Saturday, 30 July 2016


AR12565 and 67: Odd Couple


Two spot groups unusually close together. A fine prominence was seen at the limb on Jul22 with AR’s 12565 and 12567 still 20° from the limb. That prominence was likely the filament recorded 20°W of the groups during their disc transit. While very bright plage was seen sandwiched between the two dominant (p) spots and some arf – no flares were logged; flaring was then steady at GOES B2.

More M-flares! A gale cut short the Jul22/23 session, but M5 and M7 flares erupted just 2hrs and 5hrs later! The latter, a twin peaked event, hosted a rare spray of ejecta, apparently from AR12565(Fig SDO log). The spot duo had attained high activity levels while rounding the limb. A 3hr patrol on Jul23/24 with the duo on the W limb only showed plage, some surges, arf and fragments of a flare loop; but an M2 flare erupted just 4hr later at local sunset, again unseen! 
(Zirin, H "Astrophysics of the Sun" (1986) defines a spray as "the ejecta of flares...spray velocities can be huge, up ro 2000km/sec" . . " as from the muzzle of a gun" p270, 280 298 etc)

Friday, 1 July 2016

N6397: plan ahead!


This globular has impressive stats: second nearest, fourth in Skiff’s list of brightest globulars and has the brightest members. Yet it is unimpressive when first viewed. This may be due to the small bright central cluster of stars, and the fact that the vast halo of 12/13mag stars is hard to see in small scopes. Full resolution seems to need a 12” scope or larger: the halo of faint stars is nearly 30min  arc dia.  It’s huge- almost the Moon’s apparent size: third largest after southern ‘giants’ Omega Cen and 47 Tuc. The sketch overflowed the page as more of the halo came into view! Plan Ahead!

A recent view in Bob S.'s 12" Dob showed what a spectacular thing N6397 is. Extra aperture makes a big difference.

Friday, 3 June 2016

B86: 'Inkspot' a stellar nursery?


B86 is, it seems, involved with cluster N6520: faint threads of dark nebulae seemed to ‘tie’ the cluster to the larger ‘inkspot’; or can the two objects be unrelated? The cluster’s distance is given as ~5000ly (1650 pc) but I found no such data for B86.

Star clusters do form in dark clouds and, once cluster members grow bright enough, their stellar winds blow the remaining dust away: perhaps the 54My old cluster is doing just that – and maybe, in time, another cluster will form inside B86? The fainter tendrils that now envelop the cluster and seem attached to B86 may well be in the process of being dispersed by the O-stars winds. And how do we account for the ‘sharp’ boundary on the west edge of B86 where it aligns with the chain of bright stars there? Are their stellar winds the cause of the sharp boundary? I noted two places where the nebula seemed to extend into the star chain:  Maybe this is happening here as chain-members grow brighter: is the whole of B86 liable to be blown apart and scattered into space in the (stellar) near future? 

Friday, 27 May 2016

M83 (N5236)

 M83, the brightest 'face-on' galaxy in the southern sky, it seems - at least for large spirals. Separating the 'arms' from the general round glow isn't so easy - and is very 'seeing' dependent. This was a good May night in 2015 - despite the gusts. Star mags. shown in case you spot a SN!

Saturday, 7 May 2016

N2442 Meathook Galaxy

A large but faint galaxy in the southern constellation Volans, the Flying Fish. This area is severely reddened by interstellar dust. The little Palomar galaxy, lower right, is brighter than any part of the so-called Meathook! A big challenge for the ten inch Dob, it would be spectacular in larger 'scopes. The tiny central nucleus was just seen in a 9mm eyepiece at steady moments.The central bar is easier - but the trailing arms are hard to get: the lower (northern) one is 'held' at times. Herschel J saw it as two objects and it has NGC numbers 2442 and 2443. Easily missed in a 'sweep' it is a rewarding object once the field is located.

Sunday, 17 April 2016

N6752, Dun295: Stellar explosion.


Another Dunlop discovery, this bright rich globular 'hides out in the deep south' in Pavo. Relatively unknown, it's 20'dia. with a halo of unresolved stars and an 'explosion' of bright ones 'bursting' from the tight central core: an amazing sight in 'scopes big and small! Fifth brightest in Skiff's list, its almost straight star-chains seem frozen at the moment of detonation. This effect is not seen well in photos that over-expose core details. The blue star in SW is a nice bonus.