Monday, March 7, 2011

Mercury evening show - aided by Jupiter - sky highlight in March

The best evening visibility of Mercury - for the Northern hemisphere, in 2011 - has just begun: The planet is still very close to the Sun but also very bright. In the coming days it'll fade but increase its elongation from the Sun (until the 23rd) - and on March 15 it will be only 2° from Jupiter which will help locate the elusive planet (which will receive its first artificial orbiter with MESSENGER on the 18th, by the way). This is clearly the main event of March 2011; for more see this, this and this story. • There were already nice constellations in recent days: the Moon & Jupiter on March 7 (Germany; U.K., Moon close-up)and March 6 (U.K.; more, Moon close-up, Austria, Moon close-up, Germany, Moon close-up, more), Jupiter close-up on March 5 and Moon & Venus on March 1 from the Philippines, India (more), Germany, the Canary Islands (daytime), the U.S. plus more. Also Saturn on Feb. 23 (movie).

In other news Comet Hartley 2 is still around but tiny, Elenin is still there, as are many other comets. • A meteor network, yet another obit for the Dryas impact claim, 19 NEAs in one night with PanSTARRS and more NEA studies. • The Sun in white light on March 7 and March 5, in Calcium light with a plane on Feb. 27, and a huge prominence on Feb. 24 (more, more, more). • Also a quick paper on the 1st X flare of the cycle, some ideas about weak cycle 23 (more, more, more, more, more, more, more, more, more, more, more and mehr) and numerous space weather stories here, here, here, here, here, hier and hier. And this is just what's flooding the net after a little action on the Sun ...

• Talking about the Sun, the SDO saw a funny partial eclipse on March 4 (more, more, more and more), there is a story on a little known Japanese eclipse flight during the last total eclipse in July 2010 in an Air Tahiti Nui magazine on PDF pages 33-34, and the weather analysis for the next total eclipse in Nov. 2012 in Oz has been updated. • The last flight of Discovery STS-133 has been amply documented by astrophotographers like Legault; other work is linked from this article. Also hot pics of Discovery and the ISS after undocking this evening from Germany (more and more) and one orbit later from the U.K. • Only sporadic observations of NanoSail are being reported, such as occasional flare pics and vids. • The AAVSO has received observation # 20 mio. (more). • And Leif Robinson has died (more).

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