Friday, June 5, 2009

Venus/Mars conjunction main attraction in June - and yet another lunar orbiter bites the dust

There are not many "planned" sky highlights in June which sees Saturn retract from the evening skies and Jupiter slowly entering them: see these, these, these, these, these, these and these previews. Throughout the month be on the look-out for noctilucent clouds which have already been sighted in several places since late May. One may further highlight
  • June 5: Venus in greatest Western elongation, 46° from the Sun.

  • June 10, 18:26 UTC: Impact of Kaguya on the Moon, a prelude to the impact of LCROSS in early October.

  • June 10, late UTC: Five moons of Saturn line up on the East of the planet.

  • June 13: Mercury in greatest Western elongation, 23½° from the Sun. Will stay invisible for Northerners, others should have the best view around June 20. And on June 21 the near-by lunar crescent may help finding it.

  • June 19: Venus 2° from Mars which slowly begins ins apparition; Moon nearby.

  • June 23: Dwarf planet Pluto in opposition, at 13.9 mag. in Sgr.
Recent sky pictures show Venus & Jupiter on May 31 (and in hi-res on June 1), Jupiter & Neptune on May 25, the crescent Moon on May 26 from the U.S. and Netherlands, on May 25 from the U.S. (again), Germany (a better pic), Austria, Romania and Turkey (more pics here and here); also hi-res pics of Mercury from April. • There has been more advertising for mutual events of Jovian moons, with new successes in Germany and Australia, with another resolved video.

In other news a substantial Potentially Hazardous Asteroid has been discovered by amateur astronomers: The uncertain initial orbit based on few data gave 2009 KD5 a size of about 1 km, as of today the PHA list has it at 18.2 absolute mag. which suggests a size of roughly 600 meters. • Asteroid-wise there are also a performance simulation of future sky surveys for NEO detection, a wire story with little merit about perfectly ordinary main-belt discoveries - and a strange company "selling" asteroid names which are of no merit whatsoever. • A meteorite that fell in India is now being investigated, other meteorites hit the auction block or yield new insights, namely the Tagish Lake specimens. • Two German TV stories on the Lolland fall are now also on YouTube, while a camera in Yuba, CA, is seeing many bolides.

• On the Sun the AR 1019 displayed a moderately complex sunspot group - which was gone on June 4th already. • Sun-related also some space storm physics and aurora prediction ideas, the benefits of the STEREO mission, ongoing daily solar drawing work on Mt. Wilson, a news collection on the upcoming July 22 TSE and a commentary on the solar minimum. • Finally some articles on amateur astronomers and CCDs vs. DSLRs, a nice photo demonstration of precession over 1/4 century, the constancy of Shedir, a veeery deep image of M 51 and another sighting of Herschel in deep space. And early impressions from the international lunar parallax project; this is what was needed.

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