onsdag 30 mars 2011

Space Weather - The Sun

Yesterday`s view of the northern lights from Kvaløya made it to the front page of the famous astronomy-site "Space Weather" - click on the headline above for news about the auroras and the sun !

Today I tried to image the beautiful sun-spots that is currently facing "our" side of the Sun with my small pocket camera hand-held in front of a pair of normal binoculars WITH SOLAR PROTECTION - REMEMBER NOT TO LOOK or point any instrument at the sun without proper protection!

Even using such simple equipment several of the sun-spots could be seen (sunspot nr 1176 is very prominent). A slightly better image :-) by the Solar Dynamic Observatory SDO/HMI can be seen here : http://www.spaceweather.com/images2011/29mar11/hmi4096_blank.jpg?PHPSESSID=uvv27flgf3pq73hn5936sk7536

The Sun on 30 March 2011 - click for larger picture.

måndag 28 mars 2011

Green Spring

This season of northern lights is soon about to come to its end, but there is still almost a month left with dark enough skies to be able to see the auroras before the midnight sun starts to take over the night sky. Close to the mountain Store Blåmann on Kvaløya outside Tromsø a beautiful green band stretched from east to west together with the Milky Way

Watching the northern lights and the Milky Way

Corona over the constellations Boötes and Coma Berenices in the early morning hours

The Beehive cluster (M44) in the constellation Cancer over the snowclad mountains

lördag 26 mars 2011

Dolphins in Town !

Lately, several flocks of white-beaked dolphins (Lagenorhynchus albirostris) have been seen around Tromsø in Northern Norway.

Here is a short video sequence of a group of dolphins just outside the airport in Tromsø on 21 March 2011 and a couple of images from March 2011 and from earlier visits of this species in Tromsø and on the coast of Troms.

White beaked dolphins outside Tromsø

White beaked dolphins outside Håkøya close to Tromsø

Group of white beaked dolphins in Tromsø

Acrobatic white beaked dolphin outside Senja, Norway

White beaked dolphins in Tromsø city center

White beaked dolphins outside Senja, Norway

tisdag 22 mars 2011

Brightest Star

The brightest star in the night sky - Sirius - is now putting on a nice show in the early evening hours. At northern latitudes, Sirius is often too low for observation, but now during spring the star is rising fairly early in the evening and due to its brightness it almost looks like a planet .

Most widely known as "the brightest star", Sirius is actually a binary star system consisting of the bright Sirius A and the white dwarf companion (Sirius B), but only a single point can be seen unless you happen to own a very powerful telescope.

Rising in the blue twilight hour Sirius is a beautiful sight.

Sirius over the mountain landscape of Kvaløya close to Tromsø, Norway

lördag 19 mars 2011

Perigee Moon

Tonight`s Full Moon is the biggest in 20 years. To visualise the effect I compared tonight`s full moon with an image taken with the same equipment last autumn - and the size difference is actually BIG!
Size comparison between tonight`s full moon and a full moon from last autumn

fredag 18 mars 2011

Biggest Moon in 20 years

Tomorrow, Saturday 19 March, the Moon will be full (check "The Current Moon Phase" to the right for details).

What is special about the Moon tomorrow is that tomorrow`s Full Moon will be bigger than usual - it will in fact be the biggest full moon in 20 years time and will be 14% larger than "the average Full Moon"!

The distance between the Earth and the Moon is not constant and sometimes the Moon is closer, sometimes it is further away. What is speciel about tomorrow is that the full moon coincides with the distance beeing at it`s minimum, "a mere" 356 557 km away.

Provided that I have clear weather, I will post a comparison between a "normal" full moon and tomorrow`s full moon after the weekend.

Why don`t try yourself? Take a picture of the full moon tomorrow with a tele-lens and compare it with a picture taken with the same lens at another time.

Almost Full Moon

tisdag 15 mars 2011

Evening Planets

How many of the planets in our solar system have you seen?

Now is the best time to catch a glimpse of one of the trickiest planets to see - Mercury.

Simply step out after sunset and look to the west, where there should be two bright "stars" fairly low in the horizon - the two "stars" being the planets Mercury and Jupiter, where Jupiter is the brightest of the two. Mercury is, however, unusually bright right now and should be easy to locate but it will fade rapidly in brightness towards the end of the month.

After sunset on the evening of 15 March, Mercury (being the smallest planet in our solar system) and Jupiter (being the largest) are separeted by only 2 degrees and can be seen right next to eachother which should be an amazing sight.

Having cloudy weather, I have not been able to take a picture of the planet-pair yet, but hopefully I`ll be able to post an image/finder chart by tomorrow evening.

måndag 14 mars 2011

Auroras - Time Lapse

Tonight, auroras were dancing over the moonlit landscape of Kvaløya outside Tromsø in Northern Norway - here is a short part of a video sequence I took during the night, covering about 1,5 hours.

fredag 11 mars 2011

Polar Lights

Strong Auroras could be seen tonight as a coronal mass ejection (CME) hit the magnetic field of the Earth and produced a very colorful and strong display.

The polar lights could be seen until the break of dawn at around 05.30 local time - maybe more will come tonight...

Moon and Auroras

Green and purple

View of the southern horizon - the auroras could be seen far south

Fast moving curtains in purple, red and green