[astronews] IAAS Monthly Astronomy Newsletter

  • From: Burness Ansell <ki0ar@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: Astronomy Newsletter <astronews@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Tue, 2 Nov 2004 17:45:19 -0800 (PST)

            IAAS Monthly Astronomy Newsletter
                      November 2004

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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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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 12th.
* 1st Quarter Moon on the 19th.
* Full Moon on the 26th.
* Last Quarter Moon on the 5th.

* Apogee on the 2nd, 251,654 mi. from Earth.
* Perigee on the 14th, 225,130 mi. from Earth.

Moon/Planet Pairs:
* The Moon passes 5 deg. north of Saturn on the 3rd.
* Venus passes 0.6 deg. north of Jupiter on the 4th.
* The Moon passes 1 deg. north of Jupiter on the 9th.
* The Moon passes 0.2 deg. south of Venus on the 9th.
* The Moon passes 0.5 deg. south of Mars on the 10th.
* Mercury passes 2 deg. north of Antares on the 11th.
* The Moon passes 0.9 deg. south of Mercury on the
13th.
* Venus passes 4 deg. north of Spica on the 16th.
* The Moon passes 4 deg. south of Uranus on the 19th.
* Mars passes 5 deg. north of Saturn on the 30th.

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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. 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.)

* Mercury - Is at greatest eastern elongation (22
deg.) on the 20th. Mercury is visible the evening sky
for the entire month. Mercury shines at a magnitude of
-0.3 on the 15th and dims to magnitude 0.3 by the
30th.

* Venus - Rises at 3:31 am on the 1st and 4:36 am by
month's end. Venus is visible in the early morning sky
low on the eastern horizon shining at a magnitude of
-4.0. 

* Mars - Appears briefly in the early morning sky this
month. Mars rises about 5:09 am on the 1st and about
4:52 am by month's end. Mars shines at magnitude 1.7. 

* Jupiter - Rises at 3:50 am on the 1st and 2:19 am by
month's end. Jupiter appears to rise higher in the
early morning sky as the month progresses. Jupiter is
in the constellation of Virgo. Jupiter shines at
magnitude -1.7.

* Saturn - Is stationary on the 8th. Saturn rises
around 9:54 pm on the 1st and about 7:53 pm by month's
end. Look for Saturn in the early evening sky in the
east this month. Saturn is about half way between the
constellations of Gemini and Cancer. Saturn shines at
a magnitude of 0.0.

* Uranus - Sets about 1:02 am on the 1st and about
11:01 pm by month's end. Uranus is visible in the
early evening and can be found in the constellation of
Aquarius. Uranus shines at a magnitude of 5.8.

* Neptune - Sets about 11:17 pm on the 1st and about
9:21 pm by month's end. Neptune is visible n the early
evening sky and can be found in the constellation of
Capricorn. Neptune shines at a magnitude of 7.9.

* Pluto - Sets about 7:46 pm on the 1st and about 5:51
pm by month's end. Pluto is in the constellation of
Ophiuchus. Pluto shines at magnitude 14.0. 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 occurs on
Nov. 17. 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.

Occultations
* "During daylight November 9, observers east of a
line from Saskatchewan to Florida will see a thin
crescent Moon pass in front of Jupiter. In Boston, the
occultation starts at 111:06 A.M. EST with the pair
high in the southwest. Residents of Atlanta will see
Jupiter disappear at 11:24 A.M. EST, while those in
Chicago will see the event begin at 9:57 A.M. CST.
Visit www.lunar-occultations.com/iota/iotandx.htm for
times at other locations. Set up at least half an hour
before the event to make sure you can locate the moon
and Jupiter." (Astronomy Magazine, Nov 2004, p. 65)

* 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
* C/2003 K4 (LINEAR) has returned from its travels
around the Sun and can be found shining at 5th
magnitude in the early morning sky traveling from the
constellation of Corvus through Hydra into Centaurus
this month. A clear horizon to the southeast before
sunrise will provide the best views.

* C/2001 Q4 (NEAT) and Comet C/2003 T4 (LINEAR) are
both still in Draco however, glowing at 12th
magnitude, these two comets may prove elusive for
telescopes smaller than 10 inches.

* Comet 78P/Gehrels 2 lies just to the southwest of
the Pleiades.

* 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
* No eclipse activity this month.

Asteroids (From west to east)
* Vesta is in the constellation of Aquarius.
* Harmonia is in the constellation of Pisces.
* Euterpe is at opposition on the 6th just south of
the constellation of Aries.
* Flora is in the constellation of Cancer.
* Pallas is in the constellation of Crater.
* Ceres is in the constellation of Virgo.
 
* 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 - October 14, 2004 - 
NASA's Genesis Mishap Board & Researchers Both Report
Progress 

"As scientists begin to unpack more than 3,000
containers of samples of the sun brought to Earth by
NASA's Genesis mission, the Mishap Investigation Board
(MIB) has identified a likely direct cause of the
failure of Genesis' parachute system to open. The
Board said the likely cause was a design error that
involves the orientation of gravity-switch devices.
Meanwhile, scientists unpacking samples at NASA's
Johnson Space Center remain upbeat about the potential
science results from the atoms and ions from the solar
wind that were collected during Genesis' nearly
three-year mission in deep space." 

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 29, 2004-
Cassini's Radar Shows Titan's Young Active Surface

"The first radar images of Saturn's moon Titan show a
very complex geological surface that may be relatively
young. Previously, Titan's surface was hidden behind a
veil of thick haze. 

"Unveiling Titan is like reading a mystery novel,"
said Dr. Charles Elachi, director of NASA's Jet
Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., and team
leader for the radar instrument on Cassini. "Each time
you flip the page you learn something new, but you
don't know the whole story until you've read the whole
book. The story of Titan is unfolding right before our
eyes, and what we are seeing is intriguing." 

The Oct. 26 flyby marked the first time Cassini's
imaging radar was used to observe Titan. The radar
instrument works by bouncing radio signals off Titan's
surface and timing their return. This is similar to
timing the returning echo of your voice across a
canyon to tell how wide the canyon is. Radio waves can
penetrate the thick veil of haze surrounding Titan."

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

"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/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)

* Stardust - No new news since June 17, 2004 - NASA
Spacecraft Reveals Surprising Anatomy Of A Comet - 
"Findings from a historic encounter between NASA's
Stardust spacecraft and a comet have revealed a much
stranger world than previously believed. The comet's
rigid surface, dotted with towering pinnacles,
plunging craters, steep cliffs, and dozens of jets
spewing violently, has surprised scientists. 

"We thought Comet Wild 2 would be like a dirty, black,
fluffy snowball," said Stardust Principal Investigator
Dr. Donald Brownlee of the University of Washington,
Seattle. "Instead, it was mind-boggling to see the
diverse landscape in the first pictures from Stardust,
including spires, pits and craters, which must be
supported by a cohesive surface."

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.

* Galaxy Evolution Explorer - (GALEX) - 
The GALEX Image Gallery is 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 - No new news since September
27, 2004
Rover Tracks Seen from Orbit 
(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/mgs/sci/msss27Sept04/press-rel.html)

"Wheel tracks left by NASA's Mars Exploration Rover
Spirit, and even the rover itself, are visible in this
image from the Mars Orbiter Camera on NASA's Mars
Global Surveyor orbiter. North is up in this image.
The tracks and rover are in the area south of a crater
informally named "Bonneville," which is just southeast
of the center of the image. The orbiter captured this
image with use of an enhanced-resolution technique
called compensated pitch and roll targeted
observation. It took the picture on March 30, 2004, 85
martian days, or sols, after Spirit landed on Mars.
The rover had driven from its landing site to the rim
of Bonneville and was examining materials around the
crater's rim."

* Mars Global Surveyor Images - October 21-27, 2004

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

* Degraded Crater (Released 21 October 2004)
http://www.msss.com/mars_images/moc/2004/10/21/index.html

* Mid-latitude Dune Field (Released 22 October 2004)
http://www.msss.com/mars_images/moc/2004/10/22/index.html

* Arsinoes Chaos Landforms (Released 23 October 2004)
http://www.msss.com/mars_images/moc/2004/10/23/index.html

* Alba Patera Valleys (Released 24 October 2004)
http://www.msss.com/mars_images/moc/2004/10/24/index.html

* Sinus Sabaeus Scene (Released 25 October 2004)
http://www.msss.com/mars_images/moc/2004/10/25/index.html

* Autumn in Argyre (Released 26 October 2004)
http://www.msss.com/mars_images/moc/2004/10/26/index.html

* Arnus Vallis (Released 27 October 2004)
http://www.msss.com/mars_images/moc/2004/10/27/index.html

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 has begun 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 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 - No new news since August 25,
2004 - Mars Odyssey Begins Overtime After Successful
Mission -
"NASA's Mars Odyssey orbiter begins working overtime
today after completing a prime mission that discovered
vast supplies of frozen water, ran a safety check for
future astronauts, and mapped surface textures and
minerals all over Mars, among other feats.

"Odyssey has accomplished all of its mission-success
criteria," said Dr. Philip Varghese, project manager
for Odyssey at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory,
Pasadena, Calif. The spacecraft has been examining
Mars in detail since February 2002, more than a full
Mars year of about 23 Earth months. NASA has approved
an extended mission through September 2006."

MARS ODYSSEY THEMIS IMAGES

0ctober 25-29, 2004

* North Polar Cap (Released 25 October 2004)
  http://themis.la.asu.edu/zoom-20041025a.html

* North Polar Cap (Released 26 October 2004)
  http://themis.la.asu.edu/zoom-20041026A.html

* North Polar Cap (Released 27 October 2004)
  http://themis.la.asu.edu/zoom-20041027A.html

* North Polar Cap (Released 28 October 2004)
  http://themis.la.asu.edu/zoom-20041028A.html

* North Polar Cap (Released 29 October 2004)
  http://themis.la.asu.edu/zoom-20041029A.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) - October 29, 2004 -

Spirit Status:
"Spirit's been mulling over 'Uchben' - sol 279-284,
October 25, 2004

Spirit is healthy and currently investigating a
layered rock called "Uchben." Spirit is farther from
the equator than its twin, Opportunity is, and it has
much less available solar energy. Spirit's solar
panels are pointed to the northern Sun, but Spirit is
still only getting about 400 watt-hours of energy per
day - enough to run a 100-watt bulb for four hours.
Opportunity has been getting more than 700 watt-hours
a day. The lower power supply for Spirit limits the
rover's daily activities."

Opportunity Status:
"Wave Goodbye to 'Wopmay' - sol 258-264, October 22,
2004

Opportunity's health is excellent. Solar exposure
continues to be very good. Opportunity spent its first
night inside "Endurance Crater" on sol 134. To date,
the rover has spent 130 sols in the crater, grinding
21 targets with the rock abrasion tool, performing 62
integrations with the Mössbauer spectrometer and 33
with the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer, and taking
115 observations with the miniature thermal emission
spectrometer. Opportunity finally completed
observations on the rock "Wopmay," and is ready to
begin its trek towards "Burns Cliff" on the way to
exiting Endurance Crater."

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 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.)

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

* "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.

* 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 SSA, Colorado
Last modified: November 02, 2004




                
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