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No 64 - December 2010

Recent observations


comet Hartley 2
Comet 103P/Hartley 2 on 2010-10-07, to the right of the open star clusters χ Per and h Per. This photograph by Horst Meyerdierks is a stack of 8 frames of 5 min exposure each. During the hour it took to take the frames, the comet moved significantly relative to the stars.

Alan Pickup posted on the Flickr group an image showing C/2009 R1 McNaught in June's twilight sky. Easier to photograph was 103P/Hartley 2 in October. Its perihelion occurred just outside the Earth's orbit with the Earth also on this side of the Sun. As a result the comet was for a while circumpolar and visible all night. Several members observed, or tried. It was quite large and not easy to see in binoculars.

Noctilucent cloud

As reported previously, Horst has teamed up with David Small to run his robotic NLC camera from David's kitchen window in the Borders. The 2010 season of NLC continued to be less intense than 2009 had been. Full reports and imagery are at Comparing the June and July data between 2009 and 2010, Horst had a similar number of nights with data (31 and 29 resp.). Of those nights with data, 60% had any NLC recorded (compared to 70% in 2009). Looking only for bright NLC (brightness 3 to 5) the fraction of nights with such bright NLC was 30%, almost half of the 2009 value of 55%. Hence, the weather was similar, but there was less NLC in 2010, and what NLC there was, was fainter than in 2009.

The previous Journal showed an NLC panorama that David took. The Imaging Group's Flickr group ( has a few images by Rachel Thomas.


Various images

Martin Allan, Carol Gentle and others continue taking pictures of various astronomical objects. Some can be found in the Flickr group, and one of Martin's pictures of Jupiter is shown here. Martin used an 8-inch f/10 Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope with 12.4 mm eyepiece. He used a digital camera with 17 mm focal length in afocal projection (i.e. the camera simply replaces the observer's eye behind the telescope). The 165x magnification of the telescope and eyepiece made the effective focal length 2720 mm. The 8 Mpix compact camera had a ~0.5 mm image of Jupiter on the sensor. No further image enhancement was applied.


Horst Meyerdierks takes an image of the Sun whenever possible and averages his spot counts in 30-day intervals. He reports the following R numbers (number of spots plus ten times the number of spot groups):

2010-03-25 / 2010-04-23 9.12010-07-23 / 2010-08-21 25.6
2010-04-24 / 2010-05-23 2.82010-08-22 / 2010-09-20 21.2
2010-05-24 / 2010-06-22 13.92010-09-21 / 2010-10-20 21.8
2010-06-23 / 2010-07-22 15.82010-10-21 / 2010-11-19 32.8


In early November, David Small, Carol Gentle and Danny Gallacher took part in flights out of Edinburgh and Glasgow airports to observe the aurora from near the Faroe Islands. They report to have seen aurora on the horizon and that there was movement in the display.


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Just the beginning!

Can't see the universe for the stars

Recent observations

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