[astronews] IAAS Monthly Astronomy Newsletter

  • From: Burness Ansell <ki0ar@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: Astronomy Newsletter <astronews@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Thu, 4 Sep 2003 16:55:58 -0700 (PDT)

            IAAS Monthly Astronomy Newsletter
                    September 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


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.


In This Newsletter...

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



* New Moon on the 25th.
* 1st Quarter Moon on the 3rd.
* Full Moon on the 10th.
* 3rd Quarter Moon on the 18th.

* Apogee on the 16th, 251,477 mi. from Earth.
* Perigee on the 28th, 225,455 mi. from Earth.

Moon/Planet Pairs:
* The Moon passes 5 deg. south of Neptune on the 7th.
* The Moon passes 5 deg. south of Uranus on the 9th.
* The Moon passes 1.2 deg. north of Mars on the 9th.
* The Moon passes 5 deg. north of Saturn on the 19th.
* The Moon passes 4 deg. north of Jupiter on the 23rd.
* The Moon passes 5 deg. north of Mercury on the 24th.


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

* Mercury - Is in inferior conjunction on the 10th.
Mercury is at greatest western elongation (18 deg.) on
the 26th. Look for Mercury in the morning skies before
sunrise late in the month. Mercury shines at a
magnitude of -0.7 on the 30th.

* Venus - Is not visible this month due to its
proximity to the Sun Venus will return to the evening
sky next month.

* Earth - Autumnal equinox is at 6:47 am EDT on the

* Mars - Rises about 7:41 pm on the 1st and about 5:24
pm by the 30th. Mars is in the constellation of
Aquarius this month. Mars is in retrograde motion
until the 29th when Mars is again stationary returning
to normal motion after that. Mars shines at magnitude
-2.9 on the 1st and dims to magnitude -2.1 by the
30th. Just past opposition, Mars is still in a prime
position for viewing in the early evening skies. Be
sure to take advantage of any viewing opportunities in
your area for seeing Mars at its best before the
Martian global dust storms obscure the surface details
as seen from Earth. 

* Jupiter - Rises around 5:49 am on the 1st, just
before dawn among the stars of the constellation of
Leo the Lion. Jupiter shines at magnitude -1.7. 

* Saturn - Rises about 1:45 am on the 1st and about
11:50 pm by month's end. Saturn can be found in the
constellation of Gemini. Saturn shines at magnitude

* Uranus - Rises about 7:05 pm on the 1st and about
two hours earlier by month's end. Uranus is in the
constellation of Aquarius. Uranus is still in a prime
location for viewing this month. Uranus shines at a
magnitude of 5.7.

* Neptune - Rises 6:08 pm on the 1st and about two
hours earlier by month's end. Neptune is in the
constellation of Capricornus. Neptune is also in a
prime location for viewing this month. Neptune shines
at a magnitude of 7.9.

* Pluto - Pluto is located just within the
southeastern corner of the constellation of Ophiuchus
and rises about 2:08 pm and about two hours earlier by
month's end. Pluto shines at magnitude 13.9. As
always, good luck at spotting this one.


Astronomical Events

Meteor Showers
* No significant meteor activity this month, but you
can expect to see from 1 to 4 meteors per hour early
in the 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.

* There are a couple of comets that will possibly
become naked eye comets in the next several months,
but at this time they require dark sky conditions and
a minimum of and 8 inch telescope for viewing.
* 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.

* Pallas is in the constellation of Cetus.
* Ceres is in the constellation of Gemini.

* 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 - August 22, 2003 - 
"The Genesis spacecraft continues its mission
collecting solar wind material expelled from the Sun.
Telemetry from the Genesis spacecraft indicates that
all spacecraft subsystems are reporting nominal

There are three collector arrays aboard Genesis that
are exposed to, or hidden from, the solar wind. One
collector array 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. Recent solar activity has called for a
fifty/50 split of array activity. The ?high solar
speed? collector array to be deployed 50% of the time,
and the E-Array, which handles coronal mass ejections,
was unshaded for the remaining 50% of the time."

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 - July 31, 2003 - Celebrate the Legacy of
Jupiter Exploration - 
"The Galileo spacecraft will end its mission September
21, 2003. Launched in 1989 aboard Space Shuttle
Atlantis, Galileo has been exploring Jupiter and its
moons since December 1995. Members of JPL's Solar
System Ambassadors program will celebrate the jovian
legacy with events around the country. Check the
Ambassadors Website
(http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/ambassador/index.html) for
events scheduled in your local area. For more
information on Jupiter exploration check out the
Legacy of Jupiter Exploration timeline
Read the latest news at

* Cassini - August 29, 2003 - 
"The most recent spacecraft telemetry was acquired
from the Goldstone tracking station on Wednesday,
August 27. The Cassini spacecraft is in an excellent
state of health and is operating normally. . . 

On-board activities this week included regularly
scheduled Backup ALF Injection Loader maintenance, and
clearing of the ACS high water marks. Instrument
activities included a Cassini Plasma Spectrometer
flight software checkout, a Composite Infrared
Spectrometer remote sensing pallet heater test, a
Magnetometer Subsystem SSR library load test, a Probe
mute test, and several Radio and Plasma Wave Science
High Frequency Receiver calibrations."

"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 - August 29, 2003 - 
"There was one Deep Space Network (DSN) tracking pass
in the past week. The DSN was able to obtain real time
telemetry from the Stardust spacecraft for the first
time in three weeks as the Sun-Earth-Probe (SEP) angle
became greater than 1 degree.

A peer review of the Comet Wild 2 cometary dust
production model is expected in mid-September.

An Earth-based observing plan for Comet Wild 2 has
been drafted that includes Keck, Lowell and Table
Mountain observatories.   These observations will be
taken as Comet Wild 2 comes out from behind the Sun in
late December, in time to validate the Comet Wild 2
dust production and ephemeris models before final
targeting of the flyby in January 2004."

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) - August 27,
2003 - "The GALEX Image Gallery is now available at

What's New: http://www.galex.caltech.edu/news.html 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.

* Past, Present, Future and Proposed JPL Missions -

Mars Missions 

* Mars Global Surveyor - August 20, 2003

"The public has an unprecedented opportunity to
suggest places on Mars that should be photographed
from a spacecraft orbiting that planet. Camera
operators for NASA's Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft
are ready to take suggestions online for new places to
target for images from the Mars Orbiter Camera...

Information about how to submit requests is online at
the new Mars Orbiter Camera Target Request Site, at

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 - No update since June 26, 2003
- Mars Odyssey Orbiter Watches a Frosty Mars -
"NASA's Mars Odyssey spacecraft is revealing new
details about the intriguing and dynamic character of
the frozen layers now known to dominate the high
northern latitudes of Mars. The implications have a
bearing on science strategies for future missions in
the search of habitats. 

Odyssey's neutron and gamma-ray sensors have tracked
seasonal changes as layers of "dry ice"
(carbon-dioxide frost or snow) accumulate during
northern Mars' winter and then dissipate in the
spring, exposing a soil layer rich in water ice-- the
martian counterpart to permafrost."

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) - August 06, 2003 - 
"The first in-flight checkouts of the science
instruments and engineering cameras on NASA's twin
Spirit and Opportunity spacecraft on their way to Mars
have provided an assessment of the instruments'
condition after the stressful vibrations of launch.

The instrument tests run by the Mars Exploration Rover
flight team at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory,
Pasadena, Calif., finished with performance data
received Tuesday from two of the spectrometers on

Where are Spirit and Opportunity now?

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.)

* (NEW) A Short Guide to Celestial Navigation -

* "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
JPL SSA, Colorado
Last modified: September 04, 2003

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