Saturday, August 1, 2009

Three eclipses in the news: Eps Aur, Jup vs. 45 Cap and another TSE round-up

Eclipses - of three very different kinds - are the top stories right now or should be: in once a mystery object is about to move in front of the star Epsilon Aurigae, in another Jupiter will occult a bright star, and there is a lot more to tell (or rather link) about the longest total eclipse of the Sun of the 21st century. The big story of the past two week, the surprise impact on Jupiter, is being treated in a box in the current Cosmic Mirror, however, while strong noctilucent cloud activity will be covered further down.

The eclipse of Epsilon Aurigae - already discussed a year ago and introduced also here and here has actually begun - kind of. A spectroscopic precursor was first seen on 20 July when a new absorption feature appeared, belonging to the mystery occulting object. The brightness of the star in the visible seems to hold at 3.0 mag., though, but could begin its 0.75 mag. decline any day now. • Meanwhile the Moon occulted Antares on 31 July and the Plejades on 18 July. And the mutual events of the Jovian satellites continue, as videos here and here show (plus Jupiter on 5 July with spots and Saturn w/o rings, almost, on 16 July).

The eclipse of 45 Capricorni by Jupiter (technically an occultation) takes place in the night of 3/4 August for Europe, and the IOTA-ES has put a lot of information here; more accounts can be found here and here. Many experienced observers are already preparing for the difficult observation (best done with a large scope and a methane filter to suppress Jupiter's glare). Here are a paper and another one on two previous stellar occultations by Jupiter and what could be learned from them - and this paper shows how much science occultation lightcurves can contain, in the case of Pluto.

The eclipse of the century has led to many more web pages than mentioned 5 days ago, some new, some only found now. From Space we have images from Chandrayaan of the shadow on Earth as seen from lunar orbit (also discussed here) and the view from Terra and MTSAT. We also have the final prediction - made July 19 - of the corona shape. Observing reports and pictures: From Emei Shan clouds. From Chengdu clouds. From Chongqing pictures, more and more pictures (series). From Wuhan a slide show and corona composite, a report, pictures (more from that trip and some processing attempts, another report, also here) and more pictures 1, 2 and 3. From Anji a report.

From Wuzhen the picture report by yours truly is now complete with chemical pictures (and there is a trip timeline with more picture pages linked) while here a nice corona from the same location is seen. From the western water town come this, this and this report. From Jinshan a report and another one, from Hangzhou a report, from Ningbo pictures and from Shanghai a report and another one. From the Costa Classica (which had the clearest skies of all) pictures here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here, from the Gauguin a report and also some partial impressions, general thoughts (more and mehr), a TV report and a cartoon, very true ... :-)

In other news the night of 14/15 July seems to have been a major one for noctilucent clouds around the globe as reports here, here (by yours truly - from a plane over Russia), here, here, here, here, here and here, the picture pages here, here and here and stories here and here indicate. Almost every night something happens, however: Here are also reports of NLCs in the night 13/14 July (more), 12/13 July (the view from Hersel) and June (more from 18 June). Plus we have occasional volcanic effects.

• Currently there is a meteorite hunt in the U.S. locations underway, with the "Mason-Dixon fireball over Maryland - early reports, video, more, more - the newer case, also involving a strange photo through a telescope. Another fresh meteorite discovery in April apparently led to some controversy as reports here, here and here indicate - meteorites can be big business ... • Finally a story on a Japanese SN hunter, advice on a clever sun viewer (if there only was something to view on it!), a cool ISS in front of the Sun picture, an ISS/Progress sighting and more Galaxy Zoo successes.

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