2013-11-14

Comet ISON is visible naked-eye!

This morning (05:00 UTC), I spotted ISON with my 10x50 binoculars and estimated it's brightness to be around 6mag, probably even brighter. I'm pretty sure about this, since the comet was clearly as bright as nearby star HD109704 (5.9mag) and brighter than HD111199 (6.3mag). My observation was also quickly confirmed by an independent observer at Hannover observatory.

2013-11-11

Double-tailed comet ISON

Last night I finally had the chance to hunt for Comet C/2012 S1 ISON again - my first time in November. The sky was not perfectly clear, a littly hazy and pretty light-polluted. Nevertheless I could spot ISON with both 14x80 and 10x50 bioculars. For the first time, ISON showed a double-tail on my images. The comet is finally ramping up!

2013-11-08

Comet, Asteroid, or what?

The recently discovered object P/2013 P5 (PANSTARRS), designated as a comet, is messing up the order of small objects in the solar system. It is circling the sun at the inner rim of the main asteroid belt, but images taken with the Hubble Space Telescope on September 10 and 23 reveal no less than six rapidly evolving dust tails, the typical attribute of a comet.

2013-11-06

New developments on Comet ISON (UPDATE Nov. 13)

Comet ISON is racing towards perihelion (Nov. 28), and things are starting to get interesting. If you browse the Internet, you'll find all kinds of forecasts on the comet's near future. Don't ask me which side to believe - I honestly do not know! And since I don't think anybody else really does know what's going on with this 4km-1km??chunk of rock and ice right know, my advice is simple: Don't listen too much to the augurs - look at the facts! These are interesting enough - there is definitely something going on right now with comet ISON.

2013-11-01

Morning show: four comets in the sky (with maps and images)

Now that the moon finally made way, the stage is set for a rare show in the morning sky: four (fairly) bright comets together in the same celestial area. All of them are visible with small telescopes and binoculars, at least under dark skies. There is even a first report of one of them being spotted naked-eye by an experienced observer. To help finding them over the next nights, I prepared some maps and share some recently made images.

2013-10-12

ISON is getting brighter...

...and still shows no signs of an "impending demise". After a painful 10 day shutdown (as a result of pertinacious cloud cover, which reminds me of my real problem once ISON makes it's perihelion: the terrible northern European weather in December) I managed to image the comet this morning. It looks considerably brighter and bigger than before.

2013-10-07

Demystifying my first "UFO"

If you ever wondered why “UFOs” are rarely reported by those who regularly have their eye on the night sky, especially amateur astronomers, here’s why: Most of these “unidentified objects” are well known to us – bright planets, satellites or airplanes, or the infamous “weather balloon”. But when, in very rare cases, experienced observers get to see something “unidentified”, things get interesting. Here's the story of our first “UFO”, and of some able amateurs who managed to demystify it.

2013-10-03

Is comet ISON disintegrating – right now?

Discussion if comet C/2012 S1 ISON will survive it’s perihelion started shortly after it's discovery in 2012. It is still well possible that the 5 km wide comet will break apart on November 28, when it almost scratches the solar photosphere. But now, Ignacio Ferrín of the University of Antioquia in Medellín, Colombia, thinks ISON is turning off or breaking up right now, still almost two astronomical units far from the sun. If this holds true, then better say goodbye to the hoped for “comet of the century”. But that might be a little premature.

Welcome to SkyLights!

Here it is, my new blog about astronomy and space science! 

SkyLights is supposed to be the "English issue" of my German blog "Himmelslichter", started back in 2007. As an amateur astromer, amateur astrophotographer, former astrophysicist, I blog about everything that`s interesting about astronomy and space science, no matter if it's amateur astronomy or the "hard" science.

Since 2008 I work as a free-lance science writer. My articles have been published in Sterne und Weltraum, Spektrum der Wissenschaft, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung and Sky&Telescope.

I hope you will find some interesting as well as fascinating stuff here. Enjoy!

Jan