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Главная » 2021 » Декабрь » 17 » What's up in space
What's up in space

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FAST-GROWING SUNSPOTS: Multiple large sunspots are growing near the sun's southeastern limb.The phalanx of dark cores is turning toward Earth, boosting the chances for an geoeffective eruption in the days ahead. NOAA forecasters estimate a 25% chance of M-class solar flares on Dec. 16th. Solar flare alerts: SMS Text.

COMET LEONARD IN THE SUNSET SKY: Around the world, astronomers are reporting a comet in the sunset sky. It's Comet Leonard (C/2021 A1), which is falling toward the sun. Oscar Martín Mesonero sends this picture from Salamanca, Spain:

"Yesterday afternoon, Dec. 15, I photographed the comet when it was just over a degree above the horizon," says Mesonero. "I used an ED80 telescope and a Sony A7 camera."

How can a comet be visible at twilight? It's that bright. Comet Leonard has brightened more than 5-fold since it passed by Earth last week. Experienced observers say it is now shining like a 2nd or 3rd magnitude star.

"I estimate magnitude 3.4," says Gary Dowdle, who photographed the comet on Dec. 14th from Fort Davis, Texas:

Photo settings: Sony A7s3, 200mm f/4 lens, iso 400, 2s exposure

"The sun was only 13.5 degrees below the horizon when I took the picture," he adds. "Note the famous Marfa aerial blimp in the lower left of the frame."

To find Comet Leonard, let Venus be your guide. On Dec. 17-18, the comet will pass just 4 million km from the second planet--the closest Venus-comet flyby in recorded history. Sunset photographers can find the two side by side in the constellaton Sagittarius. Sky maps: Dec. 1516171819.

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