December 18, 2017

AstroEvent: A Bright Dawn Comet.


Created with NASA/JPL Ephemeris generator).

Created with NASA/JPL Ephemeris generator).


   The dawn skies of October hold a special treat; a possible bright morning comet. 103/P Hartley 2 approaches perihelion on October 28, 2010. Earlier in the month sees it beginning its long dive through dawn skies. Northern hemisphere viewers will have the best view, as the comet passes through the constellations Cassiopeia, Perseus, Auriga, and Gemini in the month of October. [Read more...]

Astro-Event: Will Comet McNaught Perform?

During the month of June, keep your eye out for a pre-dawn visitor that may be the naked eye comet of the year. Comet McNaught C/2009 R1 starts the month out June 1st at about +8 magnitude near the star Beta Andromedae, and through the course of the month, skirts the constellations of Andromeda, Perseus, and Auriga. Views will get better starting June 4th, as the Moon passes Last Quarter on its way to New June 12th. The daily apparent motion of the comet will cause it to move semi-parallel to the horizon, never straying above 20° degrees elevation for mid-northern latitude observers about an hour before sunrise.

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25.04.10-First Extra-solar Magnetic Loop Recorded.

Radio-Interferometry has really shown its stuff as of late. Recently, astronomers have used a collaboration of radio telescopes based planet-wide to study a familiar variable star; Algol in the constellation Perseus. Known since Arabic times as “The Demon Star,” Algol is an eclipsing binary, where two stars are locked in a 5.8 million mile embrace and “eclipse” each other from our vantage point. This explanation has been known since 1889, but radio astronomers have added another unique feature to the pair; a long pair of magnetic loops connecting the two stars. “This is the first time we’ve seen a feature like this in the magnetic field of any star other than the Sun,” stated William Peterson of the University of Iowa. The scopes linked included the NSF’s Very Long Baseline Array, Green Bank, and the Effelsburg Radio telescope based in Germany.  Collectively, the setup is known as the High Sensitivity Array. Algol is about 93 light years distant, and is a variable star that can be easily monitored by even beginning amateurs with the naked eye.

7.9.09: The September Perseids…an Encore?

   This weeks’ potential astro-event is a total wild card. Last year, automated all-sky cameras and the few dedicated observers that maintained a lone early AM vigil noted a sharp upswing in a previously unknown meteor shower. Informally dubbed the “September Perseids,” this shower appeared to have a brief peak over North America on September 9th and spawned a flurry several bright fireballs over a span of about four hours. The progenitor comet remains a mystery, as does much about this shower…could a new meteor stream be evolving? The only way to know for sure is to watch! [Read more...]

AstroEvent of the Week: 13.04.09: New Comet Yi-SWAN!

We interrupt our usual astro-event of the week to bring you a last minute shout-out a tad early; a fairly bright comet has recently been announced by the Central Bureau of Astronomical Telegrams (CBAT) in Cambridge, Massachusetts (really; does anyone actually send telegrams any more? Time to change the name, guys!) Dubbed Yi-SWAN after its co-discovers, Korean amateur Dae-am Yi who sighted the comet on March 26th and the European Space (ESA)’s SWAN, the Solar Wind Anisotropies satellite, Comet Yi Swan is expected to maintain around 8th magnitude for the next month or  so.

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