Sunday, January 25, 2009

Annular eclipse less than 24 hours away: How much of it will be online?

The first of 2009's two full-silhouette eclipses is almost upon us: On Monday the shadow of the Moon will sweep across the Indian ocean, and while the antumbra makes little landfall, several countries will experience partial phases. Some eclipse chasers have actually made it into areas of annularity, though, and this being the 21st century they will attempt to webcast the ring of fire or at least e-mail pictures to certain websites shortly after the event. One expedition from India has made it to Indonesia and reports good weather: They are twittering their trip, but their webcast can only be seen by subscribers - or at the planetarium in New Delhi. Free webcasts from Indonesia could appear here and here, however, as several more foreign eclipse chasers are in the country, too (Jay Pasachoff has just sent these pictures from Jakarta). And a few others made it to the Cocos (Keeling) Islands in the Indian Ocean, reporting good and bad weather at eclipse time: Their reports and pictures appear here or on the front page of AstroNation, while in South Africa (which will experience a partial eclipse) pictures from all over the world will be collected here. Some articles on this eclipse appeared also in Australia (which won't see much on its mainland), on AFP and in - where mysteriously one of my 1992 pictures makes an appearance. The New Moon of 26 January also means the New Year for the traditional Chinese calendar. And talking about the Sun: In 2011 the STEREO s/c will - for the first time in history - see everything when they are 180° apart.

In other news here are Venus & Uranus on 22 January when they were closest together. • There is now an effort to observe occultations by TNOs with vigor, while this paper lists Saturn satellite mutual event successes of a previous season. • On Saturn itself a white spot was discovered and confirmed; also an 18 January picture and the 2009 viewing conditions. Plus - from 2007 but re-published - Jupiter & its moons in action. • Here are nine comets on 23 Jan., the jet in the coma of 29P has intensified (also pics of 21, 20 and 16 Jan.), for Lulin (praise for this page) we have a new analysis and observations of 24, 23 and 21 January, for 17P/Holmes a rare scientific paper about its 2007 outburst and recent pictures of 144P and C/2006 W3.

• Unfortunately there are no good European Network images of the 17 January fireball over Europe (which continues to spawn reports here, here, here, here or here) - so the trajectory of the cosmic body isn't well known. There were other major fireballs in California on 18 January and in Massachussets on 23 January, by the way. • It seems to become a trend to wildly enhance the colors of the full moon as this full-disk and this close-up (of Copernicus) examples show - you can learn something about the Moon's minerals this way. And displaying the full moon in negative also offers new "insights". • There is a major competition going on in the U.K. - but everyone can participate: Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2009. • And finally here's a list of signs you are an astronomer (of the amateur kind, that is).

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