[astronews] IAAS Monthly Astronomy Newsletter

  • From: Burness Ansell <ki0ar@xxxxxxx>
  • To: Astronomy Newsletter <astronews@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Tue, 03 Sep 2002 17:17:00 -0600

               IAAS Monthly Astronomy Newsletter
                         September 2002

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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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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 6th.
* 1st Quarter Moon on the 13th.
* Full Moon on the 21st (also known as the Harvest Moon).
* 3rd Quarter Moon on the 29th.

* Perigee on the 7th, 222,914 mi. from Earth.
* Apogee on the 22nd, 252,495 mi. from Earth.

Moon/Planet Pairs:
* Venus passes 0.9 degrees south of Spica on the 1st.
* The Moon passes 2 degrees north of Saturn on the 1st.
* The Moon passes 4 degrees north of Jupiter on the 4th.
* The Moon passes 9 degrees north of Mercury on the 8th.
* The Moon passes 8 degrees north of Venus on the 9th.
* The Moon passes 4 degrees south of Neptune on the 17th.
* The Moon passes 4 degrees south of Uranus on the 18th.
* The Moon passes 3 degrees north of Saturn on the 28th.

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Planets
(All times are local unless otherwise noted.)

* Mercury - Is at greatest eastern elongation (27 degrees) on the
1st. Mercury is in inferior conjunction on the 27th. Mercury
shines at magnitude 0.2

* Venus - Is at greatest brilliancy (magnitude -4.6) on the 26th.
Venus can be easily spotted in the early evening skies.

* Earth - Autumnal equinox is at 12:55 a.m. EDT on the 23rd.

* Mars - Is at aphelion (154.9 million miles from the sun) on the
20th. Having passed conjunction last month, Mars is not visible
this month.

* Jupiter - Rises about 3 hours after Saturn and can be found near
the center on the constellation of Cancer the Crab. During the
first two weeks of September, Jupiter lies just a degree south of
M44, the Beehive Cluster. Jupiter shines at magnitude -1.9.

* Saturn - Rises before midnight and is located just west of the
constellation of Gemini. Saturn shines at magnitude 0.1.

* Uranus - Is near the eastern edge of the constellation of
Aquarius. Uranus shines at magnitude 5.8.

* Neptune - Is located in the constellation of Capricornus.
Neptune shines at magnitude 7.9.

* Pluto - Rises in the early evening. Pluto is in the lower east
corner of the constellation of Ophiuchus. As always, this planet
is difficult to spot, shining at magnitude 13.9.

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Astronomical Events

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

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.

Comets
* (From Astronomy Magazine, Sept. 2002, p. 61) Comet Wirtanen -
  "If you can spot Jupiter in the predawn sky, you'll land in the
right zone for seeing comet Wirtanen. Only 1 degree from Jupiter
lies the large sparkling Beehive Cluster, (M44). A small scope
should show both in the same field.
  By Sunday morning, September 8, Wirtanen lies just to the east
of the V-shaped group in the heart of M44."

Eclipses
* No significant eclipse activity this month.

Asteroids
* Eunomia is at opposition on the 14th.
* Melpomene is at opposition on the 27th.

* 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)

* Genesis - August 28, 2002 -
"Genesis continues to collect solar particles. During an energetic
particle event on Aug. 24, more bright objects than normal were
identified in the star tracker, with no ill effect.

On Aug. 28, the flight team identified a problem with a memory
chip in one of the spacecraft's memory modules. Initial
indications are that the chip, which is an electronically erasable
programmable read-only memory, has one corrupt bit. The team dealt
successfully with a similar situation about seven months ago, when
a corrupt bit was identified in a chip in a different memory
module and a software patch was transmitted to the spacecraft to
bypass the bad bit. Engineers are in the process of determining
the exact location of the newly detected corruption." The latest
status reports can be read at
http://www.genesismission.org/mission/statusupdate.html. 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 
http://www.genesismission.org/mission/live_shots.html.

* Galileo - August 15, 2002
"As the Galileo spacecraft continues its long trek back in towards
Jupiter for its final planned science pass in November, the pace
of activity picks up. In addition to the routine maintenance
activities that look after spacecraft health and safety, special
tests are beginning in preparation for the Amalthea flyby." Read
the latest news at http://galileo.jpl.nasa.gov/index.html.

* Cassini - August 21, 2002 - "The most recent spacecraft
telemetry was acquired from the Goldstone tracking station on
Wednesday, August 21. The Cassini spacecraft is in an excellent
state of health and is operating normally. August 18th marked the
3-year anniversary of Cassini's Earth flyby." 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. (http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/cassini/english/where/)

* 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.

* Stardust - August 06, 2002 - "NASA's Stardust spacecraft, on a
mission to collect and return the first samples from a comet,
began yesterday [August 5, 2002] to collect tiny specks of solid
matter, called interstellar dust grains, that permeate the galaxy.

"If you look at the Milky Way on a dark night you may see a black
band stretching along the center. The band is interstellar dust
blocking the light from distant stars. These are the particles
that Stardust will be collecting," said Dr. Don Brownlee, an
astronomy professor at the University of Washington, Seattle, and
the principal investigator of the Stardust mission." Visit the
Stardust home page at http://stardust.jpl.nasa.gov for more
information about the mission.

* Pluto-Kuiper Express
(http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/ice_fire//pkexprss.htm ),
* Europa Orbiter (http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/europaorbiter/),
* Solar Probe (http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/ice_fire//sprobe.htm )
* 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 

* Mission updates will resume once Mars is no longer in line with
the sun.

* Mars Global Surveyor - August 08, 2002 - "The Mars Global
Surveyor (MGS) Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC) was turned off on July
31, 2002, and it will remain off until at least August 19, 2002.
During this time, Mars is behind the Sun relative to Earth, and
communication with the spacecraft is extremely limited (for
several days, there will be no communication at all). MOC is off
during this time because any images it might acquire could not be
transmitted to Earth, and the twice-weekly targeting schedules can
not be sent to the spacecraft." 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 
http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/mgs/msss/camera/images/.

* Mars Odyssey Orbiter - August 30, 2002 - Check out the recent
images from the 2001 Mars Odyssey mission at the Thermal Emission
Imaging System (THEMIS) web page (http://themis.la.asu.edu/zoom-
20020830a.html). Visit the Mars Odyssey Mission page at
http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/odyssey/index.html.

* Mars Missions Status - New Mars missions are being planned to
include several new rover and sample collection missions.
http://mars.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.)

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

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

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

* 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

* 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://spacescience.com/

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

* Space.com - http://space.com
Interesting articles and signup for your own email account [your
name]@space.com.

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

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

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

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

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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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_ The latest version of the newsletter is accessible from
http://bfa3.home.att.net/astro.html as well as
http://www.coloradoastronomy.org.

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Keep looking UP!
73 from KI0AR

Created by Burness F. Ansell, III
ki0ar@xxxxxxxx

COO, Director of Aerospace Technologies, IAAS
Last modified: September 03, 2002



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