Philae lander accomplished its mission and is now in hibernation. See Update below.
Last site update: November 25, 2014
Comet PanSTARRS (C/2012K1) IS BACK in December! See Comet News below.
Next BAS viewing session at Fox is Dec 20.
Looking for CANON lenses? or a 16-inch Dobsonian??? See our STUFF FOR SALE.
The Bluewater Astronomical Society is a group of amateur astronomers that love stargazing and sharing the hobby with others. We promote astronomy education in the Bluewater counties of Bruce and Grey by holding star gazing sessions, lectures and astronomy events for anyone interested in learning more about the night sky. We have a large, modern facility, the ES Fox Observatory on the grounds of the Bluewater Outdoor Education Centre of the Bluewater Education Foundation. There we show, to young and old alike, views of the moon, planets, star clusters, galaxies and nebulae. Join us at our public stargazing sessions (see below or click on Coming Events) for some heavenly views under one of the last truly dark sky locations in Ontario.
The BOEC was declared a Dark Sky Preserve in Nov. 2012, Canada’s 15th DSP. At the ES Fox Observatory, we have a large reflecting telescope (a 28-inch Webster) and we use it regularly in our public viewing sessions.
CURRENT ASTRONOMY NEWS
ROSETTA UPDATE: Nov 14, 2014
Nov. 14: Philae Between a Rock and Hard Place:
The comet lander Philae apparently bounced THREE times and on the last one came up against a bit of a rock wall with one leg up off the ground and pointing skyward. That's the bad news.
The good news is that it is alive, taking data from some instruments, and has battery power for about 60 hours of operation. On the down side is that its solar panels are only getting about 1.5 hours of sunshine vs the 6 they hoped to have so the energy budget is meager.
Controllers are hopeful that they may be able to bring the craft to a more horizontal position perhaps as part of the process of deploying experiments. The drill sampler for ex. has to be close to perpendicular contact with the ground to work properly and to transfer the sample to the analyzer. It should be noted that Philae was designed with the capability of hopping across the surface, but the attitude of the vehicle may be a problem with that option. Also the harpoons that should have anchored it to the first touchdown point did not fire for an unknown reason. That would have anchored it to that spot and avoided the issues that now plague the mission. Still, even if horizontal, the vehicle is in a shady spot on the surface and the amount of sunlight may not go up.
On the first hop, Philae traveled over a kilometre and took just over 2 hours to come back down. This is some indication of how weak the pull of gravity is from this comet. The third bounce was just a few minutes.
Incidentally, the first touchdown occurred right in the middle of the target zone -an achievement that is of some pride to the flight dynamics engineers.
The three images below show first, the original target zone and a possible actual final touchdown point, second the comet surface visible from the onboard camera and third a re-construction of the attitude of Philae as seen from above using the 6 images taken so far showing the surface around the lander. It looks like a pretty rough spot....
The situation is changing very quickly. The latest is that controllers have sent commands to improve the orientation of Philae to get more sunlight on the panels and it did perform a hop. It did not apparently succeed as well as expected. Before the power drained out, all experiments were deployed, even the ones requiring movement so the science is being done frantically it appears... Even the drilling into the surface went ahead on the last few ergs of energy. Then Philae went to "sleep" as it was programmed to do when the energy was insuffiicient to continue operations. Do have a look at the ESA website for the latest: http://rosetta.esa.int/
Additional information is available from NASA at http://www.nasa.gov/rosetta and ESA here: http://rosetta.esa.int/
(PSST: Comets do NOT move this quickly!)
Comet Siding Spring spotted by spacecraft around Mars.
Read all about it here: Universe Today: Comet at Mars
Artist's impression of Comet near Mars and position of Spacecraft
COMETS (potentially) VISIBLE IN OUR SKY Right Now:
Note: The comets listed below will all probably stay binocular objects.
Comet PanSTARRS C/2012K1 chart available here: C/2012K1 to Feb 5
For up-to-date information on all the recently discovered comets, check this excellent website: http://www.aerith.net/comet/weekly/current.html .
BAS CALENDAR OF EVENTS
BAS regular meetings are the 1st Wed on the month. Next meeting is at the
GREY ROOTS MUSEUM, Dec 3, 2014.
A quick look summary of all BAS events for 2014 can be found here: 2014 Events Summary
Note there may be minor changes in this list as dates approach. For up-to-date listing, see our 3-month list below or click on the COMING EVENTS page for detailed monthly information.
NOTE: BAS Meetings and Public Viewing at Grey Roots Museum are open to the public and there is no charge. BAS viewing at ES Fox Observatory is either open to the public (see dates below) or for members and guests. HOWEVER, we welcome out-of-town guests AT NO CHARGE on all of our observing nights. We will do our best to accommodate you!
Individuals or groups may request private tours on other dates (subject to availability of guides) by contacting John Hlynialuk, email: email@example.com or Aaron Top, email: firstname.lastname@example.org There is a fee for private tours.
Events list below is now updated to the end of December 2014.
See COMING EVENTS page for more details about the following events:
EVENTS November 2014 and December 2014
Nov 5 Wed BAS meeting Grey Roots Museum 7 pm Member’s Night and Gadget Night contact email@example.com for more or to request a time slot for your gadget.
Nov 6 Thu (FM) Night of the Full Moon “Frosty Moon”
Nov 12 Wed Rosetta spacecraft lander Philae touches down on surface of Comet 67/P C-G
Nov 17 Mon (NM-4) Leonid meteors 20/h at peak 7 pm, Moon 20% and waning
Nov 20 Thu (NM-2) Asteroid Juno (magnitude 9.1) occults 7.4 mag star SAO 117176. Drop in brightness of star will be 2.3 magnitudes, a substantial change. Ground track is north of Huntsville so travel is required.
Nov 22 Sat (NM) BAS viewing @Fox @dark. Members and guests welcome!
Dec 3 Wed BAS meeting Grey Roots Museum 7 pm Topic: 2014 in images/Xmas meeting
Dec 6 Sat (FM) Night of the Full Moon “Moon before Yule”
Dec 9 Tue (FM+3) Double Shadow Transit on Jupiter from 11:18 am to 11:27 am EST (both shadows near limb)
Dec 13/14 Sat/Sun (LQ) Geminid Meteor Shower, viewing from ES Fox, 120/h at peak 7 am Sun , LQ Moon rises at midnight Dec 13
Dec 20 Sat (NM-1) Winter Solstice 6:03 pm EST. BAS viewing @Fox @dark. Members and guests welcome!
Dec 21 Sun (NM)
ES Fox Observatory Clear Sky Chart
Note: the chart below may not show the current cloud patterns.Click anywhere on the chart for the current display. If chart is still out of date try clearing your browser cache.
If the auroral oval is showing an intense RED, then aurora borealis may be visible from your location. Note that the auroral oval graphic is updated regularly. Time is indicated at the top. Subtract 5 h from UT to get local EST, subtract 4 h for DST or use the appropriate factor for your time zone. For more information click on the graphic to go to the NOAA Space Weather Prediction Centre.