Astronomy News for the Month of August 2013


    This news letter is provided as a service by
The International Association for Astronomical Studies
provides this newsletter as a service for interested persons worldwide.

Downloadable version of the newsletter in
PDF Format
(Right click and select "Save target as" to begin download.)
(PDF will normally be uploaded before the web page is updated.)

Visit the Home Page of KIØAR

Sign My Guestbook
Guestbook hosted by myfreegb.net.


Subscribe to the
IAAS Monthly Astronomy Newsletter

(Email version)
SUBSCRIBE


Subscription notes below.

Web and email hosting by

TotalChoice Hosting
         Receive notification 
when this page changes.    

    

by ChangeDetect


Green Laser


Visitor Map
Create your own visitor map!

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 146.94 MHz repeater on Tuesday nights at 7PM local time.


Special Notice to Denver, CO residents and visitors to the area:

The Plains Conservation Center in Aurora hosts Full Moon Walks every month weather permitting on or near the night of the full Moon. Visit The Plains Conservation Center for more information and directions.

Also S&S Optika hosts Backyard Star Parties in Littleton several times a month, weather permitting. Come down and enjoy the fun and check out their fine selection of optical instruments.


 Excerpts from JPL mission updates are provided as a public service as part
of the JPL Solar System Ambassador/NASA Outreach program.

For special JPL programs and presentations in your area visit the JPL Solar System Ambassador website.
(Click on the logo to link to the JPL SSA homepage.)


In this Newsletter...

Background screen credits: NGC5775 - Imaged March 21/22, 2001 using the 16" Kitt Peak Visitors Center telescope as part of the Advanced Observing Program.


The Month At-A-Glance
A calendar displaying the daily astronomical events.


24

The Moon

Phases

Apogee/Perigee

Moon/Planet Pairs

For reference: The Full Moon subtends an angle of 0.5°.

Return to Top


The Planets & Dwarf Planets

Planetary Reports generated by "TheSky" software. 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 reports.

(All times are local unless otherwise noted.)

Planetary Highlights for August - Venus and Saturn continue to dominate the evening sky this month. Observe Venus as it steadily moves to the south along the horizon. Saturn can also be spotted in the southern part of the sky heading west. Mars and Jupiter rise early in the morning and Mercury makes a brief appearance early in the month. Neptune will be at opposition later in the month. Uranus is best viewed after midnight. The real highlight for August is the annual Perseids meteor shower and this year the Moon will not interfere with the peak, so viewers may be able to see from 80 to 100 meteors per hour.
Mercury - Is in superior conjunction with the Sun on the 24th. Mercury is visible during the first week of August, low on the eastern horizon about 30 minutes before sunrise. Mercury rises about 4:29 a.m. on the 1st. Mercury moves from the constellation of Gemini into Leo shining at magnitude -0.1 on the 1st.
Venus - Continues it's sideways motion towards the southwest as August progresses. Venus sets about 9:44 p.m. on the 1st and about 9:03 p.m. by month's end. Look for Venus in the early evening towards the west-southwest. Venus moves from the constellation of Leo into Virgo shining at magnitude -3.9.
Earth - N/A.
Mars - Rises at 3:47 a.m. on the 1st and about 3:23 a.m. by month's end. Look for Mars low in the east before sunrise. Mars moves from the constellation of Gemini into Cancer this month shining at magnitude 1.6.
Jupiter - Rises at 3:29 a.m. on the 1st and about 1:55 a.m. by month's end. Look for Jupiter in the early morning skies before sunrise. Jupiter is in the constellation of Gemini shining at magnitude -1.9.
Saturn - Sets at 12:01 a.m. on the 1st and about 10:00 p.m. by month's end. Look to the southwest about 30° above the horizon to spot Saturn in the evening. If you have a telescope, check out the ring system and Saturn's shadow across the backside of the rings as well. Saturn moves from the constellation of Virgo into Libra shining at magnitude 0.7.
Uranus - Rises at 10:46 p.m. on the 1st and about 8:42 p.m. by month's end. Uranus is visible in the late evening and early morning sky after midnight. Spot Uranus with binoculars or a small telescope. Uranus is in the constellation of Pisces shining at magnitude 5.8.
Neptune - Is at opposition on the 26th, rising as the Sun sets. Neptune is visible all night long with a small telescope. Neptune rises at 9:15 p.m. on the 1st and about 7:11 p.m. by month's end. Neptune is in the constellation of Aquarius shining at magnitude 7.8.

Dwarf Planets

Ceres - Sets at 10:07 p.m. on the 1st and about 8:44 p.m. by month's end. Ceres is in the constellation of Leo shining at magnitude 8.5.
Pluto - Rises at 6:03 p.m. on the 1st and about 4:00 p.m. by month's end. Pluto is in the constellation of Sagittarius shining at magnitude 14.0.

As always, good luck at spotting these two, a large telescope and dark skies will be needed.

Return to Top


Astronomical Events

Meteor Showers

  • The Southern Delta Aquarids - This meteor shower has a duration of July 14 - August 18. Maximum hourly rates of 15-20 occur on July 27.

  • The Northern Delta Aquarids extends from July 16 to September 10. Maximum occurs on August 13. The hourly rates reach a high of 10.

  • The Perseids meteor shower is generally visible between July 23 and August 22. Maximum occurs during August 12/13. The hourly rate typically reaches 80, although some years have been as low as 4 and as high as 200. The meteors tend to be very fast, possess an average magnitude of 2.3 and leave persistent trains.

    SUMMER'S GRAND METEOR SHOW
    "The Perseid meteor shower will be at its best before dawn August 12. Not only does this year's top shower produce lots of meteors - up to 100 per hour under optimal conditions - but it also reaches its peak with the Moon out of the sky. From mid-northern latitudes, the waxing crescent sets shortly after 10 p.m. local daylight time the previous evening.

    If predictions hold, the highest rates should be on display from eastern Europe and northern Asia. Although observers in North America might see "only" 80 ­meteors per hour under a dark sky on the 12th, rates on the following morning could be nearly as high. Wherever you view from, the hour or so before dawn should deliver the best views." from Astronomy Magazine, August 2013, p. 45.

    ** Author's note: I have observed the Perseids for many years and I recommend beginning your observations of the Perseids about a week before the peak. Go out on any clear evening or wake up early before sunrise, relax in a lounge chair or throw a blanket on the ground, look up and enjoy. Pick an area away from city lights if possible but a relatively dark back yard with clear views will do fine.

    For more information about Meteor Showers, visit Gary Kronk's Meteor Showers Online web page.

  • Comets

  • Comet ISON (International Scientific Optical Network) may prove to be one of the best comets to appear in our lifetime. Comet ISON begins making an appearance this month, but at 12th magnitude and appearing in the morning twilight glow, Comet ISON is not quite ready for optimal observing. The August 2013 issue of Astronomy Magazine has a nice article describing several deep sky objects that observers may want to practice on in preparation for the main event coming up soon.

  • 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, visit Gary Kronk's Cometography.com webpage.

  • Eclipses

  • No eclipse activity this month.

  • Observational Opportunities

  • Observe Venus and Saturn in the evening sky in the southwest.
  • Catch Jupiter, and Mars in the morning.
  • The Perseid meteor shower peaks on the morning of the 12th.
  • Asteroids

    (From west to east)
    Ocultations

    IOTA Logo

  • Information on various occultations can be found by clicking the IOTA logo.
  • Return to Top


    Subscriber Gallery

    Return to Top


    Planetary/Lunar Exploration Missions

    (Excerpts from recent JPL mission updates)
    Cassini - July 29, 2013
    Crescent Enceladus

    "Evoking the haunting beauty of Earth's Moon, a crescent Enceladus appears in the skies around Saturn.

    Lit terrain seen here is on the Saturn-facing hemisphere of Enceladus. North on Enceladus is up and rotated 25 degrees to the right. The image was taken in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on May 1, 2013.

    The view was acquired at a distance of approximately 329,000 miles (530,000 kilometers) from Enceladus and at a Sun-Enceladus-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 138 degrees. Image scale is 2 miles (3 kilometers) per pixel.

    The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The Cassini orbiter and its two onboard cameras were designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The imaging team is based at the Space Science Institute, Boulder, Colo."

    July 22, 2013
    NASA Releases Images of Earth Taken by Distant Spacecraft

    "PASADENA, Calif. -- Color and black-and-white images of Earth taken by two NASA interplanetary spacecraft on July 19 show our planet and its moon as bright beacons from millions of miles away in space.

    NASA's Cassini spacecraft captured the color images of Earth and the moon from its perch in the Saturn system nearly 900 million miles (1.5 billion kilometers) away. MESSENGER, the first probe to orbit Mercury, took a black-and-white image from a distance of 61 million miles (98 million kilometers) as part of a campaign to search for natural satellites of the planet.

    In the Cassini images Earth and the moon appear as mere dots -- Earth a pale blue and the moon a stark white, visible between Saturn's rings. It was the first time Cassini's highest-resolution camera captured Earth and its moon as two distinct objects."

    Raw images are available at http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/photos/raw/index.cfm.

    Cassini Imaging Team

    For the latest mission status reports, visit Cassini Mission Status web page. The speed and location of the spacecraft along its flight path can be viewed on the Present Position webpage.

    New Horizons - July 10, 2013
    New Horizons Camera Spots Pluto's Largest Moon

    "NASA's Pluto-bound New Horizons spacecraft, using its highest-resolution telescopic camera, has spotted Pluto's Texas-sized, ice-covered moon Charon for the first time. This represents a major milestone on the spacecraft's 9½ year journey to conduct the initial reconnaissance of the Pluto system and the Kuiper Belt and, in a sense, begins the mission's long-range study of the Pluto system.


    Pluto and Charon: New Horizons LOng Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) composite image showing the detection of Pluto's largest moon, Charon, cleanly separated from Pluto itself. The frame on the left is an average of six different LORRI images, each taken with an exposure time of 0.1 second. The frame to the right is the same composite image but with Pluto and Charon circled; Pluto is the brighter object near the center and Charon is the fainter object near its 11 o'clock position. The circles also denote the predicted locations of the objects, showing that Charon is where the team expects it to be, relative to Pluto. No other Pluto system objects are seen in these images.

    When these images were taken on July 1 and July 3, 2013, the New Horizons spacecraft was still about 550 million miles (880 million kilometers) from Pluto. On July 14, 2015, the spacecraft is scheduled to pass just 7,750 miles (12,500 kilometers) above Pluto's surface, where LORRI will be able to spot features about the size of a football field. (Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute)

    The largest of Pluto's five known moons, Charon orbits about 12,000 miles (more than 19,000 kilometers) away from Pluto itself. As seen from New Horizons, that's only about 0.01 degrees away.

    "The image itself might not look very impressive to the untrained eye, but compared to the discovery images of Charon from Earth, these 'discovery' images from New Horizons look great!" says New Horizons Project Scientist Hal Weaver, of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Laurel, Md. "We're very excited to see Pluto and Charon as separate objects for the first time from New Horizons."

    The spacecraft was still 550 million miles from Pluto - farther than the distance from Earth to Jupiter - when its LOng Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) snapped a total of six images: three on July 1 and three more on July 3. LORRI's excellent sensitivity and spatial resolution revealed Charon at exactly the predicted offset from Pluto, 35 years after the announcement of Charon's discovery in 1978 by James Christy of the Naval Observatory."

    LORRI Looks Back

    New Horizons gallery

    Find New Horizons in the iTunes App Store here.

    For more information on the New Horizons mission - the first mission to the ninth planet - visit the New Horizons home page.

    Dawn - March 25, 2013
    NASA Scientists Find Moon and Asteroids Share Cosmic History

    "NASA and international researchers have discovered that Earth's moon has more in common than previously thought with large asteroids roaming our solar system.

    Scientists from NASA's Lunar Science Institute (NLSI), Moffett Field, Calif., discovered that the same population of high-speed projectiles that impacted our lunar neighbor four billion years ago, also hit the asteroid Vesta and perhaps other large asteroids.

    The research unveils an unexpected link between Vesta and the moon, and provides new means for studying the early bombardment history of terrestrial planets. The findings are published in the March issue of Nature Geoscience.

    "It's always intriguing when interdisciplinary research changes the way we understand the history of our solar system," said Yvonne Pendleton, NLSI director. "Although the moon is located far from Vesta, which is in the main asteroid belt between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter, they seem to share some of the same bombardment history."

    The findings support the theory that the repositioning of gas giant planets like Jupiter and Saturn from their original orbits to their current location destabilized portions of the asteroid belt and triggered a solar system-wide bombardment of asteroids billions of years ago called the lunar cataclysm.

    The research provides new constraints on the start and duration of the lunar cataclysm, and demonstrates that the cataclysm was an event that affected not only the inner solar system planets, but the asteroid belt as well."

    Dawn's Virtual Flight over Vesta

    A gallery of images can be found online.

    For more information on the Dawn mission, visit the Dawn home page.

    MESSENGER - July 22, 2013
    Looking Back at Us

    • Date Acquired: July 19, 2013, 11:54:41 UTC
    • Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET): 1016558881
    • Instrument: Wide Angle Camera (WAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)
    • WAC Filter: 2 (clear filter)
    • Field of View: The WAC has a 10.5° field of view

    "The pair of bright star-like features in the upper panel are not stars at all, but the Earth and Moon! MESSENGER was at a distance of 98 million kilometers (61 million miles) from Earth when this picture was taken. The computer-generated image in the lower left shows how the Earth appeared from Mercury at the time. Much of the Americas, all of Europe and Africa, the Middle East, and much of Asia were visible.

    MESSENGER took this image as part of a campaign to search for natural satellites of Mercury. Mercury has no moons that we know of. If any exist, they must be small (less than a few kilometers), or we would have seen them by now. The strategy for the satellite search involves taking multiple images of locations at predetermined distances from Mercury, from 2.5 to 25 times the planet radius. Pictures of these points in space are captured at intervals ranging from seconds to nearly an hour, depending on their distances from Mercury. A moving satellite will appear at different positions in images of the same region of space taken at different times.

    The Earth and Moon appear very large in this picture because they are overexposed. When looking for potentially dim satellites, long exposures are required to capture as much light as possible. Consequently, bright objects in the field of view become saturated and appear artificially large. In fact, the Earth and Moon are each less than a pixel in size, and no details on either can be seen. The "tails" pointing downward from the Earth and Moon are artifacts caused by the image saturation. These can be seen clearly in the zoomed image in the center lower panel.

    This image was taken on the same day that images with Earth in the scene were acquired by the Cassini spacecraft, as part of a mosaic of the backlit Saturn system (http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/news/waveatsaturn)."

    The MESSENGER app is available for download from iTunes.

    For more information on the MESSENGER mission, visit the MESSENGER home page.

    Pack Your Backpack

    Calling all explorers! Tour JPL with our new Virtual Field Trip site. Stops include Mission Control and the Rover Lab. Your guided tour starts when you select a "face" that will be yours throughout the visit. Cool space images and souvenirs are all included in your visit.

    Past, Present, Future and Proposed JPL Missions - http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/missions

    Visit JPL's mission pages for current status.

    Return to Top


    Mars Missions

    Be A Martian

    Mars website mobile version is here!

    Mars on the Go! NASA Be A Martian Mobile App
    If you want the latest news as it happens, try our Be A Martian app.
    Download on Mobile Devices
    Android | iPhone | Windows Phone
    JMARS

    JMARS is an acronym that stands for Java Mission-planning and Analysis for Remote Sensing. It is a geospatial information system (GIS) developed by ASU's Mars Space Flight Facility to provide mission planning and data-analysis tools to NASA's orbiters, instrument team members, students of all ages, and the general public.

    Mars Science Laboratory - Curiosity - July 24, 2013

    View From Mars Orbiter Showing Curiosity Rover at 'Shaler'

    "NASA's Mars Science Laboratory rover Curiosity appears as a bluish dot near the lower right corner of this enhanced-color view from the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. The rover's tracks are visible extending from the landing site, "Bradbury Landing," in the left half of the scene. Two bright, relatively blue spots surrounded by darker patches are where the Mars Science Laboratory spacecraft's landing jets cleared away reddish surface dust at the landing site. North is toward the top. For scale, the two parallel lines of the wheel tracks are about 10 feet (3 meters) apart.

    HiRISE shot this image on June 27, 2013, when Curiosity was at an outcrop called "Shaler" in the "Glenelg" area of Gale Crater. Subsequently the rover drove away from Glenelg toward the southwest.

    When HiRISE captured this view, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter was rolled for an eastward-looking angle rather than straight downward. The afternoon sun illuminated the scene from the western sky, so the lighting was nearly behind the camera. Specifically, the angle from sun to orbiter to rover was just 5.47 degrees. This geometry hides shadows and reveals subtle color variations."

    To follow the Mars Curiosity rover and NASA on Foursquare, visit: http://www.foursquare.com/MarsCuriosity and http://www.foursquare.com/NASA

    For information about NASA's partnership with Foursquare, visit:http://www.nasa.gov/connect/foursquare.html.

      Mars Rover Landing - Free for the Xbox (requires Kinect)

      Visit the Mars Science Laboratory page.

    Mars Exploration Rover Mission (Spirit and Opportunity) - July 23, 2013

    SPIRIT UPDATE: Spirit Remains Silent at Troy - sols 2621-2627, May 18-24, 2011:

    "No communication has been received from Spirit since Sol 2210 (March 22, 2010).

    More than 1,300 commands were radiated to Spirit as part of the recovery effort in an attempt to elicit a response from the rover. No communication has been received from Spirit since Sol 2210 (March 22, 2010). The project concluded the Spirit recovery efforts on May 25, 2011. The remaining, pre-sequenced ultra-high frequency (UHF) relay passes scheduled for Spirit on board the Odyssey orbiter will complete on June 8, 2011.

    Total odometry is unchanged at 7,730.50 meters (4.80 miles)."

    OPPORTUNITY UPDATE: Opportunity Nears 'Solander Point' - sols 3370-3376, Jul. 17, 2013-Jul. 23, 2013 :

    "Opportunity has arrived in the region near the base of 'Solander Point.' At the current location, the rover is just a few drives from making landfall on the point.

    However, the science team will now begin the exploration of the various outcrops, contacts and units that make up the Solander Point geology, prior to ascending the point for winter energy production.

    On Sol 3371 (July 18, 2013), the rover advanced about 197 feet (60 meters) towards a region to the northeast of Solander Point to investigate the unusual terrain there. Sols 3373 and 3374 (July 20 and 21, 2013), were a 2-sol Touch 'n Go activity. The rover performed robotic arm in-situ (contact) science with the Microscopic Imager (MI) and the Alpha Particle X-ray Spectrometer (APXS) on the first sol, then picked up and drove over 164 feet (50 meters) on the second sol. On Sol 3376 (July 23, 2013), Opportunity bumped 12 feet (3.7 meters) towards a rock of interest, to begin a brief in-situ investigation of this rock with the Microscopic Imager and the Alpha Particle X-ray Spectrometer. Before the drive on Sol 3376, the rover took the opportunity to image a Deimos moon transit of the Sun with the Panoramic Camera.

    As of Sol 3376 (July 23, 2013), the solar array energy production was 431 watt-hours with an atmospheric opacity (Tau) of 0.757 and a solar array dust factor of 0.566.

    Total odometry is 23.60 miles (37.97 kilometers)."

    Landing sites

    Visit the Mars Exploration Rover page.

    Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Mission - July 24, 2013
    Curiosity Mars Rover Gleams in View from Orbiter

    "PASADENA, Calif. -- An image from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter released today shows NASA's Curiosity Mars rover and the wheel tracks from its landing site to the "Glenelg" area where the rover worked for the first half of 2013.

    The image is available at http://uahirise.org/ESP_032436_1755.

    The orbiter's High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera captured the scene on June 27, 2013, with the orbiter rolled for an eastward-looking angle rather than straight downward. The afternoon sun illuminated the scene from the western sky, so the lighting was nearly behind the camera. This geometry hides shadows and reveals subtle color variations.

    Curiosity that day was examining an outcrop called "Shaler," the rover mission's final science target in the Glenelg area before commencing a many-month trek southwestward to an entry point for the lower layers of Mount Sharp. The rover appears as a bright blue spot in the enhanced coloring of the image.

    The image shows two scour marks at the Bradbury Landing site where the Mars Science Laboratory mission's skycrane landing system placed Curiosity onto the ground on Aug. 6, 2012, EDT and Universal Time (Aug. 5, PDT). The scour marks are where the landing system's rockets cleared away reddish surface dust. Visible tracks commencing at the landing site show the path the rover traveled eastward to Glenelg."

    MARS RECONNAISSANCE ORBITER HIRISE IMAGES
    All of the HiRISE images are archived here.

    More information about the MRO mission is available online.

    Mars Odyssey Orbiter - May 08, 2013
    Mars As Art Lands At Dulles Airport

    "The majestic beauty of the Red Planet is featured in a vivid collection of images taken by Mars spacecraft, now on exhibit at Dulles airport in Washington, DC through November 30."

    See the Mars As Art Gallery

    Dulles Airport Full News Release

    Global Martian Map

    "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 THEMIS."

    Daily Mars Odyssey THEMIS Images
    Can be found at the Thermal Emission Imaging System (THEMIS) website.

    The Odyssey data are available through a new online access system established by the Planetary Data System.

    Visit the Mars Odyssey Mission page.

    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 and the Mars Exploration page.

    Return to Top


    Links and Other Space News

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

    Green Laser

    Return to Top


    Astronomical Lexicon

    Definitions of astronomical terms. Many of the astronomical terms used in this newsletter are defined here.

    Return to Top


    UT Logo

    Read the Universe Today Newsletter by clicking on the logo.

    Return to Top


    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, and other astronomical sources that I have stashed on my bookshelves.

    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!

    More Acknowledgements and References

    Return to Top


    Subscription Information

    Return to Top


    ScienceandNature BarnesandNoble.com HomePage

    Return to Top


    Keep looking UP!
    73 from KIØAR

    Return to Top


    Free Web Counters

    Home of KIØAR
    created by Burness F. Ansell, III,
    Email me
    IAAS - COO, Director of Aerospace Technologies
    JPL Solar System Ambassador, Colorado
    last modified: August 03, 2013

    URL:http://www.ki0ar.com/astro.html