Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Best sunspot in years opens month with record-long solar eclipse

Just weeks after a detailled model predicted the return of sunspots the best one since about two years actually appeared and evolved for a few days before starting to decay: Here are pictures of AR 11024 from July 7 (more), July 6 (more), July 5 (more, more and many more) and July 4 (more, more, more and more); already in early June some activity was seen. Fittingly the Sun "idiots" book has recently become available online for free (also here). The pick-up in solar activity is a good start for a month that also featured the smallest full Moon today that came combined with a very partial lunar eclipse which probably went largely unobserved - but will be followed by the longest total solar eclipse of the 21st century. Previews of July 2009's sky events can be found here, hier and here, with the most notable beingStill well visible in July are Noctilucent Clouds of which great displays were seen in recent days, esp. on the morning of July 2 (more and more reports & pics), July 25 (close-up!) and July 23. • In addition, sometimes impressive sky color effects were seen in recent days, caused by a volcano in Russia which erupted June 12: Reports came in e.g. from July 4, July 3 and July 1 and 4. • Meanwhile in Finland an impressive halo was recorded - about the only 'astronomy' possible there in summer.

In other news the first meteorites from the Arizona fireball have been found! There are also updates about the bolide itself - what it looked and sounded like, plus video & pics - from June 29, 27 and 25 and another newspaper story. • New analysis has become available about the Steinheimer Becken impact crater in Germany, which was apparently an iron body and unrelated to the Ries impactor (another story) and the Vitim impact from 2002. • Nice comet pictures show C/2005 L3 (McNaught) very close to a galaxy (the scene 2 days earlier), 22P/Kopff with a long tail, C/2008 Q3 (Garradd) and C/2006 W3 (Christensen).

• Planet-wise the NEB action on Jupiter (this blog quoted!) as an animation, another "ad" for the mutual events of Jupiter's moons and the darkening of Saturn's rings documented while the Sun moves into the ring plane. • Three personal stories involving Alan Hale and a young SN discoverer and a weird "solargraph" picture. • Finally many have imaged the LCROSS spacecraft as results here, here, here and here show - the old Apollo missions, by the way, were also observed by telescopes on Earth.

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