024  149.2  30.2  11.2   67.66    199.8    208  +40   -50   0.40   125  -32         9 066.8 / Map / Offsets
2017 04 20 120000 12 47 12.4 +14 07 58   0.022   1.024  149.5  29.8  11.2   65.68    199.8    199  +43   -56   0.40   125  -28         8 067.3 / Map / Offsets
2017 04 20 123000 12 46 27.3 +13 37 31   0.023   1.024  149.8  29.5  11.2   63.76    199.8    189  +45   -61   0.39   125  -23         8 067.8 / Map / Offsets
2017 04 20 130000 12 45 43.7 +13 07 57   0.023   1.025  150.1  29.2  11.2   61.90    199.7    178  +46   -66   0.39   126  -18         8 068.2 / Map / Offsets
2017 04 20 133000 12 45 01.6 +12 39 14   0.023   1.025  150.4  28.9  11.3   60.10    199.6    167  +45   -69   0.39   126  -12         8 068.7 / Map / Offsets
2017 04 20 140000 12 44 20.9 +12 11 20   0.024   1.026  150.7  28.7  11.3   58.36    199.5    157  +44   -71   0.39   126  -07         8 069.1 / Map / Offsets
2017 04 20 143000 12 43 41.7 +11 44 14   0.024   1.026  150.9  28.4  11.3   56.68    199.4    147  +41   -69   0.38   127  -01         8 069.6 / Map / Offsets
2017 04 20 150000 12 43 03.8 +11 17 53   0.024   1.026  151.2  28.2  11.3   55.04    199.3    139  +38   -66   0.38   127  +05         7 070.0 / Map / Offsets
2017 04 20 153000 12 42 27.4 +10 52 17   0.025   1.027  151.4  28.0  11.4   53.46    199.2    131  +33   -62   0.38   127  +11         7 070.5 / Map / Offsets
2017 04 20 160000 12 41 52.3 +10 27 23   0.025   1.027  151.6  27.7  11.4   51.93    199.0    124  +28   -56   0.38   128  +17         7 070.9 / Map / Offsets
2017 04 20 163000 12 41 18.5 +10 03 10   0.026   1.027  151.8  27.5  11.4   50.44    198.8    119  +23   -51   0.38   128  +23         7 071.3 / Map / Offsets
2017 04 20 170000 12 40 46.1 +09 39 38   0.026   1.028  152.0  27.3  11.4   49.01    198.7    113  +17   -45   0.37   128  +30         7 071.8 / Map / Offsets
2017 04 20 173000 12 40 14.9 +09 16 44   0.026   1.028  152.2  27.1  11.5   47.62    198.5    108  +11   -38   0.37   129  +36         7 072.2 / Map / Offsets
2017 04 20 180000 12 39 44.9 +08 54 27   0.027   1.029  152.4  27.0  11.5   46.28    198.3    104  +05   -32   0.37   129  +42         6 072.7 / Map / Offsets
... Suppressed ...

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Saturday, April 15, 2017

 

And now for something completely different, the Orion Nebula with a point and shoot camera.

The Orion Nebula taken with my Canon IXUS opposed to a 20 mm eyepiece on my 8" Newtonian (infinity-infinity), with tracking on. Stack of 3x5 second exposures an 400 ASA (deep sky stacker). Click to embiggen.

An experiment I've been wanting to try for ages, taking deep sky images with my point and shoot camera. I have the motor drive on tracking in dec, but I didn't properly polar align the scope, so there is some drift.

Still not bad for a first effort (my Mars and nebula effort counts as a first, really, but I was using a higher magnification for this one, so polar alignment was more critical and I mucked it up).

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Wednesday, April 12, 2017

 

More comet C/2015 ER61 goodness (8 April 2017)

Comet C/2015 ER61 on APril 8 at 4:41 AEST. Image is a stack of 15 x 60s greyscale images from iTelescope T13 registered and stacked in comet mode of DeepSky Stacker. Click to embiggen Same images registered and stacked in ImageJ, then a SUMMED Z projection applied. Click to embiggen

Comet C/2015 ER61 is fading after its outburst, but I got some nice sequence of it via the remote iTelescopes (here it's been mostly clouded out). I've been playinng with DeepSKy stacker to see if I can better comet tail resolution than I can with ImageJ. My current attempts with both are pretty meh.

See my previous image here.

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Monday, April 10, 2017

 

The Sky This Week - ThursdayApril 13 to Thursday April 20

The Last Quarter Moon is Wednesday April 18. Mars is low in the twilight. Jupiter and the bright star Spica are close in the late evening skies, with Jupiter just past opposition. Saturn is low in the late evening sky and is close to the Moon on the16th. Venus climbs higher in the morning sky

The Last Quarter Moon is Wednesday April 18. The Moon is at apogee, when it is furthest from the Earth, on the 15th.

Evening sky on Saturday April 15 looking west as seen from Adelaide at 18:47 ACST (60 minutes after sunset). Mars is low above the horizon, below Aldebaran and close to the Pleiades.

 Similar views will be seen throughout Australia at the equivalent local time (that is 60 minutes after local sunset, click to embiggen).

Mercury is lost in twilight.

Mars is in the western evening skies in Taurus It is is low in the dusk sky, but is the brightest object above the western horizon low in the late twilight below Aldebaran. Over the week Mars comes close to the Pleiades cluster, you will need a clear, unobscured level horizon to see this though.

Evening sky on Saturday April 15 looking east as seen from Adelaide at 19:16 ACST (90 minutes after sunset).  Jupiter is above the horizon close to the bright star Spica. The inset shows the telescopic view of Jupiter at 20:06 ACST on the 15th with Europa appearing from occultation.

Similar views will be seen elsewhere in Australia at the equivalent local time. that is 90 minutes after local sunset, click to embiggen).

Jupiter is rising at dusk and is now reasonably high above the horizon in the early evening this week. It is close to the bright star Spica, the brightest star in the constellation of Virgo.

Opposition, when Jupiter is biggest and brightest as seen from Earth, was on the 8th. Jupiter is rising as the sun sets and is visible all night long. Jupiter is a good telescopic target from around 8 pm on, and the dance of its Moons is visible even in binoculars. The following Jupiter events are in AEST.


Thu 13 Apr 22:58 Eur: Transit Begins               T
Thu 13 Apr 23:12 Eur: Shadow Transit Begins        ST
Fri 14 Apr 1:20 Eur: Transit Ends                 S
Fri 14 Apr 1:40 Eur: Shadow Transit Ends
Fri 14 Apr 2:47 GRS: Crosses Central Meridian
Fri 14 Apr 4:15 Io : Transit Begins               T
Fri 14 Apr 4:23 Io : Shadow Transit Begins        ST
Fri 14 Apr 22:38 GRS: Crosses Central Meridian
Sat 15 Apr 1:23 Io : Disappears into Occultation
Sat 15 Apr 3:45 Io : Reappears from Eclipse
Sat 15 Apr 18:29 GRS: Crosses Central Meridian
Sat 15 Apr 20:38 Eur: Reappears from Eclipse
Sat 15 Apr 22:41 Io : Transit Begins               T
Sat 15 Apr 22:51 Io : Shadow Transit Begins        ST
Sun 16 Apr 0:51 Io : Transit Ends                 S
Sun 16 Apr 1:03 Io : Shadow Transit Ends
Sun 16 Apr 4:25 GRS: Crosses Central Meridian
Sun 16 Apr 19:49 Io : Disappears into Occultation
Sun 16 Apr 22:13 Io : Reappears from Eclipse
Mon 17 Apr 0:16 GRS: Crosses Central Meridian
Mon 17 Apr 19:17 Io : Transit Ends                 S
Mon 17 Apr 19:31 Io : Shadow Transit Ends
Mon 17 Apr 20:07 GRS: Crosses Central Meridian
Tue 18 Apr 21:44 Gan: Disappears into Occultation
Wed 19 Apr 1:01 Gan: Reappears from Eclipse
Wed 19 Apr 1:54 GRS: Crosses Central Meridian
Wed 19 Apr 21:45 GRS: Crosses Central Meridian
 

Evening  sky on Saturday April 15 looking east as seen from Adelaide at 23:00 ACST.  Saturn is reasonably high above the horizon with the Moon nearby.

The inset shows the telescopic view of Saturn at this time. Similar views will be seen elsewhere in Australia at the equivalent local time. (click to embiggen).

 Saturn is now visible in the late evening skies this week. Saturn is  only a good telescopic target from midnight on. It continues to climb into the evening skys as the week progresses. It is within binocular distance of the Triffid and Lagoon nebula, although the closeness of the Moon this week will wash them out..

The constellation of Scorpio is a good guide to locating Saturn. The distinctive curl of Scorpio is easy to see above the north-eastern horizon, locate the bright red star, Antares, and the look below that towards the horizon, the next bright object is Saturn.

Morning sky on Saturday April 8 looking east as seen from Adelaide at 5:44  ACST (60 minutes before sunrise). The inset shows the telescopic view of Venus at this time.

 Similar views will be seen throughout Australia at the equivalent local time (that is 60 minutes before sunrise, click to embiggen).

Venus  climbs higher in the morning sky and is visible in telescopes as a thin crescent.



There are lots of interesting things in the sky to view with a telescope. 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.
Here is the near-real time satellite view of the clouds (day and night) http://satview.bom.gov.au/

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Saturday, April 08, 2017

 

Tonight is the opposition of Jupiter (8 April 2017)

Evening sky on Saturday April 8 looking east as seen from Adelaide at 22:00 ACST.  Jupiter is above the horizon close to the bright star Spica.The nearly full Moon is nearby the pair.  The inset shows the telescopic view of Jupiter at 22:00 ACST on the 8th with Io and its shadow transiting Jupiter's face.

Just a reminder that tonight is the opposition of Jupiter, go out and have a look now.

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Coming Events: A Year of Southern Astronomy for 2017

The planets on 17 October 2017 at 6 am ACDST, half an hour before Sunrise, Mars, Venus and the thin crescent Moon form a line in to morning twilight. Click to embiggen.

The table below shows significant astronomical events that can be seen with the unaided eye or minimal equipment in 2017 in Australia (and to some degree elsewhere in the Southern Hemisphere, ocultations and eclipses are very region specific) are listed in this table.


Special events are bolded.

Sadly, we miss out on the total solar eclipse this year, but there are a number of beautiful planetary events and a partial lunar eclipse to keep us occupied.

DateEvent
2 January 2017;crescent Moon Near Venus
4 January 2016; crescent Moon near Mars
18 January 2017; opposition of Vesta
19 January 2017; Moon near Jupiter
25 January 2017; Moon close to Saturn
26 January 2017; Moon close to Mercury
31 January 2017;Moon close to Venus, forming line with Mars
1 February 2017; Moon close to Mars, forming line with Venus
11 February 2017; Comet 45P closest to Earth, possibly visible in binoculars
15 February 2017; Moon close to Jupiter
21 February 2017; Moon near Saturn
23 February 2017; Variable star Mira at its brightest
1 March 2017; Moon close to Mars and Venus, making a triangle
2 March 2017; Moon close to Mars, making a line with Venus
14-15 March 2017; Moon close to Jupiter
20 March 2017; Moon close to Saturn
29 March 2017; Moon close to Mercury
30-31 March 2017; Moon close to Mars
8 April 2017; opposition of Jupiter
10-11 April 2017; Moon close to Jupiter
16 April 2017; Moon close to Saturn
24 April 2017; crescent Moon close to Venus in morning sky
1-15 May 2017; Comet 41P visible in the morning sky in binoculars
6 May 2017; Eta Aquariid meteor shower.
7-8 May 2017; Moon near Jupiter.
13 May 2017; Moon close to Saturn.
23 May 2017; crescent Moon close to Venus.
4 June 2017; Moon and Jupiter close.
1-25 June 2017; Comet C/2015 V2 Johnson potentially visible in binoculars.
9-10 June 2017; Moon near Saturn.
15 June 2017;Opposition of Saturn.
21 June 2017; crescent Moon and Venus close.
1 July 2017; Jupiter and Moon close.
7 July 2017; Saturn and Moon close.
21 July 2017; crescent Moon and Venus close.
25 July 2017; thin crescent Moon and Mercury very close, low in the twilight.
29 July 2017; Moon and Jupiter close.
30 July 2017; Southern Delta Aquarids meteor shower.
3 August 2017; Moon close to Saturn.
8 August 2017; Partial eclipse of the Moon in the early morning.
19 August 2017; Crescent Moon close to Venus.
25 August 2017; Jupiter and Crescent Moon close, forming a shallow triangle with Spica.
5-16 September 2017; Jupiter and Spica close.
15 September 2017;Crescent Moon close to Venus.
22 September 2017; Moon close to Jupiter, forming triangle with Spica.
27 September 2017; Moon and Saturn close.
30 September 2017; Moon and Mars close.
6 October 2017; Venus and Mars very close low in the twilight.
17 October 2017; Mars close to crescent Moon. Forms line with Venus
18 October 2017; Venus close to crescent Moon, forming triangle with Mars.
22 October 2017; Orionid meteor shower.
24 October 2017; crescent Moon close to Saturn.
13 November 2017; Venus and Jupiter very close in the twilight.
13 November 2017; Mercury and Antares close in the twilight.
15 November 2017; crescent Moon close to Mars.
17 November 2017; Leonid Meteor Shower.
17 November 2017; crescent Moon close to Venus and Jupiter in the twilight.
21 November 2017; Crescent Moon close to Saturn.
28 November 2017; Mercury close to Saturn.
14 December 2017; Crescent Moon close to Mars.
15 December 2017; Geminid Meteor shower.
15 December 2017; Crescent Moon close to Jupiter.
31 December 2017; Mars and Jupiter close.
31 December 2017; asteroid Ceres potentially visible in binoculars.

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My First Image of Comet C/2015 ER61

Comet C/2015 CR61 taken on 6 April at 5:05 ACST (5 April 19:35 UT). Stack of 10 x 15 second images 400 ASA. Canon IXUS. Stacked in DeepSky StackerComparison chart of the same area of sky showing comet location on the 6th

On my first night that I found comet C/2015 CR61 I took some pictures, they didn't come out so great, but here is the best stack I could come up with for historical purposes. Visually it was very easy to see in 10x50 binoculars, much brighter than it appears in this picture (smeared due to Earth's rotation).

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My First Telescopic Image of Comet C/2015 ER61

C/2015 ER16 imaged through iTelescope T13 on the morning of 8 April at 4:50 AEST. Stack of 10x60 second colour images (Bin 2) stacked in ImageJ and MEDIAN Z-projection used (click to embiggen).

Weather at the SSO finally cleared so I was able to get this image with the iTelescope T13 remote telescope.

The head is overexposed to show the tail more clearly. While not as impressive at this image (my image is rotated at 90's to this one, and is a much narrower field of view), it isn't too bad at all.

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Thursday, April 06, 2017

 

Astrophiz Podcast 31 is Out

Astrophiz Podcast 31 is out now.

Our feature interview is with Dr Elisabetta Barberio who explains a new Dark matter Experiment deep in a goldmine in South Eastern Australia.

Elisabetta is a member of the Experimental Particle Physics Group at the University of Melbourne. Previously, she was a staff researcher at CERN, the European laboratory of Particle Physics. She was involved with data analysis in the OPAL experiment at the Large Electron Positron Collider at CERN, and has worked on the Higgs Boson and ATLAS, which is a particle physics experiment at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN.

I tell you what to look for in the night and morning skies over the next few weeks using naked eye, binoculars or telescopes, and Jupiter is ruling our skies.

In the news:
Dr Brad Tucker and ANU astronomers launch a Citizen Science project and public search of the southern skies for the elusive 'Planet Nineโ€™ using data from the Skymapper telescope at Siding Springs in Australia.
2.The largest magnetic fields ever found in the universe are caused by collisions between immense galaxy clusters, and these giant magnetic fields are millions of light years across and 100 times larger than the Milky Way.
3. How to hunt for a black hole with a telescope the size of Earth. How do you photograph a black hole? Impossible you say? Inventive researchers have plans to do exactly that, and hope to grab the first images of an event horizon โ€” the point of no return from the black hole at the centre of our Milky Way.
4. Using the Australian AAOmega+2dF Spectrograph and the Southern African Large Telescope astronomers have just discovered one of the most massive superclusters in the universe hiding behind the Milky Way in the constellation of Vela. This is a massive group of several galaxy clusters, each one containing hundreds or thousands of galaxies. The researchers estimate that this Vela supercluster could contain somewhere between 1,000 and 10,000 trillion stars. Their calculations also show Vela is about 800 million light-years distant and zooming farther and farther away from us at a speed of about 40 million mph (18,000 kilometers per second).

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Wednesday, April 05, 2017

 

Comet C/2015 ER61 PanSTARRS is in outburst, seeing it from Australia

Location of comet C/2015 ER61 (indicated by the cross) looking east as seen from Adelaide at 5:06 ACST (90 minutes before the sun rises). Similar views will be seen elsewhere in Australia (and most of the southern hemisphere) at the equivalent local time (90 minutes before the sun rises). Click to embiggen

Another comet has just dramatically brightened, unlike C/2017 E4 Lovejoy this time the comet favours us in the southern hemisphere.

Comet C/2015 ER61 is confirmed to be in outburst, with reports of magnitudes between 7.4 and 6.5, up from a pre-outburst level of 8.4.

 This means that the comet should  be readily visible in binoculars in the early morning sky, and a good target for southern amateurs who can get up before dawn.

Some nice pre-post image comparisons are here
http://cometografia.es/2015er61-panstarrs-20170404/ and here https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=438805123125824&set=gm.488200124683788&type=3&theater

Black and white printable chart of the path of comet C/2015 ER61 looking east as seen from Adelaide at 5:06 ACST (90 minutes before the sun rises). Similar views will be seen elsewhere in Australia (and most of the southern hemisphere) at the equivalent local time (90 minutes before the sun rises). Click to embiggen and print.

The comet is high enough above the morning horizon to be visible from around two and a half hours before sunrise ot 90 minutes before sunrise (astronomical twilight) after this the brightening skies will make to comet difficult to see.

Black and white printable chart for use with binoculars, the large circle is the field of view of 10x50 binoculars. The chart has the same orientation as the spotters map above, with the bright star Altair marked on both maps .  Click to embiggen and print.

The comet is realtively easy to find, being almost exactly between the bright stars Altair and Fomalhaut, the two brightest stars in the eastern morning sky, on the border between Capricorius and Aquarius. Currently the comet is is between the moderately bright stars theta (๐›ฉ) Capriconii and epsilon (๐œ–) Aqaurii. The comet will track down the Aquarius/Capricornii border with plenty of good guide stars (see binocular chart above). It should be a reasonable target for the rest of the month.

 Black and white printable chart for use with telescopes, in equatorial mount orientation use the stars iota (๐œ„) Capricornii and nu (๐œˆ) Aquarii from the binocular chart for orientation. Click to embiggen and print.

The comet is within wide field view of globular cluster M72 and open cluster M73 over the next two days, and the Saturn Nebula on the 9th.So this should be good for telescopic observation.

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Tuesday, April 04, 2017

 

The Sky This Week - ThursdayApril 6 to Thursday April 13

The Full Moon is Tuesday April 11. Mars is low in the twilight. Jupiter and the bright star Spica are close in the late evening skies, with Jupiter at opposition on the 8th. On the 10th the Moon, Jupiter and Spica form a line, on the 11th the trio form a triangle. Saturn is now visible low in the late evening sky. Venus returns to the morning sky

The Full Moon is Tuesday April 11.  The Moon is at apogee, when it is furthest from the Earth, on the 15th.

Evening sky on Saturday April 8 looking west as seen from Adelaide at 18:56 ACST (60 minutes after sunset). Mars is low above the horizon, below Aldebaran.

 Similar views will be seen throughout Australia at the equivalent local time (that is 60 minutes after local sunset, click to embiggen).

Mercury is low the evening twilight, but is difficult to see, you will need a clear, unobscured level horizon (like the ocean) to see it.

Mars is in the western evening skies in Aires. It is is low in the dusk sky, but is the brightest object above the western horizon low in the late twilight below Aldebaran.Over the week Mars comes close to the Pleiades cluster, you will need a clear, unobscured level horizon to see this though.

Evening sky on Monday April 10 looking east as seen from Adelaide at 21:00 ACST.  Jupiter is above the horizon close to the bright star Spica.The nearly full Moon forms a line with the pair.  The inset shows the telescopic view of Jupiter at 21:00 ACST on the 8th with Io and its shadow transiting Jupiter's face.

Similar views will be seen elsewhere in Australia at the equivalent local time. (click to embiggen).

Jupiter is rising at dusk and is now reasonably high above the horizon in the evening this week. It is close to the bright star Spica, the brightest star in the constellation of Virgo.

Opposition, when Jupiter is biggest and brightest as seen from Earth, is on the 8th. Jupiter is rising as the sun sets and is visible all night long. Jupiter is a good telescopic target from around 9 pm on, and the dance of its Moons is visible even in binoculars. The following Jupiter events are in AEST.

Thu 6 Apr 6:11 GRS: Crosses Central Meridian
Thu 6 Apr 20:36 Eur: Shadow Transit Begins        S
Thu 6 Apr 20:43 Eur: Transit Begins               ST
Thu 6 Apr 23:04 Eur: Sh Ends & Tr Ends
Fri 7 Apr 2:02 GRS: Crosses Central Meridian
Fri 7 Apr 2:29 Io : Shadow Transit Begins        S
Fri 7 Apr 2:31 Io : Transit Begins               ST
Fri 7 Apr 4:41 Io : Sh Ends & Tr Ends
Fri 7 Apr 21:53 GRS: Crosses Central Meridian
Fri 7 Apr 23:38 Io : Disappears into Eclipse
Sat 8 Apr 1:50 Io : Reappears from Ecl & Occ
Sat 8 Apr 4:31 Gan: Shadow Transit Begins        S
Sat 8 Apr 4:43 Gan: Transit Begins               ST
Sat 8 Apr 6:45 Gan: Transit Ends                 S
Sat 8 Apr 20:57 Io : Transit Begins               T
Sat 8 Apr 20:58 Io : Shadow Transit Begins        ST
Sat 8 Apr 23:07 Io : Transit Ends                 S
Sat 8 Apr 23:09 Io : Shadow Transit Ends
Sun 9 Apr 3:40 GRS: Crosses Central Meridian
Sun 9 Apr 20:19 Io : Reappears from Eclipse
Sun 9 Apr 23:31 GRS: Crosses Central Meridian
Mon 10 Apr 19:22 GRS: Crosses Central Meridian
Tue 11 Apr 5:18 GRS: Crosses Central Meridian
Tue 11 Apr 18:29 Gan: Disappears into Occultation
Tue 11 Apr 21:03 Gan: Reappears from Eclipse
Wed 12 Apr 1:09 GRS: Crosses Central Meridian
Wed 12 Apr 4:46 Eur: Disappears into Occultation
Wed 12 Apr 21:00 GRS: Crosses Central Meridian
Thu 13 Apr 22:58 Eur: Transit Begins               T
Thu 13 Apr 23:12 Eur: Shadow Transit Begins 
 
On the 10th the Moon, Jupiter and Spica form a line, on the 11th the trio form a triangle.

Evening  sky on Saturday April 8 looking east as seen from Adelaide at 23:00 ACST.  Saturn is just above the horizon.

The inset shows the telescopic view of Saturn at this time. Similar views will be seen elsewhere in Australia at the equivalent local time. (click to embiggen).

 Saturn is now visible in the late evening skies this week. Saturn is  only a good telescopic target in the morning though. It continues to climb into the evening skys as the week progresses. It is within binocular distance of the Triffid and Lagoon nebula.

The constellation of Scorpio is a good guide to locating Saturn. The distinctive curl of Scorpio is easy to see above the north-eastern horizon, locate the bright red star, Antares, and the look below that towards the horizon, the next bright object is Saturn.

Morning sky on Saturday April 8 looking east as seen from Adelaide at 5:39  ACST (60 minutes before sunrise). The inset shows the telescopic view of Venus at this time.

 Similar views will be seen throughout Australia at the equivalent local time (that is 60 minutes after local sunset, click to embiggen).

Venus  climbs higher in the morning sky and is visible in telescopes as a thin crescent.


There are lots of interesting things in the sky to view with a telescope. 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.
Here is the near-real time satellite view of the clouds (day and night) http://satview.bom.gov.au/

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Stargazing Live Starts Tonight 8:31 pm

Stargazing live is a three-night extravaganza of Australian astronomy that starts tonight on the Australian ABC at 8:31. With live broadcasts from iconic Australian observatories and images from dedicated amateurs, tonight they showcase the Milky Way, tomorrow the planets and Thursday they tackle aliens. Hosted by Professor Brian Cox and Julie Zemiro this promises to be awesome.

Tune in for astronomical goodness

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Monday, April 03, 2017

 

Southern Skywatch April, 2017 edition is now out!

Morning sky as seen on April 24 and hour defore sunrise. The crescent Moon is close to crescent Venus. Similar views will be seen elsewhere in Australia at the equivalent local time. (click to embiggen).

The April edition of Southern Skywatch is  up (still late again, sorry, but getting better).

This month  Mars is low to the horizon. On the 28th the thin crescent Moon, Mars and the star Aldebaran are close low in the twilight

 Jupiter is at opposition of the 8th, when it is biggest and brightest as seen from Earth. This is an ideal time to watch the banded world in a telescope. Jupiter is a hand-span from the bright star Spica for most of this month. On the 10th the Moon, Jupiter and Spica from a line.

Saturn enters the evening sky this month. Saturn is close to the Triffid and Lagoon Nebulae. On the 16st Saturn is close to the waning Moon.

Mercury returns to the morning sky late in the month, but will be hard to see.

Venus returns to the morning sky this month. The crescent Moon is close to crescent Venus on the 24th.

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