[astronews] IAAS Monthly Astronomy Newsletter

  • From: Burness Ansell <ki0ar@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: Astronomy Newsletter <astronews@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Thu, 1 Jul 2004 20:46:59 -0700 (PDT)

            IAAS Monthly Astronomy Newsletter
                        July 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 24th.
* Full Moon on the 2nd.
* Last Quarter Moon on the 9th.

* Perigee on the 1st, 222,108 mi. from Earth.
* Apogee on the 14th, 252,396 mi. from Earth.
* Perigee on the 30th, 223,895 mi. from Earth.

Moon/Planet Pairs:
* Venus passes 1.1 deg. north of Aldebaran on the 4th.
* Mercury passes 0.2 deg. north of Mars on the 10th.
* The Moon passes 8 deg. north of Venus on the 13th.
* The Moon passes 4 deg. north of Mars on the 18th.
* The Moon passes 3 deg. north of Jupiter on the 21st.


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 eastern elongation (27
deg.) on the 26th. Mercury returns to the evening sky
this month. Mercury shines at magnitude 0.6.

* Venus - Is at greatest brilliancy (magnitude -4.5)
on the 14th. Venus rises at 3:50 am on the 1st and
2:47 am by month's end. Venus is visible in the early
morning sky. 

* Earth - Is at aphelion (94.5 million miles from the
Sun) on the 5th.

* Mars - Sets about 10:03 pm on the 1st and about 8:57
pm by month's end. Mars passes from the constellation
of Cancer into the constellation of Leo this month.
Mars can be found low in the west soon after sunset.
Mars shines at magnitude 1.8.

* Jupiter - Sets around 11:46 pm on the 1st and about
9:57 pm by month's end. Look for Jupiter in the
constellation of Leo. Jupiter shines at magnitude

* Saturn - Is in conjunction with the Sun on the 8th.
Saturn will return to the morning sky by month's end.
Saturn shines at a magnitude of 0.1.

* Uranus - Rises about 11:21 pm on the 1st and about
9:18 pm by month's end. Uranus has returned to the
late evening sky and can be found in the constellation
of Aquarius. Uranus shines at a magnitude of 5.8.

* Neptune - Rises about 10:20 pm on the 1st and about
8:16 pm by month's end. Neptune has returned to the
evening sky and can be found in the constellation of
Capricorn. Neptune shines at a magnitude of 7.8.

* Pluto - Rises about 6:24 pm on the 1st and about
4:20 pm by month's end. Pluto is in the constellation
of Ophiuchus. Pluto shines at magnitude 13.8. As
always, good luck at spotting this one.

Astronomical Events

Meteor Showers
* The Southern Delta Aquarids - This meteor shower has
a duration of July 14 - August 18. Maximum hourly
rates of 15-20 occur on July 28/29. 

* The Northern Delta Aquarids extends from July 16 to
September 10. Maximum occurs on August 13. The hourly
rates reach a high of 10.

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

* C/2001 Q4 [NEAT] is visible in the early evening sky
soon after sunset. Look for Comet NEAT passing into
the bucket of the Big Dipper (Ursa Major).

* Comet C/2003 K4 can be spotted just north of
Hercules passing into the constellation of Bootes 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)
* Juno is at opposition on the 8th at midnight EDT.
Juno is in the constellation of Scutum.
* Parthenope is at opposition on the 9th. Parthenope
is just north of the constellation of Sagittarius.
* Bamberga is at opposition on the 23rd. Bamberga is
just east of the constellation of Sagittarius.
* Aquitana is at opposition on the 23rd. Aquitana is
in the constellation of Capricornus.
* Vesta 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)

* Genesis - No new news since 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 - July 01, 2004-
"Fresh Cassini Pictures Show Majesty of Saturn's Rings

The first pictures taken by the Cassini spacecraft
after it began orbiting Saturn show breathtaking
detail of Saturn's rings, and other science
measurements reveal that Saturn's magnetic field
pulsed in size as Cassini approached the planet. 

"For years, we've dreamed about getting pictures like
this. After all the planning, waiting and worrying,
just seeing these first images makes it all
worthwhile," said Dr. Charles Elachi, Cassini radar
team leader and director of NASA's Jet Propulsion
Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. "We're eager to share
these new views and the exciting discoveries ahead
with people around the world." 

The narrow angle camera on Cassini took 61 images soon
after the main engine burn that put Cassini into orbit
on Wednesday night. The spacecraft was hurtling at 15
kilometers per second (about 34,000 miles per hour),
so only pieces of the rings were targeted."

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
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 - No new news since May 19,
"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 - June 24-30, 2004

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

* South Polar Erosion (Released 24 June 2004) 

* Pits Near Rhabon Valles (Released 25 June 2004) 

* Isidis Planitia Features (Released 26 June 2004) 

* Faulted Sedimentary Rocks (Released 27 June 2004) 

* Caterpillar Dunes (Released 28 June 2004) 

* Remnant Layered Rocks (Released 29 June 2004) 

* Polar Dust Devil Streaks (Released 30 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 - No new news since 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."


June 21-25, 2004

* Albor Tholus by Day and Night (Released 21 June

* Arsia Mons by Day and Night (Released 22 June 2004)

* Gusev Crater by Day and Night (Released 23 June

* Crater Ejecta by Day and Night (Released 24 June

* Noctus Labyrinthus by Day and Night (Released 25
June 2004)

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) - June 30, 2004 -

Spirit Status:
"Just a Little Rock Abrasion Tool - sol 167-170, June
30, 2004

On sol 167, Spirit looked at a bit of soil called
"Jaws" with the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer and
microscopic imager. Then the rover completed a drive
intended to put it into position to analyze
"Pot-of-Gold" with the instruments on its robotic arm.
The drive moved Spirit farther than expected though,
and the rover ended up directly over the rock. That
position prevented any observations with the
instrument deployment device."

Opportunity Status:
"Rock Abrasion Tool Hops from 'Virginia' to 'London' -
sol 144-149, June 29, 2004

While Opportunity is hard at work inside "Endurance
Crater," engineers at JPL are busy testing engineering
models in the Lab's simulated martian environment. A
tilt platform is being used to determine Opportunity's
ability to climb back up over the "curb" below its
current location."

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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