Check out this NASA page
Most nasa sites are overloaded, but this page works.
Select LASCO C3 and a number of frames (5 per hour) to see a cool video of the comet approaching the sun.
According to reports from the AAVSO, the nova in Delphinus peaked earlier today at a magnitude of about 4.5. I just looked at it this evening, and the nova has dimmed to 4.9. Finder & comparison charts can be found by clicking on the title above and following the links.
Janice and I went out this evening to try to see the nova that appeared today. We spent a few minutes identifying the field and then found the nova easily by about 9:55. This is the first time we've actually seen one. Thanks to Joe for the notification. This one is an easy binocular target with 7x50 binos. A chart can be found at the sky and telescope web site. John Gauvreau has determined a magnitude of 5.7 which based on what we saw is pretty darn close.
I am sure every sky-watcher can recognize CORONA BOREALIS, the beautiful constellation of the Northern Crown found in the spring sky, rising high in the East after dark.
After many years at minimum brightness (and I mean as faint as magnitude 15), the variable star R Coronae Borealis is slowly brightening again. If you have binoculars, you can watch it brighten slowly this spring until it reaches magnitude 6 again.
R CrB variables are normally bright, but can accumulate a cloud-like covering of carbon. Until that carbon shell is burned off, these stars can be dimmed up to 10 magnitudes. This star has a habit of dimming and then regaining its brightness within a few months.
Strangely, since 2007 R CrB has been only 1/10,000 its normal brightness. Moreover, whereas R CrB usually springs back to magnitude 6 quickly, this latest recovery is taking a long time. The AAVSO chart below graphs R CrB's visual brightness for the last 10 years. You can see the star's swift dip and recovery in 2003, contrasted with the several years at minimum and the most recent - very slow - recovery.
This is a star worth watching again!
This evening Jim, Mario and I had the opportunity to test out the new loaner scope that has been donated to the club. It's a 90mm achromat refractor from Skywatcher on an alt-azimuth mount with slow motion controls and a couple of eyepieces.
There was a light cloud but Jupiter proved bright enough to shine through. Often this can enhance planetary views, as the clouds cut down on glare. The seeing was quite steady and the scope proved worthy.
Using eyepieces of 25mm, 12.4mm, 9.7mm and 6.4mm we were able to obtain a variety of magnifications. The scope held up well even with the highest magnification of about 150x. Jupiter showed all four moons on one side of the planet, with one quite close to the planet's limb. Jupiter itself showed both equatorial belts, the temperate belts, darkening at the poles and the red spot. Detail was visible in the main belts, and the views were very pleasing. One aspect that could use improvement is the diagonal. The scope came with a correct image Amici prism, which is great for terrestrial viewing, but doesn't give as good a view as a good quality right-angle diagonal. Maybe somebody out there has a spare that can be used with this scope.
All three of us were very satisfied with the new scope. This is a truly fine beginners scope. The clouds prevented us from any other observations, but I'm sure that those who are lucky enough to use this scope under the loaner program will have many enjoyable views.
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