Many BAA members have been able to view and image this bright supernova which was recently discovered. For more info about the SN see this blog post
Here are a few of their images…
This object was discovered on the night of April 8/9 by the Observatorio Astronomico de Mallorca (OAM) using a 0.45-m f/2.8 reflector at their La Sagra facilities (J75) in Andalusia, Spain (see http://www.minorplanets.org/OLS/ ). The observers involved were S. Sanchez, J. Nomen, R. Stoss, M. Hurtado, J. A. Jaume and W. K. Y. Yeung.
2011 GP59 is due to make its closest approach to the Earth on April 15 at 19h UT at 1.39 lunar-distances but will be brightest at an average magnitude of 13.2 around 00h UT on the night of April 14/15 when it will be very favourably placed in the sky for observers worldwide. This is the best NEO close approach these past few years and is bright enough to be observed visually in large (>0.2-m aperture) telescopes when on the night of Thursday 14th it will appear as a faint slow-moving star.
Observers should be aware however that the object, which is approximately 60 metres in diameter, appears to be rotating very quickly, once every 7.35 minutes in fact. It is also quite oblong in shape such that its rotation makes it look distinctly bright then faint every 4 minutes or so. David Briggs observing with the Hampshire Astronomy Group’s 0.4-m instrument on the evening of April 11 commented, “This is probably the fastest rotator I’ve seen so far in that it completely disappears from view every 3 to 4 images”.
Brian Skiff of Lowell Observatory has completed a lightcurve analysis which can be found at:
Close inspection of Brian’s results show that the object is almost certainly rotating around more than one axis, i.e. it is tumbling.
Weather for UK observers is likely to deteriorate over the coming days and so it might be best to observe tonight (Tuesday) around midnight or later when clear skies are forecast for much of England. Unfortunately it will only be 16th magnitude at that time and so will be too faint to be picked up visually. Positions can be found using the Minor Planet Center’s ephemeris service at:
Director, Asteroids and Remote Planets Section
British Astronomical Association
Nick James captured this video (YouTube) on night of 11/12 April.
Monday 31 January – Sunday 6 February.
The Campaign to Protect Rural England and the BAA Campaign for Dark Skies are asking people to count the number of stars they can see in the constellation of Orion. We held the first Star Count in the winter of 2006/7, and almost 2,000 people responded. These allowed the CPRE and CfDS to create a Star Count Map to illustrate the stars counted across the country, which revealed that only 2% of people who responded to our online survey said they could see more than 30 stars, compared to 54% who saw fewer than 10 stars in Orion – a level which indicates severe light pollution (read the press release we issued at the time).
CPRE and the CfDS are once again asking people across the United Kingdom to take part in our Star Count week. We want to find out which part of the country has the darkest skies – where the most stars can be seen. By taking part in our Star Count, you will also be helping us to highlight the problem of light pollution which is spoiling the natural beauty of the night sky.
Read more about how to take part in this survey on the BAA CfDS Starcount website
The Librarian of the Royal Astronomical Society would like to remind BAA members that the Library is open on twelve Saturdays a year, normally the 1st Saturday unless that is a Bank Holiday weekend in which case it is the second Saturday.
This facility is specifically intended for spare time researchers and amateur astronomers who may find it difficult to get to Piccadilly on a weekday. Unfortunately the response has been very poor and if more use is not made of it, it may not be possible to justify continuing this facility.
These Saturday openings are also a good time for members of amateur Astronomical Societies and similar bodies to visit the RAS and view the building and some of the treasures in the collections. The Librarian is happy to consider requests for such visits.
The Library Committee has approved of the continuation of the Saturday openings for 2011, the dates being;
8 Jan, 5 Feb, 5 March, 2 April, 7 May, 4 June, 2 July, 6 Aug, 3 Sept, 1 Oct, 5 Nov, 3 Dec.
BAA members are reminded that they should either email (email@example.com) or telephone (020 7734 4582 Xt 215) to make an
appointment and it is essential that any readers who may require specialised material to be produced, especially older runs of
journals, make contact in advance as these may be in another building which is not accessible on Saturdays.
Royal Astronomical Society
The January 2011 edition of the Comet Section newsletter is available for download in pdf format from the Section web page at http://www.ast.cam.ac.uk/~jds/tail30.pdf
Comet 103P/Hartley is now a diffuse telescopic object of 10th magnitude, but currently still the brightest comet observable from the UK. The newsletter includes updated prospects for comets during 2011, including that of the new discovery 2010 X1 (Elenin). This may become a naked eye object in October, though the orbit is not yet known well enough to give precise details of the track. I will post further details when it comes into visual range.
Director Comet Section, British Astronomical Association
A comet has been discovered visually by Japanese amateur observers, Kaoru Ikeya (Mori-machi, Shuchi-gun, Shizuoka-ken; 25-cm reflector at 39x; diffuse with some condensation; coma diameter 1′ on November 2.831 UT and 2′ on November 3.812) and by Shigeki Murakami (Toukamachi, Niigata-ken; 46-cm reflector at 78x; coma diameter 4′ with a 2′ tail in p.a. 90 deg on November 3.801; moving eastward at approximately 2′/hr). [IAUC 9175].
The comet was magnitude 8.5 at discovery by Ikeya, and 8 the following day. It seems to be brightening rapidly, as visual observations by Juan Jose Gonzalez on November 4.2 put it as bright as 7.6 in 10×50B. This may indicate that it is approaching perihelion, or alternatively undergoing an outburst. An ephemeris is not yet available, but one can be generated at the NEOCP if you select ObjX1. It is a morning object with an elongation of 33 degrees and moving south. It is in Virgo a few degrees from Saturn. Further information will be distributed when the orbit is known.
Director Comet Section, British Astronomical Association
“The first General Meeting of the Association was held in the Hall of the Society of Arts, John Street, Adelphi, on Friday, October 24th, 1890.” These are the first words on the first page of the first volume of the Journal, published on November 26. The meeting, chaired by W.H. Maw – ‘temporary Treasurer’ and ‘temporary chairman’ – was the occasion on which the first President and first Council were elected, the first Section Directors were appointed, and perhaps most importantly at the time, the name of the Association was chosen after considerable debate.
The chief contenders were ‘British Astronomical Society’ and ‘Astronomical Association’ – and the result was a hybrid of these. The first Council comprised many now legendary names, including, among others, Captain William Noble, Edwin Dunkin, E. Walter Maunder, Sir Howard Grubb, William Huggins, the Earl of Rosse, T.H.E.C. Espin, Isaac Roberts, W.S. Franks, Stanley Williams, T.G.E. Elger, Agnes Clerke, Margaret Huggins, and Elizabeth Brown. It is remarkable that in the few weeks following the suggestion of W.H.S. Monck in English Mechanic on July 18, Walter Maunder founded the Association and formed a Provisional Committee, and that by the time of the General Meeting – even before the name, the Council and the Laws had been formally established – 283 members had paid more than £200 in subscriptions. That first meeting, however, was the only ‘General Meeting’, and the term ‘Ordinary Meeting’ has ever since been used.
I apologise for this note being two days late, but I have had only 1.2 centuries to prepare.
Director, Instruments and Imaging Section
Curator of Instruments
2003 UV11, a relatively large near-Earth asteroid measuring roughly 400-500 meters across, is currently making a close approach over the next few days.
In so doing it will become one of the brightest such objects for several years attaining a V magnitude of about 11.9 on October 29 and passing closest to the Earth at a range of 5.0 lunar-distances on 2010 October 30 at 04:14 UT.
Although we know the orbit of this object with high accuracy and details of this close approach have been listed in the BAA Handbook for 2010 (p.55), we do not know a great deal about its physical nature including its rotation period. The close pass therefore represents an excellent opportunity for observers to obtain images suitable for photometry. From the UK, the most favourable observing times (UT) will be the nights of Oct 26/27 (20h-03h), Oct 27/28 (20h-03h), and in particular the two nights of Thursday, Oct 28/29 (19h-02h) and Friday, Oct 29/30 (18h-0h) when it will reach magnitude 12 and be moving at 50-60 arcsec/min and 130-160 arcsec/min respectively. Visual observation through a telescope on the last night should also prove very rewarding as it will then be possible to see it moving in real-time – a rare opportunity for such a bright target!
Please pass any good quality images to the BAA Asteroids and Remote Planets Section Director Richard Miles. For photometry, exposure times are best kept short although short trails can still be used. Near closest approach, exposure times of up to 20 sec should be fine. (N.B. Longer times are helpful in that the reference stars are recorded with good signal-to-noise.) Fortunately for observers, the object is favourably placed well south of the Milky Way sweeping through the constellations of Aries, Pisces and Pegasus where the starfields are not too crowded.
The next meeting of the BAA including the AGM will be on Wednesday 27th October 2010 in the new lecture room, Burlington House, Royal Astronomical Society, Picadilly, London
17:30 AGM, Approval of the accounts, Annual Review, Announcement of the ballot result and the Presidential Address.
19.15 The OM
19:30 The Sky Notes Dr David Arditti.
Doors open at 17.00 and the meeting will start at 17.30 and is due to finish by 20:00
The solar system applet on the Computing Section web site has been considerably enhanced to make it an invaluable tool for planning observing sessions.
It gives a rapid summary of where solar system objects appear for your latitude, and will appear in the near future, in a readily assimilated graphical format.
Initially it shows the positions of the Sun, major planets and, importantly, the Moon so it is immediately obvious whether that will interfere with observing.
It is easy to add minor planets (from a list of 93) and periodic comets (30 at opposition in the coming year) or any objects for which you know the heliocentric elliptical orbital elements.
The plot is interactive. Click on any object to get a summary of its position, phase angle and, for minor planets, a magnitude estimate (from H and G parameters). This summary can be copied and pasted to compile a list of observable objects to go and see.
To go straight to the applet: http://britastro.org/computing/applets_planets.html
on behalf of Sheridan Williams
Computing Section Director
British Astronomical Association