Asteroid 2012 DA14 Flyby - February 15th 2013
Thursday February 15th sees one of the closest passes of an asteroid ever (known in advance). Asteroid 2012 DA14 will pass roughly 26-27,000km away from Earth - shy over 2 Earth diameters! This is within many satellites in orbit, but predicted trajectories declare that the closest it will pass to a satellite is around 1,000km. Its peak brightness in the sky will be magnitude 7.2, just under naked eye visibility for our atmospheric conditions. However, with a normal pair of binoculars or an amateur telescope, the asteroid should be perfectly visible zipping across the sky. It is estimated to be 45-50 meters at its widest and weighs in around 190,000 tonnes.
See a finderchart (click on image on the right of this paragraph), saved from www.heavens-above.com, for an observer in Tullamore. It will pretty much be the same for all of Ireland. You can register for free on www.heavens-above.com, get your location from its menu, and look at many other astronomical objects with accurate times and charts.
Observing Asteroid 2012 DA14
Unfortunately for tonight (as of morning of Feb 15th), weather prospects are around 75% cloud cover, which means that we will not be hosting an observing session for it. Shame really, we had a good spot in Annaharvey Farm designated for it.
If you do manage to view it (or anything else tonight), please let me have your report so that we can include it in our next edition of Réalta.
Transit of Venus 2012
Here is a further update on what is happening Tuesday evening/night and Wednesday morning.
Lecture Tuesday June 5th: Simply entitled "The Transit of Venus 2012" it is presented by Seanie Morris, MAC Secretary, from 8pm in the Presbyterian Hall, High Street, Tullamore tomorrow (Tuesday) night June 5th. ALl are welcome to attend, admission is €2.00. I will look at a brief history of Venus Transits in the past, and what is to come with Wednesday's event.
Post-Lecture Event: Many of us are already set to go out camping overnight at a secluded observing site at Annaharvey to be ready at dawn on Wednesday morning. The actual transit begins at 23:03hrs Irish Time on Tuesday evening, but Irish observers only get to see the final minutes of the Transit at dawn on Wednesday. If you intend to camp with us, you must let me know in advance by email or phone/text (087 6825910). We will congregate at the carpark in Annaharvey Farm and at 10:15pm I will lead the way to our observing Site. The necessary gates will be closed after this.
The Transit of Venus: Sunrise is at 05:05hrs from this location with Venus rise a couple minutes after. Venus will be seen in the upper NE edge close to the limb of the Sun. 3rd Contact (the point at which the edge of Venus touches the inner edge of the Sun occurs at 05:37hrs with 4th Contact (Venus, outside of the Sun's disc, touches the outer edge of the disc for the last time) occurs at 05:37hrs.
Viewing the Transit: the two possible methods of viewing the Transit are via propoerly-filtered telescopes or binoculars or telescopic projection. Venus's apparent size means it will be just a tad bit too small to be seen with the naked eye with eclipse glasses or similar, but you never know what way the low atmosphere might shakes things up.
After the Transit: We will have a cooked barbecue breakfast onsite when it is all over! Typically sausages and hotdogs on rolls and we'll have some juice. We might try for tea and coffee onsite!
This is a free event but we must know your intent on attending. Even if you do not want to camp but want to view the Transit, you are welcome to do so. Directions will be posted on Annaharvey to find us - just make sure you close gates etc after you. Even if it is cloudy on Tuesday evening we will still go ahead with the event as you never know what might happen by the time the Sun rises on Wednesday morning.
This is a free event and is open to everyone. Children under 15 MUST be accompanied with an adult. Of course, if you don't want to camp out and simply come to witness the event, you are welcome to do so. For any enquiries, please contact us for more information.