Friday, February 22, 2013

2012 DA14 Record close approach

The amazing events of the past astronomical week have been quite breath taking.

From discovering that Russia has the highest density of dashboard camera's of any nation on earth to the complete overshadowing of a significant asteroid pass by (in the tradition of modern TV Marketing) something that no-one saw coming!!!

What a week its been!

The interesting thing about the Chelyabinsk Meteor, according to NASA, its officially the biggest event/impact since Tunguska in 1908. 2008 TC3 about 5-8 meters diameter was the first asteroid to be picked up by astronomers just hours before it hit the earth over Sudan in October 2008, appears to have been somewhat smaller than the Chelyabinsk Meteor.

So here I am just as guilty spending all my time talking about the Chelyabinsk Meteor and not about 2012 DA14.

At its closest approach 2012 DA14 was hooting across the sky at 3000 arcsecs per minute, in fact it went from near the Southern Celestial Pole to close to the Northern Celestial Pole in less than 24 hours. It was very difficult to photograph, as until it began its seriously fast run across the sky, it was very low in the south and very close to the horizon limits of most telescopes and setting shortly after dark.

Image Credit - Observatory at Siding Spring - Peter Lake

Its now a little more reachable and travelling at a much slower speed, which means its time to get busy. The OSIRIS-Rex Team have also asked for photometry on it as well. It is now well placed in the north but as it Zooooooomed past earth, the new observatory was the center of the action with some great images shot from there, including one that made it onto the NASA News page by Ernesto Guido and Nick Howes.

Anyway I hope you little my little video of some of the action on the evening of the 18th Feb.

Clear Skies!!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The dance of Jupiter and the Moon

Last night's Occultation of Jupiter by our Moon was a hoot.

Its actually quite deceptive, as due to the rotation of the earth, the moon moves across the sky fairly quickly, but takes some time to catch up with Jupiter, moving about 12 degrees per 24 hours against the back ground stars - half a degree per hour.

Jupiter for the purpose of this exercise is practically stationary, but you can see Jupiter's own moons move over the course of an hour.

An Occcultation occurs when the (our) Moon moves in front of Jupiter - This can happen a number of times in a year depending on where you are located, the last visible from South Australia in the predawn back in Oct 2012.

Last nights occultation resulted in a first touch at 22:56:17 Local (11:56 UT) and was complete at 23:07:48 12:07 UT).

In spite of a few dramas with flat camera batteries needing quick a re-charge and the Moon disappearing behind trees, it was a good result all round. ENJOY!


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