[astronews] IAAS Monthly Astronomy Newsletter

  • From: Burness Ansell <ki0ar@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: Astronomy Newsletter <astronews@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Sat, 1 Oct 2005 20:22:23 -0700 (PDT)

                IAAS Monthly Astronomy Newsletter
                         October 2005


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...

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



* New Moon on the 3rd.
* 1st Quarter Moon on the 10th.
* Full Moon on the 17th.
* Last Quarter Moon on the 24th.

* Perigee on the 14th, 227,080 mi. from Earth.
* Apogee on the 28th, 251,846 mi. from Earth.

Moon/Planet Pairs:
* The Moon passes 1.4 deg. south of Venus on the 7th.
* The Moon passes 5 deg. south of Neptune on the 12th.
* The Moon passes 3 deg. south of Uranus on the 14th.
* Venus passes 1.6 deg. north of Antares on the 16th.
* The Moon passes 5 deg. north of Mars on the 19th.
* The Moon passes 4 deg. north of Saturn on the 25th.
* The Moon passes 1.2 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 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 Highlight for October - Eclipses, meteors and planets abound. 
There's even a new comet
for dark sky observers this month. Mars is at its largest in a telescope on the 
29th subtending an
angle of 20.2 arc seconds (for comparison, the Moon subtends an angle of 
approximately 30 arc

* Mercury - Is again in the evening sky but is very low to the western horizon 
for most of the
month and is not easily spotted. Mercury sets at 7:06 pm on the 1st and around 
5:54 pm by month's
end. Mercury shines at magnitude -0.9 on the first and dims to magnitude -0.3 
by the 31st.

* Venus - Is visible in the evening sky. Look to the west soon after sunset to 
spot Venus moving
from the constellation of Libra into Scorpio this month. Venus sets at 8:28 pm 
on the 1st and 7:23
pm by month's end. Venus shines at magnitude -3.9.

* Earth - N/A.

* Mars - Is stationary on the 1st. Mars is closest to the Earth on the 29th 
(43.1 million miles
away). Mars rises about 8:42 pm on the 1st and about 5:14 pm by month's end. 
Mars is in the
constellation of Taurus this month. Mars appears at its best from now through 
the end of the year.
Mars shines at magnitude -1.7 on the 1st and brightens to magnitude -2.3 by the 

* Jupiter - Can be spotted in the early evening twilight glow low on the 
western horizon early
this month. Jupiter is in conjunction with the Sun on the 22nd. Jupiter sets at 
7:23 pm on the
1st. Jupiter returns to the morning sky by the end of the month and rises about 
5:49 am by month's
end. Jupiter is in the constellation of Virgo. Jupiter shines at magnitude -1.7.

* Saturn - Rises around 1:57 am on the 1st and about 11:01 pm by month's end. 
Saturn is in the
constellation of Cancer. Saturn shines at a magnitude of 0.3.

* Uranus - Rises at 5:24 pm on the 1st and about 2:20 pm by month's end. Uranus 
is in the
constellation of Aquarius and shines at a magnitude of 5.8.

* Neptune - Rises at 4:20 pm on the 1st and about 1:18 pm by month's end. 
Neptune is in the
constellation of Capricornus and shines at a magnitude of 7.9.

* Pluto - Sets about 10:52 pm on the 1st and about 7:53 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
* The Draconids - This shower is associated with periodic comet 
Giacobini-Zinner. The duration may
extend from October 6 to 10, though the point of maximum is very sharply 
defined within a 4-hour
interval on October 9?but the annual maximum hourly rates are not consistent. 
The radiant rarely
produces any recognizable shower except during years especially close to the 
parent comet's
perihelion passage?The meteors are slow and tend to be relatively faint. They 
are generally
This year the Draconids could produce an outburst of hundreds of meteors per 
hour on October 8
with the best conditions just before dawn or in the early evening hours.

* 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.

* C/2005 E2 (McNaught) - This newly discovered comet should glow around 11th 
magnitude this month.
It passes close to M55 in Sagittarius on the 16th. 

* 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/.

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

* Annular solar eclipse crosses parts of Europe and Africa on the 3rd.
* Partial lunar eclipse on the 17th best viewed from the Pacific Ocean. The 
western half of North
America will see this eclipse before dawn but only 7% of the Moon will be 
eclipsed. Maximum
eclipse occurs at 8:03 am EDT.

Asteroids (From west to east)
* Julia is in the constellation of Triangulum.
* Juno is in the constellation of Orion.
* Vesta 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)

* Cassini - September 29, 2005 -
Cassini's Doubleheader Flybys Score Home Run 

"Cassini performed back-to-back flybys of Saturn moons Tethys and Hyperion last 
weekend, coming
closer than ever before to each of them. Tethys has a scarred, ancient surface, 
while Hyperion is
a strange, spongy-looking body with dark-floored craters that speckle its 

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.

* Deep Impact - September 12, 2005 -
First Spectra from Deep Impact's Infrared Spectrometer

"We acquired 3835 spectra with the IR spectrometer from June 29 - July 14. We 
have analyzed a
handful of them. At impact, the spectrometer's slit was positioned downrange of 
the impact site
and we had programmed the instrument to take data as rapidly as possible to get 
the best time

For the latest mission status reports, visit http://www.nasa.gov/deepimpact and

* Stardust - August 19, 2005 -
Distinguishing Between Comets Tempel 1 and Wild 2 

"Confused over NASA's multiple comet missions? You're not alone....

During life's busy schedule, it's tough keeping up with all that's in a day's 
work, so it's
understandable that facts about comets Wild 2 (pronounced "Vilt 2") and Tempel 
1 get mixed up. Yet
there are easy ways to differentiate between the two, or any other comets. 
Resembling human
fingerprints, no two comets are exactly alike.

During a five-year period, NASA launched two missions, Stardust and Deep 
Impact, to explore two
different comets for scientific studies. Both are short-period comets with 
orbits taking them
between Jupiter and Mars, and were believed to be prime specimens of study due 
to their positions
in their natural environments. It turns out that their histories, locations, 
sizes and shapes were
found to be very different."

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.

* 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 - September 12, 2005
Happy 8th Birthday, MGS

"Mars Global Surveyor wins the title of the oldest spacecraft currently in 
operation at Mars! The
spacecraft's lasting success has enabled scientists to capture repeating 
weather phenomena and
new, fresh insights revealing Mars as an active planet."

* Mars Global Surveyor Images - September 22-28, 2005

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

* South Polar Details (Released 22 September 2005)

* Devilish Details (Released 23 September 2005)

* Pits on Ascraeus (Released 24 September 2005)

* Loire Dust Devil (Released 25 September 2005)

* High Latitude Polygons (Released 26 September 2005)

* Mars at Ls 288 Degrees (Released 27 September 2005)

* Gully in the North (Released 28 September 2005)

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 will complete 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 - No new news since July 08, 2005 - Mars Odyssey 
Achieved 15,000 Science


July 25-29, 2005

* Refilled Crater (Released 25 July 2005)

* Crater Ejecta (Released 26 July 2005)

* Eroded Ejecta (Released 27 July 2005)

* Radial Erosion (Released 28 July 2005)

* Craters Filling Craters (Released 29 July 2005)

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 29, 2005 -

Spirit Status: Spirit Reaches True Summit - sol 614-619, Sept 29, 2005

"Spirit is healthy and has provided a spectacular view from the top of "Husband 
Hill." The rover
has acquired numerous panoramas from both the navigation camera and panoramic 
camera. Spirit took
coordinated observations with the panoramic camera and the miniature thermal 
spectrometer, and observed the moons Phobos and Deimos at night. Spirit has 
reached the true
summit, which is in the eastern portion of the nearly level hilltop crest that 
Spirit reached in
late August. Plans are to drive to a good imaging location. From the new 
location, Spirit will
acquire a panorama of the plains and valleys below."

Opportunity Status: Approaching 'Erebus' - sol 586-591, Sept 22, 2005

"Opportunity is healthy and continuing its drive toward "Erebus Crater." Images 
taken this week
show the interior of the crater. Plans for the next few sols are to get closer 
to the crater's
edge and do extensive imaging. The team is also planning to use the tools on 
the robotic arm to
examine a dark area of outcrop located on the way to the edge of the crater."

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

Visit the Mars Exploration Rover page at  

* Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Mission - September 14, 2005
NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Looking Good

"Three cameras on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter worked as expected in a 
test pointing them at
the moon and stars on Sept. 8."

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 - 

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

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

* 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 - http://ncastro.org/

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

* 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: October 01, 2005

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