Astronomy News for the Month of July 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 nodes 28298, 28299 and 29436. We are also linked via Echolink, links are k0jsc-r and canoncty courtesy of KØJSC and KØGUR. More information on the WBØWDF repeater links and Allstar nodes and Echolinks can be found at k0jsc.com. 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
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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.


"Saturn looms large when it reaches opposition this month. With the rings tipped wide open, observers should look for the dark Cassini Division and other fine details." Astronomy Magazine, July 2019, p.48.
NASA/ESA/A. Simon (GSFC) and the OPAL Team/ J. DePasquale (STScI)


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


18 day moon

The Moon

Phases

Apogee/Perigee

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 July

"These warm summer nights bring magnificent views of Saturn. The ringed planet remains visible all night, a feat nearly matched by its equally stunning sister world, Jupiter. Alas, the solar system's smaller planets don't fare as well. Mercury and Mars hang low in evening twilight, while Venus appears just before dawn." Astronomy Magazine, July 2019, p.48.

Mercury

Is stationary on the 6th. Mercury is in inferior conjunction on the 21st. Mercury sets at 9:38 p.m. on the 1st. After the 21st, Mercury returns to the morning sky. Mercury rises about 4:57 a.m. by months end. Look for Mercury low to the west about 30 minutes after sunset during the first two weeks of July. On the evening of the 7th, Mercury and Mars are in conjunction. Mercury is stationary on the 31st. Mercury moves from the constellation of Cancer into Gemini this month shining at magnitude 1.0 on the 1st.

Venus

Rises at 4:44 a.m. on the 1st and about 5:40 a.m. by month's end. Look for Venus in the east about 30 minutes before sunrise during the first week of July. After the first week, Venus is lost in the Sun's glow. Venus moves from the constellation of Taurus into Cancer shining at magnitude -3.9 on the 1st.

Earth Is at aphelion (94.5 million miles from the Sun) on the 4th.
Mars

Sets at 9:50 p.m. on the 1st and about 8:46 p.m. by month's end. Look to the west soon after sunset to spot Mars. Like Mercury, Mars is also rapidly approaching the western horizon and will be visible during the first two weeks of the month, then, it too disappears. Mars moves from the constellation of Cancer into Leo shining at magnitude 1.8 on the 1st.

Jupiter

Rises at 6:40 p.m. on the 1st and about 4:28 p.m. by month's end. Jupiter is visible almost all night long and is much easier to spot in the evening sky to the southeast. Jupiter is in the constellation of Ophiuchus shining at magnitude -2.5.

Saturn

Is at opposition on the 9th, rising as the Sun sets. Saturn rises at 8:52 p.m. on the 1st and about 6:42 p.m. by month's end. Saturn is visible nearly all night along this month. Look for Saturn to the east in the evening and follow Saturn across the sky as the evening progresses. Saturn is in the constellation of Sagittarius shining at magnitude 0.1.

Uranus

Rises at 1:51 a.m. on the 1st and about 11:48 p.m. by month's end. Look for Uranus to the southeast very early in the morning before sunrise. Uranus is in the constellation of Aries shining at magnitude 5.8.

Neptune

Rises at 11:55 p.m. on the 1st and about 9:52 p.m. by month's end. Look for Neptune low to the east in late evening and to the south after midnight. Neptune is in the constellation of Aquarius shining at magnitude 7.8.

Dwarf Planets

Ceres

Rises at 5:22 p.m. on the 1st and about 4:24 p.m. by month's end. Ceres precedes Jupiter by about an hour or less all month. By month's end, Jupiter and Ceres are just a few minutes apart, which will aid in observing this dim object. Ceres is in the constellation of Libra shining at magnitude 8.1.

Pluto

Is at opposition on the 14th, rising as the Sun sets. Pluto rises at 9:11 p.m. on the 1st and about 7:06 p.m. by month's end. Pluto trails Saturn by about 20 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 Southern Delta Aquarids - This meteor shower has a duration of July 14 - August 18. Maximum hourly rates of 15-20 occur on July 28/29.

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

    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

  • Comet 168P/Hergenrother, glowing around 12th to 10th magnitude, is passing between Pisces and Cetus and into Aries during the first two weeks of July, when the Moon will not interfere with viewing in the early morning skies before dawn.

  • 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

    Solar Eclipses

    A total solar eclipse occurs on the 2nd along a narrow path that crosses the South Pacific, Chile and Argentina.

    How to watch the July 2 solar eclipse from anywhere in the world

    Lunar Eclipses

    A partial lunar eclipse occurs on the 16/17th across most of Europe, Africa and Asia.

    Observational Opportunities

  • View Mars and Mercury in the early evening sky after sunset.
  • View Jupiter and Saturn all night long.
  • Look for Ceres in the late evening sky.
  • Look for Pluto, Neptune, Uranus and Venus in the morning sky.

  • Asteroids

    (From west to east)
    Ocultations

    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

    June 28, 2019
    Mars 2020 Rover's 7-Foot-Long Robotic Arm Installed

    Full Article & Images

    "In this image, taken on June 21, 2019, engineers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, install the main robotic arm on the Mars 2020 rover. (A smaller arm to handle Mars samples will be installed inside the rover as well.) The main arm includes five electrical motors and five joints (known as the shoulder azimuth joint, shoulder elevation joint, elbow joint, wrist joint and turret joint). Measuring 7 feet (2.1 meters) long, the arm will allow the rover to work as a human geologist would: by holding and using science tools with its turret, which is essentially its "hand." "

    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:

    https://www.missionjuno.swri.edu/junocam

    More information on the Juno mission is available at: http://www.nasa.gov/juno

    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 - June 27, 2019
    NASA's TESS Mission Finds Its Smallest Planet Yet

    Full Article & Images

    "NASA's Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) has discovered a world between the sizes of Mars and Earth orbiting a bright, cool, nearby star. The planet, called L 98-59b, marks the tiniest discovered by TESS to date.

    Two other worlds orbit the same star. While all three planets' sizes are known, further study with other telescopes will be needed to determine if they have atmospheres and, if so, which gases are present. The L 98-59 worlds nearly double the number of small exoplanets -- that is, planets beyond our solar system -- that have the best potential for this kind of follow-up."

    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 WEATHER
    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

    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 - June 28, 2019
    Sols 2451-2453: Climbing Higher

    Full Article & Images

    "Curiosity has been a bit down lately-in elevation. After exploring the top of Vera Rubin Ridge (VRR) last year, the rover descended into a trough south of the ridge, dropping as much as 15 meters in elevation this spring to explore part of the clay-bearing unit. Curiosity is now back to the highest elevation that it achieved before it left the ridge, about -4140 meters relative to the reference level representing zero elevation on Mars. The image shows the rim of the crater once again visible above Vera Rubin Ridge. Curiosity will continue to climb higher as it explores the rest of the Glen Torridon and then moves on to the sulfate unit and Greenheugh Pediment."

    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 360 (requires Kinect)

      Visit the Mars Science Laboratory page.

    Mars Exploration Rover Mission (Spirit and Opportunity)
    Opportunity's Mission Is Complete

    Full Article & Images

    "For mission highlights and resources, visit the mission website. You can also send the Opportunity rover and team a postcard."

    Landing sites

    Visit the Mars Exploration Rover page.

    Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Mission - May 15, 2019
    NASA's MRO Completes 60,000 Trips Around Mars

    Full Article & Image

    "NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter hit a dizzying milestone this morning: It completed 60,000 loops around the Red Planet at 10:39 a.m. PDT (1:39 p.m. EDT). On average, MRO takes 112 minutes to circle Mars, whipping around at about 2 miles per second (3.4 kilometers per second).

    Since entering orbit on March 10, 2006, the spacecraft has been collecting daily science about the planet's surface and atmosphere, including detailed views with its High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment camera (HiRISE). HiRISE is powerful enough to see surface features the size of a dining room table from 186 miles (300 kilometers) above the surface."

    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 9, 2019
    Why This Martian Full Moon Looks Like Candy

    Full Article and Images

    "For the first time, NASA's Mars Odyssey orbiter has caught the Martian moon Phobos during a full moon phase. Each color in this new image represents a temperature range detected by Odyssey's infrared camera, which has been studying the Martian moon since September of 2017. Looking like a rainbow-colored jawbreaker, these latest observations could help scientists understand what materials make up Phobos, the larger of Mars' two moons."

    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 - June 5, 2019
    InSight's Team Tries New Strategy to Help the 'Mole'

    Full Article and Images

    "Scientists and engineers have a new plan for getting NASA InSight's heat probe, also known as the "mole," digging again on Mars. Part of an instrument called the Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package (HP3), the mole is a self-hammering spike designed to dig as much as 16 feet (5 meters) below the surface and record temperature.

    But the mole hasn't been able to dig deeper than about 12 inches (30 centimeters) below the Martian surface since Feb. 28, 2019. The device's support structure blocks the lander's cameras from viewing the mole, so the team plans to use InSight's robotic arm to lift the structure out of the way. Depending on what they see, the team might use InSight's robotic arm to help the mole further later this summer."

    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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