[astronews] IAAS Monthly Astronomy Newsletter

  • From: Burness Ansell <ki0ar@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: Astronomy Newsletter <astronews@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Fri, 1 Oct 2004 20:00:03 -0700 (PDT)

            IAAS Monthly Astronomy Newsletter
                      October 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 13th.
* 1st Quarter Moon on the 20th.
* Full Moon on the 27th.
* Last Quarter Moon on the 6th.

* Apogee on the 5th, 251,237 mi. from Earth.
* Perigee on the 17th, 228,514 mi. from Earth.

Moon/Planet Pairs:
* Venus passes 0.2 deg. south of Regulus on the 3rd.
* The Moon passes 5 deg. north of Saturn on the 7th.
* The Moon passes 4 deg. north of Venus on the 10th.
* The Moon passes 1.6 deg. north of Jupiter on the
* The Moon passes 5 deg. south of Neptune on the 21st.
* The Moon passes 4 deg. south of Uranus on the 23rd.
* Mars passes 3 deg. north of Spica on the 31st.


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 in superior conjunction on the 5th and
will not be visible for most of the month. Mercury
returns to the evening sky by month's end, setting
about a half hour after sunset on the 31st. Mercury
shines at a magnitude of -0.4 on the 31st.

* Venus - Rises at 3:30 am on the 1st and 3:31 am by
month's end. Venus is visible in the early morning sky
low on the eastern horizon shining at a magnitude of

* Earth - Most of the United States returns to
Standard Time at 2 am (local) on the 31st.

* Mars - Having passed conjunction with the Sun last
month, Mars is still lost in the early morning
twilight and is not visible this month. 

* Jupiter - Rises at 6:20 am on the 1st and 3:50 am by
month's end. Jupiter appears to rise higher in the
early morning sky as the month progresses. Jupiter
shines at magnitude -1.7.

* Saturn - Rises around 12:50 am on the 1st and about
9:54 pm by month's end. Look for Saturn in the late
evening sky this month. Saturn is about half way
between the constellations of Gemini and Cancer.
Saturn shines at a magnitude of 0.2.

* Uranus - Rises about 5:12 pm on the 1st and about
2:09 pm by month's end. Uranus is visible for most of
the evening and can be found in the constellation of
Aquarius. Uranus shines at a magnitude of 5.8.

* Neptune - Rises about 4:12 pm on the 1st and about
1:10 pm by month's end. Neptune is visible for most of
the evening sky and can be found in the constellation
of Capricorn. Neptune shines at a magnitude of 7.9.

* Pluto - Sets about 10:46 am on the 1st and about
7:46 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 one.

Astronomical Events

Meteor Showers
* The Orionids - The duration of this meteor shower
extends from October 15 to 29, with maximum occurring
on October 22. 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.

* C/2001 Q4 (NEAT) glows at 10th magnitude and is
visible all night near the "guardians of the pole":
Beta (_) and Gamma (_) Ursae Minoris.

* Comet C/2003 T4 (LINEAR) is traveling along the tail
of Draco, glowing at 12th magnitude as it accompanies
Q4 around the pole.

* For information, orbital elements and ephemerides on
observable comets visit the Observable Comets page
from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics

* Partial solar eclipse on the 13th/14th, visible from
Japan, northeastern Asia, Alaska and Hawaii. From
Anchorage Alaska, 93 percent of the Sun is eclipsed
around 6 pm local time.

* Total lunar eclipse at 11:07 pm EDT on the 27th.
This total lunar eclipse is visible on the evening of
the 27th in North and South America and on the morning
of the 28th in Europe.

Asteroids (From west to east)
* Vesta and Metis are in the constellation of Aquarius
and within several degrees of each other.
* Harmonia is at opposition on the 13th. Harmonia is
in the constellation of Pisces.
* Euterpe is in the constellation of Taurus.
* Pallas is in the constellation of Sextans.
* 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 - September 30, 2004 - 
Genesis Mishap Investigation Board Status Report #3 

"The Genesis team is preparing to ship its samples of
the Sun from the mission's temporary cleanroom at the
U.S. Army Proving Ground, Dugway, Utah, to NASA's
Johnson Space Center, Houston."

"We have essentially completed the recovery and
documentation process and now are in the business of
preparing everything for transport," said Eileen
Stansbery, Johnson Space Center assistant director of
astromaterials research and exploration science. "We
still have a way to go before we can quantify our
recovery of the solar sample. I can tell you we have
come a long way from September 8, and things are
looking very, very good." 

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 - September 30, 2004-
Moon and its Flock - Full-Res: PIA06488

"In its own way, the shepherd moon Prometheus (102
kilometers, 63 miles across) is one of the lords of
Saturn's rings. The little moon maintains the inner
edge of Saturn's thin, knotted F ring, while its
slightly smaller cohort Pandora (84 kilometers, or 52
miles across) guards the ring's outer edge. 

This view is a composite of nine raw images combined
in a way that improves resolution and reduces noise.
The final image was magnified by a factor of five. One
of the component images was previously released (see
PIA 06098)."

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
http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/home/index.cfm.  The speed
and location of the spacecraft can be viewed on the
"Present Position" web page.

* Stardust - No new news since June 17, 2004 - NASA
Spacecraft Reveals Surprising Anatomy Of A Comet - 
"Findings from a historic encounter between NASA's
Stardust spacecraft and a comet have revealed a much
stranger world than previously believed. The comet's
rigid surface, dotted with towering pinnacles,
plunging craters, steep cliffs, and dozens of jets
spewing violently, has surprised scientists. 

"We thought Comet Wild 2 would be like a dirty, black,
fluffy snowball," said Stardust Principal Investigator
Dr. Donald Brownlee of the University of Washington,
Seattle. "Instead, it was mind-boggling to see the
diverse landscape in the first pictures from Stardust,
including spires, pits and craters, which must be
supported by a cohesive surface."

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 - September 27, 2004
Rover Tracks Seen from Orbit 

"Wheel tracks left by NASA's Mars Exploration Rover
Spirit, and even the rover itself, are visible in this
image from the Mars Orbiter Camera on NASA's Mars
Global Surveyor orbiter. North is up in this image.
The tracks and rover are in the area south of a crater
informally named "Bonneville," which is just southeast
of the center of the image. The orbiter captured this
image with use of an enhanced-resolution technique
called compensated pitch and roll targeted
observation. It took the picture on March 30, 2004, 85
martian days, or sols, after Spirit landed on Mars.
The rover had driven from its landing site to the rim
of Bonneville and was examining materials around the
crater's rim."

* Mars Global Surveyor Images - September 23-29, 2004

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

* Impact Crater (Released 23 September 2004)

* East Candor Rocks (Released 24 September 2004)

* Valley Segment (Released 25 September 2004)

* Lomonosov In Spring (Released 26 September 2004)

* cPROTO Views of Spirit's Rover Tracks and Athabasca
Vallis Flood Features (Released 27 September 2004)

* Solar Conjunction Ends: Nirgal Vallis (Released 28
September 2004)

* Buried Crater (Released 29 September 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 has begun 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 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 August 25,
2004 - Mars Odyssey Begins Overtime After Successful
Mission -
"NASA's Mars Odyssey orbiter begins working overtime
today after completing a prime mission that discovered
vast supplies of frozen water, ran a safety check for
future astronauts, and mapped surface textures and
minerals all over Mars, among other feats.

"Odyssey has accomplished all of its mission-success
criteria," said Dr. Philip Varghese, project manager
for Odyssey at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory,
Pasadena, Calif. The spacecraft has been examining
Mars in detail since February 2002, more than a full
Mars year of about 23 Earth months. NASA has approved
an extended mission through September 2006."


September 27 - October 1, 2004

* Candor Chasma Plateau (Released 27 September 2004)

* Layered Rock in Candor Chasma (Released 28 September

* Wind Etching in Candor Chasma (Released 29 September

* Candor Chasma Landslide (Released 30 September 2004)

* Candor Chasma Landslides (Released 1 October 2004)

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) - September 30, 2004 -

Spirit Status:
"Spirit back to normal operations - sol 262, September
29, 2004

On sol 262, due to the limited amount of available
science data storage, planned activities were limited
to a Mössbauer spectrometer integration on a rock,
limited remote sensing, and routine atmospheric
observations. That plan did not make it on board due
to a problem during the communications uplink session.
The deep space network antenna was pointed a few
degrees below its lower safety limit when the
transmitter was supposed to turn on, causing an
interlock mechanism to turn off the transmitter. By
the time the antenna was reconfigured, not enough time
remained to get the full sequence load transmitted.
Fortunately, one sequence did make it to the rover and
was successfully executed, freeing up roughly 250
megabits of memory for future sols. Sol 262 ended on
Sept. 28."

Opportunity Status:
"Waking up from a Winter's Nap - sol 241, September
30, 2004

Sol 241
Opportunity finished its alpha particle X-ray
spectrometer integration on Barbeau, collected more
microscopic images, switched tools to the Mössbauer
spectrometer and started that integration. The rover
performed a mini deep sleep overnight. Sol 241 ended
on Sept. 27.

Total odometry after sol 241 is 1,573.83 meters (0.98
miles - almost to the 1-mile mark)."

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: October 01, 2004

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