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SOLAR ACTIVITY: Who says the sun is quiet? "This morning I looked through my SolarMax60 and saw this prominence starting to get really big," reports Paul Haese of Blackwood, Australia. The flame-like eruption is now dancing over the sun's western limb. If you have a solar telescope, take a look!
EXPLODING COMET: When the core of Comet 17P/Holmes erupted on Oct. 23rd, at first the comet looked like a dimensionless point of light in the night sky. But now "the comet's disk is visible to the naked eye," reports Doug Zubenel of Lincoln County, Kansas. The expansion of the debris cloud is shown in this doublet of images taken Oct. 25th and 26th by amateur astronomer Wah! of Hong Kong using an 8-inch LX200 telescope:
What is happening to Comet Holmes? It remains a mystery--one that you can behold with your naked eyes. Step outside after sunset, face north, and look for the growing and fuzzy "star" in the thigh of Perseus: sky map. Comet Holmes is similar in brightness to the stars of the Big Dipper, very easy to see!
Comet 17P/Holmes Photo Gallery
[sky map] [ephemeris] [3D orbit] [Night Sky Cameras]
BIG MOONLIGHT: Two nights ago in Ireland, Frank Ryan Jr and David Lillis were observing Comet Holmes with a 20-inch Dobsonian telescope when the bright full Moon rose in the east. Says Ryan, "we couldn't pass up the opportunity of projecting the Moon onto a wall to see the effect."
Photo details: Canon 350D, ISO 800, 2 Sec.
"It turned out to be pretty cool," he says.
Readers, the Moon will be big and bright for some nights to come. After you see the comet, try swinging your telescope over for a quick lunar projection. Be careful, though. This is a real crowd pleaser and before you know it you may have your hands full.
October 2007 Aurora Gallery
[September Gallery] [Aurora Alerts]