Sunday, January 1, 2012

Lovejoy's tail still dozens of degrees long but surface brightness way down

Only under the best conditions is the long narrow tail of comet Lovejoy - still stretching for almost 40° - easily visible in the sky, elsewhere it isn't even a naked-eye object anymore: This Great Comet is only a shadow of its former self. Still photographs (exposed for several minutes) continue to show an amazing object, and the fading tail might get even longer by mid-January, though some image enhancement techniques will be necessary to bring its full length out. Some picture collections by Tabur, Garradd, Gerry, Mattiazzo and Hao (more, more, details) from Australia, pictures from Argentina and an undated one.

Selected views of Jan. 1 (more, more and more), Dec. 31 (more and more), Dec. 30 (more, more, more and more in weird projection), Dec. 29 (more), Dec. 28 (more, more, more, more and more), Dec. 27 (more, more, more, more, more, details, more, more, more, more, more, more, a rise video and an ISS view, alt.), Dec. 26 (more and Dec. 21 ... 26), Dec. 25, Dec. 23 and Dec. 22 (in an all-sky video). Also visual reports from Jan. 1 (still 39° tail), Dec. 31 (no longer naked-eye), Dec. 30 (earlier) and Dec. 27 - and coverage of Jan. 1, Dec. 31, Dec. 29, Dec. 28 (dito), Dec. 27 (down; dito, dito) and and Dec. 26. • There are also two new Boattini comets, P/2011 Y2 and C/2011 Y3.

Heavenly highlights in January 2012 - see also hier & hier - include an asteroid transit in front of Betelgeuze (with the star's disk x10 larger than the asteroid; can that be observed?) on Jan. 2, the Quadrantids peaking on Jan. 4 (more & more) and a rare Earth approach of asteroid Eros on Jan. 31: This has led to a call to capture its parallax as a reenactment of a famous technique to measure the AU; concrete details are still being planned. • For the full year 2012 some highlights, what the planets and meteors have in store and what will be occulted by the Moon and minor planets; also a list of planet occultations by the Moon in 2012 and beyond. • Finally a helpful website about the state of space weather, some results from the Eps Aur event - and a FAQ, story (more, more & more), another video, TV coverage and all kinds of stuff (later, still later) about the Dec. 24 Soyuz upper stage reentry over Europe.

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