[astronews] IAAS Monthly Astronomy Newsletter

  • From: Burness Ansell <ki0ar@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: Astronomy Newsletter <astronews@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Sun, 3 Sep 2006 18:50:23 -0700 (PDT)

                IAAS Monthly Astronomy Newsletter
                         September 2006


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 Star Parties the third Saturday of every month weather 
permitting. 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 22nd.
* 1st Quarter Moon on the 30th.
* Full Moon on the 7th.
* Last Quarter Moon on the 14th.

* Perigee on the 7th, 221,938 mi. from Earth.
* Apogee on the 22nd, 252,587 mi. from Earth.

Moon/Planet Pairs:
* The Moon passes 3 deg. south of Neptune on the 5th.
* Venus passes 0.8 deg. north of Regulus on the 5th.
* The Moon passes 0.4 deg. south of Uranus on the 7th.
* The Moon passes 2 deg. north of Saturn on the 18th.
* The Moon passes 1.8 deg. south of Mercury on the 23rd.
* The Moon passes 0.5 deg. south of Spica on the 24th.
* The Moon passes 5 deg. south of Jupiter on the 26th.
* Mercury passes 1.3 deg. north of Spica on the 27th.
* The Moon passes 0.5 deg. south of Antares on the 28th.

The 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 September - The Sun and the Moon are the big "stars" 
for this month. On
September 7th, the Moon will appear the biggest for 2006 due to its second 
closest perigee of the
year during a full Moon. There are also two eclipses this month - a partial 
lunar eclipse occurs
on the 7th and an annular solar eclipse on the 22nd.

* Mercury - Is in superior conjunction on the 1st. Mercury will not be visible 
until the end of
the month returning to the evening sky even though it will remain low on the 
western horizon.
Mercury sets about 7:26 pm by month's end. Mercury shines at magnitude -0.3.

* Venus - Is visible in the morning sky before sunrise. Venus rises about 5:12 
am on the 1st but
will disappear into the twilight glow by mid-month as Venus prepares to swing 
around the Sun
during the last half of September. Venus shines at magnitude -3.7.
* Earth ? The Autumnal equinox occurs at 12:03 am EDT on the 23rd.

* Mars - Will be difficult to spot this month as it remains well within the 
twilight glow setting
from within 45 minutes to 15 minutes after the Sun this month. Mars shines at 
magnitude 1.8.
* Jupiter - Is low in the southwest before sunset. Jupiter sets at 10:12 am on 
the 1st and about
8:28 pm by month's end. Jupiter is in the constellation of Libra and shines at 
magnitude -1.8.

* Saturn - Has returned to the morning sky rising around 04:42 am on the 1st 
and about 3:01 am by
month's end. Saturn shines at a magnitude of 0.5.

* Uranus - Is at opposition on the 5th, rising about the same time as the Sun 
sets. Uranus is at
its best for the year. Uranus rises about 7:35 pm on the 1st and about 5:35 pm 
by month's end.
Uranus is in the constellation of Aquarius and shines at magnitude 5.7.

* Neptune - Rises about 6:28 pm on the 1st and about 4:28 pm by month's end. 
Neptune is in the
constellation of Capricornus this month. Neptune shines at a magnitude of 7.8.

* Pluto - Sets about 1:01 am on the 1st and about 11:00 pm by month's end. 
Pluto is in the
constellation of Ophiuchus. Pluto shines at magnitude 13.9. As always, good 
luck at spotting this

Astronomical Events

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

* Comet 4P/Faye is in the constellation of Aries shining at 9th magnitude will 
be difficult to
spot from within a city. 4P/Faye is expected to brighten to about 8th magnitude 
in the next couple
of months. A small telescope should be able to resolve this fuzzy ball.

* 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/.

* Partial lunar eclipse occurs on the evening of the 7th.

* Annular eclipse occurs on the 22nd. This annular eclipse is viewable 
beginning in Guyana,
Suriname and French Guyana and progresses across the south Atlantic. The 
northeast corner of South
America is the only place where the path of totality passes over land.

* 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)
* Eunomia is in the constellation of Capricornus.
* Hebe is in the constellation of Capricornus.
* Ceres is at opposition on the 11th in the constellation of Microscopium.
* Leto is at opposition on the 15th in the constellation of Aquarius.
* Iris is in the constellation of Aries.

* 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 - September 1, 2006 - Cassini Significant Events

"The most recent spacecraft telemetry was acquired Wednesday, August 30, from 
the Goldstone
tracking stations. The Cassini spacecraft is in an excellent state of health 
and is operating

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 - September 1, 2006 - Pluto-Bound Camera Sees 'First Light'
New Horizons Payload Fully Operational as Telescopic Imager Glimpses Star 

"The highest-resolution camera on NASA's Pluto-bound New Horizons spacecraft is 
seeing stars, and
mission scientists and engineers couldn't be more excited.

This week the Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) opened its protective 
cover and took its
first image in space, of Messier 7, a star cluster in our Milky Way galaxy. The 
snapshot also meant that all seven New Horizons science instruments have now 
operated in space and
returned good data since the spacecraft launched in January 2006."

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.

* 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 - August 11, 2006 -
Mars Global Surveyor Celebrates Discovery of Deimos - 

"Deimos was discovered 129 years ago on August 11, 1877. To celebrate, the MGS 
team presents the
first and only Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC) image of this tiny moon."

* Mars Global Surveyor Images - August 24-30, 2006

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

* Archangel's Dunes (Released 24 August 2006)

* Springtime Dunes (Released 25 August 2006)

* Polar Unconformity (Released 26 August 2006)

* Mutch Crater (Released 27 August 2006)

* Polar Band (Released 28 August 2006)

* Mars at Ls 93 Degrees (Released 29 August 2006)

* Windy Work (Released 30 August 2006)

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 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 completed its eighth 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 200,000 images of Mars 
from the MGS, check
out the newest images of the surface of Mars at 

* Mars Odyssey Orbiter ? August 16, 2006 - 
NASA Findings Suggest Jets Bursting From Martian Ice Cap

"Every spring brings violent eruptions to the south polar ice cap of Mars, 
according to
researchers interpreting new observations by NASA's Mars Odyssey orbiter. 

Jets of carbon dioxide gas erupting from the ice cap as it warms in the spring 
carry dark sand and
dust high aloft. The dark material falls back to the surface, creating dark 
patches on the ice cap
which have long puzzled scientists. Deducing the eruptions of carbon dioxide 
gas from under the
warming ice cap solves the riddle of the spots. It also reveals that this part 
of Mars is much
more dynamically active than had been expected for any part of the planet."

"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/)

August 28 - September 1, 2006

* Feature of the Week: Nili Fossae

* Channel (Released 28 August 2006)

* Meridiani (Released 29 August 2006)

* Avernus Colles (Released 30 August 2006)

* Sulci Gordii (Released 31 August 2006)

* Alluvial Fans (Released 01 September 2006)

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) - July 29, 2006 -

Spirit Status: Spirit Continues Mid-Winter Studies of Martian Rocks and Soil - 
sol 933-942, August
25, 2006

"Spirit continued to make progress on the rover's winter campaign of science 
acquiring microscopic images and data about rock composition with the alpha 
particle X-ray
spectrometer and the miniature thermal emission spectrometer. Spirit took 
images of the spacecraft
deck for incorporation into the "McMurdo panorama."

Spirit remains healthy. Electrical power from the rover's solar array has been 
holding steady at
about 280 watt-hours per sol (a hundred watt-hours is the amount of electricity 
needed to light
one 100-watt bulb for one hour)."

Opportunity Status: Inching Closer to 'Victoria' - sol 920-927, September 1, 

"Opportunity is healthy and still 218 meters (715 feet) from "Victoria Crater." 
Over the weekend,
the rover's shoulder azimuth joint stalled as Opportunity was trying to start 
measurements on a
trench it dug on Sol 919 (Aug. 25, 2006). Consequently, all weekend arm 
activities were aborted,
but remote science activities were executed as planned.

Beginning on Sol 923, rover arm diagnostic measurements were taken as well as 
some remote sensing
science. Results from the diagnostics revealed neither cause nor any damage to 
the stalled joint.
On Sol 924, the arm performed flawlessly as Opportunity successfully completed 
the activities
originally planned for Sol 920. On Sols 925, 926 and 927 Opportunity collected 
more arm
diagnostics (to ensure the stow before drive would go smoothly) as well as 
completing all arm
activities originally planned over the weekend."

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

Visit the Mars Exploration Rover page at  

* Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Mission - August 30, 2006 -
Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Successfully Concludes Aerobraking

"Nearly six months after it entered orbit, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has 
concluded its
aerobraking phase. The spacecraft had been dipping in and out of the Red 
Planet?s atmosphere to
adjust its orbit. On August 30, 2006, during its 445th orbit, the spacecraft 
fired its
intermediate thrusters to raise the low point of its orbit and stop dipping 
into the atmosphere.
The six-minute engine burn began at 10:36 a.m. PST, altering the spacecraft?s 
course so that its
periapsis (the closest it comes to the planet) is about 210 kilometers (130 
miles) above the
planet, well above the atmosphere."

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.)

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

* A Short Guide to Celestial Navigation - 

* 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.

* Comet Observation Home Page - http://encke.jpl.nasa.gov/

* 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 Experience - 

* 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/

* Our Solar System - http://pauldunn.dynip.com/solarsystem/
This is an excellent site to learn about our solar system.

* 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/

* 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 -

* 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: September 03, 2006

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