Here comes the Sun!
I have a lecture about the Sun that I LOVE presenting! This image from the NASA/ESA Solar Orbiter made me gasp, and my wife’s eyes bug out… so I’m showing it here in all its glory. To give you a sense of scale, the prominence reaches out more than 1.5 million kilometers into space!
This is the largest solar prominence eruption ever observed in a single image together with the full solar disc.
Jupiter has vanished from the western sky at sunset.
The Moon appears near the star Antares in the southern predawn sky on Feb. 24th.
Mercury, Venus and Mars continue to appear in the southeastern predawn sky all week; Mercury remains low above the horizon, while Venus and Mars appear a bit higher each morning.
The Moon, Mars and Venus form an in-line conjunction in the southeastern predawn sky on Feb. 27th.
Saturn makes a return to the southeastern predawn sky in early March; Saturn and Mercury appear in a very close conjunction with each other from March 1st-3rd, but they may be difficult to see in dawn’s light.
Several bright stars appear nearly overhead in the sky at 8:00 PM this week.
- The Moon is a Waning Gibbous – rising after sunset, visible high in the sky after midnight, and visible to the southwest after sunrise.
- The Third Quarter Moon occurs on Feb. 23rd – rising around midnight, and visible to the south after sunrise
- After Feb. 23rd the Moon will be a Waning Crescent – visible low to the east before 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!
The Sun has four named sunspots, with a large plage regions both rotating out of view (right side) and into view (left side).
Spaceweather.com says “The long-awaited farside active region has arrived, and it’s not what we expected. AR2954 and AR2955 are just two innocent-looking sunspots, neither one apparently capable of strong flares. The pair must have decayed from a more menacing configuration last week.”
The Sun seen in 193 angstroms on February 21st.
Several coronal holes on the face of the Sun, with the south pole open wide as well. Something with wild coronal loops is rotating into view in the northern hemisphere.
The Sun seen in 304 angstroms on February 21st.
Several prominences on the Sun’s limb. A long-lived triangular “flame” prominence appears in the northern hemisphere.
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
Details: LUNT LS 152, 3X BARLOW, QHY5L-II-M.
Solar wind speed is 526.2 km/sec ▲ with a density of 8.2 protons/cm3 ▲ at 1637 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: 157, this year: 456 (+15), all time: 28,381 (+17)
- Potentially Hazardous Asteroids (PHAs): 2262 (-1 updated 2022-02-22)
- Total Minor Planets discovered (MPC): 1,166,136 (-19 updated 2022-02-15)
- 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 CC2||2022-Feb-22||11.9 LD||11.6||44|
|2022 BA6||2022-Feb-22||8 LD||2.7||19|
|2022 DJ||2022-Feb-22||18.6 LD||6.7||38|
|2022 CK7||2022-Feb-23||12.2 LD||9.2||40|
|2022 BS6||2022-Feb-23||13.5 LD||12||44|
|2017 CX1||2022-Feb-23||15.2 LD||5||8|
|2016 QJ44||2022-Feb-24||19.6 LD||8.5||319|
|2022 DG||2022-Feb-24||5.8 LD||5.1||13|
|2022 DH||2022-Feb-25||2.8 LD||7.1||10|
|2022 DF||2022-Feb-25||10.5 LD||7.8||47|
|2022 DC||2022-Feb-25||12.2 LD||6.8||36|
|2021 QO2||2022-Feb-25||20 LD||11||65|
|2020 UO4||2022-Feb-28||18.5 LD||2.1||7|
|2021 UL7||2022-Mar-04||11.5 LD||2||25|
|2020 DC||2022-Mar-06||3.9 LD||4.9||16|
|2021 EY1||2022-Mar-10||10.1 LD||15.5||16|
|2015 DR215||2022-Mar-11||17.5 LD||8.3||290|
|2018 GY||2022-Mar-13||11.9 LD||10.7||43|
|2022 BX1||2022-Mar-13||20.1 LD||11||161|
|2016 FZ12||2022-Mar-19||2.2 LD||8.3||16|
|2020 SQ||2022-Mar-21||2.8 LD||6||12|
|2013 BO76||2022-Mar-24||13.3 LD||13.8||271|
|2011 GE3||2022-Mar-26||7.6 LD||7||22|
|2012 FX35||2022-Mar-26||13.7 LD||5.9||25|
|2010 GD35||2022-Mar-29||17.7 LD||12.5||43|
|2020 FW5||2022-Mar-30||8.9 LD||13.1||27|
|2007 FF1||2022-Apr-01||19.4 LD||12.8||155|
|2021 GN1||2022-Apr-02||14.4 LD||14.3||19|
|2016 GW221||2022-Apr-02||9.8 LD||5.9||41|
|2012 TV||2022-Apr-05||19.2 LD||18.1||32|
|2020 GH1||2022-Apr-09||16.8 LD||7.2||28|
|2017 TO2||2022-Apr-10||17.9 LD||11.6||78|
|2020 TQ6||2022-Apr-18||13.4 LD||15.4||43|
On February 14, 2022, the NASA All Sky Fireball Network reported 4 fireballs!
Position of the planets & several spacecraft in the inner solar system on February 22nd.
Position of the planets in the middle solar system:
Position of the planets in the outer solar system:
Solar System News
First stage in aligning the observatory’s mirrors complete
Has it been a YEAR already?!
HiRISE - Beautiful Mars
International Space Station
International Space Station
418.57 ppm #CO2
March 1 @ 4:38 p.m. EST
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.
SpaceWeather.com Realtime Aurora Gallery: https://spaceweathergallery.com/aurora_gallery.html
Latest Aurora Oval Forecast
Mt wife and I will be staying at Big Bend in early April!
- 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/
Weird and Wonderful Universe
Messier Tour: M6
The Butterfly Cluster (cataloged as Messier 6 or M6, and as NGC 6405) is an open cluster of stars in the southern constellation of Scorpius. Its name derives from the vague resemblance of its shape to a butterfly. It is 3.5° to the northwest of Messier 7, both north of the tail of Scorpius.
The first astronomer to record the Butterfly Cluster’s existence was Giovanni Battista Hodierna in 1654. However, Robert Burnham Jr. has proposed that the 1st century astronomer Ptolemy may have seen it with the naked eye while observing its neighbor the Ptolemy Cluster (M7). Credit for the discovery is usually given to Jean-Philippe Loys de Chéseaux in 1746. Charles Messier observed the cluster on May 23, 1764 and added it to his Messier Catalog.
120 stars, ranging down to visual magnitude 15.1, have been identified as most likely cluster members. Most of the bright stars in this cluster are hot, blue B-type stars but the brightest member is a K-type orange giant star, BM Scorpii, which contrasts sharply with its blue neighbors in photographs. BM Scorpii, is classed as a semiregular variable star, its brightness varying from magnitude +5.5 to magnitude +7.0. There are also eight candidate chemically peculiar stars.- Wikipedia
Messier 6 is best seen in binoculars. Its apparent size is roughly the same as that of the full Moon. The cluster contains more than 300 stars. The butterfly shape appears in 7×50 or 10×50 binoculars, and more stars appear in small telescopes. The contrast between the orange BM Scorpii and other member of the cluster is quite striking.
The best time of year to observe the Butterfly Cluster is in the summer months, when Scorpius appears high in the sky for observers in southern latitudes and is visible above the horizon to observers in the northern hemisphere. M6 is much easier to observe from locations south of the equator because Scorpius never rises high in the sky for northern observers. – messier-objects.com
Cover Image: Messier 6 (Butterfly Cluster). Image: Ole Nielsen
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).