Friday, August 26, 2011

Closest Type Ia supernova in decades explodes in galaxy Messier 101, brightening rapidly, should reach 10-11 mag. soon

It was discovered very early in its lightcurve, and - as hectic reports indicate - brightened by several magnitudes over just the first day, reaching some 13 mag. right now: early pictures of the galaxy with the SN - no proper number yet - can be seen here, here and here while the situation regarding a progenitor isn't quite clear yet. What is clear is that a Ia supernova that close is a great opportunity for science as also reflected in quick press releases from LBL and UCSB; more early stories here, here and here. If a typical case, the brightness of the SN in M 101 should climb to 11 or even 10 mag. in the coming days, easily surpassing the SN in M 51 some weeks ago.

On the Sun the evolution of a spot group and a weird prominence on Aug. 19. • CMEs can now be tracked all the way to Earth by STEREO: press material here, here, here, here, here and here. • Speculation about solar storms in future decades (complex relationships). • A method to detect sunspots before they're seen: press material here, here and here = here and stories here, here, here, hier, hier, hier and hier plus in a video. • A proposal for a 2017 eclipse megamovie, also hailed here, the TSI of the past and an Aug. 23 aurora.

Regarding comets some solar forward scatter math for Elenin which may be decaying though; also STEREO pictures of Aug. 19, Aug. 16 and Aug. 15 and another anti-hoax video. • Garradd on Aug. 22, Aug. 21 (more and more), Aug. 20 (more, more and more), Aug. 18 and Aug. 16. • Van Ness on Aug. 22 (fragment B still there) and a new comet PANSTARRS. • There could/should be meteors after an August 8 event in the U.S. (more), and from a Kenyan fall widely reported in July impressive specimen are in.

In other news from the Perseids - the peak stayed at a meager 63 - a report from the Provence and video stills plus a video with analysis of the ISS case. • A report on the Target NEO study and stats from the La Sagra NEO Hunt. • A Caltech Release, the final part of the story and another one on strange KBO 2007 OR10. • More sober and combative thoughs by plus an interview with Mike Brown on dwarf planets, a press release on wide KBO binaris and what happened 5 years ago. • The best image yet (I know) of NanoSail D and its blinking pattern, plus a fine image of doomed ROSAT. • Finally a nice timelapse movie and another one.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Full moon-lit Perseids weak even after correcting: ZHRmax ~ 70

Initial poor Impressions of the strength of the 2011 Perseids, heavily bathed in moonshine, have since been confirmed: The zenithal hourly rate reached only about 70 just before noon UTC on Aug. 13 (and this includes corrections for the depressed limiting magnitude). Still - as every year - photographers could get happy with the show: a collage of many perseid streaks and individual ones here, here, here, here and here. Not many are seen in this video, while another one contains many insects ... The most talked-about Perseid image was one taken from the ISS, of course: My research into earlier similar successes is also acknowledged here while different versions of the image are seen here, here and here. • In other meteor news a Dutch expedition to Namibia yielded 2000 meteors, detailled papers and more about the upcoming Draconids is linked here, and there's a strange report from Japan ...

In other small bodies news comet Garradd on Aug. 15, Aug. 14, Aug. 10, Aug. 9 (also an animation), Aug. 7 (more) and Aug. 6. • 45P/H-M-P close to Earth was covered here, here and hier. • Split comet 214P/van Ness on Aug. 9 and Aug. 7 (more) - the 2nd nucleus was seen as early as July 12, by the way. • Comet Elenin on Aug. 13 and in the FOV of a STEREO satellite (movie included!); also an observing guide and a NASA FAQ about Elenin BS which later spawned a JPL Press Release and stories here and here. • And another McNaught discovery ... • A long list of dwarf planet candidates, the case of Kuiper belt object 2007 OR10 (also as a story here and here, KBO hunting for New Horizons and a prediction of a Pluto ring.

Elsewhere in the Universe a small but cute Jupiter of Aug. 12. • A lot of solar activity: a new AR - 1271 - has appeared at the limb, prominence movies of Aug. 16 and Aug. 10 and the biggest solar flare of the cycle on Aug. 9, causing lots of coverage but few effects as it happened at the limb. Future ones may be more effective: solar flare primers as a video and a story. Plus a paper on new scientific insights from solar eclipse observations in the past 5 years. • A possible Nova in Lupus has been confirmed, the progenitor of the SN in M 51 (the claims here are questioned, BTW), and a call for continued monitoring of Eps Aur. • The Aug. 6 aurora from Scotland, Germany (a review) and Canada (a twilight video). • NLCs in the U.K. on Aug. 3 and Finland on July 21. • Some candidates for astrophotographer of the year, some pretty space pics (big!) and NanoSail D flashing over Europe.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Solar action week culminates in aurorae over Europe and North America

First three major sunspot groups were crossing the disk simultaneously, then a barrage of coronal mass ejections moved towards Earth in a complex pattern, and finally a nice auroral storm occured last night with a show - where clear ... - from Germany to the U.K. to the U.S. and Canada: solar activity is on the rise, the drought is over! From the aurora show reports and pictures from Germany (where Kiel had the best view), the U.K. (same; more and more; same), from Minnesota in the U.S. and Canada (also a timelapse video). The solar flares and CMEs responsible were amply discussed before, like here, here, here, here, here, here and here. And the sunspots themselves were observed widely, e.g. on August 2 at sunset (same; more) or on Aug. 1, July 31 and July 30 (public event).

In the world of comets Garradd (more, more, more and mehr general reports) was widely observed passing near globular cluster Messier 15 on August 1 and 2: images of Aug. 4, Aug. 3 and 2 (more, more, more, more, more, more, more, more, more, more, more, more, more, more, more and more), Aug. 1 (more and more) July 31 (high contrast; more, more and more), July 30 (more) and July 29. • Comet 213P/van Ness has split and also displays a nice antitail: a report (earlier), more observations here and here, here, more pictures and an MPEC. • The STEREO B spacecraft has observed comet Elenin from close: more, more, more and an animation, plus an Aug. 2 ground-based image. • A 5 arc min conjunction of 2 comets, both extremely faint.

Elsewhere in the Universe Several new Kuiper Belt Objects were found in the Southern skies, including 3 potential dwarf planets, another KBO has a weird spectrum, and there is now considerable effort to find suitable KBOs for New Horizons to visit after Pluto. • A great animation shows how chaotic the orbit of Earth Trojan 2010 TK7 is; the small asteroid is also observed by amateurs (more, more) - and the Faulkes scopes are useful anyway for discoveries. • Pictures of Jupiter on August 5, the day Juno was launched to the planet, and July 31. • The young Moon on Aug. 1 in the U.S. and - with Mercury - Australia. • Currently there are two novae of 17 mag. in Messier 31. • NLCs on Aug. 2 in Germany and Aug. 1 in Norway and Germany. • And an observation of NanoSail D on July 31 in Finland.