Tag Archives: amateur astronomy

Rosetta team asks for help from amateur astronomers

Want to help the Rosetta science team study Comet 67P/C-G? If you are an amateur astronomer, you can!

They are asking amateurs with larger telescopes to observe the comet as it makes its close approach to the Sun and report their observations. The science team will compare their observations with the amateurs. This will teach us how to interpret future comet events when seen from afar.

Amateur astronomers can help a commercial space start-up by taking pictures of its cubesat SkyCube.

Amateur astronomers can help a commercial space start-up by taking pictures of its cubesat SkyCube in orbit.

The cubesate was launched from ISS last week, but has not operated as expected and they want to know why. Images would help.

For more information about that newly discovered supernova in the nearby galaxy M82 go here and here.

For more information about that newly discovered supernova in the nearby galaxy M82 go here and here.

The first link notes that the supernova has brightened to 11.5 magnitude and could get even brighter in the next two weeks. Though still too dim for the naked eye, it is easily bright enough right now for most amateur telescopes and binoculars. How much brighter it will get remains a question.

A remotely operated Russian telescope, located in New Mexico, on Wednesday discovered a kilometer wide Near Earth asteroid.

Boom! A remotely operated Russian telescope, located in New Mexico, on Wednesday discovered a kilometer wide Near Earth asteroid.

The asteroid, believed to be the 704th largest with an orbit that comes relatively near Earth, does not pose a danger of crashing into our planet, said the head of the observatory that made the discovery. “It’s a big asteroid, but it poses no danger for us,” Leonid Elenin, who lives in the Moscow Region, told RIA Novosti on Friday.

Finding a new asteroid like this illustrates that there might be other such large objects out there undiscovered. Also cool is how the Russians discovered it, using equipment in the United States!

Posted from Midland, Texas, the center of the world for the American oil industry.

Comet ISON has come out from behind the Sun, and it looks like it will not produce a grand show for us later this year.

Comet ISON has come out from behind the Sun, and it looks like it will not produce a grand show for us later this year.

There will be a lot of stupid commentary criticizing astronomers for hyping this comet, all unfair. The comet had the strong possibility of being spectacular. Astronomers pointed that out, being as hopeful as everyone to see a bright and beautiful comet grace our night skies for a few months. That this is not turning out to be so is not their fault.

The impact of a 100 pound meteorite on the Moon in March produced the brightest flash ever recorded.

The impact of a 100 pound meteorite on the Moon in March produced the brightest flash ever recorded.

Anyone looking at the Moon at the moment of impact could have seen the explosion–no telescope required. For about one second, the impact site was glowing like a 4th magnitude star.

Ron Suggs, an analyst at the Marshall Space Flight Center, was the first to notice the impact in a digital video recorded by one of the monitoring program’s 14-inch telescopes. “It jumped right out at me, it was so bright,” he recalls.

The 40 kg meteoroid measuring 0.3 to 0.4 meters wide hit the Moon traveling 56,000 mph. The resulting explosion1 packed as much punch as 5 tons of TNT.

It will be really interesting to see the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter images of the impact site, which can’t be taken until the spacecraft passes over the site and can photograph it.

Want to see an asteroid eclipse a star?

transit of Betelgeuse

On January 2, 2012, an asteroid is going to transit across the face of Betelgeuse. And if you live in Europe, own a very sensitive telescope, look close and don’t blink, you might be able to see it!

This is all according to a preprint paper published today on the Los Alamos astro-ph preprint website, written by scientist Costantino Sigismondi of the Galileo Ferraris Institute and International Center for Relativistic Astrophysics in Rome. You can download the paper here [pdf].

The transit itself will only last 3.6 seconds, and will only be visible along a narrow swath crossing southern India and moving across the Middle East, through parts of Italy, France, and the southwestern most tips of England and Ireland. A map of this path is below the fold.
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The closest supernovae in almost 25 years

Astronomers have spotted the closest supernovae in almost 25 years, only 21 million light years away.

The supernova, dubbed PTF 11kly, occurred in the Pinwheel Galaxy, located in the “Big Dipper,” otherwise known as the Ursa Major constellation. It was discovered by the Palomar Transient Factory (PTF) survey, which is designed to observe and uncover astronomical events as they happen. “We caught this supernova very soon after explosion. PTF 11kly is getting brighter by the minute. It’s already 20 times brighter than it was yesterday,” said Peter Nugent, the senior scientist at Berkeley Lab who first spotted the supernova. Nugent is also an adjunct professor of astronomy at UC Berkeley. “Observing PTF 11kly unfold should be a wild ride. It is an instant cosmic classic.”

Astronomers expect the supernova to continue to brighten over the next two weeks, when it should be visible to anyone using binoculars.