Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Astronomer captures asteroid's close pass

 Click here for movie. Credit: Patrick Wiggins, NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador to Utah.

Amateur astronomer Patrick Wiggins from Utah captured impressive images of asteroid 2010 TD54 that passed the Earth with just 46,000 kilometres to spare on Tuesday. 

The asteroid, estimated to be around seven metres in diameter, was discovered on 9 October by the Catalina Sky Survey in Arizona as part of routine monitoring of the skies. 

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Sky & Telescope's Pocket Sky Atlas

Astronomy:  Observation help

A must for every amateur astronomer.
Sky & Telescope developed this atlas for the amateur astronomer. 
Sky & Telescope's Pocket Sky Atlas by Roger W. Sinnott (c) 2006 Sky Publishing Corporation, Cambridge, Mass, USA. ISBN 1-931559-31-7


  • Small and light, easy to hold with one hand while observing. (16 X 23 cm)
  • Printed on thick heavy stock with smooth, glare-free finish.
  • Generous amounts of overlap between adjacent charts.
  • Easy to lay flat or fold back on itself.
  • Charts are well thought out and well laid out.
  • Green stick figures of constellations provide additional context for individual charts.
  • Chart key is easy to find on inside of back cover.
  • Commonly used information (chart key and legend) is repeated at regular intervals.
  • Close up charts show further detail in areas of particular interest to amateurs.
  • Excellent for starhopping in light polluted skies
  • Vir die Noordelike halfrond ontwerp - Alles omgekeer in die Suide, maar steeds `n winskoop. (Hannes)
    • Not sure of durability after repeated exposure to dew
    • May not have enough detail for effective starhopping under dark rural skies
      Available from local online suppliers

      Loot  (R142 + R22 delivery)  (Goedkoopste!)
      Take Two (R142 + delivery cost) (R176.76 + delivery cost)

      Also from Sky & Telescope  $19 +  $9.99 delivery cost)
      or Amazon  $13.57  delivery cost)

      Monday, 11 October 2010

      Small Asteroid to Pass Within Earth-Moon System Tuesday

      A newly-discovered car-sized asteroid will fly past Earth early Tuesday. The asteroid, 2010 TD54, will make its closest approach to Earth at 6:51 EDT a.m. (3:51 a.m. PDT). Image credit: NASA/JPL 

      October 11, 2010
      PASADENA, Calif. -- A small asteroid will fly past Earth early Tuesday within the Earth-moon system. The asteroid, 2010 TD54, will have its closest approach to Earth's surface at an altitude of about 45,000 kilometers (27,960 miles) at 6:50 EDT a.m. (3:50 a.m. PDT). At that time, the asteroid will be over southeastern Asia in the vicinity of Singapore. During its flyby, Asteroid 2010 TD54 has zero probability of impacting Earth. A telescope of the NASA-sponsored Catalina Sky Survey north of Tucson, Arizona discovered 2010 TD54 on Oct. 9 at (12:55 a.m. PDT) during routine monitoring of the skies.

      2010 TD54 is estimated to be about 5 to 10 meters (16 to 33 feet) wide. Due to its small size, the asteroid would require a telescope of moderate size to be viewed. A five-meter-sized near-Earth asteroid from the undiscovered population of about 30 million would be expected to pass daily within a lunar distance, and one might strike Earth's atmosphere about every 2 years on average. If an asteroid of the size of 2010 TD54 were to enter Earth's atmosphere, it would be expected to burn up high in the atmosphere and cause no damage to Earth's surface.

      More info on car-sized asteroid

      Sunday, 10 October 2010

      Russian manned spacecraft docks with ISS

      A newly-modernized Russian Soyuz spacecraft (pictured before launch) carrying three astronauts on Sunday docked with the International Space Station (ISS) to double its crew to six, mission control said. The Soyuz TMA-M spacecraft is a modernised version of the ship used by Russia to put humans into the space and the first of a new series to have fully digital systems.

      Comet 103P/Hartley 2 on its way

      Comet Hartley 2 near the double cluster in Perseus at oct. 8, UT 22.00, taken with Newton 5,6"/f-2.9 

      Comet 103P/Hartley 2 continues to put on a good show as it approaches Earth for an 11-million-mile close encounter on Oct. 20th. Last night (8 October) it passed by the Double Cluster in Perseus. The contrast between the blue stars of the two clusters and the green atmosphere of the comet was remarkable.

      ISS - Visible Passes over Bloemfontein

      Search period start: 00:00 Sunday, 10 October, 2010  
      Search period end: 00:00 Wednesday, 20 October, 2010
      Observer's location: Bloemfontein, 29.1022°S, 26.2110°E
      Local time zone: South African Standard Time (UTC + 2:00)
      Orbit: 348 x 359 km, 51.6° (Epoch Oct 10)
      Click on the date to get a star chart and other pass details.
      Date Mag Starts Max. altitude Ends
      Time Alt. Az. Time Alt. Az. Time Alt. Az.
      12 Oct -2.1 19:43:56 10 SSW 19:46:08 26 SSE 19:46:08 26 SSE
      13 Oct -0.9 18:37:34 10 SSE 18:37:44 10 SE 18:37:54 10 SE
      13 Oct -1.6 20:10:23 10 SW 20:12:12 31 WSW 20:12:12 31 WSW
      14 Oct -2.6 19:01:54 10 SSW 19:04:41 33 SE 19:06:42 15 ENE
      15 Oct -2.5 19:28:25 10 WSW 19:31:17 42 NW 19:32:54 21 NNE
      17 Oct -2.0 18:46:20 10 WSW 18:49:07 34 NW 18:51:51 10 NNE

      Star charts for the Southern Hemisphere

      Astronomy observation help
      Hier is `n ideale begin vir amateur sterrekundiges wat nog nie sterkaarte aangeskaf het nie.
      Jy kry die 18 gelamineerde sterkaarte in kleur. (A4-grootte en in JPG- en Pdf-formaat). Ook `n CD met al die kaarte en `n klomp NASA-foto's).   (Hannes Pieterse)
      • Bestel dit by die Johannesburg Planetarium. Inligting onder.
      STAR CHARTS - 18 printed charts plus CD.

      A series of 18 maps (nine double-sided A4 pages) +CD covering the entire sky and showing the positions of star clusters, nebulae, galaxies and double and variable stars. The constellation lis are the same as those on the Star Disc (see below) to make identification easier. The charts have a southern hemisphere orientation (with south at the top) and have a water resistant laminate coat to make them more durable when used outside. An additional reference guide provides an overall view of all 18 charts, plus instructions about their use and an index to the constellations and major stars. Charts by Wil Tirion.

      CD contains JPEG and PDF files of all charts with both southern and northern hemisphere orientation, additional Star Maps, reference guides, indexes, and 300 bonus NASA images.
      Send email to Johannesburg Planetarium: and the Banking details will be send to you.
      The cost is R174 + R25 postage (Registered with trace number)
      • I ordered on a Thursday and it was delivered on Tuesday. How is that for service. Claire Flanegan from the Planetarium will see that you get your charts and the CD asap.