[astronews] IAAS Monthly Astronomy Newsletter

  • From: Burness Ansell <ki0ar@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: Astronomy Newsletter <astronews@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 1 Oct 2003 17:52:58 -0700 (PDT)

            IAAS Monthly Astronomy Newsletter
                    October 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


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.


In This Newsletter...

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



* New Moon on the 25th.
* 1st Quarter Moon on the 2nd and the 31st.
* Full Moon on the 10th.
* 3rd Quarter Moon on the 18th.

* Apogee on the 13th, 252,085 mi. from Earth.
* Perigee on the 26th, 222,791 mi. from Earth.

Moon/Planet Pairs:
* Venus passes 3 deg. north of Spica on the 3rd.
* The Moon passes 5 deg. south of Neptune on the 4th.
* The Moon passes 5 deg. south of Uranus on the 6th.
* The Moon passes 1.1 deg. south of Mars on the 6th.
* The Moon passes 1.2 deg. north of Mars on the 9th.
* The Moon passes 5 deg. north of Saturn on the 17th.
* The Moon passes 4 deg. north of Jupiter on the 21st.
* The Moon passes 0.08 deg. south of Venus on the


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

* Mercury - Is low in the east just before sunrise
early in the month. Mercury is in superior conjunction
on the 25th. Mercury shines at a magnitude of -0.8 on
the 1st.

* Venus - Returns to the evening skies late in the
month. Venus shines at magnitude -3.8.

* Mars - Rises about 5:24 pm on the 1st and about 2:30
pm by the 31st. Mars is in the constellation of
Aquarius this month. Mars shines at magnitude -2.1 on
the 1st and dims to magnitude -1.2 by the 31st. Having
passed opposition in late August, Mars still remains
in a prime position for viewing in the evening skies.
Be sure to take advantage of any viewing opportunities
in your area for seeing Mars at its best for many
years to come. 

* Jupiter - Rises around 4:23 am on the 1st and about
1:50 am by month's end. Look for Jupiter just before
dawn among the stars of the constellation of Leo the
Lion. Jupiter shines at magnitude -1.8. 

* Saturn - Rises about 11:50 pm on the 1st and about
8:50 pm by month's end. Saturn is stationary on the
25th. Saturn can be found in the constellation of
Gemini. Saturn shines at magnitude 0.0.

* Uranus - Rises about 5:05 pm on the 1st and about
three hours earlier by month's end. Uranus is in the
constellation of Aquarius. Uranus is still in a prime
location for viewing this month. Uranus shines at a
magnitude of 5.7.

* Neptune - Rises 4:08 pm on the 1st and about three
hours earlier by month's end. Neptune is in the
constellation of Capricornus. Neptune is also in a
prime location for viewing this month. Neptune shines
at a magnitude of 7.9.

* Pluto - Pluto is located just within the
southeastern corner of the constellation of Ophiuchus
and rises about 12:12 pm on the 1st and about three
hours earlier by month's end. Pluto shines at
magnitude 13.9. As always, good luck at spotting this


Astronomical Events

Meteor Showers
* The Orionids - The duration of this meteor shower
extends from October 15 to 29, with maximum occurring
on October 22. The maximum hourly rate is usually
about 20 and the meteors are described as fast.

* 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 2P/Encke crosses the 10th magnitude threshold
this month and passes just 2 degrees north of the
Andromeda Galaxy (M31) on the 25th.
* 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.

* Pallas is at opposition on the 13th in the
constellation of Cetus.
* Ceres 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.


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

* Genesis - No update since August 22, 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

There are three collector arrays aboard Genesis that
are exposed to, or hidden from, the solar wind. One
collector array for each of the three solar wind
regimes. Which collector array is exposed is
determined by the data received by sensitive ion and
electron monitors located on the spacecraft?s
equipment deck. These monitors scrutinize the solar
wind passing by the spacecraft and relay this
information to the onboard computer, which in turn
commands the collector arrays to deploy and retract as
needed. Recent solar activity has called for a
fifty/50 split of array activity. The ?high solar
speed? collector array to be deployed 50% of the time,
and the E-Array, which handles coronal mass ejections,
was unshaded for the remaining 50% of the time."

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 - September 17, 2003 - Galileo End of
Mission Status - 
"The Galileo spacecraft's 14-year odyssey came to an
end on Sunday, Sept. 21, when the spacecraft passed
into Jupiter's shadow then disintegrated in the
planet's dense atmosphere at 11:57 a.m. Pacific
Daylight Time. The Deep Space Network tracking station
in Goldstone, Calif., received the last signal at
12:43:14 PDT. The delay is due to the time it takes
for the signal to travel to Earth. 

Hundreds of former Galileo project members and their
families were Present at NASA's Jet Propulsion
Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., for a celebration to
bid the spacecraft goodbye. Full story at 
For more information on Jupiter exploration check out
the Legacy of Jupiter Exploration timeline
Read the latest news at

* Cassini - September 19, 2003 - 

The most recent spacecraft telemetry was acquired from
the Madrid tracking station on Wednesday, September
17. The Cassini spacecraft is in an excellent state of
health and is operating normally. . . 

On-board activities this week included uplink of a
Magnetospheric Imaging Instrument flight software mini
sequence and flight software checkout, a Radio Science
Subsystem (RSS) Ultrastable Oscillator test, RSS
Periodic Instrument Maintenance, boresight
calibration, pattern calibration, and quiet test, and
a probe checkout."

"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 - September 26, 2003 - 
"The Stardust team had one period of communications
with the spacecraft in the past week. Telemetry
relayed from the spacecraft indicates it is healthy
and all subsystems continue to operate normally. 

A formal peer review of the Comet Wild 2 dust model
was held recently. Thirteen internationally renowned
comet experts reviewed and discussed the mission's
'model' for dust location and size for Comet Wild 2.
The current project model was validated with unanimous
consensus to use as is for mission planning. The
Stardust team will now incorporate the Comet Wild 2
dust model into their final planning for encounter."

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 updates
since August 27, 2003 - "The GALEX Image Gallery is
now available at

What's New: http://www.galex.caltech.edu/news.html for
more information about the mission.

* Past, Present, Future and Proposed JPL Missions -

Mars Missions 

* Mars Global Surveyor - September 30, 2003

"Today, 30 September 2003, the Mars Global Surveyor
(MGS) Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC) team is pleased to
announce the release of 10,232 newly-validated,
archived images acquired between August 2002 and
February 2003. These MOC Extended Mission data were
obtained during portions of the martian northern
spring and summer seasons (autumn and winter in the
southern hemisphere), and thus include many new views
of north polar terrain, extremely clear-atmosphere
views of Hellas Planitia, and a variety of martian
landforms between the north pole and southern middle

The new data can be viewed by visiting the Malin Space
Science Systems MOC Gallery. The MOC Gallery
(http://www.msss.com/moc_gallery/) now contains more
than 134,000 images acquired by the MGS camera since
it began taking pictures in September 1997. The data
now span more than 2 full Mars years since the mapping
phase of the mission began in March 1999. Every six
months, a new suite of MGS MOC data are archived with
the NASA Planetary Data System (PDS-
http://pds.jpl.nasa.gov/). Archiving occurs after a
labor-intensive effort to validate the data acquired
in the previous six-month period. The three pictures
shown here are examples of the high resolution data
acquired during the August 2002 through February 2003

Information about how to submit requests is online at
the new Mars Orbiter Camera Target Request Site, at

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 has begun its seventh 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 134,000 images of Mars from the MGS, check out
the newest images of the surface of Mars at

* Mars Odyssey Orbiter - No update since 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

Image of the Day - Sep 26, 2003: Terra Sirenum 
High-resolution version located at the Arizona State
University THEMIS web site.

* Mars Exploration Rover Mission (Spirit and
Opportunity) - No update since August 06, 2003 - 
"The first in-flight checkouts of the science
instruments and engineering cameras on NASA's twin
Spirit and Opportunity spacecraft on their way to Mars
have provided an assessment of the instruments'
condition after the stressful vibrations of launch.

The instrument tests run by the Mars Exploration Rover
flight team at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory,
Pasadena, Calif., finished with performance data
received Tuesday from two of the spectrometers on

Where are Spirit and Opportunity now?

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.)

* (NEW) JPL Solar System Experience -

* A Short Guide to Celestial Navigation -

* "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
JPL SSA, Colorado
Last modified: October 01, 2003

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