The Type II supernova 2012A was first recognised by Bob Moore, Jack Newton, and Tim Puckett during an automated search on January 7th using a 16″ reflector when its magnitude was estimated at 14.6. This is the first supernova of 2012 and it is located in the irregular galaxy NGC 3239 (Arp 263) in the constellation Leo. The galaxy has an apparently chaotic shape which is the result of two galaxies colliding and merging. By January 27th the supernova had increased in brightness to 13.4 mag and has now faded back to around mag 14.4 in the above image. The light from this supernova has taken 25 million years to reach us !
The AAVSO light curve for SN 2012A is shown below……
Image taken 9.24 pm 28/2/12 at Nerpio, Spain (UTC+1) on T7 (Planewave 17″ CDK Dall-Kirkham Astrograph,SBIG STL-11000M) RA: 10h 25m 05.9s DEC: 17° 10′ 01″ (J2000) 25 minutes exposure. Bin 1 @ 2 x 600 and 1 x 300 seconds.
The blue arrow marks the asteroid 97 Klotho passing through the constellation Virgo on 26/2/12 at 4.46am New Mexico time (UTC -7). First discovered by E.W. Tempel in Marseille on 17th February 1868 Klotho is a main-belt asteroid with a diameter of 82.83 km. It rotates 35 times per hour and has an absolute magnitude of 7.63. In this image Klotho has just passed the large red star HIP 61658 and to the top right you can see the spiral galaxy NGC 4536 with the much fainter NGC 4533 galaxy above it. The asteroid was named after one of the three Fates (Moirae to the Greeks, Parcae to the Romans), Klotho, who carried a spindle and a globe and spun the thread of life. The other Fates were Lachesis and Atropos. T20 1 x 600 sec. RA 12:37:49 DEC 1:44:20
The image below shows the orbital track of this asteroid through the solar system marked in blue….
I haven’t imaged Comet Garradd since September last year thanks to the vagaries of the Welsh weather, which seems remarkably similar to the conditions in the New Mexico mountains every time I tried to set up an imaging session via iTelescope.net (formerly the GRAS network). In that time the comet has steadily brightened (currently mag 6.6) and earlier this month it glided serenely past the globular cluster M92 during another superb photographic opportunity that I missed! Rolando Ligustri in Italy has been posting up some fantastic images of the two tails that are now clearly visible in short exposure photographs so I was keen to see this activity for myself and capture some images as soon as the weather in New Mexico improved. Last night was perfect with no cloud and low wind so I booked 25 minutes on T20, the wide angle FSQ 106 telescope fitted with a one shot colour camera.
The resulting image processed today clearly shows the gas (left) and dust (right) tails extending out either side of the comet nucleus at almost 180 degrees to each other. The nucleus glows green with cyanogen gas. An added bonus was NGC 6015, the small spiral galaxy you can see at the top left. The bright bluish star on the left edge is HIP 77277 at mag 5.15. The comet is now passing through the tail of the dragon in the constellation Draco and will remain observable at around mag 7 in northern skies until April, after which it will fade gradually. The comet is visible in binoculars and small telescopes as a faint grey smudge, but telescopes of 8″ and above will reveal some tail detail. The best way to see this comet though is to take an image of it and an exposure of just 10 minutes in a 3″ telescope will easily show both tails. Unless another comet goes into outburst suddenly this is likely to be the brightest comet with easily resolved tail detail this year, so make the most of the next two months and take a look !
Image taken 2.57am New Mexico time 26/2/12 via T20 (Takahashi FSQ-ED 106mm 530mm / f5 widefield refractor paired with an FLI ML8300-C 8.3 megapixel one-shot colour camera) 25 minutes exposure Bin 1 @ 2 x 600 sec and 1 x 300 sec. RA: 15h 55m 02.0s DEC: 62° 54′ 25″ (J2000). Processed in Maxim DL5 and Photoshop CS2.