Monthly Archives: April 2014

SuitSat-1: A Spacesuit Floats Free 

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Image Credit: ISS Expedition 12 Crew, NASA

Explanation: A spacesuit floated away from the International Space Station eight years ago, but no investigation was conducted. Everyone knew that it pushed by the space station crew. Dubbed Suitsat-1, the unneeded Russian Orlan spacesuit filled mostly with old clothes was fitted with a faint radio transmitter and released to orbit the Earth. The suit circled the Earth twice before its radio signal became unexpectedly weak. Suitsat-1continued to orbit every 90 minutes until it burned up in the Earth’s atmosphere after a few weeks. Pictured above, the lifeless spacesuit was photographed in 2006 just as it drifted away from space station.

NASA APOD 27-Apr-14

The Southern Cross

189319f393c56f9b04878bd567833180.1824x0_q100_watermarkThe Southern Cross is a cross-shaped asterism very close to the neighboring constellation of Centaurus.  Southern Cross is the smallest of the 88 modern constellations. Сrux is easily visible from the southern hemisphere at practically any time of year. It is also visible near the horizon from tropical latitudes of the northern hemisphere for a few hours every night during the northern winter and spring.  Crux is exactly opposite to Cassiopeia on the celestial sphere. Three of the five main Crux stars—Acrux, Mimosa, and Delta Crucis—are co-moving B-type members of the Scorpius-Centaurus Association, the nearest OB association to the Sun.

Imaging telescopes or lenses: Nikon 85mm f/1.8
Imaging cameras: Canon 1100D (unmodified)
Software: Craig Stark Nebulosity
Dates: April 22, 2014
Frames: 18×360″
Integration: 1.8 hours

Author: Jonah Scott

AstroPhotography of the day by SPONLI
27 April 2014

The Sun Online and solar activity. April 26, 2014

Five low-level C-class flares were observed. They originated from behind the southwest limb (probably NOAA 2035), from sunspot groups NOAA 2038 and NOAA 2045, and from a region which was still behind the northeast limb. No CMEs with an Earth-directed component were observed.
There remains a chance on further C-class flares.
Solar wind speed declined from about 430 to 360km/s. Bz was weak and mostly negative at -4nT, with brief excursions up to +2nT. The particle stream from a small equatorial coronal hole that passed the central meridian early on 24 April, is expected to arrive at Earth most probably tomorrow.  The geomagnetic field has been quiet and expected to remain so. Locally, a brief active interval is possible from the effect of the coronal hole.
SIDC

Equipment: Coronado 90 +  Imaging Source DMK  + LX75
Processing: Photoshop, Avistack 300 frames
Date: 04/26/14
Time UT: 14:00
Exposure 1/500 sec.

With SPONLI Space is getting closer

  

The Sun Online and solar activity. April 25, 2014

NOAA 2035, already behind the west limb, produced an X1.3 flare peaking at 00:27 UT. No obvious proton flux increase has been observed so far. The event was accompanied by an EIT-wave towards the south (PROBA2/SWAP) and a CME (SOHO/LASCO and STEREO). The CME has a speed of about 500 km/s (CACTUS) and is directed away from Earth. There are currently 5 sunspot regions on disk. They are all quite small and have a quite simple magnetic configuration. An active region, responsible for backside CMEs on 22 and 25 April, is approaching the southeast limb.
There’s still a chance on a C-class flare, in particular from the regions near the solar limb. There’s a decreasing chance on a strong flare from NOAA 2035 as it rotates further onto the Sun’s farside.
Solar wind speed varied between 400 and 500km/s, and Bz between -5 and +4nT being mostly negative between 21:00 and 01:00UT. Hence, quiet geomagetic conditions were observed, with locally a brief active period. A small equatorial coronal hole passed the central meridian last night. The geomagnetic field may be impacted starting around 27 April. Geomagnetic conditions are expected to be quiet, with locally a brief active interval possible.
SIDC

Equipment: Coronado 90 +  Imaging Source DMK  + LX75
Processing: Photoshop, Avistack 300 frames
Date: 04/25/14
Time UT: 14:00
Exposure 1/500 sec.

With SPONLI Space is getting closer

  

Southern Annular Eclipse 

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Image Credit & Copyright: Cameron McCarty, Matthew Bartow, Michael Johnson –
MWV Observatory, Coca-Cola Space Science Center, Columbus State University Eclipse Team

It’s eclipse season, and on April 29 around 06:00 UT the shadow of the new Moon will reach out and touch planet Earth, though only just. Still, if you’re standing on the continent of Antarctica within a few hundred kilometers of 79 degrees 38.7 minutes South latitude and 131 degrees 15.6 minutes East longitude you could see an annular solar eclipse with the Sun just above the horizon. Because the Moon will be approaching apogee, the most distant point in the elliptical lunar orbit, its apparent size will be too small to completely cover the solar disk. A rare, off-center eclipse, the annular phase will last at most 49 seconds. At its maximum it could look something like this “ring of fire” image from last May’s annular solar eclipse, captured by a webcast team operating near Coen, Australia. Otherwise, a partial eclipse with the Moon covering at least some part of the Sun will be seen across a much broader region in the southern hemipshere, including Australia in the afternoon.

NASA APOD 26-Apr-14

NGC 6188 and NGC 6164 nebulae

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NGC 6188, lies about 4,000 light-years away. The emission nebula is found near the edge of a large molecular cloud unseen at visible wavelengths, in the southern constellation Ara.
On this image there is another emission nebula – NGC 6164, also created by one of the region’s massive O-type stars. Similar in appearance to many planetary nebulae, NGC 6164’s striking, symmetric gaseous shroud and faint halo surround its bright central star near the bottom edge. The impressively wide field of view spans over 3 degrees (six full Moons), corresponding to over 200 light years at the estimated distance of NGC 6188

Imaging telescopes or lenses: Astro-Physics 152mm f/7.5 Starfire EDF
Imaging cameras: FLI ProLine Proline 16803
Mounts: Software Bisque Paramount MX
Guiding telescopes or lenses: Takahashi FS-60C
Guiding cameras: Starlight Xpress Superstar
Focal reducers: Astro-Physics AP 4.0″ Field Flattener
Software: PixInsight 1.8, Software Bisque TheSky6 Professional, FocusMax, Cyanogen Maxim DL Pro 5, Photoshop CS Photo Shop CS5, CCD Autopilot 5
Filters: Astrodon E-series LRGB Ha 5nm
Dates: April 21, 2014
Locations: Sydney Australia
Frames: 35×1200″
Integration: 11.7 hours

Author: David Nguyen
AstroPhotography of the day by SPONLI
26 April 2014

Hubble’s Messier 5 

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Image Credit: 
HST, ESA, NASA

“Beautiful Nebula discovered between the Balance [Libra] & the Serpent [Serpens] …” begins the description of the 5th entry in 18th century astronomer Charles Messier’s famous catalog of nebulae and star clusters. Though it appeared to Messier to be fuzzy and round and without stars, Messier 5 (M5) is now known to be a globular star cluster, 100,000 stars or more, bound by gravity and packed into a region around 165 light-years in diameter. It lies some 25,000 light-years away. Roaming the halo of our galaxy, globular star clusters are ancient members of the Milky Way. M5 is one of the oldest globulars, its stars estimated to be nearly 13 billion years old. The beautiful star cluster is a popular target for Earthbound telescopes. Of course, deployed in low Earth orbit on April 25, 1990, the Hubble Space Telescope has also captured its own stunning close-up view that spans about 20 light-years near the central region of M5. Even close to its dense core at the left, the cluster’s aging red and blue giant stars and rejuvenated blue stragglers stand out in yellow and blue hues in the sharp color image.

NASA APOD 25-Apr-14

Sharpless 2-308

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Sharpless 2-308 it lies some 5,200 light-years away toward the constellation of the Big Dog (Canis Major) and covers slightly more of the sky than a Full Moon. That corresponds to a diameter of 60 light-years at its estimated distance. The massive star that created the bubble, a Wolf-Rayet star, is the bright one near the center of the nebula. Wolf-Rayet stars have over 20 times the mass of the Sun.

Imaging telescopes or lenses: Astro-Physics 152mm f/7.5 Starfire EDF
Imaging cameras: FLI ProLine Proline 16803
Mounts: Software Bisque Paramount MX
Guiding telescopes or lenses: Takahashi FS-60C
Guiding cameras: Starlight Xpress Superstar
Focal reducers: Astro-Physics AP 4.0″ Field Flattener
Software: PixInsight 1.8, Software Bisque TheSky6 Professional, FocusMax, Cyanogen Maxim DL Pro 5, Photoshop CS Photo Shop CS5, CCD Autopilot 5
Filters: Astrodon E-series LRGB Ha 5nm
Accessories: Sirius Dome
Dates: Feb. 21, 2014
Locations: Sydney Australia
Frames: 19×1200″
Integration: 6.3 hours

Author: David Nguyen
AstroPhotography of the day by SPONLI
25 April 2014

The Sun Online and solar activity. April 24, 2014

Six low-level C-class flares were recorded over the last 24 hours, mostly produced by active region NOAA 2035 which was also the source of the strongest event (C5 peaking at 13:06UT). NOAA 2044 was the only other region producing a flare (C3 peaking at 23:53UT). Imagery from the SOHO and STEREO coronagraphs indicate that the associated CMEs are directed away from the Earth, with any glancing blow not expected to affect the geomagnetic field significantly.

There’s still a chance on a C-class flare. Dourbes recorded a brief period of active geomagnetic conditions
(00:00-03:00UT; K=4; Kp=3). The source of this disturbance is uncertain, with no obvious signature in the solar wind (ACE). For the remainder of the period, quiet geomagnetic conditions were observed. Solar wind speed oscillated between 400 and 450km/s, with Bz varying between -6 and +5nT. A small equatorial coronal hole passed the central meridian last night. The geomagnetic field may be impacted starting around 27 April.
Geomagnetic conditions are expected to be quiet.
 
SIDC

 

Lyrids in Southern Skies 

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Image Credit & Copyright: Yuri Beletsky (Las Campanas Observatory, Carnegie Institution)

Earth’s annual Lyrid meteor shower peaked before dawn on April 22nd, as our fair planet plowed through dust from the tail of long-period comet Thatcher. Even in the dry and dark Atacama desert along Chile’s Pacific coast, light from a last quarter Moon made the night sky bright, washing out fainter meteor streaks. But brighter Lyrid meteors still put on a show. Captured in this composited earth-and-sky view recorded during early morning hours, the meteors stream away from the shower’s radiant near Vega, alpha star of the constellation Lyra. The radiant effect is due to perspective as the parallel meteor tracks appear to converge in the distance. Rich starfields and dust clouds of our own Milky Way galaxy stretch across the background.
NASA APOD 24-Apr-14