[astronews] IAAS Monthly Astronomy Newsletter

  • From: Burness Ansell <ki0ar@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: Astronomy Newsletter <astronews@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Sun, 1 Oct 2006 20:36:18 -0700 (PDT)

                IAAS Monthly Astronomy Newsletter
                         October 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 29th.
* 1st Quarter Moon on the 30th.
* Full Moon on the 6th.
* Last Quarter Moon on the 13th.

* Perigee on the 6th, 222,084 mi. from Earth.
* Apogee on the 19th, 252,323 mi. from Earth.

Moon/Planet Pairs:
* The Moon passes 3 deg. south of Neptune on the 3rd.
* The Moon passes 0.5 deg. south of Uranus on the 4th.
* The Moon passes 2 deg. north of Saturn on the 16th.
* The Moon passes 1.4 deg. south of Mercury on the 24th.
* The Moon passes 5 deg. south of Jupiter on the 24th.
* The Moon passes 0.4 deg. south of Antares on the 25th.
* Mercury passes 4 deg. south of Jupiter on the 25th.
* The Moon passes 3 deg. south of Neptune on the 30th.

The Planets & Dwarf Planet
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 October - Mercury, Jupiter and Saturn are the 
highlights for this
month. Mercury reaches it's highest elevation above the western horizon in the 
latter part of the
month as Jupiter descends to meet it in the twilight glow after sunset. Saturn 
will provide
excellent views through a small telescope this month and observers should be 
able to make out
Cassini's division between the A and B rings on a good night.

* Mercury - Is at greatest eastern elongation (25 deg. above the western 
horizon) on the 16th.
Mercury sets about 7:26 pm on the 1st and about 5:28 pm by month's end. Mercury 
shines at
magnitude -0.3.

* Venus - Is in superior conjunction on the 27th. Venus will return to the 
evening sky by the end
of the year.
* Earth ? Most of the US returns to standard time on the 29th.

* Mars - Is in conjunction with the Sun on the 23rd. Mars is also on the far 
side of the Sun as is
Venus. Mars will return to the morning sky in several months.
* Jupiter - Is very low in the southwest before sunset. Jupiter sets at 8:28 pm 
on the 1st and
about 5:46 pm by month's end. Jupiter is in the constellation of Libra and 
shines at magnitude

* Saturn - Has returned to the morning sky rising around 3:01 am on the 1st and 
about 12:12 am by
month's end. Saturn is in the constellation of Leo and shines at a magnitude of 

* Uranus - Is still in an excellent position for evening viewing. Uranus rises 
about 5:35 pm on
the 1st and about 2:31 pm by month's end. Uranus is in the constellation of 
Aquarius and shines at
magnitude 5.8.

* Neptune - Rises about 4:28 pm on the 1st and about 1:26 pm by month's end. 
Neptune is in the
constellation of Capricornus this month. Neptune shines at a magnitude of 7.9.

* Pluto (Now a dwarf planet) - Sets about 11:00 pm on the 1st and about 8:00 pm 
by month's end.
Pluto is in the constellation of Ophiuchus. Pluto shines at magnitude 14.0. As 
always, good luck
at spotting this one.

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

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

* 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. The 
best time to catch a
glimpse of Faye is in the early morning hours around 4 am sometime after the 
10th of the month.

* 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/.

* No eclipse activity this 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.

Asteroids (From west to east)
* Eunomia is in the constellation of Capricornus.
* Hebe is in the constellation of Capricornus.
* Ceres (now a dwarf planet) is in the constellation of Microscopium.
* Leto is in the constellation of Aquarius.
* Iris is in the constellation of Taurus.

* 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 19, 2006 - Scientists Discover New Ring and Other 
Features at Saturn

"Saturn sports a new ring in an image taken by NASA's Cassini spacecraft on 
Sunday, Sept. 17,
during a one-of-a-kind observation.

Other spectacular sights captured by Cassini's cameras include wispy fingers of 
icy material
stretching out tens of thousands of kilometers from the active moon, Enceladus, 
and a cameo color
appearance by planet Earth."

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 26, 2006 - Jupiter Ahoy!
"Blazing along its path to Pluto, New Horizons has come within hailing distance 
of Jupiter. The
first picture of the giant planet from the spacecraft's Long Range 
Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI)
is a tantalizing promise of what's to come when New Horizons flies through the 
Jupiter system
early next year."

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 - No new news since 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 - September 21-27, 2006

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

* Cracky Mars (Released 21 September 2006)

* West Candor Rocks (Released 22 September 2006)

* Mesa with Apron (Released 23 September 2006)

* Yardang City (Released 24 September 2006)

* Patterned Plains (Released 25 September 2006)

* Mars at Ls 107 Degrees (Released 26 September 2006)

* Ganges Quagmire (Released 27 September 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 ? No new news since 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/)

September 25-29, 2006

* Feature of the Week: Arabia Terra

* Sirenum Fossae (Released 25 September 2006)

* Arsia Flows (Released 26 September 2006)

* Dissected Surface (Released 27 September 2006)

* Polar Margin (Released 28 September 2006)

* Polar Crater (Released 29 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) - September 29, 2006 -

Spirit Status: Solar Power Is on the Rise as Spirit 'Follows the Water' - 
970-976, September 29,

"Solar power levels on Spirit are slowly beginning to rise again following a 
winter low of 275
watt-hours on Martian day, or sol, 933 (Aug. 18, 2006). One hundred watt-hours 
is the amount of
electricity needed to light one 100-watt bulb for one hour. This week, the 
rover's power levels
rose to about 296 watt-hours.
Spirit spent much of the week analyzing atmospheric dust attracted to magnets 
on the spacecraft.
The rover identifies iron minerals in the dust using the Mössbauer 
spectrometer. One of the two
magnets, the filter magnet, is weaker than the capture magnet, allowing 
scientists to separate
mineral grains that have the highest magnetic susceptibility, particularly 
minerals that contain

Opportunity Status: A View Worth Waiting For! - sol 947-953, September 29, 2006

"Opportunity is healthy and sitting at the rim of "Victoria Crater"! After 
traveling 9,279.34
meters (5.77 miles) in 952 sols the team is rewarded by some of the most 
spectacular views seen on
this mission. The week began with a checkout of basic mobility functions using 
the new flight
software: arc, turn, go-to-waypoint and visual odometry. Also checked were a 
few of the mobility
test criteria such as the time-of-day limits, suspension limits and a new 
capability for keep-out
zones (areas deemed too dangerous to rove). Later in the week, Opportunity 
drove 60.1 meters (197
feet) over three sols to our current location at the top of 'Duck Bay.'"

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

Visit the Mars Exploration Rover page at  

* Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Mission - September 29, 2006 - NASA's New Mars 
Camera Gives Dramatic
View of Planet

"Mars is ready for its close-up. The highest-resolution camera ever to orbit 
Mars is returning
low-altitude images to Earth from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. 

Rocks and surface features as small as armchairs are revealed in the first 
image from NASA's Mars
Reconnaissance Orbiter since the spacecraft maneuvered into its final, 
low-altitude orbital path.
The imaging of the red planet at this resolution heralds a new era in Mars 

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: October 01, 2006

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