Monday, February 15, 2010

Solar activity continues to be high - relative to the non-activity in the past, that is

It were the sunpot groups (1)1045 and 46 in particular that caused excitement (more coverage here, hier und hier): the Sun on Feb. 15 and Feb. 7, a big prominence and more on Jan. 30/31, a flare on Feb. 12 and a CME on Jan. 27. • From the annular solar eclipse a month ago a video from the Maldives (one of all too few with some editing before posting ...), a video from Varkala, a video from Rameswaran, a report from Kanyakumari and a lightcurve from Dhanushkody. The eclipse is also pic 18 here, seen at sunset from Japan with fine atmospheric effects (Omega phenomenon) and starring in a poorly edited TV clip (more). • For a change, a great amateur Moon picture and another one, both with extremely high resolution.

In other news Mars - a report from Mozambique - is still a fine sight, e.g. on Feb. 13, Feb. 9, Feb. 8, Feb. 6, Feb. 4, Feb. 2 (a picture with a 1-m telescope; more on the little dust storm), Feb. 1, Jan. 29 and Jan. 28 (the 1-m again); also a drawing of Jan. 18. • Low in the west, the Jupiter/Venus conjunction is now - while the stellar occultation by Pluto was clouded out all over Europe, it seems, but Pic du Midi reports success. • There may have been a new surge in comet SW 1: pictures of Feb. 8, Feb. 6, Feb. 5 (more from that place, another and another pic), Feb. 3 (more) and a story. • Also a nice tail of C/2007 Q3, a picture of 2010 A2 with a small scope - and nonsense regarding that object.

• There was a bolide in Ireland of which no footage seems to exist (more, more, more, more) - unfortunately an old fake video was accepted by all too many (such as this, this and this site) for the real thing ... • A fireball cloud from last November, another and another story on the fight over the 'doctor's office meteorite' and a possible impact site in Rajasthan. • An incident over Mexico was neither a particular reentry (earlier) nor was there a crater formed: confused coverage here, here, here, here, here and here. • Finally stories on the variable stars U Scorpii (a picture of Feb. 6) and Epsilon Aurigae. And the IAU Circulars are moving to a new - not too distant - place.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Comet Schwassmann-Wachmann 1 in biggest outburst in a decade?

Spanish "data suggest that this comet is currently experiencing an unusual outburst, probably the brightest in the last decade according the recent photometric compilation," says an Astronomer's Telegram today: "Additional observations obtained in the last month suggest a progressive increase in activity from mid January from a quite inactive 40-days period in which the comet remained close to +16 R magnitude." Now the "object exhibits a stellar appearance in the images with an apparent diameter of 15 arcsec. The derived magnitude of the comet in a 10 arcsec standard photometry field is +11.7 R, +11.5 I, and +11.9 V." • Meanwhile a dramatic HST picture of the comet/asteroid collision product C/2010 A2 (mentioned last time) is everywhere and discussed e.g. here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here. • All the comets of 2010 are detailled in this document (PDF, 5 pg.). • A minor meteor outburst of the Gamma Ursae Minorids. • And the meteorite hitting a doctor's office in Virginia - also mentioned - is now being fought over as this, this, this and this story report.

Mars is now in opposition and very bright (as stories here, here and here explain): nice pictures from Feb. 2, Feb. 1, Jan. 30, Jan. 29, Jan. 26/27 (pairwise forming great stereo views, esp. 1+2, 3+4 and 4+5), Jan. 26 (more, more, more, more, more and more), Jan. 23 (more), Jan. 21 and Jan. 5; fresh planet images ago appear in this new gallery. • Pictures of the brightest-of-the-year-full Moon/Mars constellation of Jan. 30 from the Philippines, India (story) and Germany. • Students have recovered a Mars "companion", and asteroid on an horse-shoe orbit. • And a report about a grazing occultation of Antares by the Moon on Jan. 11.

Further reports on the annular eclipse of Jan. 15 have come in, which was a StarPeace event: from Uganda, Kenya, the Maldives (also pictures from Thulagiri and a report and more pictures from Club Faru), India's Varkala (a report and chemical pictures by yours truly and a great beads/chromosphere sequence, as an animation and picture series [use right arrow to forward] and another report with pictures from the S.P.A.C.E. expedition) and South tip (more), Myanmar (more and more) and China, plus impressions from the partial zone from Tanzania, Chennai and Coimbatore in India and Indonesia. Plus the view from space by the Proba 2 satellite, also shown here, here and here. And a German paper on an eclipse chaser. • Some coming attractions, based on this, this, this, this and these pages, among others:In other news the recurrent nova U Sco is in outburst, discovered by amateur and the first eruption since 1999 - after studying historical plates this explosion was forecast with some confidence, and a network of observers was alerted; more coverage here, here and here - and X-ray observations by Swift. • The new Nova Sgr has faded fast as has Nova Oph. • And Epsilon Aurigae has reached totality some time in January, but keep watching it for brightness fluctuations! • A picture of NLCs from orbit, twittered by an astronaut, and a strange thing in the sky over China which was probably a rocket test, reminiscent of the one seen from Norway earlier - the latter was a failure, though, the Chinese one apparently a success (and the visual observations valuable). • Finally we learn that the CBAT is moving, to greener (no pun on Dan Green intended :-) pastures.