Thursday, August 27, 2009

Comet 217P/Linear

Excited comet watchers have been following with interest the prospects of Comet 217/P - Linear.

Comet hunters have been following it since David Cardenosa from Bootes Observatory in Spain (J05) reported some outbursts on the 22nd.

My Obs from this morning from D90, whilst I was tucked up nicely in bed asleep.....ah the joys of remote astronomy.

217P C2009 08 26.75348 03 49 59.73 -03 11 43.7 14.05R D90
217P C2009 08 26.75433 03 49 59.90 -03 11 45.5 13.78R D90
217P C2009 08 26.75519 03 50 00.16 -03 11 46.0 13.21R D90
217P C2009 08 26.75603 03 50 00.30 -03 11 46.0 13.70R D90

The comet looked a treat at about Mag 10.8 based on nearby catalog stars. It certainly makes a pretty picture passing those two deep sky galaxies.

As you can see its still holding together reasonably well, although does still have a slightly "out of shape" coma.

From the very useful online application Photometrica you can see the 3D shape of the coma.

Closer inspection shows a similar profile to what our Spanish friends observed.

I am still to download all the files, so maybe more later.

Musically reflecting on this, 217P is proving the time honored truth....."breaking up is hard to do."

UPDATE: I have downloaded the rest of the photos and done a 20 x 20 Sec stack.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Dark Skies

One of the goals of the International Year of Astronomy is to promote the protection of dark skies and limit light pollution where ever possible.

Well here is my little contribution.

Australia has some of the darkest skies in the world, largely because our need for water and trade as a nation dictates that all our large cities are located near ports, which by definition means they need to be close to the wet the eastern seaboard and the coast around Perth.

Australia as the driest continent on earth has a great expanse of dry inland air and wonderful dark sky sites.

July 15th 2009

Riverland Dingo Telescope Farm at Moorook D90, the home to the AART, has been selected for this explicit reason. This stunning shot from the all sky camera tonight demonstrates dark skies, the beauty of the Milky way and the "Running Emu" famous in Aboriginal astronomy culture being crossed by a satelite.

August 17th 2009

So in this international year of astronomy lets do our best to protect our dark sky sites.

Good night, clear and DARK skies!!!! Enjoy our little pocket of darkness in these all sky camera photos. Energised and want to take action? You too can make a difference and participate in the IYA2009 Dark Skies Cornerstone project.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

FMOs - Fast Moving Asteroids

Things move along at a fairly fast pace in the space time continuim.

Our little blue green planet moves along around the sun and travels even faster with reference to the cosmic background radiation. So next time someone asks you how fast you can run, you can say "almost as fast as Usain Bolt so long as you use the cosmic background radiation as the reference point not the finish line".

Ah I what constitutes fast is an interesting discussion you can have for many hours over a glass of red wine.

From the reference point of earth most Asteroids are found in a number of "belts" between the orbit of Mars and Jupiter and of the roughly half a million discovered currently only 1067 occasionally wander into our neighbourhood. These are classified as PHAs and are defined as Asteroids that have a minimum orbital intersect with earth of <0.05 AU (1AU is the distance from the sun to the earth).

The Minor Planet Centre, International Astronomy Union, Spacewatch and NASA JPL lead the charge in identifying and tracking asteroids, after setting a goal in the 1990s to find 90% of the Asteroids larger than 1Klm within 10 years.

Whilst Astronomers from the LINEAR, LONEOS, NEAT, and the Catalina Sky Survey, do the bulk of the legwork in the northern hemisphere, the Uppsala Telescope at Siding Springs in Western New South Wales, bats well above its weight in covering a good portion of the southern sky.

The Telescopes at Moorook D90 are well postioned to do quick follow up work for the professional Astronomers.

Fast moving asteroids are classed as FMOs, which by virtue of their speed usually mean they are fairly close to earth. Most however are relatively harmless as they are usually very small. The fantastic advances in technique honed over the past two decades, and the better technology now available means that asteroids as small as 4 Metres are regularly detected in the surveys.

On the 14th Aug E12-Siding Springs Survey on the Upsala Telescope detected object 2009 PR1 a 42m near earth object which zipped past earth at 7.9 Lunar distances on the 12 August.

The author captured this shot (above) shortly after it was posted on the MPC Confirmation page.

This Blog is posted as a tribute to all those hard working folks in the Asteroid watch programs around the world.


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