[astronews] IAAS Monthly Astronomy Newsletter

  • From: ki0ar@xxxxxxx
  • To: Astronomy Newsletter <astronews@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Mon, 6 May 2002 22:24:34 -0600

IAAS Monthly Astronomy Newsletter
May 2002


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 internationally.


In This Newsletter...

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



* New Moon on the 12th.
* 1st Quarter Moon on the 19th.
* Full Moon on the 26th.
* 3rd Quarter Moon on the 4th.

* Apogee on the 7th, 251,955 mi. from Earth.
* Perigee on the 23rd, 226,790 mi. from Earth.

Moon/Planet Pairs:
* The Moon passes 4° south of Neptune on the 3rd.
* Venus passes 6° north of Aldebaran on the 4th.
* Mars passes 2° north of Saturn on the 4th.
* The Moon passes 4° south of Uranus on the 5th.
* Venus passes 2° north of Saturn on the 7th.
* Venus passes 0.3° north of Mars on the 10th.
* The Moon passes 3° south of Mercury on the 13th.
* The Moon passes 1.1° north of Saturn on the 14th.
* The Moon passes 0.6° south of Mars on the 14th.
* The Moon passes 0.8° south of Venus on the 14th.
* The Moon passes 1.1° north of Vesta on the 15th.
* The Moon passes 2° north of Jupiter on the 16th.
* The Moon passes 4° south of Neptune on the 31st.


(All times are local unless otherwise noted.)

Special Note: Make a special effort to get out in the evening early this 
month. All five of the naked-eye planets will be visible during the 
first week in May. Look for Mercury, Venus, Mars and Saturn in the 
constellation of Taurus the Bull about an hour after sunset near the 
western horizon. Jupiter trails the other four planets in the 
constellation of Gemini. Look for the moon passing near Saturn, Mars and 
Venus on the evening of the 14th. Check out the Space.com article at 

* Mercury - Is at greatest eastern elongation on the 3rd. Mercury is in 
inferior conjunction on the 27th. Mercury shines at magnitude 0.0 on the 
1st and dims to magnitude 2.2 by the 15th.

* Venus - Is visible in the early evening skies this month. Look for 
Venus low on the western horizon soon after sunset in the constellation 
of Taurus passing into the constellation of Gemini. Venus shines at a 
magnitude of -3.9.

* Mars - Is visible in the constellation of Taurus this month, also 
passing into the constellation of Gemini. Mars shines at magnitude of 

* Jupiter - Is visible in the middle of the constellation of Gemini 
along the edge of the stars of the Milky Way. Jupiter shines at 
magnitude -1.9.

* Saturn - Is still visible in the constellation of Taurus this month. 
Saturn shines at a magnitude of 0.1.

Another Special Note: If the weather cooperates for you, this will be a 
great opportunity to get the camera gear out and try to capture the moon 
and the planets that are in the constellation of Taurus and Gemini on 
one image, especially on the evening of the 14th.

* Uranus - Is visible in the morning skies, rising about 90 minutes 
before the sun. Uranus is in the constellation of Aquarius. Uranus 
shines at magnitude 5.8.

* Neptune - Rises about two hours before the sun and is located close to 
the center of the constellation of Capricornus. Neptune shines at 
magnitude 7.9.

* Pluto - Is in the lower corner of the constellation of Ophiuchus. As 
always, this planet is difficult to spot, shining at magnitude 13.8.


Astronomical Events

Meteor Showers
* The Eta Aquarid Meteor Shower - This shower is visible during the 
period of April 21 to May 12. It reaches maximum on May 5. During the 
period of greatest activity hourly rates usually reach 20 for observers 
in the northern hemisphere and 50 for observers in the southern 

* 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 Ikeya Zhang (pronounced "ee-KAY-uh JONG") - (from www.space.com) 
"On April 30th, Ikeya-Zhang made its closest approach to Earth (0.41 AU) 
and since then has been receding toward the outer solar system. The 
fading fuzzball now glows like a 5th magnitude star at the limit of 
naked-eye visibility. You can still find it before dawn in the northern 
constellation Draco, but binoculars are required from most observing 
sites. Soon the comet will be impossible to see without a telescope." An 
ephemeris for Ikeya-Zhang may be viewed at http://cfa-

* No significant eclipse activity this month.

* 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 - April 25, 2002 -
"On Sunday [April 21,2002], the second strongest solar storm since 
launch passed over the spacecraft: high-energy protons at a level 
several orders of magnitude higher than normal bombarded the spacecraft. 
Due to previous improvements in the onboard software, the spacecraft 
weathered this well.
"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 - April 22,2002 - May 19, 2002 - The Next Four Weeks on 
Galileo "The pace with which Galileo is receding from Jupiter is slowing 
now, as the spacecraft stretches out towards its most distant point in 
the orbit, which it will reach in early June. During these four weeks, 
the distance from the spacecraft to Jupiter increases from 320 to 342 
Jupiter radii (22.9 million to 24.5 million kilometers or 14.2 million 
to 15.2 million miles)."Read the latest news at 

* Cassini - April 26, 2002 - "The most recent spacecraft telemetry was 
acquired from the Goldstone tracking station on Tuesday, April 23. The 
Cassini spacecraft is in an excellent state of health and is operating 

Magnetospheric and Plasma Science data collection has resumed following 
last week's Probe checkout. Quiet cruise activities continued with 
minimal onboard activities being performed." For the latest mission 
status reports, visit http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/cassini/english/.  The 
speed of the spacecraft can be viewed on the "Where is Cassini Now?" web 
page. (http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/cassini/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 

* Stardust - April 18, 2002 - "Since its launch on February 7, 1999, the 
Stardust spacecraft has traveled over two billion kilometers completing 
one and a half elliptical orbits around the Sun. On Thursday, April 
18th, the mission will reach a major milestone when it arrives at its 
furthest distance from the Sun, also known as its aphelion." Visit the 
Stardust home page at http://stardust.jpl.nasa.gov for more information 
about the mission.

* Pluto-Kuiper Express, Europa Orbiter, Solar Probe - 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

* Mars Global Surveyor - April 10, 2002 -
Launch / Days since Launch = Nov. 7, 1996 / 1981 days
Start of Mapping / Days since Start of Mapping = April 1, 1999 / 1105 
Total Mapping Orbits = 13,809
Total Orbits = 15,492

Recent Events:

"Background Sequences - We have recovered MGS from C-Mode. It is nadir 
pointed with downlink communications through the HGA [High Gain 
Antenna]. An on-board script that is triggered every time the spacecraft 
emerges from solar eclipse is controlling HGA movement and TWTA 
cycling." 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 - April 07, 2002 - Mars Odyssey celebrates it 
first anniversary. Check out the full story at 
http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/spotlight/firstanniversary01.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. 


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 - 

* 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 - 

* 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 

* 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.


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!


Subscription Information

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_ The latest version of the newsletter is accessible from 
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Keep looking UP!
73 from KI0AR

Created by Burness F. Ansell, III
Editor, IAAS Monthly Astronomy Newsletter
COO, Director of Aerospace Technologies, IAAS
JPL Solar System Ambassador, Colorado

Last modified: May 02, 2002

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