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Wednesday, September 20, 2017

 

The Sky This Week - Thursday September 21 to Thursday September 28

The First Quarter Moon is Thursday, September 28. Jupiter and the bright star Spica are nearby in the late twilight sky. The thin crescent Moon is close to Jupiter on the 22nd. Earth is at spring equinox on the 23rd. Saturn is visible all evening in the heart of the Milky Way and is close to the Moon on the 26th and 27th. Venus is now low in  the morning sky coming close to the bright star Regulus.

Earth is at spring equinox on the 23rd, day and night will be approximately equal in length. The First Quarter Moon is Thursday, September 28. The Moon is at apogee, when it is furthest from the Earth, on the 27th.

Evening sky on Friday September 22 looking north-west as seen from Adelaide at 19:07 ACST  (60 minutes after sunset). Jupiter is low above the horizon close to the bright star Spica.The Thin crescent Moon froms a triangle with the pair.

Similar views will be seen elsewhere in Australia at the equivalent local time (60 minutes after sunset). (click to embiggen).

Jupiter is setting mid evening and is above the western horizon in the early evening at full dark. It is close to the bright star Spica, the brightest star in the constellation of Virgo. Over the week Jupiter moves away from Spica. The thin crescent Moon is close to Jupiter on the 22nd.

Opposition, when Jupiter is biggest and brightest as seen from Earth, was on April the 8th. Jupiter is rising before the sun sets and sets around 8:30 pm local time. Jupiter is now too low to be a good telescopic target, but the dance of its Moons is visible even in binoculars for a brief time. The following Jupiter events are in AEST.


Fri 22 Sep 18:33 Eur: Reappears from Eclipse
Mon 25 Sep 18:38 GRS: Crosses Central Meridian
Mon 25 Sep 18:45 Io : Shadow Transit Begins        ST

Mercury is lost in the twilight.

Evening sky on Tuesday September 26 looking west as seen from Adelaide at 19:35 ACST, 90 minutes after sunset.

The inset shows the telescopic view of Saturn at this time. Similar views will be seen elsewhere in Australia at the equivalent local time. (90 minutes after sunset, click to embiggen).

Saturn was  at opposition on June the 15th, when it was biggest and brightest in the sky as seen from earth. Saturn is visible all evening long. Saturn is a good telescopic target from 7:30 pm until midnight. It is poised above the dark rifts in the Milky Way and is in a good area for binocular hunting. Although still high in the early evening sky, Saturn begins to sink into the western evening skies as the week progresses.  Saturn's rings are visible even in small telescopes and are always good to view. Saturn is close to the Moon on the 26th and 27th.

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

Morning sky on Thursday September 21 looking east as seen from Adelaide at 5:30 ACST (45 minutes before sunrise). Venus is bright just above the horizon and is close to the bright star Regulus.

 Similar views will be seen throughout Australia at the equivalent local time (that is 45 minutes before sunrise, click to embiggen).

Venus  is lowering in the morning sky and is visible in telescopes as a "Gibbous Moon". This week Venus comes close to the bright star Regulus. It is becoming hard to see Venus in the early twilight, but it is still brilliant enough to be obvious shortly before sunrise.On the 21st Venus is very close to the star Regulus.

 Mars is just emerging from the twilight, but will be difficult to see for some weeks.

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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Sunday, September 17, 2017

 

Morning line-up of Venus and the Crescent Moon (18 September)

Morning sky on Monday September 18 looking east as seen from Adelaide at 5:30 ACST (45 minutes before sunrise). Venus is bright just above the horizon and is close to the Moon and the bright star Regulus.

 Similar views will be seen throughout Australia at the equivalent local time (that is 45 minutes before sunrise, click to embiggen).

On the morning of the 18th Venus is close to the Crescent Moon and Regulus, There is also a daylight occultation of Venus on the 18th, but this event is for experienced observers only.

Friday, September 15, 2017

 

Aurora and Geomagnetic storm Happening NOW - G1 - Minor (15 September)

The SWS has issued a geomagnetic disturbance alert as the Kp has reached 5 and a minor solar storm is in progress. Camera only aurora are reported in the Huon in Tasmanian. There is also an updated Geomagnetic warning for 15-16 September (UT) due to persistence of a high speed solar wind stream from a coronal hole.  There is currently a G1 (minor storm in progress).  The conditions for aurora are marginal, Velocity: 680 km/sec Bz: -1.0 nT Density = 5.0 p/cc  but with dark skies it will be well worth keeping a lookout. The SWS predicts active conditions will continue for the next day or so.. The Space Weather Prediction Service has predicted a G1 storm on  the early morning of September 16th.

If the Bz becomes more negative the aurora may be seen more generally and possibly unaided eye in Tasmania, weather permitting. The Moon is waning, and will not significantly interfere with aurora. especially now Be patient, as the activity may rise and fall of the magnetic polarity of the wind may fluctuate significantly.

Last weeks nearly full Moon aurora on Friday the 8th was readily seen (despite lots of cloud) with some spectacular images of Moonlight aurora (and Moonbows).  Some reports have come from the mainland as well. If this even causes aurora, they wil not be anywhere near as dramatic as that event, but still worth a look.

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". A double arc,  blobs, and curtains were seen in last weeks aurora despite the moonlight.

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

A new aurora camera is being installed at Campania, Tasmania. A live feed of the images from this camera is  sill not available.

SUBJ: SWS GEOMAGNETIC DISTURBANCE ALERT
ISSUED AT 0825 UT ON 15 SEP 2017 BY SPACE WEATHER SERVICES
FROM THE AUSTRALIAN SPACE FORECAST CENTRE

MINOR (G1 - MINOR) GEOMAGNETIC DISTURBANCE IN PROGRESS (K OF 5 REACHED)
PRELIMINARY AUSTRALIAN REGION K INDICES FOR 15 09 17: 335- ----
_____________________________________________________________

FOLLOW THE PROGRESS OF THIS EVENT ON THE SWS SPACE WEATHER STATUS PANEL,
HTTP://WWW.SWS.BOM.GOV.AU > SPACE WEATHER

SUBJ: SWS GEOMAGNETIC DISTURBANCE WARNING 17/46
ISSUED AT 0005UT/15 SEPTEMBER 2017
BY THE AUSTRALIAN SPACE FORECAST CENTRE.

The previous geomagnetic warning is extended for two more days.
The high speed streams associated with the coronal hole is expected
to persist for a few days. If the Bz component of the IMF turned
strongly southward for prolonged periods, earth could experience
minor storm conditions. Otherwise, expect mostly unsettled to
active condition for the next two days (15 and 16 Sep).

INCREASED GEOMAGNETIC ACTIVITY EXPECTED
DUE TO CORONAL HOLE HIGH SPEED WIND STREAM
FROM 15-16 SEPTEMBER 2017
_____________________________________________________________

GEOMAGNETIC ACTIVITY FORECAST
15 Sep:  Active
16 Sep:  Active



Our Aurora forecasting tool, located at
http://www.sws.bom.gov.au/Aurora/3/1, may help to estimate regions
from where aurora would be visible.

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Wednesday, September 13, 2017

 

Follow Cassini's last moments (15 September)

Final track of the Cassini spacecraft before it impacts Saturns atmosphere (Source ESA)

As I write, the Cassini spacecraft, which for 13 years has been sending back astounding images of Saturn, it's rings and Moons, is 1 hours and 22 minutes from its final fiery plunge into Saturn's atmosphere.


Source: XKCD

Cassini's death dive is to ensure any earth bacteria which may have survived on the spacecraft do not contaminate Saturn's Moons.

You can follow Cassin's path in virtual reality at Where is Cassini Now? The final plunge will occur sometime around 11:54 UT (which is 21:54 AEST).  There will be ;live coverage form NASA https://www.nasa.gov/nasalive and the ESA.

Live coverage starts  at around 21:00 AEST (11:00 UT) on the 15th.

Other Cassini end of mission information is here.
https://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/mission/grand-finale/overview/
http://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Space_Science/Cassini-Huygens/How_to_follow_Cassini_s_end_of_mission

Any Australian astronomer who has access to a one meter or greater telescope with planetary imaging capability should try and capture the fireball. As per IceinSpaces call.

=============================================================
*** A CALL OUT TO AUSSIES WITH ACCESS TO A ONE METRE TELESCOPE WITH PLANETARY IMAGING ***
On 15th September 2017, we will sadly bid farewell to the Cassini Mission ending with the spacecraft being hurled into Saturn's atmosphere. Australia has front row seating for this event. The attached simulation shows the view of Earth from Saturn at the time of Cassini's entry. There's a chance that telescopes of one metre aperture may catch the fireball. Exmouth in W.A. has excellent opportunity as Saturn will be 53 degrees above the horizon.
Time of event due: 10pm AEST / 12 UT.
Extensive info in this link:
https://arxiv.org/ftp/arxiv/papers/1708/1708.05036.pdf

It'll be quite special to catch and image this event. If anyone is able to do this, would you please kindly respond, and send images to share via messages (you'll be credited)? Thanks, Suzy.
=================================================================



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The Sky This Week - Thursday September 14 to Thursday September 21

The New Moon is Wednesday, September 20. Jupiter and the bright star Spica are nearby in the early evening sky. Saturn is visible all evening in the heart of the Milky Way. Venus is now low in  the morning sky coming close to the bright star Regulus. The thin crescent Moon is close to Venus on the 18th.

The New Moon is Wednesday, September 20.

Evening sky on Saturday September 16 looking north-west as seen from Adelaide at 19:02 ACST  (60 minutes after sunset). Jupiter is above the horizon close to the bright star Spica.  The inset shows the telescopic view of Jupiter at this time.

Similar views will be seen elsewhere in Australia at the equivalent local time (60 minutes after sunset). (click to embiggen).

Jupiter is setting mid evening and is above the western horizon in the early evening at full dark. It is close to the bright star Spica, the brightest star in the constellation of Virgo. Over the week Jupiter moves away from Spica

Opposition, when Jupiter is biggest and brightest as seen from Earth, was on April the 8th. Jupiter is rising before the sun sets and sets around 8:30 pm local time. Jupiter is now too low to be a good telescopic target, but the dance of its Moons is visible even in binoculars. The following Jupiter events are in AEST.


Fri 15 Sep 20:17 GRS: Crosses Central Meridian
Sun 17 Sep 19:04 Io : Disappears into Occultation
Mon 18 Sep 18:24 Io : Transit Ends                 S
Mon 18 Sep 19:01 Io : Shadow Transit Ends
Wed 20 Sep 19:27 GRS: Crosses Central Meridian

Mercury is lost in the twilight.

Evening sky on Saturday September 16 looking north-west as seen from Adelaide at 19:32 ACST, 90 minutes after sunset.

The inset shows the telescopic view of Saturn at this time. Similar views will be seen elsewhere in Australia at the equivalent local time. (90 minutes after sunset, click to embiggen).

Saturn was  at opposition on the 15th, when it was biggest and brightest in the sky as seen from earth. Saturn is visible all evening long. Saturn is a good telescopic target from 7:30 pm until midnight. It is poised above the dark rifts in the Milky Way and is in a good area for binocular hunting. Although still high in the early evening sky, Saturn begins to sink into the western evening skies as the week progresses.  Saturn's rings are visible even in small telescopes and are always good to view.

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

Morning sky on Monday September 18 looking east as seen from Adelaide at 5:30 ACST (45 minutes before sunrise). Venus is bright just above the horizon and is close to the Moon and the bright star Regulus.

 Similar views will be seen throughout Australia at the equivalent local time (that is 45 minutes before sunrise, click to embiggen).

Venus  is lowering in the morning sky and is visible in telescopes as a "Gibbous Moon". This week Venus comes closer to the bright star Regulus. It is becoming hard to see Venus in the early twilight, but it is still brilliant enough to be obvious shortly before sunrise. On the 18th Venus is close to the Crescent Moon and Regulus, There is also a daylight occultation of Venus on the 18th, but this event is for experienced observers only.

 Mars is just emerging from the twilight, but will be difficult to see fro some weeks.

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, September 11, 2017

 

Daytime Occultation of Venus by the Moon (18 September, 2017)

The Moon at 09:48 am ACST in Adelaide on Monday 18 September just before the Moon covers Venus. The inset shows the Moon an Venus at this time. (click to embiggen).

WARNING! This daytime occultation occurs close to the Sun and should be attempted by experienced observers only. The Moon will be just 28 degrees (under 5 hand-spans)from the Sun. Exposure to the Sun through a telescope eye-piece can result in instant blindness. Any observation should be carried out with the sun blocked from view by a building or similar large, obscuring object with no possibility of the sun being accidentally observed.

On the morning of Monday 18 September Venus is occulted by the thin crescent Moon as seen from the most of Australia, Indonesia, Papua new Guinea  and New Zealand. The Moon is a signpost for where to look (it may be hard to see the thin moon in daylight) and Venus should be sufficiently bright to be seen near the Moon even in daylight.

Start watching about half an hour before hand to get set up and familiar with the sky. This is a daytime occultation requiring a small telescope or binoculars and extreme caution and attention to Sun safety.

Venus will appear to "wink out" as it goes behind the bright limb of the Moon, reappearance will be harder to see as you have to be looking just at the right moment.

The occultation occurs in the early morning with the Moon reasonably high above the northern horizon. The Moon is three days before new and you may need binoculars to find it, hence the need for extreme care with the sun. The Moon is also a ready signpost to Venus (although you may see Venus before the Moon). It is advisable to set up and practise on the Moon in the morning twilight before the event, so you are familiar with your telescope set-up. Set up at least half an hour ahead of time so that you can be sure everything is working well and you can watch the entire event comfortably (trying to focus your telescope moments before the occultation will cause a lot of unnecessary stress). Venus will be clearly visible in a telescope or binoculars near the Moon. Again, the Sun will be close by, so only experienced observers who can block out the Sun should attempt this.

PlaceDisappears Bright Limb Reappears Dark Limb
Adelaide ACST09:58 11:15
Brisbane AEST10:4712:20
Canberra AEST10:4712:12
Darwin ACST08:5810:41
Hobart AEST10:57 11:58
Melbourne AEST10:44 12:00
Perth AWST07:4108:33
Sydney AEST10:49 12:17

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Friday, September 08, 2017

 

Aurora visible NOW! (10:16 PM ACST)


Solar Wind Speed diagram

Aurora and beams visible to the unaided eye have been reported in  Tasmania (Tunbridge, Barrington, Sandpiper beach and more), despite cloud and strong Moonlight.

After the massive solar storm that entranced northern hemisphere viewers, the storm faded. After not much of anything,  the magnetic filed has turned south again, and unaided eye aurora are being reported, the G3 storms predicted for later.

Current parameters Velocity: 751 km/sec Bz: -15.0 nT Density = 3.0 p/cc Hobart Kindex is now 6. This may change as the night wears on. It is possible aurora may fade then come back as conditions evolve.

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". A double arc, curtains and picket fences were seen in last weeks aurora despite the moonlight.

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

A new aurora camera is being installed at Campania, Tasmania. A live feed of the images from this camera is  sill not available.

SUBJ: SWS AURORA WATCH
ISSUED AT 1202 UT ON 08 Sep 2017 by Space Weather Services
FROM THE AUSTRALIAN SPACE FORECAST CENTRE

The effects of the recent CME have been waning however the CME
magnetic field turned moderately southward around 11:12UT (9:12 pm
AEST) which is likely to result in improved conditions for aurora
viewing over the coming hours in southern Australian region,
particularly Tasmania.

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Thursday, September 07, 2017

 

Astrophiz Podcast 42 (Smashing Spaceship edition) is Out!

Astrophiz Podcast 42 is out now.

In this episode we are speaking with Glen Nagle from the CSIRO/NASA Deep Space Communication Complex (CDSCC) at Tidbinbilla near Canberra in Australia.

Glen takes us through the genesis of NASA missions and the astonishing achievements of the Cassini mission since the launch in 1997. He explains how the CDSCC establishes two-way communication with about 40 spacecraft, how command sets from JPL are transmitted to Cassini and how science data and images are received.

Glen then tells us why and how Cassini will be smashing into the atmosphere of Saturn next week on Friday 15 September, and how the Tidbinbilla dishes will be capturing the final science data from Cassini. Watch this amazing event live on NASA TV at nasa.gov/ntv

In ‘What’s up Doc’ I tells you what to look for in the morning and evening skies and covers this week’s fabulous discoveries about Asteroid Florence and how amateurs can track this asteroid with its two moons. Yes, asteroids can have moons!
 You can follow me  @ianfmusgrave on Twitter and southern skywatch on facebook.


In the News:  
1. New understanding of novae explosions from backyard astronomy
2. Repeating FRB’s (Fast Radio Bursts) from distant galaxy
3. New kind of Gravity Waves detected

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Updated Geomagnetic warning and Aurora Watch, Major storms forecast (7-9 September)

Animated gif showing SOHO LASCO C2 and C3 difference footage of the X9.3 coronal mass ejection as it is ejected into space

Late last night the sun blasted out an X 9.3 solar flare, the largest flare in a decade which sent a coronal mass ejection hurtling towards us. The SWS has issued a geomagnetic warning and aurora watch for 7-9 September (UT) due to expected impact of  a coronal mass ejection on top of the one that has already arrived. 

This CME is expected to arrive late in the UT day on the 7th (which is the morning of the 8th Australian time).  The SWS predicts major to severe storm conditions. The Space Weather Prediction Service has Predicted a G2-G3 storm on  8-9 August UT (with most of the action after sunrise on the 8th, but possibly G2 storms around 4 am and some possible action around twilight on the evening of the 9th).

However, uncertainty in the time of arrival may mean the CME arrives earlier of later (with better viewing opportunities for Australia on the evening of the 9th). The First CME predicted yesterday has arrived, but despite favorable solar wind speed and density, the magnetic field remains stubbornly northwards, it may dip south later in the evening, so aurora could still result.

If major to sever storms occur when the second CME arrives and result in aurora they could potentially be seen from as far north as central New South wales, Southern SA and Southern WA. if G2-3 storms persist and weather permitting. The Moon is two day safter full, and will significantly interfere with aurora. That said, last weeks Moonlight aurora was easily seen, and if severe storms occur then aurora should be visible even i strong Moonlight.  Be patient, as the activity may rise and fall of the magnetic polarity of the wind may fluctuate significantly. In the last aurora, definite action was seen in the "Blue Hour of twilight", so be alert on the evening of the 7th from twilight on.

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". A double arc, curtains and picket fences were seen in last weeks aurora despite the moonlight.

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

A new aurora camera is being installed at Campania, Tasmania. A live feed of the images from this camera is  sill not available.

SUBJ: SWS GEOMAGNETIC DISTURBANCE WARNING 17/43
ISSUED AT 0259UT/07 SEPTEMBER 2017
BY THE AUSTRALIAN SPACE FORECAST CENTRE.

Expect an additional increase in geomagnetic activity ranging
from Minor Storm to Severe Storm conditions midway through the
UT day, 08 September, particularly at mid to high latitudes.
Storming will likely continue 9 September, ranging from Active
to Major Storm levels.

INCREASED GEOMAGNETIC ACTIVITY EXPECTED
DUE TO CORONAL MASS EJECTION
FROM 08-09 SEPTEMBER 2017
_____________________________________________________________

GEOMAGNETIC ACTIVITY FORECAST
08 Sep:  Active to Minor Storm
09 Sep:  Major to Severe Storm

_____________________________________________________________

SUBJ: SWS AURORA WATCH
ISSUED AT 0326 UT ON 07 Sep 2017 by Space Weather Services
FROM THE AUSTRALIAN SPACE FORECAST CENTRE

A coronal mass ejection is expected to impact the Earth within the
next 48 hours, possibly resulting in significant geomagnetic activity
and visible auroras during local nighttime hours. Aurora alerts will
follow if significant geomagnetic activity actually occurs.

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Wednesday, September 06, 2017

 

Geomagnetic warning and Aurora Watch (possible major storm; 6-8 September)

The sun has been firing off a series of flares from a large sunspot group some of which are geoeffective. The SWS has issued a geomagnetic warning and aurora watch for 6-8 September (UT) due to expected impact of  a coronal mass ejection. This is expected to arrive late in the UT day on the 6th (which is the morning of the 7th Australian time).  The SWS predicts active to major storm conditions. The Space Weather Prediction Service has Predicted a G2-G3 storm on  6-7 August UT (with most of the action after sunrise on the 7th, but possibly G2 storms around 4 am and some possible action around twilight on on the evening of the 7th). However, uncertainty in the time of arrival may mean the CME arrives earlier of later (with better viewing opportunities for Australia on the evening of the 7th).

If these geomagnetic events occur and result in aurora they could be seen from Tasmania, Southern Victoria, and possibly central Victoria to Northern New South wales, Southern SA and Southern WA. if G2-3 storms persist and weather permitting. The Moon is a day after full, and will significantly interfere with aurora. That said, last weeks Moonlight aurora was easily seen.  Be patient, as the activity may rise and fall of the magnetic polarity of the wind may fluctuate significantly. In the last aurora, definite action was seen in the "Blue Hour of twilight", so be alert on the evening of the 7th from twilight on.

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". A double arc, curtains and picket fences were seen in last weeks aurora despite the moonlight.

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

A new aurora camera is being installed at Campania, Tasmania. A live feed of the images from this camera is  sill not available.

SUBJ: SWS GEOMAGNETIC DISTURBANCE WARNING 17/42
ISSUED AT 0108UT/06 SEPTEMBER 2017
BY THE AUSTRALIAN SPACE FORECAST CENTRE.

Expect an increase in geomagnetic activity to Active to Major
Storm conditions with possible cases of Severe Storm conditions
at higher latitudes. Active to Major Storm conditions for 7 September
due to continuing CME effects which will gradually decrease over
8 September.

INCREASED GEOMAGNETIC ACTIVITY EXPECTED
DUE TO CORONAL MASS EJECTION
FROM 06-08 SEPTEMBER 2017
_____________________________________________________________

GEOMAGNETIC ACTIVITY FORECAST
06 Sep:  Active to Major Storm
07 Sep:  Active to Major Storm
08 Sep:  Active

_____________________________________________________________

SUBJ: SWS AURORA WATCH
ISSUED AT 0126 UT ON 06 Sep 2017 by Space Weather Services
FROM THE AUSTRALIAN SPACE FORECAST CENTRE

Best chance for aurora sightings from southern Australian regions on
the night of the 7th of September (AEST) due to expected CME arrival.
Also a small chance of aurora sighting in the pre-dawn hours tomorrow,
7 September, if the CME arrives much earlier than the model prediction
indicates.

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Tuesday, September 05, 2017

 

The Sky This Week - Thursday September 7 to Thursday September 14

The Last Quarter Moon is Wednesday, September 13. Jupiter and the bright star Spica are nearby in the early evening sky and are closest on the 11th. Saturn is visible all evening in the heart of the Milky Way. Venus is now low in  the morning sky forming a triangle with the bright stars Sirius and Procyon.

The Last Quarter Moon is Wednesday, September 13. The Moon is at perigee, when it is closest to the Earth, on the 14th.


Evening sky on Monday September 11 looking north-west as seen from Adelaide at 18:59ACST  (60 minutes after sunset). Jupiter is above the horizon close to the bright star Spica.  The inset shows the telescopic view of Jupiter at this time.

Similar views will be seen elsewhere in Australia at the equivalent local time (60 minutes after sunset). (click to embiggen).

Jupiter is setting mid evening and is above the western horizon in the early evening at full dark. It is close to the bright star Spica, the brightest star in the constellation of Virgo. Over the week Jupiter Moves closer to Spica and on the 11th the pair are at their closest.

Opposition, when Jupiter is biggest and brightest as seen from Earth, was on April the 8th. Jupiter is rising before the sun sets and is visible until just before midnight. Jupiter is a good telescopic target from astronomical twilight on, and the dance of its Moons is visible even in binoculars. The following Jupiter events are in AEST.

Fri 8 Sep 19:28 GRS: Crosses Central Meridian
Sat 9 Sep 19:42 Io : Transit Begins               T
Sat 9 Sep 20:27 Io : Shadow Transit Begins        ST
Sun 10 Sep 19:59 Io : Reappears from Eclipse
Tue 12 Sep 19:35 Gan: Transit Ends
Tue 12 Sep 20:11 Gan: Shadow Transit Begins        S
Wed 13 Sep 18:38 GRS: Crosses Central Meridian
Wed 13 Sep 19:28 Eur: Shadow Transit Begins        ST
Wed 13 Sep 20:28 Eur: Transit Ends                 S

Mercury is lost in the twilight.

Evening sky on Saturday September 9 looking north-west as seen from Adelaide at 19:28 ACST, 90 minutes after sunset.

The inset shows the telescopic view of Saturn at this time. Similar views will be seen elsewhere in Australia at the equivalent local time. (90 minutes after sunset, click to embiggen).

Saturn was  at opposition on the 15th, when it was biggest and brightest in the sky as seen from earth. Saturn is visible all night long. Saturn is a good telescopic target from 7:30 pm until midnight. It is poised above the dark rifts in the Milky Way and is in a good area for binocular hunting. Although still high in the early evening sky, Saturn begins to sink into the western evening skies as the week progresses.  Saturn's rings are visible even in small telescopes and are always good to view.

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

Morning sky on Saturday September 9 looking east as seen from Adelaide at 5:27 ACST (60 minutes before sunrise). Venus is dazzling below the bright star Procyon and forms a triangle with Procyon and Sirius.

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

Venus  is lowering in the morning sky and is visible in telescopes as a "Gibbous Moon". This week Venus forms a triangle with Procyon and Sirius.It is becoming hard to see Venus in the early twilight, but it is still brilliant enough to be obvious shortly before sunrise.

 Mars is still lost in the twilight.

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/

Labels:


Monday, September 04, 2017

 

A post Father's Day reflection

This was our first fathers day without Jack. The most recent in a perverse reverse count down, first Mother's Day without Jack, first Birthday, First New Year, First Christmas. Stepping stones to the distant time when when our breaths won't catch and the sadness will not well up in our chests at some event Jack should have shared with us.

Fathers day was not so bad, Jack had been away in Melbourne at Uni for two years, his fathers day presence was a distant telephone voice chatting about his faraway life in his city of dreams until we ran out of things to say and stuttered into awkward silence.

We still had longer and better conversations than I had with my dad.  At Jack's age I was even more absent, although I still lived at home I was out bushwalking virtually every weekend, when Fathers day came around there was not even my voice on the telephone, but silence and absence  as I toiled up some bush covered ridge far away from my dad.

This fathers day was made more bearable by an unexpected discovery. Scrabbling to find my astronomy notebooks to record the flyby of asteroid Florence, I found the text of Jack's Year 7 graduation speech.

It is funny how memory works. As soon as I picked it up there was an intense flash of Jack in his dress-up tails and psychedelic bow tie. A warm memory of him telling funny stories at the microphone in the sailing club where the event was held. The text was full of his self depreciating humour; Stapling his thumb, being bad at poetry and helping out with Traffic Monitor duties (two years later MiddleOne, with own brand of sarcastic humour, would speak of the same Traffic Monitor duty, make meaningful pause and then say "it was dull").

Jack's stated ambition when he went to high-school was to become a lawyer, but soon he would be derailed and head off into the path of a writer, telling tales that deeply touched everyone.

That was the memory I took with me into Fathers day, a happy memory of Jack, grinning with joy, larking with his mates, caught in that moment between a boy setting out full of enthusiasm on a path he imagines is his destiny, and a young man who has crafted a new path.

My breath still caught and the sadness was there, but buffered by that unexpected memory of joy.   

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Sunday, September 03, 2017

 

Seeing Asteroid 3122 Florence tonight (3 September 2017)

Location of 3122 Florence tonight as seen from Adelaide at 22:00 when it is highest in the sky. The asteroid is just below  the constellation of Delphinus. Similar views will be seen elsewhere in Australia (and most of  the southern hemisphere) at an equivalent local time. Click to embiggen.

Although NEO Florence (and its newly discovered Moons) has made its record breaking approach to Earth and is now heading away and fading,  it is still an interesting telescopic object although dim (magnitude 9) that can be seen to visibly move over a reasonably short observation period.

Over the past few nights the asteroid has not had any good guide stars, making it hard for amateurs without GOTO scopes or modest equipment. Tonight the asteroid will be below the distinctive small constellation od Deplhinus, making for relatively easy star hopping.

Printable black and white chart showing the track of 3122 Florence from the 28th on. The Asteroid passes from close to Grus the crane, through and southern skies passing through Capricornius and Delphinus then Cygnus (click to embiggen and print).

After tonight as it passes through Cygnus it will be getting too low in the  sky for Southern hemisphere obsevers.

Printable black and white chart  suitable for telescope showing the track of 3122 Florence from the 3rd, the large circle is the field of view of 10x50 binoculars, he small circle is the field of view of a 23 mm eyepiece and a 114 mm reflector. The chart is oriented for a telescopes inverted view. The chart is set for 22:00 and each tick is at an hour interval (click to embiggen and print).
At 22:00 3122 Florence is 4 degrees below 3.8 alpha Delphinus (α on the chart) and 54' above 4.8 magnitude 29 Vulpernica (29 on the chart). As the night progresses the asteroid come nearer to 29 Vul, grazing it shortly after midnight.

The distinctive treadrop shape of the constellation of Delphinus and alpha Del will be reasonably easy to see in the Moonlight. Aim your scope at alpha Del and scan toward the horizon with a widefield eyepiece. The next brightest star is 29 Vul. With 29 Del at the edge of your field Florence should be just above it (or below it, in inverted telescope view), watching over 15-30 minutes you should see the asteroid move substantially against the background stars.




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