[astronews] IAAS Monthly Astronomy Newsletter

  • From: Burness Ansell <ki0ar@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: Astronomy Newsletter <astronews@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 31 Aug 2005 20:28:52 -0700 (PDT)

                IAAS Monthly Astronomy Newsletter
                         September 2005

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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In This Newsletter...

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

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Moon

Phases:
* New Moon on the 3rd.
* 1st Quarter Moon on the 11th.
* Full Moon on the 17th.
* Last Quarter Moon on the 25th.

* Perigee on the 16th, 223,945 mi. from Earth.
* Apogee on the 28th, 251,846 mi. from Earth.

Moon/Planet Pairs:
* Venus passes 1.4 deg. south of Jupiter on the 2nd.
* Mercury passes 1.1 deg. north of Regulus on the 4th.
* Venus passes 1.8 deg. north of Spica on the 5th.
* The Moon passes 1.8 deg. south of Jupiter on the 6th.
* The Moon passes 1.3 deg. north Spica on the 7th.
* The Moon passes 0.6 deg. south of Venus on the 7th.
* The Moon passes 0.2 deg. north of Antares on the 10th.
* The Moon passes 5 deg. south of Neptune on the 15th.
* The Moon passes 2 deg. south of Uranus on the 16th.
* Jupiter passes 3 deg. north of Spica on the 21st.
* The Moon passes 6 deg. north of Mars on the 22nd.
* The Moon passes 5 deg. north of Saturn on the 28th.

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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
reports.
(All times are local unless otherwise noted.)

* Planetary Highlight for September - Look to the west about 30 minutes after 
sunset on the 6th to
see Venus, Jupiter, Spica and the Moon all within a degree or so of each other 
for a spectacular
conjunction.

* Mercury - Rises at 5:11 am on the 1st. Look for Mercury in the morning sky 
during the first week
of September. By the 9th, Mercury rises just 40 minutes before the Sun and 
quickly disappears into
the morning twilight glow thereafter. Mercury is in superior conjunction with 
the Sun on the 17th.
Mercury shines at magnitude -1.1 on the 1st.

* Venus - Is visible in the evening sky. Look to the west soon after sunset to 
spot Venus moving
from the constellation of Virgo into Libra this month. Venus sets at 9:01 pm on 
the 1st and 8:28
pm by month's end. Venus shines at magnitude -3.9.

* Earth - Autumnal equinox is at 6:23 pm (EDT) on the 22nd.

* Mars - Appears in the late evening sky this month. Mars rises about 10:25 pm 
on the 1st and
about 8:42 pm by month's end. Mars is in the tail of the constellation of Cetus 
this month. Mars
appears at its best from now through the end of the year. Mars shines at 
magnitude -1.0 on the 1st
and brightens to magnitude -1.7 by the 30th.

* Jupiter - Can be spotted very low in the southwest in the early evening. 
Jupiter sets at 9:06 pm
on the 1st and 7:23 pm by month's end. Jupiter is in the constellation of 
Virgo. Jupiter shines at
magnitude -1.7.

* Saturn - Is low in the east in the early morning. Saturn rises around 3:40 am 
on the 1st and
about 1:57 am by month's end. Saturn is in the constellation of Cancer. Saturn 
shines at a
magnitude of 0.4.

* Uranus - Rises at 7:24 pm on the 1st and about 5:24 pm by month's end. Uranus 
is in the
constellation of Aquarius and shines at a magnitude of 5.7.

* Neptune - Rises at 6:20 pm on the 1st and about 4:20 pm by month's end. 
Neptune is in the
constellation of Capricornus and shines at a magnitude of 7.9.

* Pluto - Sets about 12:50 am on the 1st and about 10:52 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
one.
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Astronomical Events

Meteor Showers
* No significant meteor shower activity this month, but you can expect to see 
from 1 to 4 meteors
per hour early in the month.

Comets
* For information, orbital elements and ephemerides on observable comets visit 
the Observable
Comets page from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
(http://cfa-www.harvard.edu/iau/Ephemerides/Comets/index.html).

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

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

Eclipses
* No eclipse activity this month.

Asteroids (From west to east)
* Julia is in the constellation of Triangulum.
* Juno is in the constellation of Orion.
* Vesta is in the constellation of Gemini.

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

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

* Cassini - August 30, 2005 -
Cassini Finds Enceladus Tiger Stripes are Really Cubs  

"The Cassini spacecraft has discovered the long, cracked features dubbed "tiger 
stripes" on
Saturn's icy moon Enceladus are very young -- between 10 and 1,000 years young.
 
These findings support previous results showing the moon's southern pole is 
active. The pole had
episodes of geologic activity as recently as 10 years ago. These cracked 
features are
approximately 130 kilometers long (80 miles), spaced about 40 kilometers (25 
miles) apart and run
roughly parallel to one another.
 
The cracks act like vents. They spew vapor and fine ice water particles that 
have become ice
crystals. This crystallization process can be dated, which helped scientists 
pin down the age of
the features."

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.
(http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/operations/present-position.cfm)

* Deep Impact - August 22, 2005 -
Deep Impact Mission Update

"Ever since Deep Impact's spectacularly successful collision with comet Tempel 
1, Principal
Investigator Michael A'Hearn and mission colleagues at the University of 
Maryland and seven other
institutions have been working at top speed to analyze the huge amount of raw 
data collected
during the brief encounter. The mission's principal findings will be published 
in a September
issue of the journal Science."

For the latest mission status reports, visit http://www.nasa.gov/deepimpact and
http://deepimpact.jpl.nasa.gov/. 

* Stardust - No new news since April 06, 2005 -
NASA Teams Receive National Recognition 

"NASA accomplishments in aviation and aerospace were honored at Aviation Week 
and Space
Technology's 48th Annual Aerospace Laurels Awards. Laurel honorees were 
nominated by the editors
of the aerospace magazine for "extraordinary individual and team 
accomplishments in the global
aviation, aerospace and defense industries."

Stardust LPSC 2004 Abstracts -
"Abstracts of the Stardust science results from the Comet Wild 2 encounter are 
now available here
(Adobe Acrobat reader required): 
ftp://www.lpi.usra.edu/pub/outgoing/lpsc2004/full07.pdf";

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.

* Past, Present, Future and Proposed JPL Missions - 
http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/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 - August 17, 2005
"(DOY 05-222/19:00:00 to DOY 05-229/19:00:00 UTC)

Launch / Days since Launch = Nov. 7, 1996 / 3190 days
Start of Mapping / Days since Start of Mapping = April 1, 1999 / 2330 days
Total Mapping Orbits = 28,792
Total Orbits = 30,475 (1,683 Pre-Mapping Orbits)

Recent Events:

Background Sequences - MGS continues nominal Beta-Supplement operations for 
this period.

The spacecraft is operating nominally in performing the beta-supplement daily 
recording and
transmission of science data. The mm455 sequence has executed successfully from 
05-223 (08/11/05)
and will terminate this evening. The mm456 sequence, successfully uplinked on 
05-227 (08/15/05),
will begin execution on 05-230 (08/18/05). The mm456 sequence will use a 
roll/yaw offset of 8
degrees. 

Other - No Targeting Observations were performed this week. MGS has 
successfully completed 1,523
ROTOs to date."

* Mars Global Surveyor Images - August 18-24, 2005

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

* Polar Polygons (Released 18 August 2005)
  http://www.msss.com/mars_images/moc/2005/08/18

* South Polar Layers (Released 19 August 2005)
  http://www.msss.com/mars_images/moc/2005/08/19

* The Defrosting South (Released 20 August 2005)
  http://www.msss.com/mars_images/moc/2005/08/20

* Sediments of Arabia (Released 21 August 2005)
  http://www.msss.com/mars_images/moc/2005/08/21

* West Argyre (Released 22 August 2005)
  http://www.msss.com/mars_images/moc/2005/08/22

* Mars at Ls 269 Degrees (Released 23 August 2005)
  http://www.msss.com/mars_images/moc/2005/08/23

* Valley Crossing (Released 24 August 2005)
  http://www.msss.com/mars_images/moc/2005/08/24

All of the Mars Global Surveyor images are archived here:
http://www.msss.com/mars_images/moc/index.html";

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 will complete 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 
http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/mgs/msss/camera/images/.

* Mars Odyssey Orbiter - No new news since July 08, 2005 - Mars Odyssey 
Achieved 15,000 Science
Orbits

MARS ODYSSEY THEMIS IMAGES

July 25-29, 2005

* Refilled Crater (Released 25 July 2005)
  http://themis.la.asu.edu/zoom-20050725A.html

* Crater Ejecta (Released 26 July 2005)
  http://themis.la.asu.edu/zoom-20050726a.html

* Eroded Ejecta (Released 27 July 2005)
  http://themis.la.asu.edu/zoom-20050727a.html

* Radial Erosion (Released 28 July 2005)
  http://themis.la.asu.edu/zoom-20050729a.html

* Craters Filling Craters (Released 29 July 2005)
  http://themis.la.asu.edu/zoom-20050729a.html

All of the THEMIS images are archived here:
http://themis.la.asu.edu/latest.html

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 
http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/odyssey/index.html.

* Mars Exploration Rover Mission (Spirit and Opportunity) - August 19, 2005 -

Spirit Status: Onward and Upward - sol 572-578, Aug 19, 2005

"Spirit has made 54 meters (177 feet) of forward progress towards the summit of 
"Husband Hill"
this past week. This is excellent progress considering Spirit is on restricted 
sols, so it can
only drive every other sol. (Restricted sols occur when the timing of the 
communications pass from
the Odyssey orbiter is too late in the sol to gather vital location and health 
information about
the rover after it executed recent commands. The team back on Earth must wait 
until the next sol
to find out where and how the rover is.) After sol 576's drive, the team was 
able to determine
highest summit point, which is informally named "Summit 1." Previously, the 
team believed "Summit
2" was slightly higher. Furthermore, traversing to Summit 2 was deemed 
difficult, so Spirit is
headed towards Summit 1, which is roughly 70 meters (230 feet) away."

Opportunity Status: Opportunity Biting into 'Strawberry' - sol 552-559, Aug 19, 
2005

"Opportunity completed a study of the cobble area by taking a close look at the 
cobble "Arkansas"
and a nearby soil target named "Reiner Gamma" with the instruments on the 
robotic arm. A 3-meter
(10-foot) bump took the rover to an outcrop dubbed "Fruit Basket" for an 
intensive investigation
of targets there. So far Opportunity has studied "Lemon Rind" with its complete 
suite of robotic
arm instruments, and begun an inspection of "Strawberry." The plan is to drive 
east to the "Erebus
Highway" after finishing work at Fruit Basket."

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

Visit the Mars Exploration Rover page at  
http://marsrovers.jpl.nasa.gov/home/index.html.

* Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Mission - August 30, 2005
NASA's Mars Orbiter Makes Successful Course Correction

"NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter successfully tested its main engines by 
making a successful
trajectory adjustment for reaching the red planet on March 10, 2006.
 
The spacecraft fired all six main thrusters for 15 seconds on Saturday, Aug. 
27. The engine burn
followed a 30-second burn of six smaller thrusters, which settled propellant in 
the craft's fuel
tank for smoother flow. The spacecraft's orientation was adjusted prior to the 
burns to point the
engines in the proper direction for the maneuver. The spacecraft returned to 
the regular
cruise-phase attitude after the trajectory adjustment.
 
"This maneuver accomplished two goals at once," said Mars Reconnaissance 
Orbiter Deputy Mission
Manager Dan Johnston of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. "It 
adjusted our
trajectory toward our Mars target point, and it gave us a valuable checkout of 
the orbit-insertion
engines." The target point is 395 kilometers (245 miles) above the surface of 
Mars.
 
Initial analysis of navigational data indicates this first flight path 
correction successfully
changed the spacecraft's velocity by the intended 7.8 meters per second (17.4 
miles per hour).
Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter's velocity relative to the Sun is 32,856 meters per 
second (73,497
miles per hour)."

More information about the mission is available online at 
http://www.nasa.gov/mro.

* 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://marsprogram.jpl.nasa.gov/

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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 - 
http://home.t-online.de/home/h.umland/

* 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 - 
http://antwrp.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/astropix.html

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

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

* Eric's Black Sun Eclipse website - 
http://www.ericsblacksuneclipse.com

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

* JPL Solar System Ambassador Program - 
http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/ambassador/front.html

* JPL Solar System Experience - 
http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/solar-system-experience/

* 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.

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

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

* Space.com - Sky Watch Calendar - 
http://www.space.com/spacewatch/sky_calendar.html

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

* The Daytona Beach News-Journal - Space News Page - 
http://www.news-journalonline.com/Space.htm

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

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

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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
ki0ar@xxxxxxxxx

COO, Director of Aerospace Technologies, IAAS
JPL Solar System Ambassador, Colorado
Last modified: August 31, 2005


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