"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.