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The sky at night (meteors, Iridium flares, the moon)


Colin
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Something in the sky over Lerwick tonight at around 6.40pm. Seemed to come over the hill at the back of the Clickimin and then head out over Tesco and out to sea. Climbed slowly and was lost in cloud. Sort of orange burning colour. If I was to make a guess I would say a Chinese Lantern from descriptions I have read. Certainly no noise audible at the Knab. Any thoughts anyone?.

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SUNGRAZING COMET: Today, a bright comet is approaching the sun for a perilous close encounter, and it probably will not survive. The comet was discovered by an amateur astronomer monitoring images from NASA's STEREO-A spacecraft. The Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) has a good view of the comet's approach and images are being posted on http://spaceweather.com.

 

FLYBY ALERT: The International Space Station is about to begin a series of bright flybys over North America. Your iPhone or iPod Touch can help you see the behemoth spacecraft when it passes overhead in the night sky. Visit http://simpleflybys.com for information about our newest app.

 

FIRST METEORS OF 2010: The annual Quadrantid meteor shower peaks on Jan. 3rd around 1900 UT (2 p.m. EST) when Earth passes through a stream of debris from shattered comet 2003 EH1. The timing of this northern shower favors observers in eastern Europe and Asia. Bright moonlight will interfere with the display, which can reach 100+ meteors per hour under ideal conditions.

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  • 2 weeks later...

CURIOUS ASTEROID FLYBY:

 

A curious object is about to fly past Earth only one-third the distance to the Moon. Catalogued as a 10m-class asteroid, 2010 AL30 has an orbital period of almost exactly 1 year. This raises the possibility that it might not be a natural object, but rather a piece of some spacecraft from our own planet. At closest approach on Jan. 13th, 2010 AL30 will streak through Orion, Taurus, and Pisces glowing like a 14th magnitude star. Experienced amateur astronomers are encouraged to monitor the flyby. Orbital elements, images, and more information are available on http://spaceweather.com

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FARSIDE SOLAR ACTIVITY:

 

Over the past two days, NASA's STEREO-B spacecraft has detected two eruptions from an active region just behind the sun's eastern limb. The source of the blasts appears to be old sunspot 1039. The sun's rotation will begin turning the spot toward Earth this week, so there could be some Earth-directed solar activity in the offing.

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FULL MOON AND MARS:

 

Friday night's full Moon is the biggest and brightest full Moon of the year. It's a "perigee Moon," as much as 14% wider and 30% brighter than other full Moons you'll see later in 2010. But that's not all. Mars is having a close encounter with Earth, and on Friday night, Jan. 29th, it will join the Moon for an all-night-long conjunction. Don't miss it! Sky maps and images may be found at http://spaceweather.com.

FLYBY ALERT:

 

NASA is preparing to launch space shuttle Endeavour on Feb. 7th. It's the last night launch of the shuttle program and it kicks off a 13-day mission to the International Space Station (ISS). You can follow the ISS and Endeavour as they streak across the night sky using our new Satellite Flybys app for the iPhone or iPod Touch. Details at http://simpleflybys.com.

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BIG SUNSPOT:

 

The sudden emergence of big sunspot 1045 over the weekend has caused a sharp uptick in solar activity. The active region has produced three M-class and almost a dozen C-class solar flares since it appeared on Saturday. The strongest blast, an M6-class eruption on Feb. 7th, may have hurled a coronal mass ejection toward Earth. High-latitude sky watchers should be alert for auroras in the nights ahead as a result of this activity. Also, ham radio operators are picking up strong solar radio bursts using shortwave receivers.

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With the voice of Marvin the paranoid android: I just thought you'd like to know that the Mirrie Dancers are out right now - fully overhead, in a fairly major geomagnetic storm. It would be quite spectacular. You can't see them though, it's 8oktas cloud cover, chances of it clearing tonight - minimal. More like none. But, at least you know what you are missing now.

 

:(

 

Oh, and if you drag yourself out of bed between 5am and 6am you can miss seeing the Space station too. It'll be bright as any star, 15' above the horizon to the south, visibly moving, if there's no clouds, which there will be. There now, aren't you glad I told you.

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