[astronews] IAAS Monthly Astronomy Newsletter

  • From: Burness Ansell <ki0ar@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: Astronomy Newsletter <astronews@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Sat, 1 Jul 2006 20:19:43 -0700 (PDT)

                IAAS Monthly Astronomy Newsletter
                          July 2006


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 internationally.


An Open Invitation - For amateur radio and scanner enthusiasts, when in the 
Denver metro area,
please join the Colorado Astronomy Net on the Rocky Mountain Radio League 
repeater on a frequency
of 146.94 MHz on Tuesday nights at 7 PM local time.


Special Notice to Denver, CO area residents and visitors to the area: The 
Plains Conservation
Center in Aurora hosts Star Parties the third Saturday of every month weather 
permitting. Visit
http://www.plainsconservationcenter.org for more information and directions.


Excerpts from JPL mission updates are provided as a public service as part of 
the JPL Solar System
Ambassador / NASA Outreach program.


In This Newsletter...

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


The Moon

* New Moon on the 25th.
* 1st Quarter Moon on the 3rd.
* Full Moon on the 10th.
* Last Quarter Moon on the 17th.

* Apogee on the 1st, 251,312 mi. from Earth.
* Perigee on the 13th, 226,358 mi. from Earth.
* Apogee on the 29th, 251,908 mi. from Earth.

Moon/Planet Pairs:
* Venus passes 4 deg. north of Aldebaran on the 2nd.
* The Moon passes 0.1 deg. south of Spica on the 4th.
* The Moon passes 5 deg. south of Jupiter on the 5th.
* The Moon passes 0.2 deg. south of Antares on the 8th.
* Mars passes 0.7 deg. north of Regulus on the 22nd.
* The Moon passes 6 deg. north of Venus on the 22nd.
* The Moon passes 1.1 deg. north of Mars on the 27th.
* The Moon passes 0.4 deg. south of Spica on the 31st.

The Planets
Planetary Reports generated by "TheSky" software. 
(http://bfa3.home.att.net/planrpts.html)  These
reports provide predicted data for the planets for the first of each month for 
the current year.
The rise and set times for the Sun and the Moon for each day of the month are 
also included in the
(All times are local unless otherwise noted.)

* Planetary Highlights for July - Mercury, Saturn and Mars are visible in the 
early evening hours,
but you better hurry to see Mercury before it disappears into the twilight glow 
during the first
week of July. Jupiter is high in the sky by sunset and provides a spectacular 
view in the evening.
Uranus and Neptune can be spotted in the early AM hours and catch Venus in the 
morning skies as
well. Mercury will return to the morning sky by the end of the month but will 
still be a faint
crescent and difficult to spot in the twilight glow.

* Mercury - Is in inferior conjunction on the 18th. Mercury will disappear from 
the evening sky
during the first few days of July only to reappear in the morning sky the last 
week of the month.
Mercury sets about 9:37 pm on the 1st and rises about 4:43 am by month's end. 
Mercury shines at
magnitude 0.0 or dimmer.

* Venus - Is visible in the morning sky before sunrise. Venus rises about 3:36 
am on the 1st and
about 4:06 am by month's end. Venus passes through the constellation of Taurus 
and into Gemini
this month and shines at magnitude -3.7.
* Earth ? Is at aphelion (94.5 million miles from the Sun) on the 3rd.

* Mars - Sets about 10:41 pm on the 1st and about 9:29 pm by month's end. Mars 
moves into the
constellation of Leo this month. Mars shines at magnitude 1.8.

* Jupiter - Is high above the horizon when the Sun sets making it easy to spot 
in the early
evening. Jupiter sets at 2:08 am on the 1st and about 12:04 am by month's end. 
Jupiter is in the
constellation of Libra and shines at magnitude -2.2.

* Saturn - Sets around 10:19 am on the 1st and about 8:28 pm by month's end. 
Look for Saturn in
the early evening hours towards the west. Due to its descent into the twilight 
haze, Saturn may
not be as bright or as detailed as it has been over the past year. Saturn is in 
the constellation
of Cancer. Saturn shines at a magnitude of 0.4.

* Uranus - Rises about 11:43 pm on the 1st and about 9:40 pm by month's end. 
Uranus is in the
constellation of Aquarius and shines at magnitude 5.8.

* Neptune - Rises about 10:36 pm on the 1st and about 8:32 pm by month's end. 
Neptune is in the
constellation of Capricornus this month. Neptune shines at a magnitude of 7.8.

* Pluto - Rises about 6:50 pm on the 1st and about 4:46 pm by month's end. 
Pluto is in the
constellation of Ophiuchus. Pluto shines at magnitude 13.9. As always, good 
luck at spotting this

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 27. 

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

* Comet 71P/Clark is in the constellation of Sagittarius but shining only at 
11th or 12th
magnitude will be difficult if not impossible to spot from within a city. Dark 
skies are required
to spot this fuzz ball.

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

* For more information about Comets and Meteor Showers, visit Gary Kronk's 
Comets & Meteors
Showers web page at http://comets.amsmeteors.org/.

* No eclipse activity this month.

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

Asteroids (From west to east)
* Herculina is in the constellation of Ophiuchus.
* Pallas is at opposition on the 1st in the constellation of Lyra.
* Amphitrite is at opposition on the 12th in the constellation of Sagittarius.
* Hygiea is at opposition on the 12th in the constellation of Sagittarius.
* Eunomia is at opposition on the 29th in the constellation of Capricornus.
* Hebe is in the constellation of Aquarius.
* Iris is in the constellation of Pisces.

* 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)

* Cassini - June 27, 2006 - Cassini to Look In, Out and Over Titan

"Two years after reaching Saturn, the Cassini spacecraft is halfway to 
completing its orbital
mission. On July 2, Cassini will perform its 16th flyby of Saturn's largest 
moon, Titan. Cassini
will focus on the interactions between Titan's atmosphere and the big bubble 
that surrounds
Saturn, called the magnetosphere. Cassini will also study Titan's surface to 
enable a better
understanding of its properties and composition."

Cassini Imaging Team's website - http://ciclops.org.

For the latest mission status reports, visit 
http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/home/index.cfm.  The speed
and location of the spacecraft can be viewed on the "Present Position" web page.

* New Horizons - June 29, 2006 - Pluto-Bound, Student-Built Dust Detector 
Renamed "Venetia,"
Honoring Girl Who Named Ninth Planet

"The student-built science instrument on NASA's New Horizons mission to Pluto 
has been renamed to
honor one of astronomy's most famous students - the "little girl" who named the 
ninth planet more
than 75 years ago.

For the rest of the New Horizons spacecraft's voyage to Pluto and the Kuiper 
Belt beyond, the
Student Dust Counter - the first science instrument on a NASA planetary mission 
to be designed,
built and operated by students - will be known as the Venetia Burney Student 
Dust Counter (VBSDC),
or "Venetia" for short. The tag honors Venetia Burney Phair, who at age 11 
offered the name
"Pluto" for the newly discovered ninth planet in 1930."

For more information on the New Horizons mission - the first mission to the 
ninth planet - visit
the New Horizons home page: http://pluto.jhuapl.edu/ for more information about 
the mission.

* Past, Present, Future and Proposed JPL Missions - 

* For special JPL programs and presentations in your area visit the JPL Solar 
System Ambassador
web site at http://www2.jpl.nasa.gov/ambassador/index.html.

Mars Missions

* Mars Global Surveyor - No new news since January 03, 2006 -
MGS locates Spirit - 

"Shortly before Spirit's Martian anniversary, the Mars Orbiter Camera acquired 
an image centered
on the rover's location at that time in the "Columbia Hills."

* Mars Global Surveyor Images - June 22-28, 2006

The following new images taken by the Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC) on the Mars 
Global Surveyor
spacecraft are now available:

* Crumpled (Released 22 June 2006)

* Inverted Channels (Released 23 June 2006)

* Stairways to ? (Released 24 June 2006)

* Cracked Mars (Released 25 June 2006)

* Sisyphi Spine (Released 26 June 2006)

* Mars at Ls 66 Degrees (Released 27 June 2006)

* Memnonia Landscape (Released 28 June 2006)

All of the Mars Global Surveyor images are archived here:

Every six months, a new suite of MGS MOC data are archived with the NASA 
Planetary Data System
(PDS- http://pds.jpl.nasa.gov/).

Information about how to submit requests is online at the new Mars Orbiter 
Camera Target Request
Site, at http://www.msss.com/plan/intro "

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 completed its eighth 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 200,000 images of Mars 
from the MGS, check
out the newest images of the surface of Mars at 

* Mars Odyssey Orbiter ? No new news since April 07, 2006 - 
2001 Mars Odyssey Turns 5 - 4/7/06

"NASA's 2001 Mars Odyssey celebrates five years of exploration, returning 
spectacular images of
features rarely seen on Earth and paving the way for future missions."

"A simulated fly-through using the newly assembled imagery is available online 

The fly-through plus tools for wandering across and zooming into the large 
image are at

Thermal Emission Imaging System (THEMIS) web site: (http://themis.asu.edu/)

June 26-30, 2006

* Feature of the Week: Maja Valles

* Martian Color #3 (Released 26 June 2006)

* Martian Color #4 (Released 27 June 2006)

* Martian Color #5 (Released 28 June 2006)

* Martian Color #6 (Released 29 June 2006)

* Martian Color #7 (Released 30 June 2006)

All of the THEMIS images are archived here:

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 30, 2006 -

Spirit Status: Spirit "Warms up the Engines," Continues Work on Mars - 874-880, 
June 23, 2006

"Since the beginning of Spirit's winter science campaign, the science and 
engineering teams have
held joint meetings every few weeks to track campaign progress and come up with 
a strategic plan
that balances engineering resources with science productivity. This week, 
Spirit began acquiring
the 22nd column of the 27-column "McMurdo panorama" and completed the seventh 
of nine photon
transfer calibrations - procedures designed to measure electronic noise 
(unwanted signals) picked
up by imaging sensors that convert light into electrical current in the rover's 

Opportunity Status: Full Plate for Opportunity - sol 859-866, June 30, 2006

"Opportunity is healthy. Opportunity has had a full plate with a new flight 
software load being
uplinked and the rover driving towards "Victoria Crater." Despite this busy 
schedule, Opportunity
has been taking advantage of every remote sensing window to acquire good 

Opportunity is continuing the uplink of its new flight software load with 
almost half of the
required files already onboard. Starting with Sol 865, flight software load 
files are being sent
through the Mars Odyssey forward link path in addition to the X-band high-gain 
antenna path."

Landing sites link -http://marsoweb.nas.nasa.gov/landingsites/

Visit the Mars Exploration Rover page at  

* Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Mission - June 19, 2006 -
Pace Quickens for NASA Spacecraft Orbiting Mars

"NASA's newest spacecraft at Mars has already cut the size and duration of each 
orbit by more than
half, just 11 weeks into a 23-week process of shrinking its orbit. By other 
indicators, the lion's
share of the job lies ahead. 

"The orbits are getting shorter and shorter. We've finished about 80 of them so 
far, but we have
about 400 more to go, and the pace really quickens toward the end," said Dan 
Johnston, Mars
Reconnaissance Orbiter deputy mission manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion 
Laboratory, Pasadena,

More information about the mission is available online 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: 


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

* A Short Guide to Celestial Navigation - 

* Astronomical Lexicon - http://bfa3.home.att.net/astrolex.html
Many of the astronomical terms used in this newsletter are defined here.

* Astronomy Picture of the Day - 

* Celestron Telescopes - http://www.celestron.com/c2/index.php - New beta 

* Cloudbait Observatory, Guffey Colorado - http://www.cloudbait.com  - Submit 
your fireball
reports here. Interesting, knowledgeable site.

* Comet Observation Home Page - http://encke.jpl.nasa.gov/

* The Constellations and Their Stars -
Good site for finding out more about the 88 constellations and their associated 

* Denver Astronomical Society - http://www.denverastrosociety.org

* Distant Suns - http://www.distantsuns.com/
Desktop Astronomy package for PCs.

* Eric's Black Sun Eclipse website - 

* Groovy Adventures - http://www.groovyadventures.com
Unique adventures and vacations including astronomy related vacations.

* JPL Solar System Ambassador Program - 

* JPL Solar System Experience - 

* Meade  Advanced Products Users Group - http://www.mapug-astronomy.net/ - 
Mapug-Astronomy Topical
Archive & information resource, containing a massive 335 page archive of 
discussions about Meade
equipment, and much more: observatories, observing lists, permanent piers, 
equatorial wedges,
remote operations, software, eyepieces, etc.

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

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

* Northern Colorado Astronomical Society - http://ncastro.org/

* Our Solar System - http://pauldunn.dynip.com/solarsystem/
This is an excellent site to learn about our solar system.

* Sangre Stargazers - http://sangrestargazers.skymtn.com/ - New astronomy club 
in the Wet Mountain
Valley of Custer County (about 45 miles due west of Pueblo, CO.)

* Sky and Space - http://www.skyandspace.com.au/public/home.ehtml
Astronomy from Down Under - The Southern Hemisphere's first astronomy and space 

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

* Space.com - Sky Watch Calendar - 

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

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

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

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


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

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
JPL Solar System Ambassador, Colorado
Last modified: July 01, 2006

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