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Don't panic... but massive asteroid is on way past Earth; look ATTHESTARS ASTRONOMY WITH DAVE MOULTON.

OUR monthly astronomy column for Stargazers by Dave Moulton of North Wales Astronomy Society.

The focus of this column will be centred on a Stargazing guide, featuring top tips on just what to look out for in the night sky in the coming month.

The guide will also include information on how best to view these objects, plus suggestions for the best targets for Astrophotography.

CLOSE ENCOUNTER February 15th: On the evening of Friday, February 15, a "record-breaking" close-pass of Asteroid 2012 DA14 will be visible from the UK, weather permitting.

Asteroid 2012 DA14 circles the Earth annually. This year's closest approach will be around 25,000 km away, actually inside the orbit of many man made Geo stationary satellites. This is the closest approach of such an object for 10 years. The size of this Asteroid is not conclusive but is best estimates are a chunk of rock 45meters wide which would be capable of destroying a major city.

Although a record breaking close approach this object is not going to be visible to the unaided eye due to its small size but Astrophotographers will be pointing their cameras towards it. I should also add that this Asteroid is definitely going to miss us so there no need to worry.

Near earth objects NEO's are in fact a real threat and the scientific community take them seriously.

The last major impactor of this nature luckily for us occurred in very starkly populated area in Siberia. The Tunguska event of 1908 is thought to have been caused by an asteroid that exploded in the atmosphere a few kilometres from the ground. This event devastated a forested area over 2000 sq kilometres and flattened approximately 80m trees.

MOON PHASE New Moon: February 10, first quarter February 17, full moon February 25, last quarter February 3.

BINOCULAR TARGETS HIGH in the winter sky the constellation of Perseus hosts the famous double cluster.

Visible to the naked eye as two fuzzy patches of light close to one another.

Binoculars are all that is needed to resolve this cluster, a prime winter target for binoculars and small telescopes. The cluster is also known by its NGC catalogue number NGC 869 and NGC 884.

Perseus lies between the constellation of Cassiopeia and Auriga.

Look out for the bright star Capella in Auriga and the W shape of Cassiopeia and Perseus lies between the two TELESCOPIC TARGETS JUPITER is still a prominent object in the Southern sky small telescopes will show a wealth of detail on the planets disk on a steady night.

Auriga and neighbouring constellations run along the plain of the milky way and contain rich star fields and clusters worth viewing the most notable being M36,M37,M38.

Early risers will be able to spot Saturn in the morning sky; the rings are now in a favourable position for viewing ASTROPHOTOGRAPHY THE picture this month shows a worthy winter target given clear skies. The Jellyfish Nebula located in Gemini. Catalogue number IC443. This Supernova remnant shows amazing detail in the filaments of expanding gas. This is a fairly large Nebula and is easily resolved using CCD cameras and small telescopes however hours of data are needed to bring out the fine detail.


Jellyfish Nebula
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Publication:Daily Post (Conwy, Wales)
Date:Jan 31, 2013
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