[astronews] IAAS Monthly Astronomy Newsletter

  • From: Burness Ansell <ki0ar@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: Astronomy Newsletter <astronews@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Mon, 2 Jun 2008 08:01:00 -0700 (PDT)

                IAAS Monthly Astronomy Newsletter
                          June 2008


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.


                   ***** ATTENTION *****
This newsletter will be moving to a new web site as I will be changing ISPs 
this month. Email
subscribers will continue to receive the newsletter as usual but the current 
link will no longer
work. Please change your link accordingly when I have finished the transition. 
Thank you for your
continued support.


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. A MS Word 
formatted downloadable
version of the newsletter is at http://bfa3.home.att.net/current_nl.doc.


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
(http://rmrl.hamradios.com/) repeater on a frequency of 146.94 MHz on Tuesday 
nights at 7 PM local


Special Notice to Denver, CO area residents and visitors to the area: The 
Plains Conservation
Center in Aurora hosts Full Moon Walks every month weather permitting on or 
near the night of the
full Moon. Visit http://www.plainsconservationcenter.org for more information 
and directions.


Excerpts from JPL mission updates are provided as a public service as part of 
the JPL Solar System
Ambassador / NASA Outreach program.


In This Newsletter...

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


New Feature - The Month At-A-Glance at http://bfa3.home.att.net/ataglance.html
I've added a link to a calendar displaying the daily astronomical events. 
Comments appreciated.


The Moon

* New Moon on the 3rd.
* 1st Quarter Moon on the 10th.
* Full Moon on the 18th.
* Last Quarter Moon on the 26th.

* Perigee on the 3rd, 221,985 mi. from Earth.
* Apogee on the 16th, 252,419 mi. from Earth.

Moon/Planet Pairs:
* The Moon passes 1.1 deg. south of Mars on the 7th.
* The Moon passes 3 deg. south of Saturn on the 9th.
* The Moon passes 0.2 deg. south of Antares on the 17th.
* The Moon passes 2 deg. south of Jupiter on the 20th.
* The Moon passes 0.8 deg. north of Neptune on the 23rd.
* The Moon passes 4 deg. north of Uranus on the 25th.
* Mars passes 0.7 deg. north of Regulus on the 30th.


The Planets & Dwarf Planets
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 for 
the current year.
The rise and set times for the Sun and the Moon for each day of the month are 
also included in the
(All times are local unless otherwise noted.)

* Planetary Highlights for June - Mars and Saturn grace the early evening sky 
this month setting
soon after the Sun. Jupiter rises earlier each day, dominating the sky all 
night. Uranus and
Neptune rise later in the evening and are easily visible through a good pair of 
Mercury returns to the morning sky late in the month.

* Mercury - Is in inferior conjunction with the Sun on the 7th. Mercury will 
not be visible until
the last week of June. Look for Mercury low in the east after the 25th. Mercury 
rises about 4:18
am by month's end. Mercury is in the constellation of Gemini and shines at 
magnitude 0.4 on the

* Venus - Is at superior conjunction on the 8th. Venus is not visible this 
month. Venus will
return to the evening sky in July.

* Earth - The Summer Solstice occurs at 7:59 pm EDT on the 20th.

* Mars - Sets about 12:26 am on the 1st and about 11:13 pm by month's end. Mars 
passes from the
constellation of Cancer into Leo this month shining at magnitude 1.6.

* Jupiter - Rises at 11:03 pm on the 1st and about 8:54 pm by month's end. 
Jupiter remains rather
low in the south getting no higher than about 20 deg. above the southern 
horizon this month.
Jupiter is in the constellation of Sagittarius shining at magnitude -2.7.

* Saturn - Sets around 1:24 am on the 1st and about 11:27 pm by month's end. 
Saturn can be spotted
in the southwest soon after sunset. Saturn shines at magnitude 0.8 in the 
constellation of Leo.

* Uranus - Is stationary on the 27th. Uranus rises at 2:01 am on the 1st and 
about 12:00 am by
month's end. Uranus is in the constellation of Aquarius shining at magnitude 

* Neptune - Rises at 12:45 am on the 1st and about 10:47 pm by month's end. 
Neptune is in the
constellation of Capricornus shining at magnitude 7.9.

Dwarf Planets

* Ceres - Is in conjunction with the Sun on the 28th. Ceres is not visible this 

* Pluto - Rises about 9:12 pm on the 1st and about 7:11 pm by month's end. 
Pluto shines at
magnitude 13.9 in the constellation of Sagittarius. As always, good luck at 
spotting this one, a
large telescope and very dark skies will be needed.


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 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 

* The June Boötids meteor shower peaks on the 26th around 10:30 pm EDT. This 
shower is currently
active during June 27 to July 5 and possesses a maximum of activity that falls 
on the 28th? The
shower is notable in that its meteors are primarily faint, with an average 
magnitude near 5;
however, bright meteors do occur regularly.

* For more information about Meteor Showers, visit Gary Kronk's Meteor Showers 
Online web page at

* Comet LINEAR (C/2007 G1) passes through the constellation of Ophiuchus near 
several globular
clusters this month. Shining at magnitude 11.9, this comet definitely presents 
a dark sky
challenge for observers.

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

* For more information about Comets, visit Gary Kronk's Cometography.com web 
page at

* No eclipse activity this month.

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

Asteroids (From west to east)
* Juno is at opposition on the 12th in the constellation of Ophiuchus.
* Pallas is in the constellation of Cetus.

* 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)

* Cassini - May 28, 2008
Cassini Flies By Titan, Readies for Extended Tour

"On May 28, the Cassini spacecraft successfully completed a flyby of Saturn's 
moon Titan, the last
flyby of the original four-year tour, but Cassini's exploration of Saturn will 
continue for two
more years. This flyby included imagery of Xanadu and inbound altimetry over 
the area imaged
during the previous flyby. 

The extended mission, named the "Saturn Equinox Mission", will start this 
summer, a two-year
odyssey with 26 Titan flybys, 7 Enceladus encounters, and one flyby each of the 
icy moons Dione,
Rhea and Helene."

Cassini Imaging Team's website - http://ciclops.org.

For the latest mission status reports, visit 
http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/home/index.cfm.  The speed
and location of the spacecraft can be viewed on the "Present Position" web page.

* New Horizons - May 29, 2008
Milestones Ahead: New Horizons Set to Cross Saturn's Orbit 

"Spacecraft Will Be First to Journey beyond Ringed Planet Since 1981.

Last week, New Horizons woke up from its longest electronic hibernation period 
to date - 89 days.
And over the next 10 days, the New Horizons team will celebrate a trio of 
milestones on the
spacecraft's long journey to explore Pluto in 2015."

New Horizons gallery http://pluto.jhuapl.edu/gallery/sciencePhotos/.

For more information on the New Horizons mission - the first mission to the 
ninth planet - visit
the New Horizons home page: http://pluto.jhuapl.edu/.

* Dawn - No new news since December 18, 2007
NASA's Dawn Spacecraft Begins Interplanetary Cruise Phase

"NASA's Dawn spacecraft has successfully completed the initial checkout phase 
of the mission and
begun its interplanetary cruise phase, which is highlighted by nearly 
continuous thrusting of its
ion propulsion system. Dawn is on an 8-year, 3-billion mile journey to asteroid 
Vesta and dwarf
planet Ceres."

For more information on the Dawn mission, visit the Dawn home page:

* MESSENGER - May 30, 2008
The Mastermind behind MESSENGER's Trajectory Honored for Efforts

"Jim McAdams, the MESSENGER mission design lead engineer, was named the 2008 
Engineer of the Year
by the Baltimore Section, American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics 
(AIAA). Each spring,
this chapter of AIAA honors those in the aerospace community who have made 
contributions during the previous year.

McAdams of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in 
Laurel, Md.,
'optimized the trajectory and maneuver schedule, designing one of the most 
challenging planetary
missions in history,' said APL's Tom Strikwerda, who on May 28 presented the 
award: a plaque and a
24-inch-high trophy that McAdams will keep until passing it on to the next 
winner a year from now.

Because Mercury lies deep within the Sun's gravity well, travel to the planet 
requires an
extremely large velocity change. A spacecraft traveling to Mercury speeds up as 
it falls toward
the Sun; so MESSENGER's trajectory had to be designed to most effectively 
utilize the
gravitational pull of Venus and Mercury to achieve most of the required 
velocity change."

For more information on the MESSENGER mission, visit the MESSENGER home page:

* Pack Your Backpack
Calling all explorers! Tour JPL with our new Virtual Field Trip site. Stops 
include Mission
Control and the Rover Lab. Your guided tour starts when you select a "face" 
that will be yours
throughout the visit. Cool space images and souvenirs are all included in your 

* Past, Present, Future and Proposed JPL Missions - 

* For special JPL programs and presentations in your area visit the JPL Solar 
System Ambassador
web site at http://www2.jpl.nasa.gov/ambassador/index.html.

Mars Missions

* Mars Odyssey Orbiter - No new news since March 20, 2008
NASA Mission Finds New Clues to Guide Search for Life on Mars

"PASADENA, Calif. - NASA's Mars Odyssey orbiter has found evidence of salt 
deposits. These
deposits point to places where water once was abundant and where evidence might 
exist of possible
Martian life from the Red Planet's past.

A team led by Mikki Osterloo of the University of Hawaii, Honolulu, found 
approximately 200 places
on southern Mars that show spectral characteristics consistent with chloride 
minerals. Chloride is
part of many types of salt, such as sodium chloride or table salt. The sites 
range from about a
square kilometer (0.4 square mile) to 25 times that size."

"A simulated fly-through using the newly assembled imagery is available online 

The fly-through plus tools for wandering across and zooming into the large 
image are at

Thermal Emission Imaging System (THEMIS) web site: (http://themis.asu.edu/)

May 26-30, 2008

* Labeatis Catenae (Released 26 May 2008)

* Tartarus Montes (Released 27 May 2008)

* Kasei Channels (Released 28 May 2008)

* Kasei Valles (Released 29 May 2008)

* Kasei Valles (Released 30 May 2008)

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 15, 2008

Spirit Status: "Catch-22":  Staying Awake vs. Going to Sleep - sol 1532-1538, 
April 24-30, 2008

"Spirit's Tau measurements of atmospheric dust have remained steady, but solar 
array input has
dropped a bit to 235 watt-hours per sol. Spirit still has enough energy to 
squeeze in Mössbauer
studies of iron-bearing minerals at a time of year when the rover's handlers 
expected Spirit to be
concerned only with survival. At present, the rover's target of scientific 
interest is a soil
exposure nicknamed after Arthur C. Harmon, a former Tuskegee airman. Spirit 
conducted 8 more hours
of Mössbauer integration, for a total of 12 hours. Scientists hope the rover 
will be able to
collect 36 more hours' worth of data from the same target. Meanwhile, Spirit 
continued to acquire
panoramic-camera images, using all 13 color filters, of the "Bonestell 
panorama," informally named
in honor of famed space artist Chesley Bonestell."

Opportunity Status: Injured Shoulder Joint Back in the Game - sol 1525-1532, 
May 08-15, 2008

"Like an athlete with a shoulder injury whose arm is folded in a sling, NASA's 
Mars rover
Opportunity has been unable to move its robotic shoulder joint for weeks. Early 
Wednesday (May 14,
2008), after a regimen of electrical stimulation and heat, the rover finally 
moved its shoulder
joint and swung its robotic arm back to the front. Opportunity accomplished 
this after surviving
four Earth years, two Martian winters, a major dust storm, and more than 1,500 
temperature cycles on the red planet."

Landing sites link -http://marsoweb.nas.nasa.gov/landingsites/

Visit the Mars Exploration Rover page at

* Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Mission - May 15, 2008
NASA Satellite Finds Interior of Mars Is Colder

"New observations from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter indicate that the 
crust and upper mantle
of Mars are stiffer and colder than previously thought.

The findings suggest any liquid water that might exist below the planet's 
surface, and any
possible organisms living in that water, would be located deeper than 
scientists had suspected."

More information about the mission is available online at 

* Phoenix Mars Lander Mission - May 31, 2008
Camera on Arm Looks Beneath NASA Mars Lander

"A view of the ground underneath NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander adds to evidence 
that descent
thrusters dispersed overlying soil and exposed a harder substrate that may be 

The image received Friday night from the spacecraft's Robotic Arm Camera shows 
patches of smooth
and level surfaces beneath the thrusters. 

"This suggests we have an ice table under a thin layer of loose soil," said the 
lead scientist for
the Robotic Arm Camera, Horst Uwe Keller of Max Planck Institute for Solar 
System Research,
Katlenburg- Lindau, Germany. 

"We were expecting to find ice within two to six inches of the surface," said 
Peter Smith of the
University of Arizona, Tucson, principal investigator for Phoenix. "The 
thrusters have excavated
two to six inches and, sure enough, we see something that looks like ice. It's 
not impossible that
it's something else, but our leading interpretation is ice."

Visit the Phoenix Mars Lander Mission pages 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: 


Links and Other Space News
(If you have a link you would like to recommend to our readers, please feel 
free to submit it.)

* **NEW** Southern Colorado Astronomical Society - 

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

* A Short Guide to Celestial Navigation - http://www.celnav.de/

* Astrogirl Homepage -

* 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 -

* Celestron Telescopes - http://www.celestron.com/c2/index.php - New beta 

* Cloudbait Observatory, Guffey Colorado - http://www.cloudbait.com  - Submit 
your fireball
reports here. Interesting, knowledgeable site.

* The Constellations and Their Stars -
Good site for finding out more about the 88 constellations and their associated 

* Denver Astronomical Society - http://www.denverastrosociety.org

* Distant Suns - http://www.distantsuns.com/
Desktop Astronomy package for PCs.

* 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 -

* Meade Advanced Products Users Group - http://www.mapug-astronomy.net/ - 
Mapug-Astronomy Topical
Archive & information resource, containing a massive 335 page archive of 
discussions about Meade
equipment, and much more: observatories, observing lists, permanent piers, 
equatorial wedges,
remote operations, software, eyepieces, etc.

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

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

* Northern Colorado Astronomical Society - http://ncastro.org/

* Sangre Stargazers - http://sangrestargazers.skymtn.com/ - New astronomy club 
in the Wet Mountain
Valley of Custer County (about 45 miles due west of Pueblo, CO.)

* Sky and Space - http://www.skyandspace.com.au/public/home.ehtml
Astronomy from Down Under - The Southern Hemisphere's first astronomy and space 

* Skywatch Sightings from NASA - http://spaceflight.nasa.gov/realdata/sightings/
This site gives you the best times to watch the ISS pass over or near your 

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

* Space.com - Sky Watch Calendar -

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

* "SpaceRef.com" - http://www.spaceref.com/ - SpaceRef's 21 news and reference 
web sites are
designed to allow both the novice and specialist alike to explore outer space 
and Earth
This site includes links to planetary updates such as Mercury Today, Venus 
Today, Earth Today,
Moon Today, Mars Today, Jupiter Today, Saturn Today, Pluto Today, etc.

* 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

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 Solar System Ambassador, Colorado
Last modified: June 01, 2008


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