Total Pageviews

Monday, 26 August 2013

Charts-info Astrosite Groningen (August 26, 2013)

Dear comet observers,    We have prepared the following new charts for our homepage:    C/2012 V2(LINEAR):    - two 4.5x6.0 degrees charts for the period 28 August - 9 September 2013    These new charts are now available in the charts section of our   mainpage at:    Reinder Bouma/Edwin van Dijk   ----------------------------------------------------------------------------  ----------------------------------------------------------------------------

Good Clear Skies
Colin James Watling
Various Voluntary work-Litter Picking for Parish Council (Daytime) and also a friend of Kessingland Beach (Watchman)
Real Astronomer and head of the Comet section for LYRA (Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth Regional Astronomers) also head of K.A.G (Kessingland Astronomy Group) and Navigator (Astrogator) of the Stars (Fieldwork)
Information -- And More Info

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Sundiving Comet and CME

Space Weather News for August 20, 2013

SUNDIVING COMET AND CME: A small comet plunged into the sun this morning. Just before it arrived, the sun expelled a magnificent full-halo CME. Did the comet survive? Find out what happened at

CHANCE OF STORMS:  There is a slight chance of polar geomagnetic storms on Aug. 20-21 when Earth is expected to pass through the wake of a CME that left the sun a few days ago.  Geomagnetic storm alerts are available from (text) and (voice).

Good Clear Skies
Colin James Watling
Various Voluntary work-Litter Picking for Parish Council (Daytime) and also a friend of Kessingland Beach (Watchman)
Real Astronomer and head of the Comet section for LYRA (Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth Regional Astronomers) also head of K.A.G (Kessingland Astronomy Group) and Navigator (Astrogator) of the Stars (Fieldwork)
Information -- And More Info

Monday, 19 August 2013

[BAA-ebulletin 00757] Nova Delphini 2013

BAA electronic bulletin

Nova Delphini 2013

A bright Nova has been discovered in the constellation of Delphinus.  The
discovery was made by Koichi Itagaki, Yamagata Japan using an 18cm reflector
and CCD. The Nova was confirmed on frames taken on August 14.750 UT using a
0.60-m f/5.7 reflector and unfiltered CCD after discovery at magnitude 6.3C.
No star was visible on previous frames taken by the discoverer on 2013
August 13.565 UT to magnitude 13.0.  Nick James reports that inspection of
his Perseid Meteor patrol frames taken on Aug 14.063UT show nothing visible
at the reported position to magnitude 9.0C.

The position of the Nova is  20h 23m 30.68 +20 46 03.8 (2000.0)

Latest magnitude estimates reported to the AAVSO database reveal the Nova
has increased in brightness to around magnitude +4.5 by Aug 16.5 UT, making
it (at this time) the brightest Nova visible in the Northern sky since Nova
Aql 1999 (V1494 Aql which peaked at magnitude +4.0) and a possible naked eye
object to many observers.

A finder chart, images and spectrum details of the Nova can be found on the
web pages of the Variable Star Section

Observers are asked to report their observations - both visual and CCD - to
the relevant secretaries.  Contact details can be found on the VSS web page.

Written by Gary Poyner, sent by David Boyd on behalf of the Variable Star Section
2013 August 16 ======================================================================
BAA-ebulletin mailing list visit:
(c) 2013 British Astronomical Association
Good Clear Skies
Colin James Watling
Various Voluntary work-Litter Picking for Parish Council (Daytime) and also a friend of Kessingland Beach (Watchman)
Real Astronomer and head of the Comet section for LYRA (Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth Regional Astronomers) also head of K.A.G (Kessingland Astronomy Group) and Navigator (Astrogator) of the Stars (Fieldwork)
Information -- And More Info

SPA ENB No. 359

                   The SOCIETY for POPULAR ASTRONOMY

          Electronic News Bulletin No. 359   2013 August 18

Here is the latest round-up of news from the Society for Popular
Astronomy.  The SPA is Britain's liveliest astronomical society, with
members all over the world.  We accept subscription payments online
at our secure site and can take credit and debit cards.  You can join
or renew via a secure server or just see how much we have to offer by


In recent years several Solar-System bodies that have at first been
thought to be asteroids have begun to show signs of outgassing in the
form of a coma or slight tail and are now thought to be comets.  A
recent paper by some Colombian astronomers describes how some of the
objects, probably inactive for millions of years, have returned to
'life'.  Comets are typically a few kilometres across and composed of
a mixture of rock and 'ices' -- a generic term used by astronomers to
refer to substances that we think of as gases but which far from the
Sun are in a frozen state.  If such icy bodies come close to the Sun,
then some of the ices turn to gas, which is swept away in a direction
roughly radially away from the Sun by 'radiation pressure' and the
solar wind to form a characteristic tail of gas and dust.  There are
many long-period comets that have highly elliptical orbits that bring
them into the inner Solar System only at intervals of thousands of
years; there are presumed to be far more of them than the number that
we know about individually, since nobody has kept systematic records
covering thousands of years, let alone watched for so long systematic-
ally with telescopes to identify comets that are other than obvious
naked-eye spectacles.  There is also a population of about 500
short-period comets, created when long-period comets pass near Jupiter
and are deflected into orbits that may have periods between 3 and 200
years.  Comets have also collided with the Earth (though nothing of
any size in historical times) and may have helped originally to bring
water to it.  The new work looks at the region of the Solar System
that includes the main belt of asteroids between the orbits of Mars
and Jupiter.  That volume of space contains more than a million
objects ranging in size from 1 metre to 800 km.  The traditional
explanation for asteroids is that they are the building blocks of a
planet that never formed, as the assembly of the pieces was prevented
by the strong gravitational field of Jupiter.

In the last decade 12 active comets have been discovered in the
main-belt region.  That was something of a surprise, and the team set
out to investigate their origin.  It proposes that some apparently
asteroidal bodies that show no hint of activity are not really dead
rocks but are dormant comets that may yet come back to life if the
energy that they receive from the Sun increases by a few per cent.
That can happen fairly readily, as orbits in asteroid belt can be
changed by the gravity of Jupiter, and a decrease in the perihelion
distance leads to an increase in the average temperature.  According
to that view, ages ago the main asteroid belt was populated by
thousands of active comets.  The population aged and the activity
subsided.  What we see today is the residual activity of that active
past.  Twelve supposed asteroids have proved recently to be comets
that were rejuvenated after their periheilion distances were reduced a
little.  The little extra energy they received from the Sun was then
sufficient to revive them.


Two stars have been discovered to have extraordinary concentrations of
lead in their atmospheres.  The small hot stars, known as helium-rich
subdwarfs, are already known to be peculiar because they contain much
less hydrogen and much more helium than normal.  Three years ago, some
astronomers discovered one with a very high surface concentration of
zirconium.  Now studying a group of nominally similar stars, they have
discovered two whose surfaces show abundances of lead that are 10,000
times greater than is seen in the Sun.  The two stars are known as
HE 2359-2844, 250 parsecs distant in the constellation Sculptor, and
HE 1256-2738, 300 parsecs away in Hydra.  The astronomers used
observations already made by others, from the archives of the VLT in
Chile.  The spectra of both stars showed a few features which did not
match any atoms expected to be present, but which were eventually
identifed as arising from lead atoms three times ionised at the high
temperatures (about 38,000C) of the stars' atmospheres.  With atomic
number 82, lead is one of the heaviest naturally occurring atoms;
in the Sun there is less than one lead atom for every ten billion (ten
to the power ten) hydrogen atoms.  One of the stars, HE 2359-2844, was
also found to show 10,000 times more yttrium and zirconium than the
Sun.  Along with the zirconium star, LS IV-14 116, the stars now form
a new group of 'heavy-metal subdwarfs'.

The team believes that those stars are a link between bright red
giants (stars thirty or forty times the size of the Sun) and faint
blue subdwarfs, stars one-fifth the size of the Sun but seven times
hotter and seventy times brighter.  A few red giants lose their
thick hydrogen envelopes and shrink to become hot subdwarfs, or
'nearly-naked helium stars'.  As they shrink, conditions may become
favourable for the radiation pressure in the helium stars to act on
individual atoms to sort the elements into separate layers, where they
may be concentrated by a factor of ten thousand or more.  A high
concentration of an element at a height in the stellar atmosphere
where the line spectrum is being formed can give a spectroscopic
signature that we can observe and recognise.


Some galaxies reach a time when their star-formation ceases and they
become 'quenched'.  Quenched galaxies in the distant past appear to be
much smaller than the quenched galaxies in the Universe today.  People
have wondered how galaxies can grow if they are no longer forming
stars.  It is said to have been supposed that the small old quenched
galaxies grew into the larger quenched ones that we see 'nearby' today,
presumably by mergers with others, but there was a question as to
whether there were enough small galaxies ready to be merged.  A team of
astronomers has now used a lot of observations from the Hubble COSMOS
survey covering nearly two square degrees of the sky, plus some other
observations from the CFHT and Subaru telescopes in Hawaii, to count
the numbers of apparently quenched galaxies over the last eight billion
years of cosmic history.  They found that the answer to the question
was quite simple.  The small quenched galaxies stayed small, but as
time went on larger galaxies became quenched, giving the false
impression that some of the small ones had grown.

Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI).

The Hubble telescope has provided the strongest evidence yet that
short-duration gamma-ray bursts are triggered by the merger of two
small, super-dense stellar objects, such as a pair of neutron stars or
a neutron star and a black hole.  The evidence came from observations
in near-infrared light of the fading fireball produced in the
aftermath of a short gamma-ray burst (GRB).  The afterglow appears to
be from a new kind of stellar explosion that has been called a
kilonova, related to a short-duration GRB.  A kilonova is about 1,000
times brighter than a nova, which is caused by an eruption on a white
dwarf; it is, however, only 1/10th to 1/100th the brightness of a
typical supernova, the self-detonation of a massive star.  GRBs are
flashes of intense high-energy radiation that appear from random
directions in space.  Short-duration ones last at most a few seconds,
but they sometimes generate faint afterglows in visible and near-
infrared light for several hours or days.  The afterglows have helped
astronomers determine that GRBs lie in distant galaxies.  The recent
observation supports a hypothesis that was already popular, that short
GRBs are caused by the merger of two compact objects.  (There is
already evidence that long-duration GRBs (those lasting more than two
seconds) are produced by the collapse of massive stars.)

Astrophysicists have theorised that short-duration GRBs are created
when super-dense neutron stars in a binary system spiral together.
The system is supposed to emit gravitational radiation, tiny ripples
in the fabric of space-time.  The energy dissipated by the waves
causes the two objects to come closer and closer together.  In the
final milliseconds, as the two objects merge, a lot of highly
radioactive material is formed, which heats up and expands, emitting
as much visible and near-infrared light every second as the Sun does
in a few years.  Such a 'kilonova' lasts about a week.  American
theoreticians have predicted that the hot plasma that produces the
radiation will also act to block visible light, causing the energy
from the kilonova to flood out in near-infrared light over several
days.  An opportunity to test that idea came on June 3, when the Swift
space telescope picked up an extremely bright GRB, catalogued as GRB
130603B, in a galaxy located about a billion parsecs away.  Although
the initial blast of gamma-rays lasted only a tenth of a second, it
was roughly 100 billion times brighter than the subsequent kilonova
flash.  The visible-light afterglow was detected at the William
Herschel Telescope and its distance was determined with the Gran
Telescopio Canarias, both located in the Canary Islands.  The team
quickly realised this was a chance to hunt for a kilonova in
near-infrared light.  The researchers needed to act quickly before the
light faded, so they requested Director's discretionary time on
Hubble's Wide-Field Camera 3.  On June 12-13 Hubble observed a faint
red object at the site of the initial burst.  Another observation
three weeks later, on July 3, showed that the source had faded away,
more or less confirming that it was the fireball from an explosive
event.  Previously, astronomers had been looking at the aftermath of
short bursts largely in optical light, and were not really finding
anything besides the light of the gamma-ray burst itself.  But the new
theory predicts that when you compare near-infrared and optical
images of a short gamma-ray burst about a week after the event, the
kilonova should appear in the infrared, and that is what seemed to

The ideas on the nature of short GRBs have two other implications.
First, the origin of many heavy chemical elements, including gold and
platinum, has long been a puzzle, but kilonovae are predicted to form
such elements, ejecting them into space where they can become
incorporated into future generations of stars.  Secondly, the mergers
of compact objects are also expected to emit gravitational waves,
first predicted by Einstein.  Such waves have not yet been observed,
but new instruments under development *may* detect them.

Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI)

Astronomers using the Hubble telescope have identified the origin of
the Magellanic Stream, a long ribbon of gas stretching nearly halfway
around our Milky Way galaxy.  The Large and Small Magellanic Clouds,
two dwarf galaxies orbiting the Milky Way, are at the head of the
gaseous stream.  Since the stream's discovery by radio telescopes in
the early 1970s, astronomers have wondered whether the gas comes from
one or both of the satellite galaxies.  Now the Hubble observations
show that most of the gas was stripped from the Small Magellanic Cloud
about 2 billion years ago, and a second region of the stream
originated more recently from the Large Magellanic Cloud.  The team
determined the source of the gas filament by using Hubble's 'Cosmic
Origins Spectrograph' (COS) to measure the amount of heavy elements,
such as oxygen and sulphur, at six locations along the Magellanic
Stream.  COS observed distant quasars whose emitted light passes
through the stream and recorded absorption lines formed by stream
material in the ultraviolet.  There were low abundances of oxygen and
sulphur along most of the stream, matching the levels in the Small
Magellanic Cloud about 2 billion years ago, when the gaseous ribbon
was thought to have been formed.  There is, however, a much higher
level of sulphur in a region closer to the Magellanic Clouds, where
the composition is similar to that of the Large Magellanic Cloud,
suggesting that that part of the stream was stripped out of that
galaxy more recently.

Only a telescope in space can measure such abundances because the
relevant absorption lines are in the ultraviolet, where the Earth's
atmosphere is opaque.  Apart from the Magellanic Clouds, other
satellite galaxies of the Milky Way have lost their gas.  The
Magellanic Clouds have been able to retain much of their gas and
continue forming stars because they are more massive than the other
satellites.  However, their proximity to the Milky Way and to one
another has led to their loss of the material that we see as the

Alan Clitherow, Director, SPA Planetary Section

Neptune comes to opposition on August 27.  It will not be very high in
the sky, ranging from about 22 to 27°, depending on where in the UK
you are; however, that is comparable with the recent apparition of
Saturn, and some very successful observations were made of that planet
over the last few months.  Neptune is moving slowly westwards through
Aquarius, but at magnitude 7.9 it is not visible to the naked eye.
To find it, draw a line through the star Enif (Epsilon Pegasi), at the
south-western extreme of that constellation, to Alpha Aquarii some 10°
degrees south and slightly to the east. Then simply extend the line
the same distance again and you will be looking almost directly at
Neptune; it drifts only a small amount against the background stars
over the coming couple of months.

As there are several stars of similar magnitude in the area, Neptune
can best be found by looking for its distinctive blue colour and then
ramping up the magnification to see if the object resolves into a
disc or remains a point-like source; if you resolve its 2.4 arc-
second disc then you have found the planet.  Binoculars will not be
powerful enough to distinguish the planet from the stars; to see the
disc you will need a magnification of at least 100 times and the more
telescopic aperture available the better to help with increased
resolution.  Well-equipped amateurs, with large-aperture telescopes
and atmospheric-dispersion correctors to combat the low elevation,
will still need very steady seeing conditions to observe more than a
featureless blue disc; however, more modest equipment will still show
the disc along with Neptune's largest moon, Triton, as it circulates
around the planet.  Received wisdom has it that you will need at least
a 200-mm aperture to glimpse Triton, but some observers claim to have
seen it with smaller telescopes under excellent seeing conditions.

On the same night, look towards Pisces.  Currently in that constell-
ation, below and a little to the left of the eastern corner of the
Great Square of Pegasus, is Uranus.  To find it, draw a line down from
the star at the top-left of the Great Square of Pegasus (Alpheratz) to
the star at the bottom-left of the square (Algenib or Gamma Pegasi).
Next extend this line for the same amount down towards the southern
horizon, then turn it 90 degrees left and draw a line for half the
same distance towards the east; slightly above that point is Uranus.
Its altitude will be a little better than Neptune's at more than 30°,
and will improve towards dawn, reaching around 37° by sunrise.  Uranus
is also brighter at magnitude 5.7, on the edge of naked-eye
visibility, depending on your viewing location and your eyes!  With an
angular diameter of 3.6 arc-seconds, bigger than Neptune's, its disc
is more obvious and has a pale blue-green colour.  It is interesting
that some amateurs have already been able to image distinct banding on
the disc, but only by using monochrome cameras and filters that pass
near-infrared light, specifically the Baader 685NM filter.  That would
be a suitable challenge for a well-equipped UK amateur, and any such
observation would be very welcome to the Section.  Finally, as dawn
approaches, look to the east.  Prominent as a rising 'star' will be
Jupiter, already 20° up.  Trailing it, perhaps half-way down to the
horizon, will be the tiny disc of Mars, faint but obviously red in the
pre-dawn sky.  The two planets will become much more prominent in
September, with Jupiter, particularly, being well placed for UK
observation.  Jupiter has been very dynamic over the last few years,
with large-scale changes in its atmosphere and visible cloud
structure; it will be fascinating to see how much it has altered since
it was last high in our skies.

SOLAR SECTION REPORT JULY 2013   Rotation Nos. 2138, 2139
By Richard Bailey, SPA Solar Section Director

The decline in Cycle 24 activity continued through July, the MDF 3.39
against 3.59 in June.  The Relative Sunspot Number R was also down,
46.61 from 72.77.  Solar experts now consider the midpoint of the
Cycle will happen in about four months, when the two poles have
reversed their polarity as the Sun's magnetic field re-sets itself.
The north pole has already reversed.  Maximum-Period activity has been
very disappointing in Cycle 24, although some experts had speculated
some years ago that that might happen.

The NH was blank from the 6th to the 12th, and until the last two days
of the month showed only 1-2 Active Regions.  On the 31st four could
be seen.  The SH dominated relative sunspot activity R by almost a
factor of 4 through July except for the last two days.  In the NH the
nearest AR to the equator was AR 1783 on the 1st at N 4°; the highest-
latitude one was AR 1781 on the 3rd at N 22°.  In the SH AR 1785 was
nearest the equator on the 7th and AR 1789 at the highest latitude on
the 9th, S 25°.

In the first week three good SH ARs, 1784 (leading), 1785 and 1787
stretched across the disc, light bridges showing in the leader of
1785.  1785 and 1787 made a close pair, with many sunspots, and were
amongst the best of the month.  Later NH AR 1793 showed well with a
strong leader cluster.  1799 on the 28th also had a strong leader,
with a double follower.  Generally, though, ARs were not very strong.
Faculae showed each day to limbs.

Some splendid prominences were seen during the month, as well as
smaller ones about the perimeter daily.  No flares were reported, and
plaging generally was not impressive although to the close SH ARs 1785
and 1787 plaging almost merged into one vast length.  Filaments were
often seen, but no strong ones.  A tall, slender prominence stood at
an angle off the E limb on the 10th; a strong hedgerow on the 13th to
the S stayed in view for some days.  A detached S lengthy prominence
portion showed well on the 26th.  On the 29th a westerly long arch had
a tall spike nearby.   MDF 5.69

The full Report, with images and drawings, can be seen on the Solar
website link from the SPA homepage.

Bulletin compiled by Clive Down

(c) 2013 the Society for Popular Astronomy

Good Clear Skies
Colin James Watling
Various Voluntary work-Litter Picking for Parish Council (Daytime) and also a friend of Kessingland Beach (Watchman)
Real Astronomer and head of the Comet section for LYRA (Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth Regional Astronomers) also head of K.A.G (Kessingland Astronomy Group) and Navigator (Astrogator) of the Stars (Fieldwork)
Information -- And More Info

Friday, 16 August 2013

NASA Rover Gets Movie as a Mars Moon Passes Another

This is interesting....

PASADENA, CALIF. 91109. PHONE 818-354-5011

Guy Webster 818-354-6278
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.

Image advisory: 2013-253                                                        Aug. 15, 2013

NASA Rover Gets Movie as a Mars Moon Passes Another

The full version of this story with accompanying images is at:

PASADENA, Calif. -- The larger of the two moons of Mars, Phobos, passes directly in front of the other, Deimos, in a new series of sky-watching images from NASA's Mars rover Curiosity.

A video clip assembled from the images is at .

Large craters on Phobos are clearly visible in these images from the surface of Mars. No previous images from missions on the surface caught one moon eclipsing the other.

The telephoto-lens camera of Curiosity's two-camera Mast Camera (Mastcam) instrument recorded the images on Aug. 1.  Some of the full-resolution frames were not downlinked until more than a week later, in the data-transmission queue behind higher-priority images being used for planning the rover's drives.

These observations of Phobos and Deimos help researchers make knowledge of the moons' orbits even more precise.

"The ultimate goal is to improve orbit knowledge enough that we can improve the measurement of the tides Phobos raises on the Martian solid surface, giving knowledge of the Martian interior," said Mark Lemmon of Texas A&M University, College Station.  He is a co-investigator for use of Curiosity's Mastcam.  "We may also get data good enough to detect density variations within Phobos and to determine if Deimos' orbit is systematically changing."

The orbit of Phobos is very slowly getting closer to Mars. The orbit of Deimos may be slowly getting farther from the planet.

Lemmon and colleagues determined that the two moons would be visible crossing paths at a time shortly after Curiosity would be awake for transmitting data to NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter for relay to Earth. That made the moon observations feasible with minimal impact on the rover's energy budget.
Although Phobos has a diameter less than one percent the diameter of Earth's moon, Phobos also orbits much closer to Mars than our moon's distance from Earth. As seen from the surface of Mars, Phobos looks about half as wide as what Earth's moon looks like to viewers on Earth.

NASA's Mars Science Laboratory project is using Curiosity and the rover's 10 science instruments to investigate the environmental history within Gale Crater, a location where the project has found that conditions were long ago favorable for microbial life.

Malin Space Science Systems, San Diego, built and operates Curiosity's Mastcam.  JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the project for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington and built the Navigation Camera and the rover.

More information about the mission is online at: and .

You can follow the mission on Facebook and Twitter at: and .

For more information about the Multi-Mission Image Processing Laboratory, see: .


Good Clear Skies
Colin James Watling
Various Voluntary work-Litter Picking for Parish Council (Daytime) and also a friend of Kessingland Beach (Watchman)
Real Astronomer and head of the Comet section for LYRA (Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth Regional Astronomers) also head of K.A.G (Kessingland Astronomy Group) and Navigator (Astrogator) of the Stars (Fieldwork)
Information -- And More Info

Thursday, 15 August 2013

SPA ENB NO. 359b

                  The SOCIETY for POPULAR ASTRONOMY

         Electronic News Bulletin No. 359b  2013 August 15

By Robin Scagell, Paul Sutherland and Tony Markham

The brightest nova for many years has flared in the constellation of
Delphinus near its border with Vulpecula. It is on the edge of
naked-eye visibility but easily seen in binoculars.

The exploding star was discovered at magnitude 6.3 by Koichi Itagaki,
of Yamagata, Japan, using a 0.18-metre reflector and unfiltered CCD

An alert from the IAU Central Bureau for Astronomical Telegrams gives
its position as 20h 23m 30.73s +20d 46m 04.1s.

Nothing was visible in the location in frames imaged a day earlier.

Last night, visual observer Patrick Schmeer, of Bischmisheim,
Germany, recorded it at magnitude 6.0 using 20x80 binoculars.

An image taken by the discoverer can be found at:

Our chart shows the bright stars of Delphinus to help you star-hop to
the nova. Comparison star magnitudes for the chart are: A=4.8, B=5.7,
C=6.2, D=6.4, E=6.6, F=6.9, G=7.9, H=8.0

The nova may be near its peak brightness. But no one can predict for
sure how its behaviour will develop. Observations should be carried out
with an open mind.

Observers with long memories will recall that Delphinus was also
the location of another unrelated nova which flared in 1967.

Later designated HR Del, the nova was extremely unusual in remaining
around its peak brightness for several months and even becoming
noticeably brighter some weeks after its initial discovery by the
legendary British observer George Alcock.

SPA members received early notification of the event by an email
Newsletter which contained a finder chart, comparison stars and the
discovery photo.  These Newsletters are available exclusively to SPA
members as a benefit of their membership.

Bulletin compiled by Clive Down

(c) 2013 the Society for Popular Astronomy

Good Clear Skies
Colin James Watling
Various Voluntary work-Litter Picking for Parish Council (Daytime) and also a friend of Kessingland Beach (Watchman)
Real Astronomer and head of the Comet section for LYRA (Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth Regional Astronomers) also head of K.A.G (Kessingland Astronomy Group) and Navigator (Astrogator) of the Stars (Fieldwork)
Information -- And More Info

Less than 100 days until NASA's next launch to Mars

NEWSALERT: Thursday, August 15, 2013 @ 1535 GMT
The latest news from Spaceflight Now
There is still time to register for the opportunity to bid on 34 lots of stellar artifacts and out-of-this-world memorabilia featured in the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation's fall online auction, which opens for bidding on Friday, Aug. 16 at 9 a.m. EDT and closes Sunday, Aug. 25 at 9 p.m. EDT. Proceeds from the semi-annual fundraiser go toward college scholarships designed to inspire the next generation of leaders in science, engineering, technology and math. Every bid helps make a positive impact on America's future, so register now! ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The team in charge of NASA's $671 million Mars orbiter due for liftoff in November says the project is on schedule and on budget for launch during an immovable 20-day interplanetary window this fall.
Assembly of United Launch Alliance's next Atlas 5 rocket is underway in the towering integration facility at Cape Canaveral's Complex 41 pad to deploy an ultra-secure U.S. communications satellite in September.
Rocket-builder ATK will design and build first and second stage motors for an air-launched satellite booster under development by Stratolaunch Systems, a start-up launch firm established in 2011 by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen.
From tiny Mercury to distant Neptune and Pluto, this interactive guide to the planets from Astronomy Now magazine takes you on a tour of our Solar System and beyond.
See our online store for the latest crew embroidered patches for the International Space Station. Free shipping to U.S. addresses. +++

Monday, 12 August 2013

The Perseids

Look for the 2013 Perseid meteor shower to be at its prolific best from late late August 11 until dawn August 12! Great times to watch: after midnight and before dawn on August 11, 12 or 13. We give the nod to Monday, August 12 – in the hours between midnight and dawn. But any of these mornings should be fine for watching this year's Perseid shower.
At dusk and early evening on August 11, the waxing crescent moon shines between the planet Venus and the star Spica. The planet Saturn is found above Spica.
The Perseids are a summertime classic. They're a favourite for Northern Hemisphere viewers, though this shower can also be watched from tropical and subtropical latitudes in the Southern Hemisphere as well. Plus the moon is setting at mid-evening, to provide a dark sky for this year's Perseid meteors. What more can you ask? Find a dark, open sky far away from the harsh glare of city lights, lie down comfortably on a reclining lawn chair and enjoy the show. You don't need to know the constellations. You don't need special equipment. Simply look up to watch Perseid meteors streaking the nighttime sky. As seen from around the world, the most meteors usually fall in the dark hours before dawn.
From the Northern Hemisphere, you can see a smattering of Perseid meteors in the evening hours. The meteors tend to be few and far between at mid-evening, though this presents the best time of night to try to catch an earthgrazer – an elongated, long-lasting meteor that travels horizontally across the sky. Earthgrazers are rare but most memorable if you're lucky enough to spot one. From the Southern Hemisphere, the first meteors – and possible earthgrazers – won't be flying until midnight or the wee hours of the morning. In either the Northern or the Southern Hemisphere, the greatest number of meteors peppers the sky in the dark hours before dawn.
The paths of the Perseid meteors, when traced backward, appear to originate from the constellation Perseus. Hence, this meteor shower's name. However, you don't have to know the constellation Perseus to watch the Perseid meteor shower, for the Perseids fly every which way across the starry heavens. The radiant sits low in the northeast sky at evening and climbs upward throughout the night. The higher that the radiant is in your sky, the more Perseid meteors that you're likely to see.
At temperate latitudes in the Southern Hemisphere, the radiant of the Perseid meteor shower never gets very high in the sky. Therefore, the number of Perseid meteors seen from this part of the world isn't as great as at more northerly latitudes. But if you're game, look northward in the wee hours before dawn and you may still see a sprinkling of Perseids.
The earliest historical account of Perseid activity comes from a Chinese record in 36AD, where it was said that "more than 100 meteors flew in the morning." Numerous references to the August Perseids appear in Chinese, Japanese and Korean records throughout the 8th, 9th, 10th and 11th centuries. Meanwhile, according to ancient western skylore, the Perseid shower commemorates the time when the god Zeus visited the mortal maiden Danae in the form of a shower of gold. Zeus and Danae became the parents of Perseus the Hero – from whose constellation the Perseid meteors radiate.
On a moonless night, the Perseids commonly produce 60 or more meteors per hour in our Northern Hemisphere sky. The waxing crescent moon at early evening won't dampen the 2013 Perseid shower, but rather, will present a great prelude to the summertime classic. Use the moon to locate the planet Venus at dusk. As dusk turns into darkness, the moon also points out the star Spica and the planet Saturn. After Saturn sets at late evening, watch for Perseid meteors to streak across the nighttime sky.
The Perseid meteors happen around this time every year, as Earth in its orbit crosses the orbital path of Comet Swift-Tuttle. Dusty debris left behind by this comet smashes into Earth's upper atmosphere, lighting up the nighttime as fiery Perseid meteors. The meteors start out slowly in the evening hours, begin to pick up steam after midnight and put out the greatest numbers in the dark hours before dawn.
Bottom line: The best viewing hours for the 2013 Perseid meteors will probably be from about 2 a.m. until dawn on August 11, 12 and 13. We give the nod to Monday, August 12 for the peak of the 2013 Perseid meteor shower. The shower has been great so far!
Good Clear Skies
Colin James Watling
Various Voluntary work-Litter Picking for Parish Council (Daytime) and also a friend of Kessingland Beach (Watchman)
Real Astronomer and head of the Comet section for LYRA (Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth Regional Astronomers) also head of K.A.G (Kessingland Astronomy Group) and Navigator (Astrogator) of the Stars (Fieldwork)
Information -- And More Info

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Perseid Meteor Shower Intensifies

Space Weather News for August 11, 2013

PERSEID METEOR SHOWER: The Perseid meteor shower is intensifying as Earth moves deeper into the debris stream of parent comet 109P/Swift-Tuttle. International observers are reporting as many as 30 Perseids per hour from dark sky sites, a rate which could triple on August 12-13 when the shower peaks. Check for updates and observing tips.

GOT CLOUDS?  You can listen to the Perseid meteor shower on Space Weather Radio, which is monitoring signals from the USAF Space Surveillance Radar.  Every Perseid that flies over the radar makes an audible ping.  Hear the echoes at

SOLAR FLARE ALERTS: Would you like a call when solar flares are underway? X-flare alerts are available from (text) and (voice).

Good Clear Skies
Colin James Watling
Various Voluntary work-Litter Picking for Parish Council (Daytime) and also a friend of Kessingland Beach (Watchman)
Real Astronomer and head of the Comet section for LYRA (Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth Regional Astronomers) also head of K.A.G (Kessingland Astronomy Group) and Navigator (Astrogator) of the Stars (Fieldwork)
Information -- And More Info

Friday, 9 August 2013

Weekend weather's Okay, just keep a brolly in your bag - Headline From

Link:  Everything you need to know: Perseid meteor shower Local forecast, click here
Weekend weather's Okay, just keep a brolly in your bag - Friday 08:05
Another weekend is near, not looking too bad, not quite as warm but still with sunny spells and, of course, showers

Read The Full Story Here

Twitter  Weather questions? Ask Us On Twitter
Useful Links
Forecast Homepage
NW Extra
Michael Fish Weekly Forecast
Weather Radar

Good Clear Skies
Colin James Watling
Various Voluntary work-Litter Picking for Parish Council (Daytime) and also a friend of Kessingland Beach (Watchman)
Real Astronomer and head of the Comet section for LYRA (Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth Regional Astronomers) also head of K.A.G (Kessingland Astronomy Group) and Navigator (Astrogator) of the Stars (Fieldwork)
Information -- And More Info


BAA electronic bulletin

Although the weather has been rather variable over the past few days,
observers across the British Isles have reported increasing Perseid meteor
activity. The Perseids are one of the most reliable showers of the year,
producing an abundance of fast, bright meteors.  This year there will be
little or no interference by moonlight, with New Moon occurring on August 6
and First Quarter on August 14.
        The first Perseid meteors were detected in late July and the shower
will continue to be active until about August 21. The shower's activity
displays a marked 'kick' around August 8-9 and steadily increasing observed
rates may be expected from now until the peak, which is expected at around
18h UT (19h BST) on August 12 this year.  This means that the two nights of
Sunday night to Monday morning (August 11-12) and Monday night to Tuesday
morning (August 12-13) will probably be equally productive for observers in
the UK.
        Observers watching after midnight on August 11-12 should experience
increasing activity towards dawn, as the shower radiant at RA 03h 13m,  Dec.
+58° (near the Double Cluster, on the Perseus-Cassiopeia border) climbs
higher in the eastern sky. Activity should be just starting to decline by
the time darkness falls on Aug 12-13.
        It is hoped that, weather permitting, observers will cover shower
activity on the nights to either side of the maximum, for example on the
Saturday night to Sunday morning (August 10-11) and Tuesday night to
Wednesday morning (August 13-14). The Perseids are also an ideal target for
digital imaging due to the relative abundance of bright meteors.
        The best observed rates are found when the Perseid radiant is
highest in the sky during the pre-dawn hours, but even in early evening the
radiant is already at quite a favourable elevation above the horizon. Under
cloudless skies, and in dark sites, observers can expect to see between 50
and 70 meteors each hour near the peak. Even in towns or cities observed
rates may still be around ten an hour in the early morning hours when the
radiant is high.
        Observations in recent years have revealed noticeable variations in
activity from year to year and we shall just have to wait and see what is in
store for us in 2013.
        The BAA's visual meteor report forms, available as downloads in both
pdf and Excel formats, enable observers to record the details of each meteor
seen. These include: time of appearance (UT); apparent magnitude
(brightness); type (shower member, or random, 'background' sporadic);
constellation in which seen; presence and duration of any persistent train.
Other notes may mention flaring or fragmentation in flight, or marked
colour. Watches should ideally be of an hour's duration or longer (in
multiples of 30 minutes). Observers are reminded to carefully record the
observing conditions and the stellar limiting magnitude.
        For further information please see the August BAA Journal, page 187.

        By whatever means you observe the Perseids this year, please submit
your results to the BAA Meteor Section via

This e-bulletin issued by:

Dr John Mason
Director, BAA Meteor Section

2013 August 9

BAA-ebulletin mailing list visit:
(c) 2013 British Astronomical Association

Good Clear Skies
Colin James Watling
Various Voluntary work-Litter Picking for Parish Council (Daytime) and also a friend of Kessingland Beach (Watchman)
Real Astronomer and head of the Comet section for LYRA (Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth Regional Astronomers) also head of K.A.G (Kessingland Astronomy Group) and Navigator (Astrogator) of the Stars (Fieldwork)
Information -- And More Info


Share to FacebookShare to TwitterStumble ItMore...

2013 August

Late July will have been a frustrating time for UK based meteor observers. Despite Full Moon having occurred as long ago as July 22nd, the Moon will have only moved out of the evening sky very slowly and even by the time of Last Quarter on July 29th, there will have only been around an hour of dark sky before moon rise.

Fortunately, things get rapidly better in early August as the rapidly thinning crescent Moon will be quickly making its exit from the morning sky. New Moon occurs on Aug 6th and the crescent Moon only makes very slow progress into the evening sky. By Perseid maximum on the 12th, though only 2 days away from First Quarter, it is located near the Virgo/Libra border and is setting at around the time of evening twilight.

The consequence of the above is that not only do we get an effectively moon-free Perseid maximum, we also get a good view of the Perseid rates rising during early August.

Perseid maximum is actually predicted for Aug 12d18h UT. The peak is not particularly sharp and so rates will have dropped little before it gets dark in the UK. The best observed rates are likely to be seen late in the night of Aug 12-13. However good rates are also likely during the nights of Aug 10-11, 11-12 and 13-14, so don't just focus on the night of Aug 12-13 (and risk it being clouded out).

The Perseid radiant is circumpolar from the UK, so you should start to see some Perseids as soon as it gets dark. The best observed rates are likely to occur in the later part of each night when the radiant is higher in the sky.

Few Perseids will be seen if you look directly at the shower radiant (their paths will be too short to easily see against the star background). For the best observed rates, look at any area of sky around 20-30 degrees from the radiant and at an altitude of around 50 degrees (but obviously tailor this to take into account local factors such as sky obstructions and light pollution)

The Perseid shower is rich in bright meteors - a good target for imaging. The shower is also good for trained meteors, with around a third leaving persistent trains.

Care should be taken to identify the correct location for the Perseid radiant (see the chart below) before observing, as this changes significantly between late July and the peak.

Active alongside the Perseids in early August are the later parts of the southern Delta Aquarids (SDA) and Alpha Capricornid (CAP) showers, which peaked around the end of July, along with the more general activity of the sporadic background. Some older listings include showers such as the northern Delta Aquarids and the southern Iota Aquarids, although nowadays these tend to be grouped into the "Antihelion source" (ANT). Numerous other minor showers have also been listed over the years including the Alpha Cygnids, Gamma Draconids and Lacertids, although the existence of these is open to question.

Later in the month, some activity is produced by the Kappa Cygnids, which peak Aug 18-20, and the Alpha Aurigids which peak at the end of the month. However, observation of both showers will be significantly affected by moonlight in 2013

Original text

Good Clear Skies
Colin James Watling
Various Voluntary work-Litter Picking for Parish Council (Daytime) and also a friend of Kessingland Beach (Watchman)
Lyra Website:
Real Astronomer and head of the Comet section for LYRA (Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth Regional Astronomers) also head of K.A.G (Kessingland Astronomy Group) and Navigator (Astrogator) of the Stars (Fieldwork)
Information -- And More Info