Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Evening of Nov. 6: grazing occultation of Neptune for U.K., Norway

"Early in the evening of 6 November, observers in the north and west of the UK will have an opportunity (weather permitting) to observe an occultation of Neptune, while those in the south and east will see the planet close to the southern limb of the Moon," advises a Special Electronic News Bulletin of the Society for Popular Astronomy today: "The most interesting place to be is on the graze line, which crosses the country from SW to NE, from north Cornwall and north Devon, via south Wales, Stoke on Trent, Barnsley and York to Whitby on the North Sea coast. In the graze zone you may expect to see the planet dim and blink out several times as it is successively hidden and then reappears behind mountains on the Moon's dark southern limb. After leaving England, the graze line continues towards the NE following the coastline of Norway."

The SPA has "produced a map showing the graze line crossing the country [i.e. the U.K.], and another showing the position of the m(v) +7.9 planet in relation to the gibbous waxing Moon's dark limb at the time. [...] Approximate times (UT) of the grazing event for various UK places on the line are as follows [...]: Lizard Point 18:44, Barnstaple 18:46, Lynmouth 18:48, St Brides (S. Wales coast) 18:49, Brecon 18:50, Stoke on Trent 18:51, Barnsley 18:52, York 18:53, Whitby 18:54. The altitude and azimuth of the event are about 22 and 183 degrees respectively, and the Moon's age is 8.8 days. The next UK lunar occultation of Neptune is not until 2016 June 25 at around 23:55 UT." A website from Austria provides further information on the rare event, including an interactive map.

In other news the motions of Venus, Jupiter and the Moon in the evening sky have been amply documented on Nov. 3 (dito), Nov. 2 (dito), Nov. 1, Oct. 31 (from Kansas) and Oct. 30 (from Fla.). • Farther away some changes on Uranus, as compared to 2007. • Comet McNaught is currently close to globular cluster Messier 10, making for nice pictures and stories (In Czech) as well as some confusion (that was cleared up almost instantaneously). Also 29P on Nov. 4 and a nice - though not current - 17P animation. • Amateur astronomers at the Chabot Space & Science Center in California are using one of their telescopes for asteroid follow-up observations which are as important as new discoveries.

• A fat but late Orionid from Oct. 31. • A heavy peace of the ISS jettisoned some time ago has reentered over a remote ocean, and thus its demise remained unobserved. • Atmospheric gravity waves can be studied via the airglow, and the moving patterns have been imaged by amateurs in 2007 and again now. • A stunning view of the Milky Way while even the military hates light pollution which is actually going down in New York City somewhat. • A simple online planetarium, an online tutorial of the night sky - and an illustrated observing report from high in the Alps from the Edelweißspitze.

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