Observatory Logo

From: TerryMosel@aol.com
Date: Sun, 11 May 2003 10:27:13 EDT
Subject: Thanks, TVprog 2nite, Eclipse

Hi all,

1. Thanks to everyone who sent in reports of their observations of the 
Mercury transit (or clouds...): far too many for me to reply in detail to 
all! Some observers in Germany saw the ISS transit across the Sun at the same 
time as Mercury - details: 

On May 7 at 05:18:48 UT, 2.8 minutes after Mercury's second contact, the ISS 
entered the sun's disk just a few arcsecs east of Mercury, and hurried across 
within 4 seconds. Several observers noticed this event visually, some 
describe the shape as elongated or triangular, about as large as Mercury or 
somewhat larger. 
But obviously me and my son Alexander are the only lucky people who captured 
it on video, also photos are not known yet. Maybe the publication will incite 
further observers to review their recordings. 
Because of the larger field of view, I decided to use my old-fashioned VHS 
camera attached to my Celestron 8 plus focus reductor. But this caused the 
problem to gain a good digitized and compressed copy. Best thanks to Ulrich 
Rieth, another member of our local astronomy club "Astronomische 
Arbeitsgemeinschaft Mainz", for his decisive support!
Because we are still working on an improved version, it wasn't my intension 
to publish the preliminary one right now. But Ulrich sent a short sequence to 
http://www.spaceweather.com/ ... and please have a look, where it came out...
Now it happened!

2. Planetary astronomers & geologists/ geophysicists might be interested in 
this prog on Channel 4 at 20.00 tonight, Sunday: 
   "Magnetic Flip: No human has ever visited the Earth's core, but what 
happens there, 2,000 miles under the ground, profoundly affects everyday 
life. There, liquid iron generates a magnetic field that cocoons the planet 
from the dangers of space. But scientists have recently found a storm brewing 
within the Earth that could destroy this protection. This documentary 
attempts to explain why the field is rapidly shrinking - and what will happen 
if it disappears."
    This phenomenon was featured on a recent IAA Newsheet, and in my lecture 
on "Aliens - Where Are They?" ....

3. Don't forget to build up some sleep credit for the Total Lunar eclipse on 
15-16 May (Thurs night - Fri morning). The following times are BST:
Start oif Penumbral Phase (P1) Barely noticeable): 02h 05m 25s
Start of Umbral Phase (U1): 03h 02m 51s
Start of Total Phase: (U2) 04h 13m 49s
Mid Eclipse: 04h 40m 10s
End of Total Phase: (U3) 05h 06m 31s
End of Umbral Phase (U4): 06h 17m 29s

   Duration of Totality is just 52 mt 42s, and the sky will be brightening 
with dawn twilight towards the end of totality, especially for observers in 
the North-east. In fact at 05.00, just before the end of totality, the Sun is 
only 2 47' below the horizon from Belfast, so the eclipsed moon may not be 
visible at all in the twilight!  The Moon sets from Ireland just after the 
end of totality, so the later umbral stages will not be visible at all. The 
table gives the altitude & azimuth of the Moon at mid eclipse, and end of 
totality, from various cities.
                 Belfast           Dublin          Cork        Limerick
Mid Eclipse     4 31'; 227.   5 21'; 227. 7 28'; 22        5. 7 00'; 225
End Totality    1 48'; 232.   2 42'; 232.   4 38'; 230.   4 10'; 230
   The Moon passes though the North edge of the Earth's umbra, so the S edge 
of the Moon will appear darkest, although not even the S edge of the Moon 
passes through the centre of the umbra.
   Observers in SW Ireland will have the best view, with the Moon higher up, 
and the Sun further below the horizon, at all stages of the eclipse. That may 
make up for their weather during the Mercury transit!
   The Moon occults an 8m.7 magnitude star, TYC 6192-1038-1, or HD 137916, at 
about 04.30 during the eclipse: that event may just be visible if the sky is 
dark enough.

Good luck!

Terry Moseley

Last Revised: 2003 May 12th
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