Day: 2010-08-11

Perseids meteor showers

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Every year in August between the 10th and 13th, we get the opportunity under good weather circumstances to observe the anual meteor showers caused by the Perseids. These small particles mainly made of dust are falling through the earth’s atmosphere from a radiant point in the sky located close by the Perseus and Cassiopeia constellations. These meteor showers are nonetheless remains of an old comet which passes close by our planet over a period of 130-135 years and was last seen in 1992 by the Japaneese astronomer Tsurukiko Kiuchi. The comet is named Swift-Tuttle after the two astronomers who independently were the first observers in modern history during the comet apperance in August 1862 (Lewis Swift and Horace Parnell Tuttle). Spectral analysis points out that this comet shares similarities with Halley’s comet which is rich in ammonia, water and carbon dioxide and also clasified as NEO (Near Earth Object) as it is approaches earth in a distance of 4 miljion kilometers. The chances of an impact with our planet is 1 in a 1,000,000 which is much less then the frightening asteroid called Apophis were chances are much larger; 1 in 15,000.

This year our observatory will be opento public between 11th to 13th of August 21:30 to midnight allowing all interested to come and visit us under guidance from the observatory staff.

Summer projects and the 472 Roma ockultation

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During June-July at Tycho Brahe observatory we were preparing for a large project that would involve the cooperation between many amateur astronomers from different locations in Sweden. The Swedish assosiation for amateur astronomers (SAAF: Svenska Amatörastronomiska Föreningen) helped us to get in touch with other amateur astronomers across the country. Together with my collegue Arne L Ohlsson we started to put hard work on planning, coordinating meetings, assembling nessesary instrumentation and dealing with time pressure.

The ockultation is all about a large rock out in space, or more commonly called an asteroid named 472 Roma passing infront of the delta star (Yed Prior) in the constellation of Ophiucus, causing this large red giant star to dissappear for a around 5 seconds. This asteroidal passage was meant to be easily observed from our location, but negative observations outside the occultation shadow would provide a lot of information regarding the star itself.

It has been mistaken for a long time that the delta star in Ophiucus would be a double and for the first time an asteroid would occult this star and reveal it’s secrets for us. Unfortunately just before the occultation occurred, heavy clouds surounded our area. That was our worse case scenario that just took place, leaving us with unanswered questions.

In the morning we heard that the German and Belgian astronomers were more lucky then us and that many positive reports started to fall in!