Sunday, September 19, 2010

Substantial sunspot group arrives, preceded by two nice eruption shows

Since a few days a conspicious sunspot group, AR 1108, is rotating onto the disk, as can be followed best via near-live white-light images from SDO's HMI instrument but also amateur equipment as here on Sep. 19 (more), Sep. 18 (more) and Sep. 17. Earlier there were spectacular eruptions on Sep. 15 (timesteps one and two) and on Sep. 8 (movie, more, more, later, coverage here and hier, plus the group responsible earlier on the disk). • There is some indication that sunspots are losing contrast over time (covered also here and here), more on the state of the cycle, the continued lack of an effect on climate - and a preview of the deep partial eclipse next January. • Meanwhile Epsilon Aurigae in still in deep eclipse near the middle of the long event.

The closest approach of Jupiter since 1963 is making news here, here, here, here and here; some pictures of Sep. 7/8, Sep. 4 (more) and Aug. 25 (infrared); Uranus is very close to it as seen in images of Sep. 17, Sep. 5 and Aug. 28; also Uranus' moons on Sep. 6. • Jupiter is an excellent target for amateur science, esp. impact monitoring: There are new papers on the June 2010 flash [alt.] and the 2009 aftermath, discussed by ESO, NASA, JPL, NASA HQ, Gemini and Sandia Releases, Science@NASA and stories here, here, here and hier. • There was a Venus occultation by the Moon on Sep. 11 in Southern Africa, also seen here and here; in Spain, Germany (more), India and Australia (earlier) there was only a conjunction. Also Venus, Mars and the Moon in dark skies on Sep. 11 and Sep. 10.

The race is on between Deep Impact and amateurs worldwide to capture the best views of comet 103P/Hartley (2) as the approaching spacecraft from the EPOXI mission is now sending images as well: a blog, the status, the pictures, the 2nd one, the 1st one and discussion here, here, here and here. Some general info on the brightening comet here, here, here and hier, some images, also from Lowell Obs., and selected amateur shots of Sep. 19 (more), Sep. 18 (more), Sep. 17, Sep. 16, Sep. 15, Sep. 11-13, Sep. 13, Sep. 12 (more), Sep. 11 (more, more and an animation), Sep. 8, Sep. 7, Sep. 6 (more, more), Sep. 5 (more, more, more) and Sep. 4 (more, more). • Even more interesting, though, is 10P/Tempel as seen on Sep. 16 (also Sep. 17 and Sep. 18 [more]), 236P/LINEAR has a little tail, and there is yet another La Sagra comet discovery, seen here on Sep. 18.

Two tiny asteroids - or space rocks perhaps? - came moderately close on the same day, Sep. 8: images of 2010 RF12 (more, more, more, more and more) and 2010 RX30, the respective MPECs 49 and 50 and various announcements and articles here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here (earlier), here, here, here (lousiest headline; see also the even worse URL!), hier, hier and hier - and there are discoveries all the time! • Did one crash in Colombia? Inconclusive reporting here (earlier, still earlier, even earlier), here, here and aqui - and yet more stories ...

Finally something to look at - the Astronomy Photographer of the Year winners of 2010, celebrated e.g. here, here, here, here, here and here. • And while we're at it, these extreme star trails and these Perseids drawings are also worth noting. • A closing note: While the preparations for and progress and aftermath of the International Year of Astronomy have been amply documented in a parallel blog (in German but covering the whole world, with most links to English sources), it's worth noting that both the international and the German final reports have come out this month and are freely available, the former also summarized here. There'll be a lot of obvious - and not so obvious - legacy of the IYA 2009, promised ...

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