This week’s BAA Picture of the Week is of sunspot 1124, imaged by Naimul Islam Opu from Dhaka, Bangladesh.
Instruments: 8inch Meade Cassegrain LX90, afocal eyepiece projection with Canon Power Shot A3100IS (12Pixels) @ 8, ISO800. Edit- Adobe Photoshop 7.0
Venus passed through inferior conjunction on October 29 and is now observable in the morning sky. Elongation (angle from the sun) increases rapidly from 30ºW on 20 November to 47ºW at the end of the year. The phase increases from 13% to 44% over this period and the magnitude remains almost constant at -4.5. Declination decreases from -11 to -14, and the planet is in Virgo.
Venus is now a spectacular object in the dawn sky for observers in northern temperate latitudes, rising 3 hours before the Sun in mid-November.
Observers are urged to look carefully for the Ashen light, with Venus in its current narrow crescent phase, observing Venus in as dark a sky as possible. Imaging should be attempted, if possible, both in the visible and and in the infra-red at a variety of exposures, in order to try to capture this elusive phenomenon.
More information on how to observe and image Venus is provided on the Mercury and Venus Section website
Our member in Tehran, Sadegh Ghomizadeh, has sent us one of the first images taken in the new elongation, below, of the slim crescent Venus.
David Arditti, Mercury and Venus Section Website Manager
The BAA’s Historical Section’s inaugural meeting is taking place this Saturday 27 November 2010, at the Institute of Astronomy in Cambridge. The theme is 20th Century Astronomy.
Date: Saturday 27th November 2010
Venue: The Institute of Astronomy, Madingley Rd, Cambridge, CB3 0HA.
Time: 10:30-18:00 Registration from 10:00 onwards
Cost: £13.00 (lunch buffet included) / £7.00 Pounds (no buffet). Payment on the door.
Theme: ‘Twentieth-Century Astronomy’
10:30 Welcome & Introduction
10:45 Bob Marriott, ‘Mary Evershed: First Director of the Historical Section’
11:45 Jeremy Shears, ‘Felix de Roy: A Life in Variable Stars’
12:30-13:50 Buffet Lunch
13:50 Lee Macdonald, ‘The Isaac Newton Telescope’
14:50 Jay Tate, ‘Saving Science Heritage’
15:50 Jacqueline Mitton, ‘ Maria Mitchell, America’s First Female Astronomer, and her Vassar College Legacy’
17:00 Simon Mitton, ‘Sir Fred Hoyle’
We will have display stands for the BAA and Society for the History of Astronomy; plus poster displays on Fred Hoyle, The Great Melbourne Telescope, The Catts Telescope and New Zealand Amateur Astronomy.
We are also hoping to visit the historic Northumberland Refractor (with which Challis and Adams searched in vain for Neptune) during the lunch break.
We look forward to seeing you!
Section Director: Mike Frost
This week’s BAA Picture of the Week is a sketch of the lunar crater Albategnius at the 8 day Moon, on 2010-Nov-14 20.45UT, made by Dale Holt, using a 150mm refractor and video camera.
Earlier this year, astronomers observing the planet Jupiter noticed that it’s usually prominent Southern Equatorial Belt (SEB) – a band of darker cloud in Jupiter’s otherwise pale surface – had disappeared. This was not the first time it had happened: in 1973 when Pioneer 10 flew past Jupiter the belt was absent, and it vanished again in the early 1990s.
But there are now signs that the Southern Equatorial Belt is reviving. The BAA Jupiter Section Director John Rogers explains:
“A spectacular bright plume has appeared in Jupiter’s faded South Equatorial Belt, and is expected to become the source of spectacular disturbances leading to revival of the belt.
“This rapidly brightening plume is so energetic that we can confidently expect it to develop into the SEB Revival. The SEB Revival is usually spectacular, so we can expect impressive and rapidly changing disturbances over the next 3 months, until the end of the apparition. As the SEB is so thoroughly whitened, and the outbreak has appeared in an isolated location, we can hope to see the phenomena displayed in their most complete form.
“Normally, disturbances continue to arise at the same source, and spread out in three branches: northern and central branches, prograding, and a southern branch, rapidly retrograding. If they develop as usual, both the central and southern branches could impact on the Great Red Spot in January. Observers should monitor all aspects of the spreading disturbances, but also monitor other longitudes, as a secondary source might also appear. Observers have the chance to make this the best-observed SEB Revival ever.”
The initial observations of the bright plume were a truly international affair, as John Rogers explains:
“The bright plume was discovered by Christopher Go (Philippines) in an image which he took on Nov.9 at 12:30 UT. He announced it immediately by e-mail, and it was confirmed 11-12 hours later by Donald C. Parker (Florida, USA) and Gary Walker (Georgia, USA), when it was already brighter.
“Don Parker’s images included infrared, ultraviolet, and 0.89 micron (methane) bands, and the new spot was amazingly bright in all of them, showing it to be a convective plume of cloud reaching to very high altitude. Indeed it was already visible in a methane-band image taken in poor seeing by A. Yamazaki (Japan) on Nov.9 at 14:14 UT. On its third rotation, Nov.10 from 09:00 UT onwards, images by many Japanese observers and by C. Go and T. Akutsu (Philippines) confirm that it is the brightest spot on the planet in all wavebands. Its longitude is L2 = 290 (L3 = 149). (The Great Red Spot is at L2 = 159.)
“This plume has appeared inside a cyclonic circulation, called ‘barge B2′, which had been very dark a year ago, but turned white in 2010 May-June. Details of this are available on the BAA’s Jupiter Section website:
http://www.britastro.org/jupiter/2010report08.htm [Figure 11].
“Thus the former barge already comprised a white spot, but it was not methane-bright (up to Nov.7: Chris Go). It was still quiet on Nov.8 (Sadegh Ghomizadeh, Iran). So the much brighter plume was new on Nov.9. We had already suggested that the SEB Revival might begin with such a plume in one of the barges, as it did in 2007; the event is a striking confirmation of this hypothesis.”
This week’s BAA Picture of the Week is of Jupiter, imaged by Manos Kardasis from Greece, on November 6 & 7 2010.
Manos writes: “I took advantage of the rare good seeing conditions over Greece in the latest days to do a Hi-Res Strip Map. Unfortunately on the 6th of Nov. the seeing got worst after midnight so I took the risk among clouds to fill the bad parts in the following night.”
Bright Star is a play written by Stuart Hoar.
To quote the play’s publicity:
“The UK premiere of a moving and fascinating story about the clash between love and ambition, Bright Star is based on the life of groundbreaking astronomer, Beatrice Tinsley. Astrophysicist, wife, mother, daughter and gifted musician, Beatrice was a brilliantly creative and passionate woman whose work has profoundly influenced our understanding of the universe. But in the male dominated science establishment of the 70’s, Beatrice struggles against prejudice and views of her place in the world. She proves to be right – but success comes at great personal cost.”
TABARD THEATRE www.tabardtheatre.co.uk
2 Bath Road London W4 1LW
9 – 27 November (Tue–Sat) at 7.30pm
20 & 27 November (Sat) at 4pm
Box Office: Ticketweb 08448 472264 www.ticketweb.co.uk
Tickets £14 Concession £12 Groups of ten+ £10
The play is supported by The Royal Astronomical Society amongst others. I have seen it and can recommend it from both an artistic and a scientific point of view.
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
As you might have noticed the BAA blog posts are now open for comment. Please feel free to let us know your thoughts. The comments will be moderated and so won’t appear immediately; in fact there might be a delay of a few days before they do appear, so please be patient!
The BAA Blog is also looking for contributors; preferably BAA members who would like to write the occasional post for us, so that we can expand what’s on offer on the blog. Are you a keen amateur astronomer eager to share your passion for astronomy? Then get in touch by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
BAA member David Arditti took these two excellent images of nebulae in Cygnus during October 2010: NGC 7000 (the North America Nebula), and the much smaller IC 5146 (the Cocoon Nebula). Both are emission nebulae, clouds of ionised gas emitting light in various colours.
As David explains: “T[hese images] were both taken from outer London but in completely different conditions and with completely different systems.
“IC 5146 was taken with an uncooled, unmodified DSLR on a dark night, using a light-pollution filter, and a Newtonian of 48 inches (1219mm) focal length. The telescope was on a Fullerscopes MkIV mount with AWR control system, autoguided off-axis with a DMK camera.
“NGC 7000 was taken with a cooled monochrome CCD on two brightly moonlit nights using a combination of narrow and broad-band filers and a refractor with focal reducer of focal length 12.3 inches (311mm). The telescope was on an Astro-Physics 1200 GTO mount and no guiding was used, or necessary. The colour mapping is slightly unusual: I have used the H apha as red, the red as green, and the blue as blue. This seems pretty effective at limiting the effect of light pollution, and gives a fairly pleasing balance. (It is not dissimilar to the “Hubble palette” which also takes the green channel from the red end of the spectrum). I also applied a luminance layer from the H alpha data. The Astronomik 12nm filter does suffer from the drawback of giving haloes round bright stars (it is one of the cheapest H alpha filters) but they are not too intrusive when the data is combined with that from other filters.
“Comparison of these two images does actually show how much less noisy results from a cooled CCD are compared to those from an unmodified DSLR.”
You can download the images here: