I mentioned in a previous post that I was going to cover star clusters with my school astronomy club – as luck would have it, we’ve not met again since last year. But hey! I can always collect material to present to them next week.
The Pleiades star cluster is one of those objects that first-time binocular and telescope users like to look at – easy to find, and lots of objects. You’re not going to see that blue nebulosity in a small telescope tho – it takes a much larger one (or a time exposure).
One of the most interesting things I find about the Pleiades is that the blue nebulosity those stars are lighting up is not related to those stars – that’s just some random bit of the interstellar medium that they’re passing through on their way!
Jupiter, Saturn and Mercury appear in the southwestern sky after sunset this week.
By the beginning of next week, Saturn will be much lower toward the horizon, and Mercury will be disappearing into the glare of the sun.
Mars and the star Antares appear above the southeastern horizon before sunrise all week.
By the beginning of next week, Venus makes a return to the southeastern predawn sky.
The Moon appears near the Pleiades star cluster high in the southeastern sky after sunset on Jan. 12th.
The Moon appears near the star Aldebaran high in the southeastern sky after sunset on Jan. 13th.
The Moon appears within the winter hexagon in the east-southeastern sky after sunset on Jan. 14th & 15th.
The Moon appears near the star Pollux in the eastern sky after sunset on Jan. 16th and 17th.
- The Moon is a Waxing Gibbous – visible to the southeast in early evening, up for most of the night.
- The Full Moon occurs on Jan. 17th – rising at sunset, visible high in the sky around midnight, and visible all night.
- After Jan 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!
Project Diana was the first experiment in radar astronomy.
The experiment bounced radar echoes off the Moon in 1946 to study the Earth’s atmosphere. [Link]
VIPER's metal wheels -vs- the Moon's Regolith
The Sun has three named sunspots, and a tiny one in the northern hemisphere that will likely get its own designation. Spaceweather.com says “All of these sunspots have stable magnetic fields that pose little threat for strong flares,” that being said, from the videos below, they are producing a lot of weaker flares.
The Sun seen in 193 angstroms on January 10th.
There is coronal loop activity associated with each active region. A large coronal hole is in the southern hemisphere, rotating into view; coronal holes appear at both poles – both about the same medium size.
The Sun seen in 304 angstroms on January 10th.
Several smaller prominences, and a couple larger but short-lived ones. Each of the active regions are easily visible, and appear to be spouting small flares.
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
The SOLARACTIVITY PICTURE OF THE DAY for January 10, 2022 is this detailed solar image by Ilan Shapira imaged on Jan 7 2022. Active regions AR2924 & AR2925. Details: Equipment: AT 60mm, Daystar Quark Chromo, UV/IR cut and ZWO ASI183MM
Solar wind speed is 407.2 km/sec ▼ with a density of 7.7 protons/cm3 ▲ at 1410 UT.
Click here to see a near real-time animation of the corona and solar wind from the Solar & Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO).
The NASA James Webb Space Telescope’s Twitter account “throws some shade” on other NASA Twitter accounts
- Near-Earth Objects (NEOs) discovered this month: 101, this year: 101 (+97), all time: 28,021 (+99)
- Potentially Hazardous Asteroids (PHAs): 2248 (+9, updated 2022-01-11)
- Total Minor Planets discovered (MPC): 1,143,111 (-13, updated 2022-01-11) – negative corrections have continued for several weeks
- Total Minor Planets discovered (NASA): 1,113,527 (updated 2021-08-17) – I don’t think this value is being updated, it has not changed for half a year.
Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
|Asteroid||Date(UT)||Miss Distance||Velocity (km/s)||Diameter (m)|
|2022 AC4||2022-Jan-11||0.2 LD||8.4||6|
|2022 AD4||2022-Jan-11||2.9 LD||5.7||12|
|2022 AT||2022-Jan-11||19.9 LD||10||31|
|2022 AB4||2022-Jan-11||1.1 LD||9.9||15|
|2013 YD48||2022-Jan-11||14.6 LD||14.8||107|
|2022 AF1||2022-Jan-12||11.6 LD||11.9||41|
|2022 AT5||2022-Jan-12||5.7 LD||9.6||11|
|2022 AA2||2022-Jan-12||6.6 LD||7.3||20|
|2022 AQ2||2022-Jan-13||14.2 LD||4.2||21|
|2022 AU5||2022-Jan-13||11.9 LD||5.8||20|
|2022 AG2||2022-Jan-13||3.2 LD||9.2||12|
|2022 AS3||2022-Jan-13||12.3 LD||4.9||23|
|2022 AF5||2022-Jan-14||8.7 LD||8.8||17|
|2022 AA4||2022-Jan-14||3.6 LD||4||10|
|2022 AG||2022-Jan-14||8.3 LD||3.8||33|
|2022 AT2||2022-Jan-15||1.9 LD||6.4||14|
|2022 AV3||2022-Jan-15||12.6 LD||10.8||28|
|2022 AS5||2022-Jan-16||8 LD||8||19|
|2021 BA||2022-Jan-18||9.8 LD||9.1||22|
|2022 AW||2022-Jan-18||9.4 LD||10.1||49|
|2022 AB||2022-Jan-20||9.7 LD||5.6||71|
|2022 AX4||2022-Jan-21||7.9 LD||6.9||22|
|2018 PN22||2022-Jan-21||11.4 LD||2.7||11|
|2017 XC62||2022-Jan-24||18.7 LD||4.3||112|
|2021 BZ||2022-Jan-27||17.6 LD||14.6||39|
|2022 AN5||2022-Jan-28||10.2 LD||4.9||22|
|2022 AA||2022-Feb-04||6.6 LD||4.3||42|
|2018 CA1||2022-Feb-05||9.8 LD||15.1||32|
|2022 AV4||2022-Feb-07||19.2 LD||3.4||22|
|2007 UY1||2022-Feb-08||13.9 LD||6.6||89|
|2020 DF||2022-Feb-14||12 LD||8.6||20|
|2018 CW2||2022-Feb-18||2.2 LD||10.8||25|
|2020 CX1||2022-Feb-18||7.2 LD||8.2||54|
|2017 CX1||2022-Feb-23||15.2 LD||5||8|
|2016 QJ44||2022-Feb-24||19.6 LD||8.5||324|
|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||23|
|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|
Pittsburgh New Years bolide produced energy equivalent to 30 tons of TNT!
My wife and I both noticed a different timbre to the sound of the bolide compared to thunder.
Issues in a widely accessed article?
On January 11, 2022, the NASA All Sky Fireball Network reported 24 fireballs!
(23 sporadics, 1 xi Coronae Borealid)
Position of the planets & several spacecraft in the inner solar system on January 11th:
Position of the planets in the middle solar system:
Position of the planets in the outer solar system:
Solar System News
James Webb Space Telescope deployment & latching complete!
Pebble Problems Plague Plucky Perserverance
HiRISE - Beautiful Mars
International Space Station
Chandra X-Ray Observatory
Dr. Katherine Calvin is NASA's new chief scientist and senior climate advisor
417.91 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.
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/
Beautiful Universe: Pleiades Open Star Cluster
The Pleiades, also known as The Seven Sisters, Messier 45, and other names by different cultures, is an asterism and an open star cluster containing middle-aged, hot B-type stars in the north-west of the constellation Taurus. At a distance of about 444 light years, it is among the nearest star clusters to Earth. It is the nearest Messier object to Earth, and is the most obvious cluster to the naked eye in the night sky.
The cluster is dominated by hot blue and luminous stars that have formed within the last 100 million years. Reflection nebulae around the brightest stars were once thought to be left over material from their formation, but are now considered likely to be an unrelated dust cloud in the interstellar medium through which the stars are currently passing. This dust cloud is estimated to be moving at a speed of approximately 18 km/s relative to the stars in the cluster.
Computer simulations have shown that the Pleiades were probably formed from a compact configuration that resembled the Orion Nebula. Astronomers estimate that the cluster will survive for about another 250 million years, after which it will disperse due to gravitational interactions with its galactic neighborhood.
Cover Image: M45 from the Digitized Sky Survey (color) and Worldwide Telescope.
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).