[astronews] IAAS Monthly Astronomy Newsletter

  • From: Burness Ansell <ki0ar@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: Astronomy Newsletter <astronews@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Sun, 2 Nov 2003 17:37:56 -0800 (PST)

            IAAS Monthly Astronomy Newsletter
                    November 2003

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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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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 23rd.
* 1st Quarter Moon on the 30th.
* Full Moon on the 8th.
* 3rd Quarter Moon on the 16th.

* Apogee on the 10th, 252,464 mi. from Earth.
* Perigee on the 23rd, 221,712 mi. from Earth.

Moon/Planet Pairs:
* The Moon passes 5 deg. south of Neptune on the 1st.
* The Moon passes 5 deg. south of Uranus on the 2nd.
* The Moon passes 3 deg. south of Mars on the 3rd.
* Venus passes 4 deg. north of Antares on the 10th.
* The Moon passes 5 deg. north of Saturn on the 13th.
* The Moon passes 4 deg. north of Jupiter on the 18th.
* The Moon passes 0.3 deg. south of Mercury on the
24th.
* The Moon passes 2 deg. south of Venus on the 25th.
* The Moon passes 5 deg. south of Neptune on the 28th.
* The Moon passes 5 deg. south of Uranus on the 29th.

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Planets
(All times are local unless otherwise noted.)
Planetary Reports generated by "TheSky" software
http://bfa3.home.att.net/planrpts2003.html.

* Mercury - Returns to the evening sky late in the
month. Mercury shines at a magnitude of -0.5.

* Venus - Also returns to the evening skies late in
the month. Look for Venus, low on the western horizon
soon after sunset, but be quick, at its highest this
month, Venus still sets about an hour after sunset.
Venus shines at magnitude -3.9.

* Mars - Rises about 2:30 pm on the 1st and about 1:00
pm by the 30th. Mars is in the constellation of
Aquarius this month. Mars shines at magnitude -1.2 on
the 1st and dims to magnitude -0.4 by the 30th. Mars
continues to dim considerably from its brightest back
in August but Mars still remains in an excellent
position in the sky for early evening observations.

* Jupiter - Rises around 1:50 am on the 1st and about
12:12 am by month's end. Look for Jupiter between the
constellations of Leo and Virgo. Jupiter shines at
magnitude -1.9. 

* Saturn - Rises about 8:50 pm on the 1st and about
6:50 pm by month's end. Saturn can be found in the
constellation of Gemini. Saturn shines at magnitude
-0.2.

* Uranus - Rises about 2:01 pm on the 1st and about
noon by month's end. Uranus is in the constellation of
Aquarius. Uranus is visible in the early evening and
remains in a prime location for viewing this month.
Uranus shines at a magnitude of 5.8.

* Neptune - Rises 1:06 pm on the 1st and about 11:09
am by month's end. Neptune is in the constellation of
Capricornus. Neptune is also visible in the early
evening and remains 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 sets about 07:43 pm on the 1st. Pluto sets about
5:48 pm by month's end. Pluto shines at magnitude
13.9. As always, good luck at spotting this one.

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Astronomical Events

Meteor Showers
* The Leonids - The duration of this meteor shower
covers the period of Nov. 14-20. Maximum currently
occurs on Nov. 19. The maximum hourly rate typically
reaches 10-15, but most notable are periods of
enhanced activity that occur every 33 years - events
that are directly associated with the periodic return
of comet Tempel-Tuttle. During these exceptional
returns, the Leonids have produced rates of up to
several thousand meteors per hour. The Leonids are
swift meteors, which are best known for leaving a high
percentage of persistent trains.
The Leonids will actually peak twice this year. Read
the following article to find out more.
http://science.nasa.gov/headlines/y2003/10oct_doubleleonids.htm?list81486

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
* Comet 2P/Encke should reach 6th magnitude this
month, passing through an area spanning the region of
sky beginning around the constellations of Andromeda
and between Pegasus and Cygnus continuing between
Aquila and Lyra towards the end of the month. Comet
2P/Encke passes near the Veil Nebula on the 14th and
near the Coat Hanger asterism on the 22nd. This comet
is fairly well placed for European and North American
observers. Binoculars and small telescopes should
easily be able to spot this one despite the moon's
glow.
 
* 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).

Eclipses
* Total lunar eclipse in the early evening of the 8th.
Maximum totality occurs around 8:06 pm EST. 
* Total solar eclipse occurs on the 23rd. However, you
need to travel to Antarctica to see it. New Zealanders
and Australians will get treated to a partial solar
eclipse.

Asteroids
* Amphitrite is at opposition on the 29th 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.

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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
operation. 

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
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.

* Cassini - October 31, 2003 - 
"The most recent spacecraft telemetry was acquired
from the Goldstone tracking station on Tuesday,
October 28. The Cassini spacecraft is in an excellent
state of health and is operating normally. . . 

On-board activities this week included a Radio and
Plasma Wave Science (RPWS) high frequency receiver
calibration and uplink of the Imaging Science
Subsystem Narrow Angle Camera / Wide Angle Camera SSR 
Instrument expanded blocks."

"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.
(http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/cassini/english/where/)

* Stardust - October 17, 2003 - 
"The Stardust team had three 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. 

Recent images taken by Stardust's navigation camera
indicate that a small amount of contamination has
reappeared on the camera. The Stardust team has
activated heaters on the spacecraft to remove the
contamination."

Stardust encounters Comet Wild 2 on January 2, 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 updates
since August 27, 2003 - "The GALEX Image Gallery is
now available at
http://www.galex.caltech.edu/imagegallery.html "

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

* Past, Present, Future and Proposed JPL Missions -
http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/missions

Mars Missions 

* Mars Global Surveyor - October 29, 2003

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

* Fresh Impact Crater (Released 23 October 2003)
http://www.msss.com/mars_images/moc/2003/10/23/index.html

* Noachis Dust Storm (Released 24 October 2003)
http://www.msss.com/mars_images/moc/2003/10/24/index.html

* Rippled Mars (Released 25 October 2003)
http://www.msss.com/mars_images/moc/2003/10/25/index.html

* Olympus Mons Lava Flows (Released 26 October 2003)
http://www.msss.com/mars_images/moc/2003/10/26/index.html

* Hecates Tholus (Released 27 October 2003)
http://www.msss.com/mars_images/moc/2003/10/27/index.html

* Crater in Syrtis Major (Released 28 October 2003)
http://www.msss.com/mars_images/moc/2003/10/28/index.html

* Chasma Australe Fog (Released 29 October 2003)
http://www.msss.com/mars_images/moc/2003/10/29/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 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
http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/mgs/msss/camera/images/.

* Mars Odyssey Orbiter - October 01, 2003 - The
Odyssey Orbiter Continues to Share the Adventure of
Mars Exploration -
"NASA's Mars Odyssey team has released another
significant installment of science data for the public
and science community to review and analyze. 

"The three instrument suites onboard Odyssey continue
to produce excellent data," said Jeffrey Plaut,
Project Scientist for the mission. "This release
includes data acquired as recently as this past March.
It includes over 15,000 new infrared and visible
images, as well as thousands of new measurements of
gamma rays, neutrons, and charged particles that will
help us understand the martian environment."

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. 

Image of the Day - Oct 30, 2003: Hematite Outlier
(http://themis.la.asu.edu/zoom-20031030a.html)
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
Opportunity."

Spirit arrives at Mars January 3, 2004.
Opportunity arrives at Mars January 24, 2004.
Where are Spirit and Opportunity now?
http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/mer/mission/spiritrightnow.html

Visit the Mars Exploration Rover page at
http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/mer/.

* 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/ 

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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.)

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

* A Short Guide to Celestial Navigation -
http://home.t-online.de/home/h.umland/

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

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

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

* 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://science.nasa.gov/

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

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

* 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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Keep looking UP!
73 from KI0AR

Created by Burness F. Ansell, III
ki0ar@xxxxxxxxx

COO, Director of Aerospace Technologies, IAAS
JPL SSA, Colorado
Last modified: November 02, 2003



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