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BEWARE THE MARS HOAX: For the seventh year in a row, an email is circulating the internet claiming that Mars will approach Earth and swell to the size of a full Moon on August 27th. It's an historic event! It's also a hoax. Mars will be 314 million km from Earth on August 27th, shining in the western sunset sky like an ordinary red star of medium brightness. To see Mars as large as the full Moon, you'll have to board a spaceship.
FIREBALL ON JUPITER: On August 20th at 18:22 UT, amateur astronomer Masayuki Tachikawa of Kumamoto city, Japan, video-recorded an apparent impact on Jupiter. Click on the image to view a movie of the fireball:
This is the third time in only 13 months that amateur astronomers have detected signs of impact on Jupiter. The earlier events occured on July 19, 2009, and June 3, 2010. This weekend's impact, if that's what it was, has not been confirmed by multiple observers, but it resembles the uncontroversial impact of June 3, 2010, and appears to be genuine.
"Like the event of June 3rd, this fireball did not produce any visible debris," notes John Rogers, director of the British Astronomical Association's Jupiter section. "Here are some hi-resolution images taken 1-2 rotations before and 1-2 rotations after the event. As the observers commented, there was no visible mark (not in RGB, nor UV, nor methane), post-impact. Dark brown spots on the North Equatorial Belt were already there before the fireball."
Stay tuned for updates!
ANTARCTIC DRIVE-IN THEATRE: Where do you go to see a movie in Antarctica? The drive-in theatre, of course. Michael Zupanc reports from Australia's Davis Station on the Antarctic coast: "We made our our own drive-in threatre by clearing some snow off the sea ice and using a nearby cliff as the movie screen." On August 7th there was a double feature--the Blues Brothers and the aurora australis:
"It was a nice, clear night and the auroras provided excellent mood lighting for Jake and Elwood," says Zupanc.
We hope they're in the mood for more. A solar wind stream is heading for Earth and it could spark a new round of geomagnetic activity when it arrives on August 25th. High-latitude sky watchers should remain alert for auroras.
August 2010 Northern Lights Gallery
[previous Augusts: 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003]
2010 Perseid Photo Gallery
[meteor radar] [Perseid fireball cam]