Astronomy News for the Month of August 2019

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An Open Invitation

For amateur radio operators and scanner enthusiasts, when in the Denver metro area, please join the Colorado Astronomy Net on the Rocky Mountain Radio League's WØWYX 146.94 MHz and 449.825 MHz repeaters. The RMRL 146.94 repeater is also linked with the WBØWDF Cripple Creek 447.400 MHz repeater and Allstar node 28368. We are also linked via Echolink - canoncty - courtesy of KØJSC and KØGUR. More information on the WBØWDF repeater links and Allstar nodes and Echolinks can be found at We are also linked with Allstar nodes in Florida as well, courtesy of KA4EPS. The net meets on Tuesday nights at 7 P.M. Mountain Time (US).

Obtain your Amateur Radio (Ham) License or your General Radio Operator's License (GROL)! Visit the South Metro VE Team website for more information. The South Metro VE Team provides test sessions on the 1st Saturday of each month at our new Eagle Street Facility, The City of Centennial, 7272 South Eagle Street, Centennial, Colorado 80112-4244 at 9am.

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 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.
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In this Newsletter...

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

"Although earthbound observers never see Mercury as more than a blur, the MESSENGER spacecraft revealed it to be a dynamic, crater-pocked world." Astronomy Magazine, August 2019, p.36.

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

07 day moon

The Moon



Moon/Planet Pairs

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

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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 as well as meteor shower radiants are also included in the reports. These reports have been optimized for the Denver, Colorado location, however, the times will be approximate for other locations on Earth.

(All times are local unless otherwise noted.)

Planetary Highlights for Auly

"Jupiter and Saturn dominate August evenings, riding high in the south as darkness falls. The morning sky offers subtler but still noteworthy attractions. Neptune lies close to a 4th-magnitude star, making the distant world easy to find. And Mercury has a fine predawn appearance at midmonth. You can view the inner world after soaking in the annual Perseid meteor shower, which peaks the morning of August 13 under the unwanted light of a nearly Full Moon." Astronomy Magazine, August 2019, p.36.


Is at greatest western elongation (19°) on the 9th. Mercury rises at 4:57 a.m. on the 1st and about 6:14 a.m. by months end. Look for Mercury low to the east about 30 minutes before sunrise most of the month. Mercury moves from the constellation of Gemini into Leo this month shining at magnitude -0.7 on the 15th.


Is in superior conjunction on the 14th. Venus rises at 5:40 a.m. on the 1st. After mid-month, Venus returns to the evening sky setting about 7:49 p.m. by month's end. Venus is lost in the Sun's glow this month. Venus moves from the constellation of Cancer into Leo shining at magnitude -3.9 on the 31st.

Earth N/A.

Sets at 8:46 p.m. on the 1st and about 7:35 p.m. by month's end. Mars, as with Venus, is also lost in the sun's glow and is not visible this month. Mars is at aphelion (154.9 million miles from the Sun) on the 25th. Mars is in the constellation of Leo shining at magnitude 1.8.


Is stationary on the 11th. Jupiter sets at 2:00 a.m. on the 1st and about 11:56 p.m. by month's end. Look for Jupiter high in the south soon after the skies darken after sunset. Jupiter is in the constellation of Ophiuchus shining at magnitude -2.3.


Rises at 6:42 p.m. on the 1st and about 4:34 p.m. by month's end. By the time the Sun sets, Saturn is high in the south for easy viewing. Saturn is in the constellation of Sagittarius shining at magnitude 0.2.


Rises at 11:48 p.m. on the 1st and about 9:45 p.m. by month's end. Look for Uranus to the south in the late evening or after midnight. Uranus is in the constellation of Aries shining at magnitude 5.8.


Rises at 9:52 p.m. on the 1st and about 7:49 p.m. by month's end. Look for Neptune to the southeast in late evening and to the south after midnight. Neptune is in the constellation of Aquarius shining at magnitude 7.8.

Dwarf Planets


Sets at 2:09 a.m. on the 1st and about 11:15 p.m. by month's end. Ceres precedes Jupiter by about an hour or less all month. Ceres moves from the constellation of Libra into Scorpius this month shining at magnitude 8.6.


Rises at 7:06 p.m. on the 1st and about 5:02 p.m. by month's end. Pluto still trails Saturn by about 20 to 30 minutes all month long, which may aid in spotting this elusive planet. Pluto is in the constellation of Sagittarius shining at magnitude 14.2.

As always, good luck at spotting Neptune, Ceres and Pluto, a large telescope and dark skies will be needed.

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Astronomical Events

Meteor Showers

  • The Northern Delta Aquarids [meteor shower] 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.

    Unfortunately, this year, the nearly full Moon interferes with all but the brightest of the meteors streaking through the skies.

    Meteor Shower Radiant Report

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

    Meteor Scatter (or Meteor burst communications) - "is a radio propagation mode that exploits the ionized trails of meteors during atmospheric entry to establish brief communications paths between radio stations up to 2,250 kilometres (1,400 mi) apart." Tune your shortwave or your HF amateur radio to 54.310 MHz SSB and see if you can hear any pings. Try other frequencies as well... 6m FT8 digital - 50.313 Mhz & 50.276 Mhz, JP-65 digital mode and the carrier frequencies of the lower VHF bands for TV channels 2, 3 & 4.

  • Comets

  • "Starting in September, the solar system will deliver a near-continuous stretch of 9th-magnitude or brighter comets that will last for more than a year. You can glimpse the first of these - Comet Africano (C/2018 W2) - as it brightens to 11th magnitude in August." Astronomy Magazine, August 2019, p.42.

  • 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 webpage.

  • Eclipses

    Solar Eclipses

  • No solar eclipse activity this month.

    Lunar Eclipses

  • No lunar eclipse activity this month.
  • Observational Opportunities

  • Look for Jupiter and Saturn in the early evening sky soon after sunset.
  • Look for Ceres in the evening sky.
  • Look for Pluto, Neptune, Uranus in the late evening sky.
  • Look for Mercury in the morning sky.

  • Asteroids

    (From west to east)
    • Pallas is in the constellation of Boötes.
    • Melpomene is in the constellation of Ophiuchus.
    • Psyche is at opposition on the 6th in the constellation of Capricornus.
    • Eunomia is at opposition on the 13th in the constellation of Aquarius.
    • Laetitia is at opposition on the 16th in the constellation of Aquarius.
    • Hertha is in the constellation of Aquarius.
    • Amphitrite is in the constellation of Pisces.
    • Vesta is in the constellation of Taurus.

    • Information about the Minor Planets can be found at the Minor Planet Observer website.

    IOTA Logo

  • Information on various occultations can be found by clicking the IOTA logo.
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    Subscriber Gallery

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    Member Meteor Sightings

    This is a new section where I will post meteor, fireball, etc sightings that have been published on the American Meteor Society's web site. I want to make this an active section of the web pages and newsletter and would like to publish the links to member sightings. If you have any published sightings, please provide me with the links and I will post them here for all to enjoy.

    Event ID Date/Time Location Observer Link
    3587-2015 2015-11-22 17:38 MST CO Kevin S 3587aw
    3829-2015 2015-12-05 18:06 MST Highlands Ranch, CO Burness A 3829a
    3871-2015 2015-11-13 01:55 MST CO Charles N 3871a

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    Planetary/Lunar Exploration Missions

    (Excerpts from recent JPL mission updates)

    JPL Latest News
    The Latest from Space

    JPL Latest News

    July 26, 2019
    NASA's Mars 2020 Rover Does Biceps Curls

    Full Article & Images

    "The robotic arm on NASA's Mars 2020 rover does not have deltoids, triceps or biceps, but it can still curl heavy weights with the best. In this time-lapse video, taken July 19, 2019, in the clean room of the Spacecraft Assembly Facility at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, the rover's 7-foot-long (2.1-meter-long) arm handily maneuvers 88 pounds' (40 kilograms') worth of sensor-laden turret as it moves from a deployed to a stowed configuration."

    Past, Present, Future and Proposed JPL Missions.

    For special JPL programs and presentations in your area visit the JPL Solar System Ambassador web site.

    Juno - May 20, 2019
    NASA's Juno Finds Changes in Jupiter's Magnetic Field

    Full Article & Images

    "NASA's Juno mission to Jupiter made the first definitive detection beyond our world of an internal magnetic field that changes over time, a phenomenon called secular variation. Juno determined the gas giant's secular variation is most likely driven by the planet's deep atmospheric winds.

    The discovery will help scientists further understand Jupiter's interior structure - including atmospheric dynamics - as well as changes in Earth's magnetic field. A paper on the discovery was published today in the journal Nature Astronomy."

    NASA's JunoCam website can be visited at:

    More information on the Juno mission is available at:

    The public can follow the Juno mission on Facebook and Twitter.

    New Horizons - June 26, 2019
    The Journey Continued

    Exactly Five Years Ago, the New Horizons Team Discovered 2014 MU69 -- and Prepared to Make the Distant Kuiper Belt Object Part of Space Exploration History

    Full Article & Images

    "It was during a survey of the skies in June 2014 that the New Horizons team, using the powerful Hubble Space Telescope, located several small, ancient Kuiper Belt objects that New Horizons spacecraft could reach with the expected fuel remaining onboard after its planned, first exploration of Pluto the following summer.

    One of those objects, spotted in Hubble images on June 26, 2014, by science team member Marc Buie, was given the designation "PT1" -- the first of three "potentially targetable" candidate flyby targets. It was the faintest and smallest of the lot, but it was most reachable within the mission's fuel budget and in the ideal timeline. So in August 2015 -- now with the official designation 2014 MU69 -- it was selected by NASA and the New Horizons mission team to be the farthest object ever explored by spacecraft. Later that year, New Horizons fired its engines to target the intercept of MU69."

    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 - April 10, 2019
    NASA's Dawn Mission Honored by Space Foundation

    Full Article & Images

    "The Space Foundation presented NASA's Dawn mission with the 2019 John L. "Jack" Swigert, Jr., Award for Space Exploration at the opening ceremony of the foundation's 35th Space Symposium on April 8, 2019.

    Dawn is managed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. Project Manager Marc Rayman of JPL and Dave Gallagher, associate director for strategic integration at JPL, accepted the award in front of about a thousand symposium attendees in Colorado Springs, Colorado."

    A gallery of images can be found online.

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

    TESS - July 25, 2019
    NASA's TESS Mission Completes First Year of Survey, Turns to Northern Sky

    Full Article & Images

    "NASA's Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) has discovered 21 planets outside our solar system and captured data on other interesting events occurring in the southern sky during its first year of science. TESS has now turned its attention to the Northern Hemisphere to complete the most comprehensive planet-hunting expedition ever undertaken.

    TESS began hunting for exoplanets (or worlds orbiting distant stars) in the southern sky in July of 2018, while also collecting data on supernovae, black holes and other phenomena in its line of sight. Along with the planets TESS has discovered, the mission has identified over 850 candidate exoplanets that are waiting for confirmation by ground-based telescopes."

    For more information on the TESS mission, visit the Latest Tess Stories page.

    Past, Present, Future and Proposed JPL Missions

    Visit JPL's mission pages for current status.

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    Mars Missions

    Be A Martian

    Mars website mobile version is here!

    Mars Daily Weather Report

    Send your name to MARS
    onboard the Mars 2020 rover
    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 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.

    Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics

    "The Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP) at the University of Colorado Boulder (CU) began in 1948, a decade before NASA. We are the world's only research institute to have sent instruments to all eight planets and Pluto. LASP is an affiliate of CU-Boulder AeroSpace Ventures, a collaboration among aerospace-related departments, institutes, centers, government labs, and industry partners."

    MAVEN - April 29, 2019
    MAVEN sets its sights beyond Mars

    Full Article & Images

    "For more than four years, NASA's Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) mission has explored the mysteries of the Red Planet's upper atmosphere. More recently, the spacecraft has gotten up close and personal with that same expanse of gas."

    Visit LASP and MAVEN for more information.

    Mars Science Laboratory - Curiosity - July 27, 2019
    Sol 2478 - 2480 - Goin' Up

    Full Article & Images

    "Over the last few weeks Curiosity has collected hundreds of spectacular images, like the one above, that document the layers and textures of rocks exposed in the "Visionarium." (And as we heard in the last blog, we also set a mission record yesterday for having the highest tilt we've ever had while conducting contact science -- over 25 degrees!) With all of this imaging under our belt, we're now hoping to delve deeper into studying the composition of the rocks in the Visionarium, so we are beginning to look for our next potential drill target."

    To follow the Mars Curiosity rover and NASA on Foursquare, visit: and

    For information about NASA's partnership with Foursquare, visit:

      Mars Rover Landing - Free for the Xbox 360 (requires Kinect)

      Visit the Mars Science Laboratory page.

    Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Mission - July 12, 2019
    HiRISE Spots Curiosity Rover at Mars' 'Woodland Bay'

    Full Article & Image

    "A dramatic Martian landscape can be seen in a new image taken from space, showing NASA's Curiosity rover examining a location called "Woodland Bay." It's just one of many stops the rover has made in an area referred to as the "clay-bearing unit" on the side of Mount Sharp, a 3-mile-tall (5-kilometer-tall) mountain inside of Gale Crater."

    All of the HiRISE images are archived here.

    More information about the MRO mission is available online.

    Mars Odyssey Orbiter - July 19, 2019
    'Storm Chasers' on Mars Searching for Dusty Secrets

    Full Article and Images

    "Storm chasing takes luck and patience on Earth -- and even more so on Mars.

    For scientists watching the Red Planet from data gathered by NASA's orbiters, the past month has been a windfall. "Global" dust storms, where a runaway series of storms creates a dust cloud so large it envelops the planet, only appear every six to eight years (that's three to four Mars years). Scientists still don't understand why or how exactly these storms form and evolve."

    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.

    Journey to Mars - InSight - Revealing the Heart of Mars - July 22, 2019
    What Does a Marsquake Look Like?

    Full Article and Images

    "Southern California got all shook up after a set of recent quakes. But Earth isn't the only place that experiences quakes: Both the Moon and Mars have them as well. NASA sent the first seismometer to the Moon 50 years ago, during the Apollo 11 mission; the agency's InSight lander brought the first seismometer to Mars in late 2018, and it's called the Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure (SEIS)."

    Interactive selection of raw images taken by the cameras aboard InSight.

    Learn more about the InSight Mission.

    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.

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    Astronomy 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

    Colorado Astronomy Links

    Radio Astronomy Links

    Other Astronomy Links

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    Astronomical Lexicon

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

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    UT Logo

    Read the Universe Today Newsletter by clicking on the logo.

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    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

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