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.

No comments: