Monday, February 11, 2008

Astrophotographers capture ISS and Atlantis in high resolution

Amateur astrophotographers are making ample "use" of the current space shuttle mission STS-122 to the International Space Station: Thanks to conveniently lit repeated early evening overflights over Europe and stable fine weather, a flurry of excellent images is appearing on the web. A few early results were already hailed here, now there are many more from Germany alone: of Atlantis closing in on Feb. 9 and of the two docked together on Feb. 10. As can be calculated by e.g. Heavens Above and CalSky there are - for Germany - two more really good overflights today and tomorrow before the viewing window draws to a rapid close.

In other news there are nice pictures of yesterday's earthshine on the Moon, of Mars on Jan. 28 (which invites a comparision with 2005) and of solar prominences yesterday. Still around is comet Holmes (scroll down for a nice wide-angle image!) which will soon be swamped again by moonlight but is still moderately easy for the naked eye in dark skies.

There are reports of comet Chen-Gao brightening to 11th mag. (so that the model used in this new ephemeris could already be outdated). Also brightening is the symbiotic variable star BF Cygni which "is currently on a rapid rise to a new bright maximum," according to the CBAT ET #1251, with a B magnitude of 11.1 on Feb. 9.

For Europeans, by the way, a convenient French weather site - running a U.S. model but displaying the cloud pattern well - has been recommended. And measuring cosmic distances might get even more reliable thanks to a new trick for Cepheid distance determination with the help of light echos.


Daniel Fischer said...

And here is how the Moon looked like yesterday with a much shorter exposure time.

Daniel Fischer said...

Plus a Mars of today, still full of detail despite <11" diameter.

Daniel Fischer said...

And a Chen-Gao of tonight from the UK, having come in minutes ago.