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9/05/2017

KIC 9832227 The Coming Red Nova in 2022 in Cygnus?


KIC 9832227 The Coming Red Nova in 2022 in Cygnus?


Now that the Total Solar Eclipse of 2017 is over, some may wonder what is coming up next in the night sky that is different, unique and going to be an opportunity of perhaps a life to observe.  The double star KIC 9832227 found in the Constellation of Cygnus, in the Telrad circle below.
KIC 9832227 Double Star Cygnus
The truth is, until around 2013 astronomers did not know that this faint star was really more than one star. To quote from the National Geographic article published on January 6th, 2017 called How to See a Star Explode in 2022, LINK, it states:
In 2013, Apache Point Observatory astronomer Karen Kinemuchi noticed that the blips in brightness could mean that two stars were periodically blotting each other out. Subsequent investigations by Calvin College student Daniel van Noord determined that to be the case.
Based on the timing and depth of those periodic eclipses, astronomers determined that one of the binary stars is about 40 percent larger than the sun, while the other is just one-third the sun’s size.
But there’s more. For at least 15 years, the KIC 9832227 has been in the crosshairs of telescopes, including NASA’s planet-hunting Kepler telescope, which stared at the system for nearly four years.
Now, scientists know the stars are so close to one another that they probably share a common, gassy shell—meaning that as the system whirls, it looks more like an astro-peanut than two discrete points of light
KIC-9832227-2-orientations-two
The binary stars are about 1800 light years from earth and currently orbit each other at around 11 hours, with both spinning in synchromism with their orbit so the stars are always facing the same side towards each other.   This echoes what astronomer Romuald Tylenda had seen with the system V1309 Sco just before it unexpectedly went nova in 2008. Astronomers led by Lawrence (Larry) Molnar and his colleagues show that there is no third star involved in this system after reviewing over 30,000 image taken by the Calvin College Telescope.  From their observations we know that the larger star is 40% larger than our Sun, while the smaller is 1/3 the size of the Sun.
Based on the available data, Molnar and his colleagues are predicting that the two stars will merge in 2022 with a +/- of 7 months.   The system is currently at magnitude 12 in the Cygnus System, but when both stars merge, the resulting explosion will be called a Red Nova, something between a regular Supernova and a regular Nova LINK to Red Nova Wikipedia   The Virtual Telescope Project states on how bright this Red Dwarf Nova may be if it occurs. They state HERE (you have to click through their two pop-ups).
As a consequence of this kind of collision, the brightness of the system can increase of an order of magnitude of 10,000: considering KIC 9832227 is shining now around magnitude 12, at the outburst peak we could expect an object quite bright out there, easy to see by naked eye, even from light polluted cities.
That is good news if in 2021 to 2023 we can go out in a suburban backyard or a dark site, and really see this merger of two stars into one. V1309 Scorpii is a close Red Dwarf explosion that we were able to witness and observe and more on that can be found at this Wikipedia LINK.
V838_Mon_HST

Now of course this is science, and in science things can change as new information is studied, collected and analyzed. So it is with great hope and anticipation that we want to see KIC 9832227 explode in the 2021 to 2023 years into a Red Nova that we can see naked eye. Hopefully a few of you will take time from to observe this over the next several years so that when it goes, you can document it. I will be doing that with my sketching and I hope some astro-photographers will do it also. The AAVSO or the home of variable stars which this is, has a page for this system located on their website HERE.  I will post a more detail star chart next, and under that the references I used for this article. I hope some of you do indeed accept the challenge to document this event even if it doesn’t happen. There is always good that can come from it, and lets hope it happens in the June to October time frame here in the northern hemisphere.
KIC9832227_starchart (1)
Hopefully click to make it larger or go to this website to capture it yourself: LINK from the Virtual Telescope Project.
REFERENCES:
Sky&Telescope January 6th, 2017 LINK  Paired Stars in Cygnus En Route to Merger
National Geographic How to See a Star Explode LINK
Voux Magazine Article LINK
Bended Reality Article LINK
Engadget Article LINK 
Smithsonian Article LINK
Universe Today Article 

8/31/2017

New Home for my Blog

I've decided that due to some issues with Blogger, I am going to move my Blog over to WordPress and use their services as a Blogging site. It gives me more control over the site and how it is searched for and looked at.  So, if you want to follow it, here is the new address:

https://jaysastronomicalobservingblog.wordpress.com/

Here is a LINK to it using the URL above. It is still called Jay's Astronomical Observing Blog but now all of that is in one line with .wordpress.com above it.  I have a new sketching blog/website over there that I am almost done with so it will be easier to view, and the new blog has its own gallery of the images I post so that will be good. Hope to see you over there!

8/26/2017

Total Solar Eclipse August 21st, 2017



On July 11th, 1991, my wife and I observed a Total Eclipse from Hawaii that at its maximum eclipse lasted for 6 minutes and 53 seconds, one where there will not be a longer eclipse until June 13th, 2132. It was my second as I had seen one when I was 14 which occurred on February 26th, 1979.  My Dad had pulled me out of school and we had gone north to visit my grandparents and his brother who lived in Washington and we observed as we could with welder glasses the Total Eclipse up there. I have also seen several annular eclipses and have enjoyed them .

This year I had initially planned to go to Idaho to see this "North American Eclipse" (I find that a weird name since we have had other eclipses over North America or portions of North America in the past) which I will call the eclipse of August 21st, 2017, or eclipse of 8/21/17.  Anyway, my work load has been rather large this new school year, conducting various trainings and developing them for delivery at our school district and delivering them. As such, I didn't feel I could take time off based on the schedule so I opted not to go to Idaho. Yeah, a huge amateur astronomy fan NOT going to a major Astronomical event in his backyard.  Oh well, decisions.

So instead, I decided to take a few hours off from home, and take out my LS35 deluxe solar scope (no longer manufactured unfortunately) and invite neighbors to come over and steal a view. Yep, I was going to do an outreach event in my neighborhood.  Here is a picture from my backyard of the LS35s Deluxe Solar Scope.



Well, needless to say, I taught my neighbor how to use the solar scope and the TeleVue Solar Finder as I had a meeting that morning and wasn't sure what time I would get there. I had left it on the Tripod, and he had it set up but as is typical for someone the first time they use this type of scope and finder, he was unsure of getting the Sun in the eyepiece. I arrived at 10:15am and he was just out of having it centered in the eyepiece. I quickly centered it, using a 24mm Explore Scientific 68 degree eyepiece, and then put in a 12mm Agena Astro ED (I use the 25mm and 12mm Agena Astro ED for Outreach, they are very good eyepieces for this) and was pleasantly surprised to see three major predominances on the left edge/side of the sun.  I watched the moon make first contact and then began to share. 

Here are some images of the moon just after first contact as it began its journey to 91% with images through the leaves of this same image appearing. 







These are a few more images that appeared as the moon kept up its journey. Leaves are getting more refined and the shape of the eclipse is easier to identify.









The last picture and the third from the bottom are probably the best for showing the moon coming across the sun continuing the journey. 

These shots reflect about maximum of the journey near Salt Lake City with 91% of the Sun covered by the moon. These were taken by my neighbor Ken, a pilot for Delta who was home and he did a great job of capturing as we moved twoard 91%. At the time I was more concerned with letting as many people observe the eclipse then taking time for my own shot. I am grateful to Ken for getting these in and sharing them. 







Here as we get closer to what is totality in Salt Lake City, 91%, you can see extra fingers form between your fingers on your shadow on the ground. 



Below, the mount is showing eclipse shadows where it usually shows just a circle of light. 


Near 91% now as the leaves continue to show the change. The temperature dropped from 86 degrees F to 72 degrees F in our neighborhood as we got to 91%. This was measure by my neighbor Mr. Hanson who has a weather station on his home. 





Above shows about 2/3 of the turnout with people looking through the scope, my neighbors Cal and Ken were running my scope which was cool to watch. Lots of neighbors who couldn't travel to Idaho came over and looked through their solar eclipse glasses and through the telescope and enjoyed each other's company. I think of all things related to this, several items stick out. First, a teen girl who was just amazed you could look through a telescope and see the Sun with sunspots and prominence's easily seen while the moon is eclipsing it! Her excitement was contagious. Next, how something like this brings people together, whether in the path of totality or in their neighborhood with only 91% of totality.  A total eclipse is incredible, and a tremendous experience. I have seen two in my life and they are. However, it is the events above that often help us to come together down below. I think we need more events above in the world we live in. We have a Total Lunar Eclipse on January 31st, 2018 coming up LINK  and then on what will be my son's 30th birthday on April 8th, 2024 another Total Solar Eclipse LINK


7/25/2017

Sometimes the Monsoon Gets You

Well, sometimes in life, things just come together that stop you from observing. Two weeks ago tomorrow (Tuesday) I was at the University of Utah with some teachers that I teach and work with to learn about technology and education. I was walking from the South Campus Trax Station to the Marriott Library going down some cement stairs when a stair edge crumbled, I couldn't grab unto anything and down I went. I have  a very bad left knew from a surgery that led to a major infection of the left knee when I was 18.  So I went down hard on my right knee. I laid at the bottom of the cement stairs for a couple of minutes, not being able to move or put pressure on my right leg/knee. I looked around and sure enough, students were talking by, a few professors from the look of it, and they all just ignored me, though I know a few saw me and went about their busy schedule. I got up went on the tour and by the time I got back on Trax, my knee looked like a balloon had been blown up on the inside.

Getting home we went to the doctor, x-rays were taken, MRI done but luckily, my MCL was only pulled, my patella was not cracked or shattered and the swelling was from blood bursting into two bursa sacs in my knee.  Over the next week I had to take it easy, and my right leg is extremely bruised and the ligament is slowly coming around (that will take the most time).  So I am mending but not in time for new moon.  Wouldn't have mattered anyway. This July the monsoon from Mexico is in full swing and the afternoons and evenings are cloudy, rainy and filled with thunder and lightning. No getting out for me!

In have a few items I will be sharing over the next couple of weeks, items to help in going observing but no new equipment. I am content with what I have, well, maybe the two used scopes I picked up but we'll see.  I am finding as I get older, I am now down to just a couple of observing friends who go out with me. One is my good friend Alan, who is all for spring, summer and early fall and I always enjoy having him observing with me.  Jorge is another when our schedules match and so is Shahid. I have observed with Alan for over 6 years now I believe, and Jorge for 8 or 9 years and Shahid for over 10 years. Others come and go as their schedules allow, and they are always welcome. I am thinking that come Thursday night, I am going to head out to the West Desert, probably to either Pit n Pole or a new site I have just about 4 to 5 miles west and a little south of Pit n Pole, up a little higher so it is warmer and no dew and just take my Refractors and my Mount, eyepieces and maybe my sketching stuff and just see what the refractors bring in for me. It will be an easy set up and take down and I can take a look at the moon also. This is depending on that old monsoon again!

So there you go! That is what is up in my neck of the wood!

7/04/2017

2017 August 21st Total Solar Eclipse: To See or Not to See

WARNING: NEVER, NEVER look at the Sun with your unprotected, unaided eye! Use a solar telescope or approved solar glasses to view the Sun and the eclipse! 

The following is from YouTube from the 2015 Solar Eclipse in which Professor Brian Cox, Dara O'Brien and Liz Bonnin who was in a plane above the Faroe Islands beaming back the images.



Now, I have to say that I have seen two total solar eclipses in my life and they are amazing events, if you see them with others you know and with a few who know something about them.  Having said that, since I live here in northern Utah, the center line is not that far away and it is really tempting to go up to Idaho, to the Rexburg area or to Camas National Wildlife Refuge (LINK) to view the event in a very natural setting. What is now making me rethink my decision is the amount of people who are going to be heading up there. News reports are estimating up to around 500,00 people in eastern Idaho for the event, and all sites, public or private being extremely filled with people. I-15, the interstate highway that leads from Salt Lake City up to Rexburg and Idaho is under major construction LINK and delays going up and coming back to the Salt Lake area could be horrendous.  We could be talking 6, 8 or even 10 hours for the drive up. 

So that leaves me wondering if I just may sit this one out. I'll set up my Lunt Solar Telescope and watch the eclipse go to 91% from here in the Salt Lake area or out at my favorite dark sky observing site. I am leaning toward that, perhaps loading up the 17.5" and going to my dark sky observing site, setting up everything including my Lunt LS35THaDX deluxe model and my Twilight I Mount and observing the solar eclipse the best I can, and then really connect with nature and the universe by observing that night. 

I believe the closer we get, the more I am leaning toward taking that path for my solar experience this time. As beautiful as they are, totality will last about 2 minutes to 2 minutes thirty seconds and it is over. I get as much joy and fun chasing down deep sky objects late in the summer sky. Might go to Wolf Creek Pass that night as well.  No matter, right now I am leaning to a night of observing (just so you know, a total solar eclipse happens at new moon, the darkest time for deep sky observing since there is no moon). Please realize I may end up going, or as I am thinking today, I may stay local and enjoy what the sky is here or if the monsoon is in, I may just work that day and take an early lunch and see if I can see anything in my Lunt Solar Telescope. I bring my point of view up here since I know there will be others facing the same decision I am, and others who just simply cannot get to the path of totality and view the eclipse. There are still opportunities that day and that is the point I want to make. 

FIRST CONTACT

Now, for those who go, there are some major milestones when you observe the eclipse that you should know. When the moon first touches the Sun, this is called First Contact. It will look like the following image. It is the sign that the eclipse has begun. 



The Partial Eclipse is the next stage, and the moon will be moving over the Sun and begin to take a Pac-Man bite out of the Sun as this image shows. 


If your lucky, in this stage between First Contact and Second Contact, and if you have trees around you, you may see eclipse shadows from the leaves in the trees around you. I saw this affect during the annular eclipse on May 20th, 2012 from southern Utah. 



Also, right before the point of Second Contact, IF you are really lucky, and to be honest, here in Salt Lake City or around it, with our 91% we may see the affect known as Shadow Bands. As the moon approaches a couple of minutes before totality, these wavy shadows appear as shown in this YouTube video from the partial eclipse in the U.K. in 2015 




SECOND CONTACT

The next phase is Second Contact and happens a few minutes before totality. Animals and birds around you may change their behavior. Birds may stop singing and if you know bird calls, you may hear night birds begin to sing. 
Towards the end of this phase you may observe the phenomenon of Baily’s Beads. These are distinct balls of light visible at the edge of the Moon’s circumference.
Baily’s Beads are caused by the Sun shining through the lunar craters, mountains and features on the surface of the Moon. These beads will flicker off one by one until one solitary point of light remains. They look like this starting on the far right and moving to the far left. 



Another image of Bailey's Beads: 




When only one light remains, this is known as the Diamond Ring effect. This effect last just seconds but produces one stunning single burst of light. It is really something you will remember if you see it. My first total solar eclipse I missed it, but I did nail it the second time I saw one. Once this is gone totality begins. Here are a couple of images of the Diamond Ring effect. 







TOTALITY 

Totality occurs when the Moon covers the entire surface of the Sun. At this point in time, only the Sun’s corona is visible (see below). The skies darken a little further, about like when the full moon is out.    
The temperature will drop, typically 10 degrees or so and animals and birds become silent.  
If the Sun’s solar activity is strong, the corona will blast out from all sides of Moon.  If it is weak, it will follow the direction of the Sun’s magnetic path. This stage lasts around two minutes. You will not want to use your solar glasses or telescope during this period, but be ready as when the Sun emerges, you will need to be on the solar telescope or back on with your solar glasses. Here are two possible views but remember, EVERY eclipse is unique and comes together differently. 







THIRD CONTACT

The fourth stage is much like the second and first but in reverse. The Moon is now moving away from the Sun. As the Moon moves off the Sun, (GET YOUR GLASSES BACK ON NOW) you have another chance to view the Diamond Ring for the first time if you missed it, or again if you did not. Baily’s Beads now reappear after the Diamond Ring, which after that a thin crescent of the Sun appears, gradually getting bigger as the Moon moves away. Shadow bands may be observed once again and we are back to the partial eclipse stage. The skies start to lighten and birds and animals return to activity.

FOURTH CONTACT

This is where the Moon leaves the Sun and the eclipse is now over. The last shadow of the Moon on the Sun disappears ending the eclipse. Some people will stay around to observe this. Most will be gone by now. 

There you go. The stages of the eclipse and the items to look for. In order: First Contact (Moon touches the Sun), Shadow Bands, Bailey Beads, the Diamond Ring, Totality with the Corona, then the Diamond Ring, Bailey Beads, Shadow Bands and Fourth Contact. 

If you brave the crowds, traffic and obstacles, I believe you will have a wonderful experience, a life remembering experience. If you go wherever you are, please be careful, please be courteous, there are enough mean and ill spirited people in the world, be better than that. Be kind so everyone has a great experience.  Don't retaliate if someone is mean, pity them, and just move on. If you can't go, then look for Shadow Bands if your relatively close and see if you can spot them. Take an photo with your phone if you have leaves in the area of that affect. Always, and I mean ALWAYS protect your eyes with the appropriate safety equipment for observing the Sun.  If you can't go and stay, or opt to go out and see a partial eclipse to observe that night, realize your not alone. I think most amateur astronomers and people will enjoy and be with you. 

Last, and here I go again. If you get out, enjoy the experience. Treasure it, soak it in, remember and document how you felt, what you saw and what you enjoyed. Listen if possible to nature during this time and see how nature responds to this event. Last feel connected to the wonderful universe in which we have our being. It is a wonderful thing to experience a Total Solar Eclipse, but it is equally wonderfully to get to a dark site, to observe, to feel and listen to nature there. It is equally fun to get connected in your backyard. It is truly wonderful how this hobby reminds us how truly amazing nature, and our universe is.  I hope you get out and enjoy it in your own way and in your own style.  

6/21/2017

Animation of Kepler Catching Massive Star Shock Wave or Shock Breakout

This is over a year old, and I am sure some will have seen it. As you know, I love supernova and am fascinated by the end of a massive star's existence when it goes supernova. Back in March 2016, NASA Ames published an article LINK sharing that Kepler had captured two shock break outs from two massive stars. " By closely monitoring the star KSN 2011d, located 1.2 billion light-years away, Kepler caught the onset of the early flash and subsequent explosion." KSN 2011d, is roughly 500 times the size of our sun and around 1.2 billion light years away. This means this was a Type II Supernova Event.  I love this animation and thought some might like viewing it and then reading about it. If you have a chance to observe SN 2017eaw in NGC 6946 you could imagine in your mind a star going supernova similar to this animation.