Monthly Archives: August 2014

Messier 20 and 21 

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Image Credit & Copyright: Lorand Fenyes

 The beautiful Trifid Nebula, also known as Messier 20, is easy to find with a small telescope in the nebula rich constellation Sagittarius. About 5,000 light-years away, the colorful study in cosmic contrastsshares this well-composed, nearly 1 degree wide field with open star cluster Messier 21 (top right). Trisected by dust lanes the Trifid itself is about 40 light-years across and a mere 300,000 years old. That makes it one of the youngest star forming regions in our sky, with newborn and embryonic stars embedded in its natal dust and gas clouds. Estimates of the distance to open star cluster M21 are similar to M20’s, but though they share this gorgeous telescopic skyscape there is no apparent connection between the two. In fact, M21’s stars are much older, about 8 million years old.

APOD NASA 28-Aug-14

NGC 1333 in Perseus

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NGC 1333 is a reflection nebula located in the constellation Perseus. It belongs to the Perseus molecular cloud. In 2011 researchers reported finding 30 to 40 brown dwarf objects in the cloud and in the Rho Ophiuchi cloud complex.

Imaging telescopes or lenses: Orion Optics UK SPX 250
Imaging cameras: Artemis Atik 383L+
Mounts: Vixen New Atlux + Skysensor 2000
Guiding telescopes or lenses: Orion Optics UK SPX 250
Guiding cameras: M-Gen Guiding Kamera
Focal reducers: GPU Komakorrektor
Software: Fitswork4, Adobe Photoshop CS2, Deep Sky Stacker 3.3.3 Beta 51 DSS DeepSkyStacker
Filters: Baader Planetarium 36mm Luminance, Baader Planetarium 36mm Red, Baader Planetarium 36mm Green, Baader Planetarium 36mm Blue
Accessories: Lacerta MGEN2
Dates: Oct. 30, 2013
Locations: Kreben
Frames: 
Baader Planetarium 36mm Blue: 7×360″ -15C bin 1×1
Baader Planetarium 36mm Green: 7×360″ -15C bin 1×1
Baader Planetarium 36mm Luminance: 15×360″ -15C bin 1×1
Baader Planetarium 36mm Red: 7×360″ -15C bin 1×1
Integration: 3.6 hours
Darks: ~7
Flats: ~31
Bias: ~150

Author: Stefan Westphal
AstroPhotography of the day by SPONLI 28 Aug 2014

The Sun Online and solar activity. August 27, 2014

Solar activity has decreased in the past 24 hours. Only a few C-class flares were observed, with NOAA ARs 2146, 2149 and 2151 as source regions. The largest flare was a C5.6 flare, peaking at 23:25 UT on August 26. No Earth-directed CMEs were observed. Flaring activity is expected to continue at the level of C-flares, with a slight chance for an isolated M-class flare. The risk for a proton event has reduced, but for the time being we leave the warning condition due to position of AR 2146 which still has a delta component.Solar wind observations indicate the arrival of an ICME around 0:00 UT of August 27, related to the CMEs of August 22. The magnitude of the magnetic field has smoothly increased from about 5 to 15 nT. The Bz component is southward with values up to -14 nT. Solar wind speed increased from 280 to 320 km/s, while there were only small variations in density and temperature.  Geomagnetic conditions are currently unsettled (local K at Dourbes=3) to active (NOAA Kp=4), which is expect to persist for the next few hours, till quiet conditions return. The potential arrival of the August 25 CMEs might cause active conditions again from the UT afternoon of August 28 onwards.
SIDC

 

Milky Way over Yellowstone 

mwyellowstone_lane_1800
Image Credit & Copyright: Dave Lane

 The Milky Way was not created by an evaporating lake. The colorful pool of water, about 10 meters across, is known as Silex Spring and is located in Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, USA. Illuminated artificially, the colors are caused by layers of bacteria that grow in the hot spring. Steam rises off the spring, heated by a magma chamber deep underneath known as the Yellowstone hotspot. Unrelated and far in the distance, the central band of our Milky Way Galaxy arches high overhead, a band lit by billions of stars. The above picture is a 16-image panorama taken late last month. If the Yellowstone hotspot causes another supervolcanic eruption as it did 640,000 years ago, a large part of North America would be affected.

APOD NASA 27-Aug-14

M 74 in Pisces

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Messier 74 (also known as NGC 628) is a face-on spiral galaxy in the constellation Pisces. It is at a distance of about 32 million light-years away from Earth. The galaxy contains two clearly defined spiral arms and is therefore used as an archetypal example of a Grand Design Spiral Galaxy. The galaxy’s low surface brightness makes it the most difficult Messier object for amateur astronomers to observe. However, the relatively large angular size of the galaxy and the galaxy’s face-on orientation make it an ideal object for professional astronomers who want to study spiral arm structure and spiral density waves. It is estimated that M74 is home to about 100 billion stars.

Imaging telescopes or lenses: Orion Optics UK SPX 250
Imaging cameras: Artemis Atik 383L+
Mounts: Vixen New Atlux + Skysensor 2000
Guiding telescopes or lenses: Orion Optics UK SPX 250
Guiding cameras: M-Gen Guiding Kamera
Focal reducers: GPU Komakorrektor
Software: Fitswork4, Adobe Photoshop CS2, Deep Sky Stacker 3.3.3 Beta 51 DSS DeepSkyStacker
Filters: Baader Planetarium 36mm Luminance, Baader Planetarium 36mm Red, Baader Planetarium 36mm Green, Baader Planetarium 36mm Blue
Accessories: Lacerta MGEN2
Dates: Dec. 29, 2013, Dec. 30, 2013, Dec. 31, 2013, Jan. 1, 2014, Jan. 5, 2014
Locations: Langenweddingen
Frames:
Baader Planetarium 36mm Blue: 17×600″ -20C bin 1×1
Baader Planetarium 36mm Green: 17×600″ -20C bin 1×1
Baader Planetarium 36mm Luminance: 17×600″ -20C bin 1×1
Baader Planetarium 36mm Red: 17×600″ -20C bin 1×1
Integration: 11.3 hours
Darks: ~14
Flats: ~112

Author: Stefan Westphal
AstroPhotography of the day by SPONLI 27 Aug 2014

The Sun Online and solar activity. August 26, 2014

Flaring activity continued at the same level with four C- and two M-class flares, originating from NOAA AR 2146. Two CMEs were observed in coronographic imagery, with NOAA AR 2146 as source region.
An asymmetric halo CME was visible in SOHO/LASCO C2 and C3 and STEREO B/COR2 data, with first measurements on August 25 at 15:24 UT (C2), 16:18 UT (C3) and 16:24 UT (STEREO B)  respectively. The CME was associated with a M2 flare peaking at 15:11 UT, dimming and type II and IV
radio bursts (shock speed estimated at 707 km/s by the Sagamore Hill station). The CME has a projected line-of-sight speed of 568 km/s (CACTus estimate). A second partial halo CME was visible in SOHO/LASCO C2 and C3, with first measurements on August 25 at 20:36 UT (C2) and 21:18 UT (C3). Also this CME was associated with an M-class flare (M3.9, peak at 20:21 UT). The CME is travelling with a projected line-of-sight speed of 761 km/s (CACTus estimate).
Both CMEs are mainly propagating in the western direction from the Sun-Earth line and might be interacting with each other. A shock might arrive in the second half of the UT day of August 28.  
More C- and M-class flares are expected, especially from NOAA ARs 2146 and 2149. An X-class flare is possible, but unlikely. Proton flux levels at > 10MeV have increased from 18:00 UT on, but remained
below the event threshold and are currently decreasing. A warning condition for a proton event, in case of more flaring, is issued. Solar wind speed slightly increased from 250 till 290 km/s. The amplitude of the
interplanetary magnetic field increased to 7 nT, with a varying Bz component. Geomagnetic conditions were quiet to unsettled and are expected to remain so until the combined arrival of the August 22 CME’s. This may potentially result in active geomagnetic conditions from the afternoon of August 26 onwards.
SIDC

 

Flying Past Neptune’s Moon Triton 

Image Credit: Voyager 2, JPL, NASA; Digital composition: Paul Schenk (LPI, USRA)

 What would it look like to fly past Triton, the largest moon of planet Neptune? Only one spacecraft has ever done this – and now, for the first time, images of this dramatic encounter have been gathered into a movie. On 1989 August 25, the Voyager 2 spacecraft shot through the Neptune system with cameras blazing. Triton is slightly smaller than Earth’s Moon but has ice volcanoes and a surface rich in frozen nitrogen. The first sequence in the video shows Voyager’s approach to Triton, which, despite its unusual green tint, appears in approximately true color. The mysterious terrain seen under the spacecraft soon changed from light to dark, with the terminator of night soon crossing underneath. After closest approach, Voyager pivoted to see the departing moon, now visible as a diminishing crescent. Next July, assuming all goes well, the robotic New Horizons spacecraft will make a similar flight past Pluto, an orb of similar size to Triton.

APOD NASA 26-Aug-14

NGC 891 in Andromeda

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NGC 891
 (also known as Caldwell 23) is an edge-on unbarred spiral galaxy about 30 million light-years away in the constellation Andromeda. It was discovered by William Herschel on October 6, 1784. The galaxy is a member of the NGC 1023 group of galaxies in the Local Supercluster. It has an H II nucleus. The object is visible in small to moderate size telescopes as a faint elongated smear of light with a dust lane visible in larger apertures. In 1999, the Hubble Space Telescope imaged NGC 891 in infrared. In 2005, due to its attractiveness and scientific interest, NGC 891 was selected to be the first light image of the Large Binocular Telescope. In 2012, it was again used as a first light image of the Discovery Channel Telescope with the Large Monolithic Imager.

Imaging cameras: Canon 20Da, Artemis Atik 383L+
Mounts: Vixen New Atlux + Skysensor 2000
Guiding telescopes or lenses: Orion Optics UK SPX 250
Guiding cameras: M-Gen Guiding Kamera
Focal reducers: GPU Komakorrektor
Software: Adobe Photoshop CS2, DSS, Fitswork
Filters: Baader Planetarium 36mm Luminance
Accessories: Lacerta MGEN2, Lacerta OAG
Dates: Oct. 1, 2013, Oct. 2, 2013, Oct. 7, 2013, Oct. 24, 2013
Locations: Kreben
Frames:
75×600″ ISO400
Baader Planetarium 36mm Luminance: 16×360″ -20C bin 1×1
Integration: 14.1 hours
Darks: ~12
Flats: ~139

Author: Stefan Westphal
AstroPhotography of the day by SPONLI 26 Aug 2014

The Sun Online and solar activity. August 25, 2014

The Sun produced several C-class flares and one isolated M-class flare. The C-class flares mainly originated from NOAA AR 2149. 
A partial halo CME was visible in SOHO/LASCO C2 imagery with first measurement on August 24 at 12:36 UT. The CME was also visible in Stereo B/COR2 images from 13:24 UT onwards. The CME is associated with a M6 flare peaking at 12:17 UT and a type II radio burst (shock speed estimated at 593
km/s by the San Vito station). NOAA AR 2151 is identified to be source region.
The CME is propagating in the eastern direction from the Sun-Earth line with a projected line-of-sight speed of 473 km/s (CACTus estimate). Due to the position of the source region, the CME is not expected to have an Earth-directed component.
Two filament eruptions occurred; one centered at S30E35 on August 24 at 13:29 UT and one centered at N15W15 lifting off on August 25 at 7:09 UT. No associated CMEs were identified so far. Flaring activity is expected to continue with C-class flares and potentially an M-class flare. 
Solar wind speed has decreased till 260 km/s currently. The amplitude of the interplanetary magnetic field ranged from 0 to 6 nT, with a varying Bz component. The phi angle was mostly negative (toward), but changed to positive (away) at 11:00 UT.  Geomagnetic conditions were quiet to unsettled and are expected to remain so until the combined arrival of the August 22 CME’s. This may potentially result in active geomagnetic conditions from the afternoon of August 26 onwards.
SIDC

 

Arp 188 and the Tadpole’s Tail 

arp188_hubble_4991

Image Credit: 
Hubble Legacy Archive, ESA, NASA; Processing & Copyright: Joachim Dietrich


Why does this galaxy have such a long tail? In this stunning vista, based on image data from the Hubble Legacy Archive, distant galaxies form a dramatic backdrop for disrupted spiral galaxy Arp 188, the Tadpole Galaxy. The cosmic tadpole is a mere 420 million light-years distant toward the northern constellation Draco. Its eye-catching tail is about 280 thousand light-years long and features massive, bright blue star clusters. One story goes that a more compact intruder galaxy crossed in front of Arp 188 – from right to left in this view – and was slung around behind the Tadpole by their gravitational attraction. During the close encounter, tidal forces drew out the spiral galaxy’s stars, gas, and dust forming the spectacular tail. The intruder galaxy itself, estimated to lie about 300 thousand light-years behind the Tadpole, can be seen through foreground spiral arms at the upper right. Following its terrestrial namesake, the Tadpole Galaxy will likely lose its tail as it grows older, the tail’s star clusters forming smaller satellites of the large spiral galaxy.

APOD NASA 25-Aug-14