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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

Entries in alert (155)

Wednesday
Jan212015

ALERT! NEO 2004 BL68 on 26-27 January, 2015

NEO 2004 BL68 as seen from Mayhill New Mexico from 6:00 pm 26 January - 11 pm (01:00-06:00 UT 27 January). The crosses mark the position of the asteroid every 15 minutes.The NEO comes close to the Beehive cluster.

Positions calculated in Horizon Track from JPL horizons data. The large rectangle is the field of view of T14, the small that of T5. Click to embiggen.

Near Earth Asteroid  2004 BL68 will  come close to Earth on 16:20 UT 26 January at distance of 0.008 AU (around 3.1 Earth-Moon distances). It is brightest at 04:00 UT on the 27th though. It has an estimated diameter of 680m.

The asteroid is currently magnitude 16, and will be a reasonably bright magnitude 9.0 at closest approach.

However, it is only reasonably visible from the Northern Hemisphere scopes at its brightest.  It will be visible from SSO scopes before brightest times (around magnitude 9.7) until astronomical twilight on the morning of the 27th local time.

At magnitude 10-9 60 second exposures may be reasonable, shorter exposures may be too dim, depending if the scope can hold its tracking.

NEO 2004 BL68 as seen from Siding Springs Observatory from 3:30 am 27 January  - 6:00 am. astronomical twilight is 4:49 am (18:19 UT 26 January). The crosses mark the position of the asteroid every 30 minutes. The large rectangle is the field of view of T12. Positions calculated in Horizon Track from JPL horizons data. Click to embiggen.

NEO 2004 BL68 is visible for a reasonable time from the southern iTelescopes as it passes from Puppis into Hydrus on the way to Cancer. twilight intervenes before it can enter Cancer and achieve it's brightest magnitude.

For the Northern Hemisphere scopes the asteroid is visible from start of astronomical twilight in the evening of the 26 January local time, but only reaches the iTelescopes lower travel limit by 8:00 pm local time. This allows observers to catch the NEO at its brightest. It is then visible until end of astronomical twilight on the 27th (local time) as it moves from Cancer through Lynx. Catching the NEO close to the Beehive cluster would be interesting.

It is moving moderately fast (123 arc seconds/minute at closest approach), and is probably outside the reach of  the tracking capability of most of the iTelescopes at closest approach. You will need to use a topocentric ephemeris and camp out on the asteroid track in this case.

There is a  parallax effect (> 18 arc minutes at closest approach), so unless your planetarium program is able to cope with close parallax (most can't), you will need to work from topocentric coordinates.

For topocentric ephemerides go to http://www.minorplanetcenter.net/iau/MPEph/MPEph.html

 MPC Siding Spring Code Q62. Mayhill Code H06.

 Always use the latest possible orbital elements and ephemeris. The planning guides to viewing YU55 here and here will help organising topocentric ephemerides for close approaching NEO's.

You will probably need to use unguided exposures (depending on the instrument). Check the night before to see if the scope can track the asteroid, if it doesn't track well, follow the instructions below. Or if you are uncertain, follow the guide.

Choose a point where the asteroid will pass and aim at that. Remember that it takes time for the iTelescopes scopes to get to tracking position. T12 and T14 can take up to 5 minutes (depending on there being reliable stars in the field for tracking, check your logs to see what the average slew time is), so offset you initial position by around 4 minutes or so (this will be a significant distance) so the asteroid will be in field. The asteroid will cross the T12 FOV in about 60 minutes. and the T14 in around 90 minutes at closest approach (due to the orientation of the CCD). It will cross the FOV of T5 in 15 minutes.

MPEC Ephemeris fro Mayhill New Mexico in UT,

Z7439              [H=19.0]
Date            UT      R.A. (J2000) Decl.         Delta     r           El.    Ph.   V      Sky Motion         Object        Sun    Moon                Uncertainty info
                  h m s                                                                                     "/min    P.A.       Azi.    Alt.  Alt.    Phase Dist. Alt.    3-sig/" P.A.
2015 01 27 004500 08 32 32.7 +10 02 09   0.0086  0.993  171.4   8.6   9.3  140.59    015.9    258  +00   -04   0.48   093  +68       N/A   N/A / Map / Offsets
2015 01 27 010000 08 33 11.6 +10 35 50   0.0087  0.993  171.9   8.0   9.2  139.47    015.8    260  +03   -07   0.48   093  +68       N/A   N/A / Map / Offsets
2015 01 27 011500 08 33 50.0 +11 09 15   0.0087  0.993  172.5   7.4   9.2  138.33    015.7    261  +07   -10   0.48   093  +68       N/A   N/A / Map / Offsets
2015 01 27 013000 08 34 28.0 +11 42 24   0.0087  0.993  173.1   6.9   9.2  137.17    015.7    262  +10   -13   0.49   093  +67       N/A   N/A / Map / Offsets
2015 01 27 014500 08 35 05.7 +12 15 17   0.0088  0.993  173.6   6.3   9.2  135.99    015.6    264  +13   -16   0.49   093  +65       N/A   N/A / Map / Offsets
2015 01 27 020000 08 35 42.9 +12 47 54   0.0088  0.993  174.2   5.8   9.2  134.80    015.5    265  +17   -19   0.49   093  +63       N/A   N/A / Map / Offsets
2015 01 27 021500 08 36 19.8 +13 20 13   0.0088  0.993  174.7   5.2   9.1  133.60    015.5    267  +20   -23   0.49   093  +61       N/A   N/A / Map / Offsets
2015 01 27 023000 08 36 56.2 +13 52 16   0.0089  0.994  175.2   4.7   9.1  132.38    015.4    268  +23   -26   0.49   092  +59       N/A   N/A / Map / Offsets
2015 01 27 024500 08 37 32.3 +14 24 02   0.0089  0.994  175.8   4.2   9.1  131.15    015.4    269  +26   -29   0.49   092  +57       N/A   N/A / Map / Offsets
2015 01 27 030000 08 38 08.0 +14 55 30   0.0090  0.994  176.3   3.7   9.1  129.91    015.3    271  +30   -32   0.49   092  +54       N/A   N/A / Map / Offsets
2015 01 27 031500 08 38 43.3 +15 26 40   0.0090  0.994  176.8   3.2   9.1  128.65    015.3    272  +33   -35   0.49   092  +51       N/A   N/A / Map / Offsets
2015 01 27 033000 08 39 18.3 +15 57 33   0.0090  0.994  177.2   2.7   9.1  127.39    015.2    274  +36   -38   0.50   092  +48       N/A   N/A / Map / Offsets
2015 01 27 034500 08 39 52.9 +16 28 08   0.0091  0.994  177.7   2.3   9.0  126.12    015.2    275  +40   -41   0.50   092  +46       N/A   N/A / Map / Offsets
2015 01 27 040000 08 40 27.2 +16 58 24   0.0091  0.994  178.1   1.9   9.0  124.84    015.2    277  +43   -45   0.50   092  +43       N/A   N/A / Map / Offsets
2015 01 27 041500 08 41 01.2 +17 28 23   0.0092  0.994  178.4   1.6   9.0  123.56    015.1    279  +46   -48   0.50   092  +40       N/A   N/A / Map / Offsets
2015 01 27 043000 08 41 34.8 +17 58 03   0.0092  0.994  178.6   1.4   9.0  122.27    015.1    281  +49   -51   0.50   092  +37       N/A   N/A / Map / Offsets
2015 01 27 044500 08 42 08.2 +18 27 24   0.0093  0.994  178.6   1.4   9.0  120.97    015.1    283  +53   -54   0.50   091  +34       N/A   N/A / Map / Offsets
2015 01 27 050000 08 42 41.2 +18 56 27   0.0093  0.994  178.5   1.5   9.0  119.67    015.1    285  +56   -57   0.50   091  +31       N/A   N/A / Map / Offsets
2015 01 27 051500 08 43 14.0 +19 25 11   0.0093  0.994  178.2   1.8   9.1  118.37    015.1    288  +59   -60   0.50   091  +28       N/A   N/A / Map / Offsets
2015 01 27 053000 08 43 46.5 +19 53 36   0.0094  0.994  177.8   2.1   9.1  117.07    015.1    290  +62   -63   0.50   091  +25       N/A   N/A / Map / Offsets
2015 01 27 054500 08 44 18.7 +20 21 42   0.0094  0.994  177.5   2.5   9.1  115.76    015.1    294  +65   -66   0.51   091  +22       N/A   N/A / Map / Offsets
2015 01 27 060000 08 44 50.7 +20 49 29   0.0095  0.994  177.0   2.9   9.2  114.46    015.1    298  +68   -68   0.51   091  +19       N/A   N/A / Map / Offsets
2015 01 27 061500 08 45 22.5 +21 16 57   0.010   0.994  176.6   3.4   9.2  113.16    015.1    303  +71   -71   0.51   091  +16       N/A   N/A / Map / Offsets
2015 01 27 063000 08 45 54.0 +21 44 06   0.010   0.994  176.2   3.8   9.3  111.86    015.1    310  +74   -73   0.51   091  +13       N/A   N/A / Map / Offsets
2015 01 27 064500 08 46 25.4 +22 10 57   0.010   0.994  175.7   4.2   9.3  110.57    015.2    319  +76   -74   0.51   090  +10       N/A   N/A / Map / Offsets
2015 01 27 070000 08 46 56.6 +22 37 28   0.010   0.994  175.3   4.7   9.3  109.28    015.2    331  +79   -76   0.51   090  +07       N/A   N/A / Map / Offsets
2015 01 27 071500 08 47 27.6 +23 03 40   0.010   0.994  174.9   5.1   9.4  108.00    015.3    347  +80   -76   0.51   090  +04       N/A   N/A / Map / Offsets
2015 01 27 073000 08 47 58.4 +23 29 33   0.010   0.994  174.4   5.5   9.4  106.72    015.3    007  +81   -75   0.51   090  +01       N/A   N/A / Map / Offsets
2015 01 27 074500 08 48 29.2 +23 55 07   0.010   0.995  174.0   5.9   9.4  105.45    015.4    027  +80   -74   0.51   090  -02       N/A   N/A / Map / Offsets
2015 01 27 080000 08 48 59.7 +24 20 23   0.010   0.995  173.6   6.4   9.5  104.19    015.5    044  +79   -72   0.52   090  -05       N/A   N/A / Map / Offsets
2015 01 27 081500 08 49 30.2 +24 45 20   0.010   0.995  173.2   6.8   9.5  102.94    015.6    056  +77   -70   0.52   090  -08       N/A   N/A / Map / Offsets
2015 01 27 083000 08 50 00.6 +25 09 58   0.010   0.995  172.7   7.2   9.5  101.70    015.7    065  +74   -68   0.52   090  -11       N/A   N/A / Map / Offsets
2015 01 27 084500 08 50 30.9 +25 34 17   0.010   0.995  172.3   7.6   9.6  100.47    015.8    072  +72   -65   0.52   089  -13       N/A   N/A / Map / Offsets
2015 01 27 090000 08 51 01.2 +25 58 18   0.010   0.995  171.9   8.0   9.6   99.25    015.9    077  +69   -62   0.52   089  -16       N/A   N/A / Map / Offsets
2015 01 27 091500 08 51 31.3 +26 22 01   0.010   0.995  171.5   8.4   9.6   98.05    016.0    082  +66   -59   0.52   089  -19       N/A   N/A / Map / Offsets
2015 01 27 093000 08 52 01.5 +26 45 26   0.010   0.995  171.1   8.8   9.6   96.86    016.1    085  +63   -56   0.52   089  -21       N/A   N/A / Map / Offsets
2015 01 27 094500 08 52 31.6 +27 08 33   0.010   0.995  170.7   9.2   9.7   95.68    016.3    088  +60   -53   0.52   089  -24       N/A   N/A / Map / Offsets
2015 01 27 100000 08 53 01.7 +27 31 22   0.010   0.995  170.3   9.6   9.7   94.52    016.4    091  +57   -50   0.52   089  -26       N/A   N/A / Map / Offsets
2015 01 27 101500 08 53 31.7 +27 53 53   0.010   0.995  169.9  10.0   9.7   93.37    016.5    093  +54   -47   0.53   089  -29       N/A   N/A / Map / Offsets
Saturday
Jan172015

ALERT! Comet 15P Finlay in Outburst Again

Location of 15P Finlay at astronomical twilight from Mayhill New Mexico. The comet is in Aquarius heading for Piscies.

Comet 15P Finlay appears to be in outburst again , and has been reported to be around magnitude 8, when it's predicted magnitude is 12.5.

A confirmation image indicating it is indeed in outburst again has been obtained by Michael Mattiazzo using iTelescope T5.

At astronomical twilight the comet is 27 degrees above the horizon from New Mexico (similar distances for Spain), and below the travel limit from the SSO scopes.

Location of 15P Finlay at astronomical twilight from Mayhill New Mexico at telescopic scale. The large rectangle is the field of view of T14, the small that of T5, T11 is in-between.

Observations are requested to follow the evolution of this outburst. 

Please pass any observations on to comets-ml, comet-obs or the Comet Observation Database.

 

MPC one line ephemeris:

0015P         2014 12 27.0552  0.975900  0.720183  347.5527   13.7782    6.7990  20141209  12.0  4.0    15P/Finlay

 

Thursday
Dec182014

ALERT! Comet 15P Finlay in Outburst

Location of 15P Finlay at astronomical twilight from the SSO.

Comet 15P Finlay appears to be in outburst, and has been reported to be around magnitude 9, 2.5 mgnitudes brighter than predicted.

Unfortunately, at astronomical twilight the comet s only 13 dgerees above the hroizon from SSO, lower from the northern scopes.

 

MPC 1 line ephemeris.
0015P         2014 12 27.0572  0.975902  0.720184  347.5534   13.7777    6.7990  20141209  12.0  4.0    15P/Finlay


Sunday
Nov092014

ALERT! Comet C/2014 R1 Borisov near M61 and its Supernova

Path of comet C/2014 R1 Borisov and M61 as seen from Mayhill New Mexico. The small rectangle is the field of view of T9, the large the field of view of T14. Click to embiggen.

On 2014 Nov 10 at 22:53 UT comet C/2014 R1 Borisov will be 0° 53' 48"from M61, currenty sporting a nice supernova. This is best seen from the Northern iTelescopes, but still difficult as M61 is just 26 degrees above the horizon at Astronomical twilight in the morning.

The best mornings are on the 10th and 11th, when from Mayhill the comet is 59' from M61. Hat tip to Dídac Mesa Romeu  for the heads up.

 

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