[astronews] IAAS Monthly Astronomy Newsletter

  • From: Burness Ansell <ki0ar@xxxxxxx>
  • To: Astronomy Newsletter <astronews@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Tue, 01 Oct 2002 20:28:28 -0600

IAAS Monthly Astronomy Newsletter
October 2002


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.


In This Newsletter...

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



* New Moon on the 6th.
* 1st Quarter Moon on the 13th.
* Full Moon on the 21st.
* 3rd Quarter Moon on the 29th.

* Perigee on the 6th, 221,779 mi. from Earth.
* Apogee on the 20th, 252,500 mi. from Earth.

Moon/Planet Pairs:
* The Moon passes 4 degrees north of Jupiter on the 2nd.
* The Moon passes 4 degrees north of Mars on the 4th.
* The Moon passes 10 degrees north of Venus on the 8th.
* The Moon passes 5 degrees south of Neptune on the 14th.
* The Moon passes 4 degrees south of Uranus on the 15th.
* The Moon passes 3 degrees north of Saturn on the 26th.
* Mercury passes 4 degrees north of Spica on the 27th.
* The Moon passes 4 degrees north of Jupiter on the 29th.
* The Moon passes 1.3 degrees north of Vesta on the 31st.


(All times are local unless otherwise noted.)

* Mercury - Is at greatest western elongation (18 degrees above
the eastern horizon) on the 13th. Mercury can be spotted in the
early morning sky before sunrise early in the month. Mercury
shines at magnitude -0.7 by the 15th and brightens to -1.0 by
month's end.

* Venus - Is stationary on the 10th. Venus in in inferior
conjunction on the 31st. Venus is not visible this month.

* Mars - Is visible in the early morning sky in the east before
sunrise. Mars can be found in the constellation of Virgo. Mars
shines at magnitude 1.8.

* Jupiter - Rises about 2:30 am early in the month and by month's
end will rise around 1:30 am. Jupiter can be found near the
eastern edge of the constellation of Cancer the Crab. Jupiter
shines at magnitude -2.

* Saturn - Rises around 11 pm this month and is located just west
of the constellation of Gemini, east of Taurus and slightly north
of Orion. Saturn shines at magnitude -0.1.

* Uranus - Is near the eastern edge of the constellation of
Aquarius. Uranus rises about 5 pm and transits the meridian about
10 pm. Uranus shines at magnitude 5.8.

* Neptune - Is located in the constellation of Capricornus.
Neptune rises about 4 pm and transits the meridian about 9 pm.
Neptune shines at magnitude 7.9.

* Pluto - Rises around noon and transits the meridian about 5 pm.
Pluto is in the lower east corner of the constellation of
Ophiuchus. As always, this planet is difficult to spot, shining at
magnitude 13.9.


Astronomical Events

Meteor Showers
* The Orionids - The duration of this meteor shower extends from
October 15 to 29, with maximum occurring on October 21. The
maximum hourly rate is usually about 20 and the meteors are
described as fast.

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

* Comet RX14 LINEAR makes its presence known this month, but
shining at a magnitude of 12, will be difficult at best to spot
even under dark sky conditions. The new moon on October 6 may help
along with an excellent observing site. Over the next few months,
Comet RX14 LINEAR may brighten to about 10th magnitude.

* No significant eclipse activity this month.

* Ceres is at opposition on the 4th.

* Information about the Minor Planets can be found at
http://www.minorplanetobserver.com the Minor Planet Observer web


Planetary/Lunar Exploration Missions
(Excerpts from recent mission updates)

* Genesis - September 25, 2002 -
"Genesis is operating in good health. The flight team and
spacecraft completed a sixth station keeping maneuver without a
hitch on Sept. 25. The maneuver adjusted the orbit Genesis is
traveling around the L1 point. It accelerated the spacecraft by
about 1.45 meters per second (4.76 feet per second) in a direction
about 22 degrees off a line toward the Sun. Initial results from
the navigation team indicate that the execution was within about 1
percent of design." The latest status reports can be read at
http://www.genesismission.org/mission/statusupdate.html. 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 - September 9 - October 6, 2002
"The Next Four Weeks on Galileo - The Galileo spacecraft is still
healthy and active as it continues its long trek back in towards
Jupiter for its final planned science pass in November. Galileo is
now back within ranges that it has traversed before, reaching 250
Jupiter radii from the planet (17.9 million kilometers, 11.1
million miles) on Saturday, September 14, and 200 Jupiter radii
(14.3 million kilometers, 8.9 million miles) on Wednesday, October
2. The spacecraft is still well outside the magnetosphere of
Jupiter on the sunward side of the planet, and data collection by
the Magnetometer, the Dust Detector, and the Extreme Ultraviolet
Spectrometer instruments continues to provide scientists with
information about the interplanetary medium." Read the latest news
at http://galileo.jpl.nasa.gov/index.html.

* Cassini - September 26, 2002 - "The Huygens probe, riding aboard
the Saturn-bound
Cassini spacecraft, stepped flawlessly through a test run last
week of the activities it will perform when it descends through
the soupy atmosphere of Titan less than 28 months from now. ...

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.

* 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.

* Stardust - September 26, 2002 - "All of Stardust's subsystems
are performing normally. The spacecraft is continuing to collect
interstellar particles. There was one period of radio contact
through JPL's Deep Space Network this week.

Heaters for the Navigation Camera's light-sensing electronics and
mirror motor will be turned on for two days to remove a small
amount of contamination that has reappeared on the camera. Similar
treatments removed past contamination. Performance of the
periscope appears to have improved, exhibiting less contamination.

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

* Pluto-Kuiper Express
(http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/ice_fire//pkexprss.htm ),
* Europa Orbiter (http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/europaorbiter/),
* Solar Probe (http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/ice_fire//sprobe.htm )
* Many of NASA's future exploration missions are currently being
examined. To find out more about these discovery/exploration
missions check out the web page at
http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/ice_fire//whatsnew.htm for more

Mars Missions 

* Mars Global Surveyor - September 18, 2002 - "Background
Sequences - The spacecraft is operating nominally in performing
the beta-supplement daily recording and transmission of science

The three Roll Only Targeted Observations (ROTOs) reported as
successful last week were in fact not successful. The images taken
during those ROTOs and the first two ROTOs in mz200 were distorted
because the spacecraft was slewing slowly while the images were
being taken. The relative slew rate parameter had been set to
orbital rate while the equator-crossing software patch was being
loaded on 02-248 (9/05/02). The parameter was not reset to zero
following the patch update. The problem was discovered on 02-255
(9/12/02) and corrected on 02-256 (9/13/02). The following four
ROTOs in mz200 and six ROTOs in mz201 were performed successfully.
MGS has successfully completed 306 ROTOs to date." 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 - September 30, 2002 - New Thermal Emission
Imaging System (THEMIS) image posted: Late Afternoon Sun -
http://themis.la.asu.edu/zoom-20020930a.html. Visit the Mars
Odyssey Mission page at

* Mars Missions Status - New Mars missions are being planned to
include several new rover and sample collection missions.


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

* 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 - http://bfa3.home.att.net/astrolex.html
Many of the astronomical terms used in this newsletter are defined

* 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://spacescience.com/

* Universe Today - http://www.universetoday.com

* Space.com - http://space.com
Interesting articles and signup for your own email account [your

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

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

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

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


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
Last modified: October 01, 2002

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