Sunday, December 19, 2010

An asteroid playing comet, fine Geminids and not a "solstice lunar eclipse"

For 104 years the body carring the name (596) Scheila behaved like a perfect main belt asteroid - but now it's suddenly become a weird comet! This short report in German summarizes early developments and links to all that was known at the time, such as this, this and this report. Since then we have more reports from Dec. 18 (more) and Dec. 17, photo collections here, here and here and pictures of Dec. 17 (and 16 and 13; more), Dec. 16 (more), Dec. 15 (more) and Dec. 13 - it looks like the coma is fading already. • A new 'Russian' comet, C/2010 X1 (Elenin): a TV report and a Dec. 11 image. • Other recent comet pictures: 204P and 43P (both with nice tails), P/2010 V1 (earlier; not that impressive) - and Hartley 2, still a green blob amonst a lot of deep sky objects. • Organic material in the meteorites from asteroid 2010 TC3 (more and more) and 2004's comet Machholz (mehr).

The Geminids of 2010 have peaked on Dec. 14 with a ZHR a bit above 100 (just as predicted): pictures, collections and videos here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here. • More about that British bolide thing (with a little dashboard-cam video). • Contrary to numerous stories, the Dec. 21 total lunar eclipse (more, more, more, more) does not happen on the same (calendar) day in general as the solstice which occurs some 15 hours later: From this immediately follows that both events happen on subsequent days for 2/3 of the planet, e.g. most of Europe but also Hawaii. • Further images of the big white storm on Saturn of Dec. 14 and Dec. 13 (more) and reports of Dec. 16 and Dec. 12. • Marvellous Jupiter images (before the SEB revival) from Barbados!

A lot is happening on the Sun, though not in white light: amateur dopplergrams from Dec. 6., more and more early Dec. pics, studies of a global eruption on Aug. 1 with "sympathetic flares" (more, more), the roles of the SDO and SORCE satellites in solar studies, a storm prediction that failed, ESA's helioviewer software, and the pulsating aurora. • Finally an AGU press conference reported preliminary results on city light pollution enhancing air pollution (more, more and more) - which led to a reaction from IDA in which the study leader isn't interested, though, as he said in Q&A.

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