If the launch of the space shuttle mission STS 134 is on schedule on Friday April 29th, observers in the southern half of the UK may be able to observe the shuttle about 20 minutes after launch – at around 21:05 BST if the launch is on time at 20:47 BST.
It may also be possible to see the external tank which will have separated from the shuttle by this time.
If you manage to capture a nice image of the event, why not submit it for our Picture of the Week spot – email to firstname.lastname@example.org
A white light image of AR 1195 made by Dennis Boon on 2011 April 23.
Dennis used an Orion Optics OMC200 telescope, Lumenera CCD camera, Televue 2X powermate and Baader AstroSolar Film.
Copernicus and Eratosthenes, and Carpathian mountains. Also visible in this picture are the craters Reinhold and Fauth. These are visible above and to the left of Copernicus. Reinhold is the upper crater.
The image was captured on 2011-04-12 during early evening (19:30), whilst the Moon was between Leo and Gemini.
SPX 250, 10″ F4.8 Orion Optics Newtonian, with a X2 barlow and a QHY5 camera, with a deep red W25 filter.
Paul writes “I have noticed how the seeing appears to be more stable, during the last hour before Sunset.”
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.
This Friday, April 15, between 19:00 and 21:00 UT, the Aristarchus and Herodotus area of the Moon will match the same illumination, to within +/- 0.5 degrees, as that observed during the famous Transient Lunar Phenomena (TLP) seen by Greenacre and Barr from Flagstaff observatory back on 1963 Oct 30. The BAA Lunar Section would welcome any high resolution monochrome, or especially colour, images of this area during this time period. Such observations would be very helpful so that
the Lunar Section can test out the ‘atmospheric spectral dispersion’ theory, proposed by Sheehan and Dobbins (Sky & Telescope, 1999), or to see if natural surface colour could explain some of the colours seen back in 1963. Observations should be emailed to the Lunar Section Assistant Director Dr Tony Cook on: email@example.com
If you are interested in trying to resolve other past historical lunar mysteries, by observing under the same illumination conditions, then these can be found listed for different geographical sites across the world on: http://users.aber.ac.uk/atc/tlp/tlp.htm and are suitable for both visual and imaging- capable observers.
BAA Lunar Section
Damian Peach took this stunning image of Saturn on 28th March, when the planet was only at 34 degrees altitude.
Ron Arbour and Tom Boles have both made supernova discoveries in April.
Ron Arbour discovered SN 2011bc in NGC 4076 on the night of April 1/2.
Tom Boles made his discovery number 142 on the night of April 3/4 with SN 2011bi in PGC 59729.
Congratulations to both.