Back from Vacation in Dark Skies
My wife and I are back from a much needed vacation; I was simply astounded by the stars in southern Texas! We stayed a couple days in the inflated plastic bubbles at Basecamp Terlingua – waking up and seeing the night sky through the plastic dome was simply fantastic! Outside our domes was a hot tub, and 4 Adirondack chairs set up to look right at the Milky Way.
I got to show the Moon and the Orion nebula to a family with kids staying in the domes next door – the parents were more enthusiastic than the kids were! I have so missed doing that!
The day before the bubbles we visited McDonald Observatory – which was VERY COOL! Connie took copious notes and pictures – I’ll write a separate post about that. The evening star party at the McDonald Observatory was VERY similar to what the Warren Astronomical Society has done in the past.
The solar observing was done in an auditorium using a remote-controlled telescope – which Connie and I found a little disappointing after having looked through some very nice solar telescopes, but with COVID still a thing, and the number of people in the auditorium, it’s understandable. The presenter covered a LOT of the same topics I cover in my Sun presentation, but I have many (many) more images and videos.
Visiting the telescopes in the domes on top of the hill was also VERY COOL! The MONSTER 11-meter Hobby-Eberly Telescope had a niche for the public to get up close and personal; it’s difficult to grasp the scale of the telescope’s multi-segmented mirror – it’s so large!
Jupiter, Venus, Mars and Saturn continue to appear in the southeastern predawn sky all week.
By next week, the planets will all be a bit higher at 6:00 AM, and the Sun will be just a bit brighter… and my parrots will be waking up just a bit earlier every day…
The Moon appears near the star Spica in the southeastern sky after sunset on April 15th & 16th.
The Moon appears near the star Regulus high in the southwestern sky after midnight on April 12th & 13th.
- The Moon is a Waxing Gibbous – visible to the southeast in early evening, and up for most of the night.
- The Full Moon occurs on Easter Sunday – rising at sunset, visible high in the sky around midnight, and visible all night.
- After April 17th, the Moon will be a Waning Gibbous – rising after sunset, visible high in the sky after midnight, and visible to the southwest after sunrise.
If you click on the Moon image above, or click this link, you will go to NASA’s Moon Phase and Libration, 2022 page – it will show you what the Moon looks like right now. If you click the image on that page, you will download a high-rez TIFF image annotated with the names of prominent features – helpful for logging your lunar observations!
You sure don’t want that Moon dust anywhere near your body!
All the monsters have gone away – the very large sunspots from the last couple weeks have rotated out of view, or vanished altogether. The Sun has two named spots, and one of those will soon rotate out of view.
Spaceweather.com says: “A CME is heading for Earth (see 304 angstrom video below). NOAA forecasters say that G2-class geomagnetic storms are possible when it arrives on April 14th. During such storms, auroras can seen as far south as, e.g., New York and Idaho (geomagnetic latitude 55 degrees).”
The Sun seen in 193 angstroms on April 11th.
Lots of coronal loop activity – you can see the corona react to a couple flares. A large coronal hole rotating towards the middle of the Sun’s face.
The Sun seen in 304 angstroms on April 11th.
BOOM! One HUGE flare with a CME and a whole BUNCH of little flares all over the place!
Videos courtesy of NASA/SDO and the AIA, EVE, and HMI science teams.
You can view the Sun in near real-time, in multiple frequencies here: SDO-The Sun Now.
You can create your own time-lapse movies of the Sun here: AIA/HMI Browse Data.
You can browse all the SDO images of the Sun from 2010 to the present here: Browse SDO archive.
Amateur Solar Astrophotography
Solar wind speed is 468.2 km/sec ▲ with a density of 10.6 protons/cm3 ▲▲ at 1925 UT.
Click here to see a near real-time animation of the corona and solar wind from the Solar & Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO).
- Near-Earth Objects (NEOs) discovered this month: 108, this year: 946 (+145), all time: 28,874 (+146)
- Potentially Hazardous Asteroids (PHAs): 2260 (+5 updated 2022-04-12)
- Total Minor Planets discovered (MPC): 1,194,161 (+28,296 updated 2022-04-12)
- Total Minor Planets discovered (NASA): 1,113,527 (updated 2021-08-17) – This value has not changed for months.
Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
|Asteroid||Date(UT)||Miss Distance||Velocity (km/s)||Diameter (m)|
|2022 GU2||2022-Apr-12||4.8 LD||11.8||18|
|2022 GD3||2022-Apr-12||8.1 LD||8.6||40|
|2022 GP3||2022-Apr-13||17.1 LD||7.5||17|
|2022 GM4||2022-Apr-13||1.5 LD||23.1||13|
|2022 GS3||2022-Apr-13||2.8 LD||9.7||51|
|2022 GL4||2022-Apr-14||2.9 LD||13.6||15|
|2022 FR3||2022-Apr-14||18.3 LD||8.3||92|
|2022 GR2||2022-Apr-16||10.4 LD||26.6||71|
|2022 GL3||2022-Apr-16||2.1 LD||5.4||13|
|2022 GX4||2022-Apr-17||4.3 LD||16.4||25|
|2020 TQ6||2022-Apr-18||13.4 LD||15.4||43|
|2022 GJ4||2022-Apr-18||3.8 LD||15.5||19|
|2022 FN3||2022-Apr-19||15.1 LD||6.3||39|
|2022 GU3||2022-Apr-22||4.5 LD||8.7||25|
|2017 UR2||2022-Apr-22||19.4 LD||9.3||10|
|2020 VN1||2022-Apr-25||19.3 LD||2.3||9|
|2017 XO2||2022-May-01||18.8 LD||12.4||125|
|2017 HG1||2022-May-04||18.2 LD||6||11|
|2019 JE||2022-May-11||4.9 LD||7.2||20|
|2012 UX68||2022-May-15||2.8 LD||8.2||54|
|2013 UX||2022-May-17||16.8 LD||16.3||141|
|2021 WY||2022-May-18||16.9 LD||9||65|
|2021 KO2||2022-May-30||3.1 LD||14.8||9|
|2020 DA4||2022-Jun-01||5.5 LD||8.9||26|
|2021 GT2||2022-Jun-06||9.5 LD||7.5||50|
|2018 LU2||2022-Jun-09||14.8 LD||10.7||16|
WGSBN Bulletin Volume 2, #5 (2022 Apr 11) – with 59 newly named asteroids:
On April 12, 2022, the NASA All Sky Fireball Network reported 18 fireballs!
Position of the planets & several spacecraft in the inner solar system on April 129th:
Position of the planets in the middle solar system – April 2022:
Position of the planets in the outer solar system first half of 2022:
Solar System News
James Webb Space Telescope
HiRISE - Beautiful Mars
International Space Station
Mission To Psyche
420.19 ppm #CO2
See a list of current NASA missions here: https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/missions?mission_status=current
ex·o·plan·et /ˈeksōˌplanət/, noun: a planet orbiting a star other than the Sun.
* Confirmed Planets Discovered by TESS refers to the number planets that have been published in the refereed astronomical literature.
* TESS Project Candidates refers to the total number of transit-like events that appear to be astrophysical in origin, including false positives as identified by the TESS Project.
* TESS Project Candidates Yet To Be Confirmed refers to the number of TESS Project Candidates that have not yet been dispositioned as a Confirmed Planet or False Positive.
STEVE (Strong Thermal Emission Velocity Enhancement) is a purple band of light that appears during some geomagnetic storms. It looks like an aurora, but it is not. The purple glow is caused by hot (3000°C) ribbons of gas flowing through Earth’s magnetosphere at speeds exceeding 6 km/s (13,000 mph).
SpaceWeather.com Realtime Aurora Gallery: https://spaceweathergallery.com/aurora_gallery.html
Latest Aurora Oval Forecast
- Visit an International Dark Sky Park: https://www.darksky.org/our-work/conservation/idsp/parks/
- If you live in Michigan, visit the Michigan Dark Skies site: https://sites.lsa.umich.edu/darkskies/
Messier Tour: M12 – The Gumball Globular
Messier 12 (M12), also known as the Gumball Globular, is a globular star cluster located in the constellation Ophiuchus. The Gumball Globular has an apparent magnitude of 7.68 and lies at a distance of 15,700 light years from Earth. It has the designation NGC 6218 in the New General Catalogue.
Messier 12 is invisible to the naked eye, but can be seen with binoculars in good conditions, with clear dark skies and no light pollution. Stars in the cluster can be resolved with an 8-inch or larger telescope. A 10-inch instrument reveals the core with a diameter of 3 arc minutes and a halo of stars stretching across an area of 10 arc minutes. – messier-objects.com
Messier 12 has a Shapley-Sawyer classification of IX, which means that its member stars are concentrated relatively loosely toward the centre for a globular cluster. Compared to its neighbour Messier 10 (class VII), M12 is notably less dense toward the central region. – messier-objects.com
When I was framing the image below, I noticed M10 was in my field of view, and well defined, so it must be “close.”
I moved the view so that I was equidistant from the two clusters for this image. I then zoomed to M12, and chose M10 – the distance shown was about 1800 light years. I wonder how much the two clusters are gravitationally affecting each other?
Cover Image: Messier 12. Credit: Hewholooks at wikipedia.org
Messier Object List: [Link]
Software Apps used for this post:
NASA Eyes on the Solar System: an immersive 3D solar system and space mission simulator – free for the PC /MAC.
Stellarium: a free web-based planetarium app. It’s a great tool for planning observing sessions.
SpaceEngine – Explore the universe in 3D and VR!
Worldwide Telescope – operated by the American Astronomical Society (AAS).