Thursday, July 22, 2010

Remote solar eclipse seen almost everywhere - even at sunset in Patagonia

Nowhere along the track of the total solar eclipse of July 11 had the weather statistics been great - and yet a majority of those undeterred eclipse chasers who made it into the zone of totality seems to have been successful in seeing the glorious corona which, with the solar cycle on the increase, has become more complex again. All along Polynesia it had been touch-and-go w.r.t. local cloudiness, and sometimes a few kilometers made a difference, and even three ships had to struggle, while on Rapa Nui it had rained for 2 days before mostly clear skies met the eclipse. The greatest surprise, however, awaited observers in Argentina's Patagonia region where the clearest skies imaginable permitted perfect views of the eclipsed Sun at 1.5° elevation while a dramatic shadow sky show played above. Which came as a huge relief in particular for those who had expected to board a plane here for an eclipse flight - which was broken and couldn't fly ...The eclipse was also used by PROBA 2 (which saw it partially from orbit) for science. More reports and pictures can be found here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here (more). Some news reports are linked here (with more pre-eclipse coverage linked here); there are CNN Chile's live coverage, an ITN clip and stories by the Daily Telegraph (more), Thilinaheenatigala, ZEIT, Area Voices, BBC, Discovery, Lippeblatt, La Razon, Clarin, La Nacion and El Mercurio. No sightings of comet McNaught (a last view of June 29) were reported. Also links regarding the last TSE (Indian sites) and detail images of the Sun from July 21, July 20 (more and SDO detail) and July 16. And with other variable stars updates for Eps Aur (middle of eclipse) and Del Sco (bright).

In other news The bright star occultation by asteroid Roma was well observed, though the published track was a bit off: a AstroTreff thread, chords (only from good data), individual videos and reports here, here and here and early impressions. As expected the large angular size of the star caused shallow flanks in the light curves. • An optical dust trail of comet 10P/Tempel can be seen right now with the Earth crossing the orbital plane as these [alt.] and these pictures show. • There seems to be a new impact crater in Egypt, while Nemesis is even more unlikely now (more, more, more).

• Great pics of Jupiter and its large moons were obtained in recent days, on July 22, July 21, July 20 (b/w) and July 19 - and a July 16 pic of Uranus also shows detail! • There is now a seamless picture of the whole sky with one terapixel resolution from the DSS, also explained here and here. • The first IR sky survey by WISE is completed and the next one is running (more, more and more). • A nice narrated slide-show on NLCs and an attempt to predict them plus observations of July 15/16 (more), July 9 (more), July 4/5 and July 3/4, also a space picture of the layer, a panorama and videos here, here, here and here. • Finally a Chinese UFO story quickly evaporated.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Total solar eclipse, bright star asteroid occultations, planet 'dance' highlights of July

A lot will happen this month, though most of the highlights are not global events - as was the partial lunar eclipse last month: stories here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here, picture collections here, here, here, here and in this forum and good individual pictures or sets here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here (the latter from the ISS), scenic views here, here, here, here and here and some less convincing samples here, here and here and esp. here and here. The highlights for July (see summaries here, hier, hier, here, here, hier und hier) also include the beginning of many planet constellations in the evening sky as discussed hier and here.Comet McNaught has faded instead of brightened and thus remained stuck at 5th mag. as this analysis and these data show - thus it's extremely unlikely that it will be spotted during the solar eclipse when it is close to Mercury. Nonetheless the tail remained nice as pictures from the nights of June 29/30, June 27/28, June 24/25, June 23/24 (also a movie and more, more and more pics), a visual report from June 22/23 and pics from June 21/22 (more, June 19/20, June 18/19 (more) and June 16/17 (more, more) show. Also a Russian article, a pic w/weird colors, a German radio report - and a paper on comet C/2010 A2 (LINEAR) arguing for more than just an asteroid collision.

SEB-free Jupiter remains impressive as pictures e.g. from June 29, June 28 (note the chain of dark dots!) and June 25 (more and one year earlier) show. Also the history of these SEB fadings, an animation from last year and an ESA Release and article on the June 3 impact. • Also more on the star occultation by a KBO in a Williams College Release, a Stuttgart Univ. PM and stories here, here, here, here and hier. • On the Sun prominence sequences from June, a CME in May, solar sonifications (more) and a visualization of the solar cycle which is making more strange headlines.

In other news a Brazilian meteorite fall right after a bolide, a bolide in Washington, the - invisible - AMNH meteorite collection, a meteor tracking system at NMSU, more Giacobinids nonsense and a video report on the 2002 fullmoon Leonids. • The NLC season is now clearly underway (125 years after these clouds were first noted): great pictures from several nights in June (dito, earlier, still earlier, even earlier) and from the nights of June 28/29 (more, more), June 25/26, June 24/25, June 20/21, June 19/20 and June 18/19. And July may well be the best month to watch!