[astronews] IAAS Monthly Astronomy Newsletter

  • From: Burness Ansell <ki0ar@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: Astronomy Newsletter <astronews@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Sat, 7 Jun 2003 19:54:32 -0700 (PDT)

            IAAS Monthly Astronomy Newsletter
                        June 2003


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


In This Newsletter...

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



* New Moon on the 29th.
* 1st Quarter Moon on the 7th.
* Full Moon on the 14th.
* 3rd Quarter Moon on the 21st.

* Perigee on the 12th, 223,958 mi. from Earth.
* Apogee on the 24th, 251,800 mi. from Earth.

Moon/Planet Pairs:
* The Moon passes 4 deg. north of Saturn on the 1st.
* The Moon passes 4 deg. north of Jupiter on the 5th.
* The Moon passes 5 deg. south of Neptune on the 17th.
* Venus passes 5 deg. south of Aldebaran on the 18th.
* The Moon passes 1.7 deg. south of Mars on the 19th.
* The Moon passes 5 deg. south of Uranus on the 19th.
* Mercury passes 4 deg. north of Aldebaran on the
* Mars passes 3 deg. south of Uranus on the 20th.
* Mercury passes 0.4 deg. south of Venus on the 20th.


(All times are local unless otherwise noted.)
Planetary Reports generated by "TheSky" software

* Mercury - Is at greatest western elongation on the
3rd. Mercury shines at magnitude 0.8 at the beginning
of the month and brightens to magnitude -0.3 by the
15th of the month. Mercury is back into the sun's
glare by the end of June.

* Venus - Rises about an hour before the sun and is
visible low on the horizon in the early morning sky
just before sunrise. Venus shines at magnitude -3.9.

* Earth - Summer solstice is at 3:10 pm on the 21st.

* Mars - Is visible in the early morning sky in the
east before sunrise. Mars rises about 1:00 am on the
1st and about 11:30 pm by the 30th. Mars moves out of
the constellation of Capricornus and into Aquarius.
Mars shines at magnitude -0.7 on the 1st and brightens
to magnitude -1.4 by the end of the month. From
Astronomy Magazine - "During the next five month's,
we'll be up-close and personal with the Red Planet
like never before. When Mars reaches opposition on
August 28, it will span 25.11" and shine at magnitude
-2.9 - bigger and brighter than at any time in the
past 50,000 years."

* Jupiter - Sets around 12:30 am just before Mars
rising. Jupiter can be found just to the east of the
constellation of Cancer the Crab. Jupiter shines at
magnitude -1.9.

* Saturn - Sets around 9:40 pm on the 1st but sets
about 8 pm by month's end. Take a good look at Saturn
early in the month before Saturn disappears into the
Sun's glare. Saturn is in conjunction with the Sun on
the 24th. Saturn is located in the constellation of
Gemini the Twins. Look to the west soon after sunset
to spot Saturn. Saturn shines at magnitude 0.1.

* Uranus - Rises about 1:17 am on the 1st and about
two hours earlier by month's end. Uranus is in the
constellation of Aquarius. Uranus shines at magnitude

* Neptune - Rises 12:15 am on the 1st and about two
hours earlier by month's end. Neptune is in the
constellation of Capricornus. Neptune shines at
magnitude 7.9.

* Pluto - Pluto is at opposition on the 9th. Pluto is
located just to the east of the constellation of
Ophiuchus and rises about 8:15 pm and about two hours
earlier by month's end. Pluto shines at magnitude
13.8. Pluto is at it's best in the month of June. As
always, good luck at spotting this one.


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

* 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 the 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 Occultation Timing Association's (IOTA)
web site.

* Comet 65P/Gunn shines at 12th magnitude and will
require dark skies and a fairly large aperture
telescope to spot this one. Comet 65p/Gunn can be
spotted just below Sagittarius. Wait for Sagittarius
to rise above the horizon glow and look just below the
base of the teapot. Comet 65P/Gunn also grazes the
northern edge of the globular cluster M70.

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

* No eclipse activity this month.

* Victoria is at opposition on the 10th.
* Flora is at opposition on the 20th.

* 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 30, 2003 - 
"The Genesis spacecraft continues its mission
collecting solar wind material expelled from the Sun.
Telemetry from the Genesis spacecraft indicates the
spacecraft is in overall good health. 

Recent solar activity has called for the ?high solar
speed? collector array to be deployed 75% of the time,
the ?low solar speed? array deployed 14% of the time
and E-Array for the remaining 11%. There are three
collector arrays aboard Genesis that are exposed to,
or hidden from, the solar wind. One collector array is
designated for each of the three solar wind regimes.
Which collector array is exposed is determined by the
data received by sensitive ion and electron monitors
located on the spacecraft?s equipment deck. These
monitors scrutinize the solar wind passing by the
spacecraft and relay this information to the onboard
computer, which in turn commands the collector arrays
to deploy and retract as needed."

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 

* Galileo - No new news since April 09, 2003 - Galileo
Discovers Objects Near Jupiter's Inner Moon Amalthea -

"NASA's Galileo spacecraft serendipitously discovered
seven to nine space rocks near Jupiter's inner moon
Amalthea when Galileo flew past that moon five months

Galileo detected the objects as bright flashes seen by
its star scanner, an onboard telescope used to
determine the spacecraft's orientation by sighting
stars. Information from the star scanner was recorded
onto Galileo's tape recorder during the flyby and
transmitted to Earth in subsequent months. Experts at
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.,
are analyzing the data to estimate the sizes of the
objects, which may be anywhere from gravel to
stadium-size rocks." Read the latest news at

* Cassini - May 30, 2003 - 
"The most recent spacecraft telemetry was acquired
from the Goldstone tracking station on Wednesday, May
28. The Cassini spacecraft is in an excellent state of
health and is operating normally? 

On-board activities this week included the Engine
Gimbal Actuator exercise and Backup ALF Injection
Loader maintenance portions of ACS Periodic
Engineering Maintenance, clearing of the ACS
high-water marks, and participation in a DSS-25/
DSS-26 array demonstration. "

"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 - May 30, 2003 - 
"The Stardust team had four periods of communications
with the spacecraft in the past week. Telemetry
relayed from the spacecraft indicates it is healthy
and all subsystems continue to operate normally. 

Over the next three weeks the Spacecraft Test
Laboratory will run a series of test cases designed to
stress the spacecraft's Attitude Control Subsystem.
This will be accomplished by simulating dust particle
hits (up to 1 centimeter in size) on different parts
of Stardust's protective Whipple Shield. The first of
these many tests was performed in the Spacecraft Test
Laboratory by exercising the "bang-bang" controller.
The "bang-bang" controller is the name for the
attitude control strategy the spacecraft will use
while inside the coma of Comet Wild 2. The controller
has the authority to engage Stardust's primary and
secondary thrusters in the event of a large dust
particle impact on the spacecraft."

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) - May 26, 2003 -
"The GALEX First Light observation is dedicated to the
crew of the Shuttle Columbia. The first images taken
by GALEX are of a region of sky in the constellation
Hercules that was directly overhead Columbia as it
made its last contact with NASA Mission Control. The
"Columbia Dedication Field", commemorates those seven
astronauts who were lost over the skies of Texas on
February 1st 2003."

For more information on the GALEX mission - please
visit the GALEX home page:
http://www.galex.caltech.edu/ for more information
about the mission.

* 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 accomplished.

* 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 

May 29 - June 4, 2003

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

* Gullies in Terraced Crater Wall (Released 29 May

* Old Arabian Crate (Released 30 May 2003)

* Exhuming Platy Plains (Released 31 May 2003)

* Apollinaris Patera Surfaces (Released 01 June 2003)

* Syria/Claritas Dust Storm (Released 02 June 2003)

* Clouds Over Morning Limb (Released 03 June 2003)

* Small Martian Mesa (Released 04 June 2003)

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 is now in its sixth 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 100,000 images of Mars from the MGS, check out
the newest images of the surface of Mars at

* Mars Odyssey Orbiter - June 05, 2003 - Odyssey
Thermal Data Reveals a Changing Mars -
"The first overview analysis of a year's worth of
high-resolution infrared data gathered by the Thermal
Emission Imaging System (THEMIS) on NASA's Mars
Odyssey spacecraft is opening Mars to a new kind of
detailed geological analysis and revealing a dynamic
planet that has experienced dramatic environmental

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 - June 2003 - "Two
launch opportunities occur each day during the launch
period. On June 8, the first launch opportunity for
MER - A is at 2:05 pm EDT the second is at 2:44 pm
EDT. The opportunities become earlier each day through
the launch period. View a table of all launch
opportunities at

Launch: May/July 2003
Landing: January 2004
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://marsweb.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.)

* "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
Last modified: June 07, 2003

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