Saturday, December 11, 2010

Impressive white storm appears on Saturn

"Surely this must be one of the brightest and largest storms in the last few seasons," says Australian planet specialist A. Wesley about a huge white cloud that appeared on Saturn a few days ago: There are already quite a number of images showing it in the international Saturn galleries here, here and here; particularly impressive are this, this and this image. Saturn is approaching 44 Vir 3 times now, by the way, twice very closely. • The SEB revival on Jupiter continues, as again many pictures in this gallery document; there are also summary reports from Dec. 5 and Dec. 3 and some pics of Dec. 2. • A close-up of Venus from Dec. 10. • Some planetary constellations: Moon & Mercury on Dec. 8 (Oz) and Dec. 7 (US; detail), Moon crescent & Mars on Dec. 6 (very low & just after an occultation!), Moon biting the Sun on Dec. 5 (but only for the SDO), the waning lunar crescent on Dec. 4, Mercury from a plane over India on Dec. 3 and Moon, Venus, Saturn & Spica on Dec. 2.

Two major coming attractions are the total lunar eclipse on Dec. 21 (mehr, mehr) - and the Geminids on Dec. 13/14 (more, more, more and more previews): The activity profile is already picking up, we have a colorful spectrum - and there will be several rocket launches with the ECOMA particle detector to study the dust in situ; there is a campaign blog in German. • Lots of excitement in the U.K. over a bolide - that wasn't that bright at all (-5 to -7 mag. at max., I hear), just seen by many. • There may be better access to satellite fireball data for civilian researchers. • Studying an ancient impact with associated earthquake. • And a pretty weird paper linking an anecdotal story of alleged ball lightning in Oz in 2006 (one lonely witness, no physical traces!) to a fireball in the sky - which nonetheless many 'science media' picked up as something of importance, none worthy of linking here.

In other news comets 240P with a tail (also on Dec. 7), P/2010 U2 in front of M 33, P/2010 V1 on Dec. 7 and the development til now, and Hartley 2 on Dec. 7 and Nov. 27. • Also 15 years of SOHO comets, a paper on Holmes photometry with SMEI on Coriolis (alt.) and new details about a quasi-satellite of Venus. • A nice eruption on the Sun on Dec. 6 (image sequence also here -> hier -> here and stories here, here, here and here); the responsible filament also on Dec. 4 and Dec. 3. Plus a storm prediction, solar eruption studies and a paper about the January partial eclipse. • Amateurs helping Hubble with Cepheids, WW Cet, SMEI nova photometry and Eps Aur. • And night pictures from Antarctica.

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