Friday, December 31, 2010

Deep partial solar eclipse & Quadrantid peak & Uranus @ Jupiter all coincide on 4 January 2011

This monthly preview is easy: Everything of interest happens within a few hours on Tuesday, January 4, 2011! • For the third time Jupiter and Uranus meet within 1/2° (some list the closest approach for Jan. 2, though). • The Quadrantid meteors peak around 1:10 UTC when the ZHR might briefly surpass 100 (more previews here, here, here, here and hier). Of all the major showers of 2011 this is the only one without severe lunar interference! • A few hours later a deep partial eclipse of the Sun can be seen in Europe and around: more, more, mehr, mehr, mehr and mehr. As usual there is an official health warning, once again blown out of proportion in the media ("watch only on the web!") - a very bad move for public education. Anyway, webcasts - from Spain - are announced here, here and here. The year 2011 is particularly rich in eclipses (more, also a specific U.K. outlook); more on the coming months and January in particular. Also a look ahead in physics - and several looks back, in case anyone cares ...

The total eclipse of the Moon preceding the PSE was already covered - with maaany links - hier and hier. Also thoughts on its brightness, a SQM graph, some individual reports here (with a fast movie), here, here, here and hier, further selected pictures from Germany, Tenerife, Costa Rica (story), Nicaragua (story), the U.S., Canada and the Philippines. Plus a picture collection (much more), all-sky pics with bolides during totality, a video from Cumbria, the stabilized version of the famous great animation (by Castleman), a more jerky animation and HD stills of the eclipse over the shuttle. Some media reports are here, here, here, here, hier and hier, story collections hier, hier and hier, and report on how Chang'e 2 coped with the shadow. And finally the "rare solstice eclipse" misunderstandings are still around (just look at the bizarre comments here when I pointed out that for most it wasn't one anyway - and that the next case is only one Meton away), and there was even more bullsh*t and weirdness around as can be seen hier and here, here and here ...

Elsewhere in the solar system we finally have Cassini close-ups of the huge Saturn storm (false-color versions here and here): more coverage and amateur pics of Dec. 25, Dec. 24 and Dec. 23; many more great views are here as is the development from Dec. 5...19. • Meanwhile the SEB revival on Jupiter continues, plus a gorgeous rotation video of Sep. 12 (from this material). • Moon & Venus on the morning of Dec. 31 from Germany and India and the constellation on Dec. 29 from Austria. • The complications of solar storm forecasting. • The coma of asteroid Sheila after its weird outburst is still there as pics from Dec. 29 (more) and Dec. 27 show - but short exposures can miss the show!

• SOHO has found its 2000th comet (more, more, more, more and mehr). • The orbit (another one) for new comet Elenin may make it bright come next fall. • Comet Hartley 2 on Dec. 29, Dec. 27 and Dec. 26. • Some reports and pictures (including a glorious composite!) from the Geminids. • A subterranean impact crater in New York. • More analysis of the 2008 TC3 meteorites here, here, here and here. • More cool pictures from the Himalayas. • Hi-res views of the ISS in front of the Moon and the Sun. • And finally some freebies: You can have 26 pages of the premiere issue of the new IOTA journal (with lots of stellar occultation conference reports), 155 pages of a kind of textbook on astrophotography and 70 pages of a Minor Planet bulletin as big PDFs, all for free. Happy new year!

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