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  1. We had a fantastic night last night with our group of guests with cold clear skies giving some great viewing conditions. A combination dark sky tour of "faint fuzzies" and a lunar tour as the moon rose helped complete the night. It made for an eventful viewing session. One of our favourite faint fuzzies at this time of year is the Sombrero Galaxy or NGC 4594. If you look at a Nasa image you can see how it gets its name Image Credit: NASA, ESO, NAOJ, Giovanni Paglioli, but to us on the ground, with our night vision enabled eyes it becomes a little less spectacular, until you get
  2. The headline is a little vague because these were definitely starlink and whilst the do generate interest from the general public they are a nightmare for astronomers who want to image the night sky. With the coming launches it's likely we'll see starlink satellites during our observations throughout the season. https://i.stuff.co.nz/science/124530354/strings-of-light-crossing-the-sky-high-overhead-likely-to-be-a-starlink-chain
  3. A Nasa rover is making its attempt to land on Mars in the riskiest step yet in an epic quest to bring back rocks that could tell whether life ever existed on the red planet. Perseverance is entering the riskiest part of its landing on Mars at just after 9.45am (NZT) in which flight controllers can only watch as the spacecraft hurtles toward the red planet, long a deathtrap for incoming spacecraft. It takes a nail-biting delay of 11½ minutes for a signal that would confirm success to reach Earth.
  4. Tonight, just after dark, should be an ideal opportunity to see the conjunction
  5. I managed a glimpse during the latter half of last week, nothing over the weekend, due to the cloud, but tonight is the closest we will see.
  6. Jupiter is moving closer to Saturn and they will be less than a full-moon's width apart between December 17th and 26th. Around the 21st-22nd the gap between then will be about a quarter of a full moon's width, so they will be in a telescope's field of view. These close encounters (called conjunctions) happen every twenty years when Jupiter, orbiting the Sun in 12 years, catches up with Saturn, which takes 30 years to do an orbit. The close pairing is just line-of-sight, because Jupiter is 879 million km away and Saturn 1,610 million km away. The crescent Moon will be above the pair on the 17th
  7. When Jupiter and Saturn—the two biggest planets in our solar system—meet, it’s termed the “Great Conjunction.” What’s even more special is that it’s happening on night of the winter solstice This is the rarest meeting between any of the five bright planets. It happens just once every two decades, and 2020 brings the closest Jupiter-Saturn conjunction since 1623, during Galileo’s times. Simply speaking, a conjunction occurs when planets or other objects appear to be very close to each other on our sky’s dome. These “meetings” or conjunctions in the sky are fairly frequent, especially
  8. The ghostly ORC1 (blue/green fuzz), on a backdrop of the galaxies at optical wavelengths. There’s an orange galaxy at the centre of the ORC, but we don’t know whether it’s part of the ORC, or just a chance coincidence. https://i.stuff.co.nz/science/123581259/wtf-newly-discovered-ghostly-circles-in-the-sky-cant-be-explained-by-current-theories-and-astronomers-are-excited
  9. Yesterday the sun launched it largest solar flare in 3 years with a M4.4 event that initially wasn't thought to be Earth facing. However it's possible that a CME might now sideswipe Earth's magnetic field on Dec. 1-2, according to NOAA analysts. The glancing blow, if it occurs, is expected to cause no more than G1 geomagnetic storms, but hey its better than nothing. Sunspot region 2786 has only just starting to rotate onto the earth-facing disk so it is hard to say if there are more sunspots hiding behind the limb but there is at least one very large sunspot associated with this suns
  10. Here in New Zealand we can see both Scorpius and Orion in the sky in the same time and this is the time of the year to do it. In the Eastern Sky, this time of the year, the Pleiades* are visible again on the horizon. Harbingers for Halloween in the northern hemisphere where now skies are grey and ravens await for the first snows, for Māori, the Pleiades are now harbingers of summer. *Matariki is the name linked to the observance of the Pleiades in the morning sky around the Winter Solstice, but only in the morning of June-July when it marks the Māori new year. Throughout the year, t
  11. Bright planets light up the evening sky. Jupiter and Mars are the brightest. Jupiter appears midway down the western sky soon after sunset. Orange-red Mars is in the north and pretty much overhead by 11pm. As the sky darkens Saturn appears just above Jupiter. Jupiter and Saturn appear close enough together to be in the same binocular view, although they will set around midnight. This happens every 20 years when Jupiter, circling the Sun in 12 years, catches up on Saturn which takes 30 years to do an orbit. The pair will be even closer next month but low in the twilight. Their apparent pa
  12. Having had a series of G1 and G2 alerts on Monday/Tuesday I can't quite determine if the major storm arrived earlier than expected or if the initial figures for Mon/Tues were just significantly stronger than forecast. The joys of space weather! only time will tell.
  13. Welcome to the site. If you are still in the learning phase, please take a look at our topic below, which you may find useful
  14. GOES magnetometer, is the next important thing and we're doing some studies as to how the effect on GOES becomes indicative of BEAMS or the potential to see beams. There used to be a choice of magnetometers, but NOAA’s Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites (GOES) are currently limited to 1, and that is number 16, which is positioned somewhat inconveniently on the Eastern seaboard of the US at 75.2° West. On a GOES plot, GOES has a natural curve in its graph, based on the rotation of the Earth and the position of the satellite in relation to the sun ( i.e. day or night).
  15. Why do we see those stunning lights in the northern- and southernmost portions of the night sky? The Aurora Borealis and Aurora Australis occur when high-energy particles are flung from the Sun's corona toward the Earth and mingle with the neutral atoms in our atmosphere -- ultimately emitting extraordinary light and colour. Michael Molina explains every step of this dazzling phenomenon. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=czMh3BnHFHQ
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