[astronews] IAAS Monthly Astronomy Newsletter

  • From: Burness Ansell <ki0ar@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: Astronomy Newsletter <astronews@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Tue, 1 Jul 2003 17:57:14 -0700 (PDT)

            IAAS Monthly Astronomy Newsletter
                        July 2003


The International Association for Astronomical Studies
provides this newsletter as a service for interested
persons in the Denver Metro area. The astronomical
data presented here is not only useful in Colorado but
in other parts of the world as well.


This newsletter is published on the World Wide Web at
http://bfa3.home.att.net/astro.html - The Home of
KI0AR - and is received nationally and


In This Newsletter...

* Moon
* Planets
* Astronomical Events
* Planetary/Lunar Exploration Missions
* Web Sites of Interest
* Acknowledgments and References
* Subscription Information



* New Moon on the 29th.
* 1st Quarter Moon on the 6th.
* Full Moon on the 13th.
* 3rd Quarter Moon on the 21st.

* Perigee on the 10th, 226,890 mi. from Earth.
* Apogee on the 22nd, 251,238 mi. from Earth.

Moon/Planet Pairs:
* The Moon passes 4 deg. north of Jupiter on the 2nd.
* Venus passes 0.8 deg. north of Saturn on the 8th.
* The Moon passes 5 deg. south of Neptune on the 15th.
* The Moon passes 5 deg. south of Uranus on the 16th.
* The Moon passes 0.3 deg. north of Mars on the 17th.
* Mercury passes 0.4 deg. north of Jupiter on the
* The Moon passes 4 deg. north of Saturn on the 26th.
* Mercury passes 0.2 deg. north of Regulus on the
* The Moon passes 4 deg. north of Jupiter on the 30th.
* The Moon passes 5 deg. north of Mercury on the 30th.


(All times are local unless otherwise noted.)
Planetary Reports generated by "TheSky" software

* Mercury - Is in superior conjunction on the 5th.
Mercury may be visible in the early evening sky by the
end of the month.

* Venus - Rises about 4:40 am and is visible low on
the horizon in the early morning sky. Venus shines at
magnitude -3.9. Venus will only be visible early in
the month.

* Earth - Is at aphelion (94.5 million miles from the
Sun) on the 4th.

* Mars - Is visible in the early morning sky in the
east before sunrise. Mars rises about 11:30 pm on the
1st and about 10:00 pm by the 31st. Mars is in the
constellation of Capricornus. Mars shines at magnitude
-1.4 on the 1st and brightens to magnitude -2.3 by the
end of the month. From Astronomy Magazine (July 2003 -
"During the next five month's, we'll be up-close and
personal with the Red Planet like never before. When
Mars reaches opposition on August 28, it will span
25.11" and shine at magnitude -2.9 - bigger and
brighter than at any time in the past 50,000 years."

* Jupiter - Sets around 10:40 am just before Mars
rising. Jupiter can be found in the constellation of
Leo. Jupiter shines at magnitude -1.8. Jupiter will
disappear in to the twilight glow this month so catch
it early.

* Saturn - Is at perihelion on the 26th (839.5 million
miles from the Sun). Saturn rises about 5:14 am on the
1st and about 3:30 am by month's end. Saturn has now
become a morning object, so get up early to spot
Saturn. Saturn shines at magnitude 0.1.

* Uranus - Rises about 11:15 pm on the 1st and about
two hours earlier by month's end. Uranus is in the
constellation of Aquarius. Uranus brightens slightly
to magnitude 5.7.

* Neptune - Rises 10:15 am on the 1st and about two
hours earlier by month's end. Neptune is in the
constellation of Capricornus. Neptune brightens
slightly to magnitude 7.8.

* Pluto - Pluto is located just within the eastern
portion of the constellation of Ophiuchus and rises
about 6:15 pm and about two hours earlier by month's
end. Pluto shines at magnitude 13.8. As always, good
luck at spotting this one.


Astronomical Events

Meteor Showers
* The Southern Delta Aquarids - This meteor shower has
a duration of July 14 - August 18. Maximum hourly
rates of 15-20 occur on July 28/29. 

* The Northern Delta Aquarids extends from July 16 to
September 10. Maximum occurs on August 13. The hourly
rates reach a high of 10.

* Information on various occultations can be found at
http://lunar-occultations.com/iota/iotandx.htm the
International Occultation Timing Association's (IOTA)
web site.

* Comet 65P/Gunn shines at 12th magnitude and will
require dark skies and a fairly large aperture
telescope to spot this one. Comet 65p/Gunn can be
spotted just below Sagittarius. Wait for Sagittarius
to rise above the horizon glow and look just below the
base of the teapot. The best time this month will be
the time around the new moon at the end of the month.
Comet 65P/Gunn also grazes the northern edge of the
globular cluster M70.

* For information, orbital elements and ephemerides on
observable comets visit the Observable Comets page
from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics

* No eclipse activity this month.

* Vesta, Flora and Pallas are in the evening skies
this month.

* Information about the Minor Planets can be found at
http://www.minorplanetobserver.com the Minor Planet
Observer web site.


Planetary/Lunar Exploration Missions
(Excerpts from recent mission updates)

* Genesis - June 27, 2003 - 
"The Genesis spacecraft continues its mission
collecting solar wind material expelled from the Sun.
Telemetry from the Genesis spacecraft indicates that
all spacecraft subsystems are reporting nominal

The Genesis Navigation Team released its final report
on Station Keeping Maneuver SKM-4A performed on June
11. The report indicates the spacecraft performed ?as
advertised? with the 1.274 meter-per-second change in
velocity. Recent solar activity has called for the
?high solar speed? collector array to be deployed 47%
of the time, and the E-Array, which handles coronal
mass ejections, 46% of the time. The ?low solar speed?
collector was unshaded the remaining 7%."

The latest status reports can be read at
Find out more about the Genesis mission at
http://genesismission.jpl.nasa.gov/ and
http://genesis.jpl.nasa.gov/html/index.shtml. Visit
"Where Is Genesis Now? at 

* Galileo - No new news since April 09, 2003 - Galileo
Discovers Objects Near Jupiter's Inner Moon Amalthea -

"NASA's Galileo spacecraft serendipitously discovered
seven to nine space rocks near Jupiter's inner moon
Amalthea when Galileo flew past that moon five months

Galileo detected the objects as bright flashes seen by
its star scanner, an onboard telescope used to
determine the spacecraft's orientation by sighting
stars. Information from the star scanner was recorded
onto Galileo's tape recorder during the flyby and
transmitted to Earth in subsequent months. Experts at
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.,
are analyzing the data to estimate the sizes of the
objects, which may be anywhere from gravel to
stadium-size rocks." Read the latest news at

* Cassini - June 27, 2003 - 
"The most recent spacecraft telemetry was acquired
from the Canberra tracking station on Wednesday, June
25. The Cassini spacecraft is in an excellent state of
health and is operating normally. June 24 marked the
four-year anniversary of Cassini's Venus 2 flyby?
Instrument activities this week for Radio and Plasma
Wave Science (RPWS) included a High Frequency Receiver
calibration, conclusion of the Saturn orbit insertion
cyclic test, execution of a Solar Conjunction
Experiment cyclic, and an Instrument Expanded Block
(IEB) exercise. The Composite InfraRed Spectrometer
was woken up to perform a functional test and load of

Cassini has entered Superior Conjunction with the
Sun-Earth-Probe angle at 5.0 degrees. Minimum
separation of 0.344 degrees will be reached next

"For the multinational Cassini-Huygens mission, NASA
provided the large Cassini spacecraft, which will
begin orbiting Saturn July 1, 2004, and the European
Space Agency provided the Huygens probe, which will
parachute into the atmosphere of Titan, Saturn's
largest moon, on Jan. 14, 2005." For the latest
mission status reports, visit
http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/cassini/english/. The speed
and location of the spacecraft can be viewed on the
"Present Position" web page.

* Stardust - June 19, 2003 - 
"198 days before its historic rendezvous with a comet,
NASA's Stardust spacecraft successfully completed the
mission's third deep space maneuver. This critical
maneuver modified the spacecraft's trajectory, placing
it on a path to encounter and collect dust samples
from comet Wild 2 in January 2004."

For more information on the Stardust mission - the
first ever comet sample return mission - please visit
the Stardust home page: http://stardust.jpl.nasa.gov
for more information about the mission.

* Galaxy Evolution Explorer - (GALEX) - No new news
since May 26, 2003 - "The GALEX First Light
observation is dedicated to the crew of the Shuttle
Columbia. The first images taken by GALEX are of a
region of sky in the constellation Hercules that was
directly overhead Columbia as it made its last contact
with NASA Mission Control. The "Columbia Dedication
Field", commemorates those seven astronauts who were
lost over the skies of Texas on February 1st 2003."

For more information on the GALEX mission - please
visit the GALEX home page:
http://www.galex.caltech.edu/ for more information
about the mission.

* Deep Space 1 - This spacecraft was retired on Dec.
18, 2001. Check out http://nmp.jpl.nasa.gov/ds1/ to
learn more about what this mission accomplished.

* Pluto-Kuiper Express
* Europa Orbiter
* Solar Probe
* Many of NASA's future exploration missions are
currently being examined. To find out more about these
discovery/exploration missions check out the web page
at http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/ice_fire//whatsnew.htm for
more information.

Mars Missions 

ADVISORY - June 24, 2003

Images from the Mars Orbiter Camera aboard NASA's Mars
Global Surveyor capture a faint yet distinct glimpse
of the elusive Phobos, the larger and innermost of
Mars' two moons. The moon, which usually rises in the
west and moves rapidly across the sky to set in the
east twice a day, is shown setting over Mars'
afternoon horizon.
The images are available on the Internet at:
Phobos is so close to the martian surface (less than
6,000 kilometers or 3,728 miles away), it only appears
above the horizon at any instant from less than a
third of the planet's surface. From the areas where it
is visible, Phobos looks only half as large as Earth's
full moon. Like our satellite, it always keeps the
same side facing Mars. The tiny moon is also one of
the darkest and mostly colorless (dark grey) objects
in the solar system, so for the color image two
exposures were needed to see it next to Mars. The
faint orange-red hue seen in the wide-angle image is a
combination of the light coming from Mars and the way
the camera processes the image."

The newly released MOC images can be seen in the MOC
Gallery (http://www.msss.com/moc_gallery/), a web site
maintained by Malin Space Science Systems, the company
that built and operates MOC for the Jet Propulsion
Laboratory and NASA.

Mars Global Surveyor is now in its sixth year orbiting
the red planet. MGS reached Mars on 12 September 1997.
The first MOC images were obtained on 15 September
1997." Visit the MGS pages at
http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/mgs/index.html. There are
over 100,000 images of Mars from the MGS, check out
the newest images of the surface of Mars at

* Mars Odyssey Orbiter - June 26, 2003 - Mars Odyssey
Orbiter Watches a Frosty Mars -
"NASA's Mars Odyssey spacecraft is revealing new
details about the intriguing and dynamic character of
the frozen layers now known to dominate the high
northern latitudes of Mars. The implications have a
bearing on science strategies for future missions in
the search of habitats. 

Odyssey's neutron and gamma-ray sensors have tracked
seasonal changes as layers of "dry ice"
(carbon-dioxide frost or snow) accumulate during
northern Mars' winter and then dissipate in the
spring, exposing a soil layer rich in water ice-- the
martian counterpart to permafrost."

The Odyssey data are available through a new online
access system established by the Planetary Data System
at: http://starbrite.jpl.nasa.gov/pds/ "

Visit the Mars Odyssey Mission page at

* Mars Exploration Rover Mission (Spirit and
Opportunity) - June 20, 2003 - 
Spirit - " NASA's Spirit spacecraft, the first of twin
Mars Exploration Rovers, performed its first
trajectory correction maneuver today. 
Following commands from the Mars Exploration Rover
flight team at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory,
Pasadena, Calif., the spacecraft first performed a
calibration and check of its eight thrusters, then
fired the thrusters to fine-tune its flight path
toward Mars."

Opportunity - Opportunity Mars Rover Targeted For
Launch No Earlier Than July 5 - "The second Mars
Exploration Rover, Opportunity, is now targeted for
launch no earlier than Saturday, July 5. The delay is
due to problems with the cork insulation on the Delta
II launch vehicle's first stage."

Launch: May/July 2003
Landing: January 2004
Visit the Mars Exploration Rover page at

* Mars Missions Status - New Mars missions are being
planned to include several new rover and sample
collection missions. Check out the Mars Missions web
page: http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/missions/ and the Mars
Exploration page: http://marsweb.jpl.nasa.gov/ 


Links and Other Space News
(If you have a link you would like to recommend to our
readers, please feel free to submit it.)

* "TheSky" Software - http://www.bisque.com

* Comet Observation Home Page -

* The Daytona Beach News-Journal - Space News Page - 

* JPL Solar System Ambassador Program - 

* Space.com - Sky Watch Calendar - 

* Eric's Black Sun Eclipse website - 

* Astronomical Lexicon -
Many of the astronomical terms used in this newsletter
are defined here.

* Astronomy Picture of the Day - 

* The Solar System in Pictures -
http://www.the-solar-system.net and a map of the moon
- http://www.moon-phases.com/

* Spaceflight Now - http://spaceflightnow.com/

* NASA Science News - http://science.nasa.gov/

* Universe Today - http://www.universetoday.com

* Space.com - http://space.com
Interesting space and astronomy articles.

* Northern Colorado Astronomical Society -

* Denver Astronomical Society -

* My Stars Live - http://www.mystarslive.com/
Interactive Star Chart

* Our Solar System -
This is an excellent site to learn about our solar


Acknowledgments and References

Much of the information in this newsletter is from
"Astronomy Magazine" (Kalmbach Publishing), JPL
mission status reports, the Internet, "Meteor Showers
- A Descriptive Catalog" by Gary W. Kronk, Sky &
Telescope web pages (S&T), and other astronomical
sources that I have stashed on my book shelves.

The author will accept any suggestions, constructive
criticisms, and corrections. Please feel free to send
me any new links or articles to share as well. I will
try to accommodate any reasonable requests. Please
feel free to send questions, comments, criticisms, or
donations to the email address listed below. Enjoy!


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Keep looking UP!
73 from KI0AR

Created by Burness F. Ansell, III

COO, Director of Aerospace Technologies, IAAS
Last modified: July 01, 2003

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