Sunday, March 1, 2009

Best window for Lulin closing - while Saturn rules March

While never becoming an obvious naked-eye spectacular, comet Lulin was a pretty impressive binocular sight in the last third of February when it was closest to the Earth and the Moon was out of sight: This blogger cannot recall a case when a comet's dusty anti-tail had been visible so easily - and so long, several degrees - with little optical help. Even under bad conditions Lulin could be found. It was mainly astrophotographers, though, who could also catch the geometrically shortened but highly variable plasma tail: While not exactly a "textbook" comet (with the most obvious tail pointing in the 'wrong' direction), Lulin is certainly a unique case to remember. But now the Moon is rapidly creeping closer - and will actually occult the comet in less than a week. Some highlights of March, which will actually begin with a surprise visit!Lulin views from February are available galore in pictures galleries like this or this or this or this or this. Some selected observations of Feb. 28/Mar. 1 (sum, more, more, more from here, more), Feb. 27/28 (looks quite like the visual impression; more, more, more, more, more), Feb. 26/27, Feb. 26 (more), Feb. 25/26 (more, movie), Feb. 25, Feb. 24/25 (video, more, more, more, more, drawing, more, more, more, more), Feb. 23/24 (detailled and another drawing, vis obs., report, more, more, earlier, more, more, more, more), Feb. 22/23 (from here; more, more, more, more, more), Feb. 21/22 (excellent video, another, another and a strange one; a great color picture, more, more, more, more and more), Feb. 20/21 (more, an animation, alt. version, picture from here, estimate at 4.9 mag.), Feb. 19/20 (several pics, animation, with Amphitrite, a drawing, picture) and Feb. 18/19 (more). Lulin was also observed in X-rays; there is an analysis and Q&A, and general articles are e.g. here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here - and the comet even made it onto U.S. radio and into German TV.

In other news there was again a nice conjunction of the Moon and Venus: pictures of Feb. 28 from Tenerife and India, Feb. 27 from the U.S. (more, more, more, more), Tenerife, India (more in the stream) and Australia (more pics) and Feb. 26 from Tenerife. • A few days earlier a "massing" in the (Southern) morning sky: pictures of Feb. 24, Feb. 23 (APOD; more) and Feb. 22. • A moonrise with omega effect had considerable media impact - and on the same day this blogger caught an omega sunset from Tenerife, after witnessing an omega sunrise in eclipse in 2006. • The weather prospects for the 2010 ASE, the aurora from Norway and the ISS over Puerto Rico. • And this blog was mentioned in a blog on the recovery of meteorites (also many earlier entries!) from the Texas fireball - soon eight were found by the various searchers. • And a meteorite related to the predicted Sudan bolide has been found!

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