[astronews] IAAS Monthly Astronomy Letter

  • From: Burness Ansell <ki0ar@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: Astronomy Newsletter <astronews@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Mon, 2 Feb 2004 21:31:42 -0800 (PST)

            IAAS Monthly Astronomy Newsletter
                    February 2004


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 20th.
* 1st Quarter Moon on the 27th.
* Full Moon on the 6th.
* Last Quarter Moon on the 13th.

* Perigee on the 16th, 228,865 mi. from Earth.
* Apogee on the 28th, 251,195 mi. from Earth.

Moon/Planet Pairs:
* The Moon passes 4 deg. north of Saturn on the 2nd.
* The Moon passes 3 deg. north of Jupiter on the 8th.
* Mercury passes 2 deg. south of Neptune on the 15th.
* The Moon passes 5 deg. south of Neptune on the 18th.
* The Moon passes 3 deg. south of Venus on the 23rd.
* The Moon passes 0.9 deg. south of Mars on the 25th.


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 barely visible very low on the eastern
horizon early in the month. Mercury shines at a
magnitude of -0.2 on the first but disappears into the
dawn twilight by mid-month.

* Venus - Is visible in the west soon after sunset.
Venus sets about 8:36 pm on the 1st and about 9:33 pm
by month's end. Venus shines at magnitude -4.1.

* Mars - Sets about 11:43 am on the 1st and about
11:24 pm by month's end. Mars is in the constellation
of Aries this month. Mars shines at magnitude 0.9.
Mars can be found low in the southwestern sky for
early evening observations.

* Jupiter - Rises around 8:06 pm on the 1st and about
5:55 pm by month's end. Look for Jupiter between the
constellations of Leo and Virgo. Jupiter shines at
magnitude -2.5.

* Saturn - Rises about 2:22 pm on the 1st and about
12:23 pm by month's end. Saturn can be found in the
constellation of Gemini. Saturn shines at magnitude

* Uranus - Is in conjunction with the Sun on the 21st.
Uranus is not visible this month.

* Neptune - Is in conjunction with the Sun on the 2nd.
Neptune is not visible this month.

* Pluto - Is now visible again. Pluto is in the
constellation of Ophiuchus and rises about 5:25 am on
the 1st and about 3:27 am by month's end. Pluto shines
at magnitude 13.9. As always, good luck at spotting
this one.


Astronomical Events

Meteor Showers
* There are a few minor meteor showers this month but
none that produce rates much higher than 2-5 per hour.

* 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 C/2002 T7 (LINEAR) can be found traveling
through the constellation of Pegasus this month.
Shining at a magnitude of 7, Comet C/2002 T7 can be
spotted with a good pair of binoculars or a small
telescope. Comet C/2002 T7 lies near the 3rd magnitude
star Gamma (g) Pegasi or Algenib, the southeastern
corner of the Great Square of Pegasus. The best time
this month is during the first 2 weeks of February
where it is about 30 deg. above the western horizon.

* For information, orbital elements and ephemerides on
observable comets visit the Observable Comets page
from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics

* No significant eclipse activity this month.

Asteroids (From west to east)
* Pallus is in the constellation of Cetus.
* Ceres is in the constellation of Gemini.
* Hebe is in the constellation of Gemini.
* Eunomia is at opposition on the 11th. Eunomia is in
the constellation of Sextans.
* Iris is in the constellation of Crater.

* 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 - January 30, 2004 - Genesis Classrooms,
Sample Return, and Upcoming Conferences - "As sample
return grows near, teachers will have multiple
opportunities for training on education materials.

Teachers who attend the Genesis workshop at the Utah
Science Teachers Association Conference in February
will model the collection process used by the Genesis
mission to gather solar wind particles. Through a
series of hands-on activities, participants will
discover how different materials are necessary to
collect the various elements in solar wind particles.

For the online teacher guide of this activity please
go to:
Utah Conference:

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

Cassini - January 30, 2004 -
* The most recent spacecraft telemetry was acquired
from the Goldstone tracking station on Monday, January
26. The Cassini spacecraft is in an excellent state of
health and is operating normally. . .

The first Approach Science sequence, C42, continued
this week with completion of a flight software
normalization procedure for Visual and Infrared
Mapping Spectrometer (VIMS), Cassini Plasma
Spectrometer (CAPS) and Composite Infrared
Spectrometer, upload of VIMS flight software version
8.1, clearing of the ACS high water marks, and
continuation of CAPS and Radio and Plasma Wave Science
solar wind observations."

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/cassini/english/. The speed
and location of the spacecraft can be viewed on the
"Present Position" web page.

* Stardust - January 6, 2004 - The Calm After the
Cometary Storm -
"On January 2, comet Wild 2 gave up its particles but
it did not do so without a fight," said Stardust
Project Manager Tom Duxbury of NASA's Jet Propulsion
Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. "Our data indicates we
flew through sheets of cometary particles that jostled
the spacecraft and that on at least 10 occasions the
first layer of our shielding was breached. Glad we had
a couple more layers of the stuff."

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 new news
since December 10, 2003 -
"GALEX Early Data Release available. Click here to
obtain the first release of GALEX data.

The GALEX Image Gallery is available at

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

* Past, Present, Future and Proposed JPL Missions -

Mars Missions

* Mars Global Surveyor Images - January 22-28, 2004

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

* Layers in Crater Wall (Released 22 January 2004)

* MGS MOC Image of Mars Exploration Rover, Spirit, on
Mars (Released 23
January 2004)

* Mars Exploration Rover (MER-B) Opportunity Landing
Site (Released 24
January 2004)

* Sedimentary Rocks in Ladon Vallisi (Released 25
January 2004)

* Summer South Polar Cap (Released 26 January 2004)

* Sedimentary Rock Layers (Released 27 January 2004)

* Layered Remnant (Released 28 January 2004)

All of the Mars Global Surveyor images are archived

Every six months, a new suite of MGS MOC data are
archived with the NASA Planetary Data System (PDS-

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 began 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 - January 11, 2004
 - Anniversary Party for Odyssey at Mars -
As we celebrate Spirit's success, another of our
robotic friends is celebrating an anniversary of
sorts. Last week, NASA?s Mars Odyssey orbiter reached
an important milestone: a full Mars year (687 Earth
days) of science mapping. During this martian year, it

*       shown us where water ice lies buried beneath the
*       analyzed "what Mars is made of" by identifying
minerals and chemical elements; and,
*       studied the martian radiation environment to help us
understand potential health effects on future human

January 26-30, 2004

* Opportunity Has Landed! (Released 26 January 2004)

* Meridiani Planum (Released 27 January 2004)

* Equatorial Crater in Meridiani (Released 28 January

* Northwest Meridiani (Released 29 January 2004)

* Craters within Craters in Meridiani (Released 30
January 2004)

All of the THEMIS images are archived here:

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

* Mars Exploration Rover Mission (Spirit and
Opportunity) - February 02, 2004 -

Spirit Status:
"Spirit Is Healthy Again. Next up: brush dust off the
rock Adirondack and apply Rock Abrasion Tool. When
analysis finished, the driving mission begins!"

Opportunity Status:
"Mission success" panorama complete. Engineers confirm
all instruments on the rover's arm are "working

Landing sites link

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://marsprogram.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.)

* 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: February 02, 2004

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