FLYBYS APP: Turn your iPhone or iPod into
a field-tested satellite tracker! Spaceweather.com presents
the Satellite Flybys
2010 AL30 UPDATE:
An orbital analysis by Michael Khan of the European Space
Agency suggests that 2010 AL30 could be the Fregat upper stage
of the Soyuz launch vehicle that launched the Venus Express
probe in Nov. 2005: full
Is it an asteroid or a derelict spacecraft? Mystery object
AL30 is flew past Earth last night only 1/3rd the distance
to the Moon, and telescopes around the world were watching.
In Colombia, amateur astronomer Alberto Quijano Vodniza used
a 14-inch Meade
LX200 to record the close approach:
"2010 AL30 is the faint streak moving among the stars,"
says Vodniza. "The full-length
animation reveals a second much brighter object. That's
a satellite that happened to be passing by at the same time."
Space is a busy place, it seems.
Discovered barely three days ago, 2010 AL30 is catalogued
as a 10m-class asteroid. Curiously, however, its elliptical
orbit has a period of almost exactly one year, the same as
Earth. This raises the possibility that it might be a piece
of some spacecraft from our own planet. NASA's Goldstone radar
in the Mojave desert was scheduled to ping 2010 AL30 between
2:20 and 4:40 UTC on Jan. 13th. The echoes should reveal the
nature of this interesting passerby.
Sunspot 1040 has grown
so large (ten times wider than Earth) that only a fraction
of it fits on the page. Click on the image for the big picture:
Dennis Simmons sends the image from Brisbane, Australia,
where a short spell of exceptionally steady air this morning
allowed him to capture the sunspot with superb clarity. "After
the software had processed my data, I was left gasping, astonished
by what the seeing had allowed me to witness. This is far
and away my best-ever high-resolution image of a sunspot."
This sunspot is a fantastic target for backyard solar telescopes.
If you have
one, take a look!
more images: from
Francois Rouviere of Mougins, Alpes Maritimes, France;
Paul Haese of Blackwood, South Australia; from
Pavol Rapavy of Observatory Rimavska Sobota, Slovakia;
Paul Maxson of Surprise, Arizona; from
M. Jennings, K. Ritchie, J. Stetson of South Portland,
Northern Lights Gallery
[previous Januarys: 2009,