SOLAR ACTIVITY: The sun is putting on one of its best displays of the new solar cycle–not with sunspots and flares, but rather with towering walls of plasma and filaments of magnetism. One dark filament is stretching more than a million kilometers across the face of the sun, about three times the distance between Earth and the Moon. Visit http://spaceweather.com for pictures and more information about these remarkable structures.
WEEKEND METEOR SHOWER: Today Earth is entering a stream of debris from Halley’s comet, source of the annual Orionid meteor shower. Forecasters expect the shower to peak on Saturday morning, Oct. 22nd, with more than 15 meteors per hour. Check http://spaceweather.com for links to a live meteor radar, sky maps and observing tips.
Oct. 4, 2011: On October 8th Earth is going to plow through a stream of dust from Comet 21P/Giacobini-Zinner, and the result could be an outburst of Draconid meteors.
“We’re predicting as many as 750 meteors per hour,” says Bill Cooke of NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office. “The timing of the shower favors observers in the Middle East, north Africa and parts of Europe.”
Comet 21P/Giacobini-Zinner in Nov. 1998 photographed by astronomers at Kitt Peak. [more]
Every 6.6 years Comet Giacobini-Zinner swings through the inner solar system. With each visit, it lays down a narrow filament of dust, over time forming a network of filaments that Earth encounters every year in early October.
“Most years, we pass through gaps between filaments, maybe just grazing one or two as we go by,” says Cooke. “Occasionally, though, we hit one nearly head on–and the fireworks begin.”
People who would like to share in the exciting work of creating a working group for our astronomical interests on Bowen Island. Our first meeting will be about visioning what it is we would like to gain from having a group of individuals that share many interests in and passions for astronomy. I have created a short list of what I believe our needs are at this moment in community building. Experienced or brand new, young & old, we want & need everyone’s input to make this working group a success!
We also need:
A Projector for laptop presentations at the meetings.
Telescopes and binoculars for sharing at group observing nights.
Experienced science & astronomy people who would like to volunteer for talks & presentations in our meetings.
Experienced science & astronomy people who would like to assist in teaching and/or developing short courses to offer our members.
People with organizational experience operating non-profit groups under Roberts Rules
Help developing a 5 year plan that would include a permanent meeting place to hold a library, meetings, store telescopes & equipment. Our ultimate goal will be to have our very own observatory! This is much more do-able than you might think!
Thanks to a very generous offering by Niel of the Village Bakery, we will be holding our very first meeting of the Bowen Island Astronomy Group, at the Village Bakery within the next couple of weeks. We need to choose a night that works for the most amount of people , so I have created the following internet poll on the first page of our wordpress website to assist us in making that decision. You can choose 2 days that would work best for you. Please keep your voting to one time only. We will announce the meeting day asap by email, on this website and on the Bowen Forum.
Observing Targets for tonight include the Supernova in the Pinwheel Galaxy, Comet Garradd, Several of the brighter clusters, Jupiter, the moon, & the Northern Lights, or the Aurora Borealis. Tonight’s observing run will be dominated by the brilliant light of a nearly full moon, as well as possible northern light activity stimulated by recent CME, or coronal mass ejection events. Several more are expected to reach the earth over the weekend. We should be in for a great show! More can be found at SpaceWeather.com on this and other current celestial events.
On a much more controversial note, there are ongoing studies that are taking place that find a statistical correlation between CME’s and earthquakes. We just had a CME hit the earth on the September 9th, and then experienced an 6.7 magnitude earthquake off of Port Alice on Vancouver Island. According to solarIMG, we are in for more CME’s over the weekend, with the earthquake risk window still open. While some may feel this to be sensationalist & irresponsible to be reporting, I feel it’s better to be informed and prepared than sorry.
I will also be trying my hand at some astrophotography so if there are any photography buffs out there please come and share your experience & passion! We may even be able to take photos with our digital cameras, hand held at the eyepiece so it’s theoretically possible that we can capture photos of the supernova, aurora, and Jupiter. Bring your iPods for a trial run too!
Not to be out-shined is the supernova event in the pinwheel galaxy, M101 that we viewed last weekend. Estimates have it still available as a target in binoculars for the next few days.
We will still experience Jupiter will be its jovian self in spite of the light pollution as it rises early each night as the earth moves nearer it’s fall quadrant in its epic journey around the sun.
Friday, September 2nd, Public Observing Night Tonight – Comet Garradd
Come out & bring the kids to enjoy the final chance before school begins to stay up late & view the heavens. If you’ve never seen a comet before here is your chance! Tonight we will be trying to find Comet Garradd, reported by Spaceweather.com to be approaching 6th magnitude naked eye visibility. It should now be visible in binoculars. I have also obtained a lazer pointer to assist us in pinpointing stars, clusters, galaxies, and constellations for easy finding by all. It doesn’t get any easier than this!
Comet Garradd C2009/P1
Sky & Telescope Finder Charts found & printed out for viewing here.
Hope to see everyone there, at Cates Hill Park,10:30PM.