6
Aug 11

Earth from Space: Madagascar jellyfish

Source: ESA


Credits: JAXA, ESA.

The Betsiboka estuary in northwest Madagascar is pictured in this image from Japan’s ALOS observation satellite. (read more)

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6
Aug 11

Mars’ northern polar regions in transition

Source: ESA


Northern polar region of Mars at the northern hemisphere summer solstice.
Credits: ESA/DLR/FU Berlin (G. Neukum)

A newly released image from ESA’s Mars Express shows the north pole of Mars during the red planet’s summer solstice. All the carbon dioxide ice has gone, leaving just a bright cap of water ice.

This image was captured by the orbiter’s High-Resolution Stereo Camera on 17 May 2010 and shows part of the northern polar region of Mars during the summer solstice. The solstice is the longest day and the beginning of the summer for the planet’s northern hemisphere.(read more)

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6
Aug 11

Coming up: Comet Garradd


Comet Garradd (C/2009 P1) on August 2, 2011. Image credit: Peter Lake.

Comet Garradd is now getting brighter in the night sky and you can look for the fuzzy ball going from the constellation of Pegasus into the Summer Triangle (view map @Astro Bob). At a magnitude of about 9, it should be visible in a dark place with a small telescope or even binoculars. It will peak at February at a magnitude about 6 and shall pass closest to Earth in the beginning of March 2012 when it will be seen in the Little Dipper asterism.

Comet Garradd was discovered by G. J. Garradd (Siding Spring Observatory, Australia) on four images obtained on  August 13, 2009 . He was using the 0.5-m Uppsala Schmidt telescope and a CCD camera. The magnitude was given as 17.5-17.7 and the coma was described as circular and 15" across. The first confirmation was obtained by W. Robledo (El Condor Observatory, Cordoba) on August 14, 2009.

Upcoming Highlights (from Cometography)
# The comet will reach a maximum solar elongation of 149 degrees on 2011 August 8.
# After having moved northward since September 2010, the comet will attain a declination of +19.9 degrees on 2011 September 12 and will then turn southward.
# The southward motion will only continue until 2011 October 26, when the comet attains a declination of +18.7 degrees and will then resume a northward motion.
# The comet will reach a minimum solar elongation of 45 degrees on 2011 December 5.
# The comet will be closest to Earth on 2012 March 5 (1.27 AU).
# The comet will attain its most northerly declination of +70.7 degrees on 2012 March 11 and will move steadily southward for the remainder of the year.

# The comet will reach a maximum solar elongation of 112 degrees on 2012 March 17.

Links:
AstroBob
Gary W. Kronk's Cometography - C/2009 P1 (Garradd)
AstroSwanny's: garradd

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