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                                         ASTRONOMY FOR ALL  -  UPDATED SKY EVENTS

                                        INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION PASS UPDATES

                                            RECENT DISCOVERIES ABOUT THE UNIVERSE

                                                GREAT ASTROPHOTOS  (ON 3 WEB PAGES)

                                               MANNED AND UNMANNED SPACE MISSIONS

                                                        LATEST NEW SPACE TELESCOPES

                                   SELECT FROM A LARGE MENU OF MANY PAGES at Left

                    AVAILABLE TO GIVE POWERPOINT ASTRONOMY LECTURES ON LONG ISLAND

                         MY LAST ASTRONOMY TALK  AT THE LONG BEACH  LIBRARY WAS ON WED 2011 April 13th.

                  MY LAST ASTRONOMY TALK  AT THE LONG BEACH LIBRARY WAS ON  2012 MARCH 6.
 
       MY FIRST TALK  (FREE)  AT THE EAST MEADOW LIBRARY WAS ON WEDNESDAY 2011 NOVEMBER 9 -  7:30 PM.
 

       THE MAIN TOPIC WAS  >  HOW TO TURN YOUR COMPUTER INTO A PLANETARIUM USING STELLARIUM

      MY LAST EAST MEADOW LIBRARY TALK  - ON THE  TRANSIT OF VENUS -
                                       WAS ON 2012 MAY 29 - 7 PM


    MY  LAST TALK-MOVIE PRESENTATION AT THE LONG BEACH LIBRARY WAS ON 2011 DECEMBER 28
    THE MOVIE WAS "A CONNECTICUT YANKEE IN KING ARTHUR'S COURT" BASED SOMEWHAT ON MARK TWAIN'S
    BOOK OR THE SAME TITLE.
THE PLOT OF THIS STORY DEPENDS ON A TOTAL SOLAR ECLIPSE ON  528 JUNE 21st
    WHICH IN REALITY NEVER OCCURRED .
BEFORE THE MOVIE BEGAN I  DISCUSSED THE PROBLEMS ASSOCIATED
    WITH THIS NON-EXISTENT ECLIPSE.


    
MY LAST LONG BEACH LIBRARY POWER POINT  FREE TALK WAS ON 2012 MARCH 6 AT 2 PM UPSTAIRS

   The Title of the Talk was > The Year of Venus

 
Venus will be catching up to and passing close to Jupiter on March 13 making a great sky spectacle. Then Venus will be passing by the famous dipper-like cluster called the Pleiades on April 2nd and 3rd which looks fabulous in binoculars. Finally, the last Transit of Venus until the year 2117 will happen on June 5 where one can see the silhouette of Venus move across the sun's surface with the proper filter.
 I will explain these events and give you a preview using the Stellarium planetarium program.


     YOU CAN DOWNLOAD "STELLARIUM" FOR FREE -  SEE BELOW:
 
     
STELLARIUM
- FREE DOWNLOAD OF A PLANETARIUM SKY ONTO YOUR COMPUTER at:
http://www.stellarium.org



                                          

                                                  E - MAIL CONTACT at  Larry88KC@Netscape.com
                                              
                                                 
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NOTE -- IF ANY TEXT ON THIS WEBSITE OR ANY OTHER GOES BEYOND THE RIGHT EDGE OF THE PAGE
HOLD THE CONTROL BUTTON DOWN AND PRESS THE - BUTTON DOWN  A FEW TIMES TIMES IF NECESSARY
PRESSING THE + BUTTON WHILE HOLDING THE CONTROL BUTTON WILL RESTORE THE ORIGINAL SIZE
OR GO LARGER IF YOU WANT WITH MULTIPLE PRESSES OF THE + BUTTON.

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THE MORNING SKY PLANET ALIGNMENTS FOR JULY

 

THE ENTIRE 2012 JUNE 5 TRANSIT OF VENUS HIGH SPEED VIDEO IN MULTIPLE WAVELENGTHS

 
   


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THE LAST PARTIAL PHASE OF 2012 MAY 20th ANNULAR SOLAR ECLIPSE VISIBLE ON THE WEST USA COAST
 PHOTO TAKEN BY BILL BOGARDUS, CURRENT PRESIDENT OF THE AOS OF NY ASTRONOMY CLUB
 THE LOWER APPARITION IS AN INTERNAL CAMERA REFLECTION
DSC07156
File Name: DSC07156.JPG
Posted: May 21, 2012
Resolution: 480x321
Size: 66KB
wfbogardusMon May 21 05:23:35 UTC 2012
The weather was very cooperative. We found a great spot between our hotels and the airport with an absolutely unobstructed view right to the horizon.
 
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THERE ARE CURRENTLY SEVERAL LARGE SUNSPOT GROUPS EASILY VISIBLE (WITH A PROPER FILTER FOR SAFETY)

       THE LARGEST SUNSPOTS ARE ALMOST THE SIZE OF THE PLANET NEPTUNE

            SEE THE SCALE AT THE BOTTOM RIGHT CORNER

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THE SPACE SHUTTLE ENTERPRISE LANDS AT KENNEDY AIRPORT FROM THE SMITHSONIAN AT 11:22 EM EDT  2012 APRIL 27








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      VENUS PASSES BY THE PLEIADES - CLOSEST ON APRIL 3rd - WILL NOT HAPPEN AGAIN UNTIL APRIL 2020

http://astrobob.areavoices.com/files/2012/03/Venus-Pleiades-April-2012V2-1024x640.jpg

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Giant Farside Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) on 2012 March 26




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  FOR THE NORTHEAST USA - 5
ROCKET LAUNCHES FROM WALLOPS ISLAND
 
                                                  TO STUDY THE EARTH'S UPPER ATMOSPHERE

     OCCURRED ON TUESDAY MORNING  MARCH 27  STARTING AT 4:58 AM
               SEE SOME PHOTOS BELOW OF THIS MISSION
 
 

View a NASA video about this ATREX Mission from Wallops Island:
 

http://tinyurl.com/7rlj6ke



 http://images.nationalgeographic.com/wpf/media-live/photos/000/504/cache/nasa-rocket-launch-strange-clouds-launch_50488_600x450.jpg-----http://images.nationalgeographic.com/wpf/media-live/photos/000/504/cache/nasa-rocket-launch-strange-clouds-blurring_50491_600x450.jpg
 http://images.nationalgeographic.com/wpf/media-live/photos/000/504/cache/nasa-rocket-launch-strange-clouds-blue_50490_600x450.jpg----http://images.nationalgeographic.com/wpf/media-live/photos/000/504/cache/nasa-rocket-launch-strange-clouds-landscape_50492_600x450.jpg
 
 AP PHOTO BELOW IS FROM NEWSDAY

Photo credit: AP | This photo provided by NASA shows chemical tracers that were released from five rockets launched from NASA's Wallops Island test flight facility in Atlantic, Va., Tuesday morning March 27, 2012. The tracers form white clouds that allowed scientists and the public to visualize upper level jet stream winds. (AP Photo/NASA)

(AP) -- Milky white chemical clouds were briefly visible in much of the night sky along the Eastern seaboard on Tuesday after NASA launched a series of rockets to study the jet stream at the edge of the earth's atmosphere.

The five sounding rockets began blasting off just before 5 a.m. from NASA's Wallops Island facility on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. Each of the rockets was fired about...


 
 

 LAUNCH WINDOWS EXPLAINED BY NASA's KEITH KOHLER OF THE WALLOPS FACILITY:

The launch window is being driven by two main things:


1. In order to view the tracer clouds we need as dark skies as

possible. So the window is driven by sunlight and moonlight conditions.

2. We have to negotiate when we want to launch with both the FAA,

because of air traffic on the east coast and military activity off the
coast. For this mission, We have approval for launch for midnight to
6:30 AM  EDT.

All five rockets will be launched over a time span of just over 5-minutes at precise 80 second intervals!  When released into the upper atmosphere,

TMA initially glows with a reddish color, but quickly changes to white.

It is expected that the associated cloud trails will be persist for as long as 20 minutes before completely fading away.

 

ROCKET #1 -- Will be launched on the highest and longest trajectory, reaching an apogee altitude of 250 miles (405 km), approximately 185 miles (300 km) east-southeast of Wallops Island.  The TMA will be released as the rocket descends down through its "release regime" from 85 to 55 miles (135 to 88 km), approximately 340 to 360 miles (550 to 580 km) downrange from Wallops Island.

Viewers should look toward the SSE.  The TMA cloud should first appear at about 14-degrees above the horizon and moving downward, tracing a streak approximately 5-degrees in length.

 

ROCKET #2 -- Will climb to an altitude of 112 miles (180 km) at a similar distance downrange from Wallops Island.  Like the first rocket, this one too will release TMA only on the downleg of its suborbital arc.

Look almost due south.  This cloud should first appear about 19-degrees above the horizon, tracing a downward streak roughly 7-degrees in length.

 

ROCKET #3 -- Will go almost straight up to an altitude of 87 miles (140 km), about 28 miles (45 miles) from Wallops Island.  The TMA from this rocket will be released on both the upleg and downleg of the suborbital arc and will be released in the form of "puffs" creating a curved, dashed line in the sky.  The cloud will first appear toward the SSW about 13-degrees above the horizon,

 reaching a maximum altitude of 20-degrees, then dropping back down again to about 13-degrees.

 

ROCKET #4 -- Will travel on the second highest and farthest path, reaching a maximum altitude of 155 miles (250 km), about 125 miles (200 km) downrange from Wallops Island.

 As was the case with Rocket #3, the TMA payload will again be released as "puffs" creating a curved, dashed arc.  For the upleg puff, look SSW as the cloud makes a broken trail roughly 13 to 20-degrees.

 The downleg puff will appear toward the south, descending from 20 to 13-degrees.

 

ROCKET #5 -- Will head up to an altitude of 105 miles (170 km), at a distance of about 40 miles (65 km) downrange from Wallops Island.  A final series of TMA "puffs" only on the downleg

of the suborbital arc will be created in the SSW, starting at about 20-degrees and descending downward for about 7 or 8-degrees.

 

The rockets themselves might also be glimpsed as "stars" moving rapidly upward before their engines shut down as they near the top part of their respective arcs.

 

For the rockets to be launched, clear skies are needed at three different sites where NASA has set up cameras: South Jersey, Wallops Island and the Outer Banks of North Carolina.     

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       THIS IS WHAT IT COULD LOOK LIKE:

Pictured Above: A rocket experiment similar to the one planned from Wallops Island, released the chemical

trimethyl aluminum (TMA) into the atmosphere from a launch site near Poker Flats, Alaska. The diffusion and distortion of the cloud trail are evident.

Up to seven (7) trails are to be created high above the Eastern Seaboard by five rockets during the predawn hours of Tuesday morning. 



BELOW IS A MAP OF T
HE FIVE ATREX ROCKET LAUNCH TRAJECTORIES >>


IF THE MAP BELOW IS TOO LARGE FOR YOUR SCREEN, HOLD THE CONTROL BUTTON DOWN WHILE YOU PRESS THE  -  KEY ONCE OR MORE TIMES.
IT IS TO THE RIGHT OF THE ZERO KEY. CONTROL + WILL ENLARGE THE SCREEN AND CONTROL 0 WILL RESTORE THE ORIGINAL SIZE.

http://www.nasa.gov/images/content/627508main_ATREX_TrajectoryView-orig.jpg

 
The map of the mid-Atlantic region of the U.S. shows the projected area where the rockets may be visible while the motors are burning through flight. It also shows the flight profile of each of the five rockets. Credit: NASA/Wallops


DIAGRAM BELOW SHOWS WHERE THE THREE CAMERA SITES ARE. THE WEATHER MUST BE IDEAL IN ALL
THREE LOCATIONS FOR A GO FOR LAUNCH. LONG ISLAND IS AT THE TOP MIDDLE, THEN GOES OUT OF RANGE
http://www.nasa.gov/images/content/628174main2_ATREX-camera-tracer-670.jpg

Launch madness will hit the east coast in March as NASA launches five rockets in approximately five minutes to study the high-altitude jet stream from its Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.


The Anomalous Transport Rocket Experiment (ATREX) is a Heliophysics sounding rocket mission that will gather information needed to better understand the process responsible for the high-altitude jet stream located 60 to 65 miles above the surface of the Earth.

The high-altitude jet stream is higher than the one commonly reported in weather forecasts. The winds found in this upper jet stream typically have speeds of 200 to well over 300 mph and create rapid transport from the Earth's mid latitudes to the polar regions. This jet stream is located in the same region where strong electrical currents occur in the ionosphere. It is therefore a region with a lot of electrical turbulence, of the type that can adversely affect satellite and radio communications.

The sounding rockets being used for the mission are two Terrier-Improved Malemutes , two Terrier-Improved Orions and one Terrier-Oriole.


Combined photo of four chemical tracer trails in the atmosphere. › View larger
Four trimethyl aluminum (TMA) trails from a prior mission flown from Poker Flat, Alaska, in February 2009. Credit: Miguel Larsen/Clemson Univ.
The five rockets will release a chemical tracer that will form milky, white tracer clouds that allow scientists and the public to "see" the winds in space. In addition, two of the rockets will have instrumented payloads, to measure the pressure and temperature in the atmosphere at the height of the high-speed winds.



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LISTEN TO FAMOUS ASTROPHYSICIST - DR. NEIL DE GRASSE TYSON COMMENT  ON
NEWT GINGRICH'S GOAL TO GET THE OUR ASTRONAUTS BACK TO THE MOON BY 2010


THE SECOND WEBSITE LISTED BELOW HAS ADDITIONAL ASTRONOMY VIDEOS AFTERWARDS


                  http://video.msnbc.msn.com/martin-bashir/46152472/#46152472


http://gizmodo.com/5880084/neil-degrasse-tyson-shoots-down-gingrichs-moon-base


             THE ASTRONOMY PICTURE OF THE DAY FOR 2012 January 24
See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download  the highest resolution version available.

                                                          January Aurora Over Norway
                                                                          Image Credit & Copyright:
Bjørn Jørgensen

Explanation: What's that in the sky? An aurora. A large coronal mass ejection occurred on our Sun five days ago, throwing a cloud of fast moving electrons, protons, and ions toward the Earth. Although most of this cloud passed above the Earth, some of it impacted our Earth's magnetosphere and resulted in spectacular auroras being seen at high northern latitudes. Pictured above is a particularly photogenic auroral corona captured last night above Grotfjord, Norway. To some, this shimmering green glow of recombining atmospheric oxygen might appear as a large eagle, but feel free to share what it looks like to you. This round of solar activity is not yet over -- a new and even more powerful solar flare occurred yesterday that might provide more amazing aurora as soon as tonight

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COMET  LOVEJOY  PUT ON A SPECTACULAR SHOW
FOR SOUTHERN HEMISPHERE VIEWERS AND THE ISS

IMAGES OF COMET LOVEJOY


 
http://www.iceinspace.com.au/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=105827&d=1324518566_


SPIRAL COMET TAIL: As Comet Lovejoy recedes intact from its Dec. 16th close encounter with the sun, researchers are pondering a mystery: What made the comet's tail wiggle so wildly in transit through the sun's atmosphere? The effect is clear in this sequence of extreme UV images recorded by NASA's STEREO-B spacecraft:

"Why the wiggles?" wonders Karl Battams of the Naval Research Lab. "We're not sure. There might be some kind of helical motion going on. Perhaps we're seeing material in the tail magnetically 'clinging' to coronal loops and moving with them. [Coronal loops are huge loops of magnetism that emerge from the sun's surface and thread the sun's atmosphere.] There are other possibilities too, and we will certainly investigate those!"

Battams notes that these images can be combined with similar images from STEREO-A on the other side of the sun to produce a three dimensional picture. "When we pair these together, and throw in the SDO images too, we should be able to get an incredibly unique 3-D picture of how this comet is reacting the the intense coronal heat and magnetic loops. We are going to learn a lot."

AMATEUR ASTRONOMERS TRACK LOVEJOY: Amateur astronomers are finding themselves able to photograph Comet Lovejoy as it emerges from the glare of the sun. A team led by Czech astronomer Jan Ebr captured this image at dawn on Dec. 17th:


Credit: Jakub Cerny, Jan Ebr, Martin Jelinek, Petr Kubanek, Michael Prouza, Michal Ringes

"We used a remotely-controlled 12-inch telescope in Malargue, Argentina," says Ebr. "The sun was below horizon at the time we took the picture, but just barely. There was only a 30 minute window between the rise of the comet and that of the sun "

more images: from Vincent Jacques of Breil-sur-Roya, France; from Robert Lowton of Whaley Bridge, High Peak, United Kingdom; from Andrew Cooper of Mauna Kea, Hawai'i; from Jim Werle of Las Vegas, Nevada;



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       TOTAL LUNAR ECLIPSE PHOTO FROM BANGKOK, THAILAND 2011 DECEMBER 10
                    FROM SPACEWEATHER.COM LUNAR ECLIPSE PHOTO GALLERY

http://spaceweather.com/swpod2011/10dec11/Pornchai1.jpg

 





NASA Launches Most Capable and Robust Rover to Mars

2011 NOVEMBER 26
 
NASA's Mars Science Laboratory lifts off NASA's Mars Science Laboratory lifts off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.
 Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech › Full image and caption


MSL spacecraft separation The MSL spacecraft separates and heads on its way to Mars.
› Spacecraft separation video
› Prelaunch image gallery

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- NASA began a historic voyage to Mars with the Nov. 26 launch of the Mars Science Laboratory, which carries a car-sized rover named Curiosity.

Liftoff from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station aboard an Atlas V rocket occurred at 10:02 a.m. EST (7:02 a.m. PST).

"We are very excited about sending the world's most advanced scientific laboratory to Mars," NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said. "MSL will tell us critical things we need to know about Mars, and while it advances science, we'll be working on the capabilities for a human mission to the Red Planet and to other destinations where we've never been."

The mission will pioneer precision landing technology and a sky-crane touchdown to place Curiosity near the foot of a mountain inside Gale Crater on Aug. 6, 2012. During a nearly two-year prime mission after landing, the rover will investigate whether the region has ever offered conditions favorable for microbial life, including the chemical ingredients for life.

"The launch vehicle has given us a great injection into our trajectory, and we're on our way to Mars," said Mars Science Laboratory Project Manager Peter Theisinger of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. "The spacecraft is in communication, thermally stable and power positive."

The Atlas V initially lofted the spacecraft into Earth orbit and then, with a second burst from the vehicle's upper stage, pushed it out of Earth orbit into a 352-million-mile (567-million-kilometer) journey to Mars.

"Our first trajectory correction maneuver will be in about two weeks," Theisinger said. "We'll do instrument checkouts in the next several weeks and continue with thorough preparations for the landing on Mars and operations on the surface."

Curiosity's ambitious science goals are among the mission's many differences from earlier Mars rovers. It will use a drill and scoop at the end of its robotic arm to gather soil and powdered samples of rock interiors, then sieve and parcel out these samples into analytical laboratory instruments inside the rover. Curiosity carries 10 science instruments with a total mass 15 times as large as the science-instrument payloads on the Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity. Some of the tools are the first of their kind on Mars, such as a laser-firing instrument for checking the elemental composition of rocks from a distance, and an X-ray diffraction instrument for definitive identification of minerals in powdered samples.

To haul and wield its science payload, Curiosity is twice as long and five times as heavy as Spirit or Opportunity. Because of its one-ton mass, Curiosity is too heavy to employ airbags to cushion its landing as previous Mars rovers could. Part of the Mars Science Laboratory spacecraft is a rocket-powered descent stage that will lower the rover on tethers as the rocket engines control the speed of descent.

The mission's landing site offers Curiosity access for driving to layers of the mountain inside Gale Crater. Observations from orbit have identified clay and sulfate minerals in the lower layers, indicating a wet history.

Precision landing maneuvers as the spacecraft flies through the Martian atmosphere before opening its parachute make Gale a safe target for the first time. This innovation shrinks the target area to less than one-fourth the size of earlier Mars landing targets. Without it, rough terrain at the edges of Curiosity's target would make the site unacceptably hazardous.

The innovations for landing a heavier spacecraft with greater precision are steps in technology development for human Mars missions. In addition, Curiosity carries an instrument for monitoring the natural radiation environment on Mars, important information for designing human Mars missions that protect astronauts' health.

The mission is managed by JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The rover was designed, developed and assembled at JPL. NASA's Launch Services Program at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida managed the launch. NASA's Space Network provided space communication services for the launch vehicle. NASA's Deep Space Network will provide spacecraft acquisition and mission communication.

For more information about the mission, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/msl and http://marsprogram.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/ .

For more information about the Deep Space Network, visit: http://deepspace.jpl.nasa.gov/dsn .

 
 
Dwayne Brown 202-358-1726
NASA Headquarters, Washington
Dwayne.c.brown@nasa.gov

Guy Webster 818-354-6278
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
Guy.webster@jpl.nasa.gov

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Mars Rover Finds a Turkey Haven for the Holiday

by Nancy Atkinson on November 22, 2011 From UniverseToday.com

A region on the rim of Endeavour Crater on Mars that has been named 'Turkey Haven,' Credit: NASA/JPL, colorization by Stu Atkinson.

What does a Mars Rover do for the Thanksgiving holiday? While one rover will be sitting on the launchpad, preparing to head to the Red Planet (MSL/ Curiosity) the Opportunity rover has now trekked to an enticing outcrop near the summit of Cape York on the rim of Endeavour Crater. This summit or ridge has been named “Turkey Haven” by the MER science team, as this is where Oppy will conduct scientific studies over the four-day-long US holiday. The image above was taken a few days ago, showing the Turkey Haven ridge. Our pal Stu Atkinson has provided a beautiful color rendering, and you can see all the rocks that the rover will be looking at more closely with its suite of instruments and cameras. You can see more images of this area, including 3-D versions on Stu’s site, Road to Endeavour.

SEE THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE AND MORE GREAT PHOTOS ON MY  MARS  PAGE AT LEFT MENU

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                 THE SUN NOW HAS MANY SPOTS
http://mail.isp.netscape.com/email/scripts/attach.pl/uid=37586&pn=2&noInline=0&folder=INBOX/John%2520Solar%2520Image%2520110811%2520Enhanced.jpg
PHOTO TAKEN BY JOHN BLIEX OF THE AOS ON 2011 NOV 8
           WITH A 500mm MIRROR LENS CANON DSLR

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 From Spaceweather.com

ASTEROID PARALLAX: "On November 9th, asteroid 2005 YU55 passed so close to Earth that viewers at separate locations saw the interloper appear in slightly different spots against the background star field," says amateur astronomer Mike Harms of San Francisco. To illustrate this parallax effect, he combined his own observations with those of

Dennis di Cicco across the country in Boston:

At the time of the flyby, the 400m-wide space rock was only 324,600 kilometers away, about 85% the distance from Earth to the Moon. This allowed amateur and professional astronomers alike to study the asteroid in unprecedented detail.

In Australia, where the Boston vs. Brisbane parallax effect was even greater, Dennis Simmons video-recorded the flyby: "It was quite sobering to be able to view the almost full Moon some 20 degrees away, knowing that this lump of rock was now nearer to me than our Moon," he says. "I was astonished at how bright the Near Earth Asteroid (NEO) appeared,

having read that results from the Arecibo radar indicated it to be a very dark, nearly spherical object some 400 meters in diameter."

more images: from Conrad Jung of Oakland, California; from Libor Vyskocil of Observatory Upice, Czech Republic; from Rolando Ligustri of Talmassons (Italy);

from William Wiethoff of Port Wing, Wisconsin; from Marco Langbroek of Markleeberg, California



Asteroid 2005 YU55 Gets Closer to Earth; “No Chance of an Impact”

by Jason Major on November 4, 2011

Radar image of 2005 YU55, acquired in April 2010. Credit: NASA/Cornell/Arecibo.

Yes, it’s coming. Yes, it’s big. Yes, it will be even closer than the Moon. And yes… we’re completely safe.

The 400-meter-wide asteroid 2005 YU55 is currently zipping through the inner Solar System at over 13 km (8 miles) a second. On Tuesday, November 8, at 6:28 p.m. EST, it will pass Earth, coming within 325,000 km (202,000 miles). This is indeed within the Moon’s orbit (although YU55′s trajectory puts it a bit above the exact plane of the Earth-Moon alignment.) Still, it is the closest pass by such a large object since 1976… yet, NASA scientists aren’t concerned. Why?

Because its orbit has been well studied, there’s nothing in its way, and frankly there’s simply nothing it will do to affect Earth.

Animation of 2005 YU55's trajectory on Nov. 8. (NASA/JPL) Click to play.

Period.

2005 YU55′s miniscule gravity will not cause earthquakes. It has no magnetic field. It will not strike another object, or the Moon, or the Earth. It will not come into contact with cometary debris, Elenin, a black dwarf, Planet X, or Nibiru. (Not that those last three even exist.) No, YU55 will do exactly what it’s doing right now: passing through the Solar System. It will come, it will go, and hopefully NASA scientists – as well as many amateur astronomers worldwide – will have a chance to get a good look at it as it passes.

Scientists with NASA’s Near-Earth Objects Observation Program will begin tracking YU55 on Friday, November 4 using the 70-meter radar telescope at the Deep Space Network in Goldstone, California , as well as with the Arecibo Planetary Radar Facility in Puerto Rico beginning November 8. These facilities will continue to track it until the 10th.

This close pass will offer a great opportunity to get detailed radar imaging of YU55, an ancient C-type asteroid literally darker than coal. Since these objects can be difficult to observe using visible light, radar mapping can better reveal details about their surface and composition.

To help inform the public about YU55 NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena recently hosted a live Q&A session on Ustream featuring specialists Marina Brozovic, a Goldstone Radar Team scientist, and Don Yeomans, manager of NASA’s Near-Earth Object Program. They fielded questions sent in via chat and Twitter… a recording of the event in its entirety can be seen below:

Brief Summary of Asteroid Approach



Fact Sheets & Animations of 2005 YU55's Orbital Motions



Undoubtedly there will still be those who continue to spread misinformation about 2005 YU55. After all, they did the same with the now-disintegrated comet Elenin. But the truth is out there… and the truth is that there’s no danger, no cover-ups, no “plots”, and simply no cause for concern.

“It’s completely safe… no chance of an impact.”

– Don Yeomans, JPL

Read more about YU55 on our previous post or  on NASA’s Near-Earth Object Program site.

Although classified as a potentially hazardous object, 2005 YU55 poses no threat of an Earth collision over at least the next 100 years. However, this will be the closest approach to date by an object this large that we know about in advance and an event of this type will not happen again until 2028 when asteroid (153814) 2001 WN5 will pass to within 0.6 lunar distances. – Near-Earth Object Program, JPL

Jason is a graphic artist from Rhode Island now living and working in Dallas, Texas. He writes about astronomy and space exploration on his blog Lights In The Dark, here on Universe Today and also on Discovery News.


Learn about the huge asteroid 2005 YU55's close pass by Earth in this SPACE.com infographic.
Source: SPACE.com: All about our solar system, outer space and exploration



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TIME LAPSE MOVIE OF HURRICANE IRENE FROM SPACE



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JUNO Launch to Jupiter 2011 August 5 - Arrival in 5 Years



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THE DAWN MISSION HAS BEEN IN ORBIT AROUND ASTEROID VESTA SINCE JULY 16 AND  WILL ORBIT DWARF PLANET  CERES
  NEXT SUMMER . HERE IS A CLOSE UP PHOTO OF VESTA TAKEN JULY 18. MORE ON VESTA ON MY VESTA PAGE AT LEFT MENU.

Asteroid Vesta

Image of Vesta Captured by Dawn on July 18, 2011

July 21, 2011 - PASADENA, Calif. -- NASA's Dawn spacecraft obtained this image with its framing camera on July 18, 2011. It was taken from a distance of about 6,500 miles (10,500 kilometers) away from the protoplanet Vesta. The smallest detail visible is about 1.2 miles (2.0 km).

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA

« Back to Vesta by Dawn Gallery

 
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 LAST LAUNCH OF A SPACE SHUTTLE - THIS TIME SHUTTLE ATLANTIS OCCURRED AT 11:29 AM EDT ON FRIDAY 2011 JULY 8

  ATLANTIS  LANDED  ON JULY 21st at 5:57 AM EDT ENDING THE 30 YEAR SHUTTLE MISSION.

http://img.ibtimes.com/www/data/images/full/2011/07/08/127166-the-space-shuttle-atlantis-sts-135-lifts-off-from-launch-pad-39a-at-th.jpg








                                         THE ASTRONOMY PICTURE OF THE DAY FOR 2011 June 20 


See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download the highest resolution version available.

                                                  THE LAST ROLL OUT OF A SPACE SHUTTLE EVER!!!!

                                                                      Credit & Copyright: Ben Cooper (Launch Photography)

Explanation: In the final move of its kind, NASA's Space Shuttle Atlantis was photographed earlier this month slowly advancing toward Launch Pad 39A, where it is currently scheduled for a July 8th launch to the International Space Station. The mission, designated STS-135, is the 135th and last mission for a NASA space shuttle. Atlantis and its four-person crew will be carrying, among other things, the Multi-Purpose Logistics Module Raffaello to bring key components and supplies to the ISS. Pictured above, the large Shuttle Crawler Transporter rolls the powerful orbiter along the five-kilometer long road at less than two kilometers per hour. Over 15,000 spectators, some visible on the right, were on hand for the historic roll out.



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HEAR PRESIDENT JOHN F. KENNEDY GIVE HIS COMMITMENT SPEECH ABOUT LANDING A MAN ON THE MOON BY 1970
THIS SPEECH TOOK PLACE 50 YEARS AGO:

President Kennedy Commits to Landing a Man on the Moon by 1970



READ WHAT ASTRONAUT NEIL ARMSTRONG (FIRST PERSON TO WALK ON THE MOON) SAYS
ABOUT WHERE THE US MANNED SPACE PROGRAM STANDS TODAY AT:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/achenblog/post/where-does-neil-armstrong-want-to-go-next/2011/05/25/AGUbUFBH_blog.html

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CLOSEST AND LARGEST LOOKING FULL MOON SINCE 2008 Dec 12   OCCURRED ON SATURDAY EVENING,  MARCH 19

THE NEXT REALLY CLOSE FULL MOON OCCURS IN THE EVENING OF  2012 MAY 5 AT 221,801 MILES AWAY


On 2008 DEC 12  at  4:39 PM EST,  the moon was at a distance of 221,559.7 miles away. Before that one, the closest full moon was on 1993 March 8.
Now see more about the cycle that the current full moon this month and the one in March, 1993 are part of
.

The Saros Cycle of about 18 years and a third of a month is generally associated with recurring eclipses.


 LOOK HOW THE SAROS CYCLE APPLIES TO THE FOLLOWING LIST OF FULL MOONS AT A SAROS INTERVAL:

PERIGEE FULL MOON DISTANCES IN MILES FOR SIX SAROS CYCLES

1957 FEB 14 - 6:13 AM EST ----- 221,548.40 - FULL MOON on FEB 14 at 11:38 AM EST   

1975 FEB 25 - 4:55 PM EST ----- 221,529.45 - FULL MOON on FEB 25 at 8:15 PM EST  - THE CLOSEST FULL MOON IN THIS CYCLE

1993 MARCH 8 - 3:33-4 AM EST -- 221,536.34 - FULL MOON on MARCH 8 at 4:46 AM EST

2011 MARCH 19 - 3:08-9 PM EDT - 221,565.41 - FULL MOON on MARCH 19 at 2:10 PM EDT -THIS MONTH'S FULL MOON
                               VISIBLE AFTER PERIGEE IN THE EVENING AT A SLIGHTLY GREATER DISTANCE FROM THE EARTH'S
                                CENTER, BUT CLOSER FOR YOU AS THE MOON RISES UNTIL TRANSIT AT 1:19 AM EDT MARCH 20
                                SINCE THE SURFACE OF THE EARTH IS CLOSER TO THE MOON THAN ITS CENTER.

2029 MARCH 30 - 1:39-40 AM EDT- 221,620.18 - FULL MOON on MARCH 29 at 10:26 PM EDT

2047 APRIL 10 - 12:08 PM EDT -- 221,696.61 - FULL MOON on APRIL 10 at 6:35 AM EDT

  The chart could be extended into both the past and the future at saros intervals - but the distances would be greater.

   OTHER FULL MOONS WHICH ARE CLOSE OR EVEN CLOSER WILL OCCUR AS PART OF DIFFERENT SAROS CYCLES -

   THE NEXT CLOSER FULL MOON - PART OF A DIFFERENT SAROS - WILL HAPPEN ON THE MORNING OF
                                                 2016 NOVEMBER 16 - 221,524 MILES AWAY


      MORE ON EVEN CLOSER FULL MOONS ON MY   MOON  PAGE AT LEFT MENU

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Comet Tempel 1 as Seen by NASA

NASA's Stardust-NExT mission took this image of comet Tempel 1 at 11:39 PM EST on Feb 14, 2011.
The comet was first visited by NASA's Deep Impact mission in 2005.


Stardust-NExT is a low-cost mission that will expand the investigation of comet Tempel 1 initiated by NASA's Deep Impact spacecraft. JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages Stardust-NExT for the NASA Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C. Joe Veverka of Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y., is the mission's principal investigator. Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver, built the spacecraft and manages day-to-day mission operations.

For more information about Stardust-NExT, please visit http://stardustnext.jpl.nasa.gov.

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell
  › Larger image

    MANY MORE IMAGES OF COMET TEMPEL 1 FROM STARDUST ON MY SPECIAL NEWS 3 PAGE AT LEFT MENU

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Jupiter on Feb. 11, 2011
"Jupiter is getting more difficult now," writes imager Christopher Go in the Philippines. He caught this view of the re-formed South Equatorial Belt - SEB - (above center) in twilight on February 11th just before Jupiter disappeared behind his building's roof.

The Great Red Spot is at left. "The SEB is already red in this area and it is also very turbulent," he notes. "The NEB is dark red, and note the dark and white ovals on the NEBn." South is up.

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NASA' SOLAR STEREO - A & STEREO - B  SATELLITES IN SLIGHTLY DIFFERENT ORBITS AROUND THE SUN HAVE SEPARATED
TO BE PRECISELY OPPOSITE THE SUN ON  2011 FEB 6  ABOUT  7:30 PM EST  -  NEAR SUPERBOWL HALF-TIME.
NASA WILL THEN RELEASE TO THE WORLD THE FIRST PICTURE EVER TAKEN OF THE ENTIRE SUN 360 DEGREES AROUND
(from these two satellites)  - THE STORY (from  UNIVERSETODAY.COM ) IS ON MY SPECIAL NEWS 2 PAGE AT UPPERLEFT MENU


HERE ARE THE EARLY PHOTOS FOR 2011 FEB 6 FROM SEVERAL SPACECRAFT -   STEREO A & B AND FROM SDO & SOHO


                 STEREO Behind        
SDO / SOHO / MLSO
                 STEREO Ahead
/beacon/latest_256/behind_euvi_195_latest.jpg
t0193.jpg
/beacon/latest_256/ahead_euvi_195_latest.jpg

Plot of spacecraft positions

This figure plots the current positions of the STEREO A - Ahead (red) and  STEREO B - Behind (blue) spacecraft relative to the SUN (yellow) and EARTH (green)

for 2011 February 6 at 6 AM EST.

The dotted lines show the angular displacement from the Sun. The Numbers on the X & Y axes are in Astronomical Units  (AU).

1 AU = 92,955,807 Miles = The Average Earth-Sun Distance.



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Very Small Asteroid Makes Close Earth Approach on February 4, 2011

Don Yeomans and Paul Chodas
NASA/JPL Near-Earth Object Program Office
February 4, 2011

Trajectory of Asteroid 2011 CQ1 - February 4, 2011
Trajectory of Asteroid 2011 CQ1 - February 4, 2011

Asteroid 2011 CQ1 was discovered by the Catalina Sky Survey on February 4 and made a record close Earth approach 14 hours later on February 4 at 19:39 UT (14:39 EST). It passed to within 0.85 Earth radii (5480 km) of the Earth's surface over a region in the mid-Pacific. This object, only about one meter in diameter, is the closest non-impacting object in our asteroid catalog to date. Prior to the Earth close approach, this object was in a so-called Apollo-class orbit that was mostly outside the Earth's orbit. Following the close approach, the Earth's gravitational attraction modified the object's orbit to an Aten-class orbit where the asteroid spends almost all of its time inside the Earth's orbit.

As is evident from the diagram, the close Earth approach changed the asteroid's flight path by about 60 degrees. Because of their small size, object's of this size are difficult to discover but there is likely to be nearly a billion objects of this size and larger in near-Earth space and one would expect one to strike Earth's atmosphere every few weeks on average. Upon striking the atmosphere, small objects of this size create visually impressive fireball events but only rarely do even a few small fragments reach the ground.












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                                           NASA Comet Hunter Spots Its Valentine

JPL Press Release


January 26, 2011 - Pasadena, CA--NASA's Stardust spacecraft has downlinked its first images of Comet Tempel 1, the target of a flyby planned for Valentine's Day, Feb. 14. The images were taken on Jan. 18 and 19 from a distance of 26.3 million kilometers (16.3 million miles), and 25.4 million kilometers (15.8 million miles) respectively. On Feb. 14, Stardust will fly within about 200 kilometers (125 miles) of the comet's nucleus.

  The first image of comet Tempel 1 taken by NASA's Stardust spacecraft is a composite made from observations on Jan. 18 and 19, 2011.
  The first image of Comet Tempel 1 taken by NASA's Stardust spacecraft is a composite made from observations on Jan. 18 and 19, 2011. The panel on the right highlights the location of Comet Tempel 1 in the frame. At 11:42 PM EST on Valentine's Day (Feb. 14 in U.S. time zones), Stardust will fly within about 200 kilometers (125 miles) of the comet's nucleus.
 Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech


 

 
"This is the first of many images to come of Comet Tempel 1," said Joe Veverka, principal investigator of NASA's Stardust-NExT mission from Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y. "Encountering something as small and fast as a comet in the vastness of space is always a challenge, but we are very pleased with how things are setting up for our Valentine's Day flyby."

The composite image is a combination of several images taken by Stardust's navigation camera. Future images will be used to help mission navigators refine Stardust's trajectory, or flight path, as it closes the distance between comet and spacecraft at a rate of about 950,000 kilometers (590,000 miles) a day. On the night of encounter, the navigation camera will be used to acquire 72 high-resolution images of the comet's surface features. Stardust-NExT mission scientists will use these images to see how surface features on comet Tempel 1 have changed over the past five-and-a-half years. (Tempel 1 had previously been visited and imaged in July of 2005 by NASA's Deep Impact mission).

Launched on Feb. 7, 1999, Stardust became the first spacecraft in history to collect samples from a comet (comet Wild 2), and return them to Earth for study. While its sample return capsule parachuted to Earth in January 2006, mission controllers were placing the still-viable spacecraft on a path that would allow NASA the opportunity to re-use the already-proven flight system if a target of opportunity presented itself. In January 2007, NASA re-christened the mission "Stardust-NExT" (New Exploration of Tempel), and the Stardust team began a four-and-a-half year journey for the spacecraft to comet Tempel 1. This will be the second exploration of Tempel 1 by a spacecraft (Deep Impact).


Along with the high-resolution images of the comet's surface, Stardust-NExT will also measure the composition, size distribution and flux of dust emitted into the coma, and provide important new information on how Jupiter-family comets evolve and how they formed 4.6 billion years ago.


Stardust-NExT is a low-cost mission that will expand the investigation of comet Tempel 1 initiated by NASA's Deep Impact spacecraft. JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages Stardust-NExT for the NASA Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C. Joe Veverka of Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y., is the mission's principal investigator. Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver, built the spacecraft and manages day-to-day mission operations.


+ See NASA's Most-Traveled Comet Hunter video


=========================================================================================================

FROM SPACEWEATHER.COM

NORTHERN LIGHTS: On Jan 14th in Tromsø, Norway, the solar wind combined with moonlight and snow to produce a scene that had onlookers asking themselves,

can it get any better than this? One of those onlookers was Thilo Bubek, and he took this picture:

"The whole evening was a perfect show with strong auroras in many colors," says Bubek. "We were able to capture some fantastic images."

But can it get any better? Maybe later today: A solar wind stream is due to hit Earth's magnetic field on 2011 Jan. 14-15, possibly sparking even stronger displays

. NOAA forecasters estimate a 30% chance of high-latitude geomagnetic activity when the solar wind stream arrives.

PLEASE CLICK ON THE LINE JUST BELOW FOR MANY AMAZING RECENT AURORAL PHOTOS

January 2011 Aurora Photo Gallery
[previous Januaries: 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2005, 2004]


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http://media.skyandtelescope.com/images/SatParkerOutbreak2011-01-02.jpg
PHOTOS OF SATURN'S NEW WHITE STORM TAKEN BY DONALD PARKER
IN FLORIDA ON 2011 JAN 2nd WITH A 16" REFLECTOR AT 5:09 & 6:30 AM EST
SOUTH IS UP

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http://i.huffpost.com/gen/230219/LUNAR-ECLIPSE-2010.jpg
PHOTO OF 2010 DEC 21 LUNAR ECLIPSE JUST BEFORE TOTALITY BY NASA's BILL INGALLS IN VIRGINIA NEAR WASH DC


   RARE TOTAL LUNAR ECLIPSE  OCCURRED EARLY TUESDAY MORNING 2010 DECEMBER 21st - THE WINTER SOLSTICE


    PARTIAL PHASES STARTED AT 1:33 AM EST AND TOTALITY BEGAN AT 2:40 WHICH LASTED UNTIL 3:53 AM EST

THE LAST WINTER SOLSTICE TOTAL LUNAR ECLIPSE OCCURRED IN THE YEAR 1638 AND WILL NOT RECUR UNTIL THE YEAR 2094.

ALSO WITH THE MOON BEING OPPOSITE THE SUN  AT  ITS  LOWEST POINT AND THE MOON PASSING THROUGH THE UPPER
 PART OF THE EARTH'S UMBRA MEANS THAT THIS WILL BE THE  FARTHEST NORTH TOTAL LUNAR ECLIPSE UNTIL
THE YEAR  2485  WHICH WILL ALSO OCCUR ON THE WINTER SOLSTICE.

SEE MORE ABOUT THIS ECLIPSE AND OTHER ONES TOO ON MY LUNAR ECLIPSES PAGE UNDER THE MOON AT LEFT MENU


           

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                                                                                                             FROM UNIVERSETODAY.COM for 2010 Nov 12th

This image shows a three and a half hour (0000 - 0330 UT) time lapse movie of the flare and filament event on 2010 Nov 12. Credit: NASA/SDO

An active sunspot (1123) erupted early on the morning of Nov. 12th, producing a C4-class solar flare and apparently hurling a filament of material in the general direction of Earth. Coronagraph images from the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) and NASA’s twin STEREO spacecraft show a faint coronal mass ejection emerging from the blast site and heading off in a direction just south of the sun-Earth line. The cloud could deliver a glancing blow to Earth’s magnetic field sometime on Nov. 14th or 15th. High latitude sky watchers could see auroras on those dates.
Click to continue…

PHOTOS BELOW SHOW THE AURORAS  CAUSED BY THE SOLAR FLARE MENTIONED ABOVE
FROM SPACEWEATHER.COM 
 
Øystein Lunde Ingvaldsen
Image taken:
Nov. 14, 2010
Location:
Bø in Vesterålen, North of Norway
Details:
Aurora dancing over Bø in Vesterålen, north of Norway again! Fotographed with Nikon D700 and Nikon 14-24 f/2.8 @ ISO 400/1600


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From Spaceweather.com
 

SUNDIVING COMET: The solar system has one less comet today after one of the dirty snowballs swung past the sun--a little too close--and did not survive. Click on the image to view a movie of the death plunge:

Japanese comet hunter Masanori Uchina first noticed the sundiver in coronagraph images from the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) on Nov. 13th. At the time it was a dim and distant speck, but it rapidly brightened on Nov. 14th as it approached the hot sun. Now it just a dissipating haze of vapor and comet dust.

The comet was likely a member of the Kreutz sungrazer family. Named after a 19th century German astronomer who studied them in detail, Kreutz sungrazers are fragments from the breakup of a giant comet at least 2000 years ago. Several of these fragments are thought to pass by the sun and disintegrate every day. Most are too small to see but occasionally a bigger fragment like this one attracts attention.



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TOTAL LUNAR ECLIPSE - FARTHEST NORTH IN THE SKY UNTIL THE YEAR  2485  OCCURRED THE MORNING OF THE

THE WINTER SOLSTICE - TOTALITY WAS FROM 2:40 - 3:53 AM EST ON DECEMBER 21ST

 



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EPOXI  PHOTO TAKEN  OF COMET HARTLEY 2's NUCLEUS

http://epoxi.umd.edu/3gallery/ENCOUNTER/IINMVUAXF_6000002_001_001.jpg



                                      -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

EPOXI  MISSION 2010 OCT 20th UPDATE ABOUT THE FLYBY OF COMET HARTLEY 2 BY ONLY 700 KM ON NOV 4th

The spacecraft went through a cool-down period at the end of September to optimize the capabilities of the near-IR spectrometer and to carry out a Trajectory Correction Maneuver (TCM). This maneuver changed our target point based on our improved knowledge of the position of the comet relative to the spacecraft. We think that the new target point will be within 100-200 km of the desired flyby point (which is 700 km from the nucleus). We expect our next and final TCM to be on October 27. We have a contingency plan for a TCM on November 2 in case the previous TCM does not perform as expected.

We have been receiving Hartley 2 data from a variety of other spacecraft and collaborators. The WISE mission released data acquired in May. Those data will be useful in understanding the onset of activity by the comet as it approaches the sun in its orbit. Weaver et al. released Hubble Space Telescope images acquired on September 25. The HST images are particularly valuable because they allowed us to confirm that the cometary nucleus is separable from the coma. Eventually, we will be able to separate the nucleus from the coma within our own data. For now, HST has a huge advantage over our own cameras in this respect due to the much larger aperture of HST coupled with the fact that Earth and HST were much closer to the comet than was our spacecraft. These data are consistent with earlier determinations of the size of the nucleus.

We have also been receiving widespread reports of jets in the coma of the comet. The first such report was from Matthew Knight and colleagues at Lowell Observatory who found jets in the gas (the unstable radical CN) but not in the dust during an August observing run . Since then, we have had more recent reports of jets from both professional and amateur observers.

Since the Deep Impact spacecraft has its cameras dedicated to monitoring Hartley 2 during this phase of the mission, we now have an advantage over other observatories and telescopes because we have nearly continuous coverage (16 out of every 24 hours). We too see fluctuations and jet-like structures in our data that are presumed to be due to variations in the release of dust and gas as the nucleus rotates. More excitingly, we have discovered a new cometary phenomenon! In September, outgassing from CN, as detected by the MRI, increased slowly by a factor of 5 and then slowly decreased while the dust showed no dramatic change. This activity took place over the course of 16 days. We are unaware of any other instances of this type of activity in any other comets and it is very different from the dust outbursts observed with the same instrument at Tempel 1. (Reported in CBET 2512, which requires a subscription to view.)

EPOXI TIMELINE:
 
:

02 November 2010: Malcolm Hartley, Hartley 2's discover, will be giving a lecture in the von Kármán Auditorium at JPL at 7 pm PDT (10 pm EDT, 02:00 UT 3 Nov). (www.jpl.nasa.gov/events/lectures_archive.cfm?year=2010&month=11#myComet)
At 22:00 UT (6 pm EDT, 3 pm PDT), the TCM-22 burn will occur if needed. The spacecraft is now 1.8 million km from the comet.

03 November 2010: Final preparation begins for the start of the critical sequence. The last pre-encounter data download will occur today. A decision will be made by the management team as to whether a pointing update or commanded time offset needs to be executed prior to closest approach while the spacecraft is still 1 million km from the comet. The E-18 hour to E+30 minute high resolution encounter observation sequence will commence at 20:50 UT (3:50 pm EDT, 12:50 pm PDT) with all data of the encounter stored onboard the spacecraft because the high gain antenna (HGA) is pointed away from the Earth and not capable of downlinking data during the encounter sequence.

04 November 2010: AutoNav is expected to be enabled at E-50 minutes and fly the spacecraft through closest approach. The cometary nucleus will be resolved ~1 hour out with the spacecraft 45,000 km away from its target. **
Closest approach of comet Hartley 2 is expected to occur at ~ 13:50 UT (9:50 AM EDT, 6:50 am PDT) at a distance of 700 km.** Hartley 2 will be 1.064 AU from the Sun and 0.156 AU from the Earth at this time. The spacecraft will be approaching the comet at a phase angle of 86 degrees. The MRI pixel scale at closest approach will be 7 m/pixel, giving a nuclear diameter of ~170 pixels in the highest resolution images. NASA TV will be covering the EPOXI Flight and Science Teams at JPL from 13:30 - 15:15 UT (9:30- 11:15am EDT, 6:30 - 8:15 am PDT). The first data downlink after encounter is scheduled to start at E+30 minutes, once the spacecraft's HGA is pointed to the Earth. The data will continue to download from the spacecraft through 06 November 2010. A post-encounter live press briefing is scheduled for 20:00 UT (4 pm EDT, 1 pm PDT) at JPL and will include members from the Flight and Science Teams as well as a NASA HQ representative. Prior to the press conference, 5 raw images from closest approach will be released on the EPOXI website, epoxi.umd.edu, as soon as they are available from the spacecraft. Processed versions of these images will be presented during the press conference. The press conference is scheduled to air on one of NASA's TV channels; however, space shuttle coverage may preempt EPOXI coverage on the main NASA TV channel, so check the education and outreach channels, as well as the web.

06 November 2010: The encounter data downlink will have completed and the E+2 to E+12 day post-encounter observations will begin with continuous imaging and downlink. Imaging will occur every 2 minutes and spectral scans will be collected every 15 minutes.

16 November 2010: The E+12 to E+21 day sequence is kicked off. These observations have a reduced acquisition frequency, with both imaging and spectra collected every 30 minutes.

30 November 2010: The last EPOXI observations will take place with a post-encounter cruise calibration. The EPOXI Science Team will continue to analyze data from Hartley 2 for several months
. Key science results will be posted to the EPOXI website, epoxi.umd.edu, as they are released.

----------------

The above is from the EPOXI NASA website.

 

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                                       THE ASTRONOMY PICTURE OF THE DAY FOR 2010 October 14
http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/image/1010/DoubleCometHeart_andreo600w.jpg

Clusters, Hartley, and the Heart
Credit & Copyright: Rogelio Bernal Andreo

Explanation: An alluring Comet Hartley 2 cruised through planet Earth's night sky on October 8, passing within about a Full Moon's width of the famous double star cluster in Perseus. The much anticipated celestial photo-op was recorded here in a 3 frame mosaic with greenish comet and the clusters h and Chi Persei placed at the left. The well-chosen, wide field of view spans about 7 degrees. It extends across the constellation boundary into Cassiopeia, all the way to the Heart Nebula (IC 1805) at the far right. To capture the cosmic moment, a relatively short 5 minute exposure was used to freeze the moving comet in place, but a longer exposure with a narrow-band filter was included in the central and right hand frames. The narrow-band exposure brings out the fainter reddish glow of the nebula's atomic hydrogen gas, in contrast to the cometary coma's kryptonite green. In the past few days, comet watchers have reported that Hartley 2 has become just visible to the unaided eye for experienced observers from dark, clear sites. On October 20, the comet will make its closest approach to Earth, passing within about 17 million kilometer

On NOVEMBER 4 a NASA spacecraft - EPOXI will fly by the comet's small nucleus estimated to be only 1.5 kilometers in diameter.


MUCH MORE ON COMET HARTLEY 2
ON MY CURRENT SKY EVENTS PAGE



                                               ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 : Green Comet 103P/Hartley 2  approached Earth for a close encounter on Oct. 20th. At that time, the comet was only 11 million miles from Earth and is not  easily visible to the naked eye even from dark sky sites. It  looks OK through backyard telescopes. Italian amateur astronomer Toni Scarmato took this picture on Sept. 29th using a 10-inch reflector:

He caught the comet gliding by lambda Cassiopeia, a 6th magnitude double star. "In 7x50 binoculars, the comet is diffuse and very large," says Scarmato. "I estimate its size around 20-arcminutes and brightness at magnitude +7.5."

Two weeks after Comet Hartley 2 has its close encounter with Earth, NASA will have a close encounter with the comet. The EPOXI spacecraft (formerly known as Deep Impact) is hurtling toward Comet Hartley now, and on Nov. 4th it will fly 435 miles from the comet's active icy nucleus. The encounter will mark only the fifth time in history that a spacecraft has been close enough to image a comet's core.

Until then, amateur astronomers can monitor the comet as it glides through the constellation Cassiopeia in the evening sky. A finder chart from Sky and Telescope shows the comet passing by a variety of stars and deep-sky objects, offering many photo-ops in the nights ahead.

more images: from Michael Jäger of Stixendorf Austria; from P-M Hedén of Vallentuna, Sweden; from Mike Broussard of Maurice, Louisiana; from Rolando Ligustri observing remotely from New Mexico; from Mike Holloway of Van Buren, Arkansas;

from Spaceweather.com

                                                 ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

JUPITER WAS CLOSEST TO THE EARTH ON SEPT 10 SINCE 1963 AND UNTIL 2022


HOWEVER THERE STILL IS A VERY CLOSE APPROACH OF JUPITER THIS YEAR

2011 OCTOBER 27 - 1:45 PM EDT - 369,011,859 MILES


2010 SEPT 20 - 5:19 PM EDT -  367,540,642 MILES FROM EARTH - 49.861 ARC SECONDS WIDE

1963 OCT 6 - 8:10 PM EDT - 367,403,113 MILES FROM EARTH

2022 SEPT 25 - 10:17 PM EDT - 367,413,706 MILES FROM EARTH

1951 OCT 2 - 2:21 AM EST - 367,055,443 MILES FROM EARTH - 49.927 ARC SECONDS WIDE


2129 OCT 5 - 11:50 PM EDT - 367,009,957 MILES FROM EARTH -  49.933 ARC SECONDS WIDE

NOTE THAT JUPITER'S FARTHEST CLOSE  APPROACHES (NEAR OPPOSITION) CAN BE OVER 414 MILLION MILES
BECAUSE OF ITS ELLIPTICAL ORBIT

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THE ASTRONOMY PICTURE OF THE DAY FOR 2010 September 18
See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download  the highest resolution version available.

Opposite the Sun
Image Credit & Copyright: Babak Tafreshi (TWAN)

Explanation: Chances are the brightest star you've seen lately is actually planet Jupiter. Jupiter rules the sky in this labeled view of a starry September night from the Alborz mountains in Iran, complete with the trail of a red flashlight illuminating the mountain road. On September 21st (Universal Time) Jupiter will be at opposition, the point opposite the Sun along its orbit, rising just as the Sun sets. For this opposition, Jupiter will be slightly brighter and closer to planet Earth than in any year since 1963. Much fainter and also approaching its own opposition on September 21st, is the distant planet Uranus. Very near Jupiter on the sky, the fainter planet is easy to spot in binoculars (similar to the inset view), well above and right of brilliant Jupiter and about as bright as one of Jupiter's own Galilean moons. Remarkably close to the opposition of both planets, the point on the sky exactly opposite the Sun on September 23rd is marked the Vernal Equinox. On that date, a Full Moon will join the celestial scene. Of course, any Full Moon is also at opposition.



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EQUINOX AURORAS: On 2010 Sept 14 the sun's magnetic field near Earth tipped south. This opened a crack in Earth's magnetosphere. Solar wind poured in and fueled a magnificent display of arctic Northern Lights:

Thilo Bubek took the picture not far from Tromsø, Norway. "We had some nice auroras," he says, with what can only be described as Norwegian understatement. "The clouds and calm sea contributed to a photogenic scene."

This is the time of year when south-pointing magnetic fields from the sun frequently puncture our bubble of protection against the solar wind. High latitude sky watchers should be alert for equinox auroras.

Sept. 2010 Northern Lights Gallery
[
previous Septembers: 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2002, 2001, 2000]


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FROM WIKIPEDIA (WITH REVISIONS)

2010 RF12

2010 RF12 is a near-Earth asteroid  (type called an Aten - See more on this at Left Menu on my Apophis page under Asteroids - the First 1000)  that passed between the Earth and the Moon on September 8, 2010 at 5:12 pm EDT (2112 GMT), approaching  within 49,326miles from the earth above Antarctica.[1]

NASA estimated its size to be between 20 and 46 feet  (10  +/-  4 meters) in diameter.[2]

The asteroid was discovered by the Catalina Sky Survey near Tucson, Arizona on September 5, 2010 along with 2010 RX30.[3]

  See Also

  References



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  FROM   WWW.SPACEWEATHER.COM

EARTH DODGES ANOTHER BULLET: Just as sunspot 1105 was turning away from Earth on Sept. 8th, the active region erupted, producing a C3-class solar flare (peak @ 2330 UT = 7:30 PM EDT) and a fantastic prominence. Here is a snapshot from the Solar Dynamics Observatory:

The eruption also hurled a bright coronal mass ejection (CME) into space: SOHO movie. The expanding cloud is heading into a part of the solar system not currently occupied by any planet--it's going to miss everything, including Earth. If such a CME did hit Earth's magnetic field, it would probably trigger strong geomagnetic storms. Maybe next time...

Update #1: Two new movies of the eruption are available from the Solar Dynamics Observatory--a big picture view in black-and-white and a spectacular close-up in three extreme ultraviolet colors.

Update #2: NASA's STEREO-Ahead spacecraft is stationed almost directly above sunspot 1105. A first-look movie shows a shadowy "solar tsunami" wave racing away from the blast site.

PURPLE AURORAS: Auroras are dancing around the Arctic Circle and some of them are purple. This is how the sky looked on Sept. 8th over Bø, Norway:

"It's not often I get to see purple auroras," says photographer Øystein Lunde Ingvaldsen. "This was truly a fantastic sight!"

Auroras get their colors from specific atoms and molecules in Earth's atmosphere. Green comes from oxygen molecules excited by geomagnetic activity. Purple, on the other hand, is usually a mixture of red and blue emissions from molecular nitrogen. O2 and N2 were both revved up in Norway last night!

More purple is possible tonight as a solar wind stream continues to buffet Earth's magnetic field. High-latitude sky watchers should remain alert for auroras.

NEW: Sept. 2010 Northern Lights Gallery
[
previous Septembers: 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2002, 2001, 2000]

     
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Astronomers have found unexpected rings and arcs of ultraviolet light around a selection of galaxies, four of which are shown here as viewed by NASA's and the European Space Agency's Hubble Space Telescope. Image credit: NASA/ESA /JPL-Caltech/STScI/UCLA

Title this 'Zombie Galaxies' or 'Night of the Living Galaxies.' Astronomers have found mysterious, giant loops of ultraviolet light around old, massive galaxies, which were presumed to be "dead," and these galaxies seem to have come back to life. Somehow these "over-the-hill galaxies" have been infused with fresh gas to form new stars that power these truly gargantuan rings, some of which could encircle several Milky Way galaxies.

The discovery of these rings implies that old bloated galaxies that were once devoid of star-making can be reignited with star birth, and that galaxy evolution does not proceed straight from the cradle to the grave.

"In a galaxy's lifetime, it must make the transition from an active, star-forming galaxy to a quiescent galaxy that does not form stars," said Samir Salim, lead author of a recent study and a research scientist in the department of astronomy at Indiana University, Bloomington. "But it is possible this process goes the other way, too, and that old galaxies can be rejuvenated."

Using two orbiting observatories, NASA's Galaxy Evolution Explorer and Hubble Space Telescope, the astronomers surveyed a vast region of the sky in ultraviolet light. GALEX picked out 30 elliptical and lens-shaped "early" galaxies with puzzlingly strong ultraviolet emissions but no signs of visible star formation, and Hubble was used to take a closer look.

What Hubble showed shocked the astronomers. Three-quarters of the galaxies were spanned by great, shining rings of ultraviolet light, with some ripples stretching 250,000 light-years. A few galaxies even had spiral-shaped ultraviolet features.

"We haven't seen anything quite like these rings before," said Michael Rich, co-author of the paper and a research astronomer at UCLA. "These beautiful and very unusual objects might be telling us something very important about the evolution of galaxies."

But astronomers are unsure where the gas for this galactic resurrection came from and how it has created rings. One possibility is that a smaller galaxy merged with a big, old one, bringing in fresh gas to spawn hordes of new stars, and could in rare instances give rise to the ring structures as well.

But the researchers have their doubts about this origin scenario. "To create a density shock wave that forms rings like those we've seen, a small galaxy has to hit a larger galaxy pretty much straight in the center," said Salim. "You have to have a dead-on collision, and that's very uncommon."

Another option that the astronomers like better is that the rejuvenating spark could have come from a gradual sopping-up of the gas in the so-called intergalactic medium, the thin soup of material between galaxies. This external gas could generate these rings, especially in the presence of bar-like structures that span some galaxies' centers.

Ultimately, more observations will be needed to show how these galaxies began growing younger and lit up with humongous halos. Salim and Rich plan to search for more evidence of bars, as well as faint structures that might be the remnants of stellar blooms that occurred in the galaxies' pasts. Rather like recurring seasons, it may be that galaxies stirred from winter can breed stars again and then bask in another vibrant, ultraviolet-soaked summer.

The study detailing the findings appeared in the 2010 April 21 issue of the

Astrophysical Journal.

Source: JPL


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TOTALITY FROM MANGAIA ON THE COOK ISLANDS

PHOTO BY CONSTANTINOS EMMANOUILIDIS
2010 JULY 11
THE PINK STRUCTURES ARE PROMINENCES

http://spaceweather.com/eclipses/11jul10/Constantinos-Emmanouilidis1.jpg
 
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FROM SPACEWEATHER.COM FOR 2010 AUGUST 4

MORE AURORAS IN THE OFFING? Earth's magnetic field is still reverberating from the CME impact of August 3rd, which sparked auroras as far south as Wisconsin and Iowa in the United States. Analysts believe a second CME is right behind it, due to arrive on August 5th. A second impact could re-energize the fading geomagnetic storm and spark a new round of Northern Lights. High-latitude sky watchers should remain alert for auroras.

At the height of the August 3rd display "the whole sky over northern Quebec filled with green and purple," says photographer Michel Tournay. "I couldn't decide where to point my camera!" Fortunately, he had a wide-angle lens:

Meanwhile in Ringsaker, Norway, the auroras were so bright "we could see them through clouds, moonlight and midnight sunlight," says Ragnar Johnskås. "It was a lovely show."

Browse the gallery for more!

UPDATED: August 2010 Northern Lights Gallery

 
 
  

 

                                       
 MUCH MORE BELOW:





 


 

 

 
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GREAT SHOTS OF "HOME" FROM  UNIVERSETODAY.COM 

March 3rd, 2010

Best "Blue Marble" Images Yet

Written by Nancy Atkinson

The Goddard Space Flight Center has a Flickr account showcasing a series of images of our own
home planet. Called "Blue Marble," these spectacular images are the most detailed true-color image
of the entire Earth to date. Using a collection of satellite-based observations, scientists and visualizers stitched together months of observations in 2001 of the land surface, oceans, sea ice, and clouds
into a seamless, true-color mosaic of every square kilometer (.386 square mile) of our planet. Your tax dollars at work, these images are freely available to educators, scientists, museums, and the public.
This record includes preview images and links to full resolution versions up to 21,600 pixels across.

Our Blue Marble. Credit: NASA


Compare these new images to the original "Blue Marble" photograph,
taken BELOW by the Apollo 17 crew in 1968.

The original Blue Marble by Apollo 17.

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            SUN HALO FROM THE SOUTH POLE ON 2010 FEBRUARY 26

http://spaceweather.com/swpod2010/25feb10/Cody-Lee-Meyer1.jpg?PHPSESSID=q2sqcqdikbleran0i5dgfarqh5
It's a fact: You're more likely to see a Sun Halo if the sun is up 24 hours a day. Such is the case at the South Pole where
Cody Lee Meyer took this picture on 2010 Feb. 26th:

 "The autumnal equinox is coming up for folks living at the South Pole Station (90 S latitude)," says Meyer. "We are blessed
to witness sun shows nearly every day as the sun hangs around 9.3 degrees above the horizon and ice lingers in the sky."


FROM SPACEWEATHER.COM for 2010 Feb 27

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NORTHERN LIGHTS: All week long, the Arctic Circle has been aglow with auroras. "The lights have

"This has been a very nice month for auroras," agrees Wioleta Zarzycka of Iceland, where coastal
waters have been turning green in reflection of the sky above. The lights have even descended as
far south as Scotland. "On Monday night, we had the first auroras I have seen here in years,"
reports Gordon Mackay of Campsie Fells.

All this activity is a sign that the sun is coming back to life after a long, deep solar minimum.
Sunspots have returned crackling with solar flares, and coronal mass ejections (CMEs) are once
again buffeting Earth's magnetic field. NOAA forecasters estimate a 25% to 30% chance of more geomagnetic activity tonight.

From Spaceweather.com
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IT'S MARS! In a coincidence of celestial proportions, the Moon and Mars are having close encounters
with Earth at the same time. Moreover, the two will spend Friday night gliding across the sky
side-by-side. It's a must-see event: sky map.

Readers with backyard telescopes should train their optics on Mars. It looks bigger through a
telescope now than at any time between 2008 and 2014.

Pete Lawrence of Selsey, UK, photographed the Red Planet on JAN 26th using his 14-inch Celestron:

"I photographed Mars at 10 minute intervals for more than three hours," says Lawrence. "Here is the animation.
It shows a lot of surface markings including the dramatic 'Eye of Mars,' Solis Lacus."

more images: from Efrain Morales Rivera of Aguadilla, Puerto Rico; from Paolo Lazzarotti of Massa, Tuscany,
Italy; from Glenn Jolly of Gilbert, Arizona; from Brian Combs of Buena Vista, Georgia; from George Tarsoudis of Alexandroupolis, Greeece; from Alan Friedman of Buffalo, New York; from Mike Hood of Kathleen, Georgia;
from Jacob Bassøe of Copenhegen, Denmark; from Sadegh Ghomizadeh of Tehran, Iran;

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The image “http://media.skyandtelescope.com/images/Mars-2010-01-27anim.gif” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

This ANIMATION above includes FIVE images spanning 90 minutes of Mars's rotation, taken by
 Sky&Telescope's Sean Walker on the evening of January 26, 2010. The Solis Lacus/ Tithonius Lacus
complex is rotating away at upper left, and dark, narrow Mare Sirenum is coming into view at top right. Note the small, extra-bright white patch in the north polar cap. SOUTH IS UP.

Walker used a 14-inch Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope and a DMK21AU04.AS camera to take stacked-video still images. These can show detail on a planet much more clearly than the eye can
see through the same telescope.



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                     THE ASTRONOMY PICTURE OF THE DAY FOR   2010 JANUARY 29 

See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download  the highest resolution version available.

Mars Opposition  on 2010 January 29
Credit & Copyright: Alan Friedman (Averted Imagination)

Explanation: Mars is at opposition on Jan 29, opposite the Sun in planet Earth's sky. Of course, it will
be easy to spot because Mars appears close to tonight's Full Moon, also opposite the Sun in Earth's
night sky in the constellation Cancer. For this opposition, Mars remains just over 99 million
kilometers away, not a particularly close approach for the Red Planet. Still, this sharp view of Mars recorded on January 21st at 11:43 PM EST is an example of the telescopic images possible in the
coming days. The planet's whitish NORTH POLAR  ICE CAP is at the upper right. Mars' tiny red disk
is  14 .1 arcseconds in angular diameter,  less than 1 percent  the diameter of the Full Moon.

 CAMERA TELESCOPE USED > Astro-Physics 10" mak/cass and PGR Scorpion camera. Image processing in Astro IIDC  and Adobe Photoshop. (MAK/CASS STANDS FOR MAKSUTOV-CASSEGRAIN TELESCOPE)


MARS WAS CLOSEST TO THE EARTH IN 2010  ON JAN 27 -  2:02 PM EST
 AT a DISTANCE of  61,720,695 MILES  -  MARS WILL BE OPPOSITE TO THE SUN -
A PHENOMENON KNOWN AS OPPOSITION AT 2:43 PM EST ON JANUARY 29.


ALSO NOTE THAT BECAUSE MARS WAS AT OPPOSITION NEARLY AT THE SAME
TIME AS THE FULL MOON - THE TWO BODIES WERE NEAR EACH OTHER IN OUR SKY
AND FOR AN AMAZING BONUS, MARS AND THE MOON WILL STRADDLE THE STAR
CLUSTER CALLED M44 ALSO KNOWN AS THE BEEHIVE IN THE CONSTELLATION
CANCER. EARLY EVENING VIEWS ON JAN 29 WILL SHOW ALL 3 OBJECTS ALMOST
IN A STRAIGHT LINE. TOWARDS MIDNIGHT AND LATER INTO THE MORNING OF JAN 30 SHOWED
 A TRIANGULAR CONFIGURATION DUE TO THE MOON'S MOVEMENT WHICH
IS ABOUT ONE LUNAR DIAMETER PER HOUR.  NOTE THAT DUE TO THE EXTRA
BRILLIANCE  OF THE FULL MOON, THE BEEHIVE CLUSTER WAS ALMOST IMPOSSIBLE
TO SEE.

                                                             FROM SPACEWEATHER.COM
 

CLOSE ENCOUNTER WITH MARS: ON JAN 27, a few hours after sunset, go outside and look east.

 That bright orange star hanging halfway up the sky is Mars having a close encounter with Earth.

The Red Planet is only 99 million km away and looks bigger through a telescope than at anytime

 between 2008 and 2014. Here it is posing for Doug Zubenel's 12.5-inch "PlanetCatcher" in Kansas:

"The view through the eyepiece was very nice," says Zubenel. "The northern polar cap and Aurorae Sinus (a dark feature in the southern hemisphere of Mars) were easily seen at 488X magnification."

Browse the links for more views through the eyepiece: from Mike Hood of Kathleen, Georgia;

from John Nassr of Baguio, Philippines; from Jacob Bassøe of Copenhegen, Denmark; from Alan Friedman of Buffalo, NY; from Sadegh Ghomizadeh of Tehran, Iran;

 
                                                        ALSO   FROM SPACEWEATHER.COM

NORTHERN LIGHTS: As predicted, a solar wind stream hit Earth's magnetic field on 2010 Jan. 20th

 and sparked bright auroras around the Arctic Circle. "There were fast-moving streamers and

stunning coronas," says Petter Hamnes of Mo i Rana, Norway. "It was one of the best displays I've

seen in a long time." He took this picture using his Nikon D300:

The solar wind's impact caused a geomagnetic storm registering 5 on the 0-to-9 K-index scale of magnetic disturbances. It was the first geomagnetic storm of the year--but probably not the last.

With active sunspot 1041 turning toward Earth, there could be more in the offing. High-latitude sky watchers should remain alert for auroras.

UPDATED: January Northern Lights Gallery
[Previous Januarys: 2009, 2008, 2007, 2005, 2004, 2001]


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FROM QINGDAO. CHINA TAKEN 2010 JAN 15 - VERY LONG RING-ECLIPSE

http://spaceweather.com/eclipses/15jan10d/kim-sangku1.jpg

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BELOW IS A NON-FILTERED 800 MM TELEPHOTO VIEW THROUGH CLOUDS IN INDIA
OF THE LONG ANNULAR SOLAR ECLIPSE OF 2010 JAN 15 BY SOLAR EXPERT
DR. JAY PASACHOFF OF WILLIAMS UNIVERSITY. HE HAS WITNESSED OVER
40 SOLAR ECLIPSES -  MOST OF THEM BEING TOTALS

THIS  11 MINUTE  8 SECOND  ECLIPSE WAS THE LONGEST ONE UNTIL 3043 DEC 23 -
OVER 1000 YEARS INTO THE FUTURE !!!


AMONG THE FACTORS MAKING THIS ANNULAR SOLAR ECLIPSE LAST SO LONG ARE:


      1) THE MOON WAS VERY DISTANT MAKING IT LOOK SMALL
      2) THE DISTANT MOON MOVES SLOWER IN ITS ORBIT
      3) THE SUN WAS VERY CLOSE MAKING IT LOOK BIG
      4) THE CENTRAL ECLIPSE PATH WAS NOT THAT FAR FROM THE EQUATOR WHERE
           THE EARTH ROTATES FASTER KEEPING UP WITH THE MOON A LITTLE BETTER


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