[astronews] IAAS Monthly Astronomy Newsletter

  • From: Burness Ansell <ki0ar@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: Astronomy Newsletter <astronews@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Sun, 1 Jul 2007 16:25:13 -0700 (PDT)

                IAAS Monthly Astronomy Newsletter
                          July 2007


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 internationally.


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 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


The Moon

* New Moon on the 14th.
* 1st Quarter Moon on the 22nd.
* Full Moon on the 29th.
* Last Quarter Moon on the 7th.

* Perigee on the 9th, 228,992 mi. from Earth.
* Apogee on the 24th, 251,370 mi. from Earth.

Moon/Planet Pairs:
* Venus passes 0.8 deg. south of Saturn on the 1st.
* The Moon passes 1.9 deg. north of Uranus on the 5th.
* The Moon passes 6 deg. north of Mars on the 9th.
* The Moon passes 9 deg. north of Mercury on the 12th.
* Venus passes 2 deg. south of Regulus on the 16th.
* The Moon passes 0.04 deg. south of Saturn on the 16th.
* The Moon passes 0.3 deg. north of Regulus on the 17th.
* The Moon passes 3 deg. north of Venus on the 17th.
* The Moon passes 0.6 deg. south of Antares on the 25th.
* The Moon passes 6 deg. south of Jupiter on the 25th.

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 July - Saturn and Venus are prominent in the evening 
skies early in the
month but appear progressively lower by the end of the month. Look for Venus 
and Saturn within one
degree of each other on the evening of the 1st - with a wide field eyepiece; 
they may both be
visible in the same telescopic field of view. Jupiter continues to dominate the 
rest of the
evening followed by Neptune and Uranus. Mars and Ceres are relatively close to 
each other in the
morning sky.

* Mercury - Is at greatest western elongation (20 degrees above the eastern 
horizon) on the 20th.
Mercury rises about a half hour before sunrise on the 18th shining about 
magnitude 0.7. Mercury
will rise about 4:44 am by month's end. Mercury will brighten to magnitude -0.9 
on the 30th.
* Venus - Is at greatest brilliancy (magnitude -4.7) on the 12th. Venus sets 
about 10:54 pm on the
1st and about 8:50 pm by month's end. Venus is in the constellation of Leo.
* Earth - Is at aphelion (its farthest point away from the Sun - 94.5 million 
miles) on the 6th.

* Mars - Rises at 1:52 am on the 1st and about 12:49 am by month's end. Mars is 
in the
constellation of Aries and shines at magnitude 0.6.
* Jupiter - Rises at 6:16 pm on the 1st and about 4:05 pm by month's end. 
Jupiter is in the
constellation of Ophiuchus and shines at magnitude -2.5.

* Saturn - Is visible in the early evening sky by the time the Sun sets. Saturn 
sets around 12:47
am on the 1st and about 9:04 pm by month's end. Saturn is in the constellation 
of Leo and shines
at a magnitude of 0.6.

* Uranus - Is visible in the morning sky. Uranus rises about 11:54 pm on the 
1st and about 9:51 pm
by the end of the month. Uranus is in the constellation of Aquarius and shines 
at a magnitude of

* Neptune - Rises at 10:43 pm on the 1st and about 8:39 pm by month's end. 
Neptune is in the
constellation of Capricornus and shines at magnitude 7.8.

Dwarf Planets

* Ceres - Rises about 1:35 am on the 1st and about 12:00 am by the end of the 
month. Ceres is in
the constellation of Cetus and shines at magnitude 9.1.

* Pluto - Rises about 7:03 pm on the 1st and about 4:58 pm by month's end. 
Pluto is in the
constellation of Sagittarius. Pluto and shines at magnitude 13.9. 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 27. 

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

* Comet LINEAR (C/2006 VZ) passes through the constellation of Draco into 
Boötes this month
shining at magnitude 10 for northern 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 and Meteor Showers, visit Gary Kronk's 
Comets & Meteors
Showers web page at http://comets.amsmeteors.org/.

* 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)
* Vesta is in the constellation of Scorpius.
* Harmonia is in the constellation of Capricornus.
* Pallas is in the constellation of Pegasus.

* 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 - June 29, 2007 - Cassini to Fly By Tethys and Titan

"This week, Cassini's travels will bring it by Saturn's moon Tethys (June 27) 
and Titan (June 29).
Cassini will get a close-up look at the large crater Odysseus, which is 450 
kilometers (280 miles)
in diameter, and Ithaca Chasma, a canyon that is four times as long as Earth's 
Grand Canyon.
Scientists are studying how this canyon formed and whether Tethys was active in 
the past, like
Enceladus is currently. Scientists will also obtain close-up images of 
mysterious dark patches on
the moon, and they will be taking data to understand what the surface is made 
of. Scientists would
like to learn if Tethys is only pure water ice, or if it's contaminated with 
dark material rich in
organics, like the material that covers the dark side of Iapetus.

Two days later Cassini returns to Titan. The spacecraft will send back radio 
waves to Earth as our
home planet moves behind Titan (as seen from Cassini). The goal is to map 
Titan's shape in order
to seek clues for a subsurface ocean, and to probe the atmosphere of the giant 

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 - No new news since May 14, 2007 - Tvashtar in Motion
Download Animated Gif

"This five-frame sequence of New Horizons images captures the giant plume from 
Io's Tvashtar
volcano. Snapped by the probe's Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) as the 
spacecraft flew
past Jupiter earlier this year, this first-ever "movie" of an Io plume clearly 
shows motion in the
cloud of volcanic debris, which extends 330 kilometers (200 miles) above the 
moon's surface. Only
the upper part of the plume is visible from this vantage point - the plume's 
source is 130
kilometers (80 miles) below the edge of Io's disk, on the far side of the moon.

The appearance and motion of the plume is remarkably similar to an ornamental 
fountain on Earth,
replicated on a gigantic scale. The knots and filaments that allow us to track 
the plume's motion
are still mysterious, but this movie is likely to help scientists understand 
their origin, as well
as provide unique information on the plume dynamics."

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/ for more information about 
the mission.

* 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 Global Surveyor - No new news since April 13, 2007 -
Report Reveals Likely Causes of Mars Spacecraft Loss

"WASHINGTON - After studying Mars four times as long as originally planned, 
NASA's Mars Global
Surveyor orbiter appears to have succumbed to battery failure caused by a 
complex sequence of
events involving the onboard computer memory and ground commands.

The causes were released today in a preliminary report by an internal review 
board. The board was
formed to look more in-depth into why NASA's Mars Global Surveyor went silent 
in November 2006 and
recommend any processes or procedures that could increase safety for other 

Mars Global Surveyor last communicated with Earth on Nov. 2, 2006. Within 11 
hours, depleted
batteries likely left the spacecraft unable to control its orientation.

"The loss of the spacecraft was the result of a series of events linked to a 
computer error made
five months before the likely battery failure," said board Chairperson Dolly 
Perkins, deputy
director-technical of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md."

All of the Mars Global Surveyor images are archived here:

Every six months, a new suite of MGS MOC data are archived with the NASA 
Planetary Data System
(PDS - http://pds.jpl.nasa.gov/).

Information about how to submit requests is online at the 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.

Visit the MGS pages at http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/mgs/index.html.  There are over 
200,000 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 02, 2007 - 
Sharp Views Show Ground Ice On Mars Is Patchy And Variable

"Using observations by NASA's Mars Odyssey orbiter, scientists have discovered 
that water ice lies
at variable depths over small-scale patches on Mars.

The findings draw a much more detailed picture of underground ice on Mars than 
was previously
available. They suggest that when NASA's next Mars mission, the Phoenix Mars 
Lander, starts
digging to icy soil on an arctic plain in 2008, it might find the depth to the 
ice differs in
trenches just a few feet apart. The new results appear in the May 3, 2007, 
issue of the journal

"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/)

June 25-29, 2007

* Layered Fill (Released 25 June 2007)

* Fractures & Dunes (Released 26 June 2007)

* Windstreak (Released 27 June 2007)

* Samara Vallis (Released 28 June 2007)

* Dual Landslides (Released 29 June 2007)

 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) - 
June 27, 2007

Spirit Status: Spirit's Solar Power Levels Continue to Rise - sol 1226-1233, 
June 27, 2007

"Spring cleaning continued on NASA's Spirit rover, as atmospheric turbulence on 
Mars cleared away
more dust from the solar panels on the rover's 1,233rd sol, or Martian day, of 
exploration (June
22, 2007). As a result of this most recent dust-clearing event, Spirit 
out-produced the electrical
energy of Spirit's twin, the Opportunity rover on the opposite side of Mars, by 
about 50
watt-hours. (That's the amount of electricity needed to burn a 50-watt light 
bulb for one hour.)
Tau measurements estimating the amount of dust in the atmosphere rose from 0.69 
to 0.75.
(Perfectly clean solar arrays would have a dust factor of 1.0, so the larger 
the dust factor, the
cleaner the arrays.) Electrical energy rose to 738 watt-hours.

In addition, Spirit investigated an unbrushed rock outcrop known as "Nancy 
Warren," a candidate
high-silica target. On sols 1226, 1227, and 1228 (June 15-17, 2007), the rover 
worked on a second
investigation intended to study the brushed surface of the rock. Because the 
rover did not
complete the brushing operation, Spirit ended up taking a second set of 
measurements that was
identical to the first.

On the rover's 1,232nd sol of exploration (June 21, 2007), Spirit attempted to 
scuff a rock target
known as "Virginia Bell" but didn't quite reach it and ended up scuffing a soil 
exposure about 15
centimeters (6 inches) away, creating a new target that scientists dubbed 
"Innocent Bystander.""

Opportunity Status: Observing 'Duck Bay' - sol 1200-1205, June 15, 2007

"Right now, Opportunity is safely perched on "Cape Verde" and is observing 
"Duck Bay" from above.
The rover drove four out of the last five sols, covering 196.44 meters (644 
feet). The fifth and
final D-star (drive software) checkout step ran successfully on Opportunity on 
sol 1200. The
dynamic path planner added in the latest flight software version is now ready 
for use.

On sol 1204, the post-drive robotic arm unstow stopped short of completion due 
to an excess
attitude change. The actual attitude change fell well within the 5-degree limit 
and is consistent
with a robotic arm unstow activity. The engineering team traced the 
miscalculation to a possible
bug in the flight software and a full investigation is underway."

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

Visit the Mars Exploration Rover page at  

* Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Mission - No new news since March 22, 2007 - 
Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Mission Status

"NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter put itself into safe mode -- a 
precautionary status with
minimized activities -- on March 14. It remained healthy and in communication 
with Earth, but with
no science observations, while the flight team examined engineering data. On 
March 20, the team
brought the spacecraft back out of safe mode. 

Science instruments were powered up March 21 and are resuming normal science 
operations today,
March 22. 

When it went into safe mode, the spacecraft switched, for the first time in the 
mission, to a
backup ("B") duplicate flight computer on board. Diagnosis of the "A" computer 
has not yet
revealed what caused the switch to the B side."

More information about the mission is available online 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.)

* 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 

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

* 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 

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

* Space.com - Sky Watch Calendar - 

* Spaceflight Now - http://spaceflightnow.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

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!


Subscription Information

- Users can subscribe to your list by sending email to 
astronews-request@xxxxxxxxxxxxx with
'subscribe' in the Subject field OR by logging into the Web interface.

- Users can unsubscribe from the list by sending email to 
astronews-request@xxxxxxxxxxxxx with
'unsubscribe' in the Subject field OR by logging into the Web interface.

- Email Newsletter archives -

- Full documentation of the online administration system is available at
http://www.freelists.org/help/. We encourage you to get the most out of the web 
interfaces, and we
encourage subscribers to do the same. Please let your list members know about 
the advantages of
exploring the FreeLists Web Login.

- The latest version of the newsletter is accessible from 


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: July 01, 2006

Moody friends. Drama queens. Your life? Nope! - their life, your story. Play 
Sims Stories at Yahoo! Games.

Other related posts: