Eta Carinae brightest magnitude since 1863
Periastron passage of eta Car's companion is approaching and this week the system has reached V= 4.5 (on the scale that sets all historical data to the same zero point, there are different zero points according to the different sources because this star is particularly difficult to measure due to the surrounding nebula and emission lines).
Eta Carinae wasn't this bright since 1863, while fading from its huge historical outburst.
I could observe it visually last week almost 0.2 mag. brighter than a month ago (weather here has been awful).
An observation from OALP (Observatorio Astronomico de La Plata) here in Argentina from last night confirms the brightening at V= 4.45 which translates to V= 4.54 in the all-time/all-sources scale I have set.
Mideclipse should happen around August 13 and the eclipse should start by the end of July. The star usually brightens steadily before the eclipse starts but this brightening has been more rapid than in previous eclipses.
It is a good time to observe it!