Monday, 18 August 2014

C/2013 V5 (Oukaimeden) visible in South Africa

 Click to enlarge

 Skytools 3 information (18 August 2014)

Telescope: SkyQuest XT10 Dob. It is magnitude 9 with a diameter of 2.7'.

In the following 30 days this object is obvious visually from August 20 on, with the best view coming on September 15. During this period it will brighten rapidly and will reach peak altitude of 34° on September 2.

C/2013 V5 (Oukaimeden) will reach perihelion in late September. Also in late September this comet will pass within 0.6 AU of the earth. It is predicted to reach maximum brightness of magnitude 5 in mid September. The best visibility from Bloemfontein, Boyden, ZA near maximum brightness is predicted to be in mid September when it will be approximately magnitude 5. On September 16 this comet will be moving quickly across the sky at a peak rate of 13.8 "/min. Note that the magnitude and visibility of a comet can be very unpredictable.

Current Status

Earth Distance: 1.3 AU
Sun Distance: 1.0 AU
Elongation:  51°
Tail Position Angle: 259°
Tail Forshortening: 24%
Actual Coma Diameter: 160000 km
DC:  5
Total motion: 1.68 "/min
   RA:  1.30 "/min
   Dec: -1.09 "/min

Monday, 11 August 2014

Rosetta arrives at comet destination

6 August 2014
After a decade-long journey chasing its target, ESA’s Rosetta has today become the first spacecraft to rendezvous with a comet, opening a new chapter in Solar System exploration.
Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko and Rosetta now lie 405 million kilometres from Earth, about half way between the orbits of Jupiter and Mars, rushing towards the inner Solar System at nearly 55 000 kilometres per hour.
The comet is in an elliptical 6.5-year orbit that takes it from beyond Jupiter at its furthest point, to between the orbits of Mars and Earth at its closest to the Sun. Rosetta will accompany it for over a year as they swing around the Sun and back out towards Jupiter again.
Comets are considered to be primitive building blocks of the Solar System and may have helped to ‘seed’ Earth with water, perhaps even the ingredients for life. But many fundamental questions about these enigmatic objects remain, and through a comprehensive,in situstudy of the comet, Rosetta aims to unlock the secrets within.

Read more

More images

Saturday, 9 August 2014

10 August 2014 - The largest Full Moon for the Year

Image of the Moon taken over Table Mountain, credit: Dr Steve Potter, SAAO.

Source: SAAO

Did you know that the Moon travels around the Earth in an oval shaped or elliptical orbit rather than a circular one? The average distance between the Earth and Moon is 384,400 km. However, because of its elliptical path, the distance to the Moon varies depending on where it is in its orbit around Earth. At its closest point or perigee, the Moon is about 50,000 km closer to Earth than at its most distant point (called apogee).

Full Moons that occur when the Moon is close to or at perigee are called Supermoons and they appear slightly larger and brighter than usual. There is nothing magical about a Supermoon, it is simply a coincidence that full moon has occured when the Moon is near to its closest point to Earth. Just like an aeroplane looks larger the closer it is, so does the Moon.


Thursday, 7 August 2014

Meteorites: A Southern African Perspective

Meteorites are the remnants of meteors from outer space that have survived the corridor of fire through Earth's atmosphere and landed on our planet. Rare, and bearing secrets about the formation of our Universe, these 'treasures from space' have fascinated people ever since they were first identified in the late 18th century as extraterrestrial arrivals.

This jam-packed book by enthusiast and collector Ronnie McKenzie introduces the topic in straightforward language and is richly illustrated with some 200 photographs and diagrams. It discusses how to identify meteorites, where they come from and where they have landed on Earth, the many different types, and how to set about collecting them. It also dispels some of the myths about these stones, and presents some infamous meteorite scams.

A handy basic guide for those new to the topic, and for anyone interested in entering the field of meteorite collecting.

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Deep-Sky Hunter Star Atlas

"Deep Sky hunter" is a printable deep sky atlas, designed for serious deep sky observers. It features stars down to 10.2m and DSO down to 14.0m.

This is my second release of a deep sky atlas. It is much more detailed, and covers entire sky with 101 portrait oriented pages. Manual post-editing was performed in order to ensure readable and non-cluttered charts. In addition, the atlas features 8 pages with 21 supplement "zoom" charts of galaxy clusters and densly populated areas, and indications of over 500 best objects (Messier, Caldwell, Herschel 400, SAC's best).
I designed this atlas with A3 page size in mind, however you may find it usable on A4 as well. In terms of scale and amount of detail - "DeepSky Hunter" falls between Sky Atlas 2000 and Uranometria 2000.
- Michael Vlasov

Here you can see a comparison with other atlases.

- Print back to back on light 200gram carton (A3).
- It is searchable in Adobe Pdf Reader on your computer.  (Search the constellation or the NGC, etc.)
(Hannes Pieterse)

Thursday, 31 July 2014

Rosetta's comet rendezvous

On 6 August, after a decade-long journey through space, ESA’s Rosetta will become the first spacecraft in history to rendezvous with a comet. Members of the media are invited to join ESA at its European Space Operations Centre in Darmstadt, Germany, to mark this momentous occasion.

Since its launch from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana on 2 March 2004, Rosetta has travelled more than six billion kilometres, passing by Earth three times and Mars once, and flying past two asteroids.

For the most distant part of the journey, when it travelled out to the orbit of Jupiter, Rosetta was put into deep-space hibernation for 31 months, waking up on 20 January 2014 for the final leg of its epic journey to Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko.
Now, with less than 10 000 km to go, Rosetta is preparing to arrive at its destination.

Monday, 9 June 2014

Iridium 3 with a spectacular double flair

Click to enlarge

Iridium 3 started out as a -8.2 Magnitude flair but no-one expected the second flair. The first was on time (top) and the second one a bonus. Notice the second satellite in a northern direction in the middle of the image.Still trying to identify it!  Then two bright lines are the pointer stars next to the Crux constellation.

Image info:  192 images were stacked with Starstax; Camera on tripod; Remote control;  ISO 800; 10 sec exposures; f4.5; Moon a big hinderance.

Friday, 6 June 2014

Vrystaat Sterrefees / Free State Star Party

Vrystaat Sterre Partytjie                         
( English version below)

ASSA Bloemfontein nooi u na twee nagte van waarneming en verwondering van die Winterkonstellasies in die unieke Vrystaatse naghemel.  Daarmee saam gedurende Saterdag 28 Junie, is daar praatjies en besprekings oor onder meer teleskoopkollimasie deur Brett du Preez.

Plek: Gansvlei-gasteplaas tussen Brandfort, Bloemfontein en Winburg. (G.P.S.: Suid 28°47'49.9" en Oos 26°28'23.1"; Elevasie: 1395m).
Tyd: Vanaf 17:00 op 27 Junie tot omtrent 09:00 op 29 Junie 2014, dus twee nagte.
Koste: R80 per persoon per nag, wat insluit 'n bed met paslaken, ablusiegeriewe, volledig toegerusde kombuis en eetgerei, hout en braai geriewe soos roosters en selfs potte.
Benodigdehede: U eie waarnemingstoerusting soos teleskope, v√™rkykers, kameras, sterkaarte, stoel/tafel, beligting (beperk tot die flouste rooi liggie wat jy het...!) ens.  U eie kos en drinkgoed - genoeg vir die tydperk wat u daar bly - naaste winkel is omtrent 40km vanaf die plaas.  Warm klere en warm slaapgoed: onthou dis in die middel van die winter en dis in die middel van die Vrystaat...!!!
Bespreking: Indien u belangstel, antwoord asseblief per e-pos na, en doen dit asseblief nie later as 20 Junie 2014 nie.  Geen voorafbetaling is nodig nie.  Daar is huisvesting vir 40 mense so laat weet asseblief vroegtydig. 

Finale informasie sal per e-pos gekommunikeer word op Maandag 23 Junie aan diegene wat bespreek het teen daardie tyd.

Free State Star Party

ASSA Bloemfontein invites you to two nights of wonderful observation of the Winter Constellation in the unique Free State night skies.  Including, during Saturday 28 June, there will be talks and discussion on telescope collimation by Brett du Preez.
Venue: Gansvlei guest farm situated between Bloemfontein, Brandfort and Winburg (G.P.S.: South 28°47'49.9" and East 26°28'23.1"; Elevation: 1395m).
Time and duration: Two nights, from 17:00 on 27 June to about 09:00 on 29 June 2014.
Cost: R80 per person per night, which includes a bed with a fitted sheet, ablution facilities, fully equipped kitchen with cutlery, wood and braai facilities such as braai grids and even pots.
Requirements: Your own observation equipment such as telescopes, binoculars, cameras, star charts, chair and table, lighting (confined to the weakest and reddest light you own...!) etc.  Your own food and drinks for the duration of your stay - the nearest shops are about 40km from the farm.  Warm clothes and bedding: remembers it is mid-winter in the middle of the Free State...!!!
Booking: Please answer by e-mail to not later than 20 June 2014 if you are interested.  No pre-payment is necessary.  There is accommodation for 40 people so please respond soon.

Final information will be communicated by e-mail on 23 June 2014 to those who have booked by then.