BAA member Nick James reports they were fortunate to see the total eclipse on 2012 November 13 (morning of 14 in Australia) from Palm Cove, where visibility of totality was a very close run thing. The location and sky were very dramatic.
Here are some initial pictures of the eclipse from Nick – all frame grabs from various HD videos.
On 15th July, there could be seen an occultation, a grazing occultation, or a conjunction of the Moon and Jupiter depending on your location in the British Isles.
John Vetterlein in Orkney was able to capture a nice range of photos of the conjunction.
You can see more of John’s photos on his own Blog
Pictures of the Transit are arriving from members of the BAA. Although the weather was generally poor a surprising number of members managed some sort of view of the event.
If you saw the Transit, please send your observations to the Venus section (email@example.com) and to our Picture Editor (firstname.lastname@example.org) for our Transit Gallery.
Here are a couple of pictures from Peter Edwards and Maurice Gavin.
I got up at 4.30am BST, the sky was promising but there was clouds low down in the NE where the sun was rising. Still I stayed out, took a few photos of horses in the next field to me and a few cloud pics, then suddenly at around 05.35 BST the Sun broke through for a couple of minutes between the clouds and I managed to capture the attached image. I did manage to get two images, but this was the best one. The clouds actually add a bit of atmosphere (no pun etc). The image was taken with a Canon SX210 compact camera at max x14 zoom on a tripod, I think the exposure was 1/1250 sec at f/ 5.9 so I am doubly pleased to have got such a sharp image. I enlarged, cropped and tweaked in Photoshop.
You can also watch Maurice’s video on YouTube: Maurice Gavin
BAA member Nick James travelled to Bryce Canyon in Utah, USA to see the annular eclipse.
The annular eclipse was well seen from Bryce Canyon and the partially eclipsed Sun sank below the trees on the opposite wall before 4th contact. These pictures were taken with a Megrez 72 + Canon 550D.
If any members have pictures please send them in to email@example.com
Two ‘bright’ supernovae in nearby galaxies are well within the range of most amateur astronomers telescopes.
Supernova Candidate PSN J10435372+1140177 in M95 – now designated 2012aw
This supernova was discovered on 2012 March 16.8493 by J. Skvarc & Alessandro Dimai of the Italian Supernovae Search Project.
M95 is at R.A. = 10h43m53s.72, Decl. = +11°40′17″.7 (= NGC 3351) and the SN is located 60″ west and 115″ south of the center of M95. M95 is well placed for observation, transiting at around 23:00 UT, with the galaxy culminating at about 50° altitude. M95 is part of the Leo I group of galaxies, about 38 million light years distant.
A discovery image can be found here:
Nick James observation of this object (above) puts it at about magnitude 13 and adds that unfortunately Mars is very close and has caused significant interference with the image. However, Mars will continue to move further away as time progresses.
And here is an image by Martin Mobberley, the following night:
SN 2012au in NGC 4790 in Virgo
Discovered by the Catalina Real-Time Transient Survey and Stan Howerton (USA) at mag 18.2C on 2012 March 14.450 but it has rapidly brightened and is currently at magnitude 13.25V. This SN is of Type Ib, and apparently found in the early stages of its evolution so it may well brighten further.
However, it is vary close to the core of the host galaxy, but is the brightest supernova so far this year. Recent images etc can be found here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/watchingthesky/6846911246
NGC 4790 is at R.A. = 12h54m52s.18, Decl. = -10°14′50″.2 and the SN is located 3″.5 east and 2″.0 north of the center of NGC 4790. NGC 4790 is not very far from Saturn, but currently culminates at about 27° altitude at around 01:00 UT.
Further information on these and other supernovae can be found on the extensive web page of the International Supernova Network and the Astronomy Section of the Rochester Academy of Sciences at:
BAA members around the country managed to combine to produce a fine set of images over four nights to capture the passing of Comet 2009 P1 Garradd over the Coathanger.
As Comet Garradd makes its lazy sweep across the night sky, after last weeks close encounter with M71, this week the comet will cross just under the popular asterism known as the Coathanger. Also known as Brocchi’s Cluster and catalogued as Collinder 399 – today, though, it is generally recognised to be just an asterism, a chance collection of stars making up a pattern, rather than a true cluster of stars that were created at much the same time.
The Coathanger also has a special place in the heart of the BAA, as one of the Association’s most active observers, George Alcock, discovered a nova there in 1976.
This chart shows the comets path over the next few days.
This comet is easy with 10×50 binoculars, and is straightforward to find by locating the lovely double star Albireo (Beta Cygni), then hang down south and you will come to the Coathanger, and just under the Coathanger will be found comet Garradd.
If you manage to capture an image of this, please send it in for our picture of the week spot.
The Palomar Transient Factory (PTF) discovered a supernova in M101 on August 24th. At magnitude 17.2 it was pretty faint, but as this supernova was discovered ‘on the rise’ it has been steadily brightening, and may reach mag. 10 or 11 – making it easily visible in binoculars or a small telescope.
Although M101 is in the circumpolar constellation of Ursa Major, and so will never set from UK locations, it does not attain a very high altitude, and will be best placed for observation as soon as the sky becomes dark.
The observations of supernovae are important, because they are a key component of the distance ladder. This is a series of stepping stone techniques used to measure distances to far-off galaxies. It is thought that type Ia supernovae explode with much the same brightness due to the physical nature of the star, so finding a supernova relatively close-by helps our understanding of the physics of the explosion, and further help the calibration of the distance scale.
Amateur astronomers can best contribute to the science by measuring the brightness of the supernova, and contribute to it’s light curve.
But there is also a great pleasure in seeing for yourself one of the greatest cosmic events, which happened 23 million years ago and the light of the event has just reached us.
Nick James from Chelmsford captured this fast moving near earth object on 2011 June 26. Images at 22:44 and 22:49 UT.
Closest approach will be at around 17:00 UT on the 27th June when the object will be around 8000 miles from the Earth.
More information about this interesting object can be found on the Sky and Telescope website.
If anyone else is successful in imaging this object, please email results to firstname.lastname@example.org
The 2011 Noctilucent Cloud season is now underway, with a small display seen on the night of 2/3 June 2011. Alan Tough from Elgin captured this shot at 00:07 UT.
For more reports see the Noctilucent Cloud Observers’ Homepage.