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Sky Alerts

Dr Ian Musgrave  - iTelescope Science Advisor

An avid amateur astronomer, Ian writes the weekly sky updates for ABC Radio Science and is science adviser to iTelescope. When not staring at the sky he is an equally enthusiastic molecular pharmacologist at the University of Adelaide, Australia.

You can follow Ian Musgrave on his Astroblog for daily posts about astronomy, biology and life, the Universe and everything.

"Over at Astroblog I largely guide people to the view of the sky as seen with the unaided eye. But I’m also an iTelescope.Net user, and I’m very honoured to have been invited to highlight some of the interesting objects that can be seen through the iTelescopes.

While many people are familiar with the larger, more glamorous objects in the night sky that make good iTelescope targets, there are a host of lesser known, interesting objects that are well worth chasing such as fast moving Near Earth Objects, Novae and Comets."  Twitter @ianmusgrave

Tuesday
Jun282016

July Highlights: Comets C/2013 X1, 252P, C/2014 S2, 9P/Temple 1

New Moon is 4 July,  First Quarter 12 July,  Full Moon 20 July and Last Quarter Moon 25 July.

Comet C/2013 X1 (PANSTARRS) passes close to some nice objects in late June early July. Detailed charts and ephemeris are here. In late July the comet has no really interesting encounters, but is withing T12 distance of the faint galaxies IC4464 (M 1.8) o the 22nd and IC 4458 (23rd). On the 30th the comet is 17' from mag 12 galaxy IC 4430

The path of Comet 252P in Ophiuchus. The large rectangle is the field of view of T14/20, the small that of T5. Click to embiggen.

Comet 252P has faded substantially, and is now moving slowly. Current magnitudes are uncertain, the most recent reports are from June 5 and 6, suggesting it is either 12.6 or 11.7. It will certainly fade substantially over the course of July, possibly below magnitude 13.

The comet remains in Ophiuchus this month, passing two bright globular clusters, M12 and M10. On 16 July the comet passes within 2 degrees of M10, a mag 6.1 globular cluster. On 31 July the comet passes 2 degrees 14' from M12, a mag 6.6 globular cluster. The large disparity in magnitudes will make imaging difficult.

The waxing Moon is within 30 degrees of the comet from 13-17 July.

The comet is visible after astronomical twilight from SSO and the northern hemisphere scopes until the early morning, with transit mid evening. The table below shows rise set and transit times from Mayhill New Mexico, and the comets altitude at 21:00. Transit and altitude at SSO is similar.

Ephemeris of comet 252P LINEAR

Date Rise Ast Twi E Altitude Transit Set Ast Twi B
01 Jul 2016 15:53:21 20:55:47 +54° 45' 34" 21:55:43 04:02:10 03:16:03
06 Jul 2016 15:37:31 20:54:20 +55° 05' 45" 21:37:06 03:40:38 03:19:10
11 Jul 2016 15:22:13 20:51:58 +54° 51' 52" 21:19:07 03:19:49 03:22:53
16 Jul 2016 15:07:26 20:48:45 +54° 07' 53" 21:01:43 02:59:41 03:27:04
21 Jul 2016 14:53:06 20:44:45 +52° 58' 31" 20:44:51 02:40:11 03:31:36
26 Jul 2016 14:39:09 20:40:02 +51° 28' 28" 20:28:29 02:21:17 03:36:24
31 Jul 2016 14:25:32 20:34:42 +49° 42' 03" 20:12:33 02:02:57 03:41:20
05 Aug 2016 14:12:13 20:28:50 +47° 43' 02" 19:57:01 01:45:08 03:46:20
10 Aug 2016 13:59:09 20:22:31 +45° 34' 32" 19:41:53 01:27:49 03:51:18
15 Aug 2016 13:46:20 20:15:49 +43° 19' 01" 19:27:04 01:10:57 03:56:10

 

MPEC one line ephemeris for Comet  P252/ LINEAR

0252P         2016 03 15.2712  0.996072  0.673276  343.3147  190.9519   10.4231  20160402  17.5  4.0   252P/LINEAR

Chart showing comet C/2014 S2 PanSTARRS in the tail of Leo as seen from Mayhill New Mexico. The large rectangle is the field of view of T14/20, the small that of T5. Click to embiggen.

Comet C/2014 S2 PanSTARRS is dimming and the last reported magnitude was arround 12.

Visible from both northern and SSO scopes at the moment, it is only visible fo about an hour after astronomical twilight before it is too low for scope travel.

The comet passes within T14/20 distance of a number of faint galaxies, but their size and faintness, along with the comets faintness may make imaging  suboptimal.

Ephemeris of comet C/2014 S2 PANSTARRS

Date Rise Ast Twi E Altitude Transit Set Ast Twi B
01 Jul 2016 09:30:54 20:55:47 +33° 42' 27" 16:39:23 23:47:16 03:16:03
04 Jul 2016 09:24:10 20:55:01 +31° 16' 52" 16:29:38 23:34:32 03:17:51
07 Jul 2016 09:17:22 20:53:56 +28° 51' 45" 16:19:56 23:21:58 03:19:52
10 Jul 2016 09:10:29 20:52:31 +26° 27' 09" 16:10:16 23:09:32 03:22:06
13 Jul 2016 09:03:32 20:50:47 +24° 03' 06" 16:00:39 22:57:15 03:24:30
16 Jul 2016 08:56:32 20:48:45 +21° 39' 37" 15:51:04 22:45:06 03:27:04
19 Jul 2016 08:49:28 20:46:26 +19° 16' 43" 15:41:30 22:33:04 03:29:45
22 Jul 2016 08:42:22 20:43:51 +16° 54' 26" 15:31:59 22:21:09 03:32:33
25 Jul 2016 08:35:12 20:41:02 +14° 32' 49" 15:22:28 22:09:19 03:35:25
28 Jul 2016 08:27:59 20:37:58 +12° 11' 56" 15:12:59 21:57:35 03:38:22

 

MPEC one line ephemeris for Comet C/2014 S2 PanSTARRS

CK14S020  2015 12 09.8726  2.100871  0.988230   87.8307    8.1188   64.6757  20160731  10.0  4.0      C/2014 S2 (PANSTARRS)

The path of Comet 9P in Virgo. The large rectangle is the field of view of T12, the small that of T9. Click to embiggen.

Comet 9P/Temple 1 is in a good position for observation in Virgo, and is visible from both northern and southern scopes during the early evening, although the SSO scopes are favoured with around a 2 and a half hour window before the comet is too low for the scopes travel.

However, the comet is is substantially dimmer than ephemeris predictions of 10.9, and the most recent estimate of 11.6 may represent a transient outburst, and the comet may be rather disappointing this year.

From the 4th to 6th the comet is within 13' of two faint magnitude 11 galaxies, on the 9th it is 33' from the magnitude 9.9 galaxy NGC 4753

Ephemeris of comet 9P Tempel

Date Rise Ast Twi E Altitude Transit Set Ast Twi B
01 Jul 2016 11:53:55 20:55:47 +36° 41' 41" 17:58:36 00:05:53 03:16:03
04 Jul 2016 11:50:22 20:55:01 +34° 47' 28" 17:52:16 23:53:42 03:17:51
07 Jul 2016 11:47:03 20:53:56 +32° 55' 03" 17:46:08 23:44:45 03:19:52
10 Jul 2016 11:43:56 20:52:31 +31° 04' 27" 17:40:11 23:35:58 03:22:06
13 Jul 2016 11:41:00 20:50:47 +29° 15' 45" 17:34:24 23:27:20 03:24:30
16 Jul 2016 11:38:16 20:48:45 +27° 28' 59" 17:28:48 23:18:52 03:27:04
19 Jul 2016 11:35:43 20:46:26 +25° 44' 11" 17:23:22 23:10:34 03:29:45
22 Jul 2016 11:33:20 20:43:51 +24° 01' 27" 17:18:06 23:02:25 03:32:33
25 Jul 2016 11:31:07 20:41:02 +22° 20' 51" 17:13:00 22:54:25 03:35:25
28 Jul 2016 11:29:04 20:37:58 +20° 42' 28" 17:08:03 22:46:35 03:38:22

 

MPEC one line ephemeris for Comet 9P/Temple 1

0009P         2016 08 02.5832  1.542540  0.509587  179.2062   68.7495   10.4740  20160731   5.5 10.0     9P/Tempel

Comet 81P Wild is was last recorded magnitude 11.5 and is in Leo, however, it is too close to the horizon at astronomical twilight to be picked up by any of the scopes.

Friday
Jun242016

ALERT! Comet C/2013 X1 PanSTARRS in the tail of Scorpius (24 June - 14 July 2016)

Chart of comet C/2013 X1 from 24 June to 1 July as seen from SSO at 1:20 pm (around the time it transits the meridian). The large rectangle is the field of view of T12 the small T9. Click to embiggen.

Comet C/2013 X1 (PANSTARRS)  was closest to the earth on June 21, so should be at it's brightest over the next few days. Unfortunately it is too close to the Moon until June 24th to be easily seen.

The comet will be visible from the SSO scopes. It does not rise far enough above the horizon for the and northern hemisphere for the northrn scopes to see it.

In the SSO scopes it is in reach of the scopes travel from 10:00 pm to astronomical twilight in the morning in June, below is a more detailed rise, set and transit ephemeris fom SSO.

Ephemeris of comet C/2013 X1 PANSTARRS

Date Distance Ast Twi E Rise Transit Set Ast Twi B
24 Jun 2016 0.6441 18:36:22 16:01:41 01:09:50 09:55:29 05:35:59
28 Jun 2016 0.6754 18:37:32 14:27:49 23:24:43 08:41:51 05:36:32
02 Jul 2016 0.7345 18:38:54 13:21:48 22:10:52 07:17:47 05:36:47
06 Jul 2016 0.8155 18:40:25 12:37:44 21:11:21 05:59:34 05:36:43
10 Jul 2016 0.9126 18:42:04 12:06:00 20:24:16 04:54:20 05:36:20
14 Jul 2016 1.0210 18:43:49 11:40:51 19:46:19 04:01:28 05:35:36
18 Jul 2016 1.1372 18:45:39 11:19:23 19:14:41 03:18:08 05:34:31
22 Jul 2016 1.2585 18:47:32 11:00:08 18:47:26 02:41:49 05:33:05
26 Jul 2016 1.3832 18:49:29 10:42:18 18:23:18 02:10:35 05:31:17
30 Jul 2016 1.5099 18:51:28 10:25:26 18:01:26 01:43:08 05:29:09

 

The most recent reports had it around magnitude 6.2, just below unaided eye visibility and should be readily imaged with short exposures. Over the next three weeks it will fade, and may have fallen to magnitude 7 (still visible in good binoculars) by the middle of July. However, from the 14th the combination of waxing Moon and fading comet will mean the comet will be extremely difficult to image. From the 14th-16th the waxing Moon wil be less than 30 degrees away from the comet. Full Moon is on the 20th.These dates will require narrow band imaging.  After this the comet is clear of the Moon in the evening.

Comet C/2013 X1 is showing a nice double tail in deep telescopic imaging, and there was a recent spectacular tail dissociation event as well.

Chart of comet C/2013 X1 from 1 July  to 14 July as seen from SSO at 1:20 pm. The large rectangle is the field of view of T12 the small T9. Click to embiggen.

The comet is currently in the constellation Telescopium (the telescope). Being close to earth  0.64 AU) it is moving rapidly night to night for the next few weeks, passing through Ara the Altar, Norma the compass and Lupus the wolf from the end of June to mid July.

The highlight will be from the 28th June to 6th July when the comet passes through the cluster and nebula rich regions between the tail of Scorpius and Ara and Norma. This s a target rich area with many open clusters and dust clouds to add interest to imaging.

On the 29th the comet is 4 degrees from the bright globular clouster NGC 6397 (mag 5.3) . You will need to use your mosaic skills to get both in a decent framing.A guide to amking mosaics is here.

On the 30th the comet is 55' from the 7.8 mag globular cluster NGC 6352. On the 2nd of July  the comet is 2 degrees from the open cluster NGC 6250 (Mag 5.9) and on the 3rd the comet is close to several open clusters, including NGC 6200 (34', mag 7.4) and NGC 6.93 (1 degree 25', mag 5.2). On the 6th the comet is in the same FOV as the boundary of a dark dust lane which should make for an interesting composition.

MPEC one line ephemeris for Comet C/2013 X1

CK13X010  2016 04 20.7207  1.314278  1.001016  164.4536  130.9566  163.2314  20160731  10.5  2.0      C/2013 X1 (PANSTARRS)

Friday
Jun032016

ALERT! Comet C/2013 X1 PanSTARRS near the Helix Nebula (4-6 June 2016)

Chart of comet C/2013 X1 near the helix nebula on 4 June UT (5 June SSO, 4 June Mayhill). The large rectangle is the field of view of T12, the medium T5 and the small T9. T14 and T20 have simar FOV's to T12, but are rotated 90 degrees. Click to embiggen.

Comet C/2013 X1 PanSTARRS is brightening and is around magnitude 6.4.

For the next few days (4 - 6 June) the comet is close to the iconic Helix Nebula. At magnitude 7.3, this low surface brightness nebula will make an excellent image with the bright comet.

The comet is closest on June 4 13:50 UT  when it is  21' 29" away, however good views will be had before and for the next two days after (in the wide FOV instruments).

The comet will be visible from both SSO and northern hemisphere scopes. However, in the SSO scopes it is in reach of the scopes travel from 1:30 am to astronomical twilight, while the Mayhill scopes it is accessible just on astronomical twilight. 5 June is the best time for imaging with the SSO scopes.

MPEC one line ephemeris for Comet C/2013 X1

CK13X010  2016 04 20.7277  1.314250  1.001028  164.4604  130.9555  163.2316  20160113  10.5  2.0      C/2013 X1 (PANSTARRS)

Wednesday
May112016

ALERT! Possible Nova (12.0 mag) in the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC)

Location of the possible nova in the Large Magellanic cloud as seen from SSO. The small rectangle is the FOV of T9, the large that of T12. The nova is in a very crowded field. Click to embiggen.

(reposting Patrick Schmeer's notice on the iTeleacope FB site)

MASTER OT J051032.58-692130.4:
Possible Nova (12.0 mag) in the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC)

"MASTER: very bright OT in Large Magellanic Cloud direction
MASTER OT J051032.58-692130.4 discovery - 12m OT in LMC"
ATel #9039: http://www.astronomerstelegram.org/?read=9039

R.A. 05h10m32.58s Decl. -69°21'30.4" (J2000.0)

A possible progenitor (21 mag) is listed in "The Initial Gaia Source List (IGSL)" (Smart, 2013) and the "Magellanic Clouds Photometric Survey: the LMC" (Zaritsky+, 2004):
- IGSL3 (05 10 32.580 -69 21 30.60)
BJ= 21.288, RF= 20.810, G= 20.931 mag
- MCPS (05 10 32.56 -69 21 30.9)
B= 21.490, V= 20.828, I= 20.547 mag

This possible nova is located 2' from SAO 249214 (V= 8.7 mag) and 9' from Nova LMC 2005.

Spectroscopy is urgently required.