[astronews] IAAS Monthly Astronomy Newsletter

  • From: Burness Ansell <ki0ar@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: Astronomy Newsletter <astronews@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Sat, 5 Jun 2004 17:50:09 -0700 (PDT)

            IAAS Monthly Astronomy Newsletter
                        June 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 hosts Star Parties 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 17th.
* 1st Quarter Moon on the 25th.
* Full Moon on the 3rd.
* Last Quarter Moon on the 9th.

* Perigee on the 6th, 221,983 mi. from Earth.
* Apogee on the 17th, 252,634 mi. from Earth.

Moon/Planet Pairs:
* The Moon passes 5 deg. south of Neptune on the 7th.
* The Moon passes 4 deg. south of Uranus on the 8th.
* Mars passes 6 deg. south of Pollux on the 14th.
* The Moon passes 5 deg. north of Saturn on the 19th.
* The Moon passes 4 deg. north of Mars on the 20th.
* The Moon passes 3 deg. north of Jupiter on the 23rd.
* Venus passes 2 deg. north of Aldebaran on the 24th.


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 in superior conjunction on the 18th.
Mercury is not visible this month.

* Venus - Is in inferior conjunction on the 8th. Venus
transits the Sun on the 8th. Venus is stationary on
the 29th.
  "No one alive has ever seen a transit of Venus --
the last one occurred on December 6, 1882. The entire
June 8 event can be viewed from across Europe, Asia,
and Africa, with observers in Australasia seeing the
beginning of the transit and people in eastern North
and South America witnessing the end.
  The silhouette of the second planet from the Sun
takes approximately six hours to cross the Sun's
disk." (From Astronomy Magazine, June 2004, p. 60)

* Earth - Summer solstice is on the 20th at 8:57 pm

* Mars - Sets about 10:55 pm on the 1st and about
10:03 pm by month's end. Mars passes from the
constellation of Gemini into the constellation of
Cancer this month. Mars can be found low in the west
soon after sunset. Mars shines at magnitude 1.8.

* Jupiter - Sets around 1:40 am on the 1st and about
11:46 pm by month's end. Look for Jupiter in the
constellation of Leo. Jupiter shines at magnitude

* Saturn - Sets about 10:32 pm on the 1st and about
8:49 pm by month's end. Saturn can be found in the
constellation of Gemini. Saturn can be found low in
the west soon after sunset. Saturn shines at magnitude

* Uranus - Rises about 1:24 am on the 1st and about
11:21 pm 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 5.8.

* Neptune - Rises about 12:19 am on the 1st and about
10:20 pm by month's end. Neptune has returned to the
late evening sky and can be found in the constellation
of Capricorn. Neptune shines at a magnitude of 7.9.

* Pluto - Is at opposition on the 11th. Pluto is not
visible this month.


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 C/2002 T7 [LINEAR] is in the constellation of
Sextans and sets soon after sunset.
* C/2001 Q4 [NEAT] is visible in the early evening sky
soon after sunset. Look for Comet NEAT passing to the
south of Ursa Major.
* Comet C/2003 K4 can be spotted just north of
Hercules passing into the constellation of Lyra by
month's end.

* 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.

Asteroids (From west to east)
* Ceres is in the constellation of Cancer.
* Juno is in the constellation of Aquila.
* Pallus is in conjunction with the Sun on the 30th.
* Parthenope is in the constellation of Sagittarius.
* 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 - May 05, 2004 - 
"NASA Genesis Spacecraft on Final Lap Toward Home -
NASA's Genesis spacecraft flew past Earth on Saturday
in a loop that puts it on track for home - and a
dramatic mid-air recovery Sept. 8. 

The Genesis mission was launched in August of 2001 to
capture samples from the storehouse of 99-percent of
all the material in our solar system - the Sun. The
samples of solar wind particles, collected on
ultra-pure wafers of gold, sapphire, silicon and
diamond, will be returned for analysis by Earth-bound
scientists. The samples Genesis will provide will
supply scientists with vital information on the
composition of the Sun, and will shed light on the
origins of our solar system."

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 - May 28, 2004-
"The Cassini spacecraft successfully performed a
critical six- minute trajectory correction maneuver
May 27 to put it on course with its first encounter,
Saturn's outermost moon Phoebe, set for June 11. The
spacecraft is operating normally and is in excellent

"The maneuver is very critical for getting us into
Saturn orbit because it is the first checkout of the
bipropellant pressurization system after nearly five
years of dormancy," said Todd Barber, propulsion
engineer for Cassini at NASA's Jet Propulsion
Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. "It sets the stage for
Saturn orbit insertion on June 30."

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."

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 - May 19, 2004
"MGS continues to relay data from Spirit and
Opportunity when requested by the MER program. MGS has
successfully relayed 14% of the total Spirit rover
data and 15% of the total Opportunity rover data as of
5/13/04. MGS and Odyssey together have relayed 92% of
Spirit's and 93% of Opportunity's cumulative data

Spacecraft Health: Spacecraft subsystems report good
health and performance over the past week. 
As expected, electrical power margins have been
decreasing as MGS travels farther from the sun toward
aphelion. Normally we use on-board command scripts to
manage solar array motion to reduce the amount of
mechanical noise introduced into some science
instrument readings. In order to maintain appropriate
power margins, we commanded the solar arrays to
automatically track the sun instead of using the
on-board scripts. This was done on 2004-133 (5/12/04)
and the power margins have increased to predicted

* Mars Global Surveyor Images - May 27 - June 02, 2004

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

* Arabia Crater Cluster (Released 27 May 2004)

* Sand Dunes in Noachis (Released 28 May 2004)

* Ascraeus Lava Flows (Released 29 May 2004)

* Martian City Map (Released 30 May 2004)

* Dunes with Frost (Released 31 May 2004)

* Global With OSM-7 (Released 01 June 2004)

* Gullies and Dunes (Released 02 June 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 - May 21, 2004 - 
"Like a sweet, older sibling standing quietly to the
side as the baby of the family gets all the "ooh's"
and "aah's," the 2001 Mars Odyssey orbiter has blended
into the background noise of cheers for the Mars
Exploration Rover discoveries. But Odyssey deserves
her own praise and applause this Saturday as she
reaches a major milestone. At 5:29 p.m. PDT on May 22,
2004, Odyssey is scheduled to complete her 10,000th
science mapping orbit around the red planet."


May 24-28, 2004

* Acidalia Planitia Crater (Released 24 May 2004)

* Rampart Crater Ejecta (Released 25 May 2004)

* Acidalia Planitia Crater (Released 26 May 2004)

* Moreux Crater (Released 27 May 2004)

* South Polar Cap (Released 28 May 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) - May 28, 2004 -

Spirit Status:
"Taking Time to Trench - sol 134-135, May 27, 2004

Spirit roved an impressive 109.5 meters (359.3 feet)
on sol 134. Two hours of the drive were guided by the
autonomous navigation system. After the long traverse,
Spirit completed an hour of post-drive science
observations with the panoramic and navigation cameras
and mini thermal emission spectrometer. The rover
finished the sol healthy and ready for another day on

Opportunity Status:
"Opportunity on the Edge - sol 115-116, May 25, 2004

On Sol 115 Opportunity drove 11.7 meters (38.4 feet),
coming to rest about 3 meters (10 feet) from the edge
of "Endurance Crater," as intended. Rover planners had
commanded Opportunity to go 10 centimeters (3.9
inches) farther, but the rover decided to stop when it
"saw" the edge of the crater in the navigation camera
images. This was actually a more conservative response
than necessary, as it would have been safe to complete
the drive. Rover planners are looking into changing
the way they send commands to prevent this
over-conservatism next time."

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.)

* "TheSky" Software - http://www.bisque.com

* A Short Guide to Celestial Navigation -

* Astronomical Lexicon -
Many of the astronomical terms used in this newsletter
are defined here.

* Astronomy Picture of the Day -

* Comet Observation Home Page -

* Denver Astronomical Society -

* Eric's Black Sun Eclipse website -

* Groovy Adventures - http://www.groovyadventures.com
Unique adventures and vacations including astronomy
related vacations.

* JPL Solar System Ambassador Program -

* JPL Solar System Experience -

* My Stars Live - http://www.mystarslive.com/
Interactive Star Chart

* NASA Science News - http://science.nasa.gov/ 

* Northern Colorado Astronomical Society -

* Our Solar System -
This is an excellent site to learn about our solar

* Space.com - http://space.com
Interesting space and astronomy articles.

* Space.com - Sky Watch Calendar -

* Spaceflight Now - http://spaceflightnow.com/

* The Daytona Beach News-Journal - Space News Page -

* The Solar System in Pictures -
http://www.the-solar-system.net and a map of the moon
- http://www.moon-phases.com/

* Universe Today - http://www.universetoday.com


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: June 04, 2004

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