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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 (174)

Monday
Nov022015

ALERT! Observations Requested for V5668 Sgr (Nova Sgr 2015 No. 2)

Location of V5668 Sgr (Nova Sgr 2015 No. 2) as sen from the SSO Scopes at astronomical twilight. At the end of astronomical twilight in the evening Nova Sag 2 is 40 degrees above the horizon from the SSO scopes and too low for the northern hemisphere sopes. Click to embiggen.

Coordinates: R.A. 18 36 56.84   Dec. -28 55 39.8  (2000.0)

The AAVSO has requested observations of V5668 Sgr (Nova Sgr 2015 No. 2) in support of Hubble Space Telescope observations of the nova.

Observations are needed of brightness ahead of the Hubble observations to set the correct exposudre to quote the AAVSO.

"The STIS observation will be carried out on 2015 November 6 around 01 hour UT. Beginning immediately, observers are requested to observe V5668 Sgr in B, V, and SDSS g' bands. Because the spectra will be taken in the UV and far UV regions, the bluer the monitoring band, the better; B photometry will be particularly valuable. Visual observations are also welcome. Nightly observations are requested through November 13; time series observations are not necessary."

 High magnification chart of the area around V5668 Sgr, the rectangle is the field of view of T12. T12 doesn't have B filters, but does have blue. Most of the other scopes are a bit too narrow field. Click to embiggen.

Nova Coordinates: R.A. 18 36 56.84   Dec. -28 55 39.8  (2000.0)

Please submit observations promptly to the AAVSO International Database using the name "V5668 SGR".

Information on submitting observations to the AAVSO may be found at:
https://www.aavso.org/webobs

 

Magnitude comparison chart with simlar FOV and orientation to the spotter chart.  Click to embiggen.

 

Wednesday
Oct212015

ALERT! Observations Requested for Bizarre Kepler Star KIC 08462852

Location of KIC 08462852 from Mayhill NM at astronomical twilight. 30 Cyg is shown for orientation with the medium resolution map. Click to embiggen.

The inter tubes have been in uproar about the Kepler star KIC 08462852, a star with highly unusual dips in light intensity.  The Kepler probe was designed to find extrasolar planets by watching for the minute dips in a stars light as a planet crosses in front of it.

KIC 08462852 is highly unusual in that it has quite strong decreases in light intensity, far deeper than a Jupiter-style planet would produce, and the dips can last several days.

Bizarrely, the dips in the light are asymmetric and aperiodic, with dips occurring anywhere between 20 days apart to over a year apart (500 days).

Medium resolution finder chart chart of the  location of KIC 08462852, 30 Cyg and TYC 3559-2126-1 are show for orientation, the rectangle is the field of view of T5 and T17. Click to embiggen.

Various explanations have been tried, and rejected for this behaviour, the leading one being a swarm of evaporating comets. However the public imagination (or at least the imagination of the tabloids), was caught by the (unlikely) possibility that this represents the signature of an orbiting alien megastructure.

Whatever is the explanation, continued examination of this fascination star is required.

Observations have been requested by the AAVSO for KIC 08462852 in multiple bands, at least V and B, in order to try and work out the source of the variability.

High resolution finder chart chart of the  location of KIC 08462852, TYC 3559-2126-1 is shown for orientation with the medium resolution map, the rectangle is the field of view of T5 and T17. Click to embiggen.

KIC 08462852 is reasonably bright, magnitude 11.88, and should be well suitable for imaging with 30-60 second exposures (around 10 exposures should be enough for a good determination). Peter Lake has used 30 second images to profile this star.

The coordinates of KIC 08462852 are (J2000):  RA 20 06 15.46 , Dec +44 27 24.8. The star seems to be identical to TYC 3162-665-1.

You will need to have images from stars of known magnitude for comparison I have included the AAVSO magnitude comparison map as well for ease of use (click to mebiggen), or you can get it via the AAVSO start plotter.

Please promptly report all observations to the AAVSO International Database using the name "KIC 8462852"; please note the space between "KIC" and the identifier which is required for submission.

Information on submitting observations to the AAVSO may be found at: http://www.aavso.org/webobs

You can read more about KIC 08462852 in a recent paper by Boyajian et al. (2015), available at the following URL:    http://arxiv.org/abs/1509.03622

Thursday
Oct152015

ALERT! Bright NEO 2015 TB145 on 29-31 October, 2015

Newly discovered NEO 2015 TB145 as seen from Mayhill New Mexico from Astronomical twilight (4:55 am, 12:00 UT) 29 October - 31 October. The crosses mark the position of the asteroid every 2 Hours.

Near Earth Asteroid  2015 TB145 will  come close to Earth on 16:18 UT 31 October at distance of 0.003 AU (around 1.3 Earth-Moon distances). It is brightest at 12:30 UT on the 31st though. It has an estimated diameter of around 460m.

The asteroid is currently magnitude 19.5, and will be a reasonably bright magnitude 10.1 at closest approach.

It is visible from the Northern Hemisphere scopes for most of the time.  It will be visible from SSO scopes before brightest times (around magnitude 11) until astronomical twilight on the morning of the 31st local time.

At magnitude 10, 60 second exposures may be reasonable, shorter exposures may be too dim, at its brightest it will be moving too fast for the scopes to track.

NEO 2015 TB145 as seen from Mayhill New Mexico from Astronomical twilight (4:55 am, 12:00 UT) 30 October - 31 October.  The crosses mark the position of the asteroid every 30 minutes. The large rectangle is the field of view of T14. Click to embiggen.

NEO 2015 TB145 moves from Taurus to Orion, then back into Taurus (crossing the horns of the Bull) into Auriga (wehre it is brightest) then on to Lynx and beyond.

For the Northern Hemisphere scopes the asteroid is visible from around 10 pm to astronomical twilight in the morning. This allows observers to catch the NEO at its brightest.

It is moving fast (398.15 arc seconds/minute at its brightest), and is outside the reach of  the tracking capability of the iTelescopes at its brightest (closest approach, when it is even faster, is in daylight). You will need to use a topocentric ephemeris and camp out on the asteroid track in this case.

There is a  large parallax effect (> 30 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. Note that at the moment the JPL and MPEC ephemeris do not converge between the 29th and 1st Nov, reflecting how current orbital uncertanties feed into their orbit models, you you will need to keep checking uuntil they substantaiily onverge.

JPL ephemeris for astronomical twilight 31st      06 10 13.22 +32 21 01.1

MPEC ephemeris for astronomical twilight 31st  05 44 46.8 +26 28 06

The planning guides to viewing YU55 here and here will help organising topocentric ephemerides for close approaching NEO's.

You will need to use unguided exposures.

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 20 minutes. and the T14 in around 30 minutes at its brightest approach (due to the orientation of the CCD).

Wednesday
Sep302015

ALERT! Bright Nova in Sagittarius (again!), Observation Resquested.

Chart of the location of the bright nova recently reported in Sagittarius as seen from the SSO scopes. The nova is just above the "spout" of the teapot of Sagittarius. Click to embiggen.

The nova is best seen from the SSO observatories from around astronomical twilight in the evening, when it is 30 degrees above the horizon, and for about half an hour more.  The nova is imageable  from the northern hemisphere scopes at astronomical twilight (24 degrees above the horizon). The nova should be reasonably recognisable in a field of relatively dimmer stars, not far from globular cluster Djorg 2.

This is the third bright nova reported in Sagittarius. It is currently around magnitude 9 and may possibly brighten further.

Nova Sagittarii 2015 Number 3 = PNV J18033275-2816054. Its location is (J 2000.0): R.A. 18 03 32.70 Dec. -28 16 05.7. The AAVSO alert is here
https://www.aavso.org/aavso-alert-notice-528

Please report magnitude and any spectra to the AAVSO, see this link for information:
http://www.aavso.org/webobs

Tip of the hat to Patrick Schmeer

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