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2012 DA14 live webcast

Weather permitting we are going to try to do a live webcast of the 2012 DA14 close approach tonight. This will consist of periodically updated live images from a small telescope with a field of view of around 1 degree. We’ve not had much time to test this so it may or may not work for various reasons but you might like to keep an eye on the following page:

http://britastro.org/live/page.htm

If the weather cooperates the first live images should appear around 20:10 as the object rises above my local horizon. At that time it will be around magnitude 7.5 and moving at around 41 arcsec/sec.

19:15 – Currently the sky here in Chelmsford is totally cloud covered and so the live webcast is unlikely to show much early on. The forecast for later this evening is a bit better.

20:15 – 2012 DA14 is now clear of my horizon obstructions but it is still cloudy here. It may clear later.

22:10 – Still cloudy in Essex but Denis Buczynski has obtained a nice image from Tarbatness.

2012 DA14 from NE Scotland

Unfortunately, the sky never cleared in Chelmsford so we had nothing to show during the webcast. We’ll try again in the future when another interesting astronomical event takes place.

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Friday’s close approach of asteroid 2012 DA14

We are now just a few days away from the dramatic passage of this near-Earth asteroid, which takes place on 2013 February 15 approaching to within 27,700 km of the Earth’s surface at about 19:24 UT on that day whilst travelling at 7.8 km/sec. During the last week many more observatories have imaged the object, in particular; Mount John Observatory, New Zealand (MPC Code 474); the 2.0-m Faulkes Telescope South (which is now back in business after last month’s devastating bushfires which badly affected Siding Spring and the surrounding community) (MPC Code E10); as well as the new LCOGT 1.0-m ‘B’ telescope at Cerro Tololo, Chile (MPC Code W86).

Reaching 7th magnitude, it will be the brightest-ever NEO to be observed approaching the vicinity of our planet (<0.1 AU) and will be visible with modest telescopic aid, e.g. binoculars. 2012 DA14 will pass about 10x closer to the Earth than our companion Moon. To put this in perspective, scientists at NASA’s Near-Earth Object Program Office in Pasadena, California estimate that an asteroid the size of 2012 DA14 flies this close every 40 years on average and that one will impact Earth, on average, about once in every 1,200 years!

Depending on your location, you are advised to obtain your local topocentric RA and Dec coordinates from websites such as can be found at:

Minor Planet Center ephemeris service

HORIZONS Web-Interface

NEODyS-2

 You will need to enter either your latitude and longitude, or the MPC Code of a nearby observatory.

I have prepared a chart for the interval 19:50-21:00 UT in anticipation of the object’s visibility soon after it rises near the eastern horizon as seen from the southern UK. A second chart covers the later period, 21:00-01:00 UT on the evening of Feb 15/16. Full observing details and a 5-minute ephemerides for UK observers are also available here. The charts are probably usable by all UK observers since the object will be conspicuous owing to the fact that it will be seen to be moving in real time. Look with binoculars or a small telescope within a degree or so of the predicted position at any given time and it should ‘jump out’ as a moving star.

The weather forecast for most of the UK is not especially favourable owing to excessive cloud but watch out for gaps which may appear especially in the Norfolk area. Observers located in north-east Scotland may be best-placed weather-wise. Currently southern Spain is predicted to have clearest skies in Europe for this event. Further weather updates will be provided.

NASA have set up a very informative webpage with useful FAQs, orbit diagrams and some videos of interviews, etc.

Richard Miles  (Director, Asteroids and Remote Planets Section)

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Aurora and Fireball by John Mason

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Observer
John Mason
Time of observation
10/02/2013 - 08:45
Object
Aurora and Fireball
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While out observing the aurora on the evening of 8th February, Dr Mason reports that he was lucky enough to capturea mag -7 fireball as it dropped down towards the auroral curtain.The picture was taken at 2124 UT from a ship off the Norwegian coast between Rorvik and Bronnoysund. Canon 550D, 10 mm f/2.8 Sigma fisheye, 3200 ISO, 10 second exposure.

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273P Pons-Gambert

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Observer
Andrew Robertson
Time of observation
05/02/2013 - 17:30
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visual observation and drawing by Andrew Robertson Observing Notes: 12" D-K Mewlon used with diagonal so laterally inverted. The sky was quite transparent and I would have said about mag 5.5 in the region of Polaris except there was a 32% moon not that far from the comet brightening the sky considerably. I was quite hopeful; When I sketched C/2012 K5 last month I believed it was about mag 10.5 although it may have been a mag brighter but either way it was very easy and I could readily see it in my 4" Vixen FLS. So as 273P was predicted at m9.5 I was hoping to see it readily in the Vixen only a degree away from the open cluster NGC 6633 but nothing (did see the cluster). Tried the Mewlon with a 40mm Pentax e/p giving x90 and nothing (other than field stars). Looked up and a saw a bit of thin cloud passing. Once it had cleared I could see a very faint low SB patch embedded near a couple of stars, it was a bit like looking at IC 10! Doubled the power to x180 with a 20mm Pentax e/p and the nucleus became more obvious between two faintish stars, one a bit brighter than the other but which made it hard to define the boundary. I was surprised at how much harder it was than C/2012 K5. The moon wasn't helping but it was still a reasonably dark/transparent sky even though only 21 degs altitude. I could glimpse with averted vision a very long but thin very tenuous tail and at times I felt convinced I could glimpse a shorter even more tenuous second one but could well have got this wrong. Anyway I sketched as I perceived it at times with averted vision. Although the comet got higher as I observed it, so did that moon and the latter was winning such that what detail I initially perceived slowly vanished.
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C/2012 F6 Lemmon

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Time of observation
05/02/2013 - 11:23
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ccd image and observation
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C/2012 F6 Lemmon

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Time of observation
05/02/2013 - 11:22
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C/2012 F6 Lemmon

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Time of observation
05/02/2013 - 11:22
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C/2012 S1 ISON

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Time of observation
05/02/2013 - 11:21
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C/2012 S1 ISON

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Time of observation
05/02/2013 - 11:21
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Clavius on 22nd January by Leo Aerts

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Observer
Leo Aerts
Time of observation
03/02/2013 - 09:15
Object
The Moon
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This image of the lunar crater Clavius was taken on 22nd January, 2013 by Leo using a Celestron 14 inch Schmidt Cass and a 1.8x Barlow. The image wqas taken through a Baader red filter.

Copyright of all images and other observations submitted to the BAA remains with the owner of the work. Reproduction of the work by third-parties is expressly forbidden without the consent of the copyright holder. For more information, please contact the webmaster.

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