September 21, 2014

Variable Star Observing 101.

An artist’s conception of an accreting binary system. (Credit: NASA).

Bored and looking for something new to do in astronomy? Tired of hauling out that imaging rig you took out a 2nd mortgage for just to see “how M31 looks in my 10-inch SCT tonight?” Let me introduce you to the fun field of variable star observing, an exciting endeavor that you can actually contribute some real science to. But first, a little history; [Read more...]

08.04.10-Epsilon Aurigae Update.

   We couldn’t resist shooting this one out there today, as it contains some fairly mind-blowing imagery. Late last year, we put a shout-out to observe the eclipsing binary star Epsilon Aurigae, a bright naked eye star that undergoes periodic diming once every 27 years. For over 190 years, this star has stubbornly not only refused to match stellar evolutionary models, but sometimes threatened to overthrow them, to boot. Now, scientists have solved the case of the disappearing star, and it’s a strange one, indeed. The variation in brightness appears to be the result of three factors; a bright type F supergiant, orbited by a hot type B star about 1,000 times dimmer shrouded in a massive dust disk. The entire system passes along our line of sight and obscures the host for an 18 month period. The grouping is about 2,000 light years distant. In fact, if Epsilon Aurigae were tipped away even 10 degrees more from our line of sight, we wouldn’t see anything unusual at all! This model of the systems’ total luminous output matches the observed brightness curve from the recent dimming. (see above) [Read more...]

24.02.10: A Robotic Telescope Raffle!

A robotic telescope; yours to play with before bedtime? (Credit: AAVSO).

A robotic telescope; yours to play with before bedtime? (Credit: AAVSO).

   Ever wish you could have your very own robotic telescope based at a world class dark sky site to utilize on those murky winter nights? Well, the American Association of Variable Star Observers (AAVSO) is having a raffle next month to award a winner a years’ free access to their recently established AAVSONet, a network of 5 robotic telescopes in New Mexico. [Read more...]

U Scorpii is Currently in Outburst.

A generated 15 degree field for u Scoprii. (Credit: AAVSO).

A generated 15 degree field for u Scoprii. (Credit: AAVSO).

This is a quick shout out for all variable star watchers to catch a rare object; recurrent nova U Scorpii is currently in outburst. Followers of this space will recall that we blogged about this flare star last September; the AASVO issued Alert Notice 415 earlier today stating that U Sco is currently at +8 magnitude and climbing. Scorpius is currently placed low in the south east in the hours before dawn, and U Sco should be a binocular object. This is a fast one, so be sure to try and catch it over this next few mornings, as after this weekend it will have propably faded out, and we will also have a past Full Moon to contend with… good luck!