Comet 38P – Stephan-Oterma

Comet 38P – Stephan-Oterma

Click here to download a printable pdf version of this page.

This period comet was discovered in 1867, by two observers in Marseilles Observatory.

It orbits The Sun in a 38 year orbit, moving out beyond the orbit of Uranus at Aphelion, perihelion at about the same distance from The Sun as Mars.

This comet reaches perihelion early this month, and will pass about 0.8 Astronomical Units (~74,000,000 miles) from Earth, reaching peak brightness around the 23rd of November.

The comet is currently (8th November 2018) about +10th magnitude but brightening slowly.

It could reach a maximum brightness of +9.5 on the 23rd of November.

The comet is moving in a wide arc just below Gemini, heading north-eastwards towards Lynx by the end of the year. By this time, it will have faded considerably.

Use the map at the bottom of this blog entry to find the comet.

Being so far north, it will be visible for the duration of its apparition.

It certainly won’t be as bright as Comet 46P, which should be very bright in December and is the subject of a separate blog entry:
http://www.star-gazing.co.uk/WebPage/comet-46p

Click here to download a printable pdf version of this page.

 

Aylesbury Astronomical Society – Monday 12th November.

On Monday the 12th of November,  will revisiting Aylesbury Astronomical Society to present:

Rosetta & Philae: From Concept To Reality

RosettaTalk

It’s been a while since I last did this presentation which now includes the conclusion of this spectacular mission to Comet 67P – Churyumov-Gerasimenko, right down to its final image before it “crash” landed on the comet’s nucleus, plus some of the latest findings that have recently been published.

Courtesy of Dr Colin Snodgrass from the Open University, there is a chance for the audience to sniff Comet 67P.  I will be collecting opinions on what the audience think it smells like.

Thanks to a 3D printed model, they can also get a really good feel for what the comet looks like.

So, if you’re in the area, come along, say “Hello” and enjoy my presentation.

I’m really looking forward to catching up with this group again.

Meeting starts at 7:30pm.

Venue:
9th Aylesbury Scout Hut,
Oakfield Road.
Aylesbury
HP20 1LJ

Loughton 50th Anniversary – Saturday 10th November 2018

This Saturday Loughton Astronomical Society will be holding its 50th Anniversary Astronomy Festival in Theydon Bois, Essex. The day is split into two parts: A family morning with a 60-seater planetarium and an afternoon of talks for the seasoned astronomers. A number of trade stands will be in attendance.

I will be there selling my books and getting people to feel and sniff Comet 67P.

Venue:
Village Hall,
Coppice Row,
Theydon Bois,
Essex.
CM16 7ER

 

Sky Diary for November 2018

My free monthly sky diary for November 2018 showing the events of the night sky visible from the UK is now available in pdf form to download and print.
Click here, or on the image below to download the pdf.

I also have the sky diary to share which is available on Google calendars.
Click here to go to my Google calendar.

More sky events will be added to the live Google calendar as more information becomes available.

A nice evening (and day) of Observing. 22nd October 2018.

The day was bright and clear. The Sun was shining and it looked like it would be a good evening to eventually try and capture a reasonable image of Mars, and do some lunar imaging before it got too full as well. In the end it turned out to be a very productive night (and day).

More of my images are on my Flickr Site:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/eagleseyeonthesky

I was quite busy that day, (life seems to have picked up big time since I “retired”, but I’m certainly not complaining), but after making the regular trip to the post office to send out some books, on the way back I decided to get the scope out that afternoon to see if I could capture Venus in the bright daylight sky. It was only 4 days before the planet reached inferior conjunction (27th October). At the time I was hunting it down, it was just 9° from the Sun, and only about 14° above my horizon.

It was certainly going to be a challenge. Luckily towards the South, there is a gap between the neighbours houses, so I had a bit of a chance. I put the 120mm Evostar refractor onto the mount and centred it on The Sun. Once I knew the light from the Sun was passing centrally through the scope, using the computer, I calibrated the mounts position on the Sun. I then sent the scope to the position of Venus. It took me quite a while to get the scope focused (as I hadn’t viewed the Sun directly) and Venus centred, but when I did, a wonderfully thin crescent presented itself, bubbling and bouncing away in the afternoon atmospheric turbulence. It was extremely bright and so beautiful to see.

After viewing for a short time, I attached my DSLR and captured a few images of Venus, to make sure I bagged at least one image.

Single DSLR Image of Venus. 120mm Evostar refractor.

Once happy I had captured a couple of acceptable images, I removed the camera and attached my ZWO ASIU120MC camera to try and take a better image. Getting the planet focused and centred on the camera chip again was even more challenging. But finally I managed to get the crescent in focus and processed to capture some avi’s. About an hour after I started, I watched as Venus slowly disappeared behind my neighbours house.

Processed avi image of Venus. 120mm Evostar refractor, ZWO ASIU120MC camera.

True to the weather forecast, for once, later in the day the skies stayed clear as the sky darkened. I set myself up near the house, so that I could get on Mars as soon as it got dark. I would have to wait until later when it passed through that gap, had I stayed where the pier is set.
I set my Celestron C11 on the mount and took a number of AVI’s of Mars.

Mars – C11 and ZWO ASIU120MC camera.

This is about the best image I could manage, given the small size of the disk and very wobbly seeing just above the neighbours roof.

By the time I finished on Mars, The Moon was now quite high in the sky, so then concentrated my efforts on imaging that. Despite a large, bright gibbous phase, some nice features were picked out nicely along the terminator.

The very bright crater Aristarchus and Schroter’s Valley.

Craters Pythagoras and Babbage . 

Image may contain: night and outdoor

Lunar Swirl Reiner Gamma and craters Hevelius and Cavalerius.

Bright ejecta rays around crater Kepler.

Colour saturated ejecta rays around crater Tycho.

Luton Astronomical Society – 25th October 2018

On Tuesday the 25th of October, I will be re-visiting Luton Astronomical Society

This time I will be presenting COMETS: Enigmatic and Beautiful Visitors.


I will be showing at what comets have done to intrigue, terrify and inspire people throughout history.

I will also be looking at what we learnt from all the hype surrounding the apparition of Comet ISON and it’s demise as it passed perihelion as we awaited our long awaited “Comet of the Century!”.

I will also be looking forward to the prospects for incoming Comet 46P/ Wirtanen, which could become a naked eye comet this December.

Luton Astronomical Society meet at:

Putteridge Bury Conference Centre.
Hitchin Road,
Luton
Bedfordshire
LU2 8LE

The meeting starts at 7:30pm.
So if you’re in the area, pop along and say “Hello”.

Rugby & District Astronomical Society – 21st October.

On Sunday the 21st of October the Flat Tim fun and games for all ages roadshow will be out yet again.

This time it’s another visit to my friends at Rugby & District Astronomical Society.

I’ll be bringing them my ever popular audience participation presentation:
“Celebrate Tim Peake’s Principia Mission”.

CelebrateTim

I am looking forward to meeting up with this group again.

Like all my other visits out with this presentation, I’m really looking forward to having a lot of fun with them during the audience participation bits.
I’m sure that, like the other groups I have taken this presentation to, they will really enjoy the fun evening @Flat_Tim and I have planned.

All are very welcome, especially kids, as this presentation is aimed at anybody with any level of knowledge, for all ages from 10 – 110.
So bring along your children, grandchildren, parents and grandparents.

Just come along enjoy the presentation and say “Hello”.
If not to me, then to @Flat_Tim.

I wonder how keen they will be compared to some of the other groups about having their selfies taken with him at the end of the evening for me to stick on social media. We’ll soon find out.

Tim’s Soyuz capsule is currently on display at Peterborough Cathedral until the 5th of November. Click this link for more details.
If you can’t make any of my Tim Peake talks, make sure that you visit the Cathedral to see the Soyuz capsule (TMA-19M) and Sokol KV-2 space suit.
There is also a virtual reality space descent simulator which I can tell you is absolutely brilliant. It goes on display in Cardiff from the 15th of November.
Click here to see details of Tim’s Soyuz capsule tour.

The meeting starts at 7:30pm.

Venue:
Church Lawford Village Hall,
School Street,
Church Lawford,
Warwickshire.
CV23 9EE

Click the Google Map link below for more details:
https://www.google.com/maps?ll=52.383449,-1.341121&z=16&t=h&hl=en&gl=US&mapclient=embed&q=52%C2%B023%2700.4%22N+1%C2%B020%2728.0%22W@52.383449,-1.341121

Comet 46P/Wirtanen – Naked Eye this December?

Comet 46P/Wirtanen is coming.

Click this link to download a printable version of the information on this Web page.

This periodic comet is going to reach perihelion, (closest to the Sun), and closest to The Earth (only 7,220,000 miles distant) and at its brightest on the 16th of December.

At this time it is predicted to be around 3rd magnitude and close to the Pleiades Star Cluster. If the prediction turn out to be correct (How often are they?), the comet could easily become an easy naked eye object around this time.

Comet 46P has an orbital period of 5.4 years and the solid nucleus has a diameter of about 1.2 km.

Comet 46P was the original target for the Rosetta and Philae mission.
The target was changed to Comet 67P/Churymov-Gerasimenko when the launch of Rosetta was delayed after the Ariane rocket failure in 1996.

Here are the circumstances of this years apparition.

You can follow progress on the Facebook Page dedicated to the comet:
https://www.facebook.com/46PWirtanen/

46P is currently in the constellation of Fornax, low down in the southern sky in the early around midnight. Currently about magnitude 10, it is challenging from the UK, being so far south.

It is currently heading south, but by the second week in November, it then starts heading north. From this point onward, it will start to pick up speed as the distance from the Sun and Earth decreases.

Path of Comet 46P during November and December 2018.
Click on the map for a better view.

By the first week of December, the comet is within the stars of Cetus and now moving even faster northwards, brightening all the time.
The Moon will be New on the 7th, so will be well out of the way at this time.

Path of Comet 46P during December.

The comet moves swiftly into Taurus mid-December and should now be starting to get very bright.

On the 16th of December, at the time of it’s brightest, at magnitude 3(?), it is nestled very nicely between the Hyades and Pleiades star clusters. We hope it will be a nice naked eye object at this time. The Moon will be a day after 1st Quarter at this time, so will be setting well before midnight, so should not disrupt the view once it sets.

Close up view of 46P’s path around Perihelion.

The comet continues to head northwards, into Auriga, passing through the triangular asterism of “The Kids” on the 22nd of December.
The Moon will unfortunately be full at this time, so will tend to wash out the comet.

It passes the first magnitude star Capella on the 23rd and 24th.
The gibbous Moon in the morning sky will now disrupt observations until the second week of December.

The comet’s apparent motion will have started to slow down a bit now and should have started to fade in brightness, but hey, post-perihelion, anything could happen…

By the end of the year, the comets pace has slowed right down and we find it within the constellation of Lynx.

Path of the comet during January and February 2019.

During January, the comet has slowed right down, faded considerably  and now starts a long slow loop as it moves into the head of Ursa Major.

Let’s hope that this comet lives up to all our expectations and gives us a great winter show.

Dave

 

 

 

 

Carolian Astronomical Society – 10th October 2018

On Wednesday the 10th of October there will be more Flat Tim fun and games for all ages.

This time it’s a re-visit to Carolian Astronomical Society in Kidderminster.

The title of the audience-participation presentation evening is my ever popular:
“Celebrate Tim Peake’s Principia Mission”.

CelebrateTim

I am looking forward to meeting up with this group again.

Like all my other visits out with this presentation, I’m really looking forward to having a lot of fun with them during the audience participation bits.
I’m sure that, like the other groups I have taken this presentation to, they will really enjoy the fun evening planned for them.

I wonder how keen they will be compared to some of the other groups about having their selfies taken with @Flat_Tim at the end of the evening.

All are very welcome, especially kids, as this presentation is aimed at any age group, from 10 – 110. So bring your children, grandchildren, parents and grandparents along.

So if you are in the area, come along and say “Hello”.

Tim’s Soyuz Capsule is currently on display at Peterborough Cathedral until the 5th of November. Click this link for more details.
So, if you can’t make any of my Tim Peake talks, make sure that you visit the Cathedral to see the Soyuz capsule (TMA-19M) and Sokol KV-2 space suit. There is also a virtual reality space descent simulator which I can tell you is highly enjoyable.

Meeting starts at 7:30pm.

Venue:
The Science Theatre,
King Charles School,
Comberton Road,
Kidderminster.
DY10 1XA

Walsall Astronomical Society – 4th October 2018

Tonight, (Thursday the 4th of October 2019) I will be once again visiting Walsall Astronomical Society. I will be taking them on a wild ride, touring from The Earth out to the very edge of our observable universe, hitch-hiking on a ray of light.

Appropriately, the presentation is entitled:
A Whistle-Stop Tour of the Universe (Hitch-Hiking on a Ray of Light).

HitchHiking

So let’s hope that they all strap themselves in and get ready for a journey that really is out of this world. (Of course, it’s really just a fantastic excuse to show lots of beautiful images of our wonderful universe). And no sign of Flat Tim!

So if you are in the area, come along and say “Hello”.

Walsall AS’ meeting opens at 7:30pm for an 8:00pm start, at the following venue:

Rushall Olympic Football Club.
Dales Lane (off Bosty Lane).
Rushall.
Walsall.
WS4 1LJ