[astronews] IAAS Monthly Astronomy Newsletter

  • From: Burness Ansell <ki0ar@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: Astronomy Newsletter <astronews@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 5 May 2004 20:49:09 -0700 (PDT)

            IAAS Monthly Astronomy Newsletter
                        May 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.


Special Notice to Denver, CO area residents and
visitors to the area: The Plains Conservation Center
in Aurora will be starting monthly Star Parties this
month. These star parties will be hosted the third
Saturday of every month weather permitting. Visit
http://www.plainsconservationcenter.org for more
information and directions.


In This Newsletter...

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



* New Moon on the 19th.
* 1st Quarter Moon on the 27th.
* Full Moon on the 4th.
* Last Quarter Moon on the 11th.

* Perigee on the 6th, 223,576 mi. from Earth.
* Apogee on the 21st, 252,441 mi. from Earth.

Moon/Planet Pairs:
* The Moon passes 5 deg. south of Neptune on the 10th.
* The Moon passes 4 deg. south of Uranus on the 12th.
* The Moon passes 3 deg. south of Mercury on the 16th.
* The Moon passes 0.3 deg. north of Venus on the 21st.
* The Moon passes 3 deg. north of Mars on the 22nd.
* The Moon passes 5 deg. north of Saturn on the 22nd.
* Mars passes 1.6 deg. north of Saturn on the 24th.
* The Moon passes 4 deg. north of Jupiter on the 27th.


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 western elongation (26
deg.) on the 14th. Mercury is visible in the morning
sky for the month. Mercury shines at a magnitude of
1.8 on the 1st and brightens to magnitude -0.4 by the

* Venus - Is at greatest brilliancy (magnitude -4.5)
on the 2nd. Venus is visible in the west soon after
sunset in the constellation of Taurus. Venus sets
about 11:28 pm on the 1st and about 9:11 pm by month's
end. Venus shines at magnitude -4.5.

* Mars - Sets about 11:36 pm on the 1st and about
10:55 pm by month's end. Mars passes from the
constellation of Taurus into the constellation of
Gemini this month. Mars shines at magnitude 1.7. Mars
can be found following Venus through the southwestern
sky in the early evening.

* Jupiter - Is stationary on the 5th. Jupiter sets
around 3:40 am on the 1st and about 1:40 am by month's
end. Look for Jupiter in the constellation of Leo.
Jupiter shines at magnitude -2.1.

* Saturn - Sets about 12:21 am on the 1st and about
10:32 pm by month's end. Saturn can be found in the
constellation of Gemini. Saturn passes near Mars on
the 24th. Saturn shines at magnitude 0.1.

* Uranus - Rises about 3:24 am on the 1st and about
1:24 am by month's end. Uranus has returned to the
early morning sky and can be found in the
constellation of Aquarius. Uranus shines at a
magnitude of 5.9.

* Neptune - Rises about 2:25 am on the 1st and about
12:19 am by month's end. Neptune has returned to the
early morning sky and can be found in the
constellation of Capricorn. Neptune shines at a
magnitude of 7.9.

* Pluto - Is in the constellation of Ophiuchus and
rises about 10:30 pm on the 1st and about 8:25 pm by
month's end. Pluto shines at magnitude 13.8. As
always, good luck at spotting this one.


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 hemisphere.

* 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] will reappear in the
evening sky in late May.
* C/2001 Q4 [NEAT] is visible in the early evening sky
soon after sunset. Look for Comet NEAT near the bright
star Sirius the beginning of the month. Comet NEAT
will steadily climb above the western horizon as the
month progresses.

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

* Total lunar eclipse on the 4th. This eclipse is
visible in the Eastern Hemisphere (Europe); North
American observers are going to miss this one.

Asteroids (From west to east)
* Ceres is in the constellation of Gemini.
* Vesta is in the constellation of Aquarius.

* 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 30, 2004 - 
"Genesis Spacecraft Earth "Flyby" on its Way to L2 -
On May 2, 2004, at about 10:00 UTC, the Genesis
spacecraft will be at a distance from the Earth of
392,300 km and traveling about 1.26 km/s."

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 - April 15 & 22, 2004-
Prometheus and Pandora
April 15, 2004 Full-Res: PIA05387 
"Cassini has sighted Prometheus and Pandora, the two
F-ring-shepherding moons whose unpredictable orbits
both fascinate scientists and wreak havoc on the F

Prometheus (102 kilometers, or 63 miles across) is
visible left of center in the image, inside the F
ring. Pandora (84 kilometers, or 52 miles across)
appears above center, outside the ring. The dark
shadow cast by the planet stretches more than halfway
across the A ring, the outermost main ring. The
mottled pattern appearing in the dark regions of the
image is 'noise' in the signal recorded by the camera
system, which has subsequently been magnified by the
image processing."

Four Ways to See Saturn
April 22, 2004 Full-Res: PIA05388 
"A montage of Cassini images, taken in four different
regions of the spectrum from ultraviolet to
near-infrared, demonstrates that there is more to
Saturn than meets the eye. 

The pictures show the effects of absorption and
scattering of light at different wavelengths by both
atmospheric gas and clouds of differing heights and
thicknesses. They also show absorption of light by
colored particles mixed with white ammonia clouds in
the planet's atmosphere. Contrast has been enhanced to
aid visibility of the atmosphere."

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 - No new news since March 26, 2004 - 
"The Stardust spacecraft remains in excellent
condition as its post-encounter trajectory carries it
through the solar system's main asteroid belt. 

The Stardust team recently released three new images
of comet Wild 2. These images depict surface and jet
details that have never been seen before. 

The Stardust project was presented an award from the
Boy Scouts of America San Gabriel Valley Council for
the successful Wild 2 encounter and to commemorate the
Council's highlighting of Stardust during the National
Jamboree. The ceremony was held during a talk by
Stardust project manager for the JPL Office of
Communication and Education von Karman Lecture

Stardust LPSC 2004 Abstracts -
"Abstracts of the Stardust science results from the
Comet Wild 2 encounter are now available here (Adobe
Acrobat reader required):

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

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 - April 29 - May 05,

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

* Arkhangelsky Dunes (Released 29 April 2004)

* Small, Bouldery Crater (Released 30 April 2004)

* Frosty Dune Field (Released 01 May 2004)

* Pollack Crater 'White Rock' (Released 02 May 2004)

* Alcoves in a Xanthe Crater (Released 03 May 2004)

* Clouds over Opportunity Site (Released 04 May 2004)

* Martian "Brain" (Released 05 May 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 -

April 26-30, 2004

* MSIP: A Bend In The River in Tiu Vallis (Released 26
April 2004)

* MSIP: Elysium Mons Lava Flow (Released 27 April

* MSIP: Crater Formation (Released 28 April 2004)

* MSIP: Hale Crater (Released 29 April 2004)

* Colored Crater in Vastitas Borealis (Released 30
April 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) - April 23, 2004 -

Spirit Status:
"A Little Science, a Lot of Driving - sol 106, Apr 23,

Spirit spent most of sol 106, which ended at 4:32 a.m.
PDT on April 21, performing remote sensing on the
inside of "Missoula Crater." It acquired panoramic
camera and mini thermal emission spectrometer
panoramas and navigation camera images of the crater,
along with some panoramic camera images looking back
toward "Bonneville" crater."

Opportunity Status:
"Opportunity Reviews Rock Abrasion Tool Hole - sol 87,
Apr 23, 2004

Opportunity spent its 87th sol, which ended at 5:33
p.m. PDT on April 22, gathering compositional
information from the depression ground into "Pilbara"
on sol 86. The Mössbauer spectrometer examined the
hole before the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer was
placed there. The microscopic imager shot close-ups of
Pilbara's new impression."

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: May 05, 2004

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