This is from Mike Jefferson:
"LOFAR II, for January 21/2011, logged one C-class flare @ 12:00 noon of about 2.5 'magnitude' - not very large but interesting and satisfying after a barren period of weeks.
Today, the sun seems to have regressed back to its recent inactivity - but for how long?
For the 21st, the GOES data shows 5 small C-class, x-ray events, of which we bagged the one most significant. Another occurred during our night period and the other 3 were too small for LOFAR II to detect reliably.
According to NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory, sunspot 1149 in the sun's northern hemisphere is crackling with these C-class events, is where our event originated, is growing and is poised to possibly develop into an M-class event in the next short while.
HAAers should stay alert to the possibility of a cataclysmic solar event and possibly aurorae!"
--- Mike Jefferson
This weekend's weather forecast is calling for alarmingly cold temperatures. Even a keen observer would be reluctant to drag all their equipment outside in -20 degree weather. (That's cold enough to freeze your Bob's Knobs off!)
Matthew Mannering has an excellent article on observing with binoculars in the January issue of our newsletter. In his article, he states:
"Binoculars also have a very important role in my winter observing. Quite honestly there are lots of times I wouldn’t go out if I had to haul my big stuff out of the house. Cool down times for a large scope just get worse as the temperature drops and I don’t have a secure yard to go leaving it outside for hours at a time unattended. Mostly, I just take out my binos and within about 10 minutes they have reached equilibrium with the outdoor temperature. In fact you can start using them right away although you will notice some astigmatism and the focus will change continuously until they reach equilibrium. Better yet, when your toes and fingers start to turn blue; which I find seems to happen all of a sudden, tear down time is close to zero."
You can read his entire article on page 15 here: http://www.amateurastronomy.org/EH/January2011.pdf
Observing with binoculars is a great way to enjoy the crystal clear winter skies without having to spend too much time outdoors in these unappealing temperatures! You can check out the double stars in Orion that Steve mentions in his Sky This Month column (page 12 on this month's newsletter - see the above link) and in his blog posting of January 15th.
Here's a listing of the doubles i was expounding in my Talk last night.
They are in Orion.
All of these multiple star systems are within a minute of arc
in size. The tightest one, Zeta, is only 2.4 arc seconds, and will
test your telescope, but don't dispair, it's a triple star and you can
separate the larger separation easily.
In order of increasing difficulty,
(1) Mintaka, the western star in Orion's belt (2.2, 6.3)
(2) Iota, the tip of the sword, (2.8, 6.9). Note the colours
(3) and in the same field of view, Struve 747 (4.8, 5.7)
(4) Theta 2, a wider grouping just east of the Trapezium
(5) 1/3 degree south of Betelgeuse, is Struve 817. Evenly matched, 8.2 and 8.3. Can you discern which is the brighter one?
Now reach for the telescope...
(3) Lambda, Orion's Head (3.6, 5.5)
(2) Rigel, the western foot (or is it a knee?) (0.1, 6.8, 1/600 of a degree)
(8) Theta 1, the 'Trapezium' in the heart of the Orion Nebula - do you agree it's the finest looking multiple star system in the sky?
(9) Sigma, near the eastern star of Orion's Belt... it's one of the brightest and most massive double star in the sky.
Those stars are more than 30 thousand times brighter than the sun, each) (4.0, 7.5, 6.5) The close pair is 12 arcseconds.
(10) Zeta Orionis, the eastern star in Orion's Belt. It's a triple (1.9, 4.0, 9.9) (The close pair is 2.4 arcseconds apart)
9 of these are on the "Astronomical Leage's" top 100 Double Stars.
If you observe them, do a little sketch. If you get these, and the other 90, there's an award for you!
Watch this blog for upcoming celestial events (ie. occultations, transits, supernova sightings, etc.)
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