Tuesday, September 4, 2012

EXTRA: Astrophotos making the web - the good, the bad and the ugly ...

There is an unfathomable universe of wonderful and genuine space images out there on the web (of which this blog is striving to bring you all those related to current sky events) - and yet it's sometimes the heavily manipulated or even completely manufactured pictures that "get viral", labeled as and/or understood to be sensationally good real images by scores of watchers. One such case was covered here three months ago, when a composited view of the May annular eclipse was distributed as a seemingly real image (see the translation of that tweet) and went viral in Japan and then around the world: even 'prominent' astronomers, including a hard-core space scientist (whom I won't name), initially fell for this fake and tried to explain its optical oddities. Another example, very recent, is this alleged photo of a sunset with sunspots and a Paris skyline - which a major science organization also distributed with a caption implying a real photo ("Taken at sunset September 2, 2012 in Paris ..."). Of course it isn't: The Sun is way too round for one touching the horizon, and its limb is brightened instead of darkened as it is in reality: obviously a montage, and one that anyone familiar with real sunset images can only consider bizarre in its stark unreality. And now read the comments under the Facebook entry: many took the picture for real and celebrated the assumed photography skills at work here.

Now, why care about severely manipulated or completely made-up sky pictures widely assumed to be real? Isn't space art yet another great way to convey the beauty of space? If labeled as such: of course it is! But the issue here is what Australian astronomy popularizer Ian Musgrave has termed "sky literacy": the ability to understand what's happening in the sky (and getting inoculated against severe misinterpretations of celestial happenings that others may shamelessly exploit). Unscientific fake images like the setting round Sun with the bizarrely brightened limb may seem only a small detail here (not recognizing Venus or other normal naked-eye sky phenomena is much more troubling), but we in the astronomy outreach community should behave responsibly on every level, shouldn't we? A 'borderline case' in this regard is a famous solar photographer who gets great H-Alpha images like this recent one - only to invert the greyscale on the disk but not of the prominences every time: a very confusing (and neither helpful nor IMHO aesthetic) process that has confused more than one professional astronomer desparately trying to understand what's going on - and leaves the broader audience in the dark, literally. Explaining narrow-band solar images is hard enough, but here a level of confusion is added without need.

The nonchalance with which many in the astronomy community are ignoring the issue of misleading space pictures on the web - let alone celebrating them - is disturbing, especially given the increasing awareness of image manipulation in real life and news media in particular. Here at least the professionals try to strive for the moral high ground: For example a manipulated - by NASA! - image from the Apollo 11 mission should be deleted, they say, from all image archives. Photojournalists have given themselves ethical guidelines, and not so infrequent scandals like a recent one in Austria with a 'spiced-up' photo from Syria underscore their necessity. The only astrophotographical organisation I know that has similar guidelines is The World at Night where all compositing is banned; unfortunately their - still developping - rules aren't online yet. Would it be too much to ask for astronomy outreach activists to at least try to stick to a similar standard, clearly labeling artwork as such? And, if available, always use genuine photographs of the sky of which there are so many outstanding ones around anyway.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Coming two nights best for the Perseids, with only modest lunar interference

The zenithal hourly rate was already in the 50s this morning UTC (video data also show a steep rise of activity), and the peak should be reached around noon tomorrow: the nights 11/12 and 12/13 August promise the highest rates, depending on the time zone. Here's a visual report from last night, NASA promises some action in the coming night, more previews here, here (more), here, here, here, here and here. General August previews here, here, here and here: occultations of Jupiter and Venus by the Moon on Aug. 12 and 13, a morning visibility of Mercury in mid-August and the opposition of Neptune on Aug. 24 are noteworthy - as are the continuing planet constellations in the evening and morning skies that are already under way.

Planet & star meetings in the evening involve Mars, Saturn & Spica: pictures of Aug. 10, Aug. 9, Aug. 5, Aug. 3 and July 24 (more and more). • In the morning it's Jupiter near Aldebaran, with Venus below: pictures of today (more), Aug. 10, July 24, July 18 and July 16 (more). And the Venus misunderstood - a severe case of sky illiteracy ... • Jupiter images of Aug. 9, Aug. 1, July 26, July 23 and July 22, plus the diameters of the Jovian moons.

The Jupiter occultation by the Moon in July was covered quickly here and here; more pictures & reports here, here (more), here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here. • More results from the Transit of Venus in June on 46 pages, 4 pages and here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here; also the ToV 2004 on RSA TV in 13 parts and old Indian ToV stuff. • And material from the annular eclipse in May here, here, here and here.

On the Sun a very long filament (more), also on Aug. 5. More solar views & news of Aug. 1, July 30, July 29 (more), July 28 (more, here, more, more, more), July 26, July 23, July 19 (more, more, more, more), July 17 (more, more, more) and July 15 (more, more). Also an older SDO vid, a July 4 flare movie and AR 1520 details. Plus predicting solar storms via neutrons (more), helioseismology surprise, planet missions and CMEs, the Hi-C and DFS rocket flights, riding plasma waves and Cluster results (more).

Aurora action in mid-August in several nights and around the world is also analyzed and discussed here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here. • And further airglow sightings & analysis here, here, here, here, here, here and here.

An asteroid turned comet is 2012 NJ, covered here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here. • Comet 96P/Machholz has split again: reports and pictures here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here. • Comet Hale-Bopp has been imaged by an amateur now! • Comet PanSTARRS travel options (more). • Also the McNaughts P/2012 O2 (more) and P/2012 O3 - and the crazy Holmes paper has been published and covered here and here (missing the joke).

In other news the NEO close approaches of 2002 AM31 (more, more, more and more) and 2012 OQ - and why the Bruce Willis method doesn't work in NEO destruction. • Craters in Canada and Australia - and Uranus action. • Nova Sgr 2012 #5 (more) and #4 and SN 2011fe (more). • An Arabic Ramadan joke and long TV discussion. • An NLC meteor dust link claim (more, more), an NLC climate link claim and July 26/27 NLCs. • Finally some mysteries to solve: with the low Sun here and here (more), after a rocket launch here (more and more) and re. ball lightning here.

Friday, August 3, 2012

EXTRA: Why there is no "Mount Sharp" on Mars (and why there can't be one)

There is one thing that everyone agrees on regarding the landing spot the Mars Science Laboratory "Curiosity" is aiming for: it's inside the big impact crater Gale, named after an Australian amateur astronomer - but what is the 5-km-high mound in the middle of the crater called that the Mars rover is supposed to explore in the coming years? Until this spring it didn't have a name at all, but that changed in May when the International Astronomical Union's Working Group for Planetary System Nomenclature gave it the name "Aeolis Mons", in accordance with the established international rules for naming features on planets (which are also easily available on Wikipedia). For Mars these clearly state that features which are neither albedo features nor impact craters nor valleys are to get their names from "a nearby named albedo feature on Schiaparelli or Antoniadi maps". With Gale crater lying in the Aeolis quadrangle - the region named already by Schiaparelli after a part of Asia Minor - there was no choice.

In the run-up to Curiosity's arrival, however, the MSL team had begun using the term "Mount Sharp" for this mound around March: a decision by "the mission's international Project Science Group" which was in stark conflict with the established naming rules for Martian features explained above, of course. There is no doubt that Robert P. Sharp deserved to be honored on Mars - alas you can only name big craters for a deceased Mars researcher. And the IAU this May also did exactly that, giving the name "Robert Sharp" to a 152 km wide crater, albeit not exactly an obvious one. Case closed? Not to the MSL management which - dare I say stubbornly? - continues to use the term "Mount Sharp" to this day, in press releases, during press conferences and even in a scientific paper - while independent Mars scientists use "Aeolis Mons", of course. And as this story and this tweet document, the MSL management has no intention to adhere to the Martian naming rules and plans to continue to use the "Mount Sharp" term, occasionally qualified as 'informal', while ignoring the mound's official name.

So what does the the IAU body responsible for naming features on Mars say? The current chair of the Mars Task Group happens to be the well-known U.S. planetary scientist Brad Smith (who was the Voyager Imaging Team leader and among the first to image the Beta Pic dust disk), who gave the following statement to this blog two hours ago: "It has become pretty much routine for science teams working with Mars landers and rovers to apply informal names to very small (<100 m features observed by their instruments. As a policy, IAU Working Group for Planetary System Nomenclature (WGPSN) applies official names to features smaller than 100 m only very rarely, and only when such features are considered to be of special scientific interest. It is unusual for a feature as large as Aeolis Mons to be given an informal name, but this has happened occasionally throughout the history of Mars exploration by spacecraft. As a matter of convenience, informal names are often used during discussions within the science teams. Unfortunately, they may also come up when scientists communicate directly with the media.

"In the past, most of these informal names eventually faded away, but this is the age of the Internet and such names can become permanent even within the professional astrogeological community. I completely agree with your concern over the confusion that such names create, but I must point out that the WGPSN has no control whatsoever over the use of informal names by the various science teams. However, it is also important to note that these unofficial names are never listed in the official IAU database, and they do not appear on the official maps published by the USGS." It may be worth noting that on Wikipedia "Mount Sharp" redirects to "Aeolis Mons" (though incorrectly calling "Mount Sharp" a "former" name of the mound when it fact it was a faulty proposal that couldn't fly), while even ESA ignores the correct name. A third feature named by the IAU in May was Aeolis Palus, by the way: the flat area inside Gale where MSL will touch down and for which NASA hasn't even come up with an 'informal name' ...

So much for the bare facts - but why all the fuzz over a mound on Mars, one may ask? To this blogger it's all about history and not throwing out established solar system naming procedures on a whim and without even knowing what rules exist and why. Current Mars research is "standing on shoulders" reaching back into the 19th century and even further, and over the centuries what was found on the world most similar to ours has been named in clear ways that resonated with the public at large. There are options to honor great planetary scientists on Mars, and Robert Sharp has his crater now. But that doesn't even have to be a end of it: Long ago NASA named the Viking 1 lander on Mars the Mutch Memorial Station after a key team member had died in a tragic accident; the respective plaque is on display at the Nat'l Air & Space Museum, with the intent to carry it to the actual lander one day. Now is that a clever idea to honor someone great, or what? And no international rules had to be broken ...

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Is this the night, with the Moon vs. Jupiter, some aurora and NLCs?

If Nature conspires the coming night could bring a double or even triple treat to Europe, weather permitting, of course: guaranteed is an occultation of Jupiter by the Moon in the wee hours, but there could also be some mid-latitude aurora following a solar X flare & CME - and the season for noctilucent clouds is also still in full swing, with several good displays recently. The Jupiter occultation early on July 15 has spawned countless previews, e.g. in English (more, more, more and more), German (more, more, more, more and more) and Romanian; animated simulation for various places can be downloaded here. The lead-up to the show was the Venus/Hyades/Jupiter/Pleiades/Moon line-up in the morning sky, as imaged today (dito) and on July 13, July 12, July 11, July 10, July 9, July 8 (dito), July 7 (dito), July 5, July 3 and July 1. Regarding Jupiter also an unusual call for satellite photometry and the NEB action.

A CME should hit the Earth in the coming hours, following an X flare on July 12 (more plus videos here, here and here) from the big activity region (1)1520 (more, more and more): as so often confusion abounds about what's gonna happen as does the usual hype (also in Germany; more). Rather monitor what the the ACE satellite feels and follow this discussion thread, in German and full of data. Meanwhile pictures of AR 1520, AR 1515 - which flared a lot - and the full disk from today (at sunrise) and July 13, July 12 (more and at sunset), July 11 (more, more and more), July 10 (more, more and more), July 9 (more and more), July 8, July 7 (more and more, also an X flare in AR (1)1515, more), July 6, July 5, July 4, July 2 (also a SID) and June 30. Plus explosive solar activity, the Sun's interior motion and the H-IC and Sumi rocket flights.

In other news the 4th nova of the year has broken out in Sagittarius and reached 8th mag.: details here, here, here, here, here and here, also on Nova #3. • Comet 96P/Machholz is again in SOHO's FOV (more and more), PanSTARRS is doing well, the Siding Spring NEO hunt is in trouble (video and more) and dwarf planet Pluto has a fifth moon (more, more, more, more, more, more, more, more, more, more, more, more and more). • Amateur astronomers and exoplanets - and supporting Lowell Obs. • Aurora sound has been recorded (more - and other links here, here, here and here), plus South Pole pics. • A sprite imaged from the ISS (more and more). • NLCs on July 11/12 (more) and July 1/2 (more, more and more) - and from Calar Alto (German). • And another mistaken contrail (more).

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Amazing changes on Jupiter - and its occultation by the Moon for Europe - sky highlights of July

This month - which began one second late because the length of day had changed too much (more, more and more) has little to offer except planetwise right at dawn: on the one hand Venus is still in the Hyades for a good week (a great view of June 28), and Jupiter is a bit higher. Where it will be occulted by the Moon in the wee hours of July 15 for central and southern Europe, ahead of a triple conjunction with Aldebaran. (Also recent pictures of Jupiter & Venus on June 27, Moon & Venus on June 18, the crescent Venus on June 2-4, Saturn on June 18 and a rotating Mars from March images.) The most interesting news about Jupiter, however, are dramatic changes in the NEB (earlier), seen best in this montage and pictures from June 30 (more), June 26, June 24, June 19 (NIR; other wavelenghts), June 17, June 13 and June 4-9.

More pictures, reports & videos about recent rare events that merit being linked to: from the Transit of Venus here, here, here, here (more), here, here, here, here, here, here, here (page 95 = PDF pg. 5), here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here (more), here and here - and a 1-hour talk (2012 results from 0:29; context). • From the lunar eclipse a timelapse. • And from the solar eclipse pictures from Texas and Nevada, videos from Xiamen (with the chromosphere), Bryce Canyon and Mt. Fuji, a professional video from Arizona - and a commercial using a weird fake eclipse. • Also from the Sun the disk today, prominences on June 29, nothing on June 22, the disk on June 19 with departing AR 1504 and May pictures (more). • Plus another possible mechanism for corona heating (more, more and more), Earth B field FX and a solar science rocket launch.

Elsewhere in the Universe comet PanSTARRS on June 26, 500 pics of 6000 comets (so far), collected amateur discovery stories, TNO Salacia, a movie of NEO 2012 KT42 (more and more), Arecibo observations to size NEO 2012 LZ1 (more and more), the AG45 story again and rapid response ideas. • An old crater in Greenland (more and more) and new meteor showers. • Another Nova in Sgr faded quickly (more, more and more) as did Nova Oph, one of many novae around. • Also a call for observing an unusual occultation and a paper on amateurs & variable stars.

The noctilucent clouds have been active recently, see both from the ground and from orbit: a "real-time" gallery and selected pictures & reports from the nights June 26/27 (more, more and more), June 25/26 (more), June 24/25 (more, more, more, more, more, more, more, more, more, more and more), June 19/20, June 18 and June 17. • There have also been some aurorae after a flare while a U.S. show on June 25 was more difficult to explain. Pictures of June 19, June 18 (more and more) and June 17 (more); also from Scandinavia last winter and from the last 3 years.

And finally a very cool night sky picture (at -70°C) taken by Alex Kumar at Dome C in Antarctica. • A neat solstice demonstration from India and overly crazy star trails. • The Herschel project. • And the ISS & Tiangong in one shot (more), Tiangong 1 & Shenzhou 9 transiting the Sun, ~30 satellites in one image and things rockets put in the sky ...

Sunday, June 17, 2012

A dip in the vast pool of Transit of Venus results on the web

Will there ever be a master list with links to all reports, pictures and videos on the World Wide Web about the Transit of Venus of 2012? After frantically covering all hot material coming in until the end of June 7 in this long live-blog, here's (some of) the stuff that was found - or has found me - in following ten days! • The weather in the various observing regions is nicely summarized here. • Some early scientific results include hi-res images of the aureole which my team obtained in Greece (more and cited here) as well as other photographers (more, more, more, more and more) - a series of drawings. A wonderful demonstration of the parallax over 14,000 km (more). And observations by ALMA, Hinode (more), Venus Express and various NSO telescope plus what was planned.

Full reports and picture sequences come from Peenemünde, Fehmarn (more), Usedom, Travemünde, Norddeich, Lausitz, Erzgebirge, Unstrut, Bavaria, Brandenburg, Bad Lippspringe, Lichterfeld-Schacksdorf, Bielefeld and Munich in Germany, Austria (more, more, more, more, more and more), Greece (more, more, more and more), Italy (more and more), Denmark (more), Norway (more), Sweden (more, more, more and a slideshow; Venus only at 5:06), Finland, Hungary, Russia, Abu Dhabi, Chennai (pics), SPACE activities (pics and more), Delhi, Kutch and Bangalore in India, China, Bali (more and more), Australia (more, more, more, more and more), Timor Leste, Rapa Nui (more), Hawaii (more, Canada) and the states of California (more, more, more, more, more and more), Oregon, Wisconsin, Texas, Alabama, New Jersey and New York (more) of the U.S.

Picture collections of the transit have also turned up here (incl. particularly scenic Baltic sunrises), here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here while interesing • pictures are here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here. • Videos showing a working pinhole camera (good to know for future eclipses), the Mount Wilson webcast (in pt. 5 an interesting aureole interview; background) and from Svalbard, Bora Bora, Amrum, Waikiki, Hyderabad (43 mins) and Sydney, plus clips from a movie project and a wild animated cartoon of Le Gentil's problems ... • Stories about the transit are here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here (from someone who just didn't get it). • Finally TV reports from Austria,Russia, Hawaii, NBC (earlier) and ZDF - and a long Indian preview talk.

Imaging Venus veeery close to the Sun before and after the transit was a popular sport: successes from June 9 (more and more), June 8 (more), June 7 (more), June 5, June 4 (earlier; more, more, more, more, more, more, more and more), June 3 (more), June 2 and June 1 (with Mercury; more); more pictures are linked from the various Rhodes pages. • Pictures of the partial lunar eclipse just before the transit are linked from this Rhodes report and can also be found here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here, with stories here and here and many videos here. • And yet more images, videos and reports from the May annular eclipse have appeared here (just amazing), here (Lytro ...), here (weird balloon thing), here, here, here, here and here.

Once more a big sunspot crossed the disk: views of June 16 (AR 1504 in detail), June 15 (more), June 14 (movie until June 14, with flares, more, more and more), June 13 (more), a movie til June 12 and prominences on June 4, plus science on ultrafine corona loops and Fermi flare observations (more). • Amazing fresh Keck IR pictures of Neptune and Uranus, Saturn on May 28, Jupiter's smallest moon (more) and the planet and the Moon today and Mars on May 25.

The big NEA 2012 LZ1 - preview (more, more, more and more) - came moderately close to Earth: video clips, pictures and reports here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here. Plus studies on NEA 2011 AG5 (deemed mostly harmless), 2008 TC3 & its meteorites and general risk communication - and comet Garradd on June 9, meteorite science in Canada and more Dryas claims (uncritical report and mammoth complications).

Elsewhere in the Universe the APASS is delivering photometry of 40+ million bright stars. • Nova Sco 2012 discovery (more and more) and amateur spectroscopy. • Amateur-discovered planetary nebulae (more). • The noctilucent clouds are already going strong: some observations from the nights June 16/17, June 14/15 (more), June 13/14 (more and more, also from Scandinavia and Canada), June 10, June 4 and June 2. • There has also been some aurora activity, this morning (more and more) and on June 11 (more). • And finally a total recall from Meade ...

Friday, June 1, 2012

First the annular eclipse, now a partial lunar one - and then the Transit of Venus!

We are in a 17-day interval of an unusual massing of rare celestial events, culminating in the rarest of all, the last Transit of Venus until 2117 on June 5/6: numerous links about it can be found in this still growing collection, some videos here and various science plans here. It is preceded by a partial lunar eclipse on June 4 that coincides with another big Moon (appearing as big as the one in early May; see below) - more details here and esp. here. And right now on June 1 there is a conjunction of Venus and Mercury, obviously - 4 days before the solar transit of the former - very close to the Sun and dangerous to observe, but it can be done. And here they are, in the same FOV, a few hours ago (and a bit earlier), with Venus as a crescent and Mercury fully lit! And both planets are already in the LASCO C3 FOV as well. For other lesser June sky events - including a mediocre Mercury evening apparition following the Venus conjunction - see here and here.

Venus as an ultra-thin and huge crescent was the sky show in the final weeks of May: tons of pictures, the changes January to May and selected views of May 30 (also cusp extensions; more and more, an Indian video, the changes May 26 ... 30 and again), May 29 (more and more), May 28 (more, more, more and more plus scenic), May 27 (more, more and more), May 26 (more, more, more and more), May 25, May 24 (also with the Moon), May 23 (more, more, with the Moon, more and more), May 22 (with links; more, more and more), May 21 (more), May 20, May 19, May 18, May 17 (more), May 15 (also veery long but no ashen light; more), May 14, May 12 (more) and May 10 with simple means. Also how not to film Venus, new amateur Venus cartography at 1 ┬Ám. • And Mars on May 13, May 6, April 4 and April 1, Saturn on May 23 (more) and May 13 and Jupiter & Mercury close to the Sun on May 22 and May 21.

The annular solar eclipse of May 21/20 had opened the 'hot' 2 1/2 weeks in the sky: Lots of pictures and links can be found in this live-blog and this page. There are reports from Hong Kong (pictures), Japan (more), California, Nevada (H-Alpha), Utah (more & more), Arizona (more, more and more), New Mexico (more) and Texas (more and more) and reports here and here. Interesting videos comes from an island off Taiwan, Japan, California (great Baily's Beads from 4:00! Also H-Alpha and nearby), Nevada (timelapse), Arizona (with Beads; more and a partial sunset) and New Mexico (Beads at 3rd contact; the same), plus another partial sunset and a sunset ring! Further picture & story collections are here, here, here, here and here.

More selected pictures from Norway (yes, they got a shallow partial - at night!), China (with chromosphere & inner corona; more and another chromosphere from there), Japan (with Beads), California (montage), Nevada (good Beads; also clouds), Monument Valley (more, more and more) and Arizona (at the edge, more in the stream; more, more, Beads at the edge and people in the foreground), also low chromosphere (more), a Texas sunset, a setting crescent and more Beads (more). From space the antumbra as seen by the LRO (more), Michibiki, Terra and the ISS (video; more space eclipses) - and the view from a balloon; there was also radio astronomical interest. Finally the confession on how a famous picture fake was made - that was distributed for real ("I was taken with a lens of three months salary! No proposal ... who cares?"; see also here and here).

The big full moon of early May - see here for angular size comparisions - was also widely observed two weeks earlier, even from the ISS. Further reports, pictures and collections here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here - and here's a list of big full moons over many years. • A video of a grazing occultation of a star by the Moon.

A big sunspot group crossed the solar disk in mid-May as documented in German postings on two German blogs # one, two, three, four, five, six and seven. Also the full disk May 21 ... 30 animated (more), an unusual effect by an M flare (more and more), prominences on May 19, May 17, May 15 & other dates and May 5, satellite use for serious space weather assessment (not like here ...), tales of the Carrington Event, corona mysteries, auroral processes studied and a Canadian aurora on May 20.

The long Garradd comet show is coming to an end after many months: pictures of May 16, May 15 and May 11. • Meanwhile interest is rising in comet PANSTARRS: an update and pictures of May 21, May 20 and May 18 (wide-angle). Also a little Holmes outburst and news about P/2012 K3, 2011 KP36, P/2005 N3, C/2012 K5 and P/1994 X1.

In other small bodies news a Lyrid imaged from the ISS (more and more plus a related timelapse), while the imaging balloon was also found. • There is finally a little video of the April 22 bolide (more) while the meteorite search continues (more, earlier) - and meteorites fell in India, too (pictures). • A close visit by tiny 2012 KT42, ESA crowdsources NEAs, a new story about 2012DA14 is fishy (dito, dito and the real risk), WISE improves the PHA statistics (more, more, more, more and more), the Yarkowsky effect was measured in a NEA (more, more, more and more) and there is new speculation about the Tunguska impactor (more, more, more and more).

In other news the supernova 2012cg has flattened out at 12 mag.: more reports here and here. • Also a SN early warning system, problems for Boles, the SN hunter, a Nova in Oph (more, a spectrum and several recent novae) and reviews of CVs and R CrB. • A sprite & a meteor: some connection? • The NLC season is just beginning, a paper on the earliest NLC reports and aurora fun. • A video with TWAN winners (more). • And finally Tiangong vs. the Sun, geostationary satellites in motion, a crazy rocket launch trail and an old UFO case finally solved.