Sunday, 15 February 2015

Boyden Observatory in the light pollution glow

Click to Enlarge. 

The Boyden Observatory is not next to the light pollution from "next door neighbours" anymore. It is right in the glow. Not long before the Milky Way will be an image on the screen and not a magnificent object in the Boyden night sky.

"next door neighbours" -  Maselspoort resort and all the owners on the banks of the Modder River.

Earth Observation Group (EOG)

The NGDC Earth Observation Group (EOG) specializes in nighttime observations of lights and combustion sources worldwide. The group started working with DMSP data in 1994 and has produced a time series of annual cloud-free composites of DMSP nighttime lights. EOG's current focus is on nighttime VIIRS data.

Monday, 26 January 2015

15P/Finlay is now a binocular object due to a series outbursts.

Click to Enlarge!

Hot bright news (26 January 2015) Chart date 26 January 2015, 20:30
from Bloemfontein, South Africa.

Source: Comet Chasing in January; Chart: Skytools 3

15P/Finlay is now a binocular object! It brightened by several magnitudes on January 16, on top of a similar episode in mid-December, apparently due to a series outbursts.

Coma Diameter: 3.9'
Earth Distance: 1.4 AU
Sun Distance: 1.1 AU
Elongation:  49°
Tail Position Angle:  65°
Tail Forshortening: 30%
Actual Coma Diameter: 240000 km
DC:  1
Total motion: 3.06 "/min
   RA:  2.71 "/min
   Dec: 1.44 "/min

Sunday, 11 January 2015

C/2014 Q2 (Lovejoy)

Click to enlarge

Comet C/2014 Q2 (Lovejoy) from 11 - 25 January 2015 (21:00) in the South African Night Sky.

Friday, 26 December 2014

Flapping UFO's

In SkyNews (January 2015)
On August 5, 2010, I was out with my telescope observing the night sky from my drive- way in southern Hamilton, Ontario, when I looked up toward the zenith and saw a triangular formation of three bright “orbs” of light moving incredibly fast toward the northern sky. By this time, I had already been observing the night sky for two years and quickly realized the lights were moving too fast and were larger in size and appearance than a satellite. They were also switching positions smoothly and swiftly. My next thought was a meteorite breakup, but there was no trail and no change in luminosity, and these objects persisted at a constant brightness for about 20 seconds before disappearing behind a tree. I could not come up with a plausible explanation.

About eight months later, while walking into The Hamilton Spectator building to attend a meeting of the Hamilton amateur astronomers, I briefly witnessed a similar event in the low eastern sky and still had no explanation. My answer finally came in June 2011. While outside on my driveway observing, I noticed five strange objects moving down the eastern sky. Luckily, I had binoculars with me this time. To my amazement—and embarrassment— I discovered that the strange “ufos” I had told numerous friends and fellow astronomers about were, in fact, Canada geese illuminated just enough by city lights from below to give the geese a strange, almost otherworldly glow, which made it very difficult to see any detail with the unaided eye. I could not hear them flying, and because they were moving about one another in formation, flapping their wings and flying at a fair speed, they gave an eerie appearance that had haunted me for almost a year.

Since then, I have seen Canada geese at night on numerous occasions. however, once I look through my binoculars, I laugh at myself and return to observing. if you witness what at first appears to be a strange triangular formation of alien craft, grab your binoculars, because I would wager that it’s some Canada geese happily on their way. and you can blame light pollution for the interruption.

Kevin Salwach
Hamilton, Ontario

(Het self al saans oor Bloemfontein hierdie wit voĆ«ls - soos bosluisvoĆ«ls gelyk - met my verkyker gesien.  Wonder of hulle die stadsligte vir navigasie gebruik? - Hannes Pieterse)

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Rosetta Images Show Philae Lander Bouncing Across Comet

Click to enlarge image

When the European Space Agency's Philae lander descended to the surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko last week, the Rosetta spacecraft's OSIRIS camera was watching from almost 10 miles above. Now a poignant series of images tracks Philae's double rebound — with a parting shot that shows the lander in mid-bounce.
After bouncing twice, Philae settled onto the comet's shadowed surface and operated for almost 57 hours before its batteries ran out. The lander's current location doesn't show up on the OSIRIS imagery released Monday, but the Rosetta mission's managers are confident that it will eventually be spotted. 

Source: NBC News

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Our lander’s asleep

With its batteries depleted and not enough sunlight available to recharge, Philae has fallen into 'idle mode' -- a possibly long silence. In this mode, all instruments and most systems on board are shut down.
"Prior to falling silent, the lander was able to transmit all science data gathered during the First Science Sequence," says DLR's Stephan Ulamec, Lander manager, who was in the main control room at ESOC tonight.

Read more

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

"Discover!" and "ConCards"

Click on image to enlarge!

Updates for our popular introductory star charts are now available for free download from the ASSA website.
The short "Discover!" workbook is perfect for getting to know the southern constellations. (Tip: Use the workbook in conjuction with the "Southern Star Wheel" for a complete solution.)
To delve deeper into the constellations, and to explore their deep-sky treasures, get your copy of the updated "ConCards".