Sunday, April 26, 2009

Mercury, Moon & Pleiades line up after Moon occulted Venus

A lot was (and is, as I type!) going on in the skies conjunction-wise. At this very moment the Pleiades, the Moon and Mercury have lined up in the dusk as pictures taken in the past hours from Europe like quite a number here and also this one and this one document (when dusk reaches the Americas, the Moon will already be above the Pleiades). Also earlier pictures of Mercury with the Pleiades on the 25th from the U.S. and on the 22nd, 21st and 19th as well as with resolved detail on the surface on the 18th. Before the Moon came round the Sun it occulted Venus for the Americas, be it grazing or fully as in fine picture series here and here or in this video. More pictures here and here and in collections here and here and here. Also the Moon in hi-res on the 23rd, with Venus on the 22nd from Germany and with Jupiter, Venus & Mars on the 20th from Oz. Plus Jupiter in hi-res on the 23rd and 16th + 17th, old Jupiters from Namibia - and the question why Uranus' rings are to hard to image with amateur gear.

In other news avid cometographers managed to capture 23 comets in one night (of April 22) or 16 in another (of April 25)! Lulin is still around, e.g. on April 22, an old McNaught showed an interesting tail on April 19, and we have Borrelly on the 22nd, Chury on the 15th and Cardinal at M 36 on the 17th. • The Lyrids reached a maximum ZHR of around 15 - about typical - at the predicted time, though there's an other, later ZHR=30 peak in the automatic plot right now. There are now 11 new meteor showers in the Working List, most also confirmed by the IMO video network. Also of interest are fireballs on April 22 (not a Lyrid) and April 17 and a "mystery rock" which may or may not be a meteorite.

• There is increasing talk about the meaning of the ongoing deep minimum of solar activity (and the non-role of the Sun in Global Warming), also here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here (a video interview). • We have a better lightcurve of IY Uma, an eclipsing central star of a planetary nebula, the SN in NGC 4088 (and a nice picture of M 88). • Finally some light pollution calculations - and an overview of cameras in orbit looking at the Earth and delivering live image feeds.

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