[astronews] IAAS Monthly Astronomy Newsletter

  • From: Burness Ansell <ki0ar@xxxxxxx>
  • To: Astronomy Newsletter <astronews@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Sat, 01 Jun 2002 14:51:36 -0600

IAAS Monthly Astronomy Newsletter
June 2002


The International Association for Astronomical Studies provides this
newsletter as a service for interested persons in the Denver Metro area. Th=
astronomical data presented here is not only useful in Colorado but in othe=
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 10th.
* 1st Quarter Moon on the 17th.
* Full Moon on the 24th.
* 3rd Quarter Moon on the 2nd.

* Apogee on the 4th, 251,358 mi. from Earth.
* Perigee on the 19th, 229,478 mi. from Earth.

Moon/Planet Pairs:
* The Moon passes 4=B0 south of Uranus on the 1st.
* Venus passes 1.6=B0 north of Jupiter on the 3rd.
(http://science.nasa.gov/headlines/y2002/24may_duo.htm?list81486 )
* The Moon passes 3=B0 north of Mercury on the 9th.
* Venus passes 5=B0 south of Pollux on the 9th.
* The Moon passes 0.9=B0 north of Mars on the 12th.
* The Moon passes 2=B0 north of Jupiter on the 12th.
* The Moon passes 1.5=B0 north of Venus on the 13th.
* Mercury passes 2=B0 north of Aldebaran on the 23rd.
* The Moon passes 4=B0 south of Neptune on the 27th.
* The Moon passes 4=B0 south of Uranus on the 28th.


(All times are local unless otherwise noted.)

* Mercury - Returns to the morning skies this Mercury shines at magnitude
1.3by mid-month.

* Venus - Is visible in the early evening skies this month. Look for Venus
passing within 1.6=B0 from Jupiter on the 3rd in the constellation of Gemini.
Venus moves into the constellation of Cancer later in the month. Venus
shines at a magnitude of -4.0.

* Earth - Summer solstice is at 9:24 A.M. EDT on the 21st.

* Mars - Is visible in the constellation of Gemini, low in the western sky
soon after sunset. Mars shines at magnitude of 1.7.

* 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 -1.8.

* Saturn - Is in conjunction with the sun on the 9th. Saturn will not be
visible this month.

* Uranus - Is visible in the morning skies, rising about 2 hours before the
sun. Uranus is in the constellation of Aquarius. Uranus shines at magnitude

* Neptune - Rises about three hours before the sun and is located in the
constellation of Capricornus. Neptune shines at magnitude 7.9.

* Pluto - Is at opposition on the 7th. Pluto is at its visual best for this
year. 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 Arietids Meteor Shower - This is the strongest daylight meteor shower
of the year. The duration extends from May 22 to July 2, with maximum
activity occurring on June 8. The hourly rate is near 60 at maximum.

* The June Lyrids - This shower is active during June 10 to 21, producing
predominantly blue and white meteors at a maximum hourly rate of 8 per hour
on June 15. The average magnitude of this shower is near 3, while 32% of th=
meteors leave trains.

* The Zeta Perseids - This daylight shower occurs during May 20 to July 5.
Maximum occurs on June 13. Radar surveys have revealed the activity of this
shower to be near 40 per hour.

* Information on various occultations can be found at
http://lunar-occultations.com/iota/iotandx.htm the International Occultatio=
Timing Association's (IOTA) web site.

* Comet Ikeya Zhang (pronounced "ee-KAY-uh JONG") is fading from magnitude
10 to magnitude 11 this month. Ikeya Zhang will be passing near the bright
orange star Arcturus. An ephemeris for Ikeya-Zhang may be viewed at

* From Space.com Sky Watch Calendar - "Monday, 6/10 - Partial and Annular
Solar Eclipse - Also, New Moon, 7:46 p.m. - Normally the New Moon is not
visible, but this month we are treated to a partial solar eclipse visible
throughout all of North America except for the East Coast. Observers west o=
a line from roughly Montreal to just west of Washington to Tallahassee will
see all or part of the eclipse. The eclipse will be an annular eclipse as
seen from a narrow band that runs across the Pacific from approximately
Puerto Vallarta, Mexico to Indonesia." Read the full story at

* From Space.com Sky Watch Calendar - "Monday, 6/24 - Full Moon, Penumbral
Lunar Eclipse, 5:42 p.m. - Eclipses tend to come in pairs, or in our curren=
circumstances, triplets. The Full Moon of May produced a fairly forgettable
penumbral lunar eclipse. It was followed by an annular/partial solar eclips=
just two weeks ago. On this date, there is another penumbral solar eclipse,
which is not visible from North America. (A very shallow eclipse, this one
is visible from parts of Asia, Europe, Africa and South America.)"

* 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 - May 23, 2002 -
"NASA's Genesis spacecraft, on a mission to collect particles of the solar
wind, successfully conducted its first flight path maneuver yesterday [May
22] after completing its first loop around a gravitational point between th=
Sun and Earth.

Genesis is orbiting a Lagrange point, designated L1, about 1.5 million
kilometers (just under 1 million miles) away from Earth toward the Sun,
where gravitational and centrifugal forces acting on the spacecraft are
balanced. The L1 point is a convenient place to position spacecraft because
it allows an uninterrupted view of the Sun, is outside the Earth's
magnetosphere and requires few spacecraft maneuvers to stay in orbit." 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 =B3Where Is Genesis Now?
at http://www.genesismission.org/mission/live_shots.html.

* Galileo - May 20,2002 - June 16, 2002 - The Next Four Weeks on Galileo "O=
Saturday, May 25, the spacecraft performs a 4 degree turn in place to keep
the communications antenna pointed towards Earth.

On Friday, May 31, routine maintenance of the propulsion system is

On Monday, June 3, the fourth planned load of sequence commands takes over
control of the spacecraft, and will govern Galileo's activities until

On Wednesday, June 5, a test of the on-board gyroscopes will be performed.
These gyros have shown sensitivity to the intense radiation environment see=
near Jupiter, but gradually correct themselves with time spent in the more
benign environment far from the planet. This calibration will determine the
health of the gyros in preparation for an orbit trim maneuver planned for
Friday, June 14. This propulsive engine burn takes place one day after
apojove, the farthest point in Galileo's orbit from Jupiter. This is the
most distant that Galileo has been from Jupiter since before arriving in
orbit in December 1995. At 348.1 Jupiter radii from the planet (24.9 millio=
kilometers or 15.5 million miles) this is approximately one sixth of the
distance from Earth to the Sun, and it takes light nearly a minute and a
half to speed from Jupiter to the spacecraft!

With the spacecraft well outside the magnetosphere of Jupiter on the sunwar=
side of the planet, continuous data collection by the Magnetometer, the Dus=
Detector, and the Extreme Ultraviolet Spectrometer instruments provides
scientists with information about the interplanetary medium." Read the
latest news at http://galileo.jpl.nasa.gov/index.html.

* Cassini - May 24, 2002 - "The most recent spacecraft telemetry was
acquired from the Goldstone tracking station on Wednesday, May 22. The
Cassini spacecraft is in an excellent state of health and is operating

Commands for the Cosmic Dust Analyzer were uplinked to reset the ion grid
voltage to nominal levels, set the event definitions back to "on", and send
test pulses to verify instrument status. This activity completed nominally
with expected results." 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.

* 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 - May 24, 2002 - "There were two Deep Space Network tracking
passes and all spacecraft subsystems are performing normally. The power
subsystem's performance continues to be excellent. A test of the new
multi-mission command system, part of a major ground data system upgrade,
was successfully performed during the last DSN pass." Visit the Stardust
home page at http://stardust.jpl.nasa.gov for more information about the

* 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 =3D Nov. 7, 1996 / 1981 days
Start of Mapping / Days since Start of Mapping =3D April 1, 1999 / 1105 days
Total Mapping Orbits =3D 13,809
Total Orbits =3D 15,492

June 01, 2002 - "What Happens When the Sun is Between Earth and Mars

During the interval around solar conjunction the Sun obscures the line of
sight between Earth and Mars, making it virtually impossible to receive
radio signals from the spacecraft. The Sun is a strong source of
electromagnetic activity, and it wreaks havoc with the spacecraft's radio
signal, essentially reducing the spacecraft's data rate to Earth to zero fo=
the period centered around conjunction. Mission planners and telemetry
engineers define this problem area as occurring when the Sun-Earth-MGS angl=
is less than 7 degrees; a relatively "quiet" Sun can mean that data can be
successfully returned at angles as small as 3-5 degrees." 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 - May 28, 2002 - "Using instruments on NASA's 2001
Mars Odyssey spacecraft, surprised scientists have found enormous quantitie=
of buried treasure lying just under the surface of Mars -- enough water ice
to fill Lake Michigan twice over. And that may be only the tip of the
iceberg." Visit the Mars Odyssey Mission page at

* Mars Missions Status - New Mars missions are being planned to include
several new rover and sample collection missions. http://mars.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 Ambassador Program -

* Space.com - Sky Watch Calendar -

* 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 page=
(S&T), and other astronomical sources that I have stashed on my book

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 fre=
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
Last modified: June 01, 2002

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