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Topic 24 of 99: Beyond Planet Earth

Wed, Nov 17, 1999 (14:23) | Marcia (MarciaH)
Geology in the Solar System other than Planet Earth
1087 responses total.

 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 1 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Wed, Nov 17, 1999 (14:34) * 27 lines 
 


A Hawaiian-Style Volcano on Io

New images from Galileo reveal unexpected details of
the Prometheus volcano on Io including a caldera and
lava flowing through fields of sulfur dioxide snow.


November 5, 1999: A volcanic crater
several times larger than one found at
Hawaii's Kilauea volcano has been
photographed on Jupiter's moon Io
during a close flyby performed by
NASA's Galileo spacecraft.

"It appears that the Prometheus
volcano on Io has characteristics
remarkably similar to those of the
Kilauea volcano in Hawaii, although
Prometheus is much larger," said Dr.
Laszlo Keszthelyi (KEST-ay), a
Galileo research associate at the
University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ.
"Both volcanoes are long- lived
eruptions, with flows that apparently travel through lava tubes and produce plumes
when they interact with cooler materials."


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 2 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Wed, Nov 17, 1999 (15:41) * 8 lines 
 
For the above photo, the caption:
Right: This is a high-resolution image of part of Prometheus, an active volcano on Jupiter's volcanic
moon Io. In earlier, lower resolution images, it appeared that all the dark material at Prometheus
comprised a single, long lava flow. The new image shows for the first time that the northeastern end of
this dark feature is actually a lava-filled caldera 28 kilometers (17 miles) long and 14 kilometers (9
mile s) wide. The underground source of the Prometheus lava is probably beneath this newly
discovered caldera. Galileo scientists are intrigued also by the snowfield containing hummocks, seen
to the east of the Prometheus caldera.



 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 3 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Wed, Nov 17, 1999 (15:54) * 38 lines 
 
LEONID METEOR SHOWER

Leonids in the
Crystal Ball -- On the
morning of November 18,
1999, bits and pieces of
periodic comet
Tempel-Tuttle will hurtle
into Earth's atmosphere
at a head-spinning
158,000 mph. There is
little danger - few of the
meteoroids will reach the ground. Most will disintegrate
and in the process produce a streak of light in the sky
called a meteor. The meteors caused by debris from
comet Tempel-Tuttle are known as Leonids because
they appear to come from the direction of the
constellation Leo.

Most years the November Leonids aren't much to write
home about. Observers see no more than 10 to 15
meteors per hour. But every 33 years something
special happens. Comet Tempel-Tuttle swings through
the inner solar system bringing with it an especially
dense cloud of debris. The last time this happened was
in January 1998, and the November 1998 Leonids
were spectacular.

Experts think that this year's Leonids be even better,
with peak rates greater than 1000 shooting stars every
hour. The place to be on November 18, 1999 is
certainly outside and looking up! For the next two
weeks, Thursday's Classroom will present lesson plans
about meteor showers and the Leonids. We'll also be
inviting kids to participate in real NASA research by
counting meteors.

http://www.thursdaysclassroom.com/index_28oct99.html


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 4 of 1087: Gi  (patas) * Wed, Nov 17, 1999 (16:15) * 1 lines 
 
The last time a "star shower" was predicted everybody in and around Lisbon went out of town to watch the skies. They were in for a big time disappointment. That was more than three years ago but I'm not sure when (I still lived in my old apartment and stayed up late to watch from my window). So now the papers are being very cautious about the Leonids. They say it "might" be worthwhile to watch for them ;-)


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 5 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Wed, Nov 17, 1999 (16:44) * 4 lines 
 
Meteors and comets are such difficult things to predict. No one knows what has happened since the last swing around the sun, and sometimes, they just disappear into the sun and are never seen again.

Maggie just sent this URL for Live Cam broadcast of the Leonids
http://www.live-leonids.org/en/live.html


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 6 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Wed, Nov 17, 1999 (16:45) * 0 lines 
 


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 7 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Wed, Nov 17, 1999 (16:51) * 1 lines 
 
The Broadcast begins in 10 minutes - at 5 pm Austin time.


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 8 of 1087: Wolf  (wolf) * Wed, Nov 17, 1999 (19:15) * 1 lines 
 
we're supposed to see some of a meteor shower tonight at 8 central time. i had just about forgotten!


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 9 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Wed, Nov 17, 1999 (19:30) * 1 lines 
 
Now you know! Put a sticky-note on the bridge of your nose so you do not forget *grin*


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 10 of 1087: MarkG  (MarkG) * Thu, Nov 18, 1999 (05:01) * 10 lines 
 
As I interpret the information:

The Tempel-Tuttle comet comes by every November.
Every 33 years it comes close enough to break into our atmosphere.
It permanently fires off meteoroids everywhere it goes all the time.

Is that right?
Would it be orbiting around the sun?

I am such a dunce astronomically - someone hold my hand.


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 11 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Thu, Nov 18, 1999 (13:10) * 2 lines 
 
This is correct. Anything orbiting in the solar system ultimately orbits the sun. It is a periodic comet which means it has returned at predictable times since its initial discovery. Haley's Comet is the most famous of these return visitors with a period of 75 years. On occasion Comets slam into the sun as their orbits decay and the sun's gravity draws them into itself. All that is left of the Temple-Tuttle Comet is meteor showers which follow the former comet's orbital path. Eventually, they too wi
l fall victim to gravity and be no more.


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 12 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Thu, Nov 18, 1999 (13:11) * 1 lines 
 
(Since you are not using your hand for Cricket at this time of the year, I would be delighted to hold it, astronomically and virtually!)


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 13 of 1087: Maggie  (sociolingo) * Thu, Nov 18, 1999 (16:51) * 1 lines 
 
Wasted getting up at 2 a.m. skies cloudy couldn't see anything. Am I right in that the leonids are an annual event associated with the temple-tuttle comet? Is it possible there will be further showers tonight? We do have a clear sky now - typical!


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 14 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Thu, Nov 18, 1999 (17:04) * 2 lines 
 
Yes, there will be more tonight...but supposedly last night was the best viewing. I had the same result as you did in the middle of the night. Clouds!
(Hot and sunny here, as well!) I plan to look tonight again...hope springs eternal and all that...!


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 15 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Thu, Nov 18, 1999 (17:07) * 1 lines 
 
On Response 11 to MarkG I noted that it was debris from the Temple-Tuttle comet.


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 16 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Thu, Nov 18, 1999 (23:02) * 2 lines 
 
Please check Geo 15.26 and 15.27...the volcanoes on Io are shown in photographs and the caption which goes with them are there.
http://www.spring.net/yapp-bin/restricted/read/Geo/15.26


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 17 of 1087: Wolf  (wolf) * Sun, Nov 21, 1999 (20:35) * 1 lines 
 
i sat out for 20 minutes and saw one flare through the sky. i was lucky to see that one because there weren't anymore visible from my backyard.


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 18 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Sun, Nov 21, 1999 (20:46) * 1 lines 
 
Somewhere they counted 5,000 per hour. Bummer! I saw none, of course. All that blessing and dust control which makes our orchids so lovely obscures my skies most nights. Good for you to see that one! Did your kiddies see it, as well?


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 19 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Thu, Dec  2, 1999 (13:28) * 16 lines 
 
Friday, December 3 NASA and its various websites listed below will carry live from Mars the Polar Lander beamed to Earth from 157 million miles away. The sites will contain weather reports, science data, first sound clips ever beamed to Earth from "out there" and lots of pictures.

Main Mars site will post the latest pictures and updates throughout the 90-day mission: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/msp98

JPL's main page has links to the latest Mars project as well as to probes sent to other planets over the last 20 years:
http://www.jpl.nasa.gov

JPL's Mars Educational site which includes activites for children and teachers:
http://marsnt3.jpl.nasa.gov/education/index.html

UCLA, where the primary science team is based, offers a site focusing on the experiments aboard the Mars Volitiles and Climate Surveyor payload.
http://mars.ucla.edu






 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 20 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Thu, Dec  2, 1999 (13:33) * 7 lines 
 
The first link (jpl.nasa.gov/msp98) does not work...try

http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msp98

or

http://marslander.jpl.nasa.gov


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 21 of 1087: Maggie  (sociolingo) * Fri, Dec  3, 1999 (17:10) * 1 lines 
 
Got through to the site OK. Pictures taking a while to download. Will check back again tomorrow as it's getting late here. Looks exciting. Thanks for bringing it to my attention Marcia!!


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 22 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Fri, Dec  3, 1999 (17:18) * 1 lines 
 
Tomorrow will be early enough...JPL are having problems contacting the little dear now that it is on the surface. There are just so few windows of opportunity when Mars is accessible from Earth, and most of those have been used for today. Tomorrow will be a good time to check. It will be slow-going until the weekend begins because all of the schools in America as well as the rest of the world are trying to access the sites, too. It is difficult to be patient...


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 23 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Fri, Dec  3, 1999 (18:14) * 36 lines 
 

Friday - 18:54 12/03/99, EST

Mars Lander Misses First Communications
Chance


PASADENA, Calif. (Reuters) - Scientists plotting the planned touchdown of
the Mars Polar Lander were met with a frustrating silence on Friday after
failing to receive the first expected signal from the spacecraft that would
indicate that it had landed safely on the Martian surface.

Flight controllers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena scanned
the skies for contact from the lander, which had been due at roughly 12:39
p.m. PST (3:39 p.m. EST), or 24 minutes after its scheduled landing on Mars.

After about 20 minutes, however, flight operations manager Sam Thurman told
engineers to take a break and wait for the next possible communications
window, expected after 2:04 p.m. PST (5:04 p.m. EST).

Scientists speculated that the spacecraft may have gone into a ``safe'' mode
and had not deployed its main antenna properly after landing. They said
another possibility was that it was transmitting, but on an unknown frequency
that would take NASA's Deep Space Network of worldwide listening posts
some time to locate.

If everything had gone according to plan, the lander would have deployed its
main antenna and started sending back communications to Earth, informing
controllers that it had started its mission to search Mars for signs of water
and other information about its climate.

Scientists long had cautioned that it was very possible that no
communications link would be established during the first window of
opportunity, and said there were numerous chances later on Friday and over
the rest of the weekend for the lander to open communications links with
Earth.



 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 24 of 1087: Maggie  (sociolingo) * Sun, Dec  5, 1999 (16:48) * 1 lines 
 
Now seems a bit dismal. News at teatime (GMT) was that todays window had passed and hope was fading. Nice pictures on the site though!


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 25 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Sun, Dec  5, 1999 (17:43) * 41 lines 
 
Still No Sign of Life From Mars Lander

PASADENA, Calif. (Reuters) - Space controllers on Sunday failed for a fifth
time in 48 hours to make contact with the Mars Polar Lander since it arrived
on the Red Planet, causing bitter disappointment among the scientists and
raising fears about the mission.

``I'm not pessimistic. But I'm disappointed. I feel like I've been stood up on a
date. This is not a good thing,'' Dave Crisp, a mission scientist, told reporters
minutes after the latest attempt failed.

The $165 million lander was supposed to use its Ultra High Frequency
antenna to make contact with the Mars Global Surveyor satellite orbiting the
planet during a brief, six-minute communications window, but it remained
silent, as it has since Friday, when it was scheduled to land on Mars at 3
p.m. EST (2000 GMT).

The window of opportunity stretched from 10:50 a.m. PST (1:50 p.m.
EST/1850 GMT) to 10:56 a.m., but because it takes 15 minutes for a signal
to travel the 145 million miles (232 million km) from Mars to Earth, it was
about 11:15 a.m. before anxious scientists knew their latest attempt had
failed.

It was the first time they had tried to get the craft to use its UHF antenna,
which is not powerful enough to communicate directly with Earth but is
capable of sending a stream of data to the orbiting surveyor for relay to Earth.

The hope had been that if the craft's main antenna, which scientists had been
using for previous attempts to get in touch with the lander, had failed for some
reason, then the UHF might succeed as a backup.

A NASA official at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena said the latest
failure eliminated the possibility that the craft was in a normal operating
mode.

He said the spacecraft may have landed in a pit and that there were objects
blocking the antenna's view of Earth or the surveyor satellite, or it might be
unable to perform gyro compassing to determine its geographical location at
Mars' south pole, he said.




 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 26 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Sun, Dec  5, 1999 (17:47) * 1 lines 
 
Cosidering how lame the excuses for the loss of the last Mars Probe were, it would behoove NASA and JPL to get their acts together lest the tax-payers get really unhappy and cut off their allotment!


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 27 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Fri, Dec 17, 1999 (13:08) * 20 lines 
 
This year will be the first full Moon to occur on the winter solstice,
Dec.22 (commonly called the first day of winter) in about 100 years. Since
a full Moon on the winter solstice occurred in conjunction with a lunar
perigee (point in the Moon's orbit that is closest to Earth) the Moon will
appear about 14% larger than it does at apogee (the point in its elliptical
orbit that is farthest from the Earth). And since the Earth is also several
million miles closer to the Sun at this time of the year than in the
summer, sunlight striking the Moon is about 7% stronger making it brighter.
Also, this will be the closest perigee of the Moon this year since the
Moon's orbit is constantly deforming. If the weather is clear and there is
snow cover where you live, it is believed that even car headlights will be
superfluous. On December 21, 1866, the Lakota Sioux took advantage of this
combination of occurrences and staged a devastating retaliatory ambush on
soldiers in the Wyoming Territory. In laymen's terms it will be a super
bright full Moon, much more than the usual AND it hasn't happened this way
for 133 years! Our ancestors, 133 years ago, saw this. Our descendants 100
or so years from now will see this again. I hope someone else might find
this interesting! Remember this will happen December 22, 1999.....




 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 28 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Sun, Dec 19, 1999 (23:29) * 3 lines 
 
The Space Suttle is back in orbit. Lucie watched the blast off from her home:
The shuttle launch was spectacular tonight, I just walk down to the end of my stree and look to the east across the lake and watch it light up the sky and the lake. It's relly beautiful to see. One time the atomspheric condition were just right and about four or five minutes after it went and we were still watching it streak across the sky we heard a rumble, rumble, rumble and the ground started to shake just like it does when you are there. Ilike the night launches because it is so beautiful. The day
ones we can see it but son't get the color. The best thing about that night was a 10 year old girl was visiting her grandparents and she had to write a paper about what she saw when she was here. It was a part of the conditions for her getting out of school to come. She thought it was totaly awesome, but then so did I. In all these years of watching them that is the only time it happened.


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 29 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Sun, Dec 19, 1999 (23:34) * 3 lines 
 
closing my italics Here is the Nasa live TV URL
http://www.chron.com/content/interactive/space/missions/index.html



 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 30 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Mon, Dec 20, 1999 (12:39) * 2 lines 
 
For a truly unique way of looking at Earth check:
http://www.discovery.com/cams/planet/planet.html


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 31 of 1087: MarkG  (MarkG) * Tue, Dec 21, 1999 (10:43) * 3 lines 
 
Looking forward to the close & bright full moon tomorrow night (and I will be flying, so a fraction closer still). Is the fact that it coincides with the winter solstice relevant, or does that just give us the longest night in which to see it? - oh hang on, just worked it out, this brings the sun as near as possible to brighten the moon. I was thinking how odd that the sun should be nearest the Earth in midwinter (when it's coldest), but of course that's why it's midsummer (& hottest) in the Southern He
isphere, I suppose.



 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 32 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Tue, Dec 21, 1999 (10:56) * 2 lines 
 
Bravo. Your line of reasoning is right-on. I checked the moon just before daylight as it was streaming into my room this morning and it was brilliant. I think one could have read the newspaper by it - or at least the headlines! One tends to forget about the tip of the earth out of plumb which makes these unusual circumstances more fascinating. Pop over to Stonehenge and check the shadows falling over the stones and sight between them. I really wish this were possible for you as I would love a live r
port...almost as much as I would like to be doing the live reporting! Happy Solstice Day, Mark!


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 33 of 1087: MarkG  (MarkG) * Wed, Dec 22, 1999 (02:58) * 1 lines 
 
Sorry I cannot make it to Stonehenge. Even if I could, the stones are now sealed off from the public, and come the solstice you have to brave the hippies New Age Travelers trying to commune spiritually with the Ancient Druids. But maybe my plane will fly over Salisbury Plain, and I'll try and sneak a peek at the moon shadows!


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 34 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Wed, Dec 22, 1999 (10:54) * 18 lines 
 
How lovely that would be - flying over Stonehenge in the moonlight. *sigh*
I agree entirely with you about the hippie ersatz druids reinventing themselves as they go. Makes the archaeologist and historian in my soul revolt.

Another eye-witness of the shuttle launch:
"Had a beautiful sight a few nights ago. The TV had the shuttle
going up on the split screen, so we ran out. Off to the southeast the sky
was turning orangish and getting brighter. Then we could see the torch like
flame coming up . We watched the shuttle go on up, and the separation of the
boosters and two red dots as they fell back down. Then it just went on up
and turned into like a star, it was really bright. We had an exceptional
clear night and they said we could see it for about 18 minutes to the
curvature of the earth. we went back in the house and then we heard the
thunder and rumble of the noise just reaching us. and the windows quivered
enough that we could hear them rattle. Must have headed more north instead
of south like before. But it was neat, hope to go down sometime and see one."





 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 35 of 1087: Gi  (patas) * Tue, Dec 28, 1999 (14:27) * 1 lines 
 
I was told about the solstice moon but unfortunately the weather has not been cooperating... I'm afraid we're gonna have another New Year's Eve storm :-(


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 36 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Tue, Dec 28, 1999 (14:37) * 1 lines 
 
Does this involve bone-chilling dampness and driving rain or do things get cold enough to freeze? I am worried about you and these storms.


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 37 of 1087: Gi  (patas) * Tue, Dec 28, 1999 (14:58) * 1 lines 
 
Only rain and strong winds... But maybe we'll have better weather for friday.


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 38 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Wed, Dec 29, 1999 (16:20) * 1 lines 
 
We gotta stop talking about this out here in other topics...they are worried about you in Geo 14! Did the strong winds do any serious pruning of your trees or your electrical/phone system?


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 39 of 1087: Marcia (MarciaH) * Sat, Jan  1, 2000 (19:50) * 2 lines 
 
anyone who watched the world-wide pollution extravaganza yesterday under the guise of celebratory fireworks must wonder how long it will circle the earth before it falls as something really
nasty...!


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 40 of 1087: Ann  (Ann) * Tue, Jan  4, 2000 (21:35) * 17 lines 
 


This probably belongs on an astronomy topic, but I didn't see one when I looked at the list of conferences, so here it is.

My question is about the age of the universe/earth.

The universe is currently estimated to be about 13 billion years old.

In that time, stars and galaxies have formed, gone through their life cycles, died, gathered back together as nebulae, then created second and maybe third generation systems.

Assuming the earth is only a second generation conglomeration of matter, then all of the heavier elements on the earth came from the first generation.

Now the earth is estimated to be already about 4 billion years old. That leaves only 9 billion years--or only twice the time the earth has been around--for that first generation to have lived and died and given rise to the second generation.

That doesn't seem like enough time to me! Am I missing something? Were life cycles nebulae and galaxies faster in the early universe? If not, how does the creation of the heavier elements work into the current assumptions on the age of the universe?

And is this taken into account when people estimate the age of the universe? I would think that any theory which did not allow enough time for at least one cycle to complete itself would be rejected on that basis alone. If there isn't time, then the age can not be right. And can we estimate the age of the universe by estimating the length of time it takes for one cycle.


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 41 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Tue, Jan  4, 2000 (21:39) * 10 lines 
 
You found us! Guess I should paste my message here as well as the sunspot gif
I think our estimation of the age of the universe will continue
to be revised upward as we get bigger and better eyes into the past. For just about forever the age of the Universe was
thought not to exceed 5 billion years and wa more likely 4 billion.
Theories are just that...always subject to revision and correction, fortunately!

This Solar image updates automatically:





 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 42 of 1087: Wolf  (wolf) * Wed, Jan  5, 2000 (21:05) * 1 lines 
 
that solar deal is neato. it makes me think of an egg yolk when you shine a flashlight through the egg.


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 43 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Wed, Jan  5, 2000 (21:17) * 2 lines 
 
Yup! did you see it pulsate? Makes you think your eyes are doing funny things
to your mind...


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 44 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Mon, Jan 10, 2000 (16:52) * 32 lines 
 
From John Burnett

Findings from a new study provide strong support for one of two
diametrically opposed theories explaining why people perceive the moon on
the horizon as much larger than the elevated moon, a phenomenon known as the
moon illusion. The human ability to perceive an object's size accurately
regardless of its distance, known as "size constancy,"
reflects an innate understanding of the inverse proportion between distance
and size of the image projected on our retinas.

According to the older of the two general explanations for the moon
illusion, we see the horizon moon as bigger because the information
presented by the intervening terrain affects our perception of distance, so
our brains respond as if the moon were closer. Proponents of more recent
explanations for the moon illusion argue that perception of distance follows
from perception of size. They contend that certain factors cause us to
perceive the elevated moon as smaller than the horizon moon and that this
illusory size difference, in turn,
leads to the perception that the elevated moon is farther away. In an effort
to determine whether people perceive the horizon moon as closer or farther
away than the elevated moon, a father-son team of scientists from New York
University and IBM's Almaden Research Center conducted experiments involving
artificial moons projected onto the
actual sky using optics and a computer display.

In the article, they report that people perceive the halfway point between
themselves and artificial horizon moons to be more than four times farther
away than the halfway point between themselves and artificial elevated
moons. They also show that people perceive an artificial moon of constant
size to be smaller when it is moved closer, in keeping with the older theory
of the moon illusion.



 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 45 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Tue, Jan 11, 2000 (17:24) * 33 lines 
 

Original Caption Released with Image:
This mosaic of images collected by NASA's Galileo spacecraft on Thanksgiving Day, November 25,1999 shows a fountain
of lava spewing above the surface of Jupiter's moon Io. The active lava was hot enough to cause what the camera team
describes as "bleeding" in Galileo's camera, caused when the camera's detector is so overloaded by the brightness of the
target that electrons spill down across the detector. This shows up as a white blur in the image.
Most of the hot material is distributed along a wavy line which is interpreted to be hot lava shooting more than 1.5
kilometers- (1-mile) high out of a long crack, or fissure, on the surface. There also appear to be additional hot areas below
this line, suggesting that hot lava is flowing away from the fissure. Initial estimates of the lava temperature indicate that it is
well above 1,000 Kelvin (1,300 Fahrenheit) and might even be hotter than 1,600 Kelvin (2,400 Fahrenheit).
These images were targeted to provide the first close-up view of a chain of huge calderas (large volcanic collapse pits).
These calderas are some of the largest on Io and they dwarf other calderas across the solar system. At 290 by 100
kilometers (180 by 60 miles), this chain of calderas covers an area seven times larger than the largest caldera on the Earth.
The new images show the complex nature of this giant caldera on Io, with smaller collapses occurring within the elongated
caldera.
Also of great interest is the flat-topped mesa on the right. The scalloped margins are typical of a process geologists call
"sapping," which occurs when erosion is caused by a fluid escaping from the base of a cliff. On Earth, such sapping
features are caused by springs of groundwater. Similar features on Mars are one of the key pieces of evidence for past
water on the Martian surface. However, on Io, the liquid is presumed to be pressurized sulfur dioxide. The liquid sulfur
dioxide should change to a gas almost instantaneously upon reaching the near-vacuum of Io's surface, blasting away
material at the base of the cliff. The sulfur dioxide gas eventually freezes out on the surface of Io in the form of a frost. As the
frost is buried by later deposits, it can be heated and pressurized until it becomes a liquid. This liquid then flows out of the
ground, completing Io's version of the 'water cycle.'
North is to the upper left of the picture and the Sun illuminates the surface from the lower left. The image, centered at 61.1
degrees latitude and 119.4 degrees longitude, covers an area approximately 300 by 75 kilometers (190-by-47 miles). The
resolution is 185 meters (610 feet) per picture element. The image was taken at a range of 17,000 kilometers (11,000
miles) by Galileo's onboard camera.
The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA manages the Galileo mission for NASA's Office of Space Science,
Washington, DC. JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA.
This image and other images and data received from Galileo are posted on the Galileo mission home page at
http://galileo.jpl.nasa.gov . Background information and educational context for the images can be found at
http://galileo.jpl.nasa.gov/images/io/ioimages.html.



 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 46 of 1087: Maggie  (sociolingo) * Fri, Jan 14, 2000 (15:14) * 3 lines 
 
Wow!

There was something on the BBC Open University about a Lunar eclipse coming up. V. interesting programme but at 1 am. my attention slips. Didn't catch the date or whether it was only applicable to the UK.


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 47 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Fri, Jan 14, 2000 (16:25) * 1 lines 
 
I shall look it up and post what I find. It will be at new moon, of course.


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 48 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Fri, Jan 14, 2000 (16:31) * 19 lines 
 
http://aa.usno.navy.mil/AA/data/docs/LunarEclipse.html

This page has an eclipse calaulator. I put in my residence for The January 21st lunar eclipse and got the following:

Total Eclipse of the Moon
HILO, HAWAII
o ' o '
W155 05, N19 43
Hawaii-Aleutian Standard Time
Moon's
Azimuth Altitude
h m o o
Moonrise 2000 Jan 20 18:01 69.0 ----
Moon enters totality 2000 Jan 20 18:04.6 69.3 0.5
Middle of eclipse 2000 Jan 20 18:43.5 72.2 8.4
Moon leaves totality 2000 Jan 20 19:22.3 74.8 16.8
Moon leaves umbra 2000 Jan 20 20:25.4 78.5 30.7
Moon leaves penumbra 2000 Jan 20 21:24.1 81.6 43.8
Moonset 2000 Jan 21 07:29 289.7 ----


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 49 of 1087: Maggie  (sociolingo) * Sat, Jan 15, 2000 (06:40) * 1 lines 
 
I gather that what will be seen is a darkened moon, possibly reddish colour.


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 50 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Sat, Jan 15, 2000 (13:45) * 1 lines 
 
Yes, I think so, but since it is close to perigee (last month) it should look very close! BTW, that Jan 21 date was by GMT or Zulu time which is midnight in London (Greenwich, actually) which happens at 2pm here in Hawaii. You need to check that calculator and see what time it happens for you where you live. According to the 1806 Jan 20 entering totality will be the day before the baseball game, alas! But better it rain out the eclipse than the ballgame!


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 51 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Sat, Jan 15, 2000 (14:01) * 2 lines 
 
What we see of the moon during an eclipse is the reflected light of the Earth.
It is also a function of how close Earth is to the Sun. It should be pretty bright and orange because I think we are close to perihelion, as well.


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 52 of 1087: Alexander Schuth  (aschuth) * Sun, Jan 16, 2000 (05:10) * 3 lines 
 
I wonder if that'd be filmeable with the low-sensitivity Super 8 films I use....

Yeah, we read about that in the paper a few weeks ago. Gonna try get pictures (like I tried of the Hale-Bopp comet - uh, like in "Hail the Bop Apocalyse", have the Heaven Gates folks had read too much Ginsberg? - and the sun-thingus-what-was-the-word-for -it before). Gonna see what I'll do.


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 53 of 1087: Alexander Schuth  (aschuth) * Sun, Jan 16, 2000 (05:14) * 3 lines 
 
Watching old Super 8 movies from the early 70ies, I found that my father had already filmed a solar eclipse (that the word!).

Oh, now it starts to snow... And I got a radio show to do in Frankfurt tonight! Darn, hope driving is good, I still need much time to prepare, and always leave five minutes after last minute...


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 54 of 1087: Maggie  (sociolingo) * Sun, Jan 16, 2000 (09:35) * 5 lines 
 
Did anyone see a report about a black hole being discovered 'near' earth - I think 160,000 light years away. Report said it was the size of 30 million of our suns, but the gravitational pull was puzzlingly lower than expected. Report came from Washington, so I expect there's more info in US than the UK.

Excuse me for being stupid - how do I work out my location to use the table on the site you quoted Marcia.

What's the radio show Alexander?


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 55 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Sun, Jan 16, 2000 (12:16) * 3 lines 
 
What's the radio show and when're you gonna get a tape of it to Terry so we can see you on SpringCam?

The eclipse should en easily photographable if you have timed photography available on your camera. Open the lens as wide as it will go and leave for 30 sec. then one minute then 45 sec....bracket it well and you should have no trouble. Perhaps, if the Moon is unusually dark you may have to leave the shutter open for a few minutes or more.


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 56 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Sun, Jan 16, 2000 (12:18) * 2 lines 
 
As to how to find out your location on that eclipse calculator, I just put
Hilo, HI, USA.... You use Outer Gronkster, Thistleberry, England or whatever..


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 57 of 1087: Maggie  (sociolingo) * Sun, Jan 16, 2000 (13:10) * 1 lines 
 
Oh I didn't realise it was that easy - I thought I had to put coordinates in!!!


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 58 of 1087: Maggie  (sociolingo) * Sun, Jan 16, 2000 (13:17) * 1 lines 
 
Whoops! non-US form is different. It does require degrees north etc. I'll have to get the atlas out to find out where I am!!!


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 59 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Sun, Jan 16, 2000 (18:05) * 1 lines 
 
Whip out the Ordnance Survey maps. I have their atlas if you are having trouble locating yourself with co-ordinates. Just tell me where you are (town wise) and I will go "down the hall and up the stairs" for you!


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 60 of 1087: Maggie  (sociolingo) * Mon, Jan 17, 2000 (14:54) * 1 lines 
 
Thank you. High Wycombe, Bucks, England


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 61 of 1087: Alexander Schuth  (aschuth) * Mon, Jan 17, 2000 (15:16) * 1 lines 
 
(Radio: my monthly appearance as part of the weekly "superstar rotation" show, 2 hours on Frankfurt's Radio X - this one was titled "Respect For Joe Strummer" to honour a great songwriter and creative muscian; we played material from his London '77 band The Clash to his Nov. 99 release with his new band)


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 62 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Mon, Jan 17, 2000 (17:50) * 3 lines 
 
Fantastic, Alexander! You are not on the Internet as yet, is that correct? I would listen to you read the phone book in a language I do not understand just to listen to your Teutonic/Brit accent.

Maggie, High Wyckcombe is 21° North latitude, and 4.85° West longitude if I am reading this correctly!


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 63 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Mon, Jan 17, 2000 (18:03) * 1 lines 
 
Let's give High Wycombe another try. 51.5 North Latitude and 0.28 West longitude.


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 64 of 1087: Maggie  (sociolingo) * Tue, Jan 18, 2000 (15:27) * 1 lines 
 
Thanks, let's hope it's not another cloudy night like last time!!!


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 65 of 1087: Maggie  (sociolingo) * Tue, Jan 18, 2000 (15:31) * 1 lines 
 
I just saw in the paper that iceballs the size of melons have been landing in Spain. I think 11 have landed so far. Various theories have been put forward as to their origin. The main contender seems to be that it is comet debris, although pranksters have not been ruled out. It is curious that no iceballs have landed in France or Portugal, just Spain.


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 66 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Wed, Jan 19, 2000 (12:51) * 43 lines 
 
Lunar Eclipses always happen during FULL moon. I somehow got it messed up with a solar eclipse which does happen during new moon. I stated the opposite on response 47, proving once again that I am not only mortal, but that I should be held accountable for my information. I welcome corrections and clarifying at all times!

For those of you living in the Florida area and especially, Tallahassee, and happen to be FSU fans / alums, this is for you (Thanks, Barbara!) It also contains good information on why the moon is different colors from eclipse to eclipse. From: http://www.tdo.com/news/local/0119.loc.lunar.htm

Lunar eclipse to pass through on Thursday night
Tallahassee's weather is predicted to be ideal for
viewing the eclipse, the last until 2003.
By GERALD ENSLEY
Tallahassee Democrat
Grab your coat and crank up the Pink Floyd: We're all
going to see a dark side of the moon Thursday when a
total lunar eclipse will be visible all over North and
South America.
The eclipse will begin at 9:03 p.m. Thursday and reach
its darkest phase between 11:05 p.m. and 12:22 a.m.
Friday. This is the first total lunar eclipse visible in the United States since
September 1997 -- and the last we'll see again until May 2003.
The weather in Tallahassee should be ideal, if nippy, for eclipse-viewing.
A cold front moving through North Florida is expected to clear out by
Thursday afternoon. Forecasters at the National Weather Service said
temperatures will be in the 40s Thursday night, and it will feel colder
because of a steady breeze. But the sky will be clear.
The event is being billed as one of the most spectacular lunar eclipses in a
decade. The shadow on the moon is expected to be deep orange-red in
color -- much like a sunset. The shadow is also expected to be the most
sharply visible for a lunar eclipse since 1991, when an erupting volcano in
the Philippines (Mt. Pinatubo) saturated the Earth's atmosphere with a film
of ash and dust.
A lunar eclipse is when the Earth passes between the sun and the moon in
such a way as to cast the Earth's shadow across the lunar face. A solar
eclipse, which is more infrequent, occurs when the moon passes between
the sun and the Earth in such a way as to block the sun's light to the Earth.
The shadow the Earth casts on the moon is called the "umbra." The thin
ring of light around the shadow is called the "penumbra."

The Tallahassee Astronomical Society will host a viewing at Lake Ella.
The group will set up telescopes, and members of the club will be
available to discuss the eclipse and other heavenly bodies. During an
eclipse, many faintly seen stars and planets become more visible.
Gerald Ensley has been with the Tallahassee Democrat since 1980. A
former sportswriter, he is now a general assignment reporter and
columnist. He has won more than 20 state and national awards for his
writing.


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 67 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Wed, Jan 19, 2000 (12:55) * 1 lines 
 
Maggie, I saw the bowling-ball-sized hailstones on the Television news this morning and was astounded. They are HUGE!!! I will post the lab reports when they become available.


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 68 of 1087: Wolf  (wolf) * Wed, Jan 19, 2000 (21:19) * 1 lines 
 
i still haven't seen those. it'll be interesting once they figure out what's going on. makes me think of the crop circles. ooooh, i should include this stuff in paraspring.


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 69 of 1087: Wolf  (wolf) * Wed, Jan 19, 2000 (21:27) * 18 lines 
 
here's an article on the melon-sized iceballs:

Comet Debris, Not Excrement, Rains on Spain
MADRID (Reuters) - At least ten melon-sized ice balls that have slammed into
Spain in the last week are probably debris from comets, not human excrement as
first suspected, a Spanish scientist said Monday.

Enrique Martinez, head of a team at the Higher Council of Scientific
Investigation studying the phenomenon, said it was first thought that the ice
balls were human excrement ejected from high-flying aircraft.

``But they lack the typical coloring and texture we find in those cases,'' he
said.

A man in southern Spain escaped injury last week when an ice ball eight inches
across weighing nine pounds smashed into his car. A further nine ice balls have since been reported around Spain over the last week.

human excrement? geeze louise. too bad they didn't have any pictures!


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 70 of 1087: Wolf  (wolf) * Wed, Jan 19, 2000 (21:28) * 1 lines 
 
wait, did you see that? "they lack the typical coloring and texture we find in those [human excrement from aircraft] cases." gross!!!!


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 71 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Wed, Jan 19, 2000 (22:19) * 3 lines 
 
Yup! Those aircrafty objects often drop *stuff* out, but it is usually that bluish-green disinfectant color. These look like snowballs or hailstones (which I am sure they are - NOT human stuff). Thanks for posting the article. Those were the ones they showed on the telly this morning!




 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 72 of 1087: Lucille Oftedahl  (alyeska) * Thu, Jan 20, 2000 (21:32) * 1 lines 
 
Some scientists seemed to think they might be from a meteor but as another pointed out this couldn't be because the heat of the meteor hitting the earths atmosphere would melt any ice.


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 73 of 1087: Wolf  (wolf) * Thu, Jan 20, 2000 (21:52) * 3 lines 
 
quite true. check out a pic i found while searching the news sites:




 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 74 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Thu, Jan 20, 2000 (21:53) * 1 lines 
 
Yes....they are very large hailstones, I am sure. How they got that big will be interesting to learn. No go outside and look at the moon! It is cloudy here...really cloudy!!!


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 75 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Thu, Jan 20, 2000 (21:54) * 1 lines 
 
Wolfie!! You did it!!! Brava, my dear. *H U G S * wow!!! Thanks oodles and wads for that. How amazing!!!


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 76 of 1087: Wolf  (wolf) * Thu, Jan 20, 2000 (21:54) * 1 lines 
 
oh, and the lunar eclipse is quite underway. i've tried to get pictures of it at each interval as it enters into totality. fifteen minutes more to go. (am using a regular minolta 35mm so don't expect anything news worthy, but am trying)


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 77 of 1087: Wolf  (wolf) * Thu, Jan 20, 2000 (21:55) * 1 lines 
 
the scientist with his hand on his head looking at this thing is classic!


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 78 of 1087: Lucille Oftedahl  (alyeska) * Thu, Jan 20, 2000 (22:27) * 1 lines 
 
It really is red, very beautiful. This must be what the ancients saw when the said there ws blood on the moon. I have seen many lunar eclipses but none like this


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 79 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Thu, Jan 20, 2000 (22:41) * 4 lines 
 
Wow!~!! Red! Nrevedr seen a red one...does the moon look like it is suspended between the stars and the earth? It looks more like a sphere during totality
than at any other time. Lovely of you to keep me posted!

Yeah, I loved that guy in the lab coat with his hand on his head. Wolfie, I downloaded it to my files in case you ever need it,


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 80 of 1087: Ginny  (vibrown) * Thu, Jan 20, 2000 (23:23) * 7 lines 
 
The lunar eclipse was "snowed out" where I am. I'd love to see your
pictures, Wolf. I got some pictures of the Sept. 26, 1996 lunar eclipse,
which can be seen at http://world.std.com/~vbrown/p_le96.htm.

I also use Minolta 35mm cameras (XG-M and SRT-101); you can still get some
good shots with 'em! I think the most important tools for astrophotography
are a sturdy tripod, and decent lenses.


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 81 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Thu, Jan 20, 2000 (23:49) * 1 lines 
 
Myh son in California with his digital camera came through! Lovely pix and very red!!! Yippee!!!


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 82 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Thu, Jan 20, 2000 (23:49) * 0 lines 
 


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 83 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Fri, Jan 21, 2000 (00:07) * 1 lines 
 
Ginny! Welcome! How exciting to have a second IRL person posting on Geo. I am so delighted with your eclipse pictures - one which was unavailable out here. It seems you were about the only one I was in contact with who had success. Portugal and Germany both had problems. You have one of the best lenses it would appear and a good sturdy tripod to keep your images sharp. Mahalo! Visit frequently!


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 84 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Fri, Jan 21, 2000 (00:13) * 1 lines 
 
As soon as my FTP works to Spring's hard drive I will post the pictures David took from California. Spectacular! Never saw a red moon - ever! If anyone MUST see them before Terry gets the tarballs back where they belong, I will email some to you...let me know!


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 85 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Fri, Jan 21, 2000 (00:39) * 6 lines 
 
When asked what camera he was using, my son reeplied with the following:

It is a Nikon Coolpix 950 with a x2 telephoto lens which makes my 35 mm
equivalent of 200 mm. Now you know. Thanks for the bragging.

As soon as I can ftp to access.spring.net we can all see them!


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 86 of 1087: MarkG  (MarkG) * Fri, Jan 21, 2000 (06:46) * 2 lines 
 
Can't wait, Marcia. Clouds obscured the view here in London - and of course today is cloudless, just like the night before was cloudless ... #@éX#£&!!



 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 87 of 1087: Ginny  (vibrown) * Fri, Jan 21, 2000 (10:34) * 3 lines 
 
Thanks, Marcia! I use a 500mm f8 mirror lens with my old Minolta SRT-101 for all my astrophotography pictures. I generally use high-speed color film (800 ASA and 1600 ASA). Dave's pictures from the digital camera came out great! It seems like the digital cameras are really improving.

I also have solar eclipse pictures from 1994 and 1998, and comet pictures up on the same web site. (http://world.std.com/~vbrown under the "Photo Gallery" link)


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 88 of 1087: Wolf  (wolf) * Fri, Jan 21, 2000 (11:30) * 1 lines 
 
marcia, e the pics to me and i'll store them at geocities until ftp is up and running again!


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 89 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Fri, Jan 21, 2000 (11:32) * 5 lines 
 
Splendid, Ginny. It is so great to see your posts in here. One day I will take you to my Arthuriana Topic in the Books Conference... Will get to your other eclipse pix shortly...happy me!!!

Mark, Your sentiments echo mine. Bad enough it was cloudy - but it rained hard enough to make listening to myself think just about impossible. Now, please get it over with before this weekend's baseball games, thank you!

As soon as all of the hard drives for Spring are in place in their new homes and I again have access to them, I shall be ftp'ing my son's great photos and posting them for your perusal. Until then all I can do is to hold them up to the monitor....*sigh*


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 90 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Fri, Jan 21, 2000 (11:36) * 1 lines 
 
THanks, Wolfie, they will be on their way shortly!!!


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 91 of 1087: lidya maccarthy  (livamago) * Fri, Jan 21, 2000 (11:40) * 2 lines 
 
I am happy to report that the eclipse was gorgeous in Tallahassee; very clear and when it started, the moon was huge! As the article that our gracious host posted said, there was a gathering at Lake Ella (an artificial, small lake a few miles from where I live), but the night was very cold and the sky was so clear that I only had to step out into our balcony to get a wonderful view. I alternated the eclipse with the Pakistan/India cricket match (Pak won!), so it was an eventful night. I went to bed past m
dnight, and it was still on. The red shadow was spectacular and the view of the nightsky something to remember.


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 92 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Fri, Jan 21, 2000 (11:58) * 2 lines 
 
How spectacular. I was also listening to the cricket match (congrats, Pak!) The only thing better than my seeing an eclipse is for others to see it and post their comments. Thanks, Lidya... It must have been a chicken-skin experience. The best ones seem to be in a sparkly clear and cold night sky! Thanks, Dear!
Now, to send Wolfie David's pix so I can post them...


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 93 of 1087: Maggie  (sociolingo) * Fri, Jan 21, 2000 (12:22) * 1 lines 
 
Looking forward to seeing the pix as we had a cloudy sky in High Wycombe (England).


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 94 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Fri, Jan 21, 2000 (12:30) * 1 lines 
 
Yup! Guess if Mark was overcast you were, as well. They will be up ASAP...


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 95 of 1087: Alexander Schuth  (aschuth) * Fri, Jan 21, 2000 (14:12) * 8 lines 
 
I didn't get to see anything - overcast and cloudy. Bah!



Wolf, you are my only hope to get to see this.


(Radio: No, Radio X doesn't webcast yet. No budget - it's a members-club broadcaster working of membership dues and donations only. No commercial aspects, no/few public fundings. Crap equipment. Great spirit.)


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 96 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Fri, Jan 21, 2000 (15:00) * 22 lines 
 
From Moon Dreams:
I saw the whole eclipse! It was beautiful! We had a
perfect cool clear night, not one cloud in the sky. I
used my binoculars for the details. From white to grey
and then the orangy/red border appeared until it was
completely covered by it. With the naked eye it looked
as if it were Jupiter. Those red moon rays have done
their magic on me.
In Dec. we had the closest moon to earth in years I
was in Milan and it was also a clear crisp night.

In Aug. I was in Lake Como during the solar eclipse
and that was a bad experience. We all felt dizzy and
were affected in a negative way.
The lunar eclipse was the complete opposite. :-D

I heard from my friends in London who got up at 3:45am
to watch it but the sky was completely covered with
the usual stark grey clouds and did not see a thing.
I am still moondancing!




 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 97 of 1087: Wolf  (wolf) * Fri, Jan 21, 2000 (19:57) * 5 lines 
 
the eclipse was indeed beautiful. it was cold and our part of the sky was clear as a bell and i think i was able to discern more stars than usual. my pictures stunk (had them developed today). i went out with my binoculars and got a lens full of red moon.

now to david's pics!




 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 98 of 1087: Wolf  (wolf) * Fri, Jan 21, 2000 (19:58) * 1 lines 
 



 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 99 of 1087: Wolf  (wolf) * Fri, Jan 21, 2000 (19:58) * 3 lines 
 
the above is my fave!




 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 100 of 1087: Lucille Oftedahl  (alyeska) * Fri, Jan 21, 2000 (20:04) * 1 lines 
 
It was so beautiful, red, red with a halo of light.


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 101 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Fri, Jan 21, 2000 (20:28) * 1 lines 
 
Thank you Wolfie! *hugs* How lovely they are! He had trouble seeing it with the naked eye and sent me that picture too - totally black! It was slightly overcase so you see wispy clouds going past the moon... It must have been incredible in a clear sky! Last night with the reports coming in and the pictures, too was about as close as I could get to actually seeing it. Thank you all! Now, to tell his father (who has logged in and can post any time he chooses...) and David as well...*grin*


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 102 of 1087: Maggie  (sociolingo) * Sat, Jan 22, 2000 (15:54) * 1 lines 
 
I'm so excited to see the pix, and fed up that we weren't able to see anything here. Thanks.


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 103 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Sat, Jan 22, 2000 (20:52) * 1 lines 
 
I know the feeling...*lol* I am delighted that someone in the family got to see it...and as all good mom's, I would rather he saw it than I if we had to choose.


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 104 of 1087: Annette Mercer  (laughingsky) * Sun, Jan 23, 2000 (08:26) * 1 lines 
 
Great pics, Wolf! Thanks!


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 105 of 1087: Moon Dreams  (Moon) * Tue, Jan 25, 2000 (13:30) * 10 lines 
 
This is from the E. Telegraph today. Lost Asteroid is Earth's, new Moon
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/graphics/00/1/25/whubbig.gif>

I think you will enjoy.
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/et?ac=001182080732013&rtmo=kLLZ1JNp&atmo=kLLZ1JNp&pg=/et/00/1/25/whub25.html

I hope the link works. I know Terry is in the middle of moving.




 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 106 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Tue, Jan 25, 2000 (13:48) * 1 lines 
 
Love the Eskimo Nebula! What incredible pictures!!! Thanks so much for posting this, Moon (great name for this topic !) I was busy on Geo 14 posting information on "the snow storm of the millennuim" (it is bound to be called something liket that), and had not seen anything about Hubble and the new pictures. Thanks! And, please don't be a stranger!


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 107 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Thu, Feb  3, 2000 (18:02) * 260 lines 
 
John Burnett sent this contribution. It is fascinating!

Can time run backwards?
IN a distant galaxy, a star unexplodes. Just moments ago a shell of tortured
matter was flying together at 30 000 kilometers a second. Now it has become
a star, and the last shreds of glowing debris are being sucked in. With the
explosion undone, the star begins the long journey back to the time when it
will be unborn into the gas and dust of an interstellar cloud.

Is someone running the film backwards for comic effect? Not necessarily. In
a paper published in the last week of 1999, Lawrence Schulman of Clarkson
University in Potsdam, New York dropped a bombshell. He showed that regions
where time flows in the normal direction can coexist with regions where it
flows backwards. There could be places, perhaps even within our Galaxy,
where stars unexplode, eggs unbreak and living things grow younger with
every second.

To understand how time could run backwards, you need to understand why it
has a preferred direction at all. The equations of physics say that
particles of matter don't care what direction time runs in: any interaction
between two particles could happen just as easily in reverse. (Some nuclear
interactions do show a small bias, but no one has found a way to turn this
into an arrow of time.)

But when you have a lot of particles instead of just two, things change.
Messy, disordered states tend to develop from tidier ones. This tendency is
called the thermodynamic arrow of time. Physicists say that entropy-a
measure of disorder-always increases. "It's easy to break an egg, difficult
or impossible to put the pieces back together," says Schulman.

Say the air in a large room is confined in a 1-metre cube in one corner,
then released. It is perfectly possible that, after five
minutes, the air molecules will all be back in the same 1-metre cube.
Perfectly possible but hugely improbable, because there are far more ways to
arrange the individual molecules when they are spread out than when they are
confined. In fact, the most disordered state-in which the air molecules are
spread more or less evenly throughout the room-can be achieved in far more
ways than any other state. "This is the second law of thermodynamics," says
Schulman, "which seals the fate of Humpty Dumpty."

However, argues Schulman, a reverse arrow is perfectly possible: "It's all
down to the 'boundary conditions'-the external constraints imposed on the
system." In the room, the air has to be in the 1-metre cube only at the
start of the five-minute period. There is no constraint on it at the end of
the five minutes-the system can find its own final state.

But say a final condition is imposed. After five minutes, the air molecules
have to be back in the 1-metre cube. On Earth, this is
clearly an artificial situation. But for Schulman, it is perfectly
legitimate to consider such a state of affairs. "There is no reason in
principle why the Universe might not have a future boundary condition
imposed on it," he says.

The future condition would constrain the molecules to follow only a tiny
subset of trajectories, ending up in the 1-metre cube. From our point of
view, time would be running backwards.

But there's an objection to having forward and backward time regions in the
same universe. Surely the arrow of a reverse-time region would be wiped out
by the slightest interaction with a normal-time region, leaving a completely
disordered system with no arrow at all?

Imagine a game of snooker in which the triangle of red balls is struck by
the cue ball and scattered around the table. Now imagine the reverse-time
scenario. For the balls to follow the precise trajectories necessary to
finish in a triangle will take a monumental amount of coordination. The
slightest disturbance will spoil it. Any interaction with a region with
normal time-for instance, the smallest cry of amazement from someone
watching-could vibrate the air, nudge the balls and wreck everything. So the
backward arrow of a reverse-time region would be instantly destroyed by any
interaction with a normal-time region.

Schulman sees a flaw in this idea. The two systems are on an equal footing,
so the reverse-time region is as likely to destroy the arrow of the
normal-time region as vice versa. "All we can say is that if the two regions
interact their arrows will either both be destroyed or both survive."

Most physicists would have put good money on the former possibility. But
Schulman's startling conclusion is that as long as the interaction between
the two regions is weak, both arrows will survive. He bases this claim on a
simple computer model that allows him to set up weakly interacting systems
with opposite arrows of time and see what happens.

Here's how it works. Take a square 1 unit on each side, and add a particle
with coordinates x and y. Move the particle by repeatedly replacing x with x
+ y and y with x + 2y, and discarding any integer parts of the results (so x
and y stay in the range from 0 to 1). The particle will flit about the
square chaotically. "This mimics the essential behaviour of a gas particle,
while being a lot simpler than reality," according to Schulman.

To set up two gases with opposite arrows of time, Schulman imposes
appropriate boundary conditions. In one model gas, the particles start in
one corner of the square and spread out until they are completely
disordered. They have a "normal" arrow of time (that is, the same arrow as
us). In the other, Schulman imposes the final condition that after, say 20
moves, corresponding to 20 time steps, the particles are all in the corner
of the square. This system has a backward arrow of time. Call the
normal-time region Alice and the reverse-time region Bob.

The next step is to let Alice and Bob interact. Schulman tweaks the
coordinates of each normal-time particle according to the coordinates of the
reverse-time test particle, and vice versa.

When Schulman lets both systems run, he finds that neither arrow of time is
destroyed by the other. "All that happens is that Bob adds a bit of noise to
Alice and Alice adds a bit of noise to Bob," says Schulman. The two arrows
of time are remarkably robust.

"I had no idea when I started my work that this would be the outcome," he
says. "The result surprised me as much anyone else." But this surprise, he
adds, comes from a prejudice against future boundary conditions. Once you
are used to the idea of matter having some memory of what we call its
future, it ceases to surprise. From our point of view, the memory of future
organization drags any reverse time region in the direction of increasing
order, despite any small disturbances from our own "normal" region.

The paper has created quite a stir. "This is very cool stuff indeed," says
Max Tegmark of the University of Pennsylvania. At the Technion-Israel
Institute of Technology, where Sculman began this work, Amos Ori agrees.
"Schulman has shown that the consistency of a model with two simultaneous
time arrows can be explored by relatively simple means. This is a very
important observation."

And he has some equivocal support from David Pegg of Griffith University in
Brisbane. "I see no obvious flaw in the calculations
Schulman has done. He makes his case quite well and I am willing to accept
it, at least until convinced otherwise."

Other physicists don't believe that Schulman's computer model is relevant to
the real world. According to Paul Davies of the University of Adelaide, a
real physical system with a backward arrow would be so fantastically
sensitive to an outside influence that it would be easily destroyed.
"Imagine a box of gas with molecular velocities reversed to bring about an
ordered state," he says. "The gravity of a single electron at the edge of
the observable Universe is enough to throw out the motion of a given
molecule by 90 degrees after only 20 or so intermolecular collisions. That's
pretty sensitive."

Crossing the divide
Surprisingly, Schulman does not dispute Davies' point. "He's absolutely
right. But the very set-up of his thought experiment, with
initial conditions only, precludes an opposite-directed arrow," he says. "My
result applies when boundary conditions are imposed at two separate times."

Some might attack the realism of Schulman's interaction, which he admits is
an abstract mathematical one and not related to a real physical force such
as gravity. "Nevertheless, I maintain that the interaction is adequate for
treating the conceptual issue of the effects of future-conditioning," he says.

So could we actually see reverse-time beings if they exist, and maybe even
wave to them? Remarkably, Schulman says yes. Using a theory originally
developed by Richard Feynman and John Wheeler, which treats light waves
travelling in both time directions on an equal footing, he shows that
forward and reverse regions could communicate by light signals.

But communicating with the other side has its dangers. If normal-time Alice
were to see rain pouring out through reverse-time Bob's window, she could
wait until before the rain started and shout to Bob to close his window. "So
did Bob's floor get wet or not?" says Schulman.

Perhaps something intermediate happens which smears out the paradox. "Alice
sees the window open, shouts to Bob but the message gets blurred and Bob
doesn't close the window," says Schulman.

And there's another, more disturbing possibility. "If you impose initial and
final boundary conditions, it may turn out that the events described simply
can't happen," he says. "In mathematical terms, they are simply not a
solution." In other words, we might just be fated not to cause any
paradoxes.

So, how would a reverse-time region arise? Schulman says such regions may
exist for the same inexplicable reason that regions of normal time exist.
But there is one more concrete possibility: perhaps we live in a Universe
whose expansion from a big bang will one day be reversed into a contraction
down to a "big crunch", a sort of mirror-image of the big bang in which the
Universe was born 13 billion years ago. Although the latest cosmological
evidence is against this, the question isn't settled.

In 1958, Thomas Gold of Cornell University argued that the thermodynamic
arrow of time would reverse during the contraction
phase, creating order out of chaos. Gold's reasoning turned out to be
flawed, but in the 1970s, Schulman used his own model to show that the
conclusions were right. As the big bang and big crunch are both highly
ordered (all the matter is in a small volume), thermodynamic arrows of time
should point away from both ends. The arrow of time depends on the expansion
or contraction of the Universe. "Coffee cools because the quasar 3C 273
grows ever more distant," says Schulman.

Of course, if you were alive during a cosmic contraction phase you would see
nothing untoward-you'd have the same arrow as most of the matter in the
Universe, and it would look like expansion (see Diagram). Stepping outside
the Universe, the situation appears perfectly symmetrical; it makes just as
much sense to call either end the big bang or the big crunch.

A bizarre consequence of Schulman's theory is that some reverse-time regions
from a future contracting phase of the Universe could have survived until
today-and could be only a few tens of light years away. "Some bits of the
Universe might have reverse arrows while other bits with forward arrows
might survive well into the contraction phase."

As the "turnaround" time when the Universe's expansion turns into
contraction could be many hundreds of billions of years away, any stars
would have burnt out. Unfortunately, there would be little prospect of
seeing stellar unexplosions or backwards people among such cold stuff. "We
would still feel their gravity, though," says Schulman. "Such reverse-time
matter would have all the attributes of the invisible, or 'dark', matter
thought to make up most of the mass of our Universe."

Colliding arrows
Another possibility is that in the 13 billion years since the big bang most
of the Universe's matter has collided with reverse-time matter from the
future. The result of such collisions would be matter in "equilibrium" with
no time direction. "Once again, it would appear exactly like dark matter,"
says Schulman. Other physicists are skeptical. "I doubt that this has
anything to do with the dark matter problem," says Tegmark.

So what would it be like in a region that is changing its time direction?
Would exploding things suddenly start unexploding? And what would happen to
the minds of beings around at the time? Sadly, it would be rather
undramatic. For a particular area to change its arrow, it would first have
to go through a period of maximum disorder where there could be no stars or
explosions or structured, working minds. But if you survived for long
enough, you might be able to watch the Universe around you starting to
contract, and most of its matter going into reverse.

If all this is getting a bit difficult to stomach, there is a way to test
it-even if we can't spy on a nearby backwards planet. "Things
happening today could be influenced by boundary conditions at the end of the
Universe," says Schulman. What he has in mind are ultra-slow processes.

In the 1970s, John Wheeler of Princeton University suggested observing the
decays of atomic nuclei with ultra-long half-lives, perhaps many tens of
billions of years. The suggestion was that the normal exponential decay
would be modified by exponential "undecay" and that this might actually be
observable in a sample of a few kilograms in the laboratory. Possible
candidates are rhenium-187 and samarium-147, which have half-lives of about
100 billion years.

Unfortunately, Wheeler was too optimistic. For an experiment of a sensible
duration, a few years, say, you'd need roughly the total supply of these
isotopes in the Universe to see deviations from exponential decay.
"A far better bet is galaxy clustering," says Schulman. He believes that the
way galaxies cluster together could be affected by a future contraction
phase. Unfortunately, he has not yet worked out what form this effect might
take.

But over the past few years, a small group of physicists have been claiming
that the Universe has an inexplicable fractal structure. Most cosmologists
disagree, partly because they have no way to explain such a bizarre pattern.
But say there is something in it. Could it perhaps be a memory of the
future?
###
Further reading: Time's Arrows and Quantum Measurement by L. S. Schulman
(Cambridge University Press, 1997)
Author: Marcus Chown
New Scientist issue 5th February 2000
PLEASE MENTION NEW SCIENTIST AS THE SOURCE OF THIS STORY AND, IF PUBLISHING
ONLINE, PLEASE CARRY A HYPERLINK TO : http://www.newscientist.com




 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 108 of 1087: Maggie  (sociolingo) * Sun, Feb  6, 2000 (10:42) * 9 lines 
 
In the UK Times today:
Found: The hibernation Gene that could send man to the stars!
Scientists have discovered genes for hibernation in humans. The discovery could pave the way for human hibernation of the kind forshadowed for astronauts in the 30 year old film 2001: A pace odessey. Human hibernation would ake ultrlong haul space travel feasible, with crews effectively put to sleep for months, even years, by triggering the hibernation genes that man's distant ancestors used millions of years ago to sleepthrough hostile winters.

The first use of hibernation technology is likely to be in transplant surgery, where donor organs would be preserved on shelves for weeks or months by putting them into a state of deep sleep.

After a five year project, Matthew andrews, associate professor of genetics at North Carolina State University has idenfied two genes - PL and PDK-4 - which appear to mastermind hibewrnation. One stops carbohydrate metabolism ewhich ensures that the glucose that animals have stored in their body from their last meal is preserved for use by the brain and central nervous system. The second gene controls the production of an enzyme that breaks up stored fatty acids, and converts then into usable fats for fuel. As result the animal can tick over on its stored fat. ..... Researchers found the genes can be made to work in similar ways [to animals] in humans.

They also hope to dientify what genesare involved in triggering the loss of body fat, and to find a way of kick-starting the same genes in humans as a way of losing weight.


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 109 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Sun, Feb  6, 2000 (12:00) * 1 lines 
 
Amazing stuff, Maggie. Thanks for posting this. I had no idea!


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 110 of 1087: Maggie  (sociolingo) * Sun, Feb  6, 2000 (13:37) * 4 lines 
 
I like the idea of the weight loss gene!!!!
Seriously, it could revolutionise space travel and make things possible.

Did you see anything on the newly discovered black hole that's near earth?


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 111 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Sun, Feb  6, 2000 (14:27) * 1 lines 
 
I have seen nothing. I am off to go a search for information about it. Thanks for the reminder. (If your body stayed the same shape would you care what you weighed? It is just a number and is entirely asbitrary!)


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 112 of 1087: Maggie  (sociolingo) * Sun, Feb  6, 2000 (17:02) * 1 lines 
 
I'm just glad I don't have talking scales - numbers have power don't you know!


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 113 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Sun, Feb  6, 2000 (17:54) * 1 lines 
 
Yup! Numbers do have power. Even for the long and willowy sort who wishes she were more horizontally endowed. *sigh* Whoever though up talking appliances had nothing else to think about, obviously. Very weird, Indeed!


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 114 of 1087: Maggie  (sociolingo) * Mon, Feb  7, 2000 (12:58) * 3 lines 
 
What do you think about talking spaceships? or computers for that matter.

If we were weightless (e.g. in space) would size matter?????


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 115 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Mon, Feb  7, 2000 (13:28) * 2 lines 
 
Size would have to matter. The smaller the individuals, the more that could be accommodated, I would think. Everything has a load limit and the support system making the air to breathe and food to eat would have to be considered pr capita.
I know of no way to eliminate the mass even if it is weightless!


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 116 of 1087: Maggie  (sociolingo) * Mon, Feb  7, 2000 (18:08) * 1 lines 
 
Oh what a pity, just think of the airline bags you could take if weight didn't matter!!! Sorry, it's late and I'm feeling goofy.


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 117 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Mon, Feb  7, 2000 (18:52) * 1 lines 
 
When you ship via air freight, the cost for moving it is by the cubic foot, not by weight. Who said life was fair?!


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 118 of 1087: Ginny  (vibrown) * Tue, Feb  8, 2000 (11:31) * 45 lines 
 
From http://www.skypub.com/news/news.shtml


Tuesday, February 1
New Martian Meteorite
Discovered in California

About 20 years ago, Robert S. Verish was on a
rock-collecting trip in Southern California’s Mojave
Desert. While walking around, he spotted a couple of
dark basaltic rocks. Interested, Verish scooped them
up, took them home, and put them in a box for safe
keeping.

It wasn’t until last October that Verish realized he
stumbled upon a great find. While cleaning, he
noticed that the rocks he collected looked surprising
like meteorites. Excited, he brought samples of each
rock to geochemist Alan Rubin (University of
California, Los Angeles). Rubin confirmed the rocks to
be meteorites and noted the similarity they had to a
Martian meteorite discovered in Antarctica in 1994. "It
was immediately obvious it was similar to Martian
meteorites," says Rubin. "Within two minutes we were
convinced."

"There may be other pieces out there," Rubin notes.
"The problem is we don’t know where 'out there' is. If
we knew specifically where it was, we could look out
there for more."

This find brings the current number of known Martian
meteorites to 14, and the Los Angeles meteorites are
only the second piece of Mars to be found in the
United States. The first, named Lafayette, was
discovered in Indiana in 1931.

Meteorites are known to be of Martian origin largely
for two reasons. First, gases trapped in the rock
match that of the Martian atmosphere. Second, the
rock’s oxygen isotopic ratios are unlike other
meteorites or any Earth rock, but they match the
ratios found on Mars. The rocks were likely ejected
from Mars during a large impact event, making their
way to Earth in less than a million years.


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 119 of 1087: Ginny  (vibrown) * Tue, Feb  8, 2000 (11:56) * 115 lines 
 
I think this is the black hole Maggie was asking about...

Chandra Finds a "Cool" Black Hole at the
Heart of the Andromeda Galaxy

CXC PR: 00-03

January 14, 2000

Steve Roy
Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, AL
Phone: 256-544-6535
http://www.msfc.nasa.gov/news

Dr. Wallace Tucker
Chandra X-ray Observatory Center
Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Cambridge, MA
Phone: 617-496-7998


In its first look at the Andromeda Galaxy (M31), NASA's Chandra X-ray
Observatory has found that the gas funneling into a supermassive black
hole in the heart of this galaxy is a "cool" million degrees. This
unexpected result adds one more quirk to the strange behavior
previously observed at the center of M31.

A team of scientists from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for
Astrophysics, Cambridge, Mass., reported on this observation at the
195th national meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Atlanta,
Ga. The team is led by Drs. Stephen Murray and Michael Garcia, and
includes Drs. Frank Primini, William Forman, Christine Jones, and Ralph
Kraft.

Chandra took its first X-ray picture of the Andromeda Galaxy with the
Advanced CCD Imaging Spectrometer on October 13, 1999. More than 100
individual X-ray sources were seen. One of these sources was at the
previously determined position of the central supermassive black hole,
which has the mass of 30 million suns. With many X-ray emitting stars
in the center of M31 there was a slight chance that one of them might
be at this position just by coincidence. The low temperature of the
suspected central source, as compared to the other sources, gave the
team the clue they needed.

"When we found that what we suspected was the central object was also
anomalously cool, we KNEW we had it– one coincidence might be
believable, but two was too much to ignore!" said Garcia.

While the gas falling into the central black hole is cool, it is only
cool by comparison to the 100 other X-ray sources in the Andromeda
Galaxy. To be detected by an X-ray telescope, the gas must have a
temperature of more than a million degrees. The typical X-ray star in
the Andromeda Galaxy has a temperature of several tens of millions of
degrees. In contrast, the temperature of the supermassive black hole
source is a few million degrees.

The Andromeda Galaxy is our nearest neighbor spiral galaxy at a
distance of two million light years. It is similar to our own Milky Way
in size, shape, and also contains a supermassive black hole at the
center. This central black hole has always been a bit odd when compared
to central black holes in similar galaxies. Based on its X-ray
luminosity, it is much fainter in radio waves than expected.

Such behavior, coupled with Chandra’s discovery of the low temperature
gas, cannot be accommodated by standard models developed for
supermassive black holes in galaxies like the Milky Way and Andromeda.

"The Chandra observation is telling us that an entirely different flow
pattern is operating around the Andromeda black hole," said Dr. Eliot
Quataert, of the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, N.J. "This
will require a different class of models than usually considered."

One possibility is that the gas undergoes a large scale boiling motion
which slows down the rate at which gas falls into the black hole.

The best previous X-ray pictures were not sharp enough to clearly
distinguish the X-ray source associated with the black hole in the
center of the Andromeda Galaxy nor did they give information about the
temperature of the source.

"A good analogy might be to say that previous X-ray images were taken
with a slightly out-of-focus black and white camera, while the Chandra
image is taken with a sharp, color camera" said Murray.

Another intriguing feature of this observation is the detection of a
diffuse glow that extends for a thousand light years around the central
region. It is not known if this is due to many individual sources, or
to a hot wind expanding out from the center.

"This is just a first, quick look at our nearest Milky Way analog,"
Murray emphasized. "I expect that our future pictures will lead to more
exciting discoveries in the Andromeda Galaxy."

The ACIS instrument was built for NASA by the Massachusetts Institute
of Technology, Cambridge, and Pennsylvania State University, University
Park.



To follow Chandra's progress, visit the Chandra site at:

http://chandra.harvard.edu/photo/cycle1/0007/index.html

AND

http://chandra.nasa.gov

NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., manages the
Chandra program. TRW, Inc., Redondo Beach, Calif., is the prime
contractor for the spacecraft. The Smithsonian's Chandra X-ray Center
controls science and flight operations from Cambridge, Mass.

High resolution digital versions of the X-ray image (JPG, 300 dpi TIFF )
and other information associated with this release are available on the
Internet at: http://chandra.harvard.edu/



 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 120 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Tue, Feb  8, 2000 (12:10) * 3 lines 
 
Ginny! Thanks for these posts and for finding the black hole which I had not had time to search for. I actually spent yesterday hunting up new graphics (and better ones) for the topics in here with great success.

Zowie! Meteorite is number 1 on my wish list. I just need a wee little piece. The closest to anything like that is the tectite David got for me some years ago. I am not all that sure they are ejecta from the moon, but they are very odd-looking rocks, and I am happy to have one.


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 121 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Fri, Feb 11, 2000 (15:39) * 27 lines 
 
Space Shuttle Launched From Florida Complex
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (Reuters) - The space shuttle Endeavour roared off
the launch pad Friday on a long-delayed radar mapping mission that should
produce the best ever three-dimensional images of Earth's surface.
The six-astronaut crew will spend 11 days in space as they bounce radar
signals off cities, fields, mountains and forests, almost everything, in fact,
that shapes the Earth's surface between the polar regions.
As those signals bounce back into space, they will be collected by antennae
aboard the orbiter and at the end of a 197-foot mast deployed from the
shuttle's cargo bay. It is those slightly off-set images, like the ones seen in a
3-D movie or picture, that should make this whole-Earth topographical map
the best ever assembled.
NASA had been trying to launch this mission since September, but technical
glitches and safety concerns kept Endeavour grounded. A launch attempt last
week was scrubbed by cold winds and heavy rain, and mission managers
used the delay to replace a faulty piece of flight hardware that engineers
detected late in the countdown.
``Liftoff of space shuttle Endeavour on a 21st century mission, putting Earth
back on the map,'' said launch commentator Joel Wells as Endeavour sailed
through the clear blue skies above the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The
launch was delayed by about 20 minutes past its 12:30 p.m. scheduled
launch time for last-minute technical checks.
Once the astronauts have stowed their spacesuits and configured shuttle
systems for orbit, the first major task will be to deploy the radar mast, which
when fully extended will be the longest fixed structure ever to fly in space.
------------------------------------------------------------
Watch it live http://www.ksc.nasa.gov/shuttle/countdown/video/video45m.html


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 122 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Fri, Feb 11, 2000 (22:07) * 1 lines 
 
I have been watching the Nasa feed all afternoon and watched the antenna which is going to map the world in fine detail operate. I hope you all smiled and looked up every 90 minutes as the shuttle circled the earth. More about this mission will be taken up on http://www.spring.net/yapp-bin/restricted/read/geo/5/new


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 123 of 1087: Ginny  (vibrown) * Mon, Feb 21, 2000 (16:32) * 40 lines 
 
From http://dailynews.yahoo.com

Monday February 21 12:40 PM ET

Shuttle Crew Solves Hatch Glitch, Set for Return
By Brad Liston

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (Reuters) - Astronauts aboard the space shuttle Endeavour ended their ambitious Earth-mapping work on Monday and prepared to come home, but not without some last-minute anxiety as they struggled to shut a hatch.

Following a final mapping pass over Australia, the astronauts began to stow their radar gear for Tuesday's scheduled landing, but there was trouble with the 20-story radar deployed just hours after their Feb. 11 liftoff.

Although the 197-foot collapsible truss-structure folded easily into its canister in Endeavour's cargo bay, three latches designed to secure the canister's hatch refused to lock into place.

The Endeavour astronauts, working remote controls from the orbiter's crew compartment, tried three times to shut the lid before finally succeeding, using a maximum force setting.

Cheers erupted in Houston's Mission Control Center when ground controllers saw the hatch close successfully in a television feed from the orbiter.

``Excellent job. A little extra work and well worth the effort,'' Mission Control told the astronauts.

If the astronauts had not been able to close the hatch, Mission Control probably would have ordered the astronauts to detonate small explosives that would have tossed the mast and its canister overboard.

Although two of the astronauts were trained to leave the orbiter and repair the mast, NASA discarded that option on Saturday when the space agency ordered an extra nine hours of mapping, using time that had been reserved for the contingency spacewalk.

Tense Moments In Space

The 2-1/2 hours spent on Monday trying to close the latches provided tense moments on the ground and in space.

After one failed attempt, mission commander Kevin Kregel radioed a disappointed assessment: ``It's a little bit closed.''

Even if the mast had been sacrificed, the glitch would not have affected the focus of Endeavour's mission, collecting radar readings that will be used to create the most detailed 3-D surface maps ever assembled.

Since taking flight on Feb. 11, the shuttle has mapped more than 46 million square miles of Earth's land formations, most of it twice. The data was stored on 326 digital cassettes inside Endeavour's crew compartment.

Only about two to three percent of Earth's topography has been mapped in the kind of resolution that NASA hopes to accomplish with this mission.

The U.S. military will be the chief beneficiary. The National Imagery and Mapping Agency, which supplies classified maps for U.S. defense and intelligence agencies, is NASA's primary partner on this flight.

Most of the highest resolution images are likely to remain classified. A lower resolution map, still superior to existing planetary topography images, will be made public. Scientists will be given access to the higher resolution images on a case-by-case basis, NASA said.




 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 124 of 1087: World Builder  (MarciaH) * Mon, Feb 21, 2000 (17:36) * 2 lines 
 
The U.S. military will be the chief beneficiary. The National Imagery and Mapping Agency, which supplies classified maps for U.S. defense and intelligence agencies, is NASA's primary partner on this flight.
You betcha. That's why I was waving and smiling peacefully each time they took my picture. Sheesh! Is anyone surprised?! I have a molten lava flows to sell for your future houselots. Get'em while they're hot!!!


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 125 of 1087: World Builder  (MarciaH) * Mon, Feb 21, 2000 (17:43) * 3 lines 
 
Most of the highest resolution images are likely to remain classified. A lower resolution map, still superior to existing planetary topography images, will be made public. Scientists will be given access to the higher resolution images on a case-by-case basis, NASA said.

Sorta, need-to-own basis? And, I wanted a new atlas to add to my library. Mine is very old... phooey! (Still have those hot lava flows for ya if you're interested...*grin*)


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 126 of 1087: Ginny  (vibrown) * Mon, Feb 21, 2000 (23:15) * 1 lines 
 
I found all that to be very disappointing, too. Our tax dollars support all this, just so the government can turn around and say we don't need to see it?? phooey is right! :-P


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 127 of 1087: World Builder  (MarciaH) * Tue, Feb 22, 2000 (10:37) * 1 lines 
 
Dontcha wonder where our right to know and their obsession with being the most powerful begin and end?! Be sure to check on Bechtel. Your Boston dig is just a legit front for a REALLY big deal going on. Years ago, when A Rockefeller was vice president of the US, one of his brothers built the Mauna Kea Beach Resort on the Kona side of this island. When we drove by and my dad saw the Bechtel sign on the construction "shack" he simply uttered the name and fell silent. Those were the days when Scandia laboratories had highly-guarded test facilities high up on Mauna Loa. ...and, my Dad was a Knights Templar and a 33° Mason. Anyone get a connection (not sure I do, but there are those out there nodding!)


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 128 of 1087: Ginny  (vibrown) * Tue, Feb 22, 2000 (17:04) * 35 lines 
 
This is an old news story, but I thought it might still be of interest since we were talking about black holes recently. It's really exciting that they are finally starting to find evidence of black holes; they've theorized about supermassive black holes at the centers of galaxies for more than a decade!

New evidence of black hole at Milky Way's center

January 7, 1998
Web posted at: 10:03 p.m. EST (0303 GMT)

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A massive black hole, with a mass 2.6 million times that of the sun, sits at the center of our Milky Way galaxy, providing its gravitational anchor, according to new evidence unveiled by astronomers Wednesday.

Research teams in Germany and the United States found that some stars near the black hole, named Sagittarius A, are speeding along at more than 600 miles a second -- nearly 2.2 million miles per hour (3.5 million kph).

"This is the strongest case we have yet for a super, massive black hole at the center of the Milky Way," said astronomer Andreas Eckart at a news conference sponsored by the American Astronomical Society. Sagittarius A is about 26,000 light years from our sun and the planets that revolve around it. A light year is about 6 trillion miles (9.6 trillion km).

A black hole is an entity of such density and gravitational strength that nothing -- not even light -- can escape from its grasp. Because it doesn't reflect light, a black hole cannot be seen and can only be detected by measuring the motion of stars, gas and dust nearby.

The theory that a black hole exists in the center of the Milky Way -- the galaxy in which Earth is located -- has long been controversial, and many astronomers have rejected previous evidence supporting such a theory.

But researchers at Wednesday's news conference said the latest data bolsters the idea of a black hole because that is the best explanation for their findings.

Astronomers at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics used radio telescopes to make independent measurements of the motion of the object at the center of the galaxy. They found that it stood relatively still compared to the rest of the galaxy -- which is consistent with a black hole.

Another team of researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics in Germany found that thousands of stars existed in the area around the black hole, zipping around in tight circles. In order to cause stars to move that quickly, the black hole would have to have 2.6 million times as much mass as our sun.

Many of the stars zipping around Sagittarius A are old -- "a retirement village for stars," says Eckart -- suggesting that the black hole grows more and more massive by sucking in stars over the eons and eventually swallowing them.

Astronomers also unveiled evidence of another unusual black hole, nicknamed Old Faithful, about 40,000 light years from Earth.

Old Faithful, more powerful the Sagittarius A, sucks matter into a doughnut-like disk, then ejects it in eruptions that throw out an amount of material as massive as Mount Everest at a speed of more than 171,000 miles per second (274,000 km per second.)

"It's incredibly violent," said Steven Eikenberry of the California Institute of Technology. "We're talking about something that is trillions of times the annual energy output of the United States."

And when the black hole is active, these eruptions take place in consistent 30-minute intervals. Those regular eruptions led NASA scientists to nickname the black hole after the Old Faithful geyser in Yellowstone National Park, which also erupts regularly.

Reporter Rick Lockridge and Reuters contributed to this report.



 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 129 of 1087: World Builder  (MarciaH) * Tue, Feb 22, 2000 (18:41) * 1 lines 
 
I really appreciate your posting that article, Ginny. I kept missing it and forgetting to look it up. Now it is here...! You cannot imagine how happy I am in this little conference of mine lately. My favorite stuff being discussed by the greatest posters anywhere. Mahalo nui loa!


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 130 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Sat, Mar  4, 2000 (13:46) * 16 lines 
 
Today in Space
4 Mar 2000 Aurora Watch: An
increase in geomagnetic activity
levels could occur late today in
response to a glancing blow from
recent coronal mass ejections
(CMEs) associated with the M6 and
X1-class flares observed on March
2. A direct hit is not likely since neither of these CMEs were
observed as a halo event.
Solar activity has subsided since late in the day on March 3
(Universal Time). Nevertheless, the large sunspot groups 8891 and
8882 have complicated beta-gamma magnetic fields, which makes
them likely sites for solar flares. 8891 is stll close to the center of
the solar disk. Flares or coronal mass ejections from that region
will likely be directed toward Earth.


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 131 of 1087: Maggie  (sociolingo) * Sat, Mar  4, 2000 (13:50) * 1 lines 
 
Will that show up on photos?


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 132 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Sat, Mar  4, 2000 (14:20) * 3 lines 
 
Chcek http://www.spring.net/yapp-bin/restricted/read/geo/24.41

You can see the holes in the solar disk as brighter places where the cooler exterior were blown away. The entire discussion is fascinating and available: http://www.spaceweather.com/


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 133 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Sat, Mar  4, 2000 (14:23) * 1 lines 
 
Solar prominences are visible on photographs as streams of hot gases looping over the solar disk. Mostly, however, they are hightly charged particles which get to Earth and not visible until they get to the ionosphere where they cause Auroral displays. Look skyward these next few evenings!


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 134 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Sun, Mar  5, 2000 (22:21) * 15 lines 
 
Space Science News for March 5, 2000
Residents of Canada and the northern United States should be on the alert
for aurora borealis during the night of March 5 and morning of March 6.
The best time to view aurorae is usually around local midnight. Tonight's
new moon will make even faint activity easy to see.
Early on March 5, 2000, the interplanetary magnetic field in the vicinity
of Earth developed a significant southward-directed component. This
condition often means that solar wind plasma can penetrate Earth's
magnetosphere and trigger auroral activity. Data from NOAA's polar
orbiting meteorological satellites late on March 5 show an expanded auroral
oval. If this high level of activity continues, auroral displays could be
visible as far south as the Great Lakes states and in New England.
For continuing coverage of aurora and all forms of space weather, please
visit http://www.SpaceWeather.com



 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 135 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Wed, Mar  8, 2000 (22:29) * 9 lines 
 
Space Science News for March 9, 2000

New pictures from NASA's Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft show exotic
terrain made of dry ice near the Red Planet's south pole. Differences
between the north and south poles suggest that the opposite ends of Mars
have had divergent climates for thousands or perhaps even millions of
years. FULL STORY at
Martian Swiss Cheese




 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 136 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Fri, Mar 10, 2000 (13:58) * 55 lines 
 
Propagation Forecast Bulletin 10
There was a nice surprise for participants in last weekend's DX
contest. ARLB009 predicted stormy geomagnetic conditions, but it
turned out that the energy from solar eruptions did not affect the
earth's geomagnetic field. Instead of the predicted planetary A
indices of 12, 28 and 25 for Friday through Sunday, the A index for
those days was 5, 5 and 7, which is very quiet. Solar flux was 189,
167 and 181.
Average solar flux was about the same last week as the week before,
and average sunspot numbers were slightly lower. Average A indices
have also been lower.
Solar flux is expected to dip below 200 this weekend. Predicted
flux values for Friday through Tuesday are 200, 195, 190, 185 and
180. Solar flux is expected to bottom out around 150 on March 17 or
18, then rise above 200 by March 23 and stay around 220 from March
25 to April 4.
Geomagnetic indices are expected to remain quiet until March 22-23,
then settle down again until March 31 and April 1.
We are moving toward the spring equinox, which always means better
HF conditions, especially with the rising solar flux. Look for more
frequent worldwide openings on 10, 12 and 15 meters.
Cable News Network has an email service which delivers weekly space
news, and some of it concerns solar activity of interest to hams.
The email service sends URL links to articles, such as the one at
http://CNN.com/2000/TECH/space/03/01/sunspots/index.html. You can
subscribe at http://cnn.com/EMAIL.
In the mail this week was an interesting tip from a ham in Vermont,
who wrote, ''This is Zach Manganello, K1ZK, I am a freshman at
Middlebury College, and I just attended a lecture that I thought was
absolutely fascinating, pertinent to HF propagation, and worthy of
sharing with you at the ARRL. The lecture was about the Super Dual
Auroral Radar Network (SuperDARN), and these scientists have giant
radar arrays at several locations near the Earth's poles which they
use to study interaction of solar radiation with the Earth's
geosphere and ionosphere. Check out their web site at
http://superdarn.jhuapl.edu ''.
NASA Space Science News has an item this week about predicting
disturbances by seeing what is happening on the other side of the
sun that faces away from earth. This uses the Michelson Doppler
Imager on the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory, on the web at
http://science.nasa.gov/headlines/y2000/ast09mar_1.htm .
This is important because solar forecasts for the short term are
based on calculating when known active regions will rotate back into
view. If activity can be observed on the far side of the sun, then
more accurate forecasts can be made which are not dependent on the
last glimpse of the active region before it rotated out of view.
Finally, check out http://www.solarmax2000.com/, a site devoted to
this year's peak in solar activity.
Sunspot numbers for March 2 through 8 were 209, 189, 167, 181, 172,
164 and 212 with a mean of 184.9. 10.7 cm flux was 213.2 203.8,
200.2, 220.3, 222.4, 221.8 and 214.9, with a mean of 213.8, and
estimated planetary A indices were 8, 5, 5, 7, 11, 16 and 13, with a
mean of 9.3.




 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 137 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Fri, Mar 10, 2000 (18:42) * 12 lines 
 
Space Science News for March 10, 2000
NASA's durable Galileo spacecraft is joining forces with Saturn-bound
Cassini on a mission to study Jupiter's magnetosphere -- the biggest thing
in the solar system. How big is it? If Jupiter's magnetosphere were
visible, it would appear to be larger than the Sun or Moon in spite of its
great distance from Earth. This story also includes plasma wave sounds
recorded by Galileo in 1996 as it sailed past Jupiter's largest moon
Ganymede. Galileo will swing past Ganymede two more times before the end
of 2000.FULL STORY at

The Biggest Thing in the Solar System




 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 138 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Fri, Mar 10, 2000 (18:43) * 1 lines 
 
I'm gonna start putting these Space science notices in Geosites for Kids - Geo 15. More people will see them as they are linked the parents conference.


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 139 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Mon, Mar 13, 2000 (13:03) * 5 lines 
 
It's all his fault:

On This Date in History: March 13
In 1781, the distant planet Uranus was discovered by British



 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 140 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Mon, Mar 13, 2000 (13:03) * 2 lines 
 
astronomer William Herschel.



 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 141 of 1087: Cheryl  (CherylB) * Mon, Mar 13, 2000 (15:39) * 1 lines 
 
Blame it on Herschel. It was all because he had a classical education. There were already the planets Jupiter and Saturn, so that led to Uranus, the grandfather and father of them respectively in mythology.


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 142 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Mon, Mar 13, 2000 (16:42) * 1 lines 
 
Not only that...he was of the same school as Handel and was German born, as well. He went to England under the tutilage of the Hanoverian kings as did Handel. German engineering again...and glorious music, too. Fortunately the Titan-planets did not devour their own children - or did they?


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 143 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Mon, Mar 13, 2000 (16:43) * 1 lines 
 
I shall ask Alexander how Uranus is pronounced in German...it might just give us a new slant on the sound of the name in question!


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 144 of 1087: Cheryl  (CherylB) * Mon, Mar 13, 2000 (16:50) * 3 lines 
 
I don't know if the Titan planets tried to devour their children. Maybe they did, which might explain why they all have rings. Of course, none can compare with Saturn's ring system.

Uranus (the Sky) in Greek mythology was the consort to Gaia (the Earth) which gave birth to the Titans.


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 145 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Mon, Mar 13, 2000 (17:06) * 1 lines 
 
Ah...yes! I was slightly ahead of myself with Uranus. I can still see Blake's woodcut (was it? or etching?) of Saturn devouring his children...terrifying. Interesting that Earth is the only one who supposedly spawned her own moon rather than devouring it.


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 146 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Mon, Mar 13, 2000 (17:08) * 1 lines 
 
...or am I seriously confused on this Monday in particular?! Going to look up the artwork and will post it when I find it...


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 147 of 1087: Cheryl  (CherylB) * Mon, Mar 13, 2000 (17:08) * 1 lines 
 
It was etching by Blake. There is also a painting by Goya of the same subject. Old Goya had a bit of bizarre sense of humor; the Saturn devouring his children painting hung in Goya's dining room.


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 148 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Mon, Mar 13, 2000 (17:11) * 3 lines 
 
Thank you! I was about to do some serious brain revamping. Yuck! What a painting to hang in your dining room. Bet his kids behaved!

Thanks, Cheryl - don't even think of not posting in here - I cannot possibly remember everything and I need you! *hugs*


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 149 of 1087: Cheryl  (CherylB) * Mon, Mar 13, 2000 (17:15) * 1 lines 
 
You're too kind. I knew those art history courses would be useful someday.


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 150 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Mon, Mar 13, 2000 (17:17) * 1 lines 
 
My Bullfinch is in the other room. Saturn was not a Titan, I guess...?


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 151 of 1087: Cheryl  (CherylB) * Mon, Mar 13, 2000 (17:23) * 1 lines 
 
You might be right. I thought he was though, Gaia and Uranus gave birth to the Titans. Among the Titans were Rhea and Chronos (Saturn) who gave birth to the Olympian gods. The brothers Zeus (Jupiter), Poseidon (Neptune), and Hades (Pluto) divided the rule of all creation among themselves. Hades got the Underworld, (talk about a bum deal), Poseidon got dominion of the Seas, (not to shabby), and Zeus got the Sky, because he was the oldest and got everyone else out of Chronos's tummy.


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 152 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Mon, Mar 13, 2000 (17:36) * 1 lines 
 
Right!!! Now I remember. Mahalo nui loa!


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 153 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Mon, Mar 13, 2000 (19:24) * 8 lines 
 
Space Science News for March 13, 2000
With a little help from the Sun, NASA's NEAR spacecraft has spotted
a telltale x-ray glow from elements on asteroid Eros. Scientists
discussed that and other accomplishments at a press conference today.
FULL STORY at
One month around asteroid Eros





 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 154 of 1087: Ginny  (vibrown) * Tue, Mar 14, 2000 (00:27) * 4 lines 
 
Yes, Kronos and Rhea were Titans (there were 12 in all), but Zeus was the youngest of their children. Rhea hid Zeus from Kronos because she was tired of losing all her children as soon as they were born. She even helped Zeus overthrow Kronos.

It's an interesting succession. Uranus was overthrown by his son, Kronos, who in turn was overthrown by his son, Zeus. What a lovely bunch of gods to worship!! It's a wonder the ancient Greeks didn't kill themselves in despair...



 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 155 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Tue, Mar 14, 2000 (11:24) * 1 lines 
 
Since you are the resident Greek person, did not the ancients like gods to whom they could relate, so along with the divinity, they gave them the same shortcomings we have, as well. Made them less fearsome - until you angered them. I think most of the worship was spent appeasing them rather than worhshipping as we do in OT / NT religions. (Please correct me if this analysis is off base!)


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 156 of 1087: Cheryl  (CherylB) * Tue, Mar 14, 2000 (15:22) * 1 lines 
 
Right Ginny, Zeus was the youngest, I don't know why I thought him the oldest Titan. As the Greeks became more sophistocated many of the most educated ceased to believe in their own religion by classical times. Pythagoras formulated his own religion based on -- what else -- geometry.


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 157 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Wed, Mar 15, 2000 (12:28) * 19 lines 
 
Space Science News for March 15, 2000

What do asteroids and cosmic gamma-ray bursts have in common? NASA's NEAR
Shoemaker spacecraft is helping astronomers learn more about both. The
gamma-ray spectrometer on NEAR -- designed to study the elements of
asteroid Eros -- helped pinpoint an an unusual gamma-ray
burst on March 1st. Now, telescopes around the world are tracking the
explosion's afterglow. This could be the first of many high-energy
discoveries during NEAR's one-year mission to Eros. FULL STORY at
Gamma-ray
bursts are NEAR


MORE GAMMA-RAY NEWS: The NASA/Marshall Space Flight Center reports that
amateur astronomers have imaged the optical afterglow from the gamma-ray
burst detected by NEAR on March 1, 2000. In collaboration with the AAVSO,
NASA plans to organize a global network of amateurs to monitor gamma-ray
burst fireballs. FULL STORY atAmateurs
catch a gamma-ray burst




 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 158 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Thu, Mar 16, 2000 (14:54) * 11 lines 
 
Space Science News for March 16, 2000

Fragments of a meteor that exploded over the Yukon in January, 2000, have
been collected and turned over to Canadian and NASA scientists for
analysis. The find is potentially the most important recovery of a rock
from space in at least 31 years. FULL STORY at

Yukon meteorite recovered!


---



 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 159 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Thu, Mar 16, 2000 (15:12) * 8 lines 
 


The last time a carbonaceous chondrite was quickly
recovered after its fall to Earth was September 28, 1969 near
Murchison, Australia. The Murchison meteorite, pictured here,
has fascinated students of life's origins since 1970, when
investigators discovered that the rock is rich in amino acids and
other complex organic compounds.



 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 160 of 1087: anne hale  (ommin) * Fri, Mar 17, 2000 (02:56) * 1 lines 
 
I did read today that the meteorite fragments found in the Yukon was causing some excitement because they thought they might have been formed before the solar system - am I right?


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 161 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Fri, Mar 17, 2000 (13:35) * 45 lines 
 
Not sure, Anne, but I shall investigate at the url above. If I am not mistaken, most, if not all meteorites which land on Earth are debris left over from the formation of the Solar System. Let me check!

Propagation Forecast Bulletin 11
Average solar flux was down slightly and average sunspot numbers
rose over the past week. There were no really disturbed days, but
the geomagnetic field was active on March 12.

The spring equinox is coming up this Monday, and this is always an
exciting time for HF operators. Conditions should be good this
season with the rising solar flux.

Solar flux has been declining this week, and is expected to reach a
short term minimum near 170 from March 19 to 21. Flux values should
quickly rise to another short term peak that is expected to be very
broad. Solar flux should be around 220 from March 25 through April
4.

The projected solar flux for the next five days, Friday through
Tuesday, is 180, 175, 170, 170 and 170. Planetary A index for these
same days is expected to be 8, 8, 8, 8 and 12. Upcoming dates that
may be disturbed are March 22-24, March 31 and April 1, and April 18
and 19.

Chip, K7JA, wrote to alert readers to fantastic conditions on 10
meters, including long path propagation. He is in Southern
California, and writes ''You might want to mention in your column the
tremendous LP openings on 10 meters lately. Saturday night of ARRL
Phone was one, and last night (perhaps 0300z to 0800z at least, out
here, earlier on Right Coast) was a doozy. The band started over the
top into UA9, etc., and about 0300z went to Long Path. Loud UA9s,
3B8FG, JY9NX, A41LZ, A45XR, 5Z4WI, SU9ZZ, and stations from
literally everywhere in Europe (like PA, DL, OH etc.) filled the
band. I gave up at midnight, but the band was still hopping. The
East Coast got into this one, as did stations in Texas and other
Midwestern areas. I saw a number of spots by W3UR. Basically, about
7 PM is a good time to be watchful to the south, beaming about 90
degrees. Last night's opening, however, had a broad peak into
Europe, maybe as far up as 220 degrees or so. Guess we finally have
a sunspot cycle!''

Sunspot numbers for March 9 through 15 were 225, 231, 178, 188, 172,
193 and 167 with a mean of 193.4. 10.7 cm flux was 205.8 203.4,
203.2, 203.2, 188.1, 182.6 and 177.8, with a mean of 194.9, and
estimated planetary A indices were 5, 10, 12, 19, 4, 6 and 3, with a
mean of 8.4.


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 162 of 1087: Maggie  (sociolingo) * Fri, Mar 17, 2000 (14:54) * 1 lines 
 
Saw (some of ) a fascinating programme on planets beyond the solar system last night. Trouble was I fell asleep watching it so I didn't make any notes. Sorry!


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 163 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Fri, Mar 17, 2000 (17:50) * 1 lines 
 
*sigh* Will they do reruns?! planets BEYOND the solar system?! Gotta see that one, for sure!


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 164 of 1087: Ginny  (vibrown) * Fri, Mar 17, 2000 (23:41) * 5 lines 
 
re: .155 & .156

Marcia, I agree with your analysis. The ancient Greeks believed in the notion of "hubris", which was basically pride, insolence, and general defiance of the gods. Anyone who angered the gods was sure to be punished. Many of the myths involved mortals who ran afoul of the gods (Sisyphus, Tantalus, Arachne, Andromeda, Phaethon... to name a few).

Cheryl, I haven't really studied the downfall of the ancient Greek religion, but it makes sense that the philosophers and scientists would be the first ones to stop believing. Wasn't Socrates put to death for being a non-believer and speaking against the pagan gods? I'll have to look that one up.


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 165 of 1087: Cheryl  (CherylB) * Sat, Mar 18, 2000 (10:22) * 9 lines 
 
I think Socrates was charged with impiety leading up to his trial. One of the main charges at the trial which culminated in his being sentenced to death was corrupting the youth of Athens. Socrates advocated moral philosophy over blind adherence to religion. Most of the Greek philosophers, Socrates among them, espooused a rational vision of the universe. Their belief was that the intellectual component of human nature was the most important. The force of truth was examplified by reason. Even if a person desired to do otherwise, his reason (the force of truth) would force him to accept the logical conclusions.

The historical context of Socrates trial should be considered. He was tried in the years just after Athens had lost the Peloponnesian War to Sparta. Democracy in Athens was overthrown, and the Spartans enstated an oligarchy of 30 tyrants to rule over Athens. Socrates was viewed as a threat to public order by undermining the moral conventions of the city and brought to public trial at the age of 70. The fact that he led a private life and chose not to be concerned with Athenian politics was to his detriment. He served only when called upon. Although he held full rights of Athenian citizenship for 40 years, he never took it upon himself to take on public service. Socrates himself claimed that he wished to preserve his own moral principles, therefore took no interest in politics. This did not sit well with the Athenians. The Athenian leader Pericles stated at his funeral oration at the time of the outset of the Peloponnesion War:

...this is a peculiarity of ours: we do not say that a man who takes no interest in politics is a man who minds his own business; we say he has no business here at all.

Not only did Socrates harbor what might construed as a disdain for democracy; he also held indiosyncratic and unconventional views of the gods. He was critical and questioning in his view of religion. He was as well interested in the new knowlege of philosophers, since referred to as the presocratics. They believed in natural theories for the existence of the cosmos. To them reality could be explained by the movement of matter or the recombination of elements. One of the best known of these natural philosophers was Anaxagoras, for whom Socrates accused his critics of mistaking him. Socrates accusers seem to have thought him quilty of doing the same inquiring into the domains of the gods, into things below the earth and sky. Which brings us back to the title of this topic: Beyond Planet Earth.

Remember what Socrates said, "The unexamined life is not worth living."


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 166 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Sat, Mar 18, 2000 (13:57) * 2 lines 
 
As an aside, Wasn't Socrates convicted of Corruption of the Nation's Youth?!
How terribly modern that sounds and how nasty the inplication nowadays!


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 167 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Sun, Mar 19, 2000 (12:23) * 8 lines 
 
Space Science News for March 19, 2000

As the Sun sets at the south pole on March 20, 2000, Earth will join two
other planets in the solar system where it is northern Spring. FULL STORY
at
Sunset at the South Pole





 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 168 of 1087: Cheryl  (CherylB) * Mon, Mar 20, 2000 (16:03) * 1 lines 
 
Yes, Marcia that was the offence for which Socrates was convicted. What is interesting is that in the later Hellenistic culture and the Roman Empire the Socratic Method was deemed the proper method for education. This entailed requiring the student to argue both sides of a topic.


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 169 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Mon, Mar 20, 2000 (16:25) * 6 lines 
 
Today is Monday, March 20, the 80th day of 2000 with 286 to
follow. Spring begins today in the Northern Hemisphere at
2:35 a.m. EST. The moon is waning, moving toward its last
quarter. The morning stars are Mercury and Venus. The
evening stars are Mars, Jupiter and Saturn.



 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 170 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Mon, Mar 20, 2000 (16:27) * 1 lines 
 
Indeed - and until one understands both sides of the subject in question, one cannot know the truth about it! Still as relevant today as it was then!


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 171 of 1087: Maggie  (sociolingo) * Wed, Mar 22, 2000 (13:42) * 6 lines 
 
Space dust disappears into black holes.

British astronomers have found that black holes at the centre of galaxies get bigger with age by consuming dust and gas. The first evidence of black hole appetites was found by astronomers at Nottingham and Birmingham universities who compared the ages of galaxies with the dark mass at their centres. The older the galaxy, the bigger the b.
The astronomers determoined the age of 23 galaxies, concluding that some were as young as four billion and others as old as 12 billion years. "One of the basic properties of a black hole is that material can fall into it, but can't get out" professor Merrifield of Nottingham University, said. The findings will be presented next week at a conference in Oxford, and published in the Monthly notices of the royal Astronomical Society, next month.

See http://www.nottingham.ac.uk/~ppzmrm/blackhole.html


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 172 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Wed, Mar 22, 2000 (14:06) * 3 lines 
 
Maggie's Black hole picture:




 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 173 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Wed, Mar 22, 2000 (14:09) * 1 lines 
 
Interesting story and incredible picture. I wish I could have dared to post the enlarged one but thought it better for Terry's bandwidth that I make a smaller version for posting here. Thanks, Maggie - Fantastic stuff!


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 174 of 1087: Maggie  (sociolingo) * Wed, Mar 22, 2000 (14:14) * 1 lines 
 
That didn't come out too badly did it, considering it came from a newspaper! (the size above was the size it came up on my screen, didn't realise it sent as larger - still sorting that out!). Still can't figure how to put that in myself if it's from my computer.


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 175 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Wed, Mar 22, 2000 (14:17) * 2 lines 
 
It is probably better that you send the biggest possible one and let me downsize it. It has worked well so far on Geo and other places I have posted images.
You did an excellent scanning job. I am envious of your talents and Wolfie's as well. Guess I'm just gonna have to take the plunge and get one, too.


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 176 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Wed, Mar 22, 2000 (14:20) * 2 lines 
 
The graphic you are posting must first be on the internet, not just your home computer. After I downsized your image, I ftp'd it to Spring's hard drive (hosts have space allotted to them for such things). From there I got the image location by accessing my webspace url then did the command string to post it.
Simple, once you've done it a few dozen times *grin* but I still occasionally mess it up...*sigh*


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 177 of 1087: Maggie  (sociolingo) * Wed, Mar 22, 2000 (14:22) * 1 lines 
 
Mine's only a cheapy (£49). I got it to scan academic text documents - I've got a pretty nifty text scan programme that does really well. But it's doing pretty well on pics too now I've sussed the right settings. Trouble is I can't run the scanner and zip drive at the same time, and it's complicated to change the wires round.


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 178 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Wed, Mar 22, 2000 (16:36) * 1 lines 
 
Hmmm...there is not a splitter available like an extension cord with several outlets on the end?! I am afraid I am going to have that same problem!


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 179 of 1087: Maggie  (sociolingo) * Wed, Mar 22, 2000 (17:44) * 1 lines 
 
I've also run out of plug space on my extension lead. Under my desk looks like some kind of geek's paradise! Mind you the top doesn't look much better. Yes, I'm off to have my bath now - don't nag!


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 180 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Wed, Mar 22, 2000 (17:53) * 1 lines 
 
LOL...is there a cyber knee-hole which is not filled with extensions and plugs and such?! If there are, they are not trying hard enough - and my feet are atop my tool box under there, too! The top is hopeless. As soon as one project gets done another takes its place....*sigh*


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 181 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Wed, Mar 22, 2000 (18:20) * 19 lines 
 
Space Science News for March 22, 2000
The Earth's magnetosphere is being buffeted by high-speed solar wind
particles from a coronal hole straddling the center of the Sun's disk. The
solar wind velocity has increased from 350 to 600 km/s during the past 12
hours. Follow the action at http://www.spaceweather.com

MORE SPACE SCIENCE NEWS:
#1 Curiouser and Curiouser: The exotic world of gamma-ray astronomy has
taken yet another surprising turn with the revelation that half the
previously unidentified high-energy gamma ray sources in our own galaxy
actually comprise a new class of mysterious objects. FULL STORY at
http://spacescience.com/headlines/y2000/ast23mar_1m.htm

#2 Solar Cycle Update: Is the real Y2K problem just starting? The
solar cycle appears to be on schedule for a peak in mid-2000.
FULL STORY at
http://spacescience.com/headlines/y2000/ast22mar_1m.htm




 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 182 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Fri, Mar 24, 2000 (13:05) * 4 lines 
 
Henceforth Space Science News will be posted in
http://www.spring.net/yapp-bin/restricted/read/news/36

This will enable a wider readership. For some reason surfers avoid Geo like it was a deadly disease. Suggestion?


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 183 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Fri, Mar 24, 2000 (15:09) * 43 lines 
 
Propagation Forecast Bulletin 12

Spring is here, and 10 and 12 meters are the place to be. A high
solar flux and shifting seasons are again producing conditions where
low power mobiles can work the world on the highest HF bands.

Last year at this time, the average solar flux for the week was
147.5. This week it was 207.8, much higher, and almost 13 points
higher than last week's average. A steady upward recent trend can be
seen in the graph at http://www.dxlc.com/solar/.

Geomagnetic indices have been quite low, but this should change.
Active conditions are predicted for the next few days due to
recurring coronal holes and some recent flare activity. A large
coronal hole that has been returning for several months has split
into three groups, and one of them crosses the sun's equator and is
well positioned for disturbing radio conditions here on earth.

Weekend conditions for the CQ Worldwide WPX Phone Contest could be
stormy. The predicted planetary A index for the next five days,
Friday through Tuesday, is 25, 30, 20, 10 and 10, so it looks like
the best contest conditions may be on Sunday. On March 31 and April
1 conditions may be unsettled or active again, but should be quiet
until April 18. Solar flux predicted for the next five days is 230,
240, 245, 245 and 235. Flux values are expected to bottom out around
185 on April 12 or 13, then peak near 250 around April 22 or 23.

The High-Energy Solar Spectrograph Imager mission was set back at
least six months when the satellite was mistakenly vibrated too hard
in a test on a shake table at the Jet Propulsion Lab. The deployment
of the satellite, which is designed to observe solar flares in their
most energetic wavelengths, was expected to coincide with the solar
maximum this year. You can read about the accident at
http://www.msnbc.com/news/386019.asp?0a=23232C5 and about the HESSI
mission itself at the NASA web site
http://hesperia.gsfc.nasa.gov/hessi/index.html and at a University
of California site, http://hessi.ssl.berkeley.edu/.

Sunspot numbers for March 16 through 22 were 138, 152, 142, 208,
240, 191 and 212 with a mean of 183.3. 10.7 cm flux was 184.4,
192.4, 194.8, 208.2, 210.3, 230.5 and 233.8, with a mean of 207.8,
and estimated planetary A indices were 4, 6, 7, 8, 8, 6 and 11, with
a mean of 7.1.


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 184 of 1087: anne hale  (ommin) * Fri, Mar 24, 2000 (23:51) * 1 lines 
 
How to persuade the others to look. Is the Sun sexy! or something like that - difficult and a shame because it is all so interesting.


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 185 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Sat, Mar 25, 2000 (14:31) * 1 lines 
 
Sex definitly sells and attracts attention. Oh well, I posted something in Porch where more people will see it. Today I posted the Discovery Channel Online in Geosites for Kids (Geo 15) with the schedule of good things to watch on the telly this week on their channel. I hope others see it. I'll put it in each Saturday hoping....!


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 186 of 1087: Maggie  (sociolingo) * Wed, Mar 29, 2000 (14:29) * 6 lines 
 
NASA is now concerned about how to avoid showering the earth with huge shards of red-hot metal. The space agency announced this weekend that it is to crash-land a satellite the size of a railway engine in the Pacific Ocean to prevent it from spiralling out of control perhaps onto an inhabited area.
The Compton gamma ray observatory studies mysterious natural explosions in space. Scientists had desperately tried to save it as no other instrument gives such good insight into the highest energy parts of the spectrum, where most energetic events in the universe show themselves. Last week NASA confirmed that it had suffered a catastrophic failure in one three gyroscopes that keep it pointing the right way. As it was deemed too expensive to send up a space shuttle to repair it, NASA scientists now plan to use Compton’s remaining fuel to bring it down in a controlled descent in June. If they did not, NASA admitted, the satellite would veer off course, lose its balance and fall more than 100 miles to earth. It is so big that large chinks of metal would not burn up, like most space debris, but would land with the force of a substantial meteorite. This has happened before in 1979 when the Skylab station was being decommissioned and spread burning debris across Australia.
(The Times, 26.3.2000)





 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 187 of 1087: Maggie  (sociolingo) * Wed, Mar 29, 2000 (14:30) * 1 lines 
 
I glad John sent in that thing about time. i saw that and then lost it and could'nt find it again.


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 188 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Wed, Mar 29, 2000 (14:47) * 1 lines 
 
What did John send in? Did I miss something? Yikes!!! More debris heading for us out in the Pacific (which is very large until you start talking about something from space...)


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 189 of 1087: Maggie  (sociolingo) * Wed, Mar 29, 2000 (14:59) * 1 lines 
 
I'm sure i didn't imagine it, but i can't see it. it was about space time continuum and time reversal. Maybe I've gone mad!


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 190 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Wed, Mar 29, 2000 (15:30) * 1 lines 
 
No...it is there somewhere. Hmmmm...I just might have to look it up again. I would ask him but he is currently doing a midnight to 6am shift as production manager at the station as well as taping the 6 hour morning show he does daily, and tomorrow through Saturday he will be also doing Play-by-play baseball games for UHHilo - one televised, as well - from Kona. Poor dear is not all that fit and I am more than a little concerned about it. He needs as much rest as he can get so I do not bother him with email during weeks like this.


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 191 of 1087: Maggie  (sociolingo) * Wed, Mar 29, 2000 (15:37) * 1 lines 
 
I was sure i saw it as I scrolled through. then it had disappeared. (Humpy noises coming from off stage. Gotta go. probably offline for a coupla days. Bye)


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 192 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Wed, Mar 29, 2000 (16:20) * 1 lines 
 
Bye!!! Good luck, Dear!


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 193 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Wed, Mar 29, 2000 (19:47) * 14 lines 
 
Space Weather News for March 29-30, 2000

Aurora Watch: Skywatchers in northern Europe, Canada, Alaska, and the
northermost tier of US states could be treated to a display of aurora
borealis tonight thanks to elevated levels of geomagnetic activity late in
the day on March 29.

Also today, the SOHO spacecraft captured beautiful images of a full-halo
coronal mass ejection (CME) from the Sun. Full-halo CMEs are massive
bubbles of hot gas headed either directly toward or away from Earth. This
one appears to have erupted on the back side of the Sun and is proceeding
away from our planet.

Details on both are available at http://www.spaceweather.com


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 194 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Wed, Mar 29, 2000 (19:52) * 0 lines 
 


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 195 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Wed, Mar 29, 2000 (19:55) * 18 lines 
 
If this image updates you will be able to watch the aurora wax and wane
from http://www.sec.noaa.gov/pmap/pmapN.html



This plot shows the current extent and position of the auroral oval in the northern hemisphere, extrapolated from
measurements taken during the most recent polar pass of the NOAA POES satellite.

The yellow, clock-like, arrow in the plot points toward the noon meridian.

The statistical pattern depicting the auroral oval is appropriate to the auroral activity level determined from the power
flux observed during the most recent polar satellite pass. The power fluxes in the statistical pattern are color coded on
a scale from 0 to 10 ergs .cm-2.sec-1 according to the color bar on the right. The pattern has been oriented with
respect to the underlying geographic map using the current universal time, updated every ten minutes.

This presentation provides an estimate of the location, extent, and intensity of aurora on a global basis. For example,
the presentation gives a guide to the possibility that the aurora is located near a given location in the northern
hemisphere under the conditions that existed at the time of the most recent polar satellite pass.


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 196 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Wed, Mar 29, 2000 (20:13) * 44 lines 
 
Mauna Kea team finds the smallest planets yet beyond our solar system
By Gregg K. Kakesako
Star-Bulletin
Two more planets -- which may be smaller in mass than Saturn -- have been discovered
by scientists at W.M. Keck Observatory on Mauna Kea in the hunt for extra-solar planets.
The latest planets are far smaller than the planets that have previously been found orbiting
suns beyond our solar system.
Saturn, the sixth planet in our solar system, is about nine times wider than Earth, but has
only one-third the mass of its neighbor Jupiter. Of the 30 planets previously found around
stars like Earth's sun, all have been Jupiter-sized or larger.
The finding was made by Geoff Marcy of San Francisco State University and the
University of California at Berkeley; Paul Butler of the Carnegie Institution of Washington;
and Steve Vogt of the University of California at Santa Cruz, using the 10-meter Keck I
telescope.
In a written statement, Marcy said that searching for planets orbiting distant stars is "like
looking at a beach from a distance."
"Previously we only saw the large boulders, which were Jupiter-sized planets or larger," he
said. "Now we are seeing the 'rocks,' Saturn-sized planets or smaller."
Sighting Earth-sized objects, said Marcy, would be like seeing pebbles on that beach.
Astronomers are not yet able to do that.
One planet, with at least 80 percent the mass of Saturn, is orbiting 3.8 million miles from
the star HD-46375, 109 light years away in the constellation Monoceros.
Another planet, with 70 percent of Saturn's mass, was found 32.5 million miles from the
star 79 Ceti (HD16141), 117 light years away in the constellation Cetus.
The planets are presumably gas giants, the scientists say, made mostly of primordial
hydrogen and helium, rather than the rocky materials that make up Earth. They orbit so
close to their parent stars that they are extremely hot and not conducive to life.
The planet orbiting 79 Ceti has an average temperature of 1,530 degrees; while the
planet orbiting HD46375 has an average temperature of 2,070 degrees.
The planets probably formed at a farther distance from the star, the scientists say, where
they accumulated cool gas and then migrated into their present orbits.
Discovery of the Saturn-sized planets, however, supports a theory that planets such as
those in Earth's solar system formed around many stars in the universe. It also supports
the theory that most planets are relatively small, such as Earth, Mars and Venus.
The planets are not actually seen by astronomers. Instead, they measure the gravitational
effect of planets on their star.
As a planet orbits, it causes the star to wobble very slightly. By measuring this wobble,
scientists can detect the presence and size of a planet.
Astronomers have used this technique to catalog at least 21 extrasolar planets. The group
is searching some 1,100 stars within 300 light-years of Earth to find evidence of planets.
A light-year is the distance that light travels in a year in a vacuum, about 6 trillion miles.
Other astronomy groups are also searching and have found additional extrasolar planets.




 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 197 of 1087: Wolf  (wolf) * Thu, Mar 30, 2000 (09:54) * 1 lines 
 
found the above article on msn today but you beat me to it *wink*


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 198 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Thu, Mar 30, 2000 (10:37) * 1 lines 
 
I got it almost straight from the source...then Honolulu newspaper. The telescope mentioned (the Keck) is visible atop Mauna Kea from my yard!


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 199 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Thu, Mar 30, 2000 (17:17) * 15 lines 
 
NASA Science News for March 30, 2000

Next Thursday, April 6, three planets and the thin crescent Moon are going
to put on a memorable sky show when the quartet converge inside a circle 9
degrees across. The grouping is just the prelude to a grander alignment of
planets on May 5, 2000.
Is doom at hand, as many mystics assert? Find out
by reading the FULL STORY at
http://science.nasa.gov/headlines/y2000/ast30mar_1m.htm
Planets for Dessert

Also, for kids and kids-at-heart, a younger person's version of this
article is available at the NASA Kids web site:
http://kids.msfc.nasa.gov/news/2000/news-planetalign.asp?se
The
Planets Line Up


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 200 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Fri, Mar 31, 2000 (19:22) * 6 lines 
 
NASA Science News for April 1, 2000

On April Fools Day, 2000, NASA researchers are questioning
the fate of five high-flying sweet treats that disappeared
after a meteor balloon flight in April 1999.
FULL STORY at http://science.nasa.gov/headlines/y2000/ast01apr_1m.htm


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 201 of 1087: anne hale  (ommin) * Sat, Apr  1, 2000 (05:25) * 1 lines 
 
greatMarcoa - my imagination is in overdrive!!!!!!!!!!!


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 202 of 1087: anne hale  (ommin) * Sat, Apr  1, 2000 (05:25) * 1 lines 
 
Sorry Marcia a misprint


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 203 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Sat, Apr  1, 2000 (11:12) * 2 lines 
 
OK, those missing Peeps must be the ones I have been consuming under an disguise. Mine were yellow. If I had just known they were hiding the pink so they would not be discovered, I wouls have left the alone. It's all my fault.
Actually, I have saved one to grow to adulthood amd make me some more Peeps for next year!


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 204 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Sat, Apr  1, 2000 (11:14) * 1 lines 
 
Sheesh! Hard to tell I am just waking up and not typing very well. Sorry for the mistakes in that last post...I tried erasing my screen but all I have to show for my efforts is smear!


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 205 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Mon, Apr  3, 2000 (13:53) * 10 lines 
 
NASA Science News for April 3, 2000

Like blood pulsing in an artery, newly discovered currents
of gas beat deep inside the Sun, speeding and slackening
every 16 months. The solar "heartbeat" throbs in the same
region of the Sun suspected of driving the 11-year cycle of
solar eruptions. Scientists are hopeful that this pulse can help
them unravel the origin and operation of the solar cycle.
FULL STORY at
http://science.nasa.gov/headlines/y2000/ast03apr_1m.htm


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 206 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Wed, Apr  5, 2000 (14:37) * 49 lines 
 
Next Thursday, April 6, three
planets and the thin crescent Moon are going to put on
a memorable sky show when the quartet converge
inside a circle just 9 degrees across.

"It's going to be beautiful," says Vince Huegele, a
researcher at the NASA/Marshall Space Flight Center.
"And best of all, you won't need a telescope to see it,
just your naked eye."

Right: Duane Hilton's rendering of the April 6 planetary
get-together as seen above Bryce Canyon in Utah.

To admire the display, simply go outside after dinner
on April 6 and look toward the southwest sky. Around 8
p.m. local daylight savings time the slender crescent
moon will be easy to spot about 30 degrees above the horizon. The brightest nearby
"star" will be Jupiter. At magnitude -2.1, the giant planet is 8 times brighter than
Saturn, which glows pale yellow less than 3 degrees west of the Moon. Mars will lie a
scant 1.1 degrees north of Jupiter. The red planet (magnitude 1.4) will be about 3
times fainter than Saturn (magnitude 0.3).

Although the planets and our Moon will appear to be close together,
there's no danger of a collision. While the Moon is only 384,000 km
away from us this week, Mars is 349 million km away; Jupiter is 875
million km away; and Saturn is a whopping 1493 million km distant.
When it comes to the sky, appearances can be deceiving!

Jupiter, Mars, and Saturn will appear to be even closer together on
April 15 when the three will fit inside a circle less than 5 degrees
across. That's the most compact grouping of any 3 planets for the
entire year. Nevertheless, the display on April 6 will be more
beautiful thanks to the delicate crescent Moon as it passes by the
trio.

But wait, there's even more: Cradled in the arms of the crescent Moon will appear the
ghostly outline of the full Moon, a dim glow that astronomers call "Earthshine." Like all
the planets we see in the night sky, the Moon shines because of reflected sunlight.
The side of the Moon facing the sun shines brightly, and the side facing away is nearly
dark. The only significant illumination on the "dark side of the Moon" is due to
Earthshine -- sunlight that bounces off the Earth and falls on the lunar surface. A
slender crescent Moon with Earthshine is widely regarded as one of the most
delicate and beautiful sights in the night sky. It will be difficult to see from urban areas,
but should be easy to view from dark sky locations.



Duane Hilton's rendering of the April 6 planetary
get-together as seen above Bryce Canyon in Utah.


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 207 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Thu, Apr  6, 2000 (19:27) * 7 lines 
 
And...a reprise of April 6th lunar eclipse - one photo I did not have posted because the moon was too small in it...but I still love it.


Total Lunar Eclipse
Fairfield, California
August 6, 1999
David Little



 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 208 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Thu, Apr  6, 2000 (19:43) * 1 lines 
 



 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 209 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Thu, Apr  6, 2000 (19:45) * 1 lines 
 
Please post your comments on whether or not you were able to see the alignment this evening, please.


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 210 of 1087: Wolf  (wolf) * Thu, Apr  6, 2000 (20:17) * 1 lines 
 
the lunar pic is great and i saw the alignment, wouldn't have known they were planets without having read this post first!


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 211 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Thu, Apr  6, 2000 (20:25) * 2 lines 
 
I posted it in the News conference topic I created which I would like to have linked to Geo called Space News. I try to double post if it is important enough. You gonna see it? A friend in Maine just reported cloudy skies. No aurora for him, either. Looks clear to the east, but where this is gonna be is under several layers of thick clouds.
Gotta get you outside some time and teach you constellations. You'd know in a flash that those bright objects did not belong there normally.


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 212 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Thu, Apr  6, 2000 (20:25) * 1 lines 
 
how did they look, woofie???


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 213 of 1087: Wolf  (wolf) * Thu, Apr  6, 2000 (20:35) * 1 lines 
 
i usually see one star next to the moon but because the proximity of these weren't as close as i'd imagined, i wouldn't have thought differently. jupiter is the brightest, then saturn, then mars. am gonna go out and look as it gets darker. (they were in the western sky, doesn't the moon rise in the east?)


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 214 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Thu, Apr  6, 2000 (20:47) * 1 lines 
 
At new moon the moon rises at sunrise and sets at sunset and we cannot see it. It rises an hour later each night (actually more like 55 minutes)until half way thorough its cycle it is full and rising at sunset and setting at sunrise. Oh yeah! Everything rises in the East because we are actually rotating west to east and we make them look that way.


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 215 of 1087: Wolf  (wolf) * Thu, Apr  6, 2000 (21:03) * 1 lines 
 
right, but this crescent moon was low in the western sky and rising towards the east.


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 216 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Thu, Apr  6, 2000 (21:09) * 1 lines 
 
Not rising, sweetie. Look at it again. It should be setting.


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 217 of 1087: Wolf  (wolf) * Thu, Apr  6, 2000 (21:17) * 1 lines 
 
you are sooooo right! *grin* see what happens when it gets darker later? i was wondering why you were saying the moon sets when the sun sets due to the changing rising hour each day!! i got it *laugh*


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 218 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Thu, Apr  6, 2000 (21:20) * 1 lines 
 
Yippee!!! Pleases me as much as it does you -if not more- because you were interested enough to notice!


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 219 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Thu, Apr  6, 2000 (21:21) * 1 lines 
 
Can you see the old moon in the new moon's arms tonight?


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 220 of 1087: Wolf  (wolf) * Thu, Apr  6, 2000 (21:24) * 1 lines 
 
yes. i've always been able to see that.


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 221 of 1087: Wolf  (wolf) * Thu, Apr  6, 2000 (21:24) * 1 lines 
 
if you look at it and kinda screw up your eyes (try not to focus directly), you can tell that the moon is round (and not just a disc in the sky)!!


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 222 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Thu, Apr  6, 2000 (21:35) * 1 lines 
 
Yup! The bright part of the moon is reflecting the sun's light (we are shading the rest) and the shaded part is illuminated by earth shine!!!


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 223 of 1087: Wolf  (wolf) * Thu, Apr  6, 2000 (21:41) * 1 lines 
 
yup. my mom used to tell me it was a reflection of earth and so i thought the land-looking shapes on the moon was a result of the earth (it makes no sense, but as a kid, i didn't either)...she was probably trying to explain to me the different phases of the moon but i took her literally. if they told me the moon was made of cheese, probably would've believed that too *smile*


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 224 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Thu, Apr  6, 2000 (21:46) * 3 lines 
 
Make that AMERICAN cheese...there is a flag up there to prove it *grin*

Kids always have interesting ways of interpreting what we say...that's why I really like talking to kids. I learn more than they do!


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 225 of 1087: anne hale  (ommin) * Thu, Apr  6, 2000 (22:30) * 1 lines 
 
Okay I looked but unfortunately in Western Australia it was still light when the moon was going down and I could only see what I though was Venus, the other planets would not have shown up. Even so it was still an unusual sight. Setting sun, and a crescent moon. I was sad to miss the spectacle.


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 226 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Thu, Apr  6, 2000 (23:26) * 1 lines 
 
There are thick, charcoal grey clouds backed up on the mountain. That is all I will be seeing this evening. Tomorrow they should not be all that farther apart. It will be interesting to see how they move in comparison with each other over the next few nights. We are all orbiting the sun so it should make a good thing to sketch each evening to compare. (I do that sort of thing...!)


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 227 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Fri, Apr  7, 2000 (12:17) * 11 lines 
 
Response 15 of 15: Marcia (MarciaH) * Fri, Apr 7, 2000 (12:16) * 11 lines
NASA Science News for April 7, 2000
Subject: Geomagnetic Storm

A major geomagnetic storm hit our planet on Thursday after an
interplanetary shock wave passed by Earth on April 6, 2000.
Displays of aurora borealis were spotted in Europe, Asia, Canada,
Alaska and in the continental US as far south as North Carolina.
The storm appears to be subsiding, but forecasters note that more
aurorae might be visible Friday night. FULL STORY at
http://spacescience.com/headlines/y2000/ast07apr_2m.htm


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 228 of 1087: Wolf  (wolf) * Mon, Apr 10, 2000 (20:01) * 74 lines 
 
from msnmembers news:

April 10 — Astronomers around the world are focusing on a mysterious pulsing
light in the Big Dipper, trying to figure out whether it’s a newly active black
hole or a neutron star. One of the strangest things about it is its location,
observers say.

THE OBJECT, known as XTE J1118+480, was first spotted March 29 by the Rossi
X-ray Timing Explorer, a satellite that monitors the sky in X-ray wavelengths.
At that time, the mystery object was in the midst of a rapid brightening in
X-rays.

Ron Remillard, a Rossi research scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of
Technology, put out an alert that brought confirmation of the pulsing source
within an hour, from Japanese astronomers.

In the days since then, the object’s rise and fall has been charted by the
Robotic Optical Transient Search Experiment, a full-sky telescope set up at Los
Alamos, N.M., to track quick-changing phenomena like the pulsing light. The
ROTSE team reviewed previous data and found that the object brightened and
dimmed in a four-hour cycle, building up to peaks in January and March.

“Before this recent work, nothing about XTE J1118+480 was known to any branch of astronomy,” Remillard told MSNBC.

Just a few days of analysis have shed a lot more light on the mystery, leading
Remillard to remark that “it’s not entirely a mystery anymore.”

He and other astronomers believe that the source is either a black hole, a
collapsed star so dense that nothing, not even light, can escape its
gravitational grip; or a neutron star, a compact remnant that’s only slightly
less dense than a black hole.

In either case, the outburst isn’t coming from the object itself, but from dust
and gas that’s heated to an explosive glow as it’s sucked toward the object,
Remillard explained.

"We get these X-ray novae that pop up when matter starts flowing from a
companion star into a black hole or in some cases a neutron star,” he said. As
that companion star swings around the more massive object, it may block out
some of the emissions from the outburst, accounting for the variations in
brightness, he said.

What’s particularly interesting about this source is that it has cropped up
high above the galactic plane, where most of the action is, he said.
Astronomers haven’t yet figured out how far away the source is, but Remillard
speculated that the object is a long-dormant black hole that has just become
active in the halo of stars surrounding the denser disk of our Milky Way
galaxy.

“If you had a black hole forming way back then in a binary (star system), it
just may have occasion to reawaken every once in a while, and we just happened
to catch it,” he said.

ROTSE researcher Tim McKay of the University of Michigan said the pulsing
object might also turn out to be much closer to our celestial
neighborhood. “Either of these solutions would be a little bit odd,” he said.

Whatever it is, XTE J1118+480 is currently under close watch by astronomers
ranging from backyard amateurs to investigators with the Hubble Space
Telescope. But skywatchers shouldn’t expect to see the source with the naked
eye: Its peak magnitude of 13 or so brings it within range of a typical 4- to
6-inch (100mm to 150mm) telescope.

McKay said the object’s optical brightness appears to increase about a week
before its X-ray brightness, which adds to the sense of astronomical mystery.

“It may turn out to be not all that exotic,” he said, “but its location
suggests that it may be a different thing.”
===============

a different thing, hmmm...very technical there. couldn't believe i got to this before you, marcia, sweetie! but my pleasure and enjoy!!





 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 229 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Mon, Apr 10, 2000 (21:54) * 1 lines 
 
Thanks, Wolfie...now my turn to hunt for things other than the esthetic, which is what has captured my imagination of late. (How about a topic Esthetic Earth or something like that to make a home for the Fine Arts in a place which is so inspiring?!)


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 230 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Mon, Apr 10, 2000 (21:59) * 1 lines 
 
I can find nothing and your link does not work...*sigh*


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 231 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Tue, Apr 11, 2000 (11:40) * 18 lines 
 
Iridium Program Bankrupt/ Satellites to De-Orbit
http://www.drsky.com/
Over the past few years, the Motorola Iridium project had placed a
constellation of some 66 earth orbiting satellites, to change the future of
cellular communications. The project called for cellular type communications
in almost ALL areas of the globe.
Now the project is bankrupt and the fate of the satellite "constellation" is up to
the push of a few buttons to de-orbit the satellites.

For observers on the ground, the Iridium satellites have been something of a
rare treat. Seeing a "flare" in the sky as the mirrors on the satellites would
glint back at the Earth from space and create a UFO of sorts. "Dr.Sky" has
been viewing these Iridium flares for a few years and they are even seen in
daylight.
Now that the program is ending, why not try and view this relic in the sky for as long as you can. You can visit
the Heavens-Above website to get the latest times of passage for the Iridium satellites. All you need to do is
enter the information for your local observing city.
http://www.heavens-above.com/


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 232 of 1087: Wolf  (wolf) * Tue, Apr 11, 2000 (18:08) * 1 lines 
 
that wasn't a purposeful link. anytime i type the word news, it gets hyperlinked. (see, it did it here)


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 233 of 1087: Wolf  (wolf) * Tue, Apr 11, 2000 (18:09) * 1 lines 
 
now wait, how come it didn't do it there but everywhere else?


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 234 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Tue, Apr 11, 2000 (18:37) * 2 lines 
 
I have had that happen to me, also, but it is usually only when I copy and paste something with that word in it which is NOT necessarily a link. Beats me!



 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 235 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Tue, Apr 11, 2000 (19:16) * 1 lines 
 
Please check http://www.emergingmind.com/schwa/contest.htm


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 236 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Tue, Apr 11, 2000 (19:28) * 2 lines 
 
or this...
http://www.jwp.bc.ca/saulm/index.htm


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 237 of 1087: anne hale  (ommin) * Wed, Apr 12, 2000 (01:19) * 1 lines 
 
okay joined and voted the planetoid's name as Sagan - an Astronomer I admire - I did think about Fred! as in Sir Fred. Hoyle but that was too silly. After all he was always coming up in the Goon show, Fred I mean.


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 238 of 1087: Maggie  (sociolingo) * Wed, Apr 12, 2000 (04:28) * 3 lines 
 
Oh I don't know Anne, at least Fred's easy to remember. I confuse everyone and call my husband that - his name's Tony! He does goon impressions too - not very well!

Tell me about sagan, my education is woefully deficient!


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 239 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Wed, Apr 12, 2000 (11:00) * 1 lines 
 
Maggie, did the PBS show called "Cosmos" ever get to Britain. Carl Sagan did the entire thing, and I liked it so well I taped the entire series. "Billions and Billions" of episodes *grin* He is a late US astronomer of rare talents and we all miss him. Sir Fred was my choice. Thought of According to Hoyle but a bridge master took that. Actually, I have been to a live lecture by Sir Fred Hoyle when he visited Hawaii - it was a huge thrill, though I disagreed with a lot of stuff he wrote. Thanks, Anne. How about the Solar System being named Fred? (I also refer to people we both know their names but...as Fred)


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 240 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Wed, Apr 12, 2000 (12:51) * 141 lines 
 
April 12, 2000 -- Astronomers from all over
the United States and from 10 countries will
converge in Huntsville, Alabama today for a
series of meetings and lectures.
Approximately eighty participants will learn
about the latest findings in the field of
high-energy astrophysics from a dozen
research scientists.

Sounds like another dry scientific meeting,
right?
Wrong.

This workshop is the first of its kind devoted to amateur astronomers. The
participants -- who will attend lectures by leading researchers in x-ray and gamma-ray
astronomy -- are expected to return to their communities and spread the word about
high-energy astrophysics in schools, civic forums and clubs.

"We selected the attendees in part by asking how they would share their knowledge
with others," says Janet Mattei, director of the American Association of Variable Star
Observers (AAVSO), which is co-sponsoring the meeting along with the Marshall
Space Flight Center. "We got some fantastic responses from astronomy club
presidents, planetarium workers, and teachers ... just wonderful responses. There's a
real need to bring high-energy astronomy to the attention of the public, and we think
these are the right people to do it."

But that's not all. Participants will also find out how they can be
involved in cutting-edge research along with NASA scientists.

"The usual connotation of 'amateur' really doesn't apply here," says
NASA/Marshall's Dr. Jerry Fishman, one of the workshop's
organizers. "These are dedicated, well-prepared and
knowledgeable astronomers who use very sophisticated equipment
-- often comparable to professional observatories. Many of them are
able to contribute astronomical data used in forefront astronomical
research."

Monitoring fireballs from gamma-ray bursts and tracking the light curves of variable
stars are two areas where amateur data can make an impact, says Fishman. The
workshop will touch on those topics and more, ranging from gamma-ray explosions at
the edge of the universe to cosmic rays here in the solar system. There will be a
special session entitled "Rapid Observations of GRBs by Amateurs" prompted in
part by the recent detections of gamma-ray burst afterglows by amateurs. The
three-day meeting will conclude on Saturday, April 15 with a lecture by Astronaut Dr.
John Grunsfield entitled "The 1999 HST Servicing Mission and Remarks on High
Energy Astrophysics."

Click for a Preliminary List of Speakers

The Invisible, Violent Heavens

High energy astrophysics is the study of the most violent events in the universe.
Colliding neutron stars, gamma-ray bursts (GRBs), swirling accretion disks around
black holes -- these are just a few of the cosmic wonders visible in the x-ray and
gamma-ray regions of the electromagnetic spectrum. Unfortunately, the short
wavelengths where these events shine brightest are inaccessible from Earth because
our atmosphere filters out most forms of high-energy radiation. (This is a real
nuisance for gamma-ray astronomers, but a good thing for life on our planet!) To
study these objects, astronomers use ultraviolet, x-ray, and gamma-ray detectors on
Earth-orbiting satellites.

Satellite-based astronomy was once the exclusive realm of
professionals, but that's slowly changing.

"Amateurs have been helping scientists with satellite-based
research in variable stars since 1975," says Mattei. "For
example, when the Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer and the
Extreme Ultraviolet Explorer (both are orbiting
observatories) were scheduled to observe the cataclysmic variable star, SS Cygni,
the AAVSO was asked to help. Our members around the world kept a vigil and when
the star flared at optical wavelengths we immediately called our professional
colleagues." Thanks to the rapid alert, professional astronomers were able to point
their satellites at SS Cygni while it was flaring and monitor the enigmatic star at many
wavelengths for the first time.

"In this particular case everything worked! Optical, x-ray, extreme ultraviolet-- we got it
all."

This summer scientists will try to observe another outburst from SS Cygni using
NASA's newest Great Observatory, the Chandra x-ray telescope. Once again the
AAVSO will be called upon to alert professionals that SS Cygni is erupting, says
Mattei.
Another Glowing Accomplishment....
Performing a feat once reserved for trained
professionals, amateurs have lately shown
that they too can photograph the faint optical
afterglows of distant gamma-ray bursts. The
most recent instance was in early March when
an amateur astronomy group in Buffalo, NY,
recorded the fading fireball from a powerful
GRB using a modest 14" telescope and a
home-built CCD camera. In January 1999,
another amateur used a 24" telescope in New
Mexico to record the afterglow from a
gamma-ray burst located near the edge of the
observable Universe.
Right: Nestled 7 arc seconds from a 17th magnitude
foreground star, the 20th magnitude afterglow of GRB
000301C is circled in this CCD image from the US
Naval Observatory 1m telescope in Flagstaff, AZ. Credit: Arne Henden.The optical afterglow was first
detected by the Nordic Optical Telescope in La Palma, Spain and later recorded by amateur
astronomers in Buffalo, NY. [full story]
Theorists believe that studying gamma-ray bursts at optical wavelengths might help
unravel one of the biggest mysteries in modern astronomy: what causes these
powerful gamma-ray explosions? Since astronomers detected the first optical
counterpart of a gamma-ray burst in 1997, they have vigorously pursued the
afterglows using some of the most powerful telescopes including Hubble, Keck, and
Palomar.
Powerful telescopes are important for monitoring afterglows because they fade
quickly, usually dimming to 19th magnitude or fainter just a few hours after the onset
of the explosion. Advances in CCD technology are now bringing these faint fireballs
within reach of dedicated amateur observatories. The afterglow recorded by
amateurs in March, for instance, was 20th magnitude. Astronomy club observatories
still can't record the spectra required to measure redshift-based distances to
afterglows and they probably never will. The objects are simply too faint for
spectroscopy. Redshifts will remain the province of Hubble and Keck for the
foreseeable future.

Nevertheless, amateurs maintain one important advantage over their professional
counterparts -- telescope time. Telescopes like Hubble and Keck are heavily
oversubscribed. These behemoths simply can't turn to look at every single
gamma-ray burst that comes along (GRBs are detected once or twice a day by
Earth-orbiting satellites). With little competition for telescope time, amateur
observatories are much more flexible. Eventually a global network of amateurs might
monitor GRB afterglows nearly around the clock, a feat no single professional
observatory can match.

In fact, amateur observations of gamma-ray bursts seem so promising that the
organizers have scheduled a special session of the workshop on Rapid Observations
of GRBs by Amateurs.
"The most important thing we're doing in this workshop is bringing interested
members of the public into the scientific enterprise and making them a valuable part
of it," concluded Joy. "These people are going to be the true ambassadors of
high-energy astrophysics."
Stay tuned to Science@NASA for more news from the High Energy Workshop for
Amateur Astronomers, held April 12 - 14 near the NASA/Marshall Space Flight
Center in Huntsville, AL.
The MSFC-AAVSO High Energy Astronomy Workshop will be held in conjunction
with the 89th Meeting of the American Association of Variable Star Observers
(AAVSO). This meeting will be held the day after the Workshop, at the same venue
(The Huntsville Marriott).


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 241 of 1087: MarkG  (MarkG) * Thu, Apr 13, 2000 (03:30) * 3 lines 
 
Yes, I remember watching much of Carl Sagan's "Cosmos" on the BBC. It was mesmeric viewing.

(The "according to Hoyle" Hoyle was actually a whist expert, who lived before contract bridge was invented.) :-)


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 242 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Thu, Apr 13, 2000 (14:31) * 1 lines 
 
This is true about Hoyle, but they published bridge how-to books in the US under his name - and probably still do. It is about as far in the game as I ever got...and that was another life long ago in academia. Btw, Mark, your book and brochures were repackaged by an Hawaiian lady postal worker yesterday for the newly created Global Priority. Expect something at work in the beginning of next week...!


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 243 of 1087: Wolf  (wolf) * Thu, Apr 13, 2000 (19:24) * 1 lines 
 
(pssst....marcia....mine get off yet? *smile*)


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 244 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Thu, Apr 13, 2000 (20:56) * 1 lines 
 
YUP...went out with Mark's...but it was wrapped ok. Let me know when it arrived and in what condition. I am accumulating a new one for you *grin*


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 245 of 1087: Wolf  (wolf) * Fri, Apr 14, 2000 (16:36) * 5 lines 
 
already? (mine isn't in yet, but i will let you know)

and check this link

http://www.msnbc.com/news/394725.asp?bt=pu&btu=http://www.msnbc.com/m/olk2k/msnbc_o_install.asp&cp1=1


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 246 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Fri, Apr 14, 2000 (17:13) * 4 lines 
 
I have been posting the Space News on the News Conference hoping more people would see it and read it. I would like to have it linked here...but cannot do it without telnetting and I am not yet able to do that....
http://www.spring.net/yapp-bin/restricted/read/news/36/new

I know I posted that article from the Keck telescope (which I can see from the living room window - on a clear day, that is...! Thanks for the link, Wolfie.


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 247 of 1087: Wolf  (wolf) * Fri, Apr 14, 2000 (21:24) * 1 lines 
 
sure thing!!


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 248 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Fri, Apr 14, 2000 (22:30) * 5 lines 
 
The Home web site of the W. M. Keck Observatory is

http://www2.keck.hawaii.edu:3636/

It looks rather plain but inside there are wondrous thing. Check it out!


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 249 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Fri, Apr 14, 2000 (22:35) * 40 lines 
 
Oh, yes, the specs on that nice Observatory on Mauna Kea (otherwise known as the Backyard...)

The Observatory

Observatory location Mauna Kea, Hawaii USA
Headquarters location Kamuela, Hawaii USA
Sponsoring Institutions California Institute of Technology, NASA & University of California
Project management California Association for Research in Astronomy
Donor W.M. Keck Foundation

The Telescope
Primary mirror design Segment
Number of segments 36
Segment shape Hexagonal
Segment diameter 1.8 meters (6 feet)
Segment weight 880 pounds
Segment material Zerodur (low-expansion glass-ceramic)
Primary mirror diameter 10 meters (33 feet)
Light-collecting area 76 square meters (818 square feet)
Mirror curvature f/1.75 hyperbolic mirror
Focal length 17.5 meters (57.4 feet)
Total weight of glass 14.4 metric tons (15.9 tons)
Telescope mount Altitude-Azimuth
Overall telescope height 24.6 meters (80.7 feet)
Total moving weight with mirrors, 270 metric tons (298 tons)

The Dome
Dome height 30.8 meters (101 feet)
Dome width 37 meters (121.4 feet)
Total moving weight 635 metric tons (700 tons)

The Mountain
Name Mauna Kea
Location 20.708 N, 156.25 W
English Meaning White Mountain
Summit Elevation 4205 meters (13,796 feet)
Keck Elevation 4146 meters (13,603 feet)
Area 2,380 km2 (920 mi2, 22.8% of Hawaii Island)
Volume ~30,000 km3 (~7,200 mi3)



 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 250 of 1087: anne hale  (ommin) * Thu, Apr 20, 2000 (08:17) * 2 lines 
 
Hey, hey, hey, Mark. Sir Frederick Hoyle, Astronomer extraordinaire, Plumian Professer at Cambridge, writer of many books on Astronomy - not Hoyle's on cards etc. Sir Fred Hoyle - is one of the most famous of
british Astronomers - it was him who first interested me in astonomy. He first thought the universe was steady - i.e. steady state universe - but realised he was wrong. He has also written many science fiction books and has had two plays on BBC 1 - sorry to be so long replying but am inundated with reli's from U.K.


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 251 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Thu, Apr 20, 2000 (11:04) * 1 lines 
 
I still think the steady state makes more sense than the "Big Bang"... He is my hero because he is the most famous astronomer I have had the privilege of meeting in person...In Hawaii, no less!


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 252 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Thu, Apr 20, 2000 (12:38) * 7 lines 
 
Just thought you'd be interested...

While the night sky may appear to be full of stars, there are really only about 3,000 stars visible to the naked eye. They can be seen without a telescope as they are either close to the Earth or extremely luminous.

The closest star to Earth, not counting the sun, is Alpha Centauri. It is about 25 trillion miles, or 4.3 light years, away.




 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 253 of 1087: Wolf  (wolf) * Thu, Apr 20, 2000 (20:55) * 1 lines 
 
and we must remember that a lot of the star light we see are just getting to us after first lighting up millions of years ago. isn't that amazing?


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 254 of 1087: anne hale  (ommin) * Fri, Apr 21, 2000 (08:10) * 1 lines 
 
Hey Marcia you have met my hero Fred Hoyle, you lucky lucky girl, he is one man I have always wanted to meet (apart from one other than is who shall be nameless!! Marcia knows) - but afraid I would be totally tongue tied with his great intelligence and way with words. I am almost inclined to agree with you Marcia re steady state cause I am not sure the universe is expanding as they say. I am not sure re the doppler affect also. The galaxies seem to move at such extreme speeds that it is beyond understanding. One thing I have wondered about when they look back and see quasars at some 16 billion light years away - are we seeing our past or what? Answers please. Or at least some thoughts.


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 255 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Fri, Apr 21, 2000 (15:34) * 11 lines 
 
*grin* Anne, he is shorter than I am...but droll and dapper - very appropriate-looking for a British Astronomer, I thought. I have spent my entire life with academics. They are no different from anyone else. I find it easy to speak with anyone because they are individuals, and I approach them that way.

What we see beyond the considered 15 billion year age for the solar system is seeing the universe BEFORE we were coalesced into a galaxy. We were loosely joined star-stuff. If we could see a planet of the same age as we are ourselves at any distance in the realm of light years we would be seeing them as we were. More easy to understand is if we were to go there, we would see us in a far distant past.

NASA Science News for April 21, 2000
Amateur astronomers attended a unique meeting in mid-April to
learn about high-energy astrophysics and how they can participate
in it. FULL STORY at

http://science.nasa.gov/headlines/y2000/ast21apr_1m.htm



 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 256 of 1087: World Builder  (MarciaH) * Wed, Apr 26, 2000 (12:29) * 39 lines 
 
EXPLODING STAR FEATURED ON WEB SITE
Wednesday, April 26, 2000 16:04

A spectacular view of an exploding star was released today on a new
web site launched to mark the Hubble Space Telescope's 10th year in
orbit.
The multi-coloured fireball, some 6,500 light years from Earth in the
constellation Aquila, looks like a giant eye in space.
A few thousand years ago a dying star about the same size as the Sun
erupted and threw off its outer layers to create the "planetary
nebula" NGC 6751.
Shells of gas were hurled into space at speeds of 25 miles per
second, glowing with the strong ultra-violet radiation emitted by the
star's hot exposed core.
The celestial cataclysm offers a sobering vision of what is in store
for us.
Our own Sun is predicted to undergo the same death throes in about
six billion years' time. When it happens nothing in the Solar System,
including the Earth, will escape destruction.
The image is one of a number of dramatic pictures now available on
the new Internet site http://hubble.stsci.edu
Others include infant galaxies that existed billions of years ago,
and tall, gaseous pillars that serve as incubators for embryonic
stars.
NGC 6751 shows several poorly understood features. Blue regions mark
the hottest glowing gas, forming a ring around the central stellar
remnant.
Orange and red colours mark the locations of cooler gas, which tends
to lie in long streamers pointing away from the central star, and in
a tattered ring around the edge of the nebula.
The origin of the cooler clouds within the nebula is still uncertain,
but the streamers are evidence that they are affected by radiation
and raging winds from the hot star at the centre. The star's surface
temperature is estimated to be a scorching 140,000C.
Hubble will be decommissioned in 2010 and replaced by the even more
powerful Next Generation Space Telescope.
© Press Association

Thanks for this, Maggie


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 257 of 1087: Maggie  (sociolingo) * Sun, Apr 30, 2000 (11:56) * 0 lines 
 


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 258 of 1087: Maggie  (sociolingo) * Sun, Apr 30, 2000 (12:01) * 0 lines 
 


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 259 of 1087: Maggie  (sociolingo) * Sun, Apr 30, 2000 (13:06) * 7 lines 
 

Universal Pictures



Not content with mapping the world with its Terraserver project
(http://www.terraserver.com)
Microsoft is expanding its sights to include the entire universe. The company is setting up a database of digitised images of the sky, using pictures taken from the automated Sloan Digital Sky Survey, which is currently collecting 200m shots of the cosmos. Microsoft which hopes the project will show how reliable the database products are, has a prototype of the website
Try http://www.sdss.org which will eventually let users click on any part of the night sky to zoom in and see more detail. It looks a great site now and has lots in it.



 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 260 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Sun, Apr 30, 2000 (13:41) * 1 lines 
 
Thanks!!! (having trouble with html programming?!)


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 261 of 1087: Maggie  (sociolingo) * Mon, May  1, 2000 (00:44) * 1 lines 
 
yeah, I'll send you what i did (yesterday was not a good time to send it for checking!), so i did it the old way again.


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 262 of 1087: Maggie  (sociolingo) * Tue, May  2, 2000 (01:59) * 1 lines 
 
Isn't there a planetary conjunction due early this month?


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 263 of 1087: Maggie  (sociolingo) * Tue, May  2, 2000 (02:01) * 26 lines 
 
Planet earth gets a whole lot lighter

IT HAS taken more than 300 years but science’s weightiest problem may at last have been solved. A group of American physicists has finally found an accurate way of weighing the Earth

Tomorrow they will formally announce to the American Phys-ical Society that the Earth weighs 5,972 billion billion tonnes — about 10 billion bil-lion tonnes less than the best previous estimates. It is both a scientific landmark and the cul-mination of an international race, which Britain has lost. A rival group at Birmingham Uni-versity was within days of com-ing up with its own figure.

The work was carried out by Professor Jens Gundlach, of the University of Washington, Seat-tle. “We are confident that we now know the mass of our home planet more precisely than it has ever been known to mankind,” he said.

Scientists have fought over the planet’s weight since the 17th century; when Sir Isaac Newton first described how the Sun and the planets orbiting around it were held together by gravity — a force related to their masses.

Newton worked out the basic rules of gravity, but lacked the equipment to measure the so-called gravitational constant. Without this he could only guess at the figures that have intrigued physicists ever since: the exact weight of Earth, the other planets and the sun.

Since then scores of physi-cists have come up with values for Big G, as the constant has become known. Henry Cavend-ish came close in 1798 but his result, like all others since, was very inaccurate.

All bodies exert a gravita-tional pull on other bodies around them. Its size depends on bow much they weigh and the distance between them. For anything less-massive than a star or planet the force is tiny. Most laboratory experiments have therefore been based on making highly accurate meas-urements of the attraction between two masses — usually lumps of metal. The tiny forces generated tend, however, to be swamped by others such as Earth’s own gravity, air move-ments and temperature changes. Even lorries parking near a labo-ratory can alter the results.

Gundlach spent £160,000 constructing an apparatus mounted on turntables which were rotated to cancel out local anomalies. In his final set-up a small plate was suspended by a tungsten thread in a slowly rotat-ing cylinder. Then, a set of mas-sive weights mounted outside the cylinder was spun in the opposite direction — creating a gravitational pull on the plate. This put a tiny, measurable twisting force on the thread. -“The total force acting on the plate was equivalent to the weight of a bacterium,” said Gundlach. “It was amazingly hard t measure.” He believes the effects of his work will be profound. Apart from shaving billions of tonnes off previous estimates of Earth’s mass, it should give geologists a better idea of the density of the planet — ena-bling them to work out what is happening in the molten layers beneath the surface. Astrophysi-cists may also be able to get a better idea of the age of the uni-verse and bow long it will last.

Perhaps the greatest benefit could be for cosmologists searching for the so-called grand unified theory, which sci-entists hope will one day explain the forces that first cre-ated the universe and which have since governed the behav-iour of everything — from stars to sub-atomic particles.

Other scientists, however, are not optimistic. Clive Speake, of Birmingham University’s exper-imental gravitational physics group, is working on data from a separate experiment from which results for Big G and the Earth’s weight are also expected this week. He described Gundlach’s results as “pretty incredible” and added: “I nearly fell off my chair when I read his report. Nobody else has ever pretended to find these values with such a high level of accuracy. The test will be whether he and others can repeat this.”

Gundlach, however, has also worked out the weight of the sun. But at 1.988 billion billion billion tonnes, even he accepts there is room for error. “We could be wrong by billions of tonnes— but it is still the clos-est we have got,” he said.

Jonathan Leake Science Editor, The Sunday Times, April 30th 2000



 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 264 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Tue, May  2, 2000 (11:48) * 12 lines 
 
Yes, May 5, 2000 is the grand alignment and it will not be visible because they are lined-up on the other side of the sun from us and will be lost in the glare.
Posted Earlier in Space Sceince News re the Grand Alignment:
May 5, 2000. Is doom at hand, as many mystics assert? Find out
by reading the FULL STORY at
http://science.nasa.gov/headlines/y2000/ast30mar_1m.htm
Planets for Dessert
Also, for kids and kids-at-heart, a younger person's version of this
article is available at the NASA Kids web site:
http://kids.msfc.nasa.gov/news/2000/news-planetalign.asp?se





 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 265 of 1087: _cosmo_  (aa9il) * Tue, May  2, 2000 (22:37) * 16 lines 
 
I was on my way to Geo27 but had to stop here for a bit...

Very interesting stuff - another hobby interest is in
radio astronomy/SETI. Once I get the dish mounted, I
can start work on a hydrogen line receiver (1.4ghz)
then I can listen to all the light dimmers in the
neighborhood. I have seen plans for simple RA setups
in the 400mhz and 12ghz range but I want to focus on
L band stuff but there is some interesting signals heard
around 5ghz as well - not sure if my 8ft dish will be
any good but I have to start somewhere (plus need to find
a 30ft dish...) - data crunching will be on the old P90.
Any other radio astronomers out there?

Mike



 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 266 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Tue, May  2, 2000 (22:44) * 1 lines 
 
Spent 4 years in shouting distance of Green Bank, W Va and have seen Jodrell Bank as well. I'd love to be a mouse in the corner while you work with your array. Great stuff. SETI has a great website. Now, we are expecting photos of you at the controls. Must have a handy analyzer (used to be an oscilliscope sp?!) Please let us know what is happening as you create your listening post! I, for one, am very interested!


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 267 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Wed, May  3, 2000 (17:11) * 16 lines 
 
http://www.msnbc.com/news/399686.asp Please check this out!

April 26 — A telescope that took a 10-day
balloon ride over Antarctica has provided
the most detailed glimpse ever into the
fossil universe, as well as the best
evidence yet that the cosmos conforms to
classic geometry. The Boomerang
experiment also confirms that all the
matter we can see — from germs to
galaxy clusters — accounts for only a
small fraction of the universe.

More at the above url. Thanks, Ginny!




 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 268 of 1087: Maggie  (sociolingo) * Thu, May  4, 2000 (05:44) * 1 lines 
 
(Patrick Moore (the 'Sky at Night' guy) is doing a live evening locally next month on'the Universe'. I am trying to persuade the house male to take me.)


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 269 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Thu, May  4, 2000 (13:00) * 1 lines 
 
Oh yes! Promise him anything! I would in similar circumstances. (How do you think we got to see Sir Fred Hoyle?!)


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 270 of 1087: anne hale  (ommin) * Fri, May  5, 2000 (06:21) * 1 lines 
 
Patrick Moore is very, very special one of my favourite men - he is totally eccentric - totally given over to astronomy, talks the fastest I have ever heard in a quarter of an hour on the "Sky at Night" he got in half an hours worth of facts every month. He is I believe probably the greatest amateur astronomer ever. If you can get him on here I would be delighted - he would respond you know, I used to write to him in the U.K. and he always was delighted to respond, Fred Hoyle apart he is my favourite. Do try to contact him someone in the U.K. We had a delightful chappie on our channel nine programme this morning (Australia) that is talking about the planet alighment using a chocolate cake as an example! Pointing out that this alighment was not as near as many others but on the other hand it wouldn't be until 2690 before another like it! I was somewhat puzzled as I thought it was every 75 years or so.


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 271 of 1087: anne hale  (ommin) * Fri, May  5, 2000 (06:22) * 1 lines 
 
Please excuse spelling. But I would be most interested in any response to my question.


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 272 of 1087: Maggie  (sociolingo) * Fri, May  5, 2000 (13:24) * 1 lines 
 
I've no idea at the moment how to contact him Anne, but it would be great if we could get him interested. Have you heard him play the xylophone? He is truly extraordinary! I took down notes from last months sky at night, but haven't got round to posting them yet (can't find the pad I wrote on!). He also used to play the 'ask me any question about any computer game' quiz master on a kids programme on TV. I will definitely book to go and hear him, with or without the house male!


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 273 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Fri, May  5, 2000 (13:47) * 1 lines 
 
For years I subscribed to the Illustrated London News and adored it and most especially Partick Moore's regular contributions. I'm lining up behind you in the ranks of those who admire this most interesting man. ( I would suggest contacting him through where ever he is now publishing articles.)


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 274 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Mon, May  8, 2000 (18:42) * 13 lines 
 
A Hubble Decade

To celebrate the Hubble Space Telescope's 10th
anniversary, the Space Telescope Science Institute in
Baltimore, Md., has created a new Web site devoted to the
Earth-orbiting telescope and its spectacular images. Offering
much more than pretty pictures, the site recounts Hubble's
discoveries, illustrates how the telescope works, and
suggests various educational activities and games. Until
June 6, you can also vote on which celestial object
astronomers should point the Hubble telescope to.

Go to: http://hubble.stsci.edu/ and http://heritage.stsci.edu/


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 275 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Mon, May  8, 2000 (19:22) * 11 lines 
 
Lost and Found: Hubble Finds Much of the Universe's Missing Hydrogen
For the past decade astronomers have looked for vast quantities of
hydrogen that were cooked up in the Big Bang but somehow managed to
disappear in the empty blackness of space. Now, NASA's Hubble Space
Telescope has uncovered this long-sought missing hydrogen. This gas
accounts for nearly half of the "normal" matter in the universe -- the rest is
locked up in galaxies. The confirmation of this missing hydrogen will shed
new light on the large-scale structure of the universe. The detection also
confirms fundamental models of how so much hydrogen was manufactured in
the first few minutes of the universe's birth in the Big Bang.



 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 276 of 1087: Ginny  (vibrown) * Tue, May  9, 2000 (01:00) * 3 lines 
 
I also admire Carl Sagan and Patrick Moore, and have some of their books. Moore's "A-Z of Astronomy" is a great reference for quick (and easy to understand) explanations of astronomical terms.

BTW, nice new marble background, Marcia!


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 277 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Tue, May  9, 2000 (11:47) * 1 lines 
 
Thank you for joining the Moore-Sagan fan club and for your approval of the new marble. Moore's column is the one thing I miss the most about no longer subacribing to the Illustrated London News. It was a slendid magazine until they sold it and "modernized" it. Read: They added many more adverts and removed lots of the serious content - especially the archaeology!


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 278 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Thu, May 11, 2000 (15:16) * 28 lines 
 
Ginny posted this in Science conference - and it was important enough that I am pasting it to here...

Friday, May 5
Missing Matter Found At Last

Astronomers announced on Wednesday that they have at long
last found an elusive component of the universe's missing
mass. The "dark matter" is in the form of giant clouds of
hydrogen in intergalactic space. Such streams of gas were
presumed to exist, as computer models showed matter
collecting into ribbons as the universe cooled after the Big
Bang. (Galaxies formed where the gas was densest.) Evidence
for the hydrogen was revealed in spectra of a quasar taken by
the Hubble Space Telescope. As light from a quasar travels
toward Earth, some of the light is absorbed by atoms in the
clouds. The redshifts of gases at different distances create
spectral features at different, specific wavelengths. Todd Tripp
and Edward Jenkins (Princeton University) and Blair Savage
(University of Wisconsin-Madison) determined that the quasar's
light had several absorption features due to ionized oxygen,
which, the astronomers note, is a "tracer" for the hydrogen
(itself invisible). Tripp and his colleagues explain that these
hydrogen ribbons can account for as much as half of the
universe's "normal" matter (that which is composed of protons
and neutrons, as atomic nuclei are). The results appear in the
May 1st Astrophysical Journal Letters. See the online press
release: http://oposite.stsci.edu/pubinfo/pr/2000/18/



 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 279 of 1087: Cheryl  (CherylB) * Thu, May 11, 2000 (16:53) * 1 lines 
 
It was never really missing. It was there all along; we just didn't know where or how to look for it.


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 280 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Thu, May 11, 2000 (17:03) * 1 lines 
 
Of course...*grin*


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 281 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Thu, May 18, 2000 (00:44) * 2 lines 
 
Please check
http://www.spring.net/yapp-bin/restricted/read/Geo/34.66


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 282 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Thu, May 18, 2000 (20:07) * 49 lines 
 
Atlantis Shuttle Poised for Friday Launch
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (Reuters) - The space shuttle Atlantis was poised
on its launch pad on Thursday, ready to send astronauts on a long-delayed
repair and supply mission to the International Space Station, which is running
short of power and slowly losing orbit.
NASA scheduled liftoff for 6:12 a.m. EDT on Friday following a month of
delays caused by bad weather, a crowded schedule of unmanned launches
and the astronaut commander's badly sprained ankle, which has now healed
after an in-training injury.
When commander James Halsell docks Atlantis to the space station early on
Sunday, the crew of six Americans and one Russian will be arriving at an
outpost whose completion is more than two years behind schedule and
months away from seeing its first long-duration crew.
The unfinished $60 billion project will need repairs before construction can
even resume.
In April, bad weather caused the U.S. space agency to scrap the Atlantis
launch on three consecutive days. Air Force forecasters were predicting
perfect weather for Friday's launch.
The first priority on the 10-day Atlantis mission is to restore full power to one
of the two station modules now in orbit. Astronauts will replace four of six
solar charged batteries that no longer fully recharge.
The crew will also use thrusters on Atlantis to boost the station's orbit about
17 miles to a standard orbit of some 235 miles. Although the Earth's
atmosphere is extremely thin at such distances, it has been enough to
reduce the station's orbit by about 1.5 miles a week.
With the boost, the station can be properly positioned for an automatic
docking with its next major component, a Russian service module with living
quarters and enough fuel to keep the station up on its own. The Russians
plan to launch the module, dubbed Zvezda, in mid-July.
Space-walking astronauts will also try to lock-down a wobbly construction
crane outside the station.
The mission was announced in February as Zvezda's launch was repeatedly
delayed by trouble in the cash-strapped Russian space program. By then it
had become clear the station would need stop gap repairs.
``We didn't think it would be this long before we got more modules up there,''
said the station's operations manager, Bob Cabana, who as an astronaut
commanded the first assembly mission in 1998.
NASA took four astronauts already in training for a supply mission Halsell,
pilot Scott Horowitz, and mission specialists Mary Ellen Weber and Jeffery
Williams and teamed them with a Russian cosmonaut and two American
astronauts Yuri Usachev, Susan Helms and James Voss training in Moscow
to become the second crew to live aboard the station.
And even though the fledgling station is six months away from seeing its first
live-aboard crew, and 12 months from hosting any serious science, NASA
has called this mission a jump-start for the program.
``By this time next year, we'll have a real space station up there with a
laboratory and an airlock and electrical power and a crew on-board,'' Cabana
told reporters on Thursday. ``I think people ought to stop doubting and start
believing, because we're launching.''


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 283 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Fri, May 26, 2000 (14:41) * 10 lines 
 
NASA Science News for May 26, 2000

The pioneering space station concepts of the mid-1950's
don't look much like the erector-set habitat in orbit today.
Read about Werner von Braun's early designs for an outpost in
space and how he advocated his ideas to the public 50 years
ago. FULL STORY at

http://science.nasa.gov/headlines/y2000/ast26may_1m.htm?l=NzMwMjk2IG1hcmNpQEFMT0hBLk5FVCBTTkdMSVNUIC66FwsfrRgz



 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 284 of 1087: Maggie  (sociolingo) * Sun, Jun  4, 2000 (11:38) * 71 lines 
 
Sunday Times 4/6/2000

Britons open eye on dawn of universe
Jonathan Leake, Science Editor

BRITISH astronomers are designing the world's ultimate telescope - so large it will be able to make direct observations of life-bearing planets in other solar systems.
The so-called Overwhelmingly Large Telescope (Owl) will also see across space to the edge of the universe - collecting light emitted 11 billion years ago from the first stars formed.

The insights it provides, say astronomers, will be stupendous. Sir Martin Rees, the astronomer royal, said the project was "the next big step" in probing the origins of the universe. "It will be looking at more distant and fainter objects than ever before - including some that formed close to the big bang," he said.

A telescope capable of such feats has long seemed an astronomer's fantasy. The crucial part of any telescope is its reflector, essentially a mirror, which focuses light into cameras and other instruments. The largest telescope made has a reflector 10 metres in diameter, tiny compared with the 100 metres needed for the Owl device.

Until now astronomers had not even considered such a project. A 100-metre glass mirror is beyond modern technology, would be too heavy to move and would be pointless because of the way light is distorted when it passes through the atmosphere.

At Durham University, however, a team of physicists has designed a system that replaces traditional reflectors with hundreds of thin flexible mirrors with just a fraction of the weight. Such mirrors may even be made of fabrics sprayed with reflective coatings.

These can be built onto a flexible frame whose shape is computer-adjusted thousands of times a minute to counteract the distorting effects of the atmosphere.

The result has been to cut the cost of the project to about £800m - less than the total cost of the Millennium Dome.

Roger Davies, professor of astronomy at Durham, said the system meant ground-based telescopes would be able to make observations as if they were floating in space. "We will be able to see other planets clearly enough to measure water on their surface and oxygen in their atmospheres. Such planets could be capable of bearing carbon-based life," he said.

The obstacles, however, remain formidable. Even with its advanced optics it will have to be built in the highest, driest place that can be found. The most likely spot is Cerro Paranal, high in the Andes mountains in Chile.

"The cost means Britain cannot go it alone on this - it will be an international project," said Professor Ian Halliday, chief executive of the Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council, the government's funding agency for such research, when he unveiled the scheme last week.

He is negotiating to link Britain with the eight European countries, including Germany, France, Italy and Holland, who already run the European Southern Observatory in Chile.

Among the most important questions the Owl telescope would resolve is the structure and origin of the universe.

What puzzles astronomers is why stars and galaxies are not spread around at random but occur in clusters with huge empty voids in between. More recently it emerged that galaxies often string themselves together into long filaments or form into flat sheets.

The limited power of modern telescopes means they cannot provide enough detail to explain such phenomena. By contrast, the Owl telescope's ability to collect radiation from stars as they looked billions of years ago will allow astronomers to examine what was going on to create such unexpected patterns today.

Its huge dish will also enable it to peer through the intergalactic clouds of dust that hide the hearts of galaxies and watch new stars being born.

But it is the search for life on other planets that provides the most powerful inspiration for building such telescopes. Designs are being drawn up at the UK Astronomy Technology Centre in Edinburgh.

But Britain's astronomers are not driven only by lofty ideals. In the past few years there has been an increasing sense of frustration as Britain's telescopes have been eclipsed by others.

The Americans, for example, have now got the Keck telescope, whose 10-metre reflector is the biggest in the world.

Britain's European partners also have some spectacular facilities, in particular the very large telescope comprising four linked 8-metre reflectors that is nearing completion in Chile.

Britain has taken no part in this project or any others of note except for paying a quarter of the costs of the Gemini observatory comprising two 8-metre telescopes, one in Hawaii and the other in Chile.

It means that, unless the UK can initiate a large telescope project or buy into an existing one, it will soon be marginalised.

Halliday said: "Britain has a long and proud history in astronomy and the Overwhelmingly Large Telescope is the kind of project we must get involved in to maintain that record."
























 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 285 of 1087: Maggie  (sociolingo) * Sun, Jun  4, 2000 (11:39) * 1 lines 
 
oops sorry


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 286 of 1087: Maggie  (sociolingo) * Sun, Jun  4, 2000 (11:40) * 1 lines 
 
trying to correct


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 287 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Sun, Jun  4, 2000 (14:44) * 1 lines 
 
You did just fine - I am going to leave it - momentous as it is! Thanks for posting it.


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 288 of 1087: _cosmo_  (aa9il) * Thu, Jun  8, 2000 (19:27) * 9 lines 
 
Hi All

There was something in the most recent Astronomy magazine about
the adaptation of military technology to telescopes to eliminate
'twinkle' - this had to do with making adjustments to the reflector
mirror as well. Anyway, cool stuff - hope it gets built.

Mike



 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 289 of 1087: Maggie  (sociolingo) * Fri, Jun 23, 2000 (03:49) * 27 lines 
 
Scientists Find Evidence of Water on Mars
By Maggie Fox, Health and Science Correspondent

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Astronomers said they had found convincing evidence that water flows on the surface of Mars, a finding that makes it much more likely life could exist or has existed on the planet. Photographs from NASA's orbiting Mars Global Surveyor show gullies that look like they could have been formed only by large amounts of water bursting out and causing landslides, scientists Michael Malin and Kenneth Edgett said on Thursday.

``We see features that look like gullies formed by flowing water and the deposits of soil and rocks transported by these flows,'' Malin, of Malin Space Science Systems in San Diego, said in a statement. ``The features appear to be so young that they might be forming today. We think we are seeing evidence of a ground water supply, similar to an aquifer.''

Channels carved by flash floods in the U.S. West look very similar to the Martian gullies, said Mike Carr, a planetary geologist at the U.S. Geological Survey. ``These images are dead ringers for things we see when we fly over the West,'' Carr, who wrote a book about water on Mars, said in an interview.

Malin and Edgett have been poring over some 65,000 images taken by a camera aboard the Mars Global Surveyor in the past year. What they saw shocked them.
Right where they would least expect to find water, in the coldest crannies of craters facing away from the Sun and toward the poles, they found gullies. The most logical explanation is that they were formed by water. ``I was dragged to this conclusion kicking and screaming,'' Edgett told a news conference.

The findings are astonishing because scientists had believed that water on Mars could only exist in frozen form, beneath the soil or tied up in polar icecaps, and as extremely sparse clouds in the thin Martian atmosphere.

``The presence of liquid water on Mars has profound implications for the question of life not only in the past, but perhaps even today,'' Ed Weiler, NASA's associate administrator for space science, told the news conference.
``If life ever did develop there, and if it survives to the present time, then these landforms would be great places to look,'' said Weiler.

The evidence is also overwhelming that the landslides were recent. Craters quickly pockmark everything on the surface of Mars, but no craters can be found in the piles of rock and dirt below the slides. Some of the slides also pile up over sand dunes, which themselves are transient. And intriguing glints of light and dark suggest there has not been time for the ubiquitous Martian dust that coats everything on the planet with a red powder to settle in some of the gullies.

The new conclusions will have to be confirmed. The paper does not say that water itself has been detected -- only structures that, if found on Earth, would have been formed by water seeping up from underground, then building up under pressure and bursting out in an explosion of mud. ``I bet when this data gets out in the science community, there will be all sorts of proposals about how you could do this without water,'' Carr said.

Malin and Edgett say they plan to study more pictures in the hope of finding one of these landslides in action. ``I personally will feel better when he shows me a picture some day ... and a channel has moved, a boulder has moved,'' Weiler said.

The findings are a huge boost to NASA, which lost two Mars missions in a row late last year. The space agency is planning missions to Mars in 2003 and 2005 which will include the use of a robot to sample the planet's surface. ``It is very pleasing to be up on the dais talking about something positive for a change,'' Weiler said. ``It feels a lot better than crashing a satellite,'' he added later. NASA has admitted it may have cut a few too many corners in recent Mars missions. ``We pushed a little too far on faster, better, cheaper,'' Weiler said. ``We need to take a step back.'' But, he pointed out, the Mars Global Surveyor was the result of the ``faster, better, cheaper'' approach.
``I think one of the most interesting and significant aspects of this discovery is what it could mean if human explorers ever go to Mars,'' said Malin.
``If water is available in substantial volumes in areas other than the poles, it would make it easier for human crews to access and use it -- for drinking, to create breathable air, and to extract oxygen and hydrogen for rocket fuel or to be stored for use in portable energy sources.''



 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 290 of 1087: Maggie  (sociolingo) * Fri, Jun 23, 2000 (03:51) * 3 lines 
 
Try:
http://www.starport.com/mars/
for more Mars specific info


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 291 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Fri, Jun 23, 2000 (17:41) * 1 lines 
 
I posted this yesterday on Geo 34 but thank you for putting another version in full here! *hugs*


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 292 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Thu, Jun 29, 2000 (18:29) * 51 lines 
 
Science News

Model Tracks Storms from the Sun
R. Cowen
Hell hath no fury like a solar storm.

When the sun blows its top, it hurls
billions of tons of electrically charged gas
into space at speeds up to 2,000
kilometers per second.

Now, a group of astronomers has
developed a reliable method for
predicting how long it will take these
storms to hit Earth. There, they can
disrupt satellites, hamper radio
communications, and knock out power
grids.

Another team has gathered observations that confirm a model
of how the sun's outer atmosphere, or corona, manages to
store up enough magnetic energy to induce these upheavals.

Both teams reported their findings this week at a meeting of
the American Astronomical Society in Stateline, Nev.

The new calculations of solar storms' arrival times relied on
observations by two spacecraft. SOHO (Solar and
Heliospheric Observatory) stares directly at the sun and
measures the speed of massive clouds of electrified gas
known as coronal mass ejections. Those clouds that head
toward Earth are detected by another spacecraft, called Wind,
about an hour before they arrive.

Predicting the travel time for a coronal mass ejection is a tricky
business. Once launched from the sun, these clouds must
make their way through the solar wind, the vast stream of ions
that continuously blows out from the sun. Like the current of a
great river acting on a tossed twig, the solar wind tends to pull
slowermoving material up to its own speed and hold back
material that sets off at a higher speed.

more...http://www.sciencenews.org/20000624/fob1.asp










 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 293 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Sun, Jul  9, 2000 (16:41) * 11 lines 
 

The SOHO C2 coronagraph captured this image of a sungrazing comet 0.75 degrees from the
Sun on April 29, 2000. The solid brick-colored disk in the middle is the coronagraph's occulting disk;
the white circle shows the true size of the Sun. The comet was noticed by four different amateur
astronomers who were monitoring images from SOHO's realtime data page. All four (M. Boschat, T.
Lovejoy, M. Oates, R. Gorelli) are credited with the discovery. The same comet was visible a day
earlier in wider-angle C3 images, but it was much fainter. This 4-frame animation of the comet
illustrates why it is easier to find sungrazers when they are very close to the Sun.

http://science.nasa.gov/headlines/y2000/ast07jul_1.htm?list



 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 294 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Sun, Jul  9, 2000 (16:42) * 0 lines 
 


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 295 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Sun, Jul  9, 2000 (16:44) * 3 lines 
 
Caption above for this image:




 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 296 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Sun, Jul  9, 2000 (18:08) * 14 lines 
 
COMET LINEAR

NASA Science News for July 05, 2000

Comet 1999 LINEAR S4, which can already be seen
through binoculars, is expected to become a faint
naked-eye object similar in appearance to the
Andromeda Nebula as it glides by the Big Dipper
this month. Maximum brightness is expected on
July 23, 2000.

FULL STORY at

http://spacescience.com/headlines/y2000/ast05jul_1m.htm?list


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 297 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Sun, Jul  9, 2000 (18:12) * 9 lines 
 
TIME LAPSE IMAGE OF COMET LINEAR



This time-lapse sequence of Comet LINEAR-S4 was taken
on July 2, 2000, from Arizona and shows the comet's movement
over only 19 minutes. Credit & Copyright: Wil Milan





 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 298 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Sun, Jul  9, 2000 (19:22) * 7 lines 
 
Comet Linear information pages:

http://www.cometlinear.com/

http://www.skypub.com/sights/comets/0007linearS4.html

Enjoy, photograph and post your comments!!!


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 299 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Sun, Jul 16, 2000 (13:17) * 14 lines 
 
Last Night's Aurora Report:

Location: Bakersfield, CA (N118.00 W035.00)
UTC Date/Time of Observation: 2000/07/14 at 08:17 for 01 hours 00 minutes.
Dimmest Stars Visible: 4th to 5th Mag.
Estimated Intensity of Activity: Moderate
Elevation angle of activity above horizon: 120 degrees
Types of activity observed: (Discrete Arcs) (Rays) (Curtains)
Light Pollution: Moderate
Sky Conditions (cloudy or not): Clear View
Estimated Lunar Interference: High (Near-Full Moon)
Comments:
I have never seen it here before... my mother lives 75 miles away and described almost exactly the same thing I saw!



 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 300 of 1087: anne hale  (ommin) * Sun, Jul 16, 2000 (20:32) * 1 lines 
 
okay. I seem to be the only one who saw the lunar eclipse last night. I live in Perth, Western Australia, as it was a somewhat showery evening, I had to dodge between the showers. Nevertheless it was an awesome sight. The moon looked first time as if it was smoke covered, red coloured and rather smaller than usual. Gradually the red colour took over although it still seemed to be on fire - rather strange. It was weird and rather peculiar, and I can imagine some 100/200 years ago would have caused panic. Portents and goodness knows what else. It was well worth seeing and lasted for some three hours. I apologise for not taking a picture but the weather was to unstable to chance staying outside too long.


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 301 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Sun, Jul 16, 2000 (23:28) * 1 lines 
 
Anne, a million thanks for that report. Scroll back and see my son's pix (I'l post the url for the exact place) so you can compare the last lunar eclipse.


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 302 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Mon, Jul 17, 2000 (00:57) * 5 lines 
 
For all of the most current Aurora reports please check
http://www.spacew.com/www/auroras.html

Looks like England had the best show!



 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 303 of 1087: Cheryl  (CherylB) * Mon, Jul 17, 2000 (16:40) * 1 lines 
 
I heard about the lunar eclipse on the news. They showed people in Japan viewing it.


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 304 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Tue, Jul 18, 2000 (00:51) * 8 lines 
 
Yeah.....I got to watch a downpour but some others saw it at 2am here so I am really unhappy for having missed it. Oh well.

For my son's images ofd the previous lunar eclipse

http://www.spring.net/yapp-bin/public/read/geo/24.97

http://www.spring.net/yapp-bin/public/read/geo/24.207



 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 305 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Wed, Jul 19, 2000 (13:54) * 2 lines 
 
Chris report Last night's aurora from Eastern Pennsylvania as being green, pink and blue with stars sparkling through it. He prnounced it beautiful. It was his first experience seeing it. I am delighted - now if I can only get him to post his report next time.....sigh



 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 306 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Wed, Jul 19, 2000 (14:01) * 1 lines 
 
Um.....that comment about posting ones own report was not just directed at Chris. We all like to read someone other than my words on any topic. Ok?!


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 307 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Thu, Jul 20, 2000 (01:02) * 15 lines 
 
Unveiling the Infrared Sky

NASA Science News for July 20, 2000

Your home computer can become a portal to a
wonderland of stars, thanks to a massive release
of images from an infrared sky survey sponsored
by NASA and the National Science Foundation. The
current release is based on a volume of data
several hundred times larger than that contained
in the human genome!

FULL STORY at

http://science.nasa.gov/headlines/y2000/ast20jul_1.htm?list


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 308 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Fri, Jul 21, 2000 (12:01) * 33 lines 
 
Coronal Mass Ejection

21 July 2000

There is high probability that the CME (Coronal Mass
Ejection) from the major M-class solar flare of
19 July 2000 will arrive today. It is expected to
hit the Earth almost head-on. It is not expected
to be as intense as this last weekend's event.

Auroral activity is expected to increase to storm
levels on 21 July 2000. There is a good chance for
observations of auroral activity from many dark-sky
middle latitude regions, particularly prior to
midnight when the moon is still below the horizon
and optimal observing conditions exist. Moonrise
occurs near local midnight.

TWO ADDITIONAL M-Class flares occured today:

:ALERTS:

X-Ray event M5/1B/S12W14 BEG 20 Jul 2000 2022 MAX 20 Jul 2000 2025 END
20 Jul 2000 2028 UT
Comment: None

X-Ray event M5.5 BEG 21 Jul 2000 1430 MAX 21 Jul 2000 1437 END 21 Jul
2000 1443 UT
Comment: None


More: http://hfradio.org/propagation.html



 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 309 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Sat, Jul 22, 2000 (21:07) * 25 lines 
 
Comet LINEAR update

Space Weather News for July 22, 2000

Comet LINEAR will reach maximum brightness around July 23, 2000, as it
glides past the bowl of the Big Dipper. Sky watchers have been hoping
that LINEAR would become visible to the unaided eye. However, monitoring
data from a global network of astronomers suggest that the comet's
brightness will peak at a visual magnitude of +6.5, just below the
threshold for naked-eye visibility. LINEAR should still be a visual treat
when viewed through binoculars or a small telescope.

ALSO: The Boulder sunspot number soared this week to a value of 401.
Experts say that's rare, even near the peak of the solar maximum.

For more information please visit http://www.spaceweather.com

NOTE to readers: Since SpaceWeather.com was launched in its current form
on January 1, 2000, the site has focused on solar and geomagnetic
activity. Comets and meteors are an important aspect of space weather,
too. With today's update about comet LINEAR we will begin an accelerating
program of coverage for comets, meteor showers, and related astronomical
events.




 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 310 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Fri, Jul 28, 2000 (23:36) * 14 lines 
 
Comet LINEAR breaks apart
Space Weather News for July 28, 2000

There is growing evidence that comet LINEAR, which made its closest
approach to the Sun earlier this week, is disintegrating. Today's
spaceweather.com features images and animations of the apparent breakup.

Also, an interplanetary shock wave struck Earth's magnetosphere on July
28, 2000, triggering minor geomagnetic activity.

For more information please visit http//www.spaceweather.com

http//www.spaceweather.com



 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 311 of 1087:  (sprin5) * Sat, Jul 29, 2000 (06:07) * 1 lines 
 
Wow a shock wave!


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 312 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Sat, Jul 29, 2000 (22:52) * 1 lines 
 
Amazing, huh?! They have great photos on that above url.


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 313 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Fri, Aug  4, 2000 (20:47) * 41 lines 
 
Propagation Forecast Bulletin 31 - August 4, 2000

Solar activity for last week (July 28 - August 3) was mostly at low
levels. A minor M-class flare from region 9090 occurred on July 28.
Several new regions (9110, 9111, 9112, 9113, 9114, and 9115) emerged
later in the week. Region 9114 produced a C7 flare and associated
CME on August 2.
The 10.7 cm solar flux, following the sun's 27-day rotation period,
decreased to a minimum of about 155 at the beginning of last week.
Solar flux is forecasted to steadily climb to a maximum of about 240
around mid-August. A comment about 10.7 cm solar flux - although
10.7 cm solar flux is easy to measure because the Earth's atmosphere
is transparent at that wavelength, energy at 10.7 cm is about 1
million times less energetic than the true ionizing energy. Thus
10.7 cm solar flux contributes nothing to the formation of the
ionosphere. But it is an indicator of the general activity level of
the sun, and smoothed solar flux values (a 12 month running average)
correlate very well with smoothed sunspot numbers (SSN).
Solar activity for next week (August 4 - August 10) is expected to
be at moderate to high levels. Isolated M-class flares are
expected, along with a chance for an isolated major flare.
Historically the equinox months (September and March) give us the
greatest amount of magnetic storms due to the orientation of the
Earth at these times with respect to the solar wind. Thus expect an
increase in storms up to mid-September, then a gradual decrease
after that to a minimum in December.
Cycle 23 continues its march upward, with a peak forecasted by the
end of the year. For details, see the web site referenced in last
week's bulletin (http://www.sec.noaa.gov/weekly/index.html). The
latest SSN data is 113 for January 2000. The estimated SSN for the
month of August is 120. Cycle 23 appears to be similar to, but just
a bit higher than, Cycle 20, which peaked at an SSN of 110. This
level of activity, while not approaching that of Cycles 22 and 21,
will still give us excellent conditions on the higher HF bands as we
progress from Summer to Fall and into Winter.
Sunspot numbers for July 27 through August 2 were 174, 163, 183,
138, 123, 139 and 153 with a mean of 153.3. 10.7 cm flux was 162.4,
157.8, 153.2, 149.9, 147.9, 149.4 and 150.6, with a mean of 153, and
estimated planetary A indices were 9, 30, 27, 10, 19, 15 and 14,
with a mean of 17.7.



 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 314 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Mon, Aug  7, 2000 (12:58) * 39 lines 
 
Astronomers Discover Nine Planets Outside Earth's Solar System

Manchester, England, Aug. 7 (Bloomberg) -- Astronomers say
they've discovered nine planets, many as large as Jupiter, that orbit
stars close to Earth, providing evidence that other solar systems made
up of multiple planets exist.
The results, presented at the International Astronomical Union
meeting in Manchester, England, increase the number of planets
discovered outside Earth's solar system to 50, said astronomer Dr.
Jacqueline Mitton.
``We're making a leap to much more-distant stars,'' she said. Many of
the planets discovered are 10 light-years to more than 100 light-years
from Earth. The sun, by comparison, is eight light-minutes away, she
said. A light year, the distance that light travels in one year, is equal to
about 5.88 trillion miles.
``They're typically like Jupiter or Saturn, but it's not possible to
determine exactly,'' Mitton said. ``They are giants, giant planets.
They're balls of gas or liquid.''
Jupiter is about 300 times the size of Earth, U.S. National
Aeronautics and Space Administration spokesman Don Savage said.
NASA helped fund the research, along with the U.S. National
Science Foundation and Sun Microsystems Inc.
All research was done using land-based telescopes, he said.
The planets are discovered by measuring the gravitational pull, or
``wobble'' on stars the planets exert as they revolve around them, the
same way the Earth follows an orbit around the sun. The results
require a long series of exacting measurements that take ``several
years'' to complete, Mitton said.
While previous discoveries have been of single planets, ``there is
evidence of multiple planets within these systems,'' Mitton said.
Evidence also suggests the existence of smaller planets similar to
Earth, not composed of fiery gases, that could in theory sustain life,
she said.
BBG/Astronomers-Discover-Nine-Planets-Outside-Ea/
Any redistribution of Bloomberg content, including by framing or similar means, is
expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Bloomberg L.P. Any reference to
the material must be properly attributed to Bloomberg News.




 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 315 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Tue, Aug  8, 2000 (22:48) * 18 lines 
 
Perseid Dawn

NASA Science News for August 08, 2000

The Perseid meteor shower peaks on August 12,
2000. This year the bright, nearly-full Moon
will outshine the Perseids most of the night, but
for an hour between moonset and sunrise on
Saturday morning, star gazers could witness a
brief but beautiful meteor shower. The setting
Moon may put on a show of its own Saturday.
Wildfires and dust storms have filled parts of
our atmosphere with aerosols. A low-hanging Moon
seen through such dusty air can take on a
beautiful pink or orange hue.

FULL STORY at
http://spacescience.com/headlines/y2000/ast08aug_1.htm?list


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 316 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Fri, Aug 11, 2000 (17:43) * 26 lines 
 
Perseid meteor update + an ongoing geomagnetic storm

Space Weather News for August 11, 2000
http://www.spaceweather.com

On the eve of the Perseid meteor shower, sky watchers report seeing 10 to
15 meteors per hour streaming from the constellation Perseus. That's
consistent with an expected peak rate between 30 and 50 visual meteors per
hour before dawn on August 12th. The projected maximum is somewhat weaker
than Perseid maxima of recent years, but observers are also reporting that
this year's Perseid meteors have been pleasantly bright. The shower
should put on a good show for northern hemisphere observers this Saturday
morning.

Readers are invited to send their photos of the 2000 Perseids to
phillips@spacescience.com (Tony Phillips).

There is a chance that Saturday morning sky watchers at higher latitudes
could spot colorful auroras during the Perseid meteor shower. Our planet
is experiencing an ongoing geomagnetic storm triggered by a
southward-pointing interplanetary magnetic field in the vicinity of Earth.
If conditions persist, high latitude (and possibly even mid-latitude)
auroras are possible.

For more information, please visit http://www.spaceweather.com



 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 317 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Mon, Aug 21, 2000 (14:53) * 38 lines 
 
Thank Maggie for forwarding this!

Manned flight to Mars in 2014?

By BBC News Online science editor Dr David Whitehouse (11 August 200)

The best time for the first manned mission to Mars will be in 2014,
says James Longuski of Purdue University in the US. This is because
the position of the planets will provide an escape route back to
Earth in the event of an accident. Because of an alignment of Earth,
Mars and Venus, a so-called gravitational slingshot manoeuvre would
take astronauts to Mars and, if needed, bring them home safely.
According to Professor Longuski, the emergency flight path would only
be possible if the spacecraft was launched within a few days of 14
January 2014.

Via Venus

Orbital calculations show that no similar escape option exists for at
least a decade before or after 2014. This means that astronauts might
be forced to attempt a landing on Mars even if their spacecraft
became crippled in an accident on the way to Mars. "This trajectory
is remarkably fortuitous as it does not exist for many years prior to
or after the 2014 date," Professor Longuski said. Nasa has also
identified 2014 as a possible launch date for the first human mission
to Mars in a 1997 study. Professor Longuski discovered that the
safest route to take would be one that permitted a quick return trip,
via Venus, in case of an accident that forced the Mars landing to be
aborted. If that happened, the Martian gravity would change the
spacecraft's trajectory, hurling it toward Venus, where another
gravity assist would return the spacecraft back to Earth. The gravity
assist would allow a safe return to Earth even if the spacecraft's
main rocket engine failed, Professor Longuski said. Currently, Nasa
has small-scale studies but no plans for a manned mission to Mars.
Many experts say that it is too late to organise a mission in 2014.
But the advantages of that date may force Nasa to look again at
manned flights to Mars



 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 318 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Fri, Aug 25, 2000 (16:18) * 20 lines 
 
also from Maggie and Reuters:

New evidence suggests ocean on icy Jupiter moon

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - New information provides the strongest evidence yet
that lying beneath the icy surface of one of Jupiter's moons may be a salty ocean of water, one of the necessary ingredients for life, researchers reported on Friday. Scientists said data from NASA's Galileo spacecraft suggest the presence of water in liquid form on Europa, a moon similar in size to the Earth's. The Galileo spacecraft passed close to Europa in January. Measurements from magnetic fields led scientists to conclude that "water is the most probable medium on Europa," wrote Margaret Kivelson of the University of California at Los Angeles.
Kivelson and her colleagues reported their findings in Friday's edition of the journal Science.
Previous NASA orbiters had beamed images of huge cracks in Europa's surface that indicated a liquid
ocean might be sloshing underneath. But scientists could not tell from those pictures whether the water was
frozen or still in liquid form, a key element for supporting life.

Galileo collected data from magnetic fields and scientists found patterns that indicated the possibility of water, Kivelson and her colleagues wrote. While they did not rule out other scenarios, the scientists said water was the most likely explanation for the patterns they saw.

Given the findings, Europa ranks just behind Mars as bodies in the solar system that merit further exploration for life forms, said David Stevenson of the California Institute of Technology.
"After Mars, it remains the most attractive extraterrestrial environment within our solar system in which to seek evidence of past or present life," Stevenson wrote in an accompanying article in Science.
Stevenson said the Galileo evidence of water is "overwhelming.... A global layer
of water with a composition similar to Earth seawater and a thickness greater than about 10 kilometres (6.2 miles) could explain the data."

Future flights to Europa could provide more answers. NASA says it hopes to send another spacecraft there, although the space agency's missions have been hindered by budget constraints.



 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 319 of 1087: Maggie  (sociolingo) * Wed, Sep 13, 2000 (03:39) * 22 lines 
 
More on black holes.....

Tuesday September 12 1:36 PM ET
NASA Shows Evidence of 'Missing Link' Black Holes

http://dailynews.yahoo.com/htx/nm/20000912/sc/space_holes_dc_1.html
By Deborah Zabarenko

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Black holes, those matter-sucking drains in space, used to come in only two sizes: small and extra, extra large. Tuesday, NASA offered evidence of a mid-size ``missing link'' black hole. Astronomers have theorized for years that such ``missing links'' existed in the rarefied world of black holes, but now they may have detected an example of this type using NASA's orbiting Chandra X-ray Observatory.

A black hole with the mass of 500 suns packed into a region the size of Earth's moon has been detected in the M82 galaxy some 12 million to 15 million light years away, Wallace Tucker of the Chandra X-ray Observatory Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts, said by telephone. Unlike black holes with a mass of up to a billion stars that tend to lie at a galaxy's center, the ``missing link'' is located some 600 light years from the heart of M82. That is relatively close in galactic terms.

A light year is about 6 trillion miles (10 trillion km), the distance light travels in a year.

Relatively tiny black holes, known as stellar black holes because many have the mass of just a single star, are scattered throughout galaxies, including the Milky Way, which contains Earth. Black holes are the gluttons of the cosmos, gobbling up everything that comes near, not even letting light escape. For that reason they are invisible to scientists but can be detected by activity around their edges.

Scientists had suspected that M82 might contain a so-called mid-mass black hole, but these suspicions were not confirmed until high-resolution images made with Chandra found that most X-rays in the galaxy were coming from a single, bright source. Repeated observations of M82 also showed that the X-ray flickered, brightening and dimming every 10 minutes or so. This flicker is the tell-tale sign of a black hole slurping gas from a nearby star or cloud, NASA scientists said. ``This is an interesting scientific mystery that's been solved by superior resolution of the Chandra observatory,'' Tucker said. He said scientists reported years ago that such an X-ray source might exist in M82 and there were also hints of such sources in other galaxies. But the telescopes could only ``see'' the center of the galaxy as ``one big blob,'' lacking the power to determine just where the X-rays were coming from. The M82 ``missing link'' is not in the absolute center of the galaxy, but comparatively close to it. It does seem to
e in an area of rapid star formation and this raises questions about how the mid-size black hole formed, Tucker said. ``Did black holes that formed from normal stars form and then merge to form a 500 solar mass black hole or did massive stars collide and merge to form a hyperstar, that then collapsed to form (the ``missing link'') in one fell swoop?'' he said.

Stellar black holes form as a natural consequence of evolution of massive stars that run out of the fuel they need to support their inner portions, which collapse of their own weight to form a black hole.




 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 320 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Sat, Sep 16, 2000 (19:22) * 1 lines 
 
Just don't fall in, my dear!


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 321 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Sat, Sep 16, 2000 (19:35) * 23 lines 
 
16 September, 2000

Two full-halo coronal mass ejections (CMEs) occurred on September 15, 2000,
and a third CME on September 16, 2000 has been observed as the brightest of
the three. These were associated with solar flares (M5-class for the
latest of the three CMEs). Due to the complex delta magnetic field in the
Sunspot group 9165, there is a good chance for further eruptions.

Those who wish to experience Aurora (visual as well as the radio
propagation mode) should be on the lookout from this point forward. At
the time of writing, the Aurora index is 10, the highest level.

:ALERTS:

Magnetic K-Index of 4 Warning valid from 16 September, 2000 1800Z to
17 September, 2000 1500Z. Magnetic A-Index greater than=30 Watch for 19
September, 2000Z. Magnetic A-Index greater than=30 Watch for 20 September, 2000Z.

Report by NW7US

More: http://hfradio.org/propagation.html




 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 322 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Sat, Sep 16, 2000 (21:00) * 61 lines 
 
Mauna Kea may get extremely large scope

Mauna Kea may be considered for a telescope with 10 times the light-collecting area
of the world's largest optical telescopes, already atop the Big Island mountain.
University of California and California Institute of Technology researchers who
developed the 10-meter Keck telescopes have proposed building a 30-meter
California Extremely Large Telescope (CELT).
Almost routine discoveries have been coming out of the twin Kecks. CELT's mirror
would allow astronomers to look deeper into the universe with more detail.
"It means you can study fainter, more distant objects in the same vein of many
observations at Keck, but you can do them better," said Jerry Nelson, University of
California-Santa Cruz professor of astronomy and astrophysics who heads the
telescope design working group.
Mauna Kea and several sites in Chile have been mentioned for the CELT, which
project leaders hope to build in 10 to 15 years.
Joseph Miller, director of UC Observatories/Lick Observatory, estimated the cost at
about $500 million. "We're working on the conceptual design but we don't have
money in the bank so anything could happen two years from now," Nelson said in a
telephone interview.
"People could say, 'Whatever happened to CELT?' It's not a sure thing but we have
strong support at the highest level of academic institutions."
The master plan for Mauna Kea anticipated such a telescope, according to Robert
McLaren, interim director of the University of Hawaii Institute for Astronomy.
In the plan, it's called "Next Generation Large Telescope," describing the class of
telescopes CELT falls into -- bigger than a 25-meter aperture, McLaren said.
But while the plan foresees a telescope like CELT, such a project "would have to be
fully reviewed, assessed and approved," he said.
As a one-time Hawaii resident, Nelson said he'd like to see the new telescope go to
Mauna Kea. "But for a project like this, you have to look for the best site for
scientific and technical reasons, as well as fold in political things."
A couple of sites in Mauna Kea's summit area might be suitable for a telescope as
massive as the CELT, he said.
"Nonetheless, one must be sensitive to the political issues in Hawaii about developing
the summit of Mauna Kea," he said.
If that site is chosen, Nelson said, project leaders would work with the community to
address concerns and "not steamroll" over them.
Since the Keck telescopes are owned and operated by UC and Caltech, which
CELT would be as well, Nelson thinks "there would be a very strong connection. I
could envision the same headquarters in Waimea."
Because of the high maintenance costs of such facilities, however, the universities
might end up selling or trading off part of Keck to support CELT, Nelson said.
"It's all highly speculative as to what would happen in 10 years," he said.
McLaren said there is a trend to give the national astronomy community more
access to large telescopes, mostly in private hands, in return for more federal
support.
"In the case of Keck, it's unlikely that would happen real soon," he said, noting
NASA is a partner in the telescope operation.

Nelson said CELT leaders probably will start thinking seriously about sites in a year
and aim for a decision in about four years.
With CELT and adaptive optics, astronomers should be able to study galaxies and
other distant things with better angular resolution than the Hubble Telescope, he said.
"You really win bigger by a bigger telescope, with more light sensitivity and better
resolution, sharper. We will learn more about what's happening at the distant edge of
the universe."
CELT also will be powerful in exploring star-forming regions and planet formation,
Nelson said. "It has a lot of potential. Our (astronomy) communities are really
excited about this.
"Experience has shown when you're building new facilities like this, the most exciting
stuff that comes out of it you haven't anticipated at all -- things you just didn't even
know."


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 323 of 1087: Maggie  (sociolingo) * Sun, Sep 17, 2000 (04:43) * 41 lines 
 
Sunday Times 17th Sept
http://www.sunday-times.co.uk/
Britain plans £25m shield to prevent asteroid collisions

Jonathan Leake, Science Editor
A GOVERNMENT team is to propose spending up to £25m on a plan that would safeguard Britain and the world from devastation by a giant asteroid or comet.
The Spaceguard initiative, expected to be announced tomorrow by Lord Sainsbury of Turville, the science minister, could see Britain using a chain of telescopes to detect and monitor "near-Earth objects". A report, from a commission appointed by Sainsbury, says that Earth faces a tiny but definite risk of being struck one day by an asteroid - a large lump of stone or metals travelling at tens of miles a second. This kind of impact is believed to have wiped out the dinosaurs 65m years ago.

A monitoring station, possibly based at Armagh in Northern Ireland and linked to telescopes around the world, would be the first stage in a programme that would also investigate ways of knocking any approaching asteroid off a collision course with Earth. One option could be to fire a nuclear missile that would explode close to the incoming rock and deflect it.

At least two big impacts were recorded during the last century alone. The first, at Tunguska in Siberia in 1908, devastated an area the size of greater London. The other, in Brazil in 1947, left several huge craters. Both fell in unpopulated areas and nobody was killed.

Last week astronomers announced that a huge asteroid would cross Earth's orbit today at a range of 2.6m miles. In astronomical terms this is a tiny distance - and others will come much closer.

In 2027, a rock measuring half a mile in diameter, travelling at 50 miles per second and known as 1999 AN10, will hurtle past Earth at a distance of just 200,000 miles. It will pass close by several more times - with nobody yet able to predict whether it will hit the planet.

The British commission includes Professor Harry Atkinson, who has worked for the European Space Agency and other international bodies, and Sir Crispin Tickell, the former British ambassador to the United Nations. It was set up in January.

The threat is already taken seriously by America and Japan, which have established their own Spaceguard projects. Nasa has said it plans by 2006 to track all asteroids with diameters greater than 1km that will cross the path of Earth.

An asteroid that size would wipe out most life and there would have been many such events early in Earth's 4.6 billion-year history. Now, however, the risk is much lower because most potential collisions have already happened. The last big asteroid, about six miles in diameter, was the one that wiped out the dinosaurs.

The commission's report says Britain's role could be to find smaller objects, between 50 yards and about half a mile in diameter, of which there are many thousands.

Up to six telescopes would have to be built - some designed to detect near-Earth objects, others to track them continually and a third group to analyse the light they reflect in order to find out what they are made of.

The aim of Spaceguard would be to ensure that Earth had sufficient advance warning - hopefully decades - to investigate and then take preventive action.

A Whitehall source said: "We accept there is a risk and want Britain to take a leading role in dealing with it."

Sainsbury wants other European countries to help finance the network, which would be computerised and would enable astronomers to build up a huge database from which they could predict which objects presented a threat.

Mark Bailey, director of the Armagh Observatory, a world-renowned centre for the study of asteroids and comets, where the project would probably be based, believes the world is now so heavily populated that even a small impact could kill millions. "Asteroid and comet impacts have changed human history in the past and it could happen again," he said.

The biggest risk to Earth is from comets that appear at random from the Oort Cloud - a huge sphere of icy rubble that surrounds the solar system. They move very fast and could reach Earth within months of being spotted.

Dr Bill Napier, an astronomer who specialises in comets and asteroids, believes the only solution is to set up a fleet of rockets carrying nuclear bombs that could be detonated half a mile from any threatening object.

"You would only have to nudge them a few metres to send them safely past Earth to avoid Armageddon," he said.




 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 324 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Wed, Sep 20, 2000 (14:58) * 2 lines 
 
House male says he could do it at half the price and would send everyone Bibles!
The USA is also planning a defense system. Good grief, is their no end to our stupidity?!


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 325 of 1087: Maggie  (sociolingo) * Wed, Sep 20, 2000 (15:15) * 1 lines 
 
Explain please why you consider it stupid?? I understand there is a large asteroid expected to arrive some 200,000 miles near earth in 2027. Some predictions of its closeness have been as little as 30,000 miles. An asteroid arrived some 2.6 million miles from earth last Sunday, which was considered close in Space terms. It would seem sensible to me to be looking at what could be done to deflect asteroids or comets and provide early warning ... the kinds of warning time I heard about was up to 10 years.


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 326 of 1087: Maggie  (sociolingo) * Wed, Sep 20, 2000 (15:45) * 9 lines 
 
To read the full report of the Task force on Potentially Hazardous Near Earth Objects go to

http://www.nearearthobjects.co.uk/downloads/full_report.pdf

You will need Acrobat Reader

The report is not dry and dusty ..it has a lot of information on comets and asteroids as well as plenty of pictures, and makes fascinating reading.




 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 327 of 1087: Maggie  (sociolingo) * Thu, Sep 21, 2000 (05:26) * 12 lines 
 
Ok, lighten the mood ...Here's something completely different ...

The Dogon's Enigmatic Scientific Knowledge of Medicine and Astronomy

http://www.discovertimbuktu.com/am/culture.html

One of the top 10 places to see in Africa, the Dogon's homeland has been designated a World Heritage site for its cultural and natural significance. They are also famous for their artistic abilities and vast knowledge about astrology, especially the Sirius star, which is the center of their religious teachings. The Dogons know that Sirius A, the brightest system in our firmament, is next to a small white dwarf called Sirius B, which was not identified by western scientists until 1978. The Dogons knew about it at least 1000 years ago. Sirius B has formed the basis of the holiest Dogon beliefs since antiquity.

Western astronomers did not discover the star until the middle of the nineteenth century, and it wasn't even photographed until 1970. The Dogons go as far as describing a third star in the Sirius system, called "Emme Ya" that, to date, has not been identified by astronomers. In addition to their knowledge of Sirius B, the Dogon mythology includes Saturn's rings and Jupiter's four major moons. They have four calendars, for the Sun, Moon, Sirius, and Venus, and have long known that planets orbit the sun.





 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 328 of 1087: Maggie  (sociolingo) * Fri, Sep 22, 2000 (17:05) * 6 lines 
 
Take a virtual tour of the sun
...this site is fantastic

http://www.michielb.nl/sun/kaft.htm




 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 329 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Tue, Oct  3, 2000 (14:05) * 16 lines 
 
Aurora Watch + An Unusual Asteroid

Space Weather News for Oct. 3, 2000
http://www.spaceweather.com

Ongoing geomagnetic activity could intensify on Wednesday or Thursday when
an Earth-directed solar coronal mass ejection arrives in the neighborhood
of our planet. With the Moon just past New, it may be a good time for
stargazers to watch for dark-sky aurora.

In other news, a Near-Earth Asteroid that passed our planet in September
appears to be a binary space rock. See http://spaceweather.com for
amateur video of the asteroid racing through the sky on October 2nd.

For more information and images, please visit http://SpaceWeather.com



 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 330 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Tue, Oct 24, 2000 (21:00) * 9 lines 
 
Storms Collide on Jupiter

NASA Science News for October 24, 2000

NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has captured dramatic images of two swirling storms on Jupiter as they collided to form a truly titanic tempest.

FULL STORY at

http://spacescience.com/headlines/y2000/ast24oct_1.htm?list89800


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 331 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Fri, Nov  3, 2000 (23:19) * 10 lines 
 
I o=posted this in radio being sassy to Mike, for which I apologize only a little:

I've seen zodiacal light and Gegenshein and loads of green flashes and one turquoise flash along with abut 20 comets and innumerable
satellites. Sonic booms but not from the Shuttle. Have seen the shuttle fly over and watched the first burnout ofEarth's orbit on the first
moon trip. The last was just after having had dinner with astronauts on either side of me and across the table. Fascinating guys!!!
Sunset rays are also frequent here.
Oh, and the southern cross. The magellanic clouds are visible from here but just a little while per year.


I should have added that I have also seen brilliant red and green aurorae just after a cloudy day had enabled us to see a huge sunspot with the naked eye. That must have been an enormous CME!!!


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 332 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Sat, Nov  4, 2000 (13:29) * 8 lines 
 
Oooh, also seen noctilucent clouds, and was reminded of the eclipses lunar which I have also seen. Alas, I missed the total solar
eclipse HERE and the annular eclipse in California while I was there. Heavy clouds obsured even the darkening of the skies at totality
in both cases. Do not come near me if you want to see things eclipse solar. The gods to not want me to see that. I did see the 3/4
eslipse many years ago in West Virginia and it was spectacular. Also another partial here for which I put up a pinhole porjector for
public inspection in front of the college library. It worked splendidly.
No UFOs, though...

Ok guys, add you things to my list... What have you seen?


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 333 of 1087: Cheryl  (CherylB) * Tue, Nov  7, 2000 (16:09) * 1 lines 
 
Here in Pittsburgh, which gets on average 49 clear days per year, everytime there's an eclipse or a meteor shower, it's either raining or cloudy. You can look up and see -- clouds.


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 334 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Tue, Nov 14, 2000 (00:26) * 16 lines 
 
check the picture with this caption - and the rest of the article!

http://starbulletin.com/2000/11/13/news/story4.html

UH Institute for Astronomy
This is one of the most distant galaxy clusters discovered
so far: almost 8 billion light years away. Early measurements
suggest that this system may be one of the most massive
clusters known. The picture was taken with the University
of Hawaii's 2.2-meter telescope. Galaxies in the cluster appear
as fuzzy yellowish blobs, while galaxies in the foreground
(closer to us) appear bluer and galaxies in the background
(farther away from us) appear redder. Non diffuse, bright
objects are foreground stars. This image spans about
6-7 million light years of space.



 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 335 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Tue, Nov 14, 2000 (00:27) * 1 lines 
 
Are you sure, Cheryl, that you are not living just down the street from me? Sounds like Hilo weather!


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 336 of 1087: Cheryl  (CherylB) * Sat, Nov 18, 2000 (12:17) * 1 lines 
 
I think there might be some connection. Some strange weather connection through a dimensional portal.


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 337 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Sat, Nov 18, 2000 (13:26) * 1 lines 
 
Anyone listen to the Leonids last night? Accessed the Marshall space center's live streaming video and put on full screen. Watched them fill the weather balloon, launch it with the camera and listening devices and watched it rise and rise and rise. On the second re run of the filling of the balloon, etc, I finally fell asleep, hours before our portion of earth rotated so that we were facing outer space and incoming projectiles. Did anyone see anything?


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 338 of 1087: Neil H.  (ThinkingManNeil) * Thu, Dec  7, 2000 (22:02) * 10 lines 
 
I've been asked by my dear friend and lady I love, MarciaH, to contribute a few postings to this wonderful conference site she maintains. I've had a life-long interests in astronomy, volcanology, and planetary geology, and although I'm no expert in any of those fields, I find them fascinating nonetheless. One of the things that most attracts me to astronomy is the simple beauty and awe-inspiring grandeur of many of the images of astronomical objects that have been produced over the years, especially by the Hubble Space Telescope, which continues to orbit the Earth on it's mission of exploration, discovery, and research.

One of the most remarkable images taken by the Hubble is actually a composite mosiac of several images called the Hubble Deep-Field Image. These images were taken over a period of several days beginning on December 18, 1995 until December 30 of that year. The images were of a fairly "empty" (or so it was thought) region of sky just north of the bowl of the Big Dipper in the constellation of Ursa Major (R.A. 12Hrs 36' 49.4000", Dec. +62Deg. 12' 58.0000"). After a series of long-duration exposures totaling some 100 hours, the images Hubble returned revealed showed a few local stars which inhabit our galaxy (the stars are the bright objects with classic "starpoints", which are actually defraction spikes--relics of light being scattered, refracted, and reflections from the telescope's optical structure), but everything else to be found in the images are individual galaxies like our own--island continents of millions, billions, and even trillions of stars. Some 1,200 - 1,500 separate galaxies have been counted i
the Hubble Deep Field Image, the vast majority of which had never been observed before. Most of these galaxies are amongst the most distant ever observed, 10 to 12 billion light years away, meaning we are glimpsing these objects at a very early point in the Universe's history, when galaxies were still fairly new kids on the cosmic block.

But the most remarkable aspect of the Hubble Deep Field Image is this: these incredibly distant galaxies are so far away that the area of sky they occupy is so small, that it could easily be covered by a single grain of sand held at arms length...

Here is a link to a glimpse of this astonishingly beautiful, yet remarkably humbling image:

http://cadcwww.dao.nrc.ca/hst/hdf/PR/MosaicQ.jpg


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 339 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Fri, Dec  8, 2000 (00:58) * 5 lines 
 
Neil, love, thank you for a spectular post!

You sent me to see that image and it was stunning. The size of the universe is brought home most impresiively in your comment that this world of galaxies is just a sand-grain in size?! Held at arm's length!!! I sit and stare at that picture and I am stunned at the vastness it represents in that one sand grain...

*Hugs*


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 340 of 1087: Curious Wolfie  (wolf) * Fri, Dec  8, 2000 (17:17) * 1 lines 
 
thanks for that, neil. based on the fact that some starlight are from stars that have expired years and years ago but their light is only now reaching the earth. is it possible that the galaxies being observed by the hubble have already died away?


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 341 of 1087: Cheryl  (CherylB) * Sat, Dec  9, 2000 (10:17) * 1 lines 
 
Neil, thank you for the information on the Hubble Telescope. I is something that I've heard about for years, but didn't really have much understanding or information.


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 342 of 1087:  (sprin5) * Sat, Dec  9, 2000 (12:17) * 1 lines 
 
That's awesome, thinking man!


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 343 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Sat, Dec  9, 2000 (14:28) * 262 lines 
 
SKY & TELESCOPE'S NEWS BULLETIN - DECEMBER 8, 2000
===========================================================
For images and Web links for these items, visit http://www.skypub.com
===========================================================
Axel Mellinger's composite image of the entire Milky Way was so
stunning that we made it into a poster. Now, not only is there a 2nd
Edition of his quick-selling panorama, Mellinger has imaged the polar
regions as well to create a spectacular all-sky view. The 24-by-36-
inch "Celestial Sphere" poster consists of 51 wide-angle exposures
stitched together into a seamless "real" map of the entire sky. The
poster comes with a key chart identifying major constellations and
stars. To order either of Mellinger's posters, visit Sky Publishing's
online store at http://store.skypub.com/ or call 800-253-0245.
===========================================================

MARTIAN SEDIMENTS: ANCIENT LAKEBEDS OR BLOW-INS?
Dramatic new images show that Mars once had an environment that
created sediment-like layers within craters and canyons across much of
the planet's midsection. In some locales hundreds of individual beds
can be counted, occasionally creating stacks of alternating light and
dark layers 2 to 4 kilometers tall. In the region known as Terra
Meridiani, the sediments extend continuously for hundreds of
kilometers.
As detailed by Michael C. Malin and Kenneth S. Edgett in the December
8th issue of Science, the layers could be explained by two very
different climatic scenarios. "The first, and perhaps favored, model
draws heavily on comparison to Earth to invoke a planet and
environment capable of sustaining liquid water on its surface," they
state. Thus the sediments occur preferentially in confined areas where
water would tend to collect.
The other scenario, which Malin and Edgett consider "a plausible but
uniquely Martian explanation," envisions times when the Martian
atmosphere was denser, enough so to mobilize and deposit huge amounts
of dust. For example, the red planet's polar tilt is known to
oscillate between 15 and 35 deg. every 100,000 years, a cycle that
probably induces drastic changes in atmospheric pressure and climate
as the thick polar ice caps vaporize and become redistributed. At such
times the planet might have experienced ferocious dust storms, or the
atmosphere may have aided in the transport of volcanic ash or impact
debris.

"We think both models have some validity," Malin told SKY & TELESCOPE,
"or we wouldn't have included both."

Although surface ages are notoriously difficult to estimate on Mars,
the two researchers believe most of the sediments date from the
earliest span of Martian history, between 3.5 and 4.3 billion years
ago. But the evidence for such ancient ages is weak, Malin admits. In
fact, Nathalie Cabrol (NASA/Ames Research Center) and her colleagues
have used Viking images to identify roughly 200 Martian craters with
lakebed sediments that she believes were laid down much more recently
-- some only few hundred million years ago. "To say they are all
ancient, I would be cautious," Cabrol warns. "What would the agent be
to expose all these ancient layers in recent times? How do you do
that? Maybe they are more recent than Malin and Edgett think, or
something happened recently on Mars to exhume them."
The crater sediments only add to the new and much more confusing
picture of Mars that is emerging from Mars Global Surveyor data. When
one observation indicates that the red planet had a warmer, wetter
past, another (like widespread outcrops of the mineral olivine) argues
for eons of cold, dry conditions. "We caution that the Mars images
tell us that the story is actually quite complicated," Edgett notes,
"and yet the implications are tremendous."

SATURN'S CLAN GROWS BY FOUR
The space around Saturn may not be as crowded as New York's La Guardia
airport, but Thursday astronomers announced the discovery of four more
small Saturnian satellites. The new objects, all between 23rd and 24th
magnitude, were first spied on September 23rd by moon-meisters Brett
Gladman (Nice Observatory) and J. J. Kavelaars (McMaster University)
using the 3.6-meter Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope. Follow-up
observations in late November by other members of Gladman's team
cinched the discoveries, which bring the planet's total up to 28. No
firm orbits exist at this time, and for now they've been designated
S/2000 S 7 through S/2000 S 10. Additional observations are planned
later this month, but the moonlets probably occupy a mix or prograde
and retrograde orbits. The team continues to track a few other
prospects as well. "During the past year and a half, the number of
know outer-planet satellites (or candidate satellites) of the giant
planets has more than doubled," observes Brian G. Marsden of the IAU's
Minor Planet Center. Details of the new finds appear on IAU Circulars
7538 and 7539.


HUBBLE PEERS INTO THE PLEIADES
The Hubble Space Telescope has taken a closeup view inside one of the
most familiar sights in the Northern Hemisphere's winter skies: the
Pleiades star cluster. The image -- made by George Herbig and Theodore
Simon (University of Hawaii) with Hubble's Wide Field and Planetary
Camera 2 on September 19, 1999 -- shows tufts of nebulosity only 30
arcseconds from the Pleiad Merope. (The star lies just off the top of
the frame.) Although the Pleiades are thought to be perhaps only 80
million years old, the gas and dust enveloping them are not the
remnants their birth. The cloud just happens to be passing by, and
this part of it is being eroded by the light from Merope only 0.06
light-year away. E. E. Barnard discovered much larger parts of the
Merope cloud in the 19th century; it's now designated IC 349.

The Pleiades can easily be seen with the naked eye high in the east
these evenings, lying above brilliant Jupiter. You may be able to spot
five or six Pleiads with your naked eye -- binoculars and telescopes
will reveal dozens more. Yellowish Saturn is off to their right, and
orange Aldebaran is below Jupiter. To help guide your way through the
evening sky, see the maps for our Monthly Northern Sky Highlights at
http://www.skypub.com/sights/northern/northern.html.

COMETS IN THE SOUTHERN SKY
Comet Utsunomiya-Jones (C/2000 W1) is between 6th and 7th magnitude,
and thus easily seen in binoculars, but now it's observable only from
the Southern Hemisphere, moving through Sagittarius. It reaches
perihelion just inside the orbit of Mercury in late December, but will
be behind the Sun. Here are positions for Comet Utsunomiya-Jones for 0
hours Universal Time in 2000.0 coordinates for the coming week:
Date R.A. Dec.
Dec 9 19h 35m -32.2 deg.
Dec 11 19 36 -29.2
Dec 13 19 36 -26.8
Dec 15 19 34 -24.8

A better cross-hemisphere comet is Comet McNaught-Hartley (C/1999 T1).
From the Southern Hemisphere, it is about 20 deg. above the eastern
horizon just before the first light of dawn. Northern Hemisphere
observers may be able to spot it a about 15 degrees above the
southeastern horizon before morning twilight. The 8th-magnitude comet
continues its trek across Hydra. Here are positions for
McNaught-Hartley for 0 hours Universal Time in 2000.0 coordinates for
the coming week:
Date R.A. Dec.
Dec 9 13h 52m -26.3 deg.
Dec 11 13 58 -25.3
Dec 13 14 03 -24.3
Dec 15 14 09 -23.3

For more about these comets, see the Special Sky Events page at
http://www.skypub.com/sights/skyevents/0012skyevents.html .

THIS WEEK'S "SKY AT A GLANCE"
Some daily events in the changing sky, by the editors of Sky &
Telescope.

DEC. 10 -- SUNDAY
* Full Moon tonight (exact at 4:03 a.m. Eastern Standard Time Monday
morning).

* The Moon forms a zigzag line in the evening sky with orange
Aldebaran, bright Jupiter, and yellowish Saturn, counting in that
order toward the Moon's upper right or right.

* Jupiter's Great Red Spot should cross Jupiter's central meridian
(the imaginary line down the center of the planet's disk from pole to
pole) around 7:18 p.m. EST. The "red" spot is very pale orange-tan. It
should be visible in a good 4- or 6-inch telescope if the atmospheric
seeing is sharp and steady. For a list of all predicted Red Spot
transit times, see
http://www.skypub.com/sights/moonplanets/redspot.html .

DEC. 11 -- MONDAY

* The Moon forms a big, roughly equilateral triangle in the evening
sky with bright Jupiter to its upper right and Capella to its upper
left.

* Jupiter's Red Spot transits around 1:04 a.m. EST Tuesday morning.

DEC. 12 -- TUESDAY

* The Geminid meteor shower should be at its peak late this evening
and early tomorrow morning. But bright moonlight will hide most of the
meteors from view.

* The Moon occults (covers) the 3.5-magnitude star Delta Geminorum
late tonight as seen from most of North America and Hawaii. For a
timetable of the star's reappearance from behind the Moon's thin dark
limb -- an event visible with a small telescope if you're watching at
the right instant -- see the December Sky & Telescope, page 115, or
http://www.skypub.com/sights/skyevents/0012skyevents.html .

* Jupiter's Red Spot transits around 8:56 p.m. EST.

* Mars and Spica appear closest together, 3 degrees apart, in the
dawn sky Wednesday morning.

DEC. 13 -- WEDNESDAY

* The winter constellation Orion rises into good view low in the
east-southeastern sky by 7:30 or 8 p.m. Look for it looming up far
below bright Jupiter and Saturn.

DEC. 14 -- THURSDAY

* The red long-period variable star R Trianguli should be at its
maximum brightness (about 6th magnitude) around this date.

* Jupiter's Red Spot transits around 10:34 p.m. EST.

DEC. 15 -- FRIDAY

* After the Moon rises late this evening, look to its right or upper
right for Regulus.

DEC. 16 -- SATURDAY

* Jupiter's Red Spot transits around 12:12 a.m. EST Sunday morning.

============================
THIS WEEK'S PLANET ROUNDUP
============================

MERCURY is hidden in the glow of sunrise.

VENUS shines very brilliantly (magnitude -4.2) in the southwestern sky
during and after dusk.

MARS (magnitude +1.5, in Virgo) glows yellow-orange high in the
southeast before dawn. Near it shines Spica, slightly brighter at
magnitude +1.0.

JUPITER and SATURN (magnitudes -2.8 and -0.2, respectively) shine
brightly in the east to southeast during evening. Jupiter is the
brighter one. Saturn appears 8 or 9 degrees (nearly a fist-width at
arm's length) to Jupiter's upper right. They're in the constellation
Taurus; above Jupiter is the Pleiades star cluster, and below Jupiter
sparkles orange Aldebaran. By 10 p.m. the whole group is high in the
south.

URANUS and NEPTUNE (invisible to the naked eye, at magnitudes 6 and 8
in Capricornus) are getting very low in the southwest after dark.
They're far in the background of Venus.

PLUTO is hidden in the glare of the Sun.


All descriptions that relate to the horizon or zenith -- including
the words up, down, right, and left -- are written for the world's
midnorthern latitudes. Descriptions that also depend on longitude are
for North America. Eastern Standard Time, EST, equals Universal Time
[GMT] minus 5 hours.)

More celestial events, sky maps, and news of the world's astronomy
research appear each month in SKY & TELESCOPE, the essential magazine
of astronomy. See our enormous Web site and astronomy bookstore at
http://www.skypub.com/ . Clear skies!


SKY & TELESCOPE, 49 Bay State Rd., Cambridge, MA 02138 *
617-864-7360


===========================================================
Copyright 2000 Sky Publishing Corporation. S&T's Weekly News Bulletin
and Sky at a Glance stargazing calendar are provided as a service to
the astronomical community by the editors of SKY & TELESCOPE magazine.
Widespread electronic distribution is encouraged as long as these
paragraphs are included. But the text of the bulletin and calendar may
not be published in any other form without permission from Sky
Publishing (contact permissions@skypub.com or phone 617-864-7360).
Updates of astronomical news, including active links to related
Internet resources, are available via SKY & TELESCOPE's site on the
World Wide Web at http://www.skypub.com/.





 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 344 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Mon, Dec 11, 2000 (14:08) * 64 lines 
 
NEWSALERT: Monday, December 11, 2000 @ 0551 GMT
---------------------------------------------------------------------
The latest news from Astronomy Now and Spaceflight Now



ENDEAVOUR HEADS FOR FLORIDA HOMECOMING TODAY
--------------------------------------------
Flush with success, the shuttle Endeavour astronauts are set to close out their mission that spread the power-generating wings of the international space station this evening with a pin-point landing at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Touchdown on Runway 15 is expected at 2304 GMT (6:04 p.m. EST ).


http://spaceflightnow.com/ops/stage4a/001211fd12/


Continuous live landing updates in our status center:
http://spaceflightnow.com/ops/stage4a/status.html


Timeline of today's deorbit preparation:
http://spaceflightnow.com/ops/stage4a/fdf/97entry.html


Landing weather forecast:
http://spaceflightnow.com/ops/stage4a/fdf/97wx.html



ATLANTIS ROLLOUT DELAYED FOR BOOSTER INSPECTIONS
------------------------------------------------
Rollout of shuttle Atlantis to pad 39A to ready the ship for launch next month will be delayed at least two days -- from Monday to Wednesday -- because of ongoing work to determine why an explosive booster separation bolt failed to fire during the Endeavour's launch Nov. 30.


http://spaceflightnow.com/ops/stage4a/001210sts98/



ARIANE 4 TO ROCKET TURKISH EURASIASAT 1 CRAFT INTO ORBIT
--------------------------------------------------------
A Turkish telecommunications satellite built to bridge Europe and Asia is poised for its launch into space later today atop an Arianespace Ariane 4 rocket. Liftoff is set for 2204 GMT (5:04 p.m. EST) from Kourou, South America. We will have live reports:


http://spaceflightnow.com/ariane/v137/status.html



LAST WEEK'S ATLAS ROCKET LAUNCH REVISITED
-----------------------------------------
Spaceflight Now looks back to last Tuesday's flight of the Lockheed Martin Atlas 2AS rocket with a secret satellite cargo with a gallery of spectacular launch photographs.


http://spaceflightnow.com/atlas/ac157/launch.html



WEEKEND HEADLINES
-----------------
FOUR ADDITIONAL MOONS DISCOVERED ORBITING SATURN
http://spaceflightnow.com/news/n0012/10saturnmoons/


ASTRONOMERS FIND NEW EVIDENCE FOR MAGNETARS
http://spaceflightnow.com/news/n0012/09magnetars/




 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 345 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Tue, Dec 12, 2000 (17:01) * 49 lines 
 
NEWSALERT: Tuesday, December 12, 2000 @ 0524 GMT
---------------------------------------------------------------------
The latest news from Astronomy Now and Spaceflight Now

ENDEAVOUR RETURNS TO EARTH WITH NIGHTTIME LANDING
-------------------------------------------------
The space shuttle Endeavour glided to a smooth Florida touchdown Monday evening just minutes after the international space station sailed overhead, closing out a successful flight to equip the outpost with the most powerful solar arrays ever launched.
http://spaceflightnow.com/ops/stage4a/001211land/

Read our play-by-play description of entry and landing:
http://spaceflightnow.com/ops/stage4a/status.html

Video clip of Endeavour's landing from NASA Television:
http://spaceflightnow.com/ops/stage4a/video/001211landing_qt.html

Video from onboard camera showing pilot's view:
http://spaceflightnow.com/ops/stage4a/video/001211ppov_qt.html

Video of landing from infrared camera:
http://spaceflightnow.com/ops/stage4a/video/001211irland_qt.html

THREE EXTRASOLAR PLANETS FOUND 150 LIGHT-YEARS AWAY
---------------------------------------------------
Three new planets around distant stars have been found by scientists using an observatory in Australia, adding to the 46 other extrasolar planets found since 1995. The new worlds vary in size but are comparable to Jupiter and likely gas giants.
http://spaceflightnow.com/news/n0012/12planets/

HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS MAKE STELLAR DISCOVERY, WIN AWARD
------------------------------------------------------
Three high school students, using data from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and the NSF's Very Large Array, Monday won first place in the Siemens-Westinghouse Science and Technology Competition for discovery of the first evidence of a neutron star in the nearby supernova remnant.
http://spaceflightnow.com/news/n0012/12chandrakids/

ONE OF NASA'S FEMALE PIONEERS TO RETIRE
---------------------------------------
In 1964, Carolyn Griner was one of only three women in technical positions at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center -- outnumbered by male engineers at a ratio of more than 1,000 to one. Today, after 36 years of helping America reach new frontiers in space exploration, Griner, now deputy director of Marshall, has announced plans to retire.
http://spaceflightnow.com/news/n0012/12griner/

GALILEO CONTINUES PROBING JOVIAN MAGNETOSPHERE
----------------------------------------------
Galileo's efforts continue on maintaining the continuity of a survey of the Jovian magnetosphere. The survey data are very valuable as they are Galileo's contribution to a dual-spacecraft observation campaign to examine the influence of the solar wind on the magnetosphere.
http://spaceflightnow.com/news/n0012/12galileothisweek/


ARIANE 4 ROCKET LAUNCH OF TURKISH CRAFT DELAYED
-----------------------------------------------
Monday's launch of the Arianespace Ariane 4 rocket with the Turkish Eurasiasat 1 communications spacecraft from Kourou in South America was called off and a new date is still pending.
http://spaceflightnow.com/ariane/v137/status.html





 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 346 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Wed, Dec 13, 2000 (00:30) * 30 lines 
 
NEWSALERT: Wednesday, December 13, 2000 @ 0612 GMT
---------------------------------------------------------------------
The latest news from Astronomy Now and Spaceflight Now

JUPITER'S EYE SEEN WATCHING IO IN STUNNING NEW PHOTO
----------------------------------------------------
As NASA's Cassini spacecraft cruises through space, the probe has captured yet another awe-inspiring image of Jupiter. This latest view shows details of the planet's Great Red Spot and other features not seen earlier. Also visible is the Jovian moon Io and the white and reddish colors on its surface.
http://spaceflightnow.com/news/n0012/13jupio/

BOOSTER INSPECTIONS KEEP SHUTTLE ATLANTIS PARKED
------------------------------------------------
Engineers began inspections of electrical cable connectors in the solid rocket boosters of space shuttle Atlantis on Tuesday in the wake of a problem during the launch of sistership Endeavour two weeks ago.
http://spaceflightnow.com/ops/stage4a/001212sts98/

BLACK HOLES SAID YOUNGER, MEANER AND MORE PLENTIFUL
---------------------------------------------------
A team of astronomers has found that supermassive black holes contribute about as much energy to the Universe as all the stars combined. Many have formed recently rather than in the early, violent stages of galaxy birth. And, at any give time in the history of the Universe, about 10 percent of all supermassive black holes are actively pulling in huge quantities of gas and whole stars.
http://spaceflightnow.com/news/n0012/13chandra/

DOD GETS GLOBAL WITH IRIDIUM SATELLITE-PHONE SYSTEM
---------------------------------------------------
The U.S. Department of Defense awarded a two-year, $72 million contract last week for unlimited use of the global Iridium satellite-based, secure telephone network. Details of deal indicate the Pentagon will pay 10 to 30 cents a minute while new civilian commercial service will cost about 80 cents a minute, down from the previous near $5 per minute for some customers.
http://spaceflightnow.com/news/n0012/13iridium/

FUTURE FRENCH MILITARY COMMUNICATIONS SYSTEM SET
------------------------------------------------
Alcatel Space has won the contract to build France's new-generation Syracuse 3A military satellite, plus options for a second and third satellite in the series. Syracuse 3A satellite will enter service in 2003, complementing the current fleet of mixed civil/military spacecraft to serve both French and allied armed forces.
http://spaceflightnow.com/news/n0012/13syracuse3a/




 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 347 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Wed, Dec 13, 2000 (23:45) * 27 lines 
 
NEWSALERT: Thursday, December 14, 2000 @ 0450 GMT
---------------------------------------------------------------------
The latest news from Astronomy Now and Spaceflight Now

NEW REPORT OFFERS EVIDENCE OF PRIMITIVE LIFE ON MARS
----------------------------------------------------
A new scientific report offers compelling evidence that primitive life existed on Mars. Tiny magnetite crystals, identical to those used by aqueous bacteria on Earth as compasses to find food and energy, have been found in the Martian meteorite ALH84001.
http://spaceflightnow.com/news/n0012/14marslife/

NEW MOVIE NOW SHOWING: 'HIGH CLOUDS OF JUPITER'
-----------------------------------------------
Images from NASA's Cassini space probe have been used to generate this new movie of Jupiter's high-altitude clouds. This is the first time a movie sequence of Jupiter has been made that illustrates the motions of the high clouds on a global scale.
http://spaceflightnow.com/news/n0012/14jupiter/

SHUTTLE DELAY EXTENDS VOYAGE OF FIRST STATION CREW
--------------------------------------------------
The first expedition aboard international space station got a little longer on Wednesday when NASA announced a delay from February to March in launching space shuttle Discovery to ferry the three-man crew back to Earth.
http://spaceflightnow.com/ops/stage4a/001214sts102/

ENGINE BURN PUTS NEAR SHOEMAKER ON FINAL TRACK
----------------------------------------------
An engine firing yesterday put NASA's NEAR Shoemaker spacecraft in orbit just 22 miles above the tumbling space rock Eros' center of mass in preparation for low altitude operations in January and February, just prior to the mission's end.


http://spaceflightnow.com/news/n0012/14nearburn/




 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 348 of 1087:  (sprin5) * Thu, Dec 14, 2000 (08:29) * 1 lines 
 
I thought we'd known about the Mars meteorite for a while, this isn't "news" per se, is it?


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 349 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Thu, Dec 14, 2000 (14:04) * 2 lines 
 
Not as far as I know. Did not check the link to see what new tests it was undergoing. I shall, though, and post what I discover.



 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 350 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Sat, Dec 16, 2000 (16:27) * 260 lines 
 
===========================================================
SKY & TELESCOPE'S NEWS BULLETIN - DECEMBER 15, 2000
===========================================================
For images and Web links for these items, visit http://www.skypub.com
===========================================================
Axel Mellinger's composite image of the entire Milky Way was so
stunning that we made it into a poster. Now, not only is there a 2nd
Edition of his quick-selling panorama, Mellinger has imaged the polar
regions as well to create a spectacular all-sky view. The 24-by-36-
inch "Celestial Sphere" poster consists of 51 wide-angle exposures
stitched together into a seamless "real" map of the entire sky. The
poster comes with a key chart identifying major constellations and
stars. To order either of Mellinger's posters, visit Sky Publishing's
online store at http://store.skypub.com/ or call 800-253-0245.
===========================================================


HUBBLE AND CASSINI TEAM UP ON JUPITER


Yesterday marked the start of a two-week-long observing campaign by the Hubble
Space Telescope and Cassini spacecraft to monitor auroral activity on Jupiter.
Cassini is nearing the solar system's largest planet on its way to a 2004
appointment with Saturn, and scientists are taking full advantage of this
month's opportunity. The spacecraft will pass 9.8 million kilometers from
Jupiter on December 30th. Shortly after the flyby, the dual observations will
recommence, as Hubble will image Jupiter's day side and Cassini will watch the
planet's night side. Astronomers hope to obtain a better understanding of the
interaction of the solar wind with Jupiter's magnetic field and create a model
of the planet's aurora. To illustrate what Hubble and Cassini will be looking
for, the Space Telescope Science Institute released a detailed view of
Jupiter's north pole surrounded by aurora. The picture -- taken on November
26, 1998 -- features auroral "footprints" of Io, Ganymede, and Europa. These
are artifacts of the electric fields generated as the satellites move through
Jupiter's magnetosphere.


AN ALL-SKY OPTICAL SETI SURVEY


A new kind search for intelligent life in the universe is in the making. Paul
Horowitz (Harvard University) and his graduate students Andrew Howard and Chip
Coldwell have begun building a specialized, 72-inch (1.8-meter) telescope that
will sweep more than half the celestial sphere to look for extremely brief
laser pulses from other civilizations.


Recent studies indicate that lasers could be as efficient as radio for
interstellar signaling. Following up on this idea, several optical SETI
projects are already under way (including one by Horowitz's group) or are
being built. But these are "targeted" searches looking only at preselected
lists of a few thousand stars at most. The new wide-sky survey will take at
least brief looks at hundreds of millions.


The telescope's main mirror will be a cheap "light bucket" of low optical
quality. At the heart of the instrument will be two parallel arrays of 1,024
high-speed photomultipliers each. These will observe a 1.6 degree-by-0.2
degree swath of sky at once. Only recently have such arrays become available.
They will be able to resolve light pulses as short as a nanosecond (a
billionth of a second). Any such brief pulses from the stars would be clearly
artificial and would represent an energy-efficient way to communicate across
thousands of light-years.


The $350,000 project is being funded by The Planetary Society. Half the amount
has been put up as a matching grant by one donor, David Brown, and the society
is canvassing its members for the rest.


Horowitz says the instrument will examine every point on more than half the
celestial sphere for at least 48 seconds every 150 clear nights. It will sweep
the whole sky from declination +60 degrees to -20 degrees, a zone that
includes more than half of the visible Milky Way. If all goes well
observations should begin in late 2001 or 2002.


For a description of all the radio and optical SETI searches under way
worldwide, and a comprehensive review of today's debate over intelligent life
in the universe, see Sky & Telescope's SETI Page at
http://www.skypub.com/news/special/seti_toc.html .


CHRISTMAS ECLIPSE


Christmas Day will be extra special this year. Weather permitting, people all
across North America will be able to watch the Moon glide across the low
December Sun, creating a partial solar eclipse. This event will be visible
throughout nearly all the inhabited parts of North America (except Alaska and
the Yukon), as well as from most of Mexico and the Caribbean. To find out when
the eclipse will occur, how much of the Sun will be covered from your
location, and how to observe it safely, see Sky & Telescope's Web site at
http://www.skypub.com/sights/eclipses/solar/001225partial.html .


COMET MCNAUGHT-HARTLEY IN THE MORNING


Although it is the brightest comet in the sky right now -- between 6th and 7th
magnitude -- Comet Utsunomiya-Jones (C/2000 W1) has moved closer to the Sun,
heading toward its perihelion on December 26th. By the time the last of
evening twilight has faded, the comet is only a few degrees above the horizon.
To see the next-best comet, you'll have to head out early in the morning.
Comet McNaught-Hartley (C/1999 T1) is highest -- between 15 and 20 deg. above
the horizon -- just before the first light of dawn. At that time, Northern
Hemisphere observers will find it in the southeast, while Southern Hemisphere
observers will find it in the south. The 8th-magnitude comet moves nearly due
north through Virgo and enters Libra this coming week. Here are positions for
McNaught-Hartley for 0 hours Universal Time in 2000.0 coordinates:


Date R.A. Dec.


Dec 16 14h 12m -22.7 deg.
Dec 18 14 17 -21.6
Dec 20 14 23 -20.5
Dec 22 14 28 -19.3


For more about these comets, see the Special Sky Events page at
http://www.skypub.com/sights/skyevents/0012skyevents.html .



THIS WEEK'S "SKY AT A GLANCE"


Some daily events in the changing sky, by the editors of Sky & Telescope.


DEC. 17 -- SUNDAY


* Last-quarter Moon (exact at 7:41 p.m. EST).


* Jupiter's Great Red Spot should cross Jupiter's central meridian (the
imaginary line down the center of the planet's disk from pole to pole) around
8:03 p.m. EST. The "red" spot is currently very pale orange-tan. It should be
visible in a good 4- or 6-inch telescope if the atmospheric seeing is sharp
and steady. For a list of all predicted Red Spot transit times, see
http://www.skypub.com/sights/moonplanets/redspot.html .


DEC. 18 -- MONDAY


* Some doorstep astronomy: The brilliant light in the southwest just dusk is
Venus. The brightest star higher in the northwest is Vega. Just about halfway
between them (due west), look for Altair.


* Jupiter's Red Spot transits around 1:50 a.m. EST Tuesday morning.


* Before and during dawn tomorrow morning, the Moon shines above orange Mars
and blue-white Spica high in the southeastern sky.


DEC. 19 -- TUESDAY


* Jupiter's Red Spot transits around 9:41 p.m. EST.


* The Moon shines in a line with Mars and Spica high in the southeast before
and during dawn tomorrow.


DEC. 20 -- WEDNESDAY

* By about 6:30 p.m. Orion has already cleared the eastern horizon. Look for
it far below bright Jupiter and Saturn.

DEC. 21 -- THURSDAY
* The Sun reaches the solstice at 8:37 a.m. EST, marking the start of winter
in the Northern Hemisphere and summer in the Southern Hemisphere.

* An unusual outburst of the normally weak Ursid meteor shower is possible
late tonight for meteor watchers in North America. The shower's radiant is in
the bowl of the Little Dipper.

* Jupiter's Red Spot transits around 11:19 p.m. EST.

* Early tomorrow morning the asteroid 6 Hebe should occult (cover) a
10.8-magnitude star in Virgo for up to 10 seconds. The combined light of the
star and asteroid will drop by only 0.9 magnitude. The occultation should take
place within a few minutes of 10:58 Universal Time December 22 along a track
from Oregon to New England. For a finder chart see the December Sky &
Telescope, page 115, or
http://www.skypub.com/sights/skyevents/0012skyevents.html . For late updates
check www.lunar-occultations.com/iota .

DEC. 22 -- FRIDAY
* Jupiter's Red Spot transits around 7:11 p.m. EST.

DEC. 23 -- SATURDAY
* Jupiter's Red Spot transits around 12:57 p.m. EST Sunday morning.

============================
THIS WEEK'S PLANET ROUNDUP
============================
MERCURY is hidden in the glare of the Sun.

VENUS shines very brilliantly (magnitude -4.2) in the southwestern sky during
and after dusk. Look well to its left (by about three fist-widths at arm's
length) for the 1st-magnitude star Fomalhaut.

MARS (magnitude +1.5, in Virgo) glows yellow-orange high in the southeast
before dawn. Near it (to the right) shines Spica, slightly brighter at
magnitude +1.0.

JUPITER and SATURN (magnitudes -2.8 and -0.2, respectively) shine brightly in
the east to southeast during evening. Jupiter is the brighter one. Saturn
appears 8 degrees (a little less than a fist-width at arm's length) to
Jupiter's right or upper right. They're in the constellation Taurus; above
Jupiter is the Pleiades star cluster, and below Jupiter sparkles orange
Aldebaran. By 9:30 p.m. the whole group is high in the south.

URANUS and NEPTUNE (invisible to the naked eye, at magnitudes 6 and 8 in
Capricornus) are getting very low in the southwest just after dark. They're
far in the background of Venus.

PLUTO is hidden in the glare of the Sun.

(All descriptions that relate to the horizon or zenith -- including the words
up, down, right, and left -- are written for the world's midnorthern
latitudes. Descriptions that also depend on longitude are for North America.
Eastern Standard Time, EST, equals Universal Time [GMT] minus 5 hours.)

More celestial events, sky maps, and news of the world's astronomy research
appear each month in SKY & TELESCOPE, the essential magazine of astronomy. See
our enormous Web site and astronomy bookstore at http://www.skypub.com/ .
Clear skies!

SKY & TELESCOPE, 49 Bay State Rd., Cambridge, MA 02138 * 617-864-7360

===========================================================
Copyright 2000 Sky Publishing Corporation. S&T's Weekly News Bulletin and Sky
at a Glance stargazing calendar are provided as a service to the astronomical
community by the editors of SKY & TELESCOPE magazine. Widespread electronic
distribution is encouraged as long as these paragraphs are included. But the
text of the bulletin and calendar may not be published in any other form
without permission from Sky Publishing (contact permissions@skypub.com or
phone 617-864-7360). Updates of astronomical news, including active links to
related Internet resources, are available via SKY & TELESCOPE's site on the
World Wide Web at http://www.skypub.com/.

In cooperation with the American Association of Amateur
Astronomers (http://www.corvus.com/), S&T's Weekly News Bulletin
and Sky at a Glance are available via electronic
mailing list. For a free subscription, send e-mail to join@astromax.com and
put the word "join" on the first line of the body of the message. To
unsubscribe, send e-mail to unjoin@astromax.com and put the word "unjoin" on
the first line of the body of the message. If you should have any problems
either subscribing to or unsubscribing from the list, send a message to list
administrator John Wagoner at stargate@gte.net for assistance.



 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 351 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Mon, Dec 18, 2000 (00:14) * 35 lines 
 
NEWSALERT: Monday, December 18, 2000 @ 0531 GMT
---------------------------------------------------------------------
The latest news from Astronomy Now and Spaceflight Now

OCEAN BELIEVED HIDDEN ON SOLAR SYSTEM'S LARGEST MOON
----------------------------------------------------
Add Jupiter's moon Ganymede, which is bigger than two of the solar system's nine planets, to the growing list of worlds with evidence of liquid water under the surface. A thick layer of melted, salty water somewhere beneath Ganymede's icy crust would be the best way to explain some of the magnetic readings taken by NASA's Galileo spacecraft.
http://spaceflightnow.com/news/n0012/17ganymedeocean/

BOOSTER REPAIRS THREATEN TO DELAY NEXT SHUTTLE LAUNCH
-----------------------------------------------------
Launch of the shuttle Atlantis next month on the next space station assembly mission faces a potentially significant delay because of work required to fix a crumbling electrical cable in the shuttle's booster separation system. Workers may be forced to remove Atlantis and its external fuel tank to complete the repair job.
http://spaceflightnow.com/station/stage5a/001218srb/

Watch our NEW status center for developing news today:
http://spaceflightnow.com/station/status.html


DETAILS EMERGE AS IRIDIUM'S TRANSFER OF POWER WRAPS UP
------------------------------------------------------
The new company pumping life into the once-defunct Iridium satellite telephone system plans to relaunch the global communications service within the next couple of months. Plans also call for seven more spacecraft to be launched into the constellation.
http://spaceflightnow.com/news/n0012/18iridium/

MAGNETIC FIELD 'UMBRELLAS' SHIELD MARTIAN ATMOSPHERE
----------------------------------------------------
Though Mars lacks a global protective magnetic shield like that of the Earth, strong localized magnetic fields embedded in the crust appear to be a significant barrier to erosion of the atmosphere by the solar wind, according to a new map by the Mars Global Surveyor.
http://spaceflightnow.com/news/n0012/17marsmagnet/


ARIANE 508 ROCKET TO LAUNCH 3 PAYLOADS TUESDAY NIGHT
----------------------------------------------------
A mighty Ariane 5 rocket has taken center stage at the European spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, where satellite troubles have sidelined an Ariane 4 launcher once poised for blastoff a week ago. Workers are now gearing up to launch a pair of communications satellites and a crucial Japanese experiment Tuesday evening on the Ariane 508 vehicle.
http://spaceflightnow.com/ariane/v138/status.html




 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 352 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Tue, Dec 19, 2000 (22:42) * 34 lines 
 
NEWSALERT: Tuesday, December 19, 2000 @ 0630 GMT
---------------------------------------------------------------------
The latest news from Astronomy Now and Spaceflight Now

INTRICATE STRUCTURES SEEN IN JUPITER'S POLAR REGION
---------------------------------------------------
The familiar banded appearance of Jupiter at low and middle latitudes gradually gives way to a more mottled appearance at high latitudes in this striking true color image taken last week by NASA's Cassini spacecraft.
http://spaceflightnow.com/news/n0012/19jupmott/

MOST DISTANT SPACECRAFT MAY REACH SHOCK ZONE SOON
-------------------------------------------------
A NASA spacecraft headed out of the solar system at a speed that would streak from New York to Los Angeles in less than four minutes could reach the first main feature of the boundary between our solar system and interstellar space within three years.
http://spaceflightnow.com/news/n0012/19voyager1/

ARIANE 5 LAUNCH TO CLOSE OUT 2000 FOR ARIANESPACE
-------------------------------------------------
The European Ariane 508 rocket is sitting on its South American launch pad and awaiting liftoff with two communications satellites and an experimental technology demonstration tonight at 0026 GMT (7:26 p.m. EST). We will have comprehensive live launch coverage.
http://spaceflightnow.com/ariane/v138/status.html

ANDROMEDA GALAXY COMES ALIVE WITH DETAILED SPYING
-------------------------------------------------
The Andromeda galaxy, only 2.6 million light years away, is an ideal field of study for X-ray astronomy. XMM-Newton has observed its galactic center, revealing many new point sources and the probable presence of a very hot diffuse gas which contributes to the overall X-ray luminosity.
http://spaceflightnow.com/news/n0012/19xmmdiffuse/

NO OFFICIAL DECISION YET ON SHUTTLE BOOSTER REPAIR
--------------------------------------------------
NASA officials have yet to select a plan to repair solid rocket booster cabling on space shuttle Atlantis. The repair plan chosen will impact the shuttle's scheduled January 18 launch date on a mission to deliver the Destiny research module to the international space station.
http://spaceflightnow.com/station/status.html

SOYUZ PICKED TO LAUNCH EUROPEAN WEATHER SATELLITES
--------------------------------------------------
EUMETSAT has signed a contract with Starsem for the launch of its Metop polar orbiting satellites. The launch of the first satellite of three in the Metop series, part of the EUMETSAT Polar System, is planned for 2005.
http://spaceflightnow.com/news/n0012/19eumetsat/



 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 353 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Thu, Dec 21, 2000 (15:30) * 29 lines 
 
NEWSALERT: Thursday, December 21, 2000 @ 1629 GMT
---------------------------------------------------------------------
The latest news from Astronomy Now and Spaceflight Now

PROBLEM HITS CASSINI JUST DAYS BEFORE JUPITER FLYBY
---------------------------------------------------
The Saturn-bound Cassini spacecraft suspended its observations of Jupiter on Wednesday because of troubles with its pointing system, ending the much-anticipated picture-taking and research as the probe heads to a close encounter with the giant gas planet next week.
http://spaceflightnow.com/news/n0012/21cassproblem/

IO CASTS SHADOW ON JUPITER IN CASSINI'S BEST IMAGE YET
------------------------------------------------------
Jupiter's four largest satellites, including Io, the golden ornament in front of Jupiter in this image from NASA's Cassini spacecraft, have fascinated Earthlings ever since Galileo Galilei discovered them in 1610 in one of his first astronomical uses of the telescope.
http://spaceflightnow.com/news/n0012/21jupio/

NASA REVIVES PLUTO MISSION
--------------------------
Bowing to pressure from both the scientific community and the general public, NASA gave new life Wednesday to prospects for a Pluto mission, saying it would solicit proposals for a revised mission to the outermost planet in our solar system.
http://spaceflightnow.com/news/n0012/21pluto/

LANDING SITE SELECTED FOR BEAGLE 2 MISSION TO MARS
--------------------------------------------------
The European Space Agency's Mars Express lander, Beagle 2, will land on Isidis Planitia, a large flat region that overlies the boundary between the ancient highlands and the northern plains of the Red Planet. The region appears to be a sedimentary basin where traces of life could have been preserved.
http://spaceflightnow.com/news/n0012/21beagle2/

CHINESE NAVIGATION SATELLITE LAUNCHED INTO SPACE
------------------------------------------------
China launched the "Beidou" navigation satellite today aboard a Long March 3A rocket from the Xichang space center in the southwest province of Sichuan, the Xinhua news agency reported.
http://spaceflightnow.com/news/n0012/21beidou/



 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 354 of 1087:  (sprin5) * Thu, Dec 21, 2000 (16:12) * 1 lines 
 
They better get that Pluto flight off withing two years or the window shuts down as Pluto gets very far away, like it wasn't far already! Man, how many *years* will that take to get there? And how will they pump a signal back? What a feat to pull off. And they have to do it on the cheap.


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 355 of 1087:  (sprin5) * Thu, Dec 21, 2000 (16:13) * 1 lines 
 
Too bad about Casini.


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 356 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Fri, Dec 22, 2000 (12:18) * 33 lines 
 
It has to be done very carefullly, for certain. Smoke and mirrors just don't hack it anymore! It is fixed!! See below:


NEWSALERT: Friday, December 22, 2000 @ 0604 GMT
---------------------------------------------------------------------
The latest news from Astronomy Now and Spaceflight Now

CASSINI'S POINTING SYSTEM PROBLEM APPEARS FIXED
-----------------------------------------------
A glitch with the pointing system aboard NASA's Cassini space probe appeared to be resolved on Thursday, giving scientists optimism the craft could resume observations of the planet Jupiter during next Saturday's flyby. Cassini is on a 2.2-billion mile, seven-year interplanetary trek to Saturn.
http://spaceflightnow.com/news/n0012/22cassini/

NASA RELEASES JUPITER FAMILY PORTRAIT WITH MOONS
------------------------------------------------
One moment in an ancient, orbital dance is caught in this color picture taken by NASA's Cassini spacecraft on December 7, just as two of Jupiter's four major moons, Europa and Callisto, were nearly perfectly aligned with each other and the center of the planet.
http://spaceflightnow.com/news/n0012/22cassmoons/

REDOCKING OF STATION CARGO SHIP WILL BE TRICKY AFFAIR
-----------------------------------------------------
Russian flight controllers - and ultimately, cosmonaut Yuri Gidzenko - will have overall control authority during the upcoming redocking of a Progress supply to the international space station Tuesday. U.S flight controllers will only provide oversight and make a video conferencing system available.
http://spaceflightnow.com/station/stage5a/001221update/

See our timeline of the redocking sequence:
http://spaceflightnow.com/station/stage5a/fdf/redocking.html


SPACE TELESCOPE RENAMED FOR BRITISH ASTRONOMER
----------------------------------------------
Astronomers from around the world met in Toledo, Spain, earlier this month to discuss new scientific objectives for Europe's next-generation infrared space observatory. By the time the workshop was over, the telescope had a new name and redefined mission goals.
http://spaceflightnow.com/news/n0012/22herschel/





 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 357 of 1087:  (sprin5) * Fri, Dec 22, 2000 (12:47) * 1 lines 
 
Casini's back today! Great!


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 358 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Sat, Dec 23, 2000 (13:54) * 272 lines 
 
SKY & TELESCOPE'S NEWS BULLETIN - DECEMBER 22, 2000
===========================================================
For images and Web links for these items, visit http://www.skypub.com
===========================================================
Axel Mellinger's composite image of the entire Milky Way was so
stunning that we made it into a poster. Now, not only is there a 2nd
Edition of his quick-selling panorama, Mellinger has imaged the polar
regions as well to create a spectacular all-sky view. The 24-by-36-
inch "Celestial Sphere" poster consists of 51 wide-angle exposures
stitched together into a seamless "real" map of the entire sky. The
poster comes with a key chart identifying major constellations and
stars. To order either of Mellinger's posters, visit Sky Publishing's
online store at http://store.skypub.com/ or call 800-253-0245.
===========================================================

PLUTO MISSION BACK IN PLAY
NASA officials announced on Wednesday that the space agency will again
consider sending a spacecraft to Pluto. The space agency will seek proposals
for mission designs in three weeks, with an eye toward selecting a winning
proposal later next year. The mission plan must be developed soon in order to
launch the probe by 2004 (2006 at the latest) and thus take advantage of a
speed-boosting flyby of Jupiter. That could get the spacecraft to its distant
destination by 2012. In making the announcement, NASA associate administrator
Edward J. Weiler said he'll consider proposals for craft that would reach
Pluto by 2015, whether or not a Jupiter flyby was involved, but the total cost
must be well below $500 million.

"This is probably our last chance to go to Pluto for a generation," Weiler
noted. However, he cautioned repeatedly that there is no guarantee that a
spacecraft will actually be built and launched. Still, his announcement was a
dramatic change from his precipitous order last September to stop all work
related to the proposed Pluto-Kuiper Express mission. The space agency had
combined missions to Europa and Pluto in 1997 under a single program that
shared development funds and technical expertise. But when steeply escalating
costs threatened both efforts in mid-2000, Weiler opted to defer the Pluto
mission indefinitely so that work could continue on the Europa orbiter.

The back-to-the-drawing-board announcement came after months of lobbying by
outer-planet specialists. Key to the turnaround was a late-November report by
NASA's Solar System Exploration Subcommittee that recommended going to Pluto
before Europa. The latter mission has higher scientific priority overall, but
Pluto's atmosphere may soon freeze out as the icy world drifts farther from
the Sun. Weiler said the Europa orbiter will be developed regardless of the
Pluto mission's outcome, and that it will be launched no later than 2011.

Meanwhile, the results of a nationwide survey, also released on Wednesday,
show that the U.S. public supports the exploration of two fascinating bodies
in the outer solar system. Sponsored by Sky & Telescope, the poll found that
64 percent of Americans want NASA to send a spacecraft to Europa, while 58
percent approve sending a probe to Pluto. The exploration of Mars also
continues to receive strong support, as 70 percent of people would like to see
samples of the red planet returned to Earth for analysis. (Details of the
nationwide poll can be found at
http://www.skypub.com/news/pr_001220planetpoll.html .) "We all learn in school
that our solar system has nine planets," says Richard Tresch Fienberg, Sky &
Telescope's editor in chief. "It's downright dissatisfying that one of them
remains unvisited after 40 years of interplanetary exploration." Fienberg
encourages NASA to mount a Pluto mission in an editorial appearing in the
magazine's February 2000 issue at Sky & Telescope's Web site at
http://www.skypub.com/news/images2000/pr_001220planetpoll.pdf .

ROGER W. TUTHILL, 1919-2000
Long-time amateur astronomer and entrepreneur Roger W. Tuthill of
Mountainside, New Jersey, died of heart failure on December 15th following a
brief illness. He was 81. Known to myriad friends and acquaintances as Tut, it
was a midlife look at the Moon through a telescope in 1960 that ignited his
lasting passion for astronomy. During the ensuing decade he became an
increasingly well-known amateur astronomer, publishing several important
articles on telescope making in Sky & Telescope.

With one of the century's longest total solar eclipses pending and organized
eclipse travel almost nonexistent, Tut led a large group of amateurs to
Africa's western Sahara Desert in the summer of 1973. During a preliminary
scouting trip he planned to thwart the desert's intense daytime heat with a
tent he made of aluminized Mylar. The experiment failed because of the tent's
"maddeningly annoying" noise as it rippled in the ever-present wind. But
sitting inside and looking up, Tut discovered that aluminized Mylar was a safe
and effective solar filter. Sliced into small strips, pieces of the tent were
handed out as free eclipse viewers to hundreds of locals in a practice he
continued during 17 future eclipse expeditions.

Tut patented aluminized Mylar as a solar filter and founded a small company to
sell his Solar Skreen to amateurs. Eventually he added other products and quit
his day job as an engineer at a welding company to run the business full time.
Tut presaged the future when he introduced the first computer-pointed amateur
telescope in the early 1980s, though the unit was never a commercial success.
Tuthill's business was scaled back in recent years as he entered
semiretirement. According to his wife, Nancy, the business will continue
selling Solar Skreen and other small products.

Tut was proactive in his support of several amateur organizations, including
the Springfield Telescope Makers in Vermont, where he was a fixture at the
club's annual Stellafane convention for three decades. For the thousands of
amateurs who met Tut there and at other gatherings in North America or during
his globetrotting eclipse expeditions, he will be best remembered for his
strong handshake and warm, smiling greeting whether he was meeting someone for
the first or 500th time. He truly was, as his company's slogan proclaimed,
everyone's astronomical friend.

GEORGE E. D. ALCOCK, 1912-2000
The world lost one of its foremost amateur astronomers with the death of
George Eric Deacon Alcock on December 15th. He was 88. A schoolteacher from
Peterborough, England, Alcock blazed into the annals of British astronomy in
1959 by discovering Comet 1959e on August 25th of that year using a pair of
Zeiss 25x105 binoculars. It was the first comet discovered in the country in
65 years. Five days later, on August 30th, he swept up his second one, Comet
1959f.

Despite Britain's frequently cloudy skies and increasing light pollution,
Alcock went on to visually discover three more comets and five novae. His last
comet discovery in 1983 was his most famous -- Comet IRAS-Araki-Alcock. He
found it with 15x80 binoculars while observing indoors, through the closed,
double-glazed window of his upstairs bedroom! On May 11th the naked-eye comet
skimmed past the Earth at only 12 times the Moon's distance (about 4.5 million
kilometers), closer than any other cometary visitor since Comet Lexell in
1770.
Alcock's discoveries put him in a class with another renowned English amateur,
Caroline Herschel, who had a lifetime total of eight comet finds from 1786 to
1797. An avid weather observer and bird watcher, Alcock received major awards
from astronomical organizations, including the naming of asteroid 3174 Alcock
in his honor by the International Astronomical Union. A profile of him can be
found in the May 1999 issue of Sky & Telescope (page 84).

CHRISTMAS ECLIPSE
Christmas Day will be extra special this year. Weather permitting, people in
North America will be able to watch the Moon glide across the low December
Sun, creating a partial solar eclipse. This event will be visible throughout
nearly all the inhabited parts of North America (except Alaska and the Yukon),
as well as from most of Mexico and the Caribbean. To find out when the eclipse
will occur, how much of the Sun will be covered from your location, and how to
observe it safely, see Sky & Telescope's Web site at
http://www.skypub.com/sights/eclipses/solar/001225partial.html .

COMET MCNAUGHT-HARTLEY IN THE MORNING
Although Comet Utsunomiya-Jones (C/2000 W1) is the brightest comet in the sky
right now, it is too close to the Sun to be seen. It reaches perihelion on
December 26th. You have a much better chance to see the next-best comet, but
you'll have to wake up early. This coming week, Eighth-magnitude Comet
McNaught-Hartley (C/1999 T1) climbs some 20 to 30 deg. above the southeastern
horizon before the first light of dawn for Northern Hemisphere observers. For
those south of the equator, the comet will be about 20 to 25 deg. above the
eastern horizon. Here are positions for McNaught-Hartley as it moves through
Libra for 0 hours Universal Time in 2000.0 coordinates:

Date R.A. Dec.
Dec 23 14h 31m -18.7 deg.
Dec 25 14 37 -17.5
Dec 27 14 42 -16.2
Dec 29 14 48 -14.9

For more about these comets, see the Special Sky Events page at
http://www.skypub.com/sights/skyevents/0012skyevents.html .

THIS WEEK'S "SKY AT A GLANCE"

Some daily events in the changing sky, by the editors of Sky & Telescope.

DEC. 24 -- SUNDAY
* Turn a telescope on Jupiter around 6:30 to 7:00 p.m. Eastern Standard
Time, and you'll find its outer moons Ganymede and Callisto quite close
together, just 12 arcseconds apart. They remain close all evening.
* Jupiter's Red Spot transits around 8:49 p.m. EST.
* Tonight the 13th-magnitude asteroid 162 Laurentia should occult (cover) a
10.5-magnitude star in Auriga along a strip of land crossing the Deep South.
The occultation should happen a few minutes after 11:00 p.m. EST and should
last for up to 9 seconds. Use the finder chart in the December Sky &
Telescope, page 116, or at
http://www.skypub.com/sights/skyevents/0012skyevents.html .

* The naked-eye eclipsing variable star Algol should be in one of its
periodic dimmings, magnitude 3.4 instead of its usual 2.1, for a couple hours
tonight centered on 12:37 a.m. EST (Christmas morning). Algol takes several
additional hours to fade and to brighten. For a timetable of all its predicted
minima, see http://www.skypub.com/sights/variables/algol.html .

DEC. 25 -- MONDAY
* A PARTIAL ECLIPSE OF THE SUN happens this Christmas Day for nearly all of
North America (except Alaska and the Yukon) and most of Mexico and the
Caribbean. The eclipse takes place around sunrise in the American Northwest
and western Canada, a little later after sunup in the Southwest and mountain
states, during late morning or midday in the central part of the continent,
and during early afternoon in the East. Full details, including a timetable
with your local predictions and how to watch safely, are in the December Sky &
Telescope, page 109, and at
http://www.skypub.com/sights/eclipses/solar/001225partial.html .

DEC. 26 -- TUESDAY
* Some doorstep astronomy: The bright constellations of winter are enlivened
by Jupiter and Saturn this year. Jupiter is currently the brightest light in
the east to southeast during evening. Saturn is to its right. Far to their
left is the constellation Auriga with its bright star Capella. About the same
distance below Jupiter is Orion. Similarly far below Orion is Canis Major with
bright Sirius, rising around midevening.
* Jupiter's Red Spot transits around 10:27 p.m. EST.

DEC. 27 -- WEDNESDAY
* Algol should be near minimum light for a couple hours centered on 9:26
p.m. EST.

DEC. 28 -- THURSDAY
* Look southwest at dusk for the crescent Moon shining to the lower right of
Venus, the bright "Evening Star."
* Jupiter's Red Spot transits around 11:59 p.m. EST.

DEC. 29 -- FRIDAY
* VENUS SHINES CLOSE TO THE CRESCENT MOON in the southwestern sky during and
after dusk -- a beautiful conjunction.
* Jupiter's Red Spot transits around 7:57 p.m. EST.

DEC. 30 -- SATURDAY
* The Moon shines to Venus's upper left this evening.
* Algol should be near minimum light for a couple hours centered on 6:15
p.m. EST.
* Jupiter's Red Spot transits around 1:37 a.m. EST Sunday morning.

============================
THIS WEEK'S PLANET ROUNDUP
============================

MERCURY is hidden in the glare of the Sun.

VENUS shines very brilliantly (magnitude -4.2) in the southwestern sky during
and after dusk. Look well to its left or lower left (by two or three
fist-widths at arm's length) for the much dimmer, 1st-magnitude star
Fomalhaut.

MARS (magnitude +1.5, in Virgo) glows yellow-orange high in the southeast
before dawn. To its right shines Spica, slightly brighter at magnitude +1.0.

JUPITER and SATURN (magnitudes -2.7 and -0.2, respectively) shine brightly in
the east to southeast during early evening. Jupiter is the brighter one.
Saturn appears 8 degrees (less than a fist-width at arm's length) to Jupiter's
right or upper right. They're in the constellation Taurus; above Jupiter is
the Pleiades star cluster, and below Jupiter sparkles orange Aldebaran. By 9
p.m. the whole group is high in the south.

URANUS and NEPTUNE (invisible to the naked eye, at magnitudes 6 and 8 in
Capricornus) are getting very low in the southwest just after dark. They're
far in the background of Venus.

PLUTO is hidden in the glow of sunrise.

(All descriptions that relate to the horizon or zenith -- including the words
up, down, right, and left -- are written for the world's midnorthern
latitudes. Descriptions that also depend on longitude are for North America.
Eastern Standard Time, EST, equals Universal Time [GMT] minus 5 hours.)

More celestial events, sky maps, and news of the world's astronomy research
appear each month in SKY & TELESCOPE, the essential magazine of astronomy. See
our enormous Web site and astronomy bookstore at http://www.skypub.com/ .
Clear skies!

SKY & TELESCOPE, 49 Bay State Rd., Cambridge, MA 02138 * 617-864-7360

===========================================================
Copyright 2000 Sky Publishing Corporation. S&T's Weekly News Bulletin and Sky
at a Glance stargazing calendar are provided as a service to the astronomical
community by the editors of SKY & TELESCOPE magazine. Widespread electronic
distribution is encouraged as long as these paragraphs are included. But the
text of the bulletin and calendar may not be published in any other form
without permission from Sky Publishing (contact permissions@skypub.com or
phone 617-864-7360). Updates of astronomical news, including active links to
related Internet resources, are available via SKY & TELESCOPE's site on the
World Wide Web at http://www.skypub.com/.

In cooperation with the American Association of Amateur Astronomers (http://www.corvus.com/), S&T's Weekly News Bulletin and Sky at a Glance
are available via electronic mailing list. For a free subscription, send e-mail to join@astromax.com and put the word "join" on the first line of the body of the message. To unsubscribe, send e-mail to unjoin@astromax.com and put the word "unjoin" on
the first line of the body of the message. If you should have any problems
either subscribing to or unsubscribing from the list, send a message to list
administrator John Wagoner at stargate@gte.net for assistance.
---------------------------------------------------------------------



 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 359 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Mon, Dec 25, 2000 (15:38) * 13 lines 
 
Check this url for next time (thanks, JSK)
http://www.mreclipse.com/Totality/TotalityCh12-1.html#Right_Filter

CHRISTMAS SOLAR ECLIPSE

Eclipse 1 was a pinhole projection.


Eclipse 2 was at the sun through a special eclipse-viewing silvered plastic.

Photos by HFL
December 25, 2000



 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 360 of 1087: Curious Wolfie  (wolf) * Mon, Dec 25, 2000 (16:22) * 1 lines 
 
thanks for these great pics!


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 361 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Mon, Dec 25, 2000 (17:32) * 1 lines 
 
My sister reportd in from Long Island, New York that she saw the eclipse much as did HFL in the images above. Did anyone else see it???


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 362 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Tue, Dec 26, 2000 (14:22) * 15 lines 
 

" NEW YORK, UNITED
STATES, 25-DEC-2000:
A pair of pinhole
projected images of the
partial solar eclipse are
projected on to a piece of paper (with cartoon face
drawn on) to form what looks like eyes on a happy face
on Dec. 25, 2000 in New York. The solar eclipse could
be viewed on Christmas Day in parts of North America.
[Photo by Don Emmert, copyright 2000 by AFP and
ClariNet]"

Thanks HFL for sending this - very clever!!!



 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 363 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Tue, Dec 26, 2000 (19:44) * 47 lines 
 
University of Hawaii astronomers have detected the destruction of a dark interstellar cloud by one of the brightest stars in the Pleiades cluster.
George Herbig and Theodore Simon, with the Institute for Astronomy, obtained
high-resolution images in September with NASA's Hubble Space Telescope.
Pleiades, a famous navigational signpost for Hawaiians, formed about 100
million years ago from interstellar clouds, Herbig explained.
The small group of bright blue stars is named for the Seven Sisters of
Greek mythology. Easily seen in the night sky during winter months, the
cluster resembles a small dipper, lying in the constellation Taurus about 380
light years from Earth.
"Moving through space, it shed all the material from which it was born, but if you look at it
from photographs, it is covered with dusty clouds," Herbig said.
"Stars shine on the clouds and create luminosity.
"So it's kind of like a star seen through frosted glass. It's covered with smoky stuff, which is
really dust illuminated by stars."
Not far from Pleiades is a big dark cloud of cold gas and dust, Herbig said. "It just happens
that Pleiades, by pure accident, is passing through the edge of the dust cloud, like an airplane."
One little piece of cloud happens to be close to the bright Pleiades star Merope, which is
reflecting light off the black clouds like a flashlight beam, Herbig said.
American astronomer E.E. Barnard discovered bright nebulosity next to Merope in 1890.
"Barnard's Merope Nebula" is the brightest place in the conglomeration of dust around
Pleiades, Herbig said.
"It just happens that the brightest reflection of nebula luminosity is not shown on ordinary
photographs. This little glob of stuff ... that's what we studied."
The Hubble image doesn't show Merope itself but caught wispy tendrils of the interstellar
cloud passing by the bright star.
No one has ever been able to measure the motion of dust clouds because they're so
amorphous, Herbig said.
"But it turns out it's possible to associate a position and motion of this little glob of stuff,
Merope nebula, with the motion of dark clouds nearby."
Thus, he said, he and Simon were able to map the approach of Pleiades to the unrelated mass
of dust of interstellar material.
The star is so close and shining on the dust with such intensity that it is starting to fray and
dissipate, Herbig said.
The same phenomenon is at work with Merope and the interstellar cloud as occurs with comet
tails, he explained.
"We see dust tails of comets blown away from the comet's head by radiation pressure of the
sun, because it exerts a force. It can drive the dust back in the opposite direction."
Space telescope images show radiation pressure from Merope also is destroying the cloud,
Herbig said. In a couple of thousand years, as it gets closer to the star, the nebula may be
blown apart completely, he said.
"Or, it may be just like comets that go past the sun repeatedly and lose dust."
People have always thought dust clouds were structureless masses of gas and dust, Herbig
said. "This picture has shown us there is fine structure, all full of filaments and ridges and
globs."
Like leaves of trees that have veins and structure, he said, "it looks like structure inside these
interstellar clouds. This is something we didn't appreciate before."



 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 364 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Sat, Dec 30, 2000 (13:17) * 246 lines 
 
===========================================================
SKY & TELESCOPE'S NEWS BULLETIN - DECEMBER 29, 2000
===========================================================
For images and Web links for these items, visit http://www.skypub.com
===========================================================
Axel Mellinger's composite image of the entire Milky Way was so
stunning that we made it into a poster. Now, not only is there a 2nd
Edition of his quick-selling panorama, Mellinger has imaged the polar
regions as well to create a spectacular all-sky view. The 24-by-36-
inch "Celestial Sphere" poster consists of 51 wide-angle exposures
stitched together into a seamless "real" map of the entire sky. The
poster comes with a key chart identifying major constellations and
stars. To order either of Mellinger's posters, visit Sky Publishing's
online store at http://store.skypub.com/ or call 800-253-0245.
===========================================================

SATURN'S SATELLITES: 30 AND COUNTING

Brett Gladman (Nice Observatory) and his international observing partners have
announced their discovery of two more moons around Saturn. One of the new
finds, designated S/2000 S 11, was spotted on November 9th by team member
Matthew Holman with the 1.2-meter reflector at Whipple Observatory in Arizona.
Gladman and J. J. Kavelaars (McMaster University) spotted S/2000 S 12 on
September 23rd using the 3.6-meter Canada-France-Hawaii telescope on Mauna
Kea. It is probably only 5 kilometers across, whereas S 11 has a diameter of
perhaps 35 km. Counting these additions, Saturn now has 30 known moons -- 19
of which were found in the past 20 years. The dozen discovered by Gladman's
team appear to fall into three orbital groupings: most travel in the same
direction that Saturn rotates and have orbital inclinations that cluster near
35 and 48 deg.; the third group travels in the reverse (retrograde) direction
with inclinations near 170 deg. "The situation of Saturn thus seems to
resemble that of Jupiter," Gladman notes, "which also has one prograde and one
retrograde cluster."

A WARMER EARLY UNIVERSE

The Big Bang is one of the most widely known and debated theories in
cosmology. Most theorists assume the explosion was hot, and that the universe
has since cooled dramatically. Although we know the current temperature of
remnant Big Bang radiation, called the cosmic microwave background radiation
(CMBR), until now, no one has made a direct measurement of the temperature of
ancient Big Bang radiation. Today, the background radiation is only 2.7 deg.
Kelvin, but theoretically the farther back in time we look, the hotter the
CMBR should be.

Using the 8.2-meter Kueyen reflector of the Very Large Telescope in Chile,
Raghunathan Srianand (Inter University Center for Astronomy and Astrophysics),
Patrick Petitjean (Institut d'Astrophysique de Paris) and Cedric Ledoux
(European Southern Observatory) were able to measure the temperature of the
CMBR when the universe was only 2.5 billion years old. They found that back
then the cosmos was between 6 and 14 deg. Kelvin.

The team's results -- announced in the December 21st issue of Nature -- came
from observations of the distant quasar PKS 1235+0815. By examining at the
object's spectrum, the astronomers found the signatures of carbon and hydrogen
that only occur at these specific temperatures. Their result is in line with
other theorists who predicted that the CMBR should be 9.7 deg. K at that
cosmic era.

COMET MCNAUGHT-HARTLEY IN THE MORNING

If you got new binoculars or a telescope for Christmas, try training it on the
8th-magnitude Comet McNaught-Hartley (C/1999 T1). The comet reaches some 25 to
30 deg. above the southeastern horizon before the first light of dawn for
Northern Hemisphere observers. For those south of the equator, the comet will
be about 20 to 25 deg. above the eastern horizon. Here are positions for
McNaught-Hartley as it moves through Libra for 0 hours Universal Time in
2000.0 coordinates:

Date R.A. Dec.

Dec 30 14h 31m -18.7 deg.
Jan 1 14 56 -12.8
Jan 3 15 02 -11.3
Jan 5 15 08 -09.8

For more about the comet, see the Special Sky Events page at
http://www.skypub.com/sights/skyevents/0101skyevents.html .

QUADRANTID METEORS

You won't need optical aid to see the peak of the Quadrantid meteor shower --
but you'll still have to wake up before dawn. The peak is expected on January
3rd at about 12 hours Universal Time, which corresponds in North America to 6
a.m. Central Standard Time and 4 a.m. Pacific. This year the first-quarter
Moon will pose no interference, for it sets shortly after midnight and leaves
the skies fully dark from then on. Toward dawn is when the shower radiant,
halfway between the head of Draco and the end of the Big Dipper's handle, is
highest in the sky.

The "Quads" have a very sharp peak lasting only two hours or so. But if you're
watching when it arrives, this can be one of the year's best meteor displays.
Between midnight and dawn in good years, 40 or more of these moderately swift
meteors may be seen per hour. Deviations of up to six hours from the predicted
time of the peak have been noted in past years, so observers not just in North
America but also in western Europe and Japan should be on the lookout for
Quadrantids.

DOUBLE SHADOWS ON JUPITER

Here's another telescopic target: On Sunday evening, January 7th, observers in
eastern North America and all of South America have ringside seats to watch
the shadows of not one, but two, Galilean satellites crossing the disk of
Jupiter simultaneously. Ganymede's shadow will first appear on Jupiter's east
limb at 9:35 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. Io's shadow joins it at 10:13 p.m.
For the next hour and a half, both shadows should remain visible in small
telescopes as dark spots on the planet's disk. Ganymede's is the first to
leave, at 11:44 p.m., followed by Io's at 12:24 a.m. EST (on January 8th). For
an illustration of how Jupiter should appear, see the January Special Sky
Events Page at http://www.skypub.com/sights/skyevents/0101skyevents.html .

One week later, a repeat of this event occurs for observers in western North
America. On Sunday evening, January 14th, Io's shadow begins its march at 9:08
p.m. Pacific Standard Time, to be joined by that of Ganymede at 10:36 p.m.
Then at 11:23 p.m. Io's shadow leaves the disk, followed by Ganymede's at
12:46 a.m. PST (on the 15th).


THIS WEEK'S "SKY AT A GLANCE"

Some daily events in the changing sky, by the editors of Sky & Telescope.

DEC. 31 -- SUNDAY

* Midnight tonight marks the beginning of the 21st Century and the Third
Millennium. After the midnight New Year's celebrations, step outside into the
quiet dark and look up. Sirius will be shining at its highest in the south.
Orion will be to its upper right, and Procyon will be a similar distance to
Sirius's upper left. One thousand years from now, this sky scene will be very
much the same -- except that due to precession, the stars will be nearly an
hour east of their present midnight positions. Tonight Jupiter and Saturn
shine in Taurus high in the west-southwest, but on January 1, 3001, their
midnight places will be taken by the full Moon shining near Aldebaran and by
bright Mars blazing close to the Pleiades. That much is predictable. But turn
your gaze down, and prediction becomes impossible. What wonders, or
desolation, will cover the landscape under the silent stars?

* Jupiter's Great Red Spot should cross Jupiter's central meridian (the
imaginary line down the center of the planet's disk from pole to pole) around
9:38 p.m. EST. The "red" spot is very pale orange-tan. It should be visible in
a good 4- or 6-inch telescope if the atmospheric seeing is sharp and steady.
For a list of all predicted Red Spot transit times, see
http://www.skypub.com/sights/moonplanets/redspot.html .

JAN. 1 -- MONDAY

* As soon as darkness falls, look rather low in the northwest for Vega, the
"Summer Star" lingering all the way into the following year.

* Saturn's largest moon, Titan, appears three or four ring-lengths east of
Saturn this evening and tomorrow evening. A 3-inch telescope should show it.

JAN. 2 -- TUESDAY

* First-quarter Moon (exact at 5:31 p.m. Eastern Standard Time).

* Jupiter's Red Spot transits around 11:16 p.m. EST.

* Watch for the Quadrantid meteors just before dawn in central and western
North America.

JAN. 3 -- WEDNESDAY

* Jupiter's Red Spot transits around 7:08 p.m. EST.

JAN. 4 -- THURSDAY

* Latest sunrise of the year (if you live near 40 degrees north latitude).

* The Earth is at perihelion, its closest to the Sun for the year (3.4
percent closer than at aphelion in July).

* Jupiter's moon Europa crosses Jupiter's face from 9:11 to 11:45 p.m. EST,
followed by its tiny black shadow from 10:57 p.m. to 1:33 a.m. Friday morning
EST.

JAN. 5 -- FRIDAY

* The Moon shines close to Saturn this evening, with brighter Jupiter to
their left.

JAN. 6 -- SATURDAY

* The Moon shines near Aldebaran this evening, with Jupiter and Saturn to
their upper right.

* Jupiter's moon Europa reappears from eclipse out of Jupiter's shadow
around 7:46 p.m. EST. A small telescope will show it gradually emerging into
view a little east of the planet.


============================
THIS WEEK'S PLANET ROUNDUP
============================

MERCURY is hidden in the glare of the Sun.

VENUS shines very brilliantly (magnitude -4.3) in the southwestern sky during
and after dusk.

MARS (magnitude +1.4, at the Virgo-Libra border) glows yellow-orange high in
the south-southeast before dawn. To its upper right shines Spica, slightly
brighter at magnitude +1.0.

JUPITER and SATURN (magnitudes -2.6 and -0.3, respectively) shine brightly
high in the southeast to south during evening. Jupiter is the brightest one.
Yellowish Saturn appears 8 degrees (less than a fist-width at arm's length) to
Jupiter's right. They're in the constellation Taurus; above Jupiter is the
Pleiades star cluster, and farther to Jupiter's lower left sparkles orange
Aldebaran.

URANUS and NEPTUNE are getting very low in the southwest just after dark.

PLUTO is hidden in the glow of sunrise.

(All descriptions that relate to the horizon or zenith -- including the words
up, down, right, and left -- are written for the world's midnorthern
latitudes. Descriptions that also depend on longitude are for North America.
Eastern Standard Time, EST, equals Universal Time [GMT] minus 5 hours.)

More celestial events, sky maps, and news of the world's astronomy research
appear each month in SKY & TELESCOPE, the essential magazine of astronomy. See
our enormous Web site and astronomy bookstore at http://www.skypub.com/ .
Clear skies!

SKY & TELESCOPE, 49 Bay State Rd., Cambridge, MA 02138 * 617-864-7360

===========================================================
Copyright 2000 Sky Publishing Corporation. S&T's Weekly News Bulletin and Sky
at a Glance stargazing calendar are provided as a service to the astronomical
community by the editors of SKY & TELESCOPE magazine. Widespread electronic
distribution is encouraged as long as these paragraphs are included. But the
text of the bulletin and calendar may not be published in any other form
without permission from Sky Publishing (contact permissions@skypub.com or
phone 617-864-7360). Updates of astronomical news, including active links to
related Internet resources, are available via SKY & TELESCOPE's site on the
World Wide Web at http://www.skypub.com/.

In cooperation with the American Association of Amateur Astronomers (http://www.corvus.com/), S&T's Weekly News Bulletin and Sky at a Glance
are available via electronic
mailing list. For a free subscription, send e-mail to join@astromax.com and
put the word "join" on the first line of the body of the message. To
unsubscribe, send e-mail to unjoin@astromax.com and put the word "unjoin" on
the first line of the body of the message. If you should have any problems
either subscribing to or unsubscribing from the list, send a message to list
administrator John Wagoner at stargate@gte.net for assistance.


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 365 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Sun, Dec 31, 2000 (13:15) * 32 lines 
 
NEWSALERT: Sunday, December 31, 2000 @ 1653 GMT
---------------------------------------------------------------------
The latest news from Astronomy Now and Spaceflight Now


CASSINI AND GALILEO SPACE PROBES DOUBLE-TEAM JUPITER
----------------------------------------------------
Joint observations of Jupiter by NASA's Cassini and Galileo spacecraft are providing an unprecedented look at the giant planet's atmosphere and magnetosphere, scientists said Saturday, just hours after Cassini made its closest approach to the solar system's largest planet. (Includes video and sounds of Jupiter clips!)
http://spaceflightnow.com/news/n0012/30flyby/

See our complete Cassini flyby coverage:
http://spaceflightnow.com/cassini/


YEAR'S END FOR GALILEO
----------------------
The end of the year 2000 finds the Galileo spacecraft starting to wrap up another encounter with the Jovian system. The spacecraft's camera takes the stage over the weekend, with observations to capture global color views of Io, plus images of Jupiter's main ring.
http://spaceflightnow.com/news/n0012/31galileo/


FROM THE ARCHIVES IN 2000
-------------------------
GO FOR A RIDE WITH ROCKETCAMS!
http://spaceflightnow.com/features/rocketcams/

TOP 10 IMAGES FROM COMMERCIAL EYE-IN-THE-SKY
http://spaceflightnow.com/news/n0009/25ikonos/

SPACE SHUTTLE COLUMBIA UNDERGOES TUNE-UP
http://spaceflightnow.com/shuttle/features/000414overhaul/




 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 366 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Thu, Jan  4, 2001 (15:31) * 44 lines 
 
An Ailing Neil asked me to post this for him. With pleasure and get well, soon!

From Earth to Mars in as little as two weeks Jan 3, 2001
BEER-SHEVA, ISRAEL - Scientists at Ben-Gurion University have shown that an
unusual nuclear fuel could send space
vehicles from Earth to Mars in as little as two weeks. Spacecraft now take between
eight and 10 months to make the same
trip.
The research shows a fairly rare nuclear material, americium-242m (Am-242m), when
used as an extremely thin metallic
film, is capable of sustaining nuclear fission. When the film is less than a thousandth
of a millimetre thick, the high-energy,
high-temperature products of fission can escape the fuel and be used for propulsion
in space.
Obtaining fission-fragments like this isn't possible with the better-known
uranium-235 and plutonium-239 nuclear fuels:
they require large fuel rods, which absorb fission products.

Long-time interest
Dr. Yigal Ronen, the author of the study, became interested in nuclear reactors for
space vehicles 15 years ago at a
conference. Speaker after speaker talked about the use of nuclear reactors for
powering space missions - and stressed that
the mass of any reactor would be the defining factor. It had to be light in order to
be efficient.
So Ronen decided to examine one aspect of reactor design - the nuclear fuel itself.
That led him to Am-242m.
By using this element, Ronen was able to cut the amount of fuel necessary to reach
maximum power. To achieve the same
result as uranium or plutonium requires only one per cent of the amount (mass) when
Am-242m is used.
But use of this fuel is still in the very early stages of development. "There are still
many hurdles to overcome before
americium-242m can be used in space," Ronen says.
Producing large quantities of Am-242m requires several steps and is expensive.
Design of the reactor, refuelling, heat
removal and safety provisions also need to be examined.
In spite of the hurdles, Ronen remains optimistic about the future of this fuel. "I am
sure that americium-242m will
eventually be implemented for space travel, as it is the only proven material whose
fission products can be made available for
high speed propulsion."
The study was published in Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research A
(455: 442-451, 2000).


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 367 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Thu, Jan  4, 2001 (16:41) * 41 lines 
 
NEWSALERT: Thursday, January 4, 2001 @ 0610 GMT
---------------------------------------------------------------------
The latest news from Astronomy Now and Spaceflight Now

HUBBLE: X MARKS THE SPOT OF STAR FORMATION GLOW
-----------------------------------------------
The saying "X" marks the spot holds true in this NASA Hubble Space Telescope image where Hubble-X marks the location of a dramatic burst of star formation, very much like the Orion Nebula in our Milky Way galaxy, but on a vastly greater scale.
http://spaceflightnow.com/news/n0101/04hubblex/

MASSIVE GAS CLOUD FOUND NEAR YOUNG GALAXY
-----------------------------------------
A massive gas cloud with the raw materials to form 100 billion stars could reshape theories of galaxy formation. Astronomers say a distant young galaxy harbors a unexpectedly massive cloud of hydrogen gas that may fuel a burst of star formation.
http://spaceflightnow.com/news/n0101/04galaxygas/

SHUTTLE ATLANTIS ARRIVES ON SEASIDE LAUNCH PAD
----------------------------------------------
After a day's delay because of computer troubles, space shuttle Atlantis made a 3.5-mile, six-hour crawl to launch pad 39A Wednesday at Kennedy Space Center. Atlantis is being prepared for blastoff later this month to carry the $1.4 billion U.S. Destiny laboratory module to the international space station.
http://spaceflightnow.com/station/stage5a/010103rollout/

SHUTTLE ROLLOUT PANORAMA
------------------------
As space shuttle Atlantis rolled atop Kennedy Space Center's launch pad 39A, Spaceflight Now was there to capture this 360-degree panorama.
http://spaceflightnow.com/station/stage5a/010103rollout/rollout_qtvr.html

EXPEDITION ONE CREW TROUBLESHOOTS BATTERY PROBLEM
-------------------------------------------------
The international space station's Expedition One crew moved into its tenth week in orbit Wednesday aboard the orbiting outpost. The only technical issue being addressed by Russian flight controllers involves a minor problem with battery three in the Zvezda service module.
http://spaceflightnow.com/station/status.html

BOEING WINS POTENTIAL $1.3B FOR SIX MILITARY SATELLITES
-------------------------------------------------------
Boeing has been picked to led the charge in developing the U.S. military's next-generation Wideband Gapfiller Satellite communications network, which could lead to the company building as many as six spacecraft for the system.
http://spaceflightnow.com/news/n0101/04gapfiller/


ARIANESPACE SETS MONDAY LAUNCH DATE FOR STALLED ARIANE 4
--------------------------------------------------------
Activity at Guiana Space Center's Ariane 4 launch pad is once again bustling as Arianespace has announced that Flight 137 is back on track for blastoff next week after a month-long delay caused by the rocket's Turkish communications satellite cargo.
http://spaceflightnow.com/ariane/v137/status.html




 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 368 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Fri, Jan  5, 2001 (16:07) * 37 lines 
 
NEWSALERT: Friday, January 5, 2001 @ 0617 GMT
---------------------------------------------------------------------
The latest news from Astronomy Now and Spaceflight Now

PLANETS ORBITING OTHER STARS COULD BE MORE PLENTIFUL
----------------------------------------------------
The number of stars with extrasolar planets may be much larger than previously thought, scientists studying several nearby stars concluded this week. Research shows that clouds of molecular hydrogen gas, the raw material for gas giant planets like Jupiter, may last millions of years longer than once believed, making it much easier for such planets to form.
http://spaceflightnow.com/news/n0101/05extrasolar/

NASA MULLS OPTIONS FOR FUTURE LOW-COST EXPLORER
-----------------------------------------------
On beat with its "faster, better, cheaper" rhythm, NASA on Thursday announced the selection of three proposed low-cost missions for further in-depth study, including one that seeks to find habitable planets outside our solar system.
http://spaceflightnow.com/news/n0101/05discovery/

COMPLETELY DARK GALAXIES
------------------------
The universe could be harboring numerous galaxies that have no stars at all and are made entirely of dark matter. Astronomers may ultimately discover that completely dark galaxies outnumber the familiar kind populated by shining stars and gas, perhaps by as many as 100 to 1.
http://spaceflightnow.com/news/n0101/05dark/

CASSINI PROBE KEEPS ITS SCIENTIFIC EYE ON JUPITER
-----------------------------------------------
NASA's Cassini spacecraft has continued collecting new scientific information from Jupiter's environs every day since making its closest approach to the giant planet on Saturday, and is scheduled to keep studying the Jupiter system for another three months while proceeding on toward Saturn.
http://spaceflightnow.com/news/n0101/05cassini/
See our complete Cassini special report:
http://spaceflightnow.com/cassini/

HUBBLE: X MARKS THE SPOT OF STAR FORMATION GLOW
-----------------------------------------------
The saying "X" marks the spot holds true in this NASA Hubble Space Telescope image where Hubble-X marks the location of a dramatic burst of star formation, very much like the Orion Nebula in our Milky Way galaxy, but on a vastly greater scale.
http://spaceflightnow.com/news/n0101/04hubblex/

SHUTTLE ROLLOUT PANORAMA
------------------------
As space shuttle Atlantis rolled atop Kennedy Space Center's launch pad 39A, Spaceflight Now was there to capture this 360-degree panorama.
http://spaceflightnow.com/station/stage5a/010103rollout/rollout_qtvr.html




 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 369 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Tue, Jan  9, 2001 (13:43) * 66 lines 
 
10 new moons found around Jupiter / 2 rocket launches today

NEWSALERT: Monday, January 8, 2001 @ 0552 GMT
---------------------------------------------------------------------
The latest news from Astronomy Now and Spaceflight Now



10 ADDITIONAL MOONS DISCOVERED AROUND JUPITER
---------------------------------------------
An unprecedented surge in planetary moon discoveries continues as astronomers announced Friday the discovery of 10 more moons orbiting Jupiter. The ten natural satellites were first spotted in late November and early December by a group of astronomers at the University of Hawaii.

http://spaceflightnow.com/news/n0101/08jovianmoons/


ARIANESPACE ARIANE 4 TO ROCKET INTO 2001
----------------------------------------
If an Ariane 4 rocket launches on time Monday it will have the distinction as planet Earth's first space flight of 2001. If the European launcher can deliver its Turkish communications satellite cargo into the correct orbit it will mark the workhorse Ariane 4's 60th consecutive success. We will have complete live coverage!

http://spaceflightnow.com/ariane/v137/status.html


SEA LAUNCH TO LOFT FIRST XM RADIO SATELLITE TODAY
-------------------------------------------------
The three-stage Ukrainian-Russian Zenit 3SL rocket was rolled from its hangar and erected atop the Odyssey launch platform Sunday as the countdown ticked away for Monday's scheduled 2235 GMT (5:35 p.m. EST) blastoff. We will have live coverage of the launch as the first XM Satellite Radio craft is boosted to orbit!

http://spaceflightnow.com/sealaunch/xm1/status.html

Watch an animation clip of XM 1 satellite:
http://spaceflightnow.com/sealaunch/xm1/010107anim_qt.html


NASA'S CORE POLICY OVER LAST DECADE GETS CLOSER LOOK
----------------------------------------------------
A team of NASA officials not long ago completed a thorough review of the space agency's "faster, better, cheaper" policy. The 83-page report highlights recommendations for where these policies and programs should be headed and how to improve them enough to get them there.

http://spaceflightnow.com/news/n0101/08nasareview/


SPACE SHUTTLES THAT REPAIR TECHNICAL GLITCHES ON THE FLY
--------------------------------------------------------
Ever stop and think about the millions of dollars spent on fancy space equipment that breaks down? If you are millions of miles away orbiting the Earth, there's no repairman available to fix the problem. The answer: machines that are smart enough to learn from experience, detect problems and fix themselves.

http://spaceflightnow.com/news/n0101/07fixitshuttle/


RUSSIAN GOVERNMENT OFFICIAL SIGNS OFF ON MIR DEORBITING
-------------------------------------------------------
Space station Mir's destruction upon burning up during re-entry seems even more certain with the announcement by a Russian Space Agency spokesperson that the Russian Prime Minister has signed an order mandating the deorbiting late next month.

http://spaceflightnow.com/news/n0101/07mirok/


AUSTRALIAN SALT LAKE HELPS TEST NASA 'SKY EYE'
----------------------------------------------
A team of scientists has just spent a week in a huge barren salt lake in Australia's interior helping to test a new NASA satellite -- the Earth Observing 1 technology demonstrator.

http://spaceflightnow.com/news/n0101/07eo1test/


SEASONS GREETINGS FROM THE MARTIAN NORTH POLE!
----------------------------------------------
As many children across the U.S. and elsewhere anticipating an annual visit from a generous and jolly red-suited soul from the Earth's North Pole, NASA's Mars Global Surveyor was busy acquiring new views of the region around the Martian North Pole.

http://spaceflightnow.com/news/n0101/06marscaps/



 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 370 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Tue, Jan  9, 2001 (13:46) * 38 lines 
 
Sea Launch aborts liftoff / Cat's Eye nebula revealed

NEWSALERT: Tuesday, January 9, 2001 @ 0728 GMT
---------------------------------------------------------------------
The latest news from Astronomy Now and Spaceflight Now

SEA LAUNCH ABORTS LIFTOFF IN FINAL SECONDS OF COUNTDOWN
-------------------------------------------------------
A last-moment concern with the XM 1 radio broadcasting satellite cargo led to a frantic halt to the countdown of Sea Launch's Zenit 3SL rocket on Monday with clocks stopping 11 seconds before blastoff from the Odyssey platform in the equatorial Pacific Ocean.
http://spaceflightnow.com/sealaunch/xm1/status.html
Watch video clip of countdown abort:
http://spaceflightnow.com/sealaunch/xm1/010108abort_qt.html

CHANDRA REVEALS THE X-RAY GLINT IN THE CAT'S EYE NEBULA
-------------------------------------------------------
Scientists have discovered a glowing bubble of hot gas and an unexpected X-ray bright central star within the planetary nebula known as the Cat's Eye using NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory. The new results provide insight into the ways that stars like our Sun end their lives.
http://spaceflightnow.com/news/n0101/09chandraeye/

ARIANESPACE ARIANE 4 ROCKET LAUNCH DELAYED 24 HOURS
---------------------------------------------------
Gusty high altitude winds above the jungle launch site in Kourou, French Guiana forced Arianespace to scrub Monday's planned liftoff of an Ariane 4 rocket carrying the Eurasiasat 1 telecommunications satellite. Officials are hoping for improved conditions Tuesday evening.
http://spaceflightnow.com/ariane/v137/status.html

ASTRONOMERS MAP OUT LARGEST STRUCTURE IN DISTANT UNIVERSE
---------------------------------------------------------
By reading the light from the fiery heart of unimaginably remote galaxies, astronomers have discovered evidence for an immense concentration of galaxies over 6.5 billion light years away in the largest known group of quasars, possibly the largest structure anywhere in the observable universe.
http://spaceflightnow.com/news/n0101/09lgstructure/

RARE SPHERICAL NEBULA HELPS MEASURE STARS' COMPOSITION
------------------------------------------------------
The simple spherical geometry of the beautiful planetary nebula Abell 39 will help astronomers identify the source of very serious errors in measuring the chemical composition of dying stars.
http://spaceflightnow.com/news/n0101/09rarenebula/

EVIDENCE PRESENTED FOR NEW SUPERNOVA EXPLOSION MODEL
----------------------------------------------------
New research, based on observations of a brilliant supernova, is challenging existing models of how one type of the powerful explosions take place in the Universe.
http://spaceflightnow.com/news/n0101/09supernova/



 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 371 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Tue, Jan  9, 2001 (14:09) * 305 lines 
 
No Wonder I could not find it - had it posted in Archaeology!!!

===========================================================
SKY & TELESCOPE'S NEWS BULLETIN - JANUARY 5, 2001
===========================================================
For images and Web links for these items, visit http://www.skypub.com
===========================================================
Axel Mellinger's composite image of the entire Milky Way was so
stunning that we made it into a poster. Now, not only is there a 2nd
Edition of his quick-selling panorama, Mellinger has imaged the polar
regions as well to create a spectacular all-sky view. The 24-by-36-
inch "Celestial Sphere" poster consists of 51 wide-angle exposures
stitched together into a seamless "real" map of the entire sky. The
poster comes with a key chart identifying major constellations and
stars. To order either of Mellinger's posters, visit Sky Publishing's
online store at http://store.skypub.com/ or call 800-253-0245.
===========================================================

ASTRONOMERS FLOCK TO SAN DIEGO

The 197th meeting of the American Astronomical Society will be held
January 7-11 in San Diego, California. Visit Sky & Telescope's Web
site (http://www.skypub.com/) for late-breaking news reports filed by
S&T's on-the-scene editors Rick Fienberg and Alan MacRobert.

CELEBRATING CERES AT 200

On the first night of 1801, Giuseppe Piazzi saw a "star" that didn't
belong in the field of his little refractor mounted atop the royal
palace at Palermo, Italy. "I have announced this star as a comet," he
wrote later that January, "but . . . it has occurred to me several
times that it might be something better." He had, in fact, spotted the
first minor planet, which was soon named Ceres, after the Roman
goddess of the harvest and the patron goddess of Sicily.

Exactly 200 years later, an eclectic mix of astronomers, artisans,
philosophers, and historians gathered in Palermo to celebrate the
Theatine monk's discovery. In a lecture prior to the group's party to
mark the beginning of the new, true millennium, Giorgia Fodera-Serio
pointed out that Piazzi's then state-of-the-art telescope has now been
completely restored. All its parts are original, except for the
eyepiece, and it has been remounted atop the former palace.

At the time, Piazzi's discovery seemed to be the long-sought
confirmation of what today is known as the Titius-Bode "law." First
publicized in 1772, it neatly described the orbital spacings of the
five planets then known. But there was one glaring glitch: the law
predicted a planet between Mars and Jupiter, but none was known. Ceres
seemed to fulfill the law's prophesy.

After the newcomer passed through the Sun's glare and emerged once
again into the night sky, it was recovered by Franz von Zach the night
preceding the first anniversary of its discovery. Three months later,
Heinrich Olbers discovered the second minor planet, Pallas. That posed
a serious problem for the Titius-Bode law -- now there were two
planets where only one should be. But by then Piazzi and others had
already begun to doubt that Ceres measured up to full-planet status.
Even to these early observers, it was evident that Ceres was too small
to qualify. Today we know that this largest minor planet is only about
930 kilometers in diameter, a quarter the size of the Moon. And we
know that Ceres is accompanied by thousands of similar bodies that
inhabit the so-called asteroid belt.

PATRICK MOORE TO BE KNIGHTED

Patrick Moore has been England's unofficial prince of astronomy for
more than four decades. At the end of last month, Buckingham Palace
announced that he will receive the country's highest royal recognition
when Queen Elizabeth II will bestow knighthood upon him for "services
to the popularisation of science and to broadcasting."

Moore, 77, has written and starred in the BBC television series "The
Sky at Night" for 44 years, making it the world's longest-running
television show with a single host. Americans and the rest of the
world are probably more familiar with some of his approximately 100
books and numerous magazine articles. He has been an active amateur
astronomer since even before joining the British Astronomical
Association at age 11.

Unfortunately, his observing may have come to an abrupt end. Moore
explains that a deterioration of his spine has left him unable to use
his telescope or to write. "Writing is impossible, and even typing is
very difficult and slow," he told Sky & Telescope. "Unfortunately
there seems little to be done about it, and I have to accept that my
really active life has come to a sudden and premature end."
Nevertheless, Moore hopes to be able to continue with "The Sky at
Night" for a while longer.

For additional details about Moore's astronomical career, see David
Levy's profile in the May 1997 issue of Sky & Telescope (page 106).

CASSINI'S NEW GROOVE

The Cassini spacecraft and its attached Huygens probe swept past
Jupiter on December 30th at a distance of 9.7 million kilometers,
close enough to boost the combined craft's velocity and redirect it
toward an encounter with Saturn in 3-1/2 years. The end-of-the-year
passage also gave project scientists a chance to flex their
instruments' muscles with studies of the planet, some of its moons,
and its magnetosphere. Cassini had to stop taking measurements on
December 17th due to a mechanical glitch, but engineers fixed the
problem within five days and data-taking resumed on the 28th.

Many of the investigations involved sampling the solar-wind upstream
of the immense Jovian magnetosphere. Speaking to reporters hours after
the spacecraft came closet to Jupiter, investigator William Kurth
(University of Iowa) noted that Cassini had crossed the
magnetosphere's bow shock (where the solar wind is abruptly
decelerated) about a day earlier than anticipated. This meant that the
planet's magnetic bubble extended sunward about twice as far as had
been predicted based on Voyager data from 1979. Apparently, an
unusually slow and weak solar wind allowed the Jovian magnetosphere to
expand upstream.

Dramatic new images and animations show that the giant planet's cloud
features are as turbulent as ever. "The camera has performed beyond
our wildest imaginings," beamed imaging-team leader Carolyn Porco
(University of Arizona). A time-lapse movie of the planet's faint ring
revealed no new structure appears in the ring itself, though the inner
moonlets Metis and Adrastea (thought to provide much of the ring's
particles) could be seen racing around in their orbits. Team member
Andrew Ingersoll (Caltech) described the tortured lives of small cloud
eddies within the Jovian atmosphere -- one of the scientific
objectives that the Galileo spacecraft could not fully accomplish due
to the limited amount of data that it can relay to Earth through its
damaged antenna.

Otherwise Galileo continues to function well after five years in orbit
around Jupiter. While Cassini examined the planet from afar, Galileo
made a series of complementary observations from about 500,000 km
away. For example, both spacecraft examined Ganymede and Io for
auroral activity when each moon was in Jupiter's shadow. On December
28th Galileo skirted 2,337 km from Ganymede, a close pass that should
improve knowledge of the big moon's surface features, magnetic field,
and interior structure.

A KUIPER BELT GIANT

Fame is fleeting in the rapidly growing realm of Kuiper Belt objects
(KBOs). Last March astronomers spotted 2000 EB173, which has an
estimated diameter of 600 kilometers. But that object quickly lost its
distinction as the year's largest discovery. On November 28th Robert
S. McMillan and later Jeffrey A. Larsen found a 20th-magnitude blip
designated 2000 WR106. Initially its size was uncertain, and for a
while observers believed it might exceed the diameter of 1 Ceres, the
largest asteroid (933 km), or even Pluto's moon, Charon (1,250 km).

Gauging the diameter of 2000 WR106 accurately required firmer
estimates for its distance and the reflectivity of its surface.
Fortunately, German amateur astronomers Andre Knoefel and Reiner Stoss
identified the object on photographic plates taken in 1955 with the
48-inch Schmidt telescope on Palomar Mountain. Those positions proved
crucial in clinching an orbit with a mean distance of 43 astronomical
units (6.4 billion km) from the Sun, an eccentricity of 0.06, and an
inclination of 17 deg.

Clues to the diameter of 2000 WR106 came on December 30th, when David
C. Jewitt and Herve Aussel (University of Hawaii) used the James Clerk
Maxwell Telescope on Mauna Kea to measure its brightness at a
wavelength of 350 microns. Combining this data with the object's
visual and near-infrared brightness yielded a very dark albedo of 7
percent (so its surface is unlikely to have a widespread coating of
frost). The diameter lies somewhere between 750 and 1,000 km -- most
likely near 900. Thus 2000 WR106 does indeed challenge Ceres for the
title of "largest known minor planet."

COMET MCNAUGHT-HARTLEY CLIMBS HIGHER

Comet McNaught-Hartley (C/1999 T1) continues to climb in the morning
sky. The object, a hair brighter than 8th magnitude according to
observers, continues moving through Libra this coming week. You can
spot it some 30 to 35 deg. above the southeastern horizon before the
first light of dawn for Northern Hemisphere observers; about a dozen
degrees to the upper left of Mars. For those south of the equator, the
comet will be about 20 to 30 deg. above the eastern horizon, to the
lower left of Mars. Here are positions for McNaught-Hartley for 0
hours Universal Time in 2000.0 coordinates:

Date R.A. Dec.

Jan 6 15h 10m -9.1 deg.
Jan 8 15 16 -7.5
Jan 10 15 22 -5.9
Jan 12 15 27 -4.2

For more about the comet, see the Special Sky Events page at
http://www.skypub.com/sights/skyevents/0101skyevents.html .

DOUBLE SHADOWS ON JUPITER

On Sunday evening, January 7th, observers in eastern North America and
all of South America have ringside seats to watch the shadows of not
one, but two, Galilean satellites crossing the disk of Jupiter
simultaneously. Ganymede's shadow will first appear on Jupiter's east
limb at 9:35 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. Io's shadow joins it at 10:13
p.m. For the next hour and a half, both shadows should remain visible
in small telescopes as dark spots on the planet's disk. Ganymede's is
the first to leave, at 11:44 p.m., followed by Io's at 12:24 a.m. EST
(on January 8th). For an illustration of how Jupiter should appear,
see the January Special Sky Events Page at
http://www.skypub.com/sights/skyevents/0101skyevents.html .

One week later, a repeat of this event occurs for observers in western
North America. On Sunday evening, January 14th, Io's shadow begins its
march at 9:08 p.m. Pacific Standard Time, to be joined by that of
Ganymede at 10:36 p.m. Then at 11:23 p.m. Io's shadow leaves the disk,
followed by Ganymede's at 12:46 a.m. PST (on the 15th).


THIS WEEK'S "SKY AT A GLANCE"

Some daily events in the changing sky, by the editors of Sky &
Telescope.

JAN. 7 -- SUNDAY

* Tonight the dark limb of the waxing gibbous Moon will occult
(cover) the 3.0-magnitude star Zeta Tauri for observers all across
North America. You can watch the star wink out using a small telescope
or even binoculars. A timetable is in the January Sky & Telescope,
page 118.

* Double shadow transit on Jupiter: The tiny black shadows of
Jupiter's moons Ganymede and Io are both on the planet's face from
10:13 to 11:44 p.m. EST. A good 3-inch telescope should be all you
need -- if the atmospheric seeing is good.

* Meanwhile, Jupiter's Great Red Spot should cross Jupiter's central
meridian (the imaginary line down the center of the planet's disk from
pole to pole) around 10:24 p.m. EST. The "red" spot is very pale
orange-tan. It should be visible in a good 4- or 6-inch telescope if
the atmospheric seeing is sharp and steady. For a list of all
predicted Red Spot transit times, see
http://www.skypub.com/sights/moonplanets/redspot.html .

* Dawn begins at its latest for the year (if you live near 40
degrees north latitude).

JAN. 8 -- MONDAY

* This evening Saturn's brightest moon, 8.5-magnitude Titan, appears
close to a 7th-magnitude star. They're closest, 21 arcseconds apart,
around 6 p.m. EST. A 3-inch telescope should show them; look three
ring-lengths west-northwest of the planet.

JAN. 9 -- TUESDAY

* Full Moon (exact at 3:24 p.m. EST). During the evening, look for
Pollux and Castor to the Moon's upper left and brighter Procyon
shining farther to the Moon's lower right.

* TOTAL LUNAR ECLIPSE FOR ASIA, AFRICA, AND EUROPE. Partial eclipse
begins at 18:42 Universal Time (GMT) January 9th, total eclipse begins
at 19:50 UT; total ends at 20:52 UT, partial ends at 21:59 UT. For
full details see the January Sky & Telescope, page 124, or
http://www.skypub.com/sights/eclipses/lunar/0101totallunar.html .
* Jupiter's Red Spot should transit around 12:03 a.m. EST Wednesday
morning.
JAN. 10 -- WEDNESDAY
* Jupiter's Red Spot transits around 7:54 p.m. EST.
JAN. 11 -- THURSDAY
* Look for Regulus below the Moon after they rise in mid- to late
evening.
JAN. 12 -- FRIDAY
* Jupiter's Red Spot transits around 9:33 p.m. EST.
JAN. 13 -- SATURDAY
* Jupiter's moon Europa emerges from eclipse out of Jupiter's shadow
around 10:24 p.m. EST. A small telescope will show it swelling into
brilliance during the course of a minute or two, a little east of the
planet.

============================
THIS WEEK'S PLANET ROUNDUP
============================
MERCURY is buried deep in the glow of sunset. Late this week, try
looking for it with binoculars just above the west-southwest horizon
(far to the lower right of Venus) about 20 to 30 minutes after sunset.
Next week Mercury will get higher.

VENUS is the brilliant object (magnitude -4.4) shining in the
southwest during and after dusk.

MARS (magnitude +1.2, at the Virgo-Libra border) glows yellow-orange
in the south-southeast before dawn. To its right or upper right is
blue-white Spica, similarly bright.

JUPITER and SATURN (magnitudes -2.6 and -0.3, respectively) shine
brightly high in the southeast to south during early to mid-evening.
Jupiter is the brightest. Yellowish Saturn appears 7 or 8 degrees
(about four fingers' widths at arm's length) to Jupiter's right.
They're in the constellation Taurus; above Jupiter is the Pleiades
star cluster, and farther to Jupiter's lower left sparkles orange
Aldebaran. The whole pattern rotates clockwise and shifts toward the
west as evening grows late.

URANUS and NEPTUNE are hidden in the glow of sunset.

PLUTO (magnitude 14; invisible without a large telescope) is very low
in the east-southeast before dawn.

(All descriptions that relate to the horizon or zenith -- including
the words up, down, right, and left -- are written for the world's
midnorthern latitudes. Descriptions that also depend on longitude are
for North America. Eastern Standard Time, EST, equals Universal Time
[GMT] minus 5 hours.)


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 372 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Tue, Jan  9, 2001 (18:44) * 25 lines 
 
Britons Get Front Row Seats for Lunar Eclipse

LONDON (Reuters) - Britons had front row seats on Tuesday night for a
three-hour show billed as the most colorful lunar eclipse for a decade.
Beginning at around 1:40 p.m. EST, the earth's shadow slowly moved
over the surface of the moon until finally eclipsing it at about 2:50 EST.
Totality -- when the moon is completely covered by the earth's shadow
-- saw the moon turn orange as the light from the sun was bent and
filtered by the earth's atmosphere.
Astronomers said the eclipse was particularly spectacular because it is
almost a decade since the last big volcanic eruption -- that of Mount
Pinatubo in the Philippines in 1991.
The debris thrown up by volcanic eruptions reduces the amount of light
transmitted from the sun to the moon during a lunar eclipse.
Tuesday's show was visible from all parts of Britain, as well as Europe,
Africa and Asia. The only restricting factor for some was the weather,
with some areas covered by cloud.
The last total eclipse of the moon visible from Britain, in January 2000,
was obscured by cloud across much of the country.
The moon "turning to blood" was once seen as a sign that disaster
would strike or that the gods were angry. In some places it still fills
people with fear.
An estimated 1,500 white witches are planning to gather in Britain,
Sweden, Iceland, France, Canada and Austria during the eclipse to ward
off any doom it may bring, the BBC reported.


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 373 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Wed, Jan 10, 2001 (14:27) * 40 lines 
 
NEWSALERT: Wednesday, January 10, 2001 @ 0530 GMT
---------------------------------------------------------------------
The latest news from Astronomy Now and Spaceflight Now

CHINESE CAPSULE LAUNCHED ON SECOND UNMANNED TEST
------------------------------------------------
China took another step towards manned space travel Tuesday by launching its second prototype capsule on a demonstration flight. The unmanned Shenzhou 2 spacecraft, with several animals aboard, was successfully launched into the planned orbit around Earth by a Long March rocket on a several-day excursion.
http://spaceflightnow.com/news/n0101/09china/

BIZARRE NEW PLANETS PUZZLE ASTRONOMERS
--------------------------------------
Astronomers Tuesday announced the discovery of a pair of new and highly unusual planetary systems that challenge their views on the structure of solar systems and even the definition of a planet.
http://spaceflightnow.com/news/n0101/10newplanets/

ENGINE REPLACEMENT DELAYS SEA LAUNCH TO FEB. 28
-----------------------------------------------
Sea Launch officials Tuesday decided the first stage engine on the Zenit 3SL rocket needs to be replaced because its pre-ignition sequence was started during Monday's aborted countdown. The job will require the command ship and launching platform return to port, delaying the mission until February 28.
http://spaceflightnow.com/sealaunch/xm1/status.html

'PIPELINE' FUNNELS MATTER BETWEEN COLLIDING GALAXIES
----------------------------------------------------
This visible-light picture, taken by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, reveals an intergalactic "pipeline" of material flowing between two battered galaxies that bumped into each other about 100 million years ago.
http://spaceflightnow.com/news/n0101/09pipeline/

WINDS POSTPONE ARIANE 4 ROCKET LAUNCH YET AGAIN
-----------------------------------------------
Continued unacceptable winds above the jungle launch site in Kourou, French Guiana forced Arianespace to forego making an attempt Tuesday night to fly the Ariane 4 rocket with the Eurasiasat 1 satellite. Launch has been reset for tonight and we will have live coverage!
http://spaceflightnow.com/ariane/v137/status.html

OVER 150 RAPIDLY MOVING STARS FOUND IN MILKY WAY
------------------------------------------------
Astronomers have discovered 154 rapidly moving stars towards the center of our galaxy and our brightest neighboring galaxy. The results are of special interest because this is the first time scientists have been able to discover such objects in front of the millions of stars seen at the Galactic center and the Large Magellanic Cloud.
http://spaceflightnow.com/news/n0101/10stars150/

BOEING BEGINS BUILDING NAVY COMMUNICATIONS SATELLITE
----------------------------------------------------
Boeing has received the final go-ahead to manufacture an eleventh satellite for the U.S. Navy's UHF Follow-On communications satellite constellation, keeping the network working well into this decade to relay spy satellite photos, intelligence reports and strike orders to U.S. troops around the world.
http://spaceflightnow.com/news/n0101/10uhf11/




 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 374 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Wed, Jan 10, 2001 (23:30) * 72 lines 
 
Moon Hoax Spurs Crusade Against Bad Astronomy

SAN DIEGO (Reuters) - The myth about equinox eggs got him started,
misinformation about meteors bugged him, but when he learned that
some people think the Apollo Moon landings never happened, Philip
Plait knew the time had come for his crusade against bad astronomy.
So what began as a frustrated astronomy graduate student's online
fuming has evolved into a newspaper column, a book contract and a
Web site that gets an average of 15,000 hits a week:
http:/www.badastronomy.com.
No one is spared on the site: Plait, who holds a doctorate in astronomy
from the University of Virginia and worked with the Hubble Space
Telescope, takes aim at movies, television, the news media and the
Internet when they trample on what he considers to be the obvious
truths about space science.
Take, for example, the notion that humans never walked on the Moon,
despite copious evidence to the contrary.
"People believe in the weirdest stuff, but they don't believe the most
flaming obvious thing that's right in front of their face and I get e-mail
about this," Plait said in an interview at the annual meeting of the
American Astronomical Society in San Diego.
He blames much of it on the movie "Capricorn One," a science fiction
offering in which a planned human mission to Mars is faked.
"It's a good flick, but it legitimized a lot of these people who claimed
we never went to the Moon," Plait said. "There weren't that many
people, but with the Web, you can spread disinformation instantly.
People are just willing to grab onto this stuff."
WHERE ARE THE STARS IN MOON PHOTOS?
One common argument used by the anti-Apollo folks is that in
photographs of astronauts on the lunar surface, no stars can be seen
in the dark sky, therefore the pictures must have been taken on Earth
somewhere.
Plait literally gagged as he recounted this, and countered with what to
him was the obvious fact: there are no stars in the pictures from the
moon because the Moon itself is being blasted with sunlight and is
enormously bright, so bright that people on Earth can sometimes read
by the light of the full Moon.
"When they're taking a picture of this brightly lit astronaut on a brightly
lit landscape, it's just like taking a picture in daytime here on the
earth," he said. "No stars have a prayer of getting through that."
Rather that debunking this idea on his Web site, Plait has a section
referring visitors to other sites of "debunkers" and "conspiracy
theories." But he plans a chapter in an upcoming book to be called
"Bad Astronomy" on this question.
There will also be a chapter on those who calculate the birth of the
universe using the Bible, estimating its age in the thousands of years,
instead of the billions of years that astronomers have long maintained.
"Astronomy is one of the most accessible sciences," he said.
"Everybody wonders about it and it does tap into the fundamental
questions of humanity -- why are we here, what's our place in the
universe, does the universe have an end, how did it start -- these
aren't little questions, whole religions, trillion-dollar-a-year industries
are based on these questions.
"But it means that there's an open door into people's heads. If you
can use that pathway to get to people, it's a good way to do it, for ill or
for good," Plait said.
Beginning in his student days in 1993 and 1994 with a personal Web
site as his platform, Plait expressed irritation at a commonly held
belief: that eggs can only be stood on end at the exact moment of
vernal equinox.
That, said Plait, is just plain nonsense. And he said so on his site,
eventually featuring a picture of a gaggle of eggs at attention, taken
on Oct. 25 -- as he said, about as far from the vernal equinox as
possible.
He did not hit on the idea of creating a Web site about bad astronomy
until 1998, several months before a Leonid meteor shower. It turned
out to be good timing: there was plenty of media grist for his mill in
that event.
Plait has not quit his day job: he currently works in California on public
education programs for the Gamma Ray Large Area Space Telescope.
He also writes a column for the German newspaper, Frankfurter
Allgemeine Zeitung.


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 375 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Thu, Jan 11, 2001 (15:20) * 21 lines 
 
NEWSALERT: Sunday, January 7, 2001 @ 1728 GMT
---------------------------------------------------------------------
The latest news from Astronomy Now and Spaceflight Now

SPACE SHUTTLES THAT REPAIR TECHNICAL GLITCHES ON THE FLY
--------------------------------------------------------
Ever stop and think about the millions of dollars spent on fancy space equipment that breaks down? If you are millions of miles away orbiting the Earth, there's no repairman available to fix the problem. The answer: machines that are smart enough to learn from experience, detect problems and fix themselves.
http://spaceflightnow.com/news/n0101/07fixitshuttle/

RUSSIAN GOVERNMENT OFFICIAL SIGNS OFF ON MIR DEORBITING
-------------------------------------------------------
Space station Mir's destruction upon burning up during re-entry seems even more certain with the announcement by a Russian Space Agency spokesperson that the Russian Prime Minister has signed an order mandating the deorbiting late next month.
http://spaceflightnow.com/news/n0101/07mirok/

AUSTRALIAN SALT LAKE HELPS TEST NASA 'SKY EYE'
----------------------------------------------
A team of scientists has just spent a week in a huge barren salt lake in Australia's interior helping to test a new NASA satellite -- the Earth Observing 1 technology demonstrator.

http://spaceflightnow.com/news/n0101/07eo1test/




 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 376 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Fri, Jan 12, 2001 (21:36) * 36 lines 
 
NEWSALERT: Thursday, January 11, 2001 @ 0654 GMT
---------------------------------------------------------------------
The latest news from Astronomy Now and Spaceflight Now

CHANDRA LINKS PULSAR TO SUPERNOVA OF 386 AD
-------------------------------------------
New evidence from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory suggests that a known pulsar is the present-day counterpart to a supernova that exploded in 386 AD, a stellar explosion witnessed by Chinese astronomers. If confirmed, this will be only the second known pulsar to be clearly associated with a historic event.
http://spaceflightnow.com/news/n0101/11chandra/

EXTREME WARP FOUND IN ANDROMEDA'S STELLAR DISK
----------------------------------------------
Astronomers have obtained new evidence of an extreme warp in the stellar disk of the Andromeda Galaxy, our nearest galactic neighbor. Possible causes of the warp include interactions between Andromeda and its smaller satellite galaxies.
http://spaceflightnow.com/news/n0101/11warpdisk/

ARIANESPACE BEGINS 2001 WITH LAUNCH FOR TURKEY
----------------------------------------------
A telecommunications satellite that will bridge 150 million Turkish-speaking people of Europe and Asia was launched into orbit Wednesday by an Arianespace Ariane 4 rocket, marking the European booster's 60th straight success.
http://spaceflightnow.com/ariane/v137/
http://spaceflightnow.com/ariane/v137/status.html

ARIANESPACE POSTS $185 MILLION LOSS FOR 2000
--------------------------------------------
Arianespace reports it lost money last year, the first time the European launch services firm's annual earnings have wound up in the red during its 20-year history. But officials say they are optimistic that mark will not be repeated in 2001 with plans to reduce operating costs.
http://spaceflightnow.com/news/n0101/11ariane2000/

AIR FORCE DELAYS LAUNCH OF WEATHER SATELLITE FOR REPAIRS
--------------------------------------------------------
Next week's launch of a U.S. military weather satellite aboard a Titan 2 rocket from California's Vandenberg Air Force Base has been pushed back one day after technicians accidentally damaged a sun shield on the craft during pre-flight cleaning.
http://spaceflightnow.com/titan/g9/

DATE SET FOR NEXT SPACE SHUTTLE LAUNCH
--------------------------------------
NASA has established January 19 as the official launch date for space shuttle Atlantis' upcoming mission to deliver the $1.38 billion U.S. Destiny laboratory research module to the international space station.
http://spaceflightnow.com/station/status.html




 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 377 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Fri, Jan 12, 2001 (21:59) * 52 lines 
 
Space-Station Crew Awaits Next Shuttle Mission

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (Reuters) - Astronauts aboard the International
Space Station were busy preparing on Friday for the arrival later this
month of a U.S. space shuttle carrying the station's newest element --
a U.S. laboratory named Destiny.
The crew of American William Shepherd, the station commander, and
Russians Yuri Gidzenko and Sergei Krikalyov, passed their 73rd day in
space on Friday.
NASA and the Russian Space Agency, senior partners in the $60 billion
orbital construction project, said they plan to give the station crew more
time to relax and prepare for the arrival of shuttle Atlantis than they
had in December, when shuttle Endeavour's crew found them
exhausted and sleep deprived.
Atlantis is scheduled to lift off from the Kennedy Space Center in
Florida on Jan. 19 with the $1.4 billion Destiny module in its payload
bay.
The weeks leading up to Endeavour's visit had been a mad scramble to
bring life-support, communications and computers to life aboard the
Russian Service Module after the trio docked their Russian Soyuz
spacecraft to the station in November.
That work meant the astronauts had to sacrifice sleep leading up to
the shuttle's arrival, and left Shepherd complaining about "trying to fit
30 hours into 16-hour days."
"We started the process of preparing the crew before Christmas" for
Atlantis' arrival, Jeff Hanley, the U.S. space agency's lead flight director
for the station, said at a NASA regular space station briefing held on
Friday.
But there was still plenty of work left for the astronauts, who will live
aboard the station about 120 days before being replaced by the
Expedition Two team of one Russian commander and two Americans.
Like anyone expecting house guests, there are numerous repairs and
plenty of cleaning up to do. This past week the crew fixed an air
conditioner, replaced some electronics in the on-board power system
and tested the Russian space suits that would be used for space walks.
Radios on the space suits proved balky and Russian ground controllers
are studying the problem, Hanley said.
A more immediate problem is one of four latches that will be needed
to secure the Destiny to an existing space-station module. While
testing the latches earlier, NASA found that one of them would not
close due to an obstruction from some ductwork.
"These are latches that actually reach out and grab the incoming
module, in this case the lab," Hanley said.
NASA plans to have the astronauts enter that part of the station, which
currently is closed off by a hatch, to work on the latch this week.
Otherwise, the astronauts top job is to prepare the station for
provisions and equipment that Atlantis will carry into orbit.
"The main theme of next week is going to be packing, packing,
packing," Hanley said.
The space station is a joint project of the United States, Russia,
Europe, Japan and Canada. It is scheduled for completion in 2006 and
will have as much pressurized space as a 747 jumbo jet.


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 378 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Sun, Jan 14, 2001 (15:41) * 167 lines 
 
S&T's Bulletin for January 12, 2001
ASTRONOMERS TOUT THE VIRTUAL OBSERVATORY
Not far into the 21st century a gigantic computer database will
replace the telescope as the tool most astronomers use to explore the
universe. That remarkable assertion was echoed by one speaker after
another during a session on the planned Virtual Observatory at the
American Astronomical Society meeting. Conceived to be a digital,
multiwavelength, ever-growing archive of images, spectra, and other
data covering the entire sky, the Virtual Observatory is expected to
transform astronomy as dramatically as any technical innovation of the
20th century -- perhaps more so.

The idea of mining electronic archives for astronomical information is
not new. Data from NASA's space observatories has been accessible via
the Internet for years. Enormous new all-sky explorations such as the
Sloan Digital Sky Survey in visible light and the Two-Micron All-Sky
Survey in the infrared are building online archives as fast as their
images accumulate. But each collection is stored in a different format
in a different place and is accessed in a different way. The goal of
the Virtual Observatory is to link all observatories' cosmic harvests
into a single network that can be explored using the same interface by
anyone, anywhere. "This will enable democratic access to astronomical
data," says Robert J. Hanisch (Space Telescope Science Institute) --
"not only for professionals but also for students and the public."

George Djorgovski (Caltech) remarked that the availability of a
unified set of all-sky imagery and measurements across the
electromagnetic spectrum will have a huge scientific payoff. "It will
be especially valuable in the search for rare or unusual objects," he
said. Most astronomers today point their telescopes only at targets
they already know about. With the Virtual Observatory they will be
able to let their computers mine the global celestial database for
unknown nuggets.

Many technical hurdles stand between the conception and realization of
this ambitious project. The first is simply the enormous amount of
data to be archived and indexed. Alex Szalay (Johns Hopkins
University) estimates that the sky surveys now under way at multiple
wavelengths will add 10 petabytes (10 million gigabytes) of data to
the archive each year. Another challenge is that astronomers worldwide
need to agree on data formats and other standards so their data can be
shared effectively.

A top panel of U.S. astronomers has recommended the Virtual
Observatory as a high-priority project for the coming decade, and
their European counterparts are rallying around the idea too. NASA,
the U.S. National Science Foundation, and the European Union are all
funding studies aimed at developing a sound blueprint and are eager to
fund "construction" once a plan is in place.

COMET MCNAUGHT-HARTLEY HIGH BEFORE DAWN
Comet McNaught-Hartley (C/1999 T1) continues to climb in the morning
sky. The object, a hair brighter than 8th magnitude according to
observers, moves through Serpens Caput this coming week. Northern
Hemisphere observers can spot it some 35 to 50 deg. above the
east-southeast horizon before the first light of dawn. For those south
of the equator, the comet will be about 20 to 30 deg. above the
east-northeast horizon. Here are positions for McNaught-Hartley for 0
hours Universal Time in 2000.0 coordinates:
Date R.A. Dec.
Jan 13 15h 30m -3.4 deg.
Jan 15 15 36 -1.6
Jan 17 15 41 -0.1
Jan 19 15 47 +2.0
For more about the comet, see the Special Sky Events page at
http://www.skypub.com/sights/skyevents/0101skyevents.html .

THIS WEEK'S "SKY AT A GLANCE"
Some daily events in the changing sky, by the editors of Sky &
Telescope.

JAN. 14 -- SUNDAY
* Double shadow transit on Jupiter. The tiny black shadows of
Jupiter's moons Ganymede and Io are both on the planet's face from
1:38 to 2:19 a.m. EST Monday morning. A good 3-inch telescope should
be all you need to see them -- if the atmospheric seeing is sharp and
steady.

JAN. 15 -- MONDAY
* Jupiter's Great Red Spot should cross Jupiter's central meridian
(the imaginary line down the center of the planet's disk from pole to
pole) around 7:00 p.m. EST. The "red" spot is very pale orange-tan. It
should be visible in a good 4- or 6-inch telescope in good atmospheric
seeing. For a list of all predicted Red Spot transit times, see
http://www.skypub.com/sights/moonplanets/redspot.html .
* Jupiter's inner moon Io reappears out of eclipse from the planet's
shadow around 11:40 p.m. EST. A small telescope will show it emerging
into view just east of the planet during the course of a minute or
two.

JAN. 16 -- TUESDAY
* Last-quarter Moon (exact at 7:35 a.m. EST).
* Venus is at its greatest elongation, 47 degrees east of the Sun.
In a telescope, can you see that Venus already appears a trace less
than half lit?
* The naked-eye eclipsing variable star Algol should be in one of
its periodic dimmings, magnitude 3.4 instead of its usual 2.1, for a
couple hours centered on 11:11 p.m. EST. Algol takes several
additional hours to fade and to brighten. For a timetable of all its
predicted minima see http://www.skypub.com/sights/variables/algol.html
* Jupiter's Red Spot transits around 12:50 a.m. EST Wednesday
morning.
* Mars shines below the Moon before dawn Wednesday morning. A little
below Mars is wide binocular double star Alpha Librae.

JAN. 17 -- WEDNESDAY
* Saturn's largest moon, Titan, is three or four ring-lengths east
of the planet tonight and tomorrow night. A 3-inch telescope will show
it.
* Jupiter's Red Spot transits around 8:41 p.m. EST.

JAN. 18 -- THURSDAY
* Jupiter's moons Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto form a compact
grouping around 8:30 p.m. EST.

JAN. 19 -- FRIDAY
* Algol should be at minimum light for a couple hours centered on
8:00 p.m. EST.
* Jupiter's Red Spot transits around 10:20 p.m. EST.

JAN. 20 -- SATURDAY
* Some doorstep astronomy: Bright Jupiter shines with Saturn and
Aldebaran high in the southeast in early evening this month. Look far
below them for the constellation Orion. In its middle is the
three-star row of Orion's Belt. Far below Orion is brilliant white
Sirius.

============================
THIS WEEK'S PLANET ROUNDUP
============================
MERCURY is just above the west-southwest horizon after sunset, far to
the lower right of Venus. Look for it about 30 minutes after sundown.
Binoculars will help. Mercury gets higher and easier to see late in
the week.

VENUS is the brilliant object (magnitude -4.4) shining in the
southwest during and after dusk.

MARS (magnitude +1.1, in Libra) glows yellow-orange in the
south-southeast before dawn. Well to its right or upper right is
blue-white Spica, similarly bright. Much higher above Mars, and
perhaps to the left, is brighter Arcturus.

JUPITER and SATURN (magnitudes -2.6 and -0.3, respectively) shine
brightly high in the southeast to south during early evening. Jupiter
is the brightest. Yellowish Saturn appears 7 degrees (about four
fingers' widths at arm's length) to Jupiter's right. They're in the
constellation Taurus; above Jupiter is the Pleiades star cluster, and
farther to Jupiter's lower left sparkles orange Aldebaran. The whole
pattern rotates clockwise and shifts toward the west as the evening
grows late.

URANUS and NEPTUNE are hidden in the glow of sunset.

PLUTO (magnitude 14; invisible without a large telescope) is low in
the east-southeast before dawn.

(All descriptions that relate to the horizon or zenith -- including
the words up, down, right, and left -- are written for the world's
midnorthern latitudes. Descriptions that also depend on longitude are
for North America. Eastern Standard Time, EST, equals Universal Time
[GMT] minus 5 hours.)

More celestial events, sky maps, and news of the world's astronomy
research appear each month in SKY & TELESCOPE, the essential magazine
of astronomy. See our enormous Web site and astronomy bookstore at
http://www.skypub.com/ . Clear skies!


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 379 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Sun, Jan 14, 2001 (15:46) * 504 lines 
 
===========================================================
SKY & TELESCOPE'S NEWS BULLETIN - JANUARY 12, 2001
===========================================================
For images and Web links for these items, visit http://www.skypub.com
===========================================================
Axel Mellinger's composite image of the entire Milky Way was so
stunning that we made it into a poster. Now, not only is there a 2nd
Edition of his quick-selling panorama, Mellinger has imaged the polar
regions as well to create a spectacular all-sky view. The 24-by-36-
inch "Celestial Sphere" poster consists of 51 wide-angle exposures
stitched together into a seamless "real" map of the entire sky. The
poster comes with a key chart identifying major constellations and
stars. To order either of Mellinger's posters, visit Sky Publishing's
online store at http://store.skypub.com/ or call 800-253-0245.
===========================================================

STARDUST BUZZES EARTH

Nearly two years after its launch, the Stardust spacecraft is paying
Earth a brief visit this weekend, as it swings about 6,000 km away at
11:20 Universal Time (3:20 a.m. Pacific Standard Time) on January
15th. But this prodigal probe will not stay for long, passing by at
36,000 km per hour (6.2 miles per second). During the flyby Earth's
gravity will redirect Stardust into a new orbit with a period of
exactly 2.5 years. When it next returns, on January 15, 2006, it
should be carrying bits of matter collected from the coma of periodic
comet 81P/Wild 2.

According to David Dunham, the spacecraft should briefly become bright
enough to be picked up by amateur astronomers with moderate-to-large
telescopes. Estimates by William H. Blume (JPL) suggest that Stardust
may brighten to 10th magnitude just before and during its flyby.
Dunham says the favored locations from which to attempt a search are
eastern Asia, Australia, and the western Pacific. North Americans have
their best chance near local midnight on January 14-15. (Those
desiring a positional ephemeris should go to JPL's Horizons System --
at http://ssd.jpl.nasa.gov/cgi-bin/eph/ -- then modify the default
settings as instructed there.)

Meanwhile, project engineers are celebrating the fact that Stardust
can now see clearly again. Early last year, tests showed that some
kind of deposit or film had contaminated the navigation camera's
optics or CCD detector. This created images so blurry that the camera
would have been unusable during crucial maneuvers near the comet. Over
the past few months, the optical system has been warmed repeatedly in
an attempt to purge the intruding material. Although not completely
back to normal, the camera can now record stars as faint as 9th
magnitude, which should be good enough to perform adequately during
the all-important comet flyby on January 2, 2004.

ASTRONOMERS FLOCK TO SAN DIEGO

The 197th meeting of the American Astronomical Society was held this
past week San Diego, California. Sky & Telescope's on-the-scene
editors Rick Fienberg and Alan MacRobert filed the following reports.

FOSSILS FROM A DISK-JET BOUNDARY?

Meteorites have always carried mystery and fascination, and never more
so than now. They are lumps of ancient extraterrestrial history you
can hold in your hand. In particular, the common type of meteorites
known as chondrites come from a time when the Sun was a newborn T
Tauri variable star surrounded by a protoplanetary disk that later
became the solar system. Chondrites even contain interstellar grains
from before the Sun existed.

Chondrites pose a number of mysteries and apparent paradoxes, which
Frank H. Shu (University of California, Berkeley) described Monday to
a ballroom filled with many of the 1,800 professional astronomers
assembled for the American Astronomical Society meeting in San Diego.
(Also attending the meeting are some 1,200 members of the American
Association of Physics Teachers.)

All chondrites apparently come from the asteroid belt, about 2 to 3
astronomical units from the Sun. Most of their material clearly has
never been heated, since its water-bearing minerals and amino acids
would have been destroyed by heat. Yet embedded within this material
are little nodules of once-molten rock, all roughly a millimeter in
size. Among these, the "calcium-aluminum-rich inclusions," or CAIs,
must have been heated to 1,700 degrees Kelvin -- but only briefly, for
times measured in days, judging by their crystal structures and by
volatile constituents that did not have time to be driven off.
Similarly, "chondrules" of igneous rock, mostly magnesium-iron
silicates, were bought to somewhat lower melting temperatures -- but
for only tens of minutes.

Moreover, the CAIs somehow incorporated short-lived radioactive
material. And chondrules froze amid magnetic fields much stronger than
would be expected in open space near the asteroid belt. What are these
droplets telling us?

Shu and his colleagues think they know. Their theory centers on the
innermost edge of the solar system's early accretion disk, where the
disk presumably gave rise to magnetically driven jets or outflows.

The inner edge of such a disk will not always extend down to the
surface of a newborn star. Instead, the rotating star's strong
magnetic field can halt the inspiraling gas above the stellar surface.
Material piles up at this boundary, and hot gas entrained by the
magnetic field is flung away to form the observed outflows.

Shu's team proposes that the rocky material coming into this region
was bared to the full fury of the central protosun before being
carried away in the outflows. Droplets of molten rock would solidify
as they were carried away by gusts in the gaseous outflow. If large
enough, they would rain from the outflow back onto the face of the
disk farther out -- but only after the wind sorted them by size, like
wheat from chaff. Small nodules would fall back onto the disk far out
and large ones closer in. Those that fell into the region of today's
asteroid belt would all be about the same size, accounting for their
rough uniformity in meteorites.

The CAIs, Shu suggests, ventured closest of all to the early Sun --
and were melted by its direct heat. The chondrules could have been
melted more briefly a little farther out by the frequent flares seen
on newborn stars. The strong magnetic field in which the droplets
froze would cease to be a mystery. High-energy protons from the flares
could account for the radioactivity. After raining back into the disk,
the rock droplets mixed with the cold primordial material there to
form the meteorites we find today. Fully 80 percent of the solar
system's present rocky matter, Shu claims, may have been processed
through the inner disk this way.

Shu's picture met with objection from other meteorite experts in the
audience who have competing theories of their own. But it makes a
number of testable predictions -- for one, that chondrules will be
found in comets -- and represents an intriguing synthesis of current
observations of young stars far away and ancient geology close at
hand.

BIG-TIME STAR FORMATION

The picture has become familiar. A newborn star deep in an
interstellar cloud is discovered to be surrounded by a rotating disk
of gas and dust the size of our solar system or larger. Material from
the disk is accreting onto the young, unstable star, and jets stream
out perpendicular to the disk from its innermost region.

All low-mass stars (including those with the Sun's mass) seem to go
through this brief, distinctive early stage of life for several
hundred thousand years after they collect the bulk of their material.
Eventually the accretion stops and the jets turn off, leaving a dusty
disk in which a planetary system may form.

But what about more massive protostars, which are harder to find and
study? Do they get a chance to form planets too?

On Monday, as many of the nation's professional astronomers gathered
in San Diego for the semiannual meeting of the American Astronomical
Society, Debra Shepherd (National Radio Astronomy Observatory)
announced finding the first solar-system-size accretion disk around a
protostar that is as heavy as 8 or 10 Suns. The disk is quite
different from the one that gave us birth.

The object in question, known as G192.16-3.82, is a distant 6,000
light-years away in northern Orion. "Massive stars are too rare for us
to get up close and personal like we can with young low-mass stars,"
explained Shepherd at a press conference. "They're also embedded more
deeply in molecular clouds," which are dense, opaque, and shroud their
contents from easy view.

The goings-on at this object are impressive. Astronomers already knew
that it has ejected some 100 solar masses of material in opposite
streamers that are now more than 15 light-years long. But the central
object, noted Shepherd, appeared in radio observations as nothing more
than "a round fuzzy blob." She and her colleagues were able to partly
resolve the blob using the Very Large Array (VLA) radio telescope in
New Mexico in conjunction with the VLA's newest addition, an outlying
dish in Pie Town, New Mexico, 50 kilometers away.

As deduced by the team of astronomers, the star's accretion disk is
remarkable for its enormous mass. Although the disk is only a little
larger than the orbit of Pluto, it contains about twice as much
material as the heavy star itself. This is quite unlike the case with
low-mass stars, whose protoplanetary accretion disks are much lighter
than their stars.

Surrounding this hefty disk is a cold torus (doughnut) of gas several
times larger. The astronomers also found evidence for two lesser stars
in the system -- one just outside the accreting disk, the other
outside the surrounding torus.

"Disks and outflows in young stars increase dramatically in mass and
energy as the mass of the young star increases," Shepherd sums up. "We
don't know if the same process is at work in all young stars, or how
the disks can both power an outflow that extends more than 15
light-years and also start the process of forming planets."

Stars that are even more massive probably have infancies too violent
ever to allow planets to form at all. The object studied by Shepherd's
group seems to be right at the edge.

The Pie Town addition to the VLA that enabled the sharper view is the
first in the Expanded VLA project, which will increase both the
resolution and sensitivity of the venerable instrument by factors of
10. Even with just the one new outlying antenna, commented Shepherd's
colleague Mark Claussen (NRAO), the VLA has "probably the best
combination of sensitivity and resolution of any radio telescope in
the world." The press conference announcing the massive disk was
partly intended to show off the VLA's growing capabilities.

NASA CHIEF ASKS ASTRONOMERS TO THINK BIG

NASA administrator Daniel Goldin has called on American astronomers to
design new space telescopes that are orders of magnitude more powerful
than any flying today. Speaking at a joint meeting of astronomers and
physics teachers in San Diego, California, Goldin called astronomers
"torchbearers of science" in the 21st century. "We need to allow the
torchbearers to dream," he said.

Lest anyone think this might be an exercise in futility in an era of
tight budgets and political uncertainty, the space-agency chief
recalled his last address to the AAS five years ago in San Antonio,
Texas. At that time a panel of experts had just recommended that NASA
build a 4-meter-wide Next Generation Space Telescope (NGST) to succeed
the 2.4-meter Hubble Space Telescope. Saying that wasn't ambitious
enough, Goldin challenged astronomers to propose something even bigger
-- and they did: an 8-meter behemoth whose primary mirror will unfold
like flower petals once the spacecraft reaches orbit, yet whose total
cost will be considerably less than Hubble's. "We'll have NGST before
the end of this decade," assured Goldin. But, in a sign that
astronomical dreams must be tempered with budgetary realities, the
diameter of the telescope will be limited to around 6.5 meters.

Lauding recent technological breakthroughs in lightweight-mirror
design and satellite stability, Goldin looked ahead to an era when
arrays of small space telescopes will work in concert -- like radio
interferometers on the ground -- to improve our angular resolution
thousands or even millions of times. At visible wavelengths, such
sharp views would enable us to see Earth-like planets around other
stars. In X-rays we could capture images of the event horizons around
black holes in the nuclei of active galaxies.

Goldin didn't offer any hint as to whether he will continue to serve
as NASA administrator under George W. Bush. "He may not know yet
himself," allowed one NASA aide. Although Goldin has led the space
agency throughout both of Bill Clinton's four-year terms, he was
actually appointed to the post by Clinton's predecessor, the
president-elect's father. We'll know soon enough, as the new
president's inauguration is less than two weeks away.

LARGEST STRUCTURE IN THE UNIVERSE?

On Earth, the largest structure erected by humans is the Great Wall of
China. In space, the largest structure detected by astronomers is the
Great Wall of galaxies beyond the Virgo Cluster. Or maybe not. Gerard
Williger (National Optical Astronomy Observatories) announced at this
week's meeting of the American Astronomical Society that he and his
colleagues have found a remote group of quasars and galaxies in Leo
that's nearly twice as big as the Great Wall, which itself spans 300
million light-years.

Williger's team was drawn to the cluster by the presence of 18
quasars, all with redshifts in the range 1.2 to 1.4, in a patch of sky
measuring just 5 degrees by 2.5 degrees. Lacking enough telescope time
to cover the field with long-exposure images and to collect spectra of
whatever faint galaxies they might find there, the astronomers instead
simply obtained spectra of the quasars themselves. They noticed
numerous magnesium absorptions notched into the quasars' light by gas
in intervening galaxies. "We found three times more galaxies than
expected" based on typical galaxy/quasar ratios, said Williger. Most
of the galaxies lie in the same redshift range, and therefore
presumably at the same distance, as the quasars, suggesting that
they're all part of one giant cluster.

The assemblage extends about 500 million light-years in length, width,
and depth and is centered about 6.5 billion light-years from Earth.
This means we're seeing it as it appeared when the universe was about
a third of its present age. As with the Great Wall, theorists are hard
pressed to explain how gravity could have built up such a huge
structure in so little time. Williger and his coworkers hope to tease
some additional clues from the cluster with follow-up observations.

TWO WEIRD NEW SOLAR SYSTEMS

Once upon a time, meaning before 1995, astronomers assumed that if
other solar systems existed they would be more or less like ours. No
more. As planet-finding techniques mature and expand, weird new
varieties of systems keep turning up. At a press conference Tuesday at
the American Astronomical Society meeting, leading planet hunters
Geoff Marcy, Debra Fischer, and R. Paul Butler unveiled their team's
latest two oddball finds. Both involve second bodies that the
astronomers discovered orbiting stars where one planet was already
known.

The group announced that the dim red-dwarf star Gliese 876, only 15
light-years away in Aquarius, has two giant worlds that are locked
into a 2:1 orbital resonance with each other. They orbit the type-M4
star with periods of 61.0 and 30.1 days, close enough to a 2:1 ratio
to ensure that they have been stuck in their mutual relationship since
around the time of their birth ages ago. This is the first known case
of giant planets being orbitally linked, though orbital resonances are
common in our own solar system. For instance, the three large inner
moons of Jupiter are locked into resonant periods with each other; so
are many asteroids with Jupiter and other planets, and so is Pluto
with Neptune. Now, apparently, it can happen between giant planets as
well.

In fact, explained planet-formation theorist Doug Lin (University of
California, Santa Cruz), the slight imperfection in the 2:1 match
tells something about the bodies' physical nature. They cannot be
efficient dissipators of orbital energy through tidal heating, meaning
they cannot be solid bodies like Jupiter's tidally heated moon Io.
They must be made of gas -- as would be expected from their masses of
at least 0.6 and 1.9 Jupiters.

The other multiple-planet system announced at the press conference
contains two unusual heavyweights. They orbit the Sun-like star HD
168443, 123 light-years away in Serpens, with periods of 58 days and
4.8 years -- and they weigh in with at least 7.7 and 17.2 Jupiter
masses, respectively. The latter value would make the heavier of the
two a brown dwarf by one popular definition, which sets the dividing
line between "planets" and "brown dwarfs" at 13 Jupiters. This is the
mass at which a body should become hot enough at its core to fuse
deuterium (hydrogen-2), thus producing at least a little nuclear
energy, star-fashion.

This isn't the first brown dwarf found closely orbiting a Sun-like
star (though such systems are rare). But it's the first in which two
bodies including a brown dwarf orbit a star in planet fashion.
Presumably they formed together by the same means. Astronomers who
prefer to distinguish planets from brown dwarfs by their formation
method, rather than by their mass, may have gained a point in their
favor. By the formation criterion, "brown dwarfs" are bodies that
condense directly out of gas clouds, the way stars do. "Planets" begin
as tiny, solid cores in a protostellar disk and gradually accrete
material from their surroundings, a process that takes much longer.
Nobody knows which process (if either) made the two objects orbiting
HD 168443 -- in practice, it may be impossible to tell how a given
object formed millions or billions of years after the fact.

Such complications are only beginning. Of the 50 or so stars with a
planet already identified, says Fischer, as many as half show
preliminary signs of possessing at least one additional orbiting
companion.

THE TRACERIES OF M33

After the Great Andromeda Galaxy, our nearest big extragalactic
neighbor is M33, the Pinwheel Galaxy in Triangulum at a distance of
about 2.7 million light-years. Unlike Andromeda, M33 is only half the
size of the Milky Way (with a diameter of about 60,000 light-years)
but presents us with a beautiful view of its dusty, spiral-armed face.

Radio astronomers have now mapped its hydrogen gas in finer detail
than for any other galaxy outside the Milky Way itself. The image
above shows details smaller than 10 arcseconds, or 130 light-years.
Such an image "opens the door to learning fundamental new facts about
the relationship between massive stars and the galaxy's complicated
gaseous environment," said David Thilker (National Radio Astronomy
Observatory), who displayed the map at the American Astronomical
Society meeting. He expects further processing of the radio data to
double the resolution. "This, we believe, will allow us to see bubbles
in the galaxy's gas that have been inflated as a result of one or more
supernova explosions." His group also found tentative evidence of a
low-mass dark companion to M33 about 1/2 degree away.

PULSAR LINKED TO SUPERNOVA OF A.D. 386

Astronomy textbooks say that pulsars -- ultradense, highly magnetized,
rapidly rotating neutron stars -- are born in Type II supernovae, the
explosive deaths of massive stars. Textbooks also explain how
astronomers estimate a pulsar's age from the rate at which its spin is
slowing down. Some 1,200 pulsars are known in our galaxy, and a
handful are indeed associated with nebulosity expelled by a star's
explosion. But only one pulsar has ever been tied to a specific
supernova blast. The Crab pulsar, in the heart of the Crab Nebula in
Taurus, is the remnant core of a "guest star" that exploded into
brilliant view in A.D. 1054. The pulsar's so-called spin-down age is,
as expected, roughly 1,000 years. Much of what we know about neutron
stars and the violent events that spawn them comes from detailed
studies of this single case.

At the American Astronomical Society meeting Wednesday, astronomers
Victoria Kaspi and Mallory Roberts (McGill University) announced that
they have linked a second pulsar-within-a-nebula to a historical
supernova explosion. The object goes by the prosaic designation
G11.2-0.3. Located about 15,000 light-years away in Sagittarius, it
consists of an X-ray pulsar spinning 14 times a second inside an
expanding shell of radio- and X-ray-emitting gas. Based on a new image
from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory, Kaspi and Roberts believe that
the neutron star and outrushing gas were born in the supernova
outburst recorded by Chinese astronomers in the same region of sky in
A.D. 386.

The nebula itself was discovered in the 1970s and was immediately
suspected of being related to the 4th-century event. But doubts arose
four years ago when scientists using a Japanese X-ray satellite found
the whirling dervish inside. That's because they calculated the
pulsar's age, from its spin-down rate, to be 24,000 years.

Because the high-resolution Chandra image shows the pulsar at the
exact center of the gas shell, Kaspi asserts that the association
between the two is "essentially inescapable." In addition, the
nebula's compact size and spherical symmetry suggest relative youth,
and there are no other plausible counterparts to the "guest star" of
386 in that part of Sagittarius. Thus Kaspi believes that the
association of G11.2-0.3 with the 1,615-year-old supernova is "gold
plated," and that the pulsar must have slowed down only a little in
the intervening years. Apparently the 24,000-year age was grossly
wrong. This calls into question many other pulsar ages and suggests
that some revisions are needed in those astronomy textbooks.

STAR STREAMS FROM BYGONE GALAXIES

Beautifully formed, huge and symmetrical, the Milky Way seems like a
finished product. But in the last few years astronomers have found
many subtle signs that our galaxy's formation is not entirely done.
The Milky Way continues to collect stars and other material by
swallowing dim dwarf galaxies that venture too near and get
gravitationally torn apart.

Subtle, fossil evidence of such mergers has been teased out of the
distribution and motions of stars in the Milky Way's distant outer
halo. "It was once thought that the Milky Way's halo had a smooth
distribution of stars," says Anna K. Vivas (Yale University), who
presented her findings at the American Astronomical Society meeting.
"Our study shows this is clearly incorrect. The clumps we observed
provide strong evidence in favor of the view that the halo contains
debris from these small, ancient galaxies."

Astronomers have recently come to believe that all big galaxies like
the Milky Way assembled out of smaller galaxies and starry clumps when
the universe was younger, based partly on views of the early universe
made possible by today's powerful telescopes. The ingathering process
continues more slowly today. Heather Morrison (Case Western Reserve
University) described a dramatic example: the Sagittarius dwarf
spheroidal galaxy that is currently merging with the Milky Way's disk
on the far side of the galaxy from the Sun, where it is almost
completely hidden from view. Discovered by accident in 1994, the
Sagittarius dwarf has only 1/100th of the Milky Way's mass and, said
Morrison, is being tidally torn apart into a very long, very
hard-to-detect streamer that spans an enormous arc across a large
fraction of our sky.

The halo, in fact, seems to be full of such streamers. The rest of the
Milky Way is largely unperturbed by these events. "The galaxies are so
wimpy that they really don't do any damage to the Milky Way's disk at
all," said Morrison.

Another group, however, announced finding signs of a larger merger
early in the Milky Way's history. Rosemary Wyse (Johns Hopkins
University) described her team's study of stellar motions in the
galaxy's "thick disk," a population of stars extending above and below
the thin main disk. The thick disk, they find, was "puffed up" by the
energy of a fairly massive satellite merging with the Milky Way around
10 million years ago.

"BLACK" BLACK HOLES

Astronomers are quite convinced that black holes exist. Albert
Einstein's general theory of relativity predicted them in 1917, and in
the last few decades astronomers have found overwhelming evidence of
their presence in many places. Still, the evidence is indirect. And
imaginative theorists have dreamed up various alternatives to them
(drawing on weird and speculative physics) that would not be black at
all. It would be nice actually to see a black hole directly and settle
the matter for good.

On Thursday, the last day of the American Astronomical Society meeting
in San Diego, a group of astronomers presented elegant evidence that
they have done just that.

Michael Garcia (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics) described
how his group used the sensitive Chandra X-ray Observatory to study 12
X-ray novae -- binary star systems in which a normal star pours a
stream of gas onto an extremely tiny, extremely dense object, which is
presumably either a neutron star or a black hole. The gas spirals its
way down, forming a disk that orbits the compact object. Occasionally
the disk erupts in a nova-like outburst. The astronomers studied all
the objects during their quiescent times, when a thin, steady flow of
gas reaches the central object without such fireworks.

Six of the 12 objects are unquestionably neutron stars, because they
show occasional X-ray bursts on their hot surfaces. The other six were
believed to be black holes because they weigh more than three solar
masses. That should be enough to make any neutron star collapse to
become a literally microscopic point. A black hole is the "event
horizon" around such a point -- a spherical, one-way surface into
which anything can fall and nothing can emerge. A black hole with five
solar masses should be just 10 kilometers wide, similar to a neutron
star in size.

The astronomers paired up neutron-star systems and black-hole systems
that had the same rates of gas inflow. This allowed them to do
something rare in astronomy: perform a controlled experiment. The
systems were alike except for just one thing, their presumably
different compact objects.

The team saw clear proof that event horizons exist in the black-hole
systems. Where the central object was a neutron star, the infalling
material continuously plowed into the star's surface with a tremendous
release of energy that showed up as brilliant X-ray emission. Where
the object was expected to be a black hole, the same infalling
material simply vanished, taking its energy with it. All that showed
up was the very weak emission expected from the gas on its way down in
free fall -- only about 1 percent as strong as the emission in the
cases where the gas hit something.

"Black holes really are black," said Ramesh Narayan (Harvard
Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics). He described the situation as
"like sitting upstream from a waterfall and watching the water
seemingly vanish over the edge."



 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 380 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Sun, Jan 14, 2001 (16:26) * 35 lines 
 
NEWSALERT: Sunday, January 14, 2001 @ 0507 GMT
---------------------------------------------------------------------
The latest news from Astronomy Now and Spaceflight Now

PULSAR'S COMPANION A POSSIBLE BLACK HOLE?
-----------------------------------------
Astronomers have found a radio pulsar with a companion at least 11 times the mass of the Sun -- the most massive pulsar companion known. The companion's identity is uncertain: it may be a massive red star, a massive but compact blue star, or possibly a black hole. If it is a black hole then this will be the first pulsar -- black hole binary system found, and a superb natural laboratory for testing general relativity.
http://spaceflightnow.com/news/n0101/14pulsarhole/

NASA PROBE GIVES REPORT ON CONDITIONS IN STAR NURSERIES
-------------------------------------------------------
After more than two years in space, NASA's Submillimeter Wave Astronomy Satellite has provided radio astronomers with one definite conclusion about the clouds of gas and dust that make up the bulk of the mass in our galaxy, the Milky Way. "There's not much to drink there, and it's hard to breathe," says a lead scientist.
http://spaceflightnow.com/news/n0101/14swas/

HUBBLE TO PUT SUPERNOVA THEORY TO THE TEST
------------------------------------------
In the spring of 2001, NASA's Hubble Space Telescope will catch nearby supernovae in the act of exploding at prescheduled times, the targets to be supplied "on demand" for the first time. Spectra from these nearby supernovae will be used to calibrate measurements of the accelerating expansion of the universe.
http://spaceflightnow.com/news/n0101/14supernova/

OLDEST ROCK SHOWS EARTH A HOSPITABLE YOUNG PLANET
-------------------------------------------------
Geological evidence suggests that Earth may have had surface water -- and thus conditions to support life -- billions of years earlier than previously thought. Scientists reconstructed the portrait of early Earth by reading the telltale chemical composition of the oldest known terrestrial rock.
http://spaceflightnow.com/news/n0101/14earthwater/

EARLIER HEADLINES
-----------------
CHANDRA FINDS EVIDENCE OF BLACK HOLE 'EVENT HORIZONS'
http://spaceflightnow.com/news/n0101/13chandrahole/

REMAINS OF OUR GALAXY'S 'LAST MEAL' DISCOVERED
http://spaceflightnow.com/news/n0101/13galremains/

STARDUST'S BLURRY VISION FIXED AS CRAFT NEARS EARTH
http://spaceflightnow.com/news/n0101/13stardustflyby/



 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 381 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Tue, Jan 16, 2001 (15:48) * 35 lines 
 
NASA Aims to Blast Comet to Study Solar System

SANTIAGO, Chile (Reuters) - U.S. scientists aim to blast a comet with a
copper projectile to learn about the formation of the solar system as
part of a $270 million project funded by NASA, the head of the project
said on Tuesday.
The project, called Deep Impact and which will cause an explosion
capable of destroying a small town, would be the first space mission to
probe inside a comet, whose primitive core could reveal clues about
evolution of the solar system.
"All our studies of comets look only at the surface layer. Our theoretical
models tell us the surface has changed, and only the interior has the
original composition. So our main goal is to compare the interior with
the surface," the project's director, Michael A'Hearn, told reporters.
Scientists chose copper, Chile's No. 1 export, because it is less likely to
interfere with the materials inside the crater.
In January 2004, a rocket would launch from Cape Canaveral, Florida,
a spacecraft that would orbit the sun. In July 2005 the spacecraft would
separate from a battery-powered, copper projectile that would collide
with the comet 24 hours later at a velocity of 6 miles (10 km) per
second.
It would produce a crater the width of a football field and up to 100
feet (30 meters) deep.
The spacecraft would observe the composition of the crater's interior,
while telescopes on Earth would monitor the impact.
The project also aims to see if scientists can alter the orbit of a comet
to protect the Earth from falling matter. The impact would alter the
comet's orbit by a "just barely measurable" 62 to 620 miles (100 to
1,000 km), A'Hearn said.
The project would blast the Comet Tempel 1, which was discovered in
1867 and is a little less than Earth's distance from the sun, he said. It
was chosen because its size, rotation and trajectory favor the project
and because the collision would be observable from Earth.
In February, NASA will carry out a preliminary design review to see if the
project can succeed.


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 382 of 1087: Cheryl  (CherylB) * Tue, Jan 16, 2001 (18:01) * 1 lines 
 
It figures the two wierd solar systems would be located near the constellation Aquarius, the oddball of the Zodiac.


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 383 of 1087: MarkG  (MarkG) * Wed, Jan 17, 2001 (03:30) * 3 lines 
 
What if their calculations are ever so slightly off, and they miss the comet with their projectile? Now you've got a loose cannonball at 22,000mph firing around our own solar system with the explosive power to destroy a small town...

And don't tell me NASA don't make mistakes like that. It was a missing minus sign that doomed Apollo 13...


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 384 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Wed, Jan 17, 2001 (17:24) * 1 lines 
 
Gadzooks, you are not going to tell me you are wrong - it is absolutley frightening! Hope it does not have a Patriot Missile guidance system on board!


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 385 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Tue, Jan 23, 2001 (17:45) * 154 lines 
 
===========================================================
SKY & TELESCOPE'S NEWS BULLETIN - JANUARY 19, 2001
===========================================================
For images and Web links for these items, visit http://www.skypub.com

CASE FOR "ASHEN LIGHT" WEAKENS

Over the past 300 years observers have occasionally reported a faint
glow on the night side of Venus. But the phenomenon, termed "ashen
light," is elusive, and many astronomers -- professionals and amateurs
alike -- have come to doubt its existence. Two recent results make the
reality of ashen light even more difficult to accept.

In November 1999, Tom G. Slanger (SRI International) and his
colleagues probed the upper atmosphere of Venus using the 10-meter
Keck I telescope and a high-resolution spectrometer. They detected a
faint, green luminescence on the planet's night side at 557.7
nanometers, an emission from oxygen atoms high in the Venusian
atmosphere. In today's issue of Science, Slanger's team explains that
ultraviolet sunlight splits atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) into
carbon monoxide (CO) and atomic oxygen (O) on the planet's day side.
High-speed winds then transport these oxygen atoms to the night side,
where they recombine into O2 and emit green light in the process.

This emission is very weak, Slanger says, as is Venus's night-side
airglow from O2 molecules that the Keck team detected as well. With an
intensity of roughly 5,000 rayleighs, Slanger explains, the combined
nightglow might be discernible to an astronaut hovering over the dark
side of Venus. But it's likely undetectable with a backyard telescope,
especially since the planet's night hemisphere can be seen well only
when Venus is in twilight or very low.

Another possible cause of ashen light -- rapid-fire lightning -- has
also taken a hit. During the 1970s Russian and American space probes
detected low-frequency radio emissions suggesting that the dense
atmosphere of Venus sizzles constantly with powerful electrical jolts.
Hearing of this result, visual observers imagined that if the
lightning strikes were rampant enough, the integrated light could
appear as an overall glow on the planet's night side.

However, the case for lightning was never ironclad, and in an article
appearing in Nature for January 18th, Donald A. Gurnett (University of
Iowa) and seven colleagues cast serious doubt on its reality.
Gurnett's team scrutinized data from the Cassini spacecraft, which
passed the planet at close range in April 1998 and June 1999. Had
lightning been prevalent, the spacecraft would have detected
high-frequency radio noise from the strikes, the same static heard on
an AM radio during a thunderstorm. Although Cassini easily detected
lightning's radio signature during a later flyby of Earth, nothing
similar was heard near Venus. "If lightning exists in the Venusian
atmosphere," the team concludes, "it is either extremely rare or very
different from terrestrial lightning."

COMET MCNAUGHT-HARTLEY HIGH BEFORE DAWN

Comet McNaught-Hartley (C/1999 T1) continues to climb in the morning
sky. At 8th-magntidue, it is an easy target for binoculars as it moves
through Serpens Caput this coming week. Northern Hemisphere observers
can spot it halfway up the sky, some 40 to 50 deg. above the
southeastern horizon before the first light of dawn. For those south
of the equator, the comet will only be about 15 to 20 deg. above the
east-northeast horizon. Here are positions for McNaught-Hartley for 0
hours Universal Time in 2000.0 coordinates:

Date R.A. Dec.

Jan 20 15h 50m +2.9 deg.
Jan 22 15 55 4.8
Jan 24 16 01 6.7
Jan 26 16 06 8.6

For more about the comet, see the Special Sky Events page at
http://www.skypub.com/sights/skyevents/0101skyevents.html .

THIS WEEK'S "SKY AT A GLANCE"
Some daily events in the changing sky, by the editors of Sky &
Telescope.

JAN. 21 -- SUNDAY
* Jupiter's Great Red Spot should cross Jupiter's central meridian
(the imaginary line down the center of the planet's disk from pole to
pole) around 11:58 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. The "red" spot is very
pale orange-tan. It should be visible in a good 4- or 6-inch telescope
for at least 50 minutes before and after if the atmospheric seeing is
sharp and steady. For a list of all predicted Red Spot transit times,
see http://www.skypub.com/sights/moonplanets/redspot.html .

JAN. 22 -- MONDAY
* Jupiter's Red Spot transits around 7:50 p.m. EST.

JAN. 23 -- TUESDAY
* Some doorstep astronomy: The constellation Orion shines well to
the lower left of bright Jupiter, Saturn, and Aldebaran in the evening
sky. Similarly far to Orion's lower left is brilliant Sirius.

JAN. 24 -- WEDNESDAY
* New Moon (exact at 8:07 a.m. EST).
* Jupiter's moon Io emerges from eclipse out of Jupiter's shadow
around 8:04 p.m. EST. A small telescope will show it swelling into
view just east of the planet.
* Jupiter's Red Spot transits around 9:28 p.m. EST.
* As seen from Europe, Mars passes just 2 arcminutes south of the
5th-magnitude star Nu Librae before dawn Thursday morning.

JAN. 25 -- THURSDAY
* Jupiter's moon Ganymede gets eclipsed by Jupiter's shadow this
evening. Using a small telescope, watch it fade from view around 7:35
p.m. EST and reappear around 9:47 p.m. EST.

JAN. 26 -- FRIDAY
* As twilight fades this evening, look below Venus in the southwest
for the thin waxing crescent Moon. To the Moon's lower right is
Mercury.
* Jupiter's Red Spot transits around 11:07 p.m. EST.

JAN. 27 -- SATURDAY
* The crescent Moon shines closer below Venus at dusk this evening.
Look for Mercury very far to the Moon's lower right.

============================
THIS WEEK'S PLANET ROUNDUP
============================
MERCURY is just above the west-southwest horizon after sunset, far to
the lower right of Venus. Look for it about 40 minutes after sundown.

VENUS is the brilliant object (magnitude -4.4) shining in the
southwest during and after dusk.

MARS (magnitude +1.1, in Libra) glows yellow-orange in the
south-southeast before dawn. Well to its lower left is
similarly-colored Antares in Scorpius.

JUPITER and SATURN (magnitudes -2.6 and -0.3, respectively) shine
brightly high in the south during evening. Jupiter is the brightest.
Yellowish Saturn appears 7 degrees (about four fingers' widths at
arm's length) to Jupiter's right or lower right. They're in the
constellation Taurus; above Jupiter is the Pleiades star cluster, and
farther to Jupiter's left or lower left sparkles orange Aldebaran.

URANUS and NEPTUNE are hidden in the glare of the Sun.

PLUTO (magnitude 14; invisible without a large telescope) is low in
the east-southeast before dawn.

(All descriptions that relate to the horizon or zenith -- including
the words up, down, right, and left -- are written for the world's
midnorthern latitudes. Descriptions that also depend on longitude are
for North America. Eastern Standard Time, EST, equals Universal Time
[GMT] minus 5 hours.)

More celestial events, sky maps, and news of the world's astronomy
research appear each month in SKY & TELESCOPE, the essential magazine
of astronomy. See our enormous Web site and astronomy bookstore at
http://www.skypub.com/ . Clear skies!


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 386 of 1087:  (sprin5) * Wed, Jan 24, 2001 (08:23) * 12 lines 
 
Tuesday January 23 04:47 PM EST
Desktop Black Hole Possibly on the Horizon

By Robert Roy Britt
Senior Science Writer, SPACE.com


Two teams of scientists recently announced they can bring light to a
halt, and that finding may speed up little-known efforts to create a
desktop black hole.




 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 387 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Wed, Jan 24, 2001 (14:30) * 1 lines 
 
Wow...gone are the days of desktop overload. One in the kitchen would be useful too!


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 388 of 1087:  (sprin5) * Wed, Jan 24, 2001 (19:19) * 1 lines 
 
Just what we need, a black hole on our desktop, like it's hard enough to find anything on my desk now!


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 389 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Wed, Jan 24, 2001 (23:45) * 56 lines 
 
NEWSALERT: Wednesday, January 24, 2001 @ 0700 GMT
---------------------------------------------------------------------
The latest news from Astronomy Now and Spaceflight Now
Sponsored by European AstroFest 2001
http://www.astronomynow.com/astrofest


MIR DEORBITER TUG LAUNCHED
--------------------------
An unmanned freighter destined to drive Russia's abandoned space station Mir into a suicidal plunge back to Earth was launched into orbit today atop a Soyuz rocket. Liftoff occurred at 0428:42 GMT from Central Asia.

http://spaceflightnow.com/mir/010124progup/


U.S. WEATHER SATELLITE GROUNDED TILL AT LEAST APRIL
---------------------------------------------------
Efforts to understand and correct a mysterious problem that could have doomed the $430 million mission of a U.S. military weather satellite while work to service the craft's ride to orbit -- a Titan 2 rocket -- will delay launch until at least mid-April, the Air Force said Tuesday.

http://spaceflightnow.com/titan/g9/delay.html


CASSINI SEES JOVIAN LIGHTNING STORMS, MOONS
-------------------------------------------
A new batch of Jupiter images from NASA's Cassini spacecraft includes an amazing view of Io, clouds on the planet, lightning storms and the best view yet of the small moon Himalia.

http://spaceflightnow.com/news/n0101/24cassini/


SPACE SHUTTLE LAUNCH SCHEDULE UNDER REVIEW
------------------------------------------
NASA managers are assessing a revised shuttle launch schedule that delays two space station assembly flights by several weeks and pushes one flight by the veteran shuttle Columbia into next year.

http://spaceflightnow.com/news/n0101/23manifest/


INSTRUMENT PROBLEMS COULD DELAY INTEGRAL LAUNCH
-----------------------------------------------
European Space Agency officials reported this week that problems with several instruments intended for the INTEGRAL spacecraft have put pressure on next year's planned launch of the gamma-ray observatory.

http://spaceflightnow.com/news/n0101/24integral/


AOL USERS
---------
The links below should make it easier for AOL users to reach our stories.

MIR DEORBITER TUG LAUNCHED

U.S. WEATHER SATELLITE GROUNDED TILL AT LEAST APRIL

CASSINI SEES JOVIAN LIGHTNING STORMS, MOONS

SPACE SHUTTLE LAUNCH SCHEDULE UNDER REVIEW

INSTRUMENT PROBLEMS COULD DELAY INTEGRAL LAUNCH



 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 390 of 1087:  (sprin5) * Thu, Jan 25, 2001 (07:45) * 1 lines 
 
Mir suicide mission!


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 391 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Thu, Jan 25, 2001 (11:52) * 39 lines 
 
Yup...I hope this time they miss us by more than a few miles... But, it would be amazing to see it blast into the atmosphere - if it is anything like what I saw a few weeks ago!

NEWSALERT: Thursday, January 25, 2001 @ 0553 GMT
---------------------------------------------------------------------
The latest news from Astronomy Now and Spaceflight Now
Sponsored by European AstroFest 2001
http://www.astronomynow.com/astrofest

ROCKS MAY BE KEY IN SEARCH FOR MARS AND VENUS WATER
---------------------------------------------------
Scientists seeking to understand how much water might have once existed on Mars and Venus may find answers locked up in the rocks on those planets, according to research published this week.
http://spaceflightnow.com/news/n0101/25venusmars/

ALPHA ASTRONAUTS BUSY BUT COMFORTABLE ON STATION
------------------------------------------------
Despite a relentless work schedule, the Alpha astronauts say life on board the international space station is improving and while they miss the comforts of home, all three crew members say they would be happy to extend their stay if necessary.
http://spaceflightnow.com/station/stage5a/010123isslife/

ASTEROID ORBITER BEGINS SERIES OF LOW PASSES
--------------------------------------------
NASA's NEAR Shoemaker probe orbiting an asteroid is on track for a series of close approaches to the space rock, bringing the craft closer to Eros than ever before.
http://spaceflightnow.com/news/n0101/25near/

CASSINI SEES THE INVISIBLE DURING JUPITER FLYBY
-----------------------------------------------
Cassini's recent pictures of Jupiter are providing scientists with never-before-seen images of the giant planet's magnetosphere and underlying dynamics. Researchers using the Cassini flyby of Jupiter to try out some of the craft's advanced instrumentation are reaping scientific rewards.
http://spaceflightnow.com/news/n0101/25inviscassini/

CLARIFICATION TO TITAN 2 COUNTDOWN
----------------------------------
The U.S. Air Force has provided clarification and updated information concerning Sunday's somewhat confusing countdown of the Titan 2 rocket with the DMSP F16 military weather satellite.
http://spaceflightnow.com/titan/g9/status.html

LAUNCH DATE CHANGES
-------------------
See our continuously updated Worldwide Launch Schedule page for the latest on space shuttle and unmanned rocket flights! New changes include delays for next week's Titan 4B rocket launch and a new target date for space shuttle Atlantis' voyage to the international space station in February.
http://spaceflightnow.com/tracking/




 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 392 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Mon, Jan 29, 2001 (15:37) * 160 lines 
 
EARTH'S MAGNETOSPHERE VISUALIZED BY IMAGE

Spacecraft observations have shown researchers what the
otherwise-invisible magnetosphere of Earth looks like. In today's
issue of the journal Science, James L. Burch (Southwest Research
Institute) and 11 colleagues presented views of the plasma that
surrounds our planet. NASA's Imager for Magnetopause to Aurora Global
Exploration (IMAGE) has been monitoring the changes in the flow of
ionized gas above Earth's atmosphere and, for the first time, has been
able to provide global views at three far-ultraviolet wavelengths.

The researchers were able to confirm the existence of a
sunward-pointing tail of plasma that had been predicted but never
before been observed. It is an artifact of the fluidlike flow of
electrified gas as it is pushed by solar wind. Besides this
magnetospheric backwash, the images also show plasma-deficient
regions, called troughs, which Burch and his colleagues note that they
are at a loss to explain.

CASSINI VIEWS HIMALIA

Launched on October 15, 1997, the Cassini spacecraft is currently en
route to study Saturn. However, the spacecraft made a long detour,
flying by Jupiter on December 30th to get a gravity-assist speed
boost. In doing so, it provided some of the best views ever seen of
the Jovian system. One such example is this image of Himalia, the
largest of Jupiter's outer satellites. Discovered in 1904, Himalia
shines at magnitude 14.8 and has a diameter of 170 +/- 20 kilometers.
The picture, taken December 19th, shows that the moon is not spherical
but irregularly shaped, an indication that it may be a captured
asteroid or cometary object.

Interestingly, scientists are lucky to have this image. On December
19th, one of the reaction wheels that help to stabilize Cassini
malfunctioned. For a brief period, scientific observations continued
while the spacecraft was instead held stationary with onboard
thrusters. This picture was taken during that time. However, thruster
stabilization would waste too much fuel, so flight controllers halted
Cassini's study of Jupiter until the reaction wheels were fixed. The
problem is now believed to have been due to a lack of lubrication in
the reaction-wheel system. The remedy was to simply spin the wheels
quickly and redistribute the lubricant. Operations returned to normal
two days later.

COMET MCNAUGHT-HARTLEY HIGH BEFORE DAWN

Comet McNaught-Hartley (C/1999 T1) continues yet higher north in the
morning sky. At 8th-magnitude, it is an easy target for binoculars as
it moves almost exactly one degree a day from Serpens into Hercules
this coming week. Northern Hemisphere observers can spot it more than
halfway up the sky, some 50 to 60 deg. above the southeastern horizon
before the first light of dawn. For those south of the equator, the
comet will only be about 15 to 20 deg. above the east-northeast
horizon. Here are positions for McNaught-Hartley for 0 hours Universal
Time in 2000.0 coordinates:

Date R.A. Dec.

Jan 27 16h 09m + 9.6 deg.
Jan 29 16 15 11.6
Jan 31 16 20 13.6
Feb 2 16 26 15.6

For more about the comet, see the Special Sky Events page at
http://www.skypub.com/sights/skyevents/0101skyevents.html .

THIS WEEK'S "SKY AT A GLANCE"
Some daily events in the changing sky, by the editors of Sky &
Telescope.

JAN. 28 -- SUNDAY
* The crescent Moon and Venus shine together in the west-southwest
during and after evening twilight.
* Mercury reaches greatest elongation, 18 degrees east of the Sun.
Look for it in the evening twilight far to the lower right of Venus.

JAN. 29 -- MONDAY
* Venus shines to the lower right of the Moon during and after dusk.
* Jupiter's Great Red Spot should cross Jupiter's central meridian
(the imaginary line down the center of the planet's disk from pole to
pole) around 8:37 p.m. EST. The "red" spot is very pale orange-tan. It
should be visible for at least 50 minutes before and after in a good
4- or 6-inch telescope if the atmospheric seeing is sharp and steady.
For a list of all predicted Red Spot transit times, see
http://www.skypub.com/sights/moonplanets/redspot.html .

JAN. 30 -- TUESDAY
* Venus shines far to the lower right of the Moon during and after
dusk. Roughly the same distance to the Moon's upper left are Saturn
and, farther on, brighter Jupiter.

JAN. 31 -- WEDNESDAY
* Jupiter, fainter Saturn, the Moon, brilliant Venus, and little
Mercury form a huge line in the sky during twilight, in that order
from high in the south to very low in the west-southwest.
* Jupiter's moon Io emerges from eclipse out of the planet's shadow
around 9:59 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. Use a small telescope to watch
it swell into view a little off the planet's eastern edge.
* Jupiter's Red Spot transits around 10:16 p.m. EST.

FEB. 1 -- THURSDAY
* First-quarter Moon (exact at 9:02 a.m. EST).
* Bright Jupiter, fainter Saturn, and the Moon form a curving line
high in the sky this evening.

FEB. 2 -- FRIDAY
* The brightest "star" close to the Moon this evening is Jupiter.
The second-brightest is Saturn, to the Moon's right. Third-brightest
is Aldebaran, to the Moon's left.
* A small telescope will show that Saturn's largest satellite,
Titan, stands three or four ring-lengths east of the planet this
evening and tomorrow evening.
* Jupiter's Red Spot transits around 11:54 p.m. EST.

FEB. 3 -- SATURDAY
* The Moon, orange Aldebaran, bright Jupiter, and yellowish Saturn
form a jagged line in the sky this evening, in that order from left to
right.
* Turn a small telescope on Jupiter around 6:26 p.m. EST, and you'll
find its satellites Io and Europa just 10 arcseconds apart, looking
like a double star.
* Jupiter's Red Spot transits around 7:46 p.m. EST.

============================
THIS WEEK'S PLANET ROUNDUP
============================
MERCURY is just above the west-southwest horizon after sunset, far to
the lower right of Venus. Look for it about 40 minutes after sundown.

VENUS is the brilliant object (magnitude -4.5) shining in the
southwest during and after dusk.

MARS (magnitude +1.0, in Libra) rises around 2 a.m. and glows
yellow-orange in the south before dawn. To its lower left is
similarly-colored Antares in Scorpius.

JUPITER and SATURN (magnitudes -2.5 and -0.3, respectively) shine
brightly high in the south during evening. Jupiter is the brightest.
Yellowish Saturn appears 7 degrees (about four fingers' widths at
arm's length) to Jupiter's right or lower right. They're in the
constellation Taurus; above Jupiter is the Pleiades star cluster, and
farther to Jupiter's left or lower left sparkles orange Aldebaran.

URANUS and NEPTUNE are hidden in the glare of the the Sun.

PLUTO (magnitude 14; invisible without a large telescope) is low in
the southeast before dawn.

(All descriptions that relate to the horizon or zenith -- including
the words up, down, right, and left -- are written for the world's
midnorthern latitudes. Descriptions that also depend on longitude are
for North America. Eastern Standard Time, EST, equals Universal Time
[GMT] minus 5 hours.)

More celestial events, sky maps, and news of the world's astronomy
research appear each month in SKY & TELESCOPE, the essential magazine
of astronomy. See our enormous Web site and astronomy bookstore at
http://www.skypub.com/ . Clear skies!




 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 393 of 1087: Cheryl  (CherylB) * Wed, Jan 31, 2001 (18:43) * 1 lines 
 
About that desktop black hole, I sometimes think that I have one already. This is a silly question: If you had a desktop black hole, does this mean that you have no need for a waste basket?


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 394 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Sat, Feb  3, 2001 (12:13) * 293 lines 
 
===========================================================
SKY & TELESCOPE'S NEWS BULLETIN - FEBRUARY 2, 2001
===========================================================
For images and Web links for these items, visit http://www.skypub.com
===========================================================
Long out of print, the much-loved autobiography of celebrated comet-
hunter Leslie Peltier has been reissued on the 100th anniversary of
his birth. In a career spanning six decades and using telescopes from
2 to 12 inches in diameter, Peltier discovered a dozen comets and six
novae and made more than 100,000 observations of variable stars. In
"Starlight Nights" he recalls these achievements and reflects on the
meaning of observational astronomy as well as all of nature. This new
edition features an introduction by S&T contributing editor David H.
Levy plus 16 black-and-white photographs from the Peltier family
archives. To order your copy, visit Sky Publishing's online store at
http://store.skypub.com/ or call 800-253-0245.
===========================================================

LIGHTS OUT IN CALIFORNIA: GOVERNOR ORDERS CONSERVATION EFFORT
The deepening energy crisis in California has triggered a response
from Gov. Gray Davis that should hearten astronomers throughout the
Golden State. Executive Order D-19-01, issued by Davis Friday, calls
for significant cutbacks in outdoor lighting in the state's most
densely populated counties. The directive calls for voluntary
compliance as soon as practical and mandatory enforcement (by
California's Highway Patrol and county sheriff departments) beginning
March 15th. Retailers who fail to comply will face fines of $1,000 per
day.

Although he did not specify a savings target, Davis hopes to reduce
outdoor lighting by 50 percent statewide. "Every time an unnecessary
light is burning in a retail establishment, that's one more
kilowatt-hour that could have been sent to some other part of the
state," Davis noted.

While the new get-tough policy may improve night-sky darkness, it does
not lay the groundwork for true lighting reform. "There's no mention
of full-cutoff lighting, or residential lighting, or street lighting,"
observes Richard Fienberg, Sky & Telescope's editor in chief, "and
there's nothing about improving the environment, saving the night sky,
reducing glare, avoiding light trespass, or anything else. When the
state's power crunch eases, don't be surprised if the governor's order
is rescinded."

The full text of the executive order can be obtained through the
Governor's home page
(http://www.governor.ca.gov/state/govsite/gov_homepage.jsp -- click on
"Press Room," then "Executive Orders"). Those interested in contacting
him about light-pollution issues can send e-mail using
graydavis@governor.ca.gov.

EUVE SPACECRAFT RETIRES
Another NASA satellite has earned its gold watch. On January 31st, the
Extreme Ultraviolet Explorer (EUVE) officially completed its mission
and was powered down into a hibernation mode. The retired telescope, a
victim of budget cuts, will be brought down to burn up in Earth's
atmosphere in a controlled reentry sometime around February 2002.

EUVE, a workhorse in NASA's fleet of orbiting observatories, was
launched on June 7, 1992. Since then, it has observed the heavens in
ultraviolet wavelengths, monitoring a wide range of objects. Among the
many valuable discoveries made by EUVE was the detection of soft X-ray
emission from comets and a detailed mapping of the interstellar
medium. "No one had thoroughly explored the heavens in the extreme
ultraviolet before, and EUVE filled significant gaps in our
understanding," says Alan Bunner, Science Director for NASA's
Structure and Evolution of the Universe program.

Originally intended to be a short-term project, the EUVE mission was
twice extended by NASA, more than doubling its designed 3-year life
span. Even with the two extensions, EUVE scientists were reluctant to
turn off the reliable instrument. According to project manager Brett
Stroozas (University of California, Berkeley), EUVE has "never been
out of science mode for more than a couple of days. It's been a great
spacecraft."

With the loss of the EUVE, the Hubble Space Telescope and the Chandra
X-ray Observatory will do their part to lessen the spectral void. But
unfortunately there is no true replacement mission scheduled to
observe in the extreme ultraviolet. "EUVE was unique and there is
nothing in the planning stations to make up for it," says Stroozas.

HUBBLE SPIES COSMIC INSECT IMPOSTOR
If it's the first Thursday of the month, it's time for another
spectacular image from the Hubble Space Telescope as part of the
ongoing Hubble Heritage Project. February's choice selection is a
planetary nebula designated Menzel 3 but known more commonly as the
Ant Nebula. The gas streaming away from the dying star at the nebula's
center produces the unmistakable appearance of an ant. Scientifically,
the shape is called a bipolar outflow, and astronomers still don't
quite know how they form. Why does a spherical star produce such a
linear artifact? One scenario suggests that the central star is a
tight binary system and the gas squirts out perpendicular to the
companion's orbit. Another possibility is that the outflow is confined
by the star's magnetic field.

NEW DIRECTOR FOR JPL
In a move that signals change for the famed Jet Propulsion Laboratory,
Charles Elachi has been named to replace Edward Stone as the center's
director. Known worldwide for its involvement in planetary
exploration, the 177-acre space center in Pasadena, California, is
operated by Caltech for NASA. Caltech president David Baltimore, who
made Wednesday's announcement, noted that Elachi "knows JPL better
than anyone."

The new director has spent his entire 30-year career at JPL, rising
through the scientific ranks to lead its Space and Earth Sciences
Directorate. "Charles Elachi brings formidable talents to his new job,
both as a scientist and a leader," notes NASA administrator Daniel
Goldin. Among other accomplishments, Elachi spearheaded the
development of dozens of space experiments, including highly
successful radar imagers carried to orbit by the Space Shuttle.

Stone has headed JPL since 1991, and he will return to teaching and
research at Caltech. Although his retirement from JPL was expected
(he's now 65), the shift in leadership comes against a backdrop of
difficult times for the laboratory. In recent years JPL has endured
the loss of three high-profile spacecraft: Mars Observer in 1993, and
both Mars Climate Orbiter and Mars Polar Lander in 1999. "JPL really
does need change," notes Wesley T. Huntress, formerly NASA's director
for space sciences. "The days of building singular, expensive
spacecraft ended in the mid-1990s with Cassini, and the current
approach involves faster turnaround and adapting quickly from lessons
learned."

Whereas his predecessor employed a consensus-building management
style, the 53-year-old Elachi is expected to apply a tougher, more
direct approach. The relationship between Elachi and Edward J. Weiler,
who replaced Huntress at NASA Headquarters, got off to a rocky start,
and some observers say Elachi's biggest challenge will be to preserve
JPL's long-dominant role in the construction and management of NASA's
interplanetary spacecraft. Pressure is coming from externally built
craft like NEAR-Shoemaker, a low-budget Discovery mission conceived
and delivered by the Applied Physics Laboratory of Johns Hopkins
University. "Elachi has a visceral feeling for planetary exploration,"
Huntress says of his former JPL colleague. "He's got excellent
hardware instincts, and he's an insider who's had the full breadth of
experience at JPL."

"SURVIVORS" CREATED OORT CLOUD
When it comes to icy planetesimals in the early solar system, it
appears that breaking up was easy to do after all. According to new
calculations by S. Alan Stern (Southwest Research Institute) and Paul
R. Weissman (Jet Propulsion Laboratory), after the giant planets
formed, most of the outer solar system's leftovers ground themselves
into oblivion through collisions. This new thinking could radically
change how astronomers view the formation and the composition of the
Oort Cloud, the distant cometary reservoir populated by icy bodies
flung out of the outer-planet zone after close encounters with Jupiter
and its kin.

Prior models detailing the Oort Cloud's origin relied solely on
gravitational interactions among the outer planets, the icy objects
they encountered, and external masses such as giant molecular clouds.
These computations showed that countless small bodies were perturbed
from their orbits and ejected outward, with a fraction of them ending
up in a roughly spherical cloud more than 10,000 astronomical units
(1.5 trillion kilometers) away. However, as Stern explained last week
at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, during planetary
formation, the outer solar system teemed with so much debris, no
object could escape without running into something on the way out.
Collisions were commonplace, he said, which pulverized small
planetesimals and eroded the larger ones.

Only after the outer-planet realm cleared itself of debris could the
surviving bodies make their escape to the Oort Cloud, and by
implication it contains far less matter than previously thought. Stern
and Weissman estimate that the cometary cloud contains at most a few
Earths' worth of material -- a fraction of the 10 to 40 Earth masses
of previous estimates.

COMET MCNAUGHT-HARTLEY HIGH BEFORE DAWN
Comet McNaught-Hartley (C/1999 T1) continues yet higher north in the
morning sky. At 8th magnitude, it is an easy target for binoculars as
it moves almost exactly one degree a day through Hercules this coming
week. Northern Hemisphere observers can spot it more than halfway up
the sky, some 55 to 60 deg. above the east-southeast horizon before
the first light of dawn. For those south of the equator, the comet
will only be about 15 to 20 deg. above the northeast horizon. Here are
positions for McNaught-Hartley for 0 hours Universal Time in 2000.0
coordinates:
Date R.A.Dec.
Feb 3 16h 28m +16.6 deg.
Feb 5 16 34 18.6
Feb 7 16 39 20.6
Feb 9 16 45 22.6
For details and a finder chart for the month of February, see the
Special Sky Events page at
http://www.skypub.com/sights/skyevents/0102skyevents.html .

THIS WEEK'S "SKY AT A GLANCE"
Some daily events in the changing sky, by the editors of Sky &
Telescope.

FEB. 4 -- SUNDAY
* Some doorstep astronomy: Look to the lower right of the Moon this
evening for the constellation Orion. In its middle is Orion's Belt, a
diagonal row of three stars fairly close together. The brightest star
between the Belt and the Moon is orange-red Betelgeuse, Orion's
shoulder. Exactly on the opposite side of the Belt from Betelgeuse is
Rigel, Orion's foot.

FEB. 5 -- MONDAY
* Turn a small telescope on Jupiter around 7:29 p.m. Eastern
Standard Time, and you'll find its satellites Io and brighter Ganymede
only 18 arcseconds apart, looking like a double star.
* Jupiter's satellite Europa crosses Jupiter's face from 8:09 to
10:44 p.m. EST; watch it cross the planet's limb at these times.
Europa's tiny black shadow falls on Jupiter from 10:40 p.m. to 1:15
a.m. EST Tuesday morning.
* Jupiter's Great Red Spot should cross the planet's central
meridian (the imaginary line down the center of Jupiter's disk from
pole to pole) around 9:25 p.m. EST. The "red" spot is very pale
orange-tan. It should be visible for at least 50 minutes before and
after in a good 4- or 6-inch telescope if the atmospheric seeing is
sharp and steady. For a list of all predicted Red Spot transit times,
see http://www.skypub.com/sights/moonplanets/redspot.html .
* The naked-eye eclipsing variable star Algol should be in one of
its periodic dimmings, magnitude 3.4 instead of its usual 2.1, for a
couple hours centered on 12:56 a.m. EST Tuesday morning. Algol takes
several additional hours to fade and to brighten. For a timetable of
all its predicted minima see
http://www.skypub.com/sights/variables/algol.html .

FEB. 6 -- TUESDAY
* More doorstep astronomy: The Moon shines in the eastern sky this
evening. Above it are Pollux and (a little higher) Castor. Farther to
the Moon's right or lower right is Procyon, the Little Dog Star. Even
farther to the lower right of Procyon is brilliant Sirius, the Big Dog
Star.
* Observers across most of North America can use binoculars or a
telescope to watch the dark limb of the waxing gibbous Moon occult
(cover) the 3.5-magnitude star Delta Geminorum. For local times of
this event see the timetable in the February Sky & Telescope, page
122, or http://www.skypub.com/sights/skyevents/0102skyevents.html .

FEB. 7 -- WEDNESDAY
* Full Moon tonight (exact at 2:12 a.m. Thursday morning).
* Jupiter's moon Io reappears from eclipse out of Jupiter's shadow
around 7:39 p.m. EST. Use a small telescope to watch it emerge into
view just east of the planet.
* Jupiter's Red Spot transits around 11:04 p.m. EST.

FEB. 8 -- THURSDAY
* Algol is at minimum light for a couple hours centered on 9:45 p.m.
EST.

FEB. 9 -- FRIDAY
* Early Saturday morning, Comet McNaught-Hartley (a telescopic
object glowing at about 9th magnitude) passes 1 degree east of the
10th-magnitude planetary nebula NGC 6210 in Hercules. A finder chart
for the comet all this month is in the February Sky & Telescope, page
122, and at http://www.skypub.com/sights/skyevents/0102skyevents.html
.
FEB. 10 -- SATURDAY
* Jupiter's Red Spot transits around 8:34 p.m. EST.

============================
THIS WEEK'S PLANET ROUNDUP
============================
MERCURY is disappearing into the sunset. Early in the week it may
still be visible far to the lower right of Venus in early twilight.

VENUS is the brilliant object (magnitude -4.5) shining in the
southwest during and after dusk.

MARS (magnitude +0.9, in Libra) rises around 1:30 a.m. and glows
yellow-orange in the south before dawn. To its lower left is
similarly-colored Antares in Scorpius.

JUPITER and SATURN (magnitudes -2.5 and -0.3, respectively) shine
brightly high in the south to southwest during evening. Jupiter is the
brightest. Yellowish Saturn appears 7 degrees (about four fingers'
widths at arm's length) to Jupiter's lower right. They're in the
constellation Taurus; just to Jupiter's upper right is the Pleiades
star cluster, and farther to Jupiter's left sparkles orange Aldebaran.

URANUS and NEPTUNE are hidden in the glare of the Sun.

PLUTO (magnitude 14; invisible without a large telescope) is low in
the southeast before dawn.

(All descriptions that relate to the horizon or zenith -- including
the words up, down, right, and left -- are written for the world's
midnorthern latitudes. Descriptions that also depend on longitude are
for North America. Eastern Standard Time, EST, equals Universal Time
[GMT] minus 5 hours.)

More celestial events, sky maps, and news of the world's astronomy
research appear each month in SKY & TELESCOPE, the essential magazine
of astronomy. See our enormous Web site and astronomy bookstore at
http://www.skypub.com/ . Clear skies!



 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 395 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Thu, Feb  8, 2001 (20:53) * 59 lines 
 
U.S. Group Plans Air Trip to View Mir's Fiery Death
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A small group of space enthusiasts plans to
charter an aircraft to witness up close the event of a lifetime -- the fiery
death next month of the Russian Mir space station as it hurtles into
the south Pacific.
The expedition, thought to be the only one of its kind in the world, will
take some 120 researchers and paying members of the public 30,000
feet up into the skies south of Tahiti.
There they hope to view a display of pyrotechnics expected to be one
of the most memorable celestial events of the 21st century.
"I have been planning to do this for 15 years. I missed the Skylab
reentry in 1979 because it was an uncontrolled reentry," expedition
organizer Bob Citron told Reuters on Thursday.
"As far as I know we are the only ones doing it. When I started doing
my research, I was amazed that no one else was planning to observe
this reentry, which is going to be the most spectacular event since the
Tunguska meteorite struck the earth in 1908," Citron, a space industry
businessman, said in a telephone interview from his Seattle home.
Russian space officials are to bring the 130-tonMir space lab -- the
15-year-old former crown jewel of the Soviet space program -- crashing
through the earth's atmosphere in the first half of March.
Two thirds of the aging and accident prone station will burn up in the
controlled descent but the remainder is expected to plunge into a
remote area of the Pacific Ocean about 2,000 nautical miles south of
Tahiti and 2,400 nautical miles east of New Zealand.
Citron, founder of the commercial space firm SPACEHAB Inc. and a
man with 30 years experience in the United States space program,
believes the chances of seeing anything from land will be remote.
"The only place you will be able to see anything at all from earth, if
you are lucky, will be from one of the central south Pacific islands and
the chances of that are very, very small. You really have to be over
open ocean," he said.
TRIP WILL COST $6,000
Citron is organizing the trip with his Los Angeles lawyer brother Rick
Citron. The pair have a 30 year background in managing scientific trips
to view solar eclipses and volcanic eruptions all over the world.
About 20 friends, colleagues and serious amateur astronomers have
expressed interest in paying about $6,000 each for the trip. The plane
will also take nonpaying scientific researchers and a television crew who
will film the event as part of a documentary on the Mir.
The Citrons plan to unveil a Web site (http://www.Mirreentry.com) next
week with details of the expedition.
A chartered wide-bodied jet will take the group above the clouds to a
position some 200 miles away from the projected track of the debris.
"We are going to be at the best location to observe the event and we
are going to be hundreds of miles from the debris impact area. There
won't be any danger of anything hitting us," said Citron.
Although the show from horizon to horizon is likely to last only five or
six minutes, the Citrons believe it will be a sight well worth seeing.
"Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of incandescent pieces of Mir will rain
down through the atmosphere, including the three huge sets of solar
panels, the five major pressurized modules, and many tons of
structure, external tubing and cabling, scientific equipment, rocket
engines and fuel tanks," said Rick Citron in a statement.
"Unless an asteroid strikes the earth sooner, there will not be another
opportunity to witness and record an event of this magnitude until the
International Space Station is de-orbited in 2020 or 2030.
"We've got the technology to observe and record the event. Why not
do it?," he said.


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 396 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Sun, Feb 18, 2001 (13:48) * 33 lines 
 
***************************************************
Spring AGU Special Session V02 -
New Views of Mars Volcanism: Extrusive, Explosive,
and Possible Influences of H2O (Joint With P)
***************************************************

Session Description:
Before the recent Mars missions, volcanic activity on Mars was thought to
be primarily "old" (restricted to more than 1.3 b.y. ago) and mafic.
Although a range of eruption styles seemed likely, available topographic
data poorly constrained the existing models. Today, analyses of Pathfinder
and MGS data suggest a range of lava compositions, and provide topographic
and image evidence for more extensive volcanism -- some of it quite recent
(possibly even current). This session is intended to explore our changing
views of the thermal and chemical evolution of Mars by examining new
evidence for volcanic activity on Mars throughout its geologic history. We
will provide a forum for discussing compositional data, proposed eruption
styles and mechanisms, and evidence for recent volcanic activity.

Conveners:
Susan Sakimoto, GEST Center, NASA/GSFC, UMBC, Code 921, Greenbelt, MD,
20771, Tel: +1-301-614-6470, Fax:+1-301-614-6522, E-Mail:
sakimoto@denali.gsfc.nasa.gov

Tracy Gregg, University at Buffalo, Department of Geology and Geophysics,
876 Nat. Science and Mathematics Complex, Buffalo, NY, 14260-3050, Tel:
+1-716-645-6800 ext. 2463, Fax: +1-716-636-4827, E-Mail:
Tgregg@nsm.buffalo.edu

Lori Glaze, Proxemy Research, 20528 Farcroft Lane, Laytonsville, MD,
20882, Tel: +1-301-313-0026, Fax: +1-301-313-0021, E-Mail:
lori@proxemy.com



 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 397 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Fri, Feb 23, 2001 (15:21) * 73 lines 
 
Watch Is on for Doomsday Asteroids, Comets

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - One got the dinosaurs. Another wiped out
the trilobites and just about everything else on Earth. And an asteroid
or comet might get us, too, scientists say.
That is why dozens of centers are searching the sky for moderate-sized
asteroids or comets that might one day collide with the Earth.
It appears that every 100 million years or so, something big enough to
wipe out nearly all life hits the planet, Chris Chyba of Stanford
University in California says.
Such impacts bracketed the dinosaur age, scientists now think. This
week's issue of the journal Science carries a report suggesting that an
asteroid or comet was responsible for the "mother of all extinctions" --
the Permian event 250 million years ago that wiped out 90 percent of
all marine species and 70 percent of animals and plants on land.
It would have been about the size of the asteroid believed to have hit
what is now the Yucatan peninsula in Mexico, sending up clouds of dust
and sparking volcanic activity that wiped out the dinosaurs 65 million
years ago.
The first impact would have ended the Paleozoic age 250 million years
ago, starting the Mesozoic, during which dinosaurs evolved and thrived.
The impact 65 million years ago ended the party for the dinosaurs,
allowing mammals and eventually humans to evolve during the
present age.
"Statistically, there is something like 100 million years between
impacts of 10-kilometer (6-mile-wide) objects and the Earth," Chyba
told a news conference sponsored by the space agency NASA on
Thursday.
That scenario would allow for a theoretical 35-million-year buffer. But of
course asteroids and comets do not operate on schedule. And
something smaller could make quite a mess, too.
SMALLER IMPACT COULD KILL A LOT OF US
"Smaller impacts ... even a kilometer (half a mile) in size could also
cause not mass extinctions but could strongly affect human existence,"
Chyba said.
It could kick up enough dust to cause a "nuclear winter" that would
wipe out crops and might cause tsunamis to swamp coastal areas.
It did not take the recent release of asteroid disaster films to make
scientists aware of this threat.
In 1998 NASA started what is called the Spaceguard Survey, which aims
to find 90 percent of near-Earth objects larger than a kilometer (half a
mile) in diameter by 2008.
Teams of astronomers around the world are surveying the sky with
electronic cameras to find objects, and amateur sky-watchers help in
the effort.
"We think we know all of the 10-kilometer (6-mile-wide) objects,"
Chyba said. "There aren't very many of them that are crisscrossing
Earth's orbit. We don't have to worry about them."
He said researchers are about halfway through a catalog of
one-kilometer (half-mile) objects.
If one is found to be on a collision course with Earth, Chyba and other
experts say there will be plenty of time to think about what to do --
whether to launch a spacecraft to try and deflect it, or make the best of
a bad situation and move people away from coastal areas and
stockpile food.
If one has been missed, NASA says the first warning will be the
explosion when it strikes.
"Statistically, the greatest danger is from a NEO (near-Earth object) with
about 1 million megatons energy," NASA says in its Web site devoted
to the threat at http://impact.arc.nasa.gov/.
This object would be 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) in diameter.
"On average, one of these collides with the Earth once or twice per
million years, producing a global catastrophe that would kill a
substantial (but unknown) fraction of the Earth's human population.
Reduced to personal terms, this means that you have about one
chance in 20,000 of dying as a result of a collision," NASA says.
Of course such impacts give as well as receive. Some scientists believe
that meteors, comets and asteroids smashing into the Earth may have
carried the very seeds of life. Evidence of amino acids and even tiny
bacteria have been found in meteorites.
Just weeks ago a team at the University of California Santa Cruz said
they created an artificial cell wall in space-like conditions and said it
showed living cells could have survived a trip through space.


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 398 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Sat, Feb 24, 2001 (14:26) * 250 lines 
 
===========================================================
SKY & TELESCOPE'S NEWS BULLETIN - FEBRUARY 23, 2001
===========================================================
For images and Web links for these items, visit http://www.skypub.com
===========================================================
Our 12-inch scale model of the red planet depicts more than 100
identified features as well as the major bright and dark regions
visible from Earth. It was produced by Sky & Telescope in
collaboration with NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey. It comes with
a clear pedestal and an information booklet. To order your Sky &
Telescope Mars Globe, 1st Edition, for $74.95, visit Sky Publishing's
online store (http://store.skypub.com/skypub/default.asp?links=39214)
or call 800-253-0245.
===========================================================

NEAR STILL SENDING DATA

Flight controllers at the Applied Physics Laboratory in Maryland
report that NASA's Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous spacecraft continues
to function well on the surface of asteroid 433 Eros. Moreover, it is
still collecting useful scientific data from two instruments. As fate
would have it, the one experiment that stood to lose the most by NEAR
Shoemaker's early retirement, the X-ray and gamma-ray spectrometer,
benefited the most from the craft's newfound role as a lander. The
gamma-ray spectrometer has suffered from poor sensitivity -- it had
failed to detect anything even when the spacecraft was close to Eros.
More time in orbit would have improved the spectrometer's meager
counting statistics, so team leader Jacob I. Trombka (NASA/Goddard
Space Flight Center) was not happy about the decision to attempt a
landing.

Trombka's instrument not only survived the February 12th touchdown,
but in doing so it gets to assess the surface from a closer range than
ever imagined. (The detector may even be immersed in dusty rubble.)
NASA managers had expected to silence NEAR Shoemaker for good on
February 14th, but because of the gamma-ray instrument's fortuitous
survival they granted the mission a two-week extension. "The detector
system is working well," Trombka reports. A set of calibration data,
trickled to Earth at 10 bits per second on February 16th, has paved
the way for relaying abundance measurements for iron, potassium, and
silicon over the next week. "Things are looking very good," he told
Sky & Telescope. "Had I known this was going to happen, I wouldn't
have been upset about landing at all!"

The other operating instrument, the magnetometer, was initially to
remain off. But project scientists changed their minds and sent
commands to activate it late on February 14th. So far the instrument
has found no trace of a magnetic field from its surface outpost, a
finding consistent with earlier measurements from orbit. Of the five
asteroids seen at close range by spacecraft to date, none show any
evidence of either an intrinsic or induced magnetic field.

IMPACT EVIDENCE FOR ANOTHER MASS EXTINCTION

The Earth was teeming with life 250 million years ago. The oceans were
filled with creatures and the land was covered in plants and animals.
But something catastrophic happened shortly after this point. Fossil
records show that 70 percent of all land species and 90 percent of the
marine biota suddenly disappeared. For years, scientists wondered what
could have caused such a mass extinction.

However, a paper published in today's issue of Science appears to hold
the answer. According to a team of scientists led by Luann Becker
(University of Washington), the mass extinction, the largest in
Earth's history, was most likely caused by a huge impact event,
analogous to the comet or asteroid strike that killed off the
dinosaurs 65 million years ago.

The evidence for this earlier cataclysmic event came from samples of
250-million-year-old rock exposures in Japan, China, and Hungary.
Within these outcroppings, the scientists found fullerene molecules,
more commonly known as buckyballs. Fullerenes are complex carbon
molecules shaped like soccer balls. Their cagelike structure can trap
gases. Scientists found helium and argon with isotopic ratios
indicative of an interstellar origin inside the buckyballs sampled
from the sites. "The extreme temperatures and gas pressures in carbon
stars are perhaps the only way extraterrestrial noble gases could be
forced inside a fullerene," says Becker.

Just as with the extinction event that killed the dinosaurs, the
impact itself didn't cause the most damage -- its aftereffects were
the real culprit. Although the exact collision site is unknown, the
comet or asteroid most likely hit an ocean, resulting in a global
change of sea level, oceanic oxygen concentration, and climate.
Additionally, a spike in volcanic activity occurred around this period
and huge lava flows seen in Siberia were likely triggered by the
impact. According to Becker, "To knock out 90 percent of organisms,
you've got to attack on more than one front."

USING MASKS TO SEE CLEARER

Astronomers using the 10-meter Keck I telescope atop Mauna Kea,
Hawaii, were able to improve the telescope's resolution by blocking
most of the starlight it collects. Peter G. Tuthill (University of
Sydney), John D. Monnier (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for
Astrophysics), and William C. Danchi (NASA/Goddard Space Flight
Center) put a mask on Keck's 1.4-m secondary mirror that eliminated 90
percent of incoming light. The light from the unblocked areas were
combined into a single image using a technique called interferometry
to make pictures with four times the resolution of the Hubble Space
Telescope.

The astronomers used an infrared camera to peer at the young star LkHa
101 that is surrounded by a warm envelope of dust. Tuthill and his
colleagues presented images in yesterday's issue of Nature that
resolve the dust cloud into a doughnut-shaped disk, clearly showing a
central clearing. The disk has a crescent shape because we see it
slightly tipped from face-on; the side closer to Earth appears
brighter. Their observations also revealed a companion star some 4
billion kilometers from LkHa 101 (not pictured above).

These results demonstrate the power of optical interferometry.
Astronomers hope to be able to use the technique with widely separated
telescopes, such as the twin Keck reflectors. Tuthill explains, "The
interferometer technology demonstrated by our aperture mask lets us
detect extraordinarily fine detail, and is a first step in projects
that will combine light from an array of telescopes to image planets
around distant stars."

COMET MCNAUGHT-HARTLEY HIGH IN HERCULES

Comet McNaught-Hartley (C/1999 T1) is still moving north, reaching yet
higher in the morning sky for the Northern Hemisphere. The
magnitude-8.5 comet rises around 10:30 p.m. for midnorthern latitudes
and is an easy target for binoculars as it moves through Hercules this
coming week. By the first light of dawn, the comet will be about 70
deg. above the eastern horizon, about a dozen degrees from Vega. Here
are positions for McNaught-Hartley for 0 hours Universal Time in
2000.0 coordinates:

Date R.A. Dec.

Feb 24 17h 24m +36.9 deg.
Feb 26 17 29 +38.6
Feb 28 17 34 +40.3
Mar 2 17 39 +42.0

For details and a finder chart for the month of February, see the
Special Sky Events page at
http://www.skypub.com/sights/skyevents/0102skyevents.html .


THIS WEEK'S "SKY AT A GLANCE"

Some daily events in the changing sky, by the editors of Sky &
Telescope.

FEB. 25 -- SUNDAY

* Look for the crescent Moon shining well to the lower left of Venus
in the western sky early this evening.

* Look northeast during evening for the Big Dipper standing upright
on its bent handle. To identify constellations all around your sky (as
seen from the mid-latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere), use the
printable evening star map and instructions at
http://www.skypub.com/sights/northern/0102skyn.shtml . (If you're in
the Southern Hemisphere's mid-latitudes:
http://www.skypub.com/sights/southern/0102skys.html .)

FEB. 26 -- MONDAY

* The crescent Moon shines left of Venus in the west.

* Saturn's largest moon, Titan, can be found with a small telescope
about four ring-lengths west of Saturn tonight and tomorrow night.

FEB. 27 -- TUESDAY

* This evening the Moon shines between Venus (to its lower right)
and Saturn and Jupiter (farther to the Moon's upper left).

* Jupiter's Great Red Spot should cross Jupiter's central meridian
(the imaginary line down the center of the planet's disk from pole to
pole) around 7:41 p.m. EST. The "red" spot is currently very pale
orange-tan. It should be visible for at least 50 minutes before and
after in a good 4- or 6-inch telescope if the atmospheric seeing is
sharp and steady. For a list of all predicted Red Spot transit times,
see http://www.skypub.com/sights/moonplanets/redspot.html .

FEB. 28 -- WEDNESDAY

* Aldebaran, Jupiter, Saturn, and the Moon form a curving line in
the sky. Far to their lower right in early evening is bright Venus.

* The naked-eye eclipsing variable star Algol should be in one of
its periodic dimmings, magnitude 3.4 instead of its usual 2.1, for a
couple hours centered on 11:30 p.m. EST. Algol takes several
additional hours to fade and to brighten. For a timetable of all its
predicted minima see http://www.skypub.com/sights/variables/algol.html
.

MARCH 1 -- THURSDAY

* The Moon shines amid the group of Jupiter, Saturn, and Aldebaran
tonight!

* Jupiter's Red Spot transits around 9:20 p.m. EST.

MARCH 2 -- FRIDAY

* First-quarter Moon (exact at 9:03 p.m. EST). The Moon is near
Aldebaran; brighter Jupiter and Saturn are to its lower right.

MARCH 3 -- SATURDAY

* Jupiter's moon Io casts its tiny black shadow on Jupiter's face
from 7:10 to 9:21 p.m. EST. Io itself crosses in front of the planet
from 5:51 to 8:02 p.m. EST.

* Algol should be at minimum light for a couple hours centered on
8:20 p.m. EST.


============================
THIS WEEK'S PLANET ROUNDUP
============================

MERCURY is barely above the east-southeast horizon as dawn grows
bright. Try looking for it with binoculars about 40 minutes before
sunrise.

VENUS is the brilliant object (magnitude -4.6) shining in the west
during and after dusk. It's getting lower each week.

MARS (magnitude +0.5, in the head of Scorpius) rises around 1 a.m. and
glows yellow-orange in the south before dawn. To its lower left is
similarly-colored Antares, somewhat fainter.

JUPITER and SATURN (magnitudes -2.3 and -0.2, respectively) shine
brightly in the evening high in the southwest to west. Jupiter is the
brightest; yellowish Saturn is 8 degrees to Jupiter's lower right. To
Jupiter's right are the Pleiades, and farther to Jupiter's left or
upper left sparkles orange Aldebaran.

URANUS and NEPTUNE are hidden in the glare of the Sun.

PLUTO (magnitude 14; invisible without a large telescope) is in
Ophiuchus in the south before dawn.

(All descriptions that relate to the horizon or zenith -- including
the words up, down, right, and left -- are written for the world's
midnorthern latitudes. Descriptions that also depend on longitude are
for North America. Eastern Standard Time, EST, equals Universal Time
[GMT] minus 5 hours.)

More celestial events, sky maps, and news of the world's astronomy
research appear each month in SKY & TELESCOPE, the essential magazine
of astronomy. See our enormous Web site and astronomy bookstore at
http://www.skypub.com/ . Clear skies!


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 399 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Mon, Feb 26, 2001 (20:10) * 42 lines 
 
Scientists See Evidence of Life on Mars Meteorite
Reuters
Feb 26 2001 8:18PM
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Scientists have found compelling new evidence of possible
ancient microscopic life on Mars, derived from magnetic crystals in a meteorite that fell
to Earth from the red planet, NASA announced on Monday.
An international team of researchers working with a Martian meteorite found in
Antarctica discovered magnetite crystals arranged in long chains within the potato-sized
space rock. Those chains could only have been formed by once-living organisms, the
U.S. space agency said in a statement.
"The chains we discovered are of biological origin," Imre Friedmann of NASA's Ames
Research Center in California said in the statement. "Such a chain of magnets outside
an organism would immediately collapse into a clump due to magnetic forces."
Each magnetite crystal in the chain is a microscopic magnet, and they are strung
together like pearls in a necklace, according to the researchers. Magnetite is an iron
oxide, something like iron rust.
The meteorite under study, known to scientists as ALH84001, was discovered in the
Antarctic in 1984 but caused a furor in 1996 when NASA researchers first raised the
possibility that the rock might contain evidence of ancient microbial life.
Since then, the rock's significance has been disputed by astrobiologists around the
world. The current findings, reported in Tuesday's editions of the Proceedings of the
National Academy of Sciences, appear certain to feed the controversy.
Friedmann's research team said the magnetite crystals formed inside organic material
whose structure held the crystals together. The crystal chains may have acted as
compasses for the bacteria that held them -- such bacteria are called magnetotactic
bacteria because they navigate by the magnetic crystal chains they contain.
The bacteria decayed but the crystals remained, the researchers reported. Most likely,
the crystals were flushed into tiny cracks in the Martian rock when an asteroid slammed
into the planet some 3.9 billion years ago; a later impact ejected the rock -- making it a
meteorite -- and sent it toward Earth, the researchers said.
Another NASA research team, led by Kathie Thomas-Keprta at Johnson Space Center
in Houston, reported in the same publication that the magnetite crystals in the Martian
meteorite are similar to those formed by magnetotactic bacteria living on Earth.
The long chains of crystals indicate a large number of bacteria were present on the
Martian meteorite, the researcher said, which suggests that such bacteria were
widespread on Mars.
Because magnetotactic bacteria require low levels of oxygen, it could mean that
photosynthetic organisms, the source of oxygen in the atmosphere, might have been
present on Mars 3.9 billion years ago, the researchers said.
Images of the Martian crystal chains and their possible earthly counterparts can be
seen online at
http:/amesnews.arc.nasa.gov/releases/2001/01images/magneticbacteria/bacteria.html


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 400 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Tue, Feb 27, 2001 (13:59) * 51 lines 
 
The above url should read
http://amesnews.arc.nasa.gov/releases/2001/01images/magneticbacteria/bacteria.html



Space Group Plans Solar Sailing Voyage
Reuters
Feb 26 2001 6:11PM
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - In what sounds like a purely fantastic voyage, a
private U.S. group that boosts planetary exploration said on Monday it
plans to use the power of light to sail a giant windmill-shaped contraption
through space.
The Planetary Society, founded by the late astronomer Carl Sagan and
others, said the vehicle features reflective surfaces that will be propelled
when particles of light called photons hit it.
The fanciful craft, with its 30-yard sails, is to be launched on a converted
Russian intercontinental ballistic missile from a submarine in the
Barents Sea later this year. The total cost of the mission is about $4
million.
This so-called solar sail technology has been theorized as a means for
space travel for decades but never put into practice, according to Louis
Friedman, one of the society's co-founders and its current chief.
Friedman, who worked with the National Aeronautics and Space
Administration on solar sail technology in the 1970s, said it might make
interstellar flight possible much sooner than most scientists now
estimate.
"Interstellar flight is an idea to us the way airplane flight was to
(Leonardo) Da Vinci: Hundreds of years into the future with no real way of
knowing how to do it," Friedman said in a telephone interview from his
Pasadena, Calif., office.
"With (solar) sailing it may not be that far in the future," he said; rather
than hundreds of years, such flights might be possible with this
technology in 100 years.
The mission, called Cosmos 1, would begin with a sub-orbital test
deployment of the solar sail in April and an orbital flight of several days,
weeks or months toward the end of the year.

The craft would be visible to the naked eye from some places on Earth,
but only as a bright dot in the sky.
The project is being funded by Cosmos Studios, a science entertainment
venture run in part by Sagan's widow and longtime collaborator, Ann
Druyan.
The mission does not aim to travel between the stars or even between
the planets, but merely to show that the technology exists that could make
this possible in the future, Friedman said.
Solar sailing is powerful enough to push spacecraft between the planets
from Mercury out to Jupiter, the society said in its announcement. Beyond
Jupiter, space sailing could be done using powerful lasers focused over
long distances in space.
More information about the mission can be seen online at
http://www.planetary.org.


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 401 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Sat, Mar  3, 2001 (20:29) * 350 lines 
 
SKY & TELESCOPE'S NEWS BULLETIN - MARCH 2, 2001
===========================================================
For images and Web links for these items, visit http://www.skypub.com
===========================================================
Our 12-inch scale model of the red planet depicts more than 100
identified features as well as the major bright and dark regions
visible from Earth. It was produced by Sky & Telescope in
collaboration with NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey. It comes with
a clear pedestal and an information booklet. To order your Sky &
Telescope Mars Globe, 1st Edition, for $74.95, visit Sky Publishing's
online store http://store.skypub.com/skypub/default.asp?links=39214
or call 800-253-0245.
===========================================================

NEAR MISSION ENDS, SCIENTISTS UPBEAT

After spending two weeks on the surface of asteroid 433 Eros, the NEAR
Shoemaker spacecraft sent a final burst of data to Earth late on
February 28th before falling silent. "This mission has been very
successful far beyond what was in the original mission plan," comments
mission director Robert Farquhar. "When you talk about 'faster,
cheaper, better,' this is what 'better' means." During its year in
orbit around Eros, the spacecraft relayed 10 times more data to Earth
than expected, including some 160,000 images of the 33-kilometer-long
asteroid.

The unexpected windfall of surface data, collected in overtime by its
gamma-ray spectrometer, far exceed that obtained during an entire year
of orbiting the asteroid. Team leader Jacob Trombka (NASA/Goddard
Space Flight Center) says the week-long study should eventually yield
abundances for iron, silicon, oxygen, and potassium in surface
materials to a depth of about 10 centimeters. These data are crucial
because measurements from the companion X-ray spectrometer sample only
the topmost 0.1 millimeter of the surface. "The iron-to-silicon ratio
is critical for classifying the surface material," Trombka says, and
the value for potassium (a volatile element easily lost to space
during heating) will indicate whether Eros was ever partially molten.

Analysis of the gamma-ray data will take at least several weeks,
Trombka cautions. A similar instrument flown aboard Apollos 15 and 16
yielded important compositional findings about the Moon -- but those
data required 6 to 8 months to calibrate and analyze. In the mean
time, Trombka adds, "We can make some very good guesses" based on
what's already known about Eros's composition.

Although NASA will no longer track NEAR Shoemaker, Farquhar hints that
we may not have heard the last from this spacecraft. In August 2002
its solar-cell panels will once again be in full sunlight, potentially
an opportune time to attempt to awaken the spacecraft from its long,
cold hibernation.

"PIONEER 10, PHONE HOME!"

This week NASA's Deep Space Network will begin a concerted effort to
reestablish contact with Pioneer 10, which has not been heard from for
seven months. Right now the spacecraft is 77.2 astronomical units from
the Sun and 11.5 billion kilometers from Earth. According to Lawrence
Lasher, Pioneer manager at NASA's Ames Research Center, ground
controllers attempted to adjust the orientation of Pioneer 10 on
August 6th, but they never got confirmation that the spacecraft either
received or executed the command.

The probe's long silence could be the result of a transmitter failure,
a pointing error, or low voltage from its plutonium-powered electrical
generators. Lasher suspects that the craft is simply pointing at the
wrong spot in Earth's orbit, and he remains optimistic that it will be
heard from again. Tracking stations will periodically listen for the
craft's 8-watt signal beginning on March 7th, and two-way
communication attempts will be made on April 27th, May 5th, and May
19th. Because of Pioneer 10's great distance, the round-trip travel
time for radio signals is 21.3 hours. Only one of the 15 experiments
aboard is still operating: a Geiger-tube telescope that detects
energetic electrons and protons in interplanetary space.

MAGNETIC CHAINS HINT AT MARTIAN BIOLOGY

Do microscopic strings of perfectly formed magnetic crystals mean that
bacterial life once existed on the planet Mars? One international
group of researchers certainly thinks so. Imre Friedman (NASA/Ames
Research Center) and his team have found chains of submicron-size
magnetite grains in the celebrated Martian meteorite ALH 84001. These
mimic the strings of crystals created by terrestrial magnetotactic
bacteria, which use them to orient themselves with Earth's magnetic
field. No known inorganic process can create magnetite crystals that
look as these do. "The chains we discovered are of biological origin,"
Friedman insists. "Such a chain of magnets outside an organism would
immediately clump due to magnetic forces." The team reported its work
in the February 27th Publications of the National Academy of Sciences.

Tiny crystals of magnetite were first recognized inside ALH 84001 in
1996 and provide perhaps the best line of evidence that microbes once
permeated this 4-billion-year-old sample of Mars. Friedman and his
colleagues confirmed that the magnetite had other previously
recognized characteristics (including their size, width-to-length
ratio, chemical purity, and crystallographic perfection), all of which
point toward a biological origin. Interestingly, the team notes, "It
is very unlikely that magnetotactic bacteria were ever alive in ALH
84001," because the very presence of magnetite means they would have
been in continual motion -- something not possible in the rock's
minuscule internal cracks. Instead, dead bacteria may have been
transported into the crevices by fluid.

However, discovery of the magnetite chains has done little to sway
other scientists who are already suspicious of the biological
ballyhoo. "They haven't spent nearly enough effort to negate their own
hypothesis," counters meteorite specialist Ralph Harvey (Case Western
Reserve University). "Magnetites are found on Earth with every
conceivable morphology." Harvey's skepticism is shared by Jack Farmer,
who coordinates the astrobiology program at Arizona State University.
"No one would rather find life on Mars than me," Farmer says, "but
finding magnetite grains in a row is not compelling."

WAIT, IT'S ONE OF OURS!

Future historians looking back at the search for Earth-threatening
asteroids will find a footnote for events that unfolded last week. It
began on the evening of February 18th when a fast-moving object was
spotted in western Cancer by the Arizona-based Spacewatch team -- the
patriarch of contemporary searches, which has been looking for
near-Earth objects (NEOs) with a 36-inch telescope since the 1980s.
During the next two days amateur and professional observers at more
than a dozen locations around the world tracked the 16th-magnitude
object as it raced eastward crossing a Moon's diameter of sky every 90
minutes. What emerged from the data was a tiny object moving in what
appeared to be a strikingly Earthlike orbit around the Sun.
Calculations suggested that it had passed very near the Moon last
August and would come within 360,000 miles (580,000 kilometers) of
Earth on February 23rd. The Minor Planet Center (MPC) in Cambridge,
Massachusetts, assigned it the preliminary asteroid designation 2001
DO47.

While certainly an interesting object, 2001 DO47 posed no threat. Even
if it were headed toward Earth, its estimated diameter of only 10
meters would have made it too small to survive a passage through our
atmosphere. Furthermore, from the outset there were suspicions by the
MPC staff that 2001 DO47 might be artificial and thus more reflective
than a typical asteroid making it smaller yet. "We would have liked to
check out the artificial possibility before announcing the object,"
notes MPC associate director, Gareth Williams, "but our resident
expert, [Sky & Telescope contributing editor] Jonathan McDowell, was
observing in Arizona and initially out of reach."

The story took another twist when observations of the object made on
February 23rd by John Rogers in California and the undersigned in
Massachusetts -- both members of the worldwide network of amateurs who
measure positions of asteroids and comets -- were internally
consistent but significantly out of step with the earlier sightings.
"2001 DO47 has switched on its engine," is how Williams described the
situation to MPC director Brian Marsden, who concurred with Williams
that the object must be artificial. By February 25th they heard from
McDowell, who identified the mystery spacecraft as Wind, a NASA probe,
and confirmed that an engine burn had indeed been scheduled for
February 23rd.

Launched on a mission to study the solar wind and Earth's outer
magnetosphere in late 1994, Wind spends most of its time far from
Earth, but it also makes occasional swings by the Earth and the Moon
during orbital maneuvers. The spacecraft is 2.4 meters (7.9 feet) in
diameter and 1.8 meters (5.9 feet) high.

Marsden told Sky & Telescope that, inspired by the 2001 DO47 incident,
the MPC has now added the orbital information of about a dozen
spacecraft to its computers, which should help identify these objects
when they turn up in the data from NEO surveys.

COMET HYPE: BELIEVE IT OR NOT
A faint comet is discovered many months before its closest approach to
the Sun. Orbital calculations show that the "dirty snowball" might
reach naked-eye brightness many months in the future. The inevitable
result: some astronomers who should know better tell some reporters
who don't that a Really Big Show is in the offing. Another cycle of
hype and disappointment begins.
This time the comet in question is C/2000 WM1, better known as Comet
LINEAR, for the Lincoln Laboratory Near-Earth Asteroid Research
program, which first swept it up last November 16th. (If the name
sounds familiar, it should. The LINEAR project is finding comets and
asteroids at a dizzying pace, and last July an earlier Comet LINEAR
brightened into a nice binocular sight.) At present this new Comet
LINEAR glows only feebly, some 20,000 times fainter than the dimmest
stars visible without optical aid. According to the orbital track
computed by the International Astronomical Union's Central Bureau for
Astronomical Telegrams, by year's end the comet might indeed attain
naked-eye visibility.
But it's a little early to start calling this the Christmas Comet of
2001. When LINEAR is at its best, it will be too close to the Sun to
see well in a dark sky and too far south to be accessible from the
Northern Hemisphere. Nevertheless, it could be a decent binocular
target in the evening sky for midnorthern observers in late November,
and an even better sight for southern skygazers a few weeks later. Or
maybe not. As Sky & Telescope contributing editor David Levy likes to
say, comets are like cats -- they have tails and do what they want. It
is notoriously difficult to predict a comet's performance months in
advance while it's still a dim wisp in the distant reaches of the
solar system.
So, if someone asks you whether we'll have a bright comet for
Christmas, answer with the truth: "At this point, who knows?"

NOVA IN SAGITTARIUS
The American Association of Variable Star Observers (AAVSO) announced
in a Sky & Telescope AstroAlert bulletin February 26th that William
Liller has discovered a 7.7-magnitude nova in Sagittarius. Liller,
based in Vina del Mar, Chile, spotted the "new star" in photographs
taken the night of February 24th. His pictures of the same area from
February 14th show no object brighter than magnitude 11. Measurements
of CCD frames locate the nova at right ascension 17h 54m 40.46s,
declination -26d 14' 15.2" (2000.0 coordinates).

Subsequent observations appear to indicate that the star has already
fallen to magnitude 8 or greater. With the waxing crescent Moon
confined to the evening sky, early risers can find Nova Sagittarii
2001 3 deg. southwest of M8, the Lagoon Nebula. For observers at
midnorthern latitudes the star will lie three binocular fields above
the south-southeast horizon as the first vestiges of twilight appear
at about 5:30 a.m. local time, but those south of the equator will
have the best views.

For a finder chart, see
http://www.skypub.com/news/news.shtml#novasag01 .

MOON DISCOVERED AROUND ASTEROID SYLVIA
On February 18th, Michael Brown and Jean-Luc Margot (Caltech) went on
an asteroid hunt. While observing with the 10-meter Keck II telescope
atop Hawaii's Mauna Kea, Brown and Margot took a look at the
130-kilometer-wide asteroid 87 Sylvia. The minor planet, discovered in
1866, is one of the largest asteroids in the solar system.

Using Keck's adaptive-optics system, the two astronomers resolved a
small moon orbiting Sylvia. They report that separation between the
two bodies appears to be approximately 1,200 km, and based on initial
observations, the companion is only 7 km wide.
The discovery is very encouraging for Brown and Margot. "Based on
small-number statistics -- finding one in one night -- there might be
a lot more out there," says Brown. "Suffice to say we're not done
[looking]."

COMET MCNAUGHT-HARTLEY HIGH IN HERCULES
Comet McNaught-Hartley (C/1999 T1) has faded to nearly 9th magnitude,
but it remains well placed for Northern Hemisphere observers. Comet
rises around 10 p.m. local time for midnorthern latitudes and is an
easy target for binoculars as it moves through northern Hercules this
coming week. By the first light of dawn, the comet will be 65 to 70
deg. above the northeastern horizon. Here are positions for
McNaught-Hartley for 0 hours Universal Time in 2000.0 coordinates:

Date R.A. Dec.

Mar 3 17h 42m +42.8 deg.
Mar 5 17 46 +44.4
Mar 7 17 51 +45.9
Mar 9 17 56 +47.4

THIS WEEK'S "SKY AT A GLANCE"
Some daily events in the changing sky, by the editors of Sky &
Telescope.

MARCH 4 -- SUNDAY
* Mars stands 5 degrees due north of Antares this morning.

MARCH 5 -- MONDAY
* The faint asteroid 238 Hypatia should occult (cover) a
9.5-magnitude star in western Virgo late tonight for telescope users
along a narrow track from Florida to Alberta. The occultation could
last for up to 11 seconds around 7:07 Universal Time March 6th in
Florida, 7:11 UT in Alberta. For details see the February Sky &
Telescope, page 116. A finder chart is in the March issue, page 105,
and at http://www.skypub.com/sights/skyevents/0103skyevents.shtml .
For late updates check the IOTA Web site,
http://www.lunar-occultations.com/iota/iotandx.htm .

MARCH 6 -- TUESDAY
* Saturn's largest moon, Titan, is about four ring-lengths east of
the planet this evening and tomorrow evening. A small telescope will
show it. Can you see any sign of Titan's orange color, and other
Saturnian moons closer in?
* Jupiter's Great Red Spot should cross Jupiter's central meridian
(the imaginary line down the center of the planet's disk from pole to
pole) around 8:30 p.m. EST. The "red" spot is very pale orange-tan. It
should be visible for at least 50 minutes before and after in a good
4- or 6-inch telescope if the atmospheric seeing is sharp and steady.
For a list of all predicted Red Spot transit times, see
http://www.skypub.com/sights/moonplanets/redspot.html .

MARCH 7 -- WEDNESDAY
* The faint asteroid 57 Mnemosyne should occult a 10th-magnitude
star in the Rosette Nebula in Monoceros for telescope users along a
narrow track from California to Saskatchewan. The occultation could
last for up to 12 seconds around 3:42 Universal Time March 8th. For
details see the February Sky & Telescope, page 116. A finder chart is
in the March issue, page 105, and at
http://www.skypub.com/sights/skyevents/0103skyevents.shtml . For late
updates check the IOTA Web site,
http://www.lunar-occultations.com/iota/iotandx.htm .

MARCH 8 -- THURSDAY
* Jupiter's Red Spot transits around 10:09 p.m. EST.

MARCH 9 -- FRIDAY
* Full Moon (exact at 12:33 p.m. Eastern Standard Time).
* Jupiter's moon Ganymede gradually disappears into eclipse by
Jupiter's shadow around 7:40 p.m. EST, a little east of the planet.
Ten minutes later Europa begins to cross Jupiter's face. Ganymede
reappears from eclipse around 9:59 p.m. EST, swelling into view
farther to Jupiter's east. A small telescope will show all these
doings. East Coast observers have the best view.

MARCH 10 -- SATURDAY
* R Leonis, one of the brightest and most famous red long-period
variable stars (and the star that launched Leslie Peltier on his
lifelong variable-star career), should be at maximum light (about
magnitude 5.8) around now.

============================
THIS WEEK'S PLANET ROUNDUP
============================
MERCURY is barely above the east-southeast horizon as dawn grows
bright. Try looking for it with binoculars about 40 minutes before
sunrise.

VENUS is the brilliant object (magnitude -4.6) shining in the west
during and after dusk. It's dropping lower each week. A small
telescope or even good, steadily mounted binoculars will show it as a
thinning crescent.

MARS (magnitude +0.4) rises around 1 a.m. and glows yellow-orange in
the south before dawn. Below it is similarly-colored Antares, somewhat
fainter. To their right are the stars of the head of Scorpius. In a
telescope, Mars is 8 arcseconds wide and growing. It will reach 21
arcseconds when nearest Earth in June.

JUPITER and SATURN (magnitudes -2.3 and -0.2, respectively) shine
brightly in the evening high in the west, far to the upper left of
Venus. Jupiter is the brightest; yellowish Saturn is 8 degrees to
Jupiter's lower right. Jupiter appears nearly midway between Aldebaran
to its left and the Pleiades to its right.

URANUS and NEPTUNE are hidden in the glare of sunrise.

PLUTO (magnitude 14; invisible without a large telescope) is in
Ophiuchus in the south before dawn.

(All descriptions that relate to the horizon or zenith -- including
the words up, down, right, and left -- are written for the world's
midnorthern latitudes. Descriptions that also depend on longitude are
for North America. Eastern Standard Time, EST, equals Universal Time
[GMT] minus 5 hours.)

More celestial events, sky maps, and news of the world's astronomy
research appear each month in SKY & TELESCOPE, the essential magazine
of astronomy. See our enormous Web site and astronomy bookstore at
http://www.skypub.com/ . Clear skies!


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 402 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Mon, Mar  5, 2001 (14:16) * 36 lines 
 
Friday March 02 04:15 PM EST
Pluto Mission Saved; NASA OKs Continued Pursuit of Mission Proposals
By Leonard David
Senior Space Writer, SPACE.com

WASHINGTON -- NASA is caught between politics and Pluto.
The decision to kill NASA's Pluto-Kuiper Belt mission earlier this week has been reversed. The space agency is reactivating
a call for proposals to keep alive the option of a spacecraft streaking to Pluto before 2020.
Late last year, NASA set in motion a competition to rekindle the prospect of dispatching a spacecraft to distant Pluto.
Guidelines for the competition were spelled out in an "announcement of opportunity" -- termed an AO -- released by NASA on Jan. 19
Numerous contractor teams had been feverishly working on cheaper, better, faster Pluto mission proposals that were due March 21, 2001.
But on Wednesday, after release of NASA's budget by the White House Office of Management and Budget, the space
agency's chief space scientist, Edward Weiler, said the AO had been killed. Scarce monies in the space science budget
were to be spent on in-space propulsion technology and a beefing up of robotic Mars exploration, he said.

Today, it's a different story.
"NASA has been requested to allow the AO proposals to be submitted," Colleen Hartman, NASA's Outer Planets
Program director told SPACE.com.
"If the Congress appropriates funds for the Pluto-Kuiper Belt mission, we [at] NASA will proceed with funding of a winning
proposal, if there are any. But all those proposing should be aware that the [Bush] administration does not support this
course of action," Hartman said.
SPACE.com sources said that Senate Appropriations Committee staff notified NASA that both majority and minority
appropriations members would object to the termination of the AO, as announced by Weiler. Final disposition of whether
or not to fund the mission will be made in the 2002 budget process. NASA now will comply with this directive from
Congress.
Documents highlighting the president's projected $14.5 billion budget for NASA in fiscal year 2001, stated that the Pluto, as
well as Solar Probe missions "will not be funded." Both programs had a "very large" escalation in cost, leading to their
cancellation, the document said.
"To support a potential future sprint to the planet Pluto before 2020, additional funds will be directed to key propulsion
technology investments," the OMB document states.
Edward Weiler, NASA associate administrator for space science, told SPACE.com on Wednesday that the Pluto-Kuiper
Belt mission was being axed.
"It is NASA's and the administration's intent to cancel the Pluto announcement of opportunity. Before we take that action,
we are notifying the Congress of that intended action," Weiler stated at the time.

http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/space/20010302/sc/pluto_mission_saved_nasa_oks_continued_pursuit_of_mission_proposals_1.html


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 403 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Wed, Mar  7, 2001 (20:51) * 6 lines 
 
Here are some links to sites that have information and schedules on comets.

http://encke.jpl.nasa.gov/

http://www.skypub.com/sights/comets/comets.shtml



 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 404 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Sat, Mar 10, 2001 (21:50) * 249 lines 
 
===========================================================
SKY & TELESCOPE'S NEWS BULLETIN - MARCH 9, 2001
===========================================================
For images and Web links for these items, visit http://www.skypub.com
===========================================================
Our 12-inch scale model of the red planet depicts more than 100
identified features as well as the major bright and dark regions
visible from Earth. It was produced by Sky & Telescope in
collaboration with NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey. It comes with
a clear pedestal and an information booklet. To order your Sky &
Telescope Mars Globe, 1st Edition, for $74.95, visit Sky Publishing's
online store http://store.skypub.com/skypub/default.asp?links=39214
or call 800-253-0245.
===========================================================

COSMIC SHORTFALL OF MATTER CONFIRMED
According to results published in yesterday's issue of the journal
Nature, only about 35 percent of the mass of the universe (+/-10
percent) is made of matter, either bright or dark. The rest, most
likely, is some kind of dark energy driving the expansion of the
cosmos.

This result comes from the Two-Degree Field (2dF) Galaxy Redshift
Survey being conducted with the 4-meter Anglo-Australian Telescope in
eastern Australia. (The survey is named for the spectrometers being
used, which cover a 2 deg. field of the sky at once.) Based on the
redshifts of 141,000 of the galaxies, the team of astronomers, led by
John Peacock (University of Edinburgh), used two strategies to obtain
their mass measurement. For the first, they analyzed the attraction of
galaxies toward very large clusters, as revealed by individual
galaxies' motions. For the second, they compared the amount of galaxy
clustering to the small temperature variations seen in the cosmic
microwave background radiation. Since these variations reflect density
fluctuations in the early universe, comparing them to the amount of
galaxy clustering observed today reveals the strength of gravity that
was required to pull the clusters together -- and hence their mass.

This finding closely matches the result the 2dF team announced last
summer based on only 106,000 galaxies. At that time they announced
that matter totals 40 +/- 10 percent of all the matter and energy in
the universe. Many other studies have come to a similar conclusion.
The 2dF Survey should be completed by the end of this year, once
250,000 redshifts have been measured.

COMET HALE-BOPP STILL ALIVE
Now nearly 2 billion kilometers (13 astronomical units) from the Sun,
midway between the orbits of Saturn and Uranus, Comet Hale-Bopp
(C/1995 O1) continues to surprise astronomers with its longevity.
Glowing at magnitude 14.5 in the far-southern constellation Dorado,
the comet has remained unusually active. An image of the comet
released on Tuesday shows the comet shedding gas and dust to form a
prominent, curved jet and an enormous, fan-shaped coma, estimated to
be about 2 million km across. The view is a composite of 14 exposures
obtained in red, yellow, and blue light with the European Southern
Observatory's 2.2-meter telescope in La Silla, Chile, from February
27th to March 2nd. Hale-Bopp is currently moving away from us at 1
million km a day. Astronomers plan to continue monitoring it as long
as possible, perhaps for the next several decades.

GANYMEDE'S HIDDEN OCEAN
Larger than Mercury, the Jovian moon Ganymede has numerous planetlike
attributes, such as an internal magnetic field and a geologically
active surface. Now it appears that the big moon (5,270 kilometers
across) may be hiding a deep, global ocean beneath its ice-dominated
crust. By combining Galileo and Voyager images to yield stereo views,
a team of researchers has found low-lying regions on Ganymede that
appear to have been flooded with water or slush roughly one billion
years ago.

Typically 100 to 1,000 meters lower than their surroundings, the
smooth areas occur in swaths of bright terrain that have been heavily
fractured, note Paul M. Schenk (Lunar and Planetary Institute) and
three colleagues in the March 1st issue of Nature. According to their
relatively simple model, a wide stripe of bright terrain forms as a
trough and is subsequently flooded by a watery fluid that soon
freezes. "They're really like rift valleys on Earth," notes team
member William B. McKinnon (Washington University). Not all low areas
are flooded, however, and other evidence of icy volcanism -- such as
source vents and flow lobes -- has not been found.

Even so, other evidence suggests that a subsurface ocean persists to
this day. When Galileo swept 800 km from the equatorial region of
Ganymede last May 20th, it detected subtleties in the surrounding
magnetic field that cannot be explained by the dynamo churning in the
moon's core. A bit of Ganymede's magnetic signature wafts back and
forth in concert with the much stronger field of Jupiter. According to
Margaret V. Kivelson (UCLA), team leader for the magnetometer
experiment, these fluctuations are best explained by a weak magnetic
field induced in a salty, conducting layer of water some 170 km below
the surface. That depth corresponds precisely to where pressures are
calculated to be great enough to force ice to melt. "It does look like
more than an accident," Kivelson notes.

COMET MCNAUGHT-HARTLEY HIGH IN HERCULES
Comet McNaught-Hartley (C/1999 T1) has faded to about 9th magnitude as
it moves ever northward from Hercules into Draco this coming week. The
comet is now circumpolar for much of the Northern Hemisphere and will
be several degrees above the north-northeast horizon in the early
evening for midnorthern latitudes. Before the first light of dawn, the
comet will be high in the sky, 3/4 of the way to the zenith. Here are
positions for McNaught-Hartley for 0 hours Universal Time in 2000.0
coordinates:
Date R.A. Dec.
Mar 10 17h 58m +48.1 deg.
Mar 12 18 02 +49.5
Mar 14 18 07 +50.9
Mar 16 18 11 +52.2

THIS WEEK'S "SKY AT A GLANCE"
Some daily events in the changing sky, by the editors of Sky &
Telescope.

MARCH 11 -- SUNDAY
* Jupiter's Great Red Spot should cross Jupiter's central meridian
(the imaginary line down the center of the planet's disk from pole to
pole) around 7:40 p.m. EST. The "red" spot is very pale orange-tan. It
should be visible for at least 50 minutes before and after in a good
4- or 6-inch telescope if the atmospheric seeing is sharp and steady.
For a list of all predicted Red Spot transit times, see
http://www.skypub.com/sights/moonplanets/redspot.html .
* The waning gibbous Moon rises into good view in the east by 10:30
or 11 p.m. The star to its right is Spica. The brighter star about
three times farther to the Moon's left or upper left is Arcturus.
* Mercury is at greatest elongation on this date, 27 degrees west of
the Sun very low in the east-southeast before sunrise.

MARCH 12 -- MONDAY
* The next two weeks of moonless nightfalls are a fine time for
observing the zodiacal light. Northern Hemisphere observers blessed
with light-pollution-free skies can see it as a huge, tall, narrow
pyramid of pearly light extending from the western horizon high up
along the ecliptic just after twilight ends. The zodiacal light is
sunlight reflected from meteoric dust in the plane of the inner solar
system.

MARCH 13 -- TUESDAY
* Some doorstep astronomy: Shortly after dark, look in the northeast
for the Big Dipper; it's standing on its bent handle. Look northwest
for the somewhat smaller zigzag constellation Cassiopeia, a W-shape
standing on one end. Midway between them is Polaris, the North Star
(not very bright at 2nd magnitude). To identify constellations all
around your sky (as seen from the mid-latitudes of the Northern
Hemisphere), use the printable evening star map and instructions at
http://www.skypub.com/sights/northern/0103skyn.shtml . (If you're in
the Southern Hemisphere's mid-latitudes:
http://www.skypub.com/sights/southern/0103skys.html .)
* Jupiter's Red Spot transits around 9:19 p.m. EST.

MARCH 14 -- WEDNESDAY
* For telescopic observers, Jupiter's moons Io and Europa appear
only 6 arcseconds apart at 7:43 p.m. EST -- a "double star" just west
of Jupiter.
* During the early hours of Thursday morning, the Moon, Mars, and
Antares (in that order of brightness) form a fairly compact triangle.
They rise into view low in the southeast by about 1:30 a.m. and shine
higher in the south by the first light of dawn.

MARCH 15 -- THURSDAY
* The Moon, Mars, and Antares form a curving line in the pre-dawn
sky Friday morning.

MARCH 16 -- FRIDAY
* Last-quarter Moon (exact at 3:45 p.m. EST).

MARCH 17 -- SATURDAY
* Look southwest after dark for the constellation Orion. His figure
is starting to tip to the right, and the three-star row of Orion's
Belt in his middle is now nearly horizontal -- sure signs of the onset
of spring! Far to Orion's right are bright Jupiter and Saturn. Far to
his left or lower left is bright white Sirius.

============================
THIS WEEK'S PLANET ROUNDUP
============================
MERCURY is barely above the east-southeast horizon as dawn grows
bright. Try looking for it with binoculars about 30 minutes before
sunrise.

VENUS is the brilliant object (magnitude -4.4) shining low in the west
during dusk. It's dropping lower each day. A small telescope or even
good, steadily mounted binoculars will show it to be a thinning
crescent.

MARS (magnitude +0.2) rises around 12:30 a.m. and glows yellow-orange
in the south before and during dawn. To its lower right is
similarly-colored Antares, less bright. In a telescope, Mars appears 9
arcseconds wide and growing; it will reach 21 arcseconds when nearest
to Earth in June. (Telescopic observers can download Mars Previewer [3
megs], which displays the central-meridian longitude, other data, and
a customized map of Mars's apparent disk for any date and time; see
the bottom of the page
http://www.skypub.com/resources/software/basic/basic.html .)

JUPITER and SATURN (magnitudes -2.3 and -0.2, respectively) shine
brightly in the evening sky high in the west (far to the upper left of
Venus). Jupiter is the brightest; yellowish Saturn is 9 degrees to
Jupiter's lower right. Jupiter appears nearly midway between orange
Aldebaran to its left and the Pleiades to its right.

URANUS and NEPTUNE are hidden in the glare of sunrise.

PLUTO (magnitude 14; invisible without a large telescope) is in
Ophiuchus in the south before dawn.

(All descriptions that relate to the horizon or zenith -- including
the words up, down, right, and left -- are written for the world's
midnorthern latitudes. Descriptions that also depend on longitude are
for North America. Eastern Standard Time, EST, equals Universal Time
[GMT] minus 5 hours.)

More celestial events, sky maps, observing projects, and news of the
world's astronomy research appear each month in SKY & TELESCOPE, the
essential magazine of astronomy. See our enormous Web site and
astronomy bookstore at http://www.skypub.com/ . Clear skies!

SKY & TELESCOPE, 49 Bay State Rd., Cambridge, MA 02138 *
617-864-7360

===========================================================
Copyright 2001 Sky Publishing Corporation. S&T's Weekly News Bulletin
and Sky at a Glance stargazing calendar are provided as a service to
the astronomical community by the editors of SKY & TELESCOPE magazine.
Widespread electronic distribution is encouraged as long as these
paragraphs are included. But the text of the bulletin and calendar may
not be published in any other form without permission from Sky
Publishing (contact permissions@skypub.com or phone 617-864-7360).
Updates of astronomical news, including active links to related
Internet resources, are available via SKY & TELESCOPE's site on the
World Wide Web at http://www.skypub.com/.

In cooperation with the American Association of Amateur
Astronomers (http://www.corvus.com/), S&T's Weekly News Bulletin and
Sky at a Glance are available via electronic mailing list. For a free
subscription, send e-mail to join@astromax.com and put the word "join"
on the first line of the body of the message. To unsubscribe, send
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---------------------------------------------------------------------
SKY & TELESCOPE, the Essential Magazine of Astronomy, is read by more
than 200,000 enthusiasts each month. It is available on newsstands
worldwide. For subscription information, or for a free copy of our
catalog of fine astronomy books and products, please contact Sky
Publishing Corp., 49 Bay State Rd., Cambridge, MA 02138-1200, U.S.A.
Phone: 800-253-0245 (U.S. and Canada); 617-864-7360 (International).
Fax: 617-864-6117. E-mail: custserv@skypub.com. WWW:
http://www.skypub.com/. Clear skies!
===================================================


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 405 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Tue, Mar 13, 2001 (14:33) * 35 lines 
 
NEWSALERT: Tuesday, March 13, 2001 @ 1811 GMT
---------------------------------------------------------------------
The latest news from Astronomy Now and Spaceflight Now

SPACEWALK CLEARS WAY FOR STATION ARM ATTACHMENT
-----------------------------------------------
Shuttle astronauts Andy Thomas and Paul Richards made a 6.5-hour spacewalk today that successfully continued outfitting the exterior of the international space station's Destiny module and fixed a solar array wing brace.
http://spaceflightnow.com/station/stage5a1/010313fd6/

STS-102 MISSION THEATER
-----------------------
We are providing the internet's most comprehensive video coverage of Discovery's mission to the International Space Station, including multiple views of Thursday's launch, extraordinary onboard video, daily news conferences and the mission highlights. Subscribe to the Mission Theater today!
http://spaceflightnow.com/theater/theater.html

CRACKING THE MYSTERY TO VENUS' CLIMATE CHANGE
---------------------------------------------
A mathematical model of the surface of Venus could show how the hot, dry surface has reacted to changes in temperature throughout the planet's history. Patterns of cracks were found on Venus' 500-degree surface by NASA's Magellan spacecraft in the early 1990s.
http://spaceflightnow.com/news/n0103/13venus/

UNEXPECTED ANOMALIES IN GLOBULAR CLUSTERS FOUND
-----------------------------------------------
Astronomers have now obtained some unexpected results during a detailed analysis of dwarf stars in some globular clusters. Such stars have about the same mass as our Sun and like it, they evolve very slowly.
http://spaceflightnow.com/news/n0103/13brethren/

GALILEO TO FIRE THRUSTERS TO TWEAK COURSE
-----------------------------------------
This week's major scheduled activity for NASA's Galileo spacecraft is a propulsive maneuver on Friday. This burn of the probe's primary steering jets will help to refine the trajectory leading up to the next planned flyby of the satellite Callisto in late May.
http://spaceflightnow.com/news/n0103/13galileothisweek/

GONE WITH THE WIND BUT VISIBLE TO NASA RADAR
--------------------------------------------
The history of sea islands in the Altamaha River delta on the coast of Georgia is revealed in this image produced from data acquired by the Airborne Synthetic Aperture Radar (AIRSAR).
http://spaceflightnow.com/news/n0103/13georgia/




 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 406 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Sat, Mar 17, 2001 (14:44) * 376 lines 
 
===========================================================
SKY & TELESCOPE'S NEWS BULLETIN - MARCH 16, 2001
===========================================================
For images and Web links for these items, visit http://www.skypub.com
===========================================================
Protect and organize your back issues of Sky & Telescope with sturdy
slipcases. Each one holds 12 issues, is handsomely bound in black,
and bears a gold-tone S&T logo on the front and spine. Buy several
and save! One case is $14.95, but buy 2 to 4 for $12.50 each, or buy
5 or more for $10.50 each. To order, visit Sky Publishing's online
store at http://store.skypub.com/skypub/default.asp?links=B0005
or call 800-253-0245.
===========================================================

SEARCHING FOR OTHER WAYS TO MAKE MARTIAN GULLIES

Since the announcement of gullies on Mars last summer by Michael C.
Malin and Kenneth Edgett (Malin Space Science Systems), planetary
geologists have been trying to determine what could possibly create
the features. Malin and Edgett believe the most likely cause was water
seeping from between layers of rock exposed on cliff faces and crater
rims -- even though water is unstable there due to the Mars's low
atmospheric pressure and cold temperatures.

At this year's Lunar and Planetary Science Conference in Houston,
Texas, some alternatives were offered to explain how the gullies may
have formed. Pascal Lee (NASA/Ames Research Center) believes the water
comes from outside, not inside, the rock layers. He draws an analogy
to Devon Island in arctic Canada where generations of gullies reside
on valley walls, and the slopes strongly resemble the Mars Global
Surveyor images. On Devon Island, the snow and ice that accumulates in
these crevices during winter are the last to melt in summer, trickling
down the slope and gradually enlarging the gullies. Moreover, the
late-melting ice packs are commonly seen on slopes facing away from
the Sun, matching the orientation of most of the Martian gullies.

Another conference presentation argued that the gullies are the work
of frozen carbon dioxide ("dry ice") rather than water. According to
Nick Hoffman (La Trobe University), when a winter veneer of CO2 "snow"
warms in the spring, it begins to vaporize at its base. This cushion
of gas acts as a lubricant, allowing the dry-ice slab to cascade down
the slope in a tumble of fluidized rock and gas resembling a mudflow.
This theory also allows for present-day gully formation in the polar
regions, when CO2 frost accumulates each winter.

However, Edgett notes that many of the gullies appear to begin at a
specific layer below the surface, implying that the source comes from
within. Even so, he admits that the notion of water seeping from the
rock walls is hardly the ideal solution. "I wish somebody would find a
way to do these things dry," he says.

DELTA SCORPII JUST WON'T QUIT

As Mars brightens and swings toward Earth it has been attracting
skywatchers out under the predawn sky -- and many of them have noticed
an added attraction in the vicinity. The 2nd-magnitude star Delta
Scorpii is now plainly the brightest star in the area after Antares.
Normally magnitude 2.3, Delta slowly flared up last July and
fluctuated last fall. It is currently shining at about magnitude 1.8,
more than half again its normal brightness, noticeably changing the
look of the head of Scorpius.

Delta is a hot giant star of spectral type B0. It is apparently
undergoing a long-term, Gamma-Cassiopeiae-type eruption and mass
ejection. Compare it with Beta Scorpii, magnitude 2.6, and Antares,
magnitude 1.1. If it stays bright for a few more months it will bring
an altered Scorpius into the skies of summer evenings.

KECK INTERFEROMETER ACHIEVES "FIRST FRINGE"

On March 13th, astronomers successfully combined light from the two
largest telescopes in the world, the 10-meter Keck telescopes on Mauna
Kea, Hawaii. The event, called "first fringe," celebrated the moment
when starlight, captured by two telescopes 85 meters apart, was
combined into a single image such that the detected wavelengths of
light were perfectly aligned.

This process, known as stellar interferometry, is nothing new, but it
has never been attempted on such a large scale with visible light. It
is now possible to achieve a resolution of 2 to 5 milliarcseconds, an
order of magnitude better than a single Keck telescope could reach
even using its adaptive-optics system. "We have now entered the era of
extremely high resolution astronomy," says James W. Beletic, deputy
director of Keck.

But the technical demonstration of Keck's prowess is just beginning.
Astronomers intend to build four 1.8-meter telescopes (perhaps six in
the future), called outriggers, which will give the Kecks a second
dimension of resolution. Right now the two Kecks provide only one
baseline, so astronomers can resolve just one dimension in the sky.
According to Keck director Frederic H. Chaffee, "We're probably
looking at three years from now before the full Keck array with two
Keck telescope and four to six outrigger telescopes are actually
combined."

The success of first fringe is good news for NASA too, which is
currently planning the Space Interferometer Mission and Terrestrial
Planet Finder -- both interferometers that will operate in space. In
fact, NASA became a partner in Keck five years ago specifically to
develop the techniques needed to execute these missions.

But despite the success, the Keck interferometer is a long way from
resolving planets around stars or making other similar measurements.
First fringe is only a milestone, not a conclusion. "Now begins the
months of testing and refining to turn this mode from a technical
'stunt' into a productive scientific capability," says Chaffee.

AN EYEWITNESS IMPACT DEBUNKED

Were a small asteroid to hit the Moon, could we see the impact with
the naked eye? In his chronicles of medieval life, Gervase of
Canterbury described a dramatic event witnessed on the evening of June
18, 1178:

"Now there was a bright new Moon . . . and suddenly the upper horn
split in two. From the midpoint of this division a flaming torch
sprang up, spewing out . . . fire, hot coals, and sparks . . . The
body of the Moon which was below writhed . . . throbbed like a wounded
snake. Afterwards it resumed its proper state. The phenomenon was
repeated a dozen times or more. [Finally] the Moon . . . along its
whole length took on a blackish appearance."

In 1976 geologist Jack B. Hartung (State University of New York)
proposed that this passage describes the creation of Giordano Bruno, a
relatively young, 22-kilometer-wide crater near the Moon's northeast
limb. Hartung reasoned that, seen from Earth, this brightly rayed
crater appears near the midpoint of the young crescent Moon.
Astronomers were quick to counter that on the date in question the
Moon was only 1.3 days past new and thus too near the Sun to be easily
visible at all. Also, Gervase's witnesses claimed to have seen the
"flaming torch" many times, which sounds a lot more like the ordinary
atmospheric distortions often seen near the horizon. Still, Hartung's
hypothesis has made its way into many astronomy books and articles. It
proved difficult to confirm or refute because data on Giordano Bruno
and its surroundings were limited.

Now a new analysis demonstrates that a cratering event could not have
happened in 1178. Paul Withers (University of Arizona) finds that an
impact large enough to create a 22-km crater would likely have
showered Earth with 10 million tons of ejected fragments -- perhaps a
trillion bright meteors in all -- during the days that followed. "A
meteor storm as impressive as this and lasting for a week would have
been considered apocalyptic by all medieval observers," Withers
comments. Yet no mention of such displays appears in English,
European, Arabic, or Asian chronicles of the era.

Laser-ranging experiments during the 1970s revealed that the Moon nods
back and forth by a tiny amount ("free libration"), suggesting to
Hartung's supporters that the globe was still reverberating from the
impact. But Withers notes that a reanalysis of the laser-ranging data
later showed that the slight oscillation arises instead from fluid
motions deep in the lunar interior. Furthermore, while Giordano Bruno
is indeed the youngest crater of its size anywhere on the Moon,
multispectral images from the Clementine spacecraft show that this
impact site has to be much older than 800 years. Details of Withers's
analysis will appear in the April issue of Meteoritics.

TAGISH LAKE: MYSTERY METEORITE

At last year's Lunar and Planetary Science Conference, held each March
in Houston, Texas, meteorite specialists were salivating over the
Tagish Lake meteorite, which had dropped as a hail of fragments onto
the Yukon's winter wilderness just two months before. Within days of
the fall, local outdoorsman Jim Brook carefully collected nearly a
kilogram of icy fragments and stashed them in his freezer. Later a
team of Canadian geologists and volunteers scoured the lake's frozen
surface to collect as much of the fragile interplanetary material as
possible before the spring thaw swallowed up the remaining pieces.
Remarkable as much for the rapid, textbook recovery effort as for the
stones' black, carbon-rich texture, Tagish Lake was hailed as the most
important find in some 30 years.

A year later, the Tagish Lake fall is still causing a scientific buzz
because its unique composition, forged at the very beginning of the
solar system, defies easy explanation. For example, some of its dark,
crumbly interior is riddled with carbonate minerals created when
liquid water percolated through the rock multiple times. Yet adjacent
sections bear no carbonates or other traces of water's influence at
all. And though chemists would have bet money that the black stones
would have teemed with exotic hydrocarbon compounds, analyses turned
up a disappointing yield -- a thousandth the organic content of
Murchison, a similarly carbon-rich meteorite that fell in 1969. "We
were hoping to find all these amino acids," laments Iain Gilmour (Open
University), "and they're just not there."

What Gilmour and others have identified are puzzling clues to the
meteorite's origin. Some of the organic components mimic the nitriles
and other aromatic species known to exist in molecular clouds. So
might Tagish Lake have an interstellar origin? Or, as Takahiro Hiroi
(Brown University) speculates, are these pieces of one of the dark,
carbon-rich "D-type" asteroids that lurk in Jupiter's vicinity? More
than one specialist openly questioned whether this find could
represent chunks of a comet's nucleus. "There are no real conclusions
yet," says Sandra Pizzarello (Arizona State University). "This
meteorite is extremely difficult to study."

STUDENTS CATCH RADIO EMISSION FROM BROWN DWARF

Thirteen astronomy students using the Very Large Array (VLA) radio
telescope in New Mexico got the thrill of their lives when they
detected the first-ever radio emission from a brown dwarf. Glowing
very dimly red, brown dwarfs are small, cool objects about the size of
Jupiter but with 13 to 75 Jupiter masses -- too light to become real
stars yet too heavy to be called planets.

Edo Berger (Caltech) and his team aimed the VLA's dishes at LP 944-20
in the southern constellation Fornax last July. They detected a
constant flux of radio waves at wavelengths of 6 and 3.6 centimeters,
as well as three brief flare-ups when the emission intensified by a
dozen or more times. The team's findings, reported in the March 15th
Nature, are forcing theorists to reexamine their ideas about how a
brown dwarf works.

The university students' project was part of the National Science
Foundation's summer science program at the VLA. They chose LP 944-20
as their target because the Chandra X-ray Observatory had detected
X-ray flares from it in 1999. Among ordinary stars, radio and X-ray
activity tend to go together. Nevertheless, the students assumed that
finding radio emission would be a long shot. The flares were a
remarkable bonus. "They got very lucky," says VLA astronomer Dale
Frail. "Other astronomers had looked for radio emission from brown
dwarfs and not found any. This one flared at just the right time."

The steady emission was 10,000 times stronger than would be expected
from the X-ray behavior of the object. And yet the students deduced
that it has a weak magnetic field -- weaker than Jupiter's and not
much stronger than Earth's. This agrees with conventional brown-dwarf
theory. But such a weak field poses a mystery. In the absence of a
strong field, how are vast numbers of electrons being accelerated to
near the speed of light to create the radio emission? The brown
dwarf's flares actually emit more radio energy than the strongest
flares on the Sun, which has a much more intense magnetic field.


THIS WEEK'S "SKY AT A GLANCE"

Some daily events in the changing sky, by the editors of Sky &
Telescope.

MARCH 18 -- SUNDAY

* A double reappearance of Jupiter's moons happens this evening!
Around 10:12 p.m. EST, Europa gradually emerges out of eclipse from
Jupiter's shadow. Use a telescope to watch just off the planet's
eastern side. Then at 10:28 p.m. EST, Io emerges a little closer to
the planet.

* Jupiter's Great Red Spot should cross the planet's central
meridian (the imaginary line down the center of Jupiter's disk from
pole to pole) around 8:29 p.m. EST. The "red" spot is very pale
orange-tan. It should be visible for at least 50 minutes before and
after in a good 4- or 6-inch telescope if the atmospheric seeing is
sharp and steady. For a list of all predicted Red Spot transit times,
see http://www.skypub.com/sights/moonplanets/redspot.html .

MARCH 19 -- MONDAY

* Sirius, the brightest true star in the night sky, shines highest
in the south at dusk this week. Compare the quality of its light with
even brighter Jupiter high in the west, and Venus low in the west;
judge for yourself the old rule of thumb that stars twinkle and
planets don't.

MARCH 20 -- TUESDAY

* The vernal equinox occurs at 8:31 a.m. EST, when the Sun crosses
the equator moving north. This moment marks the start of spring in the
Northern Hemisphere (and, despite the name "vernal," fall in the
Southern Hemisphere).

MARCH 21 -- WEDNESDAY

* Find brilliant Sirius shining in the south to southwest after dark
and brighter Jupiter in the west. Nearly halfway from Sirius to
Jupiter is Orion's Belt, an almost horizontal row of three stars.
Above it is orange Betelgeuse; below it is white Rigel. To identify
constellations all around your sky (as seen from the mid-latitudes of
the Northern Hemisphere), use the printable evening star map and
instructions at http://www.skypub.com/sights/northern/0103skyn.shtml .
(If you're in the Southern Hemisphere's mid-latitudes:
http://www.skypub.com/sights/southern/0103skys.html .)

MARCH 22 -- THURSDAY

* Saturn's largest moon, Titan, can be found in a telescope about
four ring-lengths to the planet's east this evening and tomorrow
evening.

MARCH 23 -- FRIDAY

* The naked-eye eclipsing variable star Algol should be in one of
its periodic dimmings, magnitude 3.4 instead of its usual 2.1, for a
couple hours centered on 10:04 p.m. EST. Algol takes several
additional hours to fade and to brighten.

* The red long-period variable stars R Virginis, R Corvi, and V
Bo"tis should be at maximum light (about 7th magnitude) this week.

MARCH 24 -- SATURDAY

* New Moon (exact at 8:21 p.m. Eastern Standard Time).


============================
THIS WEEK'S PLANET ROUNDUP
============================

MERCURY is hidden in the glow of sunrise.

VENUS shines low in the west after sunset, dropping lower each day.

MARS (magnitude +0.1) rises in the southeast around 12:30 a.m. and
glows yellow-orange in the south before and during dawn. To its right
or lower right is similarly-colored Antares, less bright. In a
telescope Mars is 9 arcseconds wide and growing; it will reach 21
arcseconds when nearest to Earth in June. See our observers' guide to
Mars in the May Sky & Telescope, page 102. You can also download Mars
Previewer (3 MB), which displays data and a customized map of Mars's
apparent disk for any date and time; see the bottom of the page
http://www.skypub.com/resources/software/basic/basic.html .)

JUPITER and SATURN (magnitudes -2.2 and -0.2, respectively) shine
prominently in the evening sky. Jupiter is the brightest "star" high
in the west; yellowish Saturn is to its lower right. Jupiter appears
roughly midway between orange Aldebaran on its left and the Pleiades
on its right.

URANUS and NEPTUNE are hidden in the glow of sunrise.

PLUTO (magnitude 14; invisible without a large telescope) is in
Ophiuchus in the south before dawn.

(All descriptions that relate to the horizon or zenith -- including
the words up, down, right, and left -- are written for the world's
midnorthern latitudes. Descriptions that also depend on longitude are
for North America. Eastern Standard Time, EST, equals Universal Time
[GMT] minus 5 hours.)

More celestial events, sky maps, observing projects, and news of the
world's astronomy research appear each month in SKY & TELESCOPE, the
essential magazine of astronomy. See our enormous Web site and
astronomy bookstore at http://www.skypub.com/ . Clear skies!

SKY & TELESCOPE, 49 Bay State Rd., Cambridge, MA 02138 *
617-864-7360

===========================================================
Copyright 2001 Sky Publishing Corporation. S&T's Weekly News Bulletin
and Sky at a Glance stargazing calendar are provided as a service to
the astronomical community by the editors of SKY & TELESCOPE magazine.
Widespread electronic distribution is encouraged as long as these
paragraphs are included. But the text of the bulletin and calendar may
not be published in any other form without permission from Sky
Publishing (contact permissions@skypub.com or phone 617-864-7360).
Updates of astronomical news, including active links to related
Internet resources, are available via SKY & TELESCOPE's site on the
World Wide Web at http://www.skypub.com/.

In cooperation with the American Association of Amateur
Astronomers (http://www.corvus.com/), S&T's Weekly News Bulletin and
Sky at a Glance are available via electronic mailing list. For a free
subscription, send e-mail to join@astromax.com and put the word "join"
on the first line of the body of the message. To unsubscribe, send
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---------------------------------------------------------------------
SKY & TELESCOPE, the Essential Magazine of Astronomy, is read by more
than 200,000 enthusiasts each month. It is available on newsstands
worldwide. For subscription information, or for a free copy of our
catalog of fine astronomy books and products, please contact Sky
Publishing Corp., 49 Bay State Rd., Cambridge, MA 02138-1200, U.S.A.
Phone: 800-253-0245 (U.S. and Canada); 617-864-7360 (International).
Fax: 617-864-6117. E-mail: custserv@skypub.com. WWW:
http://www.skypub.com/. Clear skies!


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 407 of 1087: Nan  (moonbeam) * Sat, Mar 17, 2001 (23:02) * 1 lines 
 
Thanks, Marcia! I just discovered this fascinating little corner of your world.


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 408 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Mon, Mar 19, 2001 (18:38) * 1 lines 
 
Happily we are met again! I hope all goes well with you. Make yourself comfy and relax - you are among friends in here.


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 409 of 1087: _cosmo_  (aa9il) * Mon, Mar 19, 2001 (20:11) * 9 lines 
 
Howdy all

Nice to visit this interesting topic. Kind of like
visiting old, known neighborhoods and remembering
all the favorite hang outs.

73 de Mike
Radio Cosmo International



 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 410 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Wed, Mar 21, 2001 (18:07) * 3 lines 
 
Thanks, Mike!! Welcome to your virtual home away from reality. We missed you!!




 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 411 of 1087:  (sprin5) * Fri, Mar 23, 2001 (08:00) * 1 lines 
 
Any news on the Mir descent? Were there any pictures?


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 412 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Fri, Mar 23, 2001 (22:17) * 0 lines 
 


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 413 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Fri, Mar 23, 2001 (22:19) * 8 lines 
 
There was a video on Channels everywhere this morning but nothing that I know of of the HUGE items which entered the atmosphere.

THE supposed site to see stuff is http://www3.mirreentry.com/dial/index.html

This is nice too http://europe.cnn.com/2001/TECH/space/03/23/mir.descent.02/index.html





 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 414 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Fri, Mar 23, 2001 (22:44) * 6 lines 
 
Neat footage video which takes patience to load
http://www.space.com/missionlaunches/missions/mir_fiery_finale_page.html

The BEST Space links anywhere:
http://www3.mirreentry.com/dial/links.html



 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 415 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Sat, Mar 24, 2001 (21:47) * 269 lines 
 
===========================================================
SKY & TELESCOPE'S NEWS BULLETIN - MARCH 23, 2001
===========================================================
For images and Web links for these items, visit http://www.skypub.com
===========================================================
Protect and organize your back issues of Sky & Telescope with sturdy
slipcases. Each one holds 12 issues, is handsomely bound in black,
and bears a gold-tone S&T logo on the front and spine. Buy several
and save! One case is $14.95, but buy 2 to 4 for $12.50 each, or buy
5 or more for $10.50 each. To order, visit Sky Publishing's online
store at http://store.skypub.com/skypub/default.asp?links=B0005
or call 800-253-0245.
===========================================================

MIR FALLS IN BLAZE OF GLORY

The 15-year mission of the Mir orbital complex came to an end today in
a rain of bright, flaming debris over the South Pacific Ocean.
Vacationers on the beaches of Fiji spotted the high-speed reentry
through broken clouds. One likened it to "a giant golden hand
streaking across the sky," followed by a series of sonic booms.

Russian flight controllers pulled off the mission-ending sequence of
rocket burns without problems. By March 21st Mir had descended to an
orbital altitude of 214 kilometers, at which point it was powered back
up and oriented after two months of dormancy. Early on March 23rd the
Progress M1-5 cargo ship, which had docked to the complex's Kvant
module, fired its thrusters to lower the perigee to only 190 km. A
second burn followed one orbit later. Mir then made two final trips
around the Earth in this new lower orbit before the Progress's final
engine firing at 5:09 Universal Time (12:09 a.m. Eastern Time) dropped
the perigee to only 80 km, sending Mir deep into the atmosphere.
Passing east of Papua New Guinea the complex began to break up as
friction robbed it of its remaining orbital velocity. At about 6:05 UT
the remaining fragments plowed into the ocean well east of New Zealand
near 44 deg. south latitude, 150 deg. west longitude.

Mir (also known as DOS 7, the Russian acronym for Long-duration
Orbital Station) was the 10th Soviet space station to be launched
following three military Almaz and six earlier civilian DOS
laboratories. Its core module reached orbit on February 20, 1986,
after which it made 86,330 trips around Earth and was visited by 111
spacecraft. Soviet and Russian astronauts and visiting crews from many
countries occupied it for a total of 4,591 days, during which they
ventured outside the hull for 79 spacewalks. The station survived
minor (Soyuz TM-17, 1994) and major (Progress M-34, 1997) collisions
and a serious fire. But its crews also established the duration record
of 437 days for a single stay (by physician Valeriy Polyakov) and a
record of 11 days short of a decade for continuous occupation of a
spacecraft.

INTERSTELLAR INFESTATIONS?

Just when astrobiologists have warmed to the notion that microbes
could have hitchhiked inside meteorites flung from Earth to Mars, or
vice versa, an impact specialist has looked into tossing rocks across
interstellar distances. More than a dozen softball-size Martian
meteorites are flung out of the solar system by Jupiter per year on
average. This being the case, H. Jay Melosh (University of Arizona)
calculates that every 100 million years or so one of these emigrants
should take up residence in orbit around another star. Since
researchers now have evidence that microbial spores have survived on
Earth for 250 million years, interstellar "panspermia" would appear to
be just barely possible.

"This topic is extremely unpopular with biologists," Melosh notes, but
they probably have little to worry about. Any life forms wandering the
depths of space will be assaulted constantly by cosmic rays, and, upon
reaching an alien solar system, they must land on a habitable planet
in order to thrive -- a string of good fortune that Melosh finds very
unlikely. He presented his findings last week at the Lunar and
Planetary Science Conference in Houston, Texas.

CAMILLA'S COMPANION

For the second time this year and the fifth in the last 13 months,
astronomers have identified an asteroid encircled by a satellite. Alex
Storrs and the Hubble Space Telescope Asteroid Team found a companion
orbiting 107 Camilla, a main-belt asteroid about 220 kilometers
across. The discovery was made in a quick succession of HST images
taken on March 1st. Although the satellite was seen 1,000 km from
Camilla, more observations will be needed before its orbit can be
calculated. Storr's team has another HST run scheduled for March 27th.
Details appear in IAU Circular 7599.

The discovery of Camilla's companion brings the count of confirmed
binary asteroids to seven; another eight or nine are suspected of
duplicity, most of which are small near-Earth objects with unusual
light curves.

CHANDRA DEEP FIELD UNVEILED

In 1962, the first astronomers looking at the sky in X-rays uncovered
a smooth mysterious background glow. But what could be the cause of
such a phenomenon? Not until the launch of the Chandra X-ray
Observatory in July 1999 did astronomers finally gain enough
resolution to determine the answer: the universe is teeming with black
holes.

This finding was confirmed in detail by a record-setting, million
second long exposure -- the Chandra Deep Field. There are actually two
Deep Fields: one in the north, located in Ursa Major, a second in the
south, in the constellation Fornax. The northern field includes the
famous Hubble Deep Field. These two ultra-long exposures, the deepest
X-ray images ever taken, show incredibly faint objects, with detection
rates as low as 1 photon per day.

The Chandra views show an unexpectedly vast number of supermassive
black holes in the form of quasars and other active galactic nuclei,
lighting up the cores of newborn galaxies in the early universe. "Now
we are seeing that black holes are all over the universe, and we are
going to be able to study in great detail their formation and
evolution," says Colin Norman (Johns Hopkins University).

Among the first discoveries made in the Deep Fields was the first
detection of a Type II quasar. These long-suspected objects differ
from ordinary Type I quasars only in that they are shrouded by
orbiting dust and gas that shields them from optical detection. In the
high-redshift early universe, it is estimated that 90 percent of all
quasars are Type II. Already, the spectra of some 100 objects in the
Chandra Deep Field South have been obtained using the European
Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope. Three hundred more are
scheduled for future study. The paper detailing the discovery of the
Type II quasar has been submitted for publication in the Astrophysical
Journal.


THIS WEEK'S "SKY AT A GLANCE"

Some daily events in the changing sky, by the editors of Sky &
Telescope.

MARCH 25 -- SUNDAY

* Some doorstep astronomy: Look for the Big Dipper high in the
northeast after dark this week. Its bent handle curves to the lower
right toward the bright star Arcturus, one Dipper-length away low in
the east.

To identify constellations all around your sky, use the printable
evening star map and instructions at
http://www.skypub.com/sights/northern/0103skyn.shtml (if you're in the
mid-latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere. Southern Hemisphere
skywatchers, use the map at
http://www.skypub.com/sights/southern/0103skys.html .)

MARCH 26 -- MONDAY

* Jupiter's moons Ganymede and Europa appear just 9 arcseconds apart
at 7:48 p.m. Eastern Standard Time -- a "double star" a little east of
Jupiter as seen in a small telescope.

MARCH 27 -- TUESDAY

* The thin waxing crescent Moon shines far below Jupiter and Saturn
at dusk.

* For the western U.S., Jupiter's moons Ganymede and Europa are 7
arcseconds apart at 7:16 p.m. Pacific Standard Time.

MARCH 28 -- WEDNESDAY

* The crescent Moon is near Saturn this evening.

MARCH 29 -- THURSDAY

* The Moon is near Jupiter and Aldebaran (between them during
evening in North America).

* Venus is in inferior conjunction, passing 8 degrees north of the
Sun.

MARCH 30 -- FRIDAY

* Bright Jupiter and Saturn shine far to the lower right of the Moon
this evening. To the Moon's left or lower left is Betelgeuse. Farther
to the Moon's upper right is Capella.

MARCH 31 -- SATURDAY

* The first-quarter Moon shines nearly midway between Procyon far to
its left, Capella far to its right, Pollux and Castor above it, and
Betelgeuse below it.

* Daylight saving time begins at 2 a.m. Sunday morning for most of
the U.S. and Canada. Clocks spring ahead.


============================
THIS WEEK'S PLANET ROUNDUP
============================

MERCURY is hidden in the glow of sunrise.

VENUS disappears into in the glare of the Sun. For the first few days
of the week you might detect it just above the western horizon soon
after sunset; binoculars help. Careful telescopic observers may follow
Venus right through inferior conjunction on March 29th; see the March
Sky & Telescope, page 100.

MARS (magnitude 0.0) rises in the southeast around midnight and glows
yellow-orange in the south before and during dawn. To its right (or
lower right at dawn) is similarly-colored Antares, less bright. In a
telescope Mars is 10 arcseconds wide and growing; it will reach 21
arcseconds when nearest to Earth in June. An observers' guide to Mars
this season is in the May Sky & Telescope, page 102.

Telescopic observers can download Mars Previewer (3 megs), which
displays observing data and a customized map of Mars's apparent disk
for any date and time; see the bottom of
http://www.skypub.com/resources/software/basic/basic.html .)

JUPITER and SATURN (magnitudes -2.1 and -0.2, respectively) shine in
the west during early evening. Jupiter is the brightest "star" there;
look for yellowish Saturn to its lower right. To Jupiter's left is
orange Aldebaran. Farther to Jupiter's right and a little below are
the Pleiades.

URANUS and NEPTUNE are hidden in the glow of sunrise.

PLUTO (magnitude 14; invisible without a large telescope) is in
Ophiuchus in the south before dawn.

(All descriptions that relate to the horizon or zenith -- including
the words up, down, right, and left -- are written for the world's
midnorthern latitudes. Descriptions that also depend on longitude are
for North America. Eastern Standard Time, EST, equals Universal Time
[GMT] minus 5 hours.)

More celestial events, sky maps, observing projects, and news of the
world's astronomy research appear each month in SKY & TELESCOPE, the
essential magazine of astronomy. See our enormous Web site and
astronomy bookstore at http://www.skypub.com/ . Clear skies!

SKY & TELESCOPE, 49 Bay State Rd., Cambridge, MA 02138 *
617-864-7360

===========================================================
Copyright 2001 Sky Publishing Corporation. S&T's Weekly News Bulletin
and Sky at a Glance stargazing calendar are provided as a service to
the astronomical community by the editors of SKY & TELESCOPE magazine.
Widespread electronic distribution is encouraged as long as these
paragraphs are included. But the text of the bulletin and calendar may
not be published in any other form without permission from Sky
Publishing (contact permissions@skypub.com or phone 617-864-7360).
Updates of astronomical news, including active links to related
Internet resources, are available via SKY & TELESCOPE's site on the
World Wide Web at http://www.skypub.com/.

In cooperation with the American Association of Amateur
Astronomers (http://www.corvus.com/), S&T's Weekly News Bulletin and
Sky at a Glance are available via electronic mailing list. For a free
subscription, send e-mail to join@astromax.com and put the word "join"
on the first line of the body of the message. To unsubscribe, send
e-mail to unjoin@astromax.com and put the word "unjoin" on the first
line of the body of the message. If you should have any problems
either subscribing to or unsubscribing from the list, send a message
to list administrator John Wagoner at stargate@gte.net for assistance.
---------------------------------------------------------------------
SKY & TELESCOPE, the Essential Magazine of Astronomy, is read by more
than 200,000 enthusiasts each month. It is available on newsstands
worldwide. For subscription information, or for a free copy of our
catalog of fine astronomy books and products, please contact Sky
Publishing Corp., 49 Bay State Rd., Cambridge, MA 02138-1200, U.S.A.
Phone: 800-253-0245 (U.S. and Canada); 617-864-7360 (International).
Fax: 617-864-6117. E-mail: custserv@skypub.com. WWW:
http://www.skypub.com/. Clear skies!
===========================================================



 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 416 of 1087: _cosmo_  (aa9il) * Tue, Mar 27, 2001 (17:57) * 14 lines 
 
Howdy all

One thing I noticed while driving across the country was the nice increase
in visible stars (and this was not even in the real out of way roads but
south of the Chicago suburbs). One planet is VERY visible at a low inclination
to the west - one night, so bright that it was cutting through fog and haze...
Recent new books to the collection is a nice book on advanced astronomy
techniques out of the UK and also a good book on Radio Astronomy projects
that are within the realm of possibility for construction. Time for some
more trips to the far country for night watching.

73 de Mike
Radio Cosmo International



 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 417 of 1087:  (sprin5) * Tue, Mar 27, 2001 (18:20) * 1 lines 
 
Did you take your hf mobile on your drive, cosmo?


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 418 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Tue, Mar 27, 2001 (19:19) * 1 lines 
 
Ahhhh you were mesmerized by Venus. She has been known to do that - amazingly brilliant and was a tiny crescent recently even when viewed by binoculars!


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 419 of 1087: _cosmo_  (aa9il) * Wed, Mar 28, 2001 (20:28) * 13 lines 
 
So, it was Venus! Very brilliant indeed. Caught my eye!
Thats one of the things that pulls my interest back and forth
between optical astronomy and radio astronomy - the path I chose
is spent listening to (or running FFT on) noise in a back ground
of noise while if I went the optical route, it would be like
viewing precious stones on a sheet of black velvet. Much
more eye candy.... There is something in looking for patterns
in the noise tho...

73 de Mike
Radio Cosmo International




 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 420 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Fri, Mar 30, 2001 (19:17) * 25 lines 
 
Mike the Cosmic has the soul of a poet! Molten lava at night looks like gold on black velvet - most beautiful!

Two space probes see giantplumes on volcanic moon Io
NASA/JPL PHOTO RELEASE
Posted: March 28, 2001

Two tall volcanic plumes and the rings
of red material they have deposited
onto surrounding surface areas appear
in images taken of Jupiter's moon Io by
NASA's Galileo and Cassini spacecraft
in late December 2000 and early
January 2001.

A plume near Io's equator comes from
the volcano Pele. It has been active for
at least four years, and has been far
larger than any other plume seen on Io,
until now. The other, nearer to Io's
north pole, is a Pele-sized plume that
had never been seen before, a fresh
eruption from the Tvashtar Catena
volcanic area.

More: http://spaceflightnow.com/news/n0103/28galcassio/


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 421 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Sat, Mar 31, 2001 (15:49) * 238 lines 
 
===========================================================
SKY & TELESCOPE'S NEWS BULLETIN - MARCH 30, 2001
===========================================================
For images and Web links for these items, visit http://www.skypub.com
===========================================================
VISIT SKY & TELESCOPE'S ONLINE IMAGE GALLERY

Sky & Telescope's Web site now features dozens of stunning celestial
vistas from ground- and space-based telescopes. Visit the Gallery of
Images at http://www.skypub.com/imaging/gallery/ .
===========================================================

NAKED-EYE SUNSPOTS AND MAYBE AURORAS

The peak of the current sunspot cycle came around May of last year,
solar astronomers have tentatively decided, but there's still plenty
of life on the Sun's surface. A huge, elongated spot group appeared on
the Sun this week, and it was visible with the naked eye when the Sun
is viewed through a safe solar filter, such as a #14 arc-welder's
glass, eclipse glasses, or a Sun filter designed for telescopic use.
Researchers noted that the spot is the largest seen in 10 years.
Other, smaller spots are also detectable if your vision is sharp. Of
course, never look at the Sun through a filter that you do not know is
safe. (For a guide to safe solar filters, see
http://www.skypub.com/sights/eclipses/solar/safety.html .)

"A significant increase in solar activity has been observed during the
last week following almost three months of very quiet activity," noted
Cary Oler, who prepares Sky & Telescope's solar-activity AstroAlerts
(http://www.skypub.com/news/astroalert/astroalert.html ). "The Sun
appears to be in a state of energetic sunspot growth." The enormous
spot has already erupted in flares and mass ejections, some of which
is directed toward the Earth. Space-weather forcasters have put up an
alert for the next several days, so be on the lookout for auroral
displays.

GALILEO DISCOVERS VARIABLE STAR

Last June the Galileo spacecraft orbiting Jupiter temporarily lost
sight of one of the reference stars it uses to maintain its proper
orientation. Flight engineers suspected that the probe's star scanner
had broken down. "I spent about a week working on it," says Paul
Fieseler (Jet Propulsion Laboratory), "and concluded the star scanner
wasn't broken, but perhaps the star was." After a thorough check,
Fieseler and his colleagues determined that the star itself had indeed
briefly faded from view.

The star in question is 2nd-magnitude Delta Velorum, part of the False
Cross, which consists of stars in the far-southern constellations Vela
and Carina. Known to be a quadruple-star system, it is one of about
150 bright targets tracked by Galileo to keep its low-gain antenna
pointed at Earth.

It turned out that Delta Velorum is indeed a variable star, and one
that had been observed before. Amateur variable-star observer
Sebastian Otero (Buenos Aires, Argentina) independently detected
Delta's dimming four times, between 1997 and 1999. Looking back in
Galileo's archived data files, Fieseler also found a similar event, in
1989. Based on these and follow-up observations from observers in
South Africa, Australia, and Argentina, Otero, Fieseler, and
professional astronomer Christopher Lloyd (Rutherford Appleton
Laboratory) concluded that Delta Velorum is a hitherto unknown
eclipsing binary. Its brightest member is actually two stars of
similar brightness orbiting each other. Every 45 days one mutually
eclipses the other, causing Delta's total brightness to dip from
magnitude 1.96 to 2.3 for a few hours. Galileo, unaware of the star's
variable nature, apparently lost track of the object during one of its
periodic dimmings.

NEUTRINOS ON ICE

"The observation of neutrinos by a neutrino telescope deep in the
Antarctic ice cap, a goal that was once thought difficult if not
impossible, represents an important step toward establishing the field
of high-energy neutrino astronomy first envisioned 40 years ago." So
concludes E. Andres (University of Wisconsin, Madison) and a host of
coinvestigators in the March 22nd issue of Nature.

They describe the robust detection of muons -- elementary particles
with more than 200 times the mass of an electron that are spawned when
a high-energy neutrino strikes matter, such as Antarctic ice. The
"telescope" employed for these observations was AMANDA, the Antarctic
Muon and Neutrino Detector Array sited at the South Pole.

A neutrino is electrically neutral, so its path through space isn't
bent by cosmic magnetic fields and points directly back to its source.
Unfortunately, these nearly massless particles almost never interact
with matter, so a big collecting area is needed, and that's where
AMANDA gains an advantage over other neutrino detectors. AMANDA
actually looks downward -- through the Earth -- for arriving muons.
When it sees one coming from the Northern Hemisphere, chances are good
that was neutrino-born and not created by cosmic rays from overhead.

These upward-propagating muons are detected by means of bluish
Cherenkov radiation emitted while they move through the highly
transparent ice at relativistic speeds. AMANDA employs 10 strings
containing a total of 302 photomultiplier tubes (PMTs) lowered up to 2
kilometers into the ice. By measuring the precise times at which PMTs
light up on different strings, the scientists determine the direction
from which the muon, and hence the neutrino, came.

In the study, the scientists report a diffuse, high-energy neutrino
background rate of one event every 19 hours, on average.
Interestingly, no neutrino point sources were found, such as would be
expected from supernova remnants or active galaxies.

The success of this experiment bodes well for the construction of
IceCube, a much larger array having an effective area of 1 square
kilometer and consisting of 4,800 PMTs on 80 strings.

THIS WEEK'S "SKY AT A GLANCE"
Some daily events in the changing sky, by the editors of Sky &
Telescope.

APRIL 1 -- SUNDAY
* Daylight saving time begins at 2 a.m. Sunday morning for most of
the U.S. and Canada. Clocks "spring ahead" one hour.
* First-quarter Moon (exact at 6:49 a.m. EDT). The Moon shines in
Gemini near Castor and Pollux.

APRIL 2 -- MONDAY
* The two brightest points of light at dusk are Jupiter in the west
and Sirius in the south-southwest. Look almost midway between them for
Orion's Belt, a row of three stars. It's now nearly horizontal at
nightfall, a sure sign of early spring.

APRIL 3 -- TUESDAY
* For Eastern North America, Jupiter appears almost moonless as
darkness falls this evening. Io will already be behind the planet's
disk, while Europa and Ganymede are in front. Coincidentally, the one
remaining large moon, Callisto, will be passing a mere 4 arcseconds
above Jupiter's south pole at 8:07 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time.
Later the tiny black shadows of both Europa and Ganymede will be
visible on Jupiter's face at once. This event is best seen from the
western U.S. and Canada, lasting from 7:48 to 8:03 p.m. Pacific
Daylight Time.

APRIL 4 -- WEDNESDAY
* The brightest star to the right of the Moon this evening is
Regulus in Leo.

APRIL 5 -- THURSDAY
* Find Orion's Belt in the southwest in early evening, as under
Monday above. The bright orange-red star above it (by about a
fist-width at arm's length) is Betelgeuse. The same distance below the
Belt is white Rigel.

APRIL 6 -- FRIDAY
* Some doorstep astronomy: Look high in the northeast after dark for
the Big Dipper; it's standing on its handle and tilting left. It
should be easy to spot despite the moonlight. Follow the curve of the
Dipper's handle far around to the lower right to pick up bright
Arcturus, one Dipper-length away.
To identify constellations all around your sky, use the printable
evening star map and instructions at
http://www.skypub.com/sights/northern/0104skyn.shtml (if you're in the
mid-latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere. Southern Hemisphere
skywatchers, use the map at
http://www.skypub.com/sights/southern/0104skys.html .)

APRIL 7 -- SATURDAY
* Full Moon (exact at 11:22 p.m. EDT). The star to its lower right
this evening is Spica.
* Jupiter's moons Ganymede and Io appear only 13 arcseconds apart at
8:35 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time. In a telescope they'll be a "double
star" just east of the planet.

============================
THIS WEEK'S PLANET ROUNDUP
============================
MERCURY and VENUS are very deep in the glow of sunrise. To try for
Venus, look with binoculars just above the eastern horizon about 20 or
25 minutes before sunup.
MARS (magnitude -0.3) rises in the southeast around midnight and glows
yellow-orange in the south before and during dawn. To its right are
similarly-colored Antares and the head of Scorpius (including Delta
Scorpii, the unusually bright new variable star; see
http://www.skypub.com/news/010316.html , second item down). In a
telescope Mars is about 10.6 arcseconds wide and growing; it will
reach 21 arcseconds when nearest Earth in June. See the Mars observing
guide in the May Sky & Telescope, page 102.

JUPITER and SATURN (magnitudes -2.1 and -0.2, respectively) shine in
the west during early evening. Jupiter is the brightest "star" there;
look for yellowish Saturn to its lower right. Closer to Jupiter's left
is orange Aldebaran. To the Saturn's upper right are the Pleiades.

URANUS and NEPTUNE (magnitude 6 and 8, respectively, in Capricornus)
are very low in the southeast just before dawn.

PLUTO (magnitude 14; invisible without a large telescope) is in
Ophiuchus in the south before dawn.

(All descriptions that relate to the horizon or zenith -- including
the words up, down, right, and left -- are written for the world's
midnorthern latitudes. Descriptions that also depend on longitude are
for North America. Eastern Standard Time, EST, equals Universal Time
[GMT] minus 5 hours. Eastern Daylight Time, EDT, equals Universal Time
minus 4 hours.)
More celestial events, sky maps, observing projects, and news of the
world's astronomy research appear each month in SKY & TELESCOPE, the
essential magazine of astronomy. See our enormous Web site and
astronomy bookstore at http://www.skypub.com/ . Clear skies!
SKY & TELESCOPE, 49 Bay State Rd., Cambridge, MA 02138 *
617-864-7360
===========================================================
Copyright 2001 Sky Publishing Corporation. S&T's Weekly News Bulletin
and Sky at a Glance stargazing calendar are provided as a service to
the astronomical community by the editors of SKY & TELESCOPE magazine.
Widespread electronic distribution is encouraged as long as these
paragraphs are included. But the text of the bulletin and calendar may
not be published in any other form without permission from Sky
Publishing (contact permissions@skypub.com or phone 617-864-7360).
Updates of astronomical news, including active links to related
Internet resources, are available via SKY & TELESCOPE's site on the
World Wide Web at http://www.skypub.com/.

In cooperation with the American Association of Amateur
Astronomers (http://www.corvus.com/), S&T's Weekly News Bulletin and
Sky at a Glance are available via electronic mailing list. For a free
subscription, send e-mail to join@astromax.com and put the word "join"
on the first line of the body of the message. To unsubscribe, send
e-mail to unjoin@astromax.com and put the word "unjoin" on the first
line of the body of the message. If you should have any problems
either subscribing to or unsubscribing from the list, send a message
to list administrator John Wagoner at stargate@gte.net for assistance.
---------------------------------------------------------------------
SKY & TELESCOPE, the Essential Magazine of Astronomy, is read by more
than 200,000 enthusiasts each month. It is available on newsstands
worldwide. For subscription information, or for a free copy of our
catalog of fine astronomy books and products, please contact Sky
Publishing Corp., 49 Bay State Rd., Cambridge, MA 02138-1200, U.S.A.
Phone: 800-253-0245 (U.S. and Canada); 617-864-7360 (International).
Fax: 617-864-6117. E-mail: custserv@skypub.com. WWW:
http://www.skypub.com/. Clear skies!
===========================================================




 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 422 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Sat, Mar 31, 2001 (23:32) * 4 lines 
 
The Solar cronograph of the first CME being over come by the second Huge Coronal Mass Ejection which caused the aurora above.
http://science.nasa.gov/headlines/y2001/ast27mar_1.htm?list89800




 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 423 of 1087: _cosmo_  (aa9il) * Sun, Apr  1, 2001 (19:38) * 11 lines 
 
Hey kids

Well, the vhf ops were taking advantage of the enhanced propagation. Of course,
it was overcast here with a chance of rain or snow flurries but the sky was
perfectly clear this morning - sigh....
Its partly cloudy right now so maybe some visible aurora tonite if the
conditions hold out.

73 de Mike
radio cosmo international



 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 424 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Sun, Apr  1, 2001 (19:59) * 1 lines 
 
O'course, Mike - that is the story all over as far as my reporters are concerned. *Big wistful sigh*


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 425 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Mon, Apr  2, 2001 (15:22) * 129 lines 
 
--------------------------------------------
SPACEDAILY EXPRESS - April 2, 2001
** forward SpaceDaily Express to a friend **
--------------------------------------------

------- "SMALLER SATELLITES: BIGGER BUSINESS?" ------
Strasbourg will be the setting for the International
Space University's 6th Annual Symposium. This year's
theme will be small satellites with an emphasis on
concepts, applications and markets. Join some of the
world's leading experts, manufacturers and users in
interdisciplinary presentations and discussions on a
wide variety of issues pertaining to small satellites
Strasbourg - May 21-23 - 2001
--------- http://www.isunet.edu/Symposium/ ----------

-----------
QUICK SPACE

- Beyond Odyssey: Mars 2003 and NASA's Twin Rovers
http://www.spacedaily.com/news/mars2003-01a1.html

- Spider Eyes For Martian Robots
http://www.spacedaily.com/news/mars-general-01d.html

- Exotic CO2 Process May Have Carved Martian Gullies
http://www.spacedaily.com/news/mars-water-science-01f.html

- NASA-Industry Team Improves Supercomputers
http://www.spacedaily.com/news/supercomputer-01b.html

- Jupiter Radiation Belts Harsher Than Expected
http://www.spacedaily.com/news/galileo-01f.html

- New Scanner Helps The Search For Shuttle Tile Flaws
http://www.spacedaily.com/news/materials-01j.html

- First Milstar II Bird Starts On-orbit Testing
http://www.spacedaily.com/news/milstar-01a.html

- Airborne Laser On Track To Illuminate Missiles
http://www.spacedaily.com/news/laser-01c.html

- North Korea Moves Forward Missile Deployment
http://www.spacedaily.com/news/010401041039.xiccf2md.html

- Spaceway To Fly Sea Launch In 2002
http://www.spacedaily.com/news/sealaunch-01a.html

- Water on the Space Station
http://www.spacedaily.com/news/iss-01p.html

-------------- Micro Satellite Tender ---------------
COSMIC is a joint U.S.-Taiwan scientific project that
will use a constellation of six microsatellites to
collect atmospheric sounding measurements. Industry
partners to build and deliver six GPS receivers, six
solid-state recorders plus payload computers are now
being sought by the University Corporation.
----------- http://www.ucar.cosmic.edu/ -----------

------------------
HEADLINES IN BRIEF
April 2, 2001

----------------------
RETURN TO MARS SPECIAL

- Beyond Odyssey: Mars 2003 and NASA's Twin Rovers
http://www.spacedaily.com/news/mars2003-01a1.html
Cameron Park - April 2, 2001 - As the countdown to NASA's return to Mars this coming Sunday gathers pace, attention in the wider Mars science community is turning to where NASA's twin 2003 rovers should be sent. With over 150 possible landing sites to choose from, a final decision won't be easy, but Bruce Moomaw writes in his latest Mars report at least one of the Rovers will almost certainly be sent to an area known as the Meridiani Formation.

- Spider Eyes For Martian Robots
http://www.spacedaily.com/news/mars-general-01d.html
San Francisco - March 28 2001 - The vibrating eyes of jumping spiders have inspired a new breed of vision sensors that could give the next generation of Mars rovers sharper eyesight, say researchers in California. As a result, the roving robots will need less computing power, so they'll be much lighter and will use less electricity.

- Exotic CO2 Process May Have Carved Martian Gullies
http://www.spacedaily.com/news/mars-water-science-01f.html
Tucson - April 2, 2001 - Last June, scientists announced that gullies seen on some martian cliffs and crater walls suggest that liquid water has seeped down the slopes in the geologically recent past. But now a team of researchers propose an alternative explanation involving carbon dioxide erosion.

----------
TECH SPACE
- NASA-Industry Team Improves Supercomputers
http://www.spacedaily.com/news/supercomputer-01b.html
Moffett Field - March 28, 2001 - Simulating life's beginning and accurately predicting hurricane paths are two distant dreams that came a small step closer to reality when NASA recently was first to "boot" what may be the most powerful parallel supercomputer of its kind.

- Jupiter Radiation Belts Harsher Than Expected
http://www.spacedaily.com/news/galileo-01f.html
Pasadena - March 28, 2001 - Radiation belts very close to Jupiter would zap any future spacecraft even more severely than previously estimated, new measurements by NASA's Cassini spacecraft indicate.

- New Scanner Helps The Search For Shuttle Tile Flaws
http://www.spacedaily.com/news/materials-01j.html
Moffett Field - April 2, 2001 - NASA workers who face the critical and often tedious task of evaluating damage to the space shuttle's protective thermal tiles now have some high-tech help in the form of a new portable, digital inspection system.

--------
SPACEWAR
- First Milstar II Bird Starts On-orbit Testing
http://www.spacedaily.com/news/milstar-01a.html

Sunnyvale - March 29, 2001 - A combined air force and industry team has begun on-orbit testing of the first USAF Milstar II communications satellite following the successful Feb. 27 launch and activation of critical spacecraft systems.
- Airborne Laser On Track To Illuminate Missiles
http://www.spacedaily.com/news/laser-01c.html

El Segundo - March 30, 2001 - Lockheed Martin Space Systems said Thursday that its subcontractor, Raytheon Electronic Systems, has achieved a crucial milestone in the development of the Beam Control/Fire Control system for the U.S. Air Force's Airborne Laser (ABL) program. The Beam Control/Fire Control system will aim and fire a high-energy laser at a target missile in its boost phase.
- North Korea moves forward missile deployment along border: report
http://www.spacedaily.com/news/010401041039.xiccf2md.html

---------
SPACEMART
- Spaceway To Fly Sea Launch In 2002
http://www.spacedaily.com/news/sealaunch-01a.html
Washington - March 28, 2001 - Boeing Satellite Systems has contracted with the Sea Launch Co. for the launch of two Spaceway satellites. The Spaceway Ka-band satellites will be used in a unique new global broadband satellite network to provide high-bandwidth and high-speed communications for broadband and multimedia applications to North America.

------------
STATION NEWS

- Water on the Space Station
http://www.spacedaily.com/news/iss-01p.html
Huntsville - April 2, 2001
NASA Space Science - Future astronauts poised to blast off for an extended stay on the International Space Station might first consider dashing to the restroom for a quick splash at the lavatory, or better yet, a luxurious hot shower. Once on board the ISS, spacefarers are in for a steady diet of sponge baths using water distilled from -- among other places -- their crewmates breath!

-----------------------------
SPACEDAILY EXPRESS LIST NOTES
--------------------------------------------
SpaceDaily Express is issued daily and lists
all new postings to www.SpaceDaily.com
Subscription is free: subscribe@spacer.com
or remove@spacer.com
------------------------------------------------


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 426 of 1087: _cosmo_  (aa9il) * Tue, Apr  3, 2001 (23:36) * 44 lines 
 
Howdy Howdy

I was going to do a writeup about seeing the night sky light
up in shimmering, cosmic technicolor pastels that would ebb
and flow in the dance of the solar wind. My spirit would be
uplifted into the heavenly rave and there I would swirl amongst
the ionized aether. The beat... primal and pulsing....

Instead, spent some time driving around northern Illinois and
confirming all the reports that yes, lots of people are moving
up here to live and all these sodium lights really do screw
up any hope of dark sky observation. At least it was cloudy...

So, anyway, I can confirm from various reports that the local
vhf crowd did take advantage of the enhanced propagation. There
is still hope for some more CME's and subsequent possibilities
of seeing the Aurora this far south (never considered living
this far north to be too far south....)

Regarding satellites....
There are quite a few web pages devoted to micro, nano, and pico
satellites. There are discussions recently on the AMSAT bbs
about 'cube' sats which pretty much are a tiny cube that contains
the basic IHU (internal housekeeping unit - i.e. CPU), telemetry,
battery, and rf components. These tiny sats ride piggy back on
larger platforms and are launched or flung out using simple mechanical
means or even possibly hand launched from the Shuttle, ISS, or
MIR (RIP). Stanford University has a good page describing their
OPAL system. Other good sites are the University of Surrey, and
Arizona State (I think...), amongst others - just search on
microsat and let your fingers do the clicking....
At one point, I was real interested in building my own satellite
that would hang from a balloon but still have some of the functionality
of the microsats (at least in terms of telemetry and communications...)
I searched and asked around and have yet to find a comprehensive text
on designing the architecture and some information on the IHU
software - Im sure its out there, I just have not found it yet. I
even came up with a name that would make a good acronym:
Finite Altitude Research Transport Satellite

73 de AA9IL
Mike
radio cosmo international



 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 427 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Thu, Apr  5, 2001 (01:03) * 30 lines 
 
NEWSALERT: Wednesday, April 4, 2001 @ 1624 GMT
---------------------------------------------------------------------
The latest news from Astronomy Now and Spaceflight Now

NEW EVIDENCE OFFERED FOR PLANETS WITHOUT PARENT STARS
-----------------------------------------------------
A pair of British astronomers revealed new evidence Tuesday to support their controversial discovery of a group of "free-floating" planets in a distant nebula that do not orbit any star.
http://spaceflightnow.com/news/n0104/04planets/

NEXT MARTIAN ADVENTURE SET TO LAUNCH SATURDAY
---------------------------------------------
NASA's Mars Odyssey spacecraft is bolted to its rocketship at Cape Canaveral for Saturday's scheduled blastoff on a 286-million mile journey to the Red Planet. Read the latest on pre-launch preparations!
http://spaceflightnow.com/mars/odyssey/status.html

SUN UNLEASHES RECORD FLARE, EARTH SAFE FROM SOLAR BULLET
--------------------------------------------------------
The Sun blasted one of its largest flares in 25 years from the same region harboring the largest sunspot of the current solar cycle Monday. The region has continued to rotate with the Sun and is no longer in line with the Earth, so most of the flare's energy was directed away from our planet.
http://spaceflightnow.com/news/n0104/04flare/

SWISS CHEESE-LIKE GAS CLOUD HOLDS CLUES TO STARQUAKES
-----------------------------------------------------
By spinning ultra-cold sodium gas in a laboratory, NASA-funded scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge have created a gas cloud that resembles rounded Swiss cheese and is riddled with tiny whirlpools, like those that cause "starquakes" in space.
http://spaceflightnow.com/news/n0104/04starquakes/

NEXT-GENERATION GAMMA RAY BURST FINDER TO FLY ON DELTA 2
--------------------------------------------------------
Boeing's Delta 2 rocket has been tapped to launch a NASA space observatory in 2003 that will seek out and study gamma ray bursts, the most powerful explosions in the universe.
http://spaceflightnow.com/news/n0104/04swift/




 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 428 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Thu, Apr  5, 2001 (01:04) * 1 lines 
 
Oh Mike!!! I'm sorry. How frustrating! Neil from Canada expressed the same frustration. Next time!!!


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 429 of 1087:  (sprin5) * Thu, Apr  5, 2001 (10:01) * 3 lines 
 
http://sohowww.nascom.nasa.gov/hotshots/X17/

Some pictures to the spectacular solar flare, in addition to the great ones above. Wow, biggest in 25 years but it missed us!


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 430 of 1087: _cosmo_  (aa9il) * Thu, Apr  5, 2001 (19:08) * 17 lines 
 
Hey kids

Oh, no problem. It rained today but I did get to see a rainbow!
As far as aurora goes, there will be more chances since we are
at or just peaking over solar max so this summer still holds promise.
My best aurora viewing was while flying to Seattle many years ago
- a nice powder blue aurora that lasted for a short while. The
cool thing is that there should still be plenty of VLF/ULF/ELF
activity in the coming months. - i.e. whistlers and the HF
bands will be in for a ride.

73 de Mike
radio cosmo international

p.s. - not sure if anyone caught it but the satellite acronym
was F.A.R.T.S.A.T (Yes, I really plan on calling it that when
it is built and launched via balloon or other means!)


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 431 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Thu, Apr  5, 2001 (23:41) * 6 lines 
 
I was going to mention something about that... but waited till someone else noticed. I love it. Hmmmmm you going to hand hurl your satellite into orbit. I hear it can be done!

I wonder why I never know any of the guys who get to see the aurora. Oh well, have seen ruby-red and emerald-green at the same time (Ohio), plenty of white (New York State) and some pale blue in both places at different times. The red/green revealed its source by day - a huge sunspot that was naked eye visible through heavy overcast. I wish I had thought about trying to photograph each of them but did not...

Mike! Here's to continued CME's and further aurural sighting possibilities!
Keep those acronyms coming!


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 432 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Thu, Apr  5, 2001 (23:52) * 13 lines 
 
Tireless Science Communication Pays Off: Science@NASA honored

NASA Science News for April 4, 2001

Last night the Science@NASA family of web sites received a prestigious
international honor, the 2000 Pirelli INTERNETional Award, which
recognizes excellence in science communications and "the spread of science
culture" using the Internet.

FULL STORY at

http://science.nasa.gov/headlines/y2001/ast04apr_1.htm?list89800



 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 433 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Fri, Apr  6, 2001 (16:18) * 51 lines 
 

NEWSALERT: Friday, April 6, 2001 @ 1610 GMT
---------------------------------------------------------------------
The latest news from Astronomy Now and Spaceflight Now


NEXT MARTIAN ADVENTURE POISED FOR LAUNCH SATURDAY
-------------------------------------------------
NASA's 2001 Mars Odyssey spacecraft was being buttoned up on Thursday aboard the Boeing Delta 2 rocket at Cape Canaveral as activities continue on schedule and without incident for Saturday's planned launch. Read the latest on pre-launch preparations!

http://spaceflightnow.com/mars/odyssey/status.html


SPACE SHUTTLE ENDEAVOUR SET FOR LAUNCH APRIL 19
-----------------------------------------------
NASA officials on Thursday decided to keep Endeavour on track for blastoff April 19 as originally planned after the Russians agreed to delay the launch of a new Soyuz space station escape capsule to give the space shuttle more liftoff opportunities.

http://spaceflightnow.com/station/status.html


MARS FEATURES SAID NOT TO BE ANCIENT OCEAN SHORELINES
-----------------------------------------------------
What scientists suspect might be ancient ocean shorelines on the northern plains of Mars is actually a network of tectonic ridges related to dramatic Martian volcanism, according to a new report.
http://spaceflightnow.com/news/n0104/06shorelines/

HUBBLE REVEALS THE HEART OF THE WHIRLPOOL GALAXY
------------------------------------------------
New images from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope are helping researchers view in unprecedented detail the spiral arms and dust clouds of a nearby galaxy, which are the birth sites of massive and luminous stars.
http://spaceflightnow.com/news/n0104/06whirlpool/

CONGRESS GRILLS NASA ABOUT SPACE STATION COST OVERRUNS
------------------------------------------------------
NASA administrator Dan Goldin told members of Congress Wednesday that the space agency is still coming to terms with a $4 billion cost overrun on the International Space Station project and may look to its international partners to contribute key station components the U.S. was originally planning to build.
http://spaceflightnow.com/news/n0104/05goldin/

TURNING STARS INTO GOLD
-----------------------
Normal stars cannot make enough of the heavy elements, such as gold and platinum. Thus the origin of gold and platinum - on Earth and throughout the Universe - is a mystery. But now a team of scientists has explored the idea that violent collisions of super-dense neutron stars could be the source.
http://spaceflightnow.com/news/n0104/06goldstars/

X-RAY PULSARS MAY BE ASHES FROM BURST OF STAR FORMATION
-------------------------------------------------------
Astronomers have found two new X-ray pulsars spinning in the Small Magellanic Cloud, the Milky Way's neighbor. This brings drives home the fact that our neighboring galaxy has a much higher concentration of pulsars than we do, perhaps created during a burst of star formation a few million years ago when the two galaxies were at their closest.
http://spaceflightnow.com/news/n0104/05pulsars/

GAMMA-RAY BURSTS MIGHT COME FROM STAR-FORMING REGIONS
-----------------------------------------------------
New findings from two X-ray satellites suggest that gamma-ray bursts, some of the most intense blasts in the Universe, may be created in the same area where stars are born.
http://spaceflightnow.com/news/n0104/05grb/




 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 434 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Tue, Apr 10, 2001 (14:31) * 127 lines 
 
--------------------------------------------
SPACEDAILY EXPRESS - April 10, 2001
** forward SpaceDaily Express to a friend **
--------------------------------------------

------- "SMALLER SATELLITES: BIGGER BUSINESS?" ------
Strasbourg will be the setting for the International
Space University's 6th Annual Symposium. This year's
theme will be small satellites with an emphasis on
concepts, applications and markets. Join some of the
world's leading experts, manufacturers and users in
interdisciplinary presentations and discussions on a
wide variety of issues pertaining to small satellites
Strasbourg - May 21-23 - 2001
--------- http://www.isunet.edu/Symposium/ ----------

-----------
QUICK SPACE

- "XM Rock" Checks Out In Orbit, "XM Roll" Slated For May 7 Launch
http://www.spacedaily.com/news/xm-radio-01b.html

- Scripps Calls For Quick Launch Of Triana
http://www.spacedaily.com/news/triana-01a.html

- The Future Of Russia's Manned Space Program
http://www.spacedaily.com/news/russia-space-general-01l.html

- Russia Wants New Space Station
http://www.spacedaily.com/news/mir2-01a.html

- The Greening Of Deep Space
http://www.spacedaily.com/news/food-01b.html

- Moscow Conference Will Debate How To Avoid Spacewar
http://www.spacedaily.com/news/milspace-01l.html

- TRW/Raytheon SBIRS Low Team Completes Initial System Design
http://www.spacedaily.com/news/sbirs-01b.html

- Yuri's Night (Official Celebration Site)
http://www.yurisnight.net

------------------
HEADLINES IN BRIEF
April 10, 2001

---------
SPACEMART

- "XM Rock" Checks Out In Orbit, "XM Roll" Slated For May 7 Launch
http://www.spacedaily.com/news/xm-radio-01b.html

Los Angeles - April 9, 2001 - XM Satellite Radio's first satellite, "Rock," has achieved several critical performance milestones and continues easing toward its final orbital position. The company's second satellite, "Roll," is scheduled for launch May 7.

----------
TERRADAILY

- Scripps Calls For Quick Launch Of Triana
http://www.spacedaily.com/news/triana-01a.html

San Diego - April 10, 2001 - Triana, the first deep space Earth-observing mission, will provide a continuous view of the entire sunlit face of the rotating Earth. Scripps Institution of Oceanography scientists and leaders are currently working in collaboration with NASA officials to investigate opportunities to launch the Triana spacecraft.

------------
SPACE TRAVEL

- The Future Of Russia's Manned Space Program
http://www.spacedaily.com/news/russia-space-general-01l.html

Moscow (Interfax) April 8, 2001 - After the Mir space station was brought down into the Pacific Ocean on March 23 the International Space Station will become Russia's priority piloted space program. Russia must meet its obligations and occupy a worthy place in the International Space Station program.

- Russia Wants New Space Station
http://www.spacedaily.com/news/mir2-01a.html

Moscow (Interfax) April 8, 2001 - Russia may place its own new space station in orbit in three years' time, says President of the Russian Academy of Cosmonautics Vladimir Senkevich. "It is necessary to take our own station into orbit to carry out tasks that are impossible in the framework of international cooperation on the ISS," he said in an interview published in Izvestiya on Friday.

------------
STATION NEWS

- The Greening Of Deep Space
http://www.spacedaily.com/news/food-01b.html

Huntsville - April 9, 2001 - Every year around this time northern school children begin sowing seeds and tending classroom gardens. It's a familiar springtime tradition. But if NASA scientists have their way, this annual gardening ritual could turn into something much more -- astronaut training!

-------------- Micro Satellite Tender ---------------
COSMIC is a joint U.S.-Taiwan scientific project that
will use a constellation of six microsatellites to
collect atmospheric sounding measurements. Industry
partners to build and deliver six GPS receivers, six
solid-state recorders plus payload computers are now
being sought by the University Corporation.
----------- http://www.ucar.cosmic.edu/ -----------

--------
SPACEWAR

- Moscow Conference Will Debate How To Avoid Spacewar
http://www.spacedaily.com/news/milspace-01l.html

Moscow (Interfax) April 8, 2001 - Over 80 countries have officially confirmed the participation of their representatives in the international conference on arms-free space as an arena of peaceful cooperation in the 21st century, due to take place in Moscow on April 11-13, Interfax was told at the Foreign Ministry on Friday.

- TRW/Raytheon SBIRS Low Team Completes Initial System Design
http://www.spacedaily.com/news/sbirs-01b.html

Redondo Beach - April 9, 2001 - The TRW/Raytheon Space Based Infrared System Low (SBIRS Low) team progressed its system design effort with the successful completion of the second of three major program milestones, the System Design Review (SDR). SBIRS Low is the low-Earth orbiting component of the next generation missile early warning and tracking system.

------------
YURI'S NIGHT

- Man in space: "the greatest event in the history of the world"
http://www.spacedaily.com/news/010407022221.l3jqoj70.html

- Key dates in the history of space flight
http://www.spacedaily.com/news/010407013207.yyf5ftfl.html

- 40 years after Gagarin, space remains the final frontier
http://www.spacedaily.com/news/010407013005.kvns1a0k.html

- Cosmonauts biographies published in Gagarin anniversary volume
http://www.spacedaily.com/news/010406165110.gcrajr7s.html

-----------------------------
SPACEDAILY EXPRESS LIST NOTES
--------------------------------------------
SpaceDaily Express is issued daily and lists
all new postings to http://www.SpaceDaily.com
Subscription is free: subscribe@spacer.com


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 435 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Wed, Apr 11, 2001 (19:58) * 13 lines 
 
* Jets on Jupiter: first view of an auroral flare: (11 Apr)
Astronomers studying Jupiter's atmosphere have spotted a
colossal flare erupting from the planet's aurora - a
phenomenon never seen before. The intense plume at the
northern polar region of the giant planet lasted just a
few minutes and covered an area the size of the Earth.
Hunter Waite of the University of Michigan in the US and
colleagues believe that the impact of the solar wind on
the magnetosphere of the giant planet could have played a
crucial role in the event (J H Waite et al 2001
Nature 410 787).
[ http://PhysicsWeb.org/article/news/5/4/6 ]
----


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 436 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Sun, Apr 15, 2001 (22:42) * 201 lines 
 
===========================================================
SKY & TELESCOPE'S NEWS BULLETIN - APRIL 13, 2001
===========================================================
For images and Web links for these items, visit http://www.skypub.com
===========================================================
VISIT SKY & TELESCOPE'S ONLINE IMAGE GALLERY

Sky & Telescope's Web site now features dozens of stunning celestial
vistas from ground- and space-based telescopes. Visit the Gallery of
Images at http://www.skypub.com/imaging/gallery/
===========================================================

JUPITER'S LIGHT SHOW

Already recognized as the most potent system of its kind in the solar system,
it appears that Jupiter's aurora can also put on quite a dazzling -- and
impromptu -- light show. On September 21, 1999, as the Hubble Space Telescope
looked on, the planet's north polar region erupted with ultraviolet light that
brightened 30-fold in just 70 seconds. Then, almost as quickly, the outburst
abated. Although space physicists have been monitoring the Jovian aurora with
HST for more than a decade, nothing this intense or abrupt has ever been
witnessed.

Unlike terrestrial auroras, which are powered by solar-wind interactions with
Earth's magnetic bubble, those on Jupiter draw their energy largely from the
breakneck, 9.9-hour rotation of the planet and its inner magnetosphere.
Trapped electrons spiral down the magnetic field lines and slam into the
planet's upper atmosphere, causing hydrogen atoms to glow in a bright oval of
ultraviolet light. However, the 1999 flare occurred poleward of the ubiquitous
auroral oval, implying a source region farther out in the magnetosphere, some
3 or 4 million kilometers from the planet's sunward-facing "morning" quadrant.

The HST observers, led by J. Hunter Waite Jr. (Southwest Research Institute),
can't yet explain what caused the outburst, but they suspect an external
trigger. As they note in the April 12th issue of Nature, the Jovian
magnetosphere likely reacted to the arrival of a high-density pulse of solar
wind. Because the interplanetary conditions were not unusually stormy that
day, the team suggests that "such flares, if indeed triggered by changes in
solar-wind pressure, may not be uncommon."

AURORA WATCHES CONTINUE

And speaking of auroras, you may get another opportunity to see some northern
(or southern) lights this weekend. During the latter half of the past week,
the Sun had several large eruptions directed toward the Earth. Auroral
warnings are up once again, so watch the skies this weekend.

COMET LINEAR'S EXTENDED OUTBURST

When a faint comet suddenly flares to prominence, astronomers are grateful for
the easy viewing but instinctively wary -- usually the outburst wanes quickly,
and the comet may fizzle. So far that hasn't been the case with Comet LINEAR
(C/2001 A2), a recent find that brightened dramatically over several days in
late March. (This is not the "Christmas" Comet LINEAR that had an outburst of
hype in February. That one is designated C/2000 WM1.)

The story of C/2001 A2 begins back in mid-January, when the MIT Lincoln
Laboratory team (LINEAR) in Socorro, New Mexico, captured images of a
19th-magnitude object in Cancer that did not appear to be moving like a
typical main-belt asteroid. Follow-up observations at two observatories in the
Czech Republic revealed a fuzzy rather than a point-source image. The orbit
calculated by Brian G. Marsden, and the brightness observations available in
January, suggested the comet would brighten slowly to perhaps 13th or 12th
magnitude by early April, ultimately reaching about 9th magnitude in June.
However, starting on March 26th, Michael Mattiazzo of Wallaroo, South
Australia, noticed the comet was much brighter than expected.

By April 1st some observers reported that Comet LINEAR had reached magnitude
7.5, and it has hovered near 8th magnitude since then. The comet remains an
easy evening-sky target in a small telescope, though for Northern Hemisphere
observers it is sinking fast toward the southwest horizon as twilight ends.
This coming week, it moves from Monoceros into Lepus, and is a few degrees
away from the 2nd-magnitude star Saiph, the eastern foot of Orion. The farther
south you live, the higher the comet appears in your sky. If the comet doesn't
fizzle, it could attain naked-eye visibility by the time it rounds perihelion
in late May and early June.

Here are coordinates for Comet LINEAR at 0 hours Universal Time for the coming
week:

R.A. Dec.

Apr 14 5h 58m -10.5 deg.
Apr 16 5 57 -11.1
Apr 18 5 57 -11.7
Apr 20 5 56 -12.4


THIS WEEK'S "SKY AT A GLANCE"

Some daily events in the changing sky, by the editors of Sky & Telescope.

APRIL 15 -- SUNDAY

* Last-quarter Moon (exact at 11:31 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time).

* The naked-eye eclipsing variable star Algol should be in one of its
periodic dimmings, magnitude 3.4 instead of its usual 2.1, for a couple hours
centered on 9:38 p.m. EDT. Algol takes several additional hours to fade and to
brighten.

APRIL 16 -- MONDAY

* Jupiter shines 5 degrees north of Aldebaran in the west during and after
dusk.

APRIL 17 -- TUESDAY

* Jupiter is the brightest of the many winter stars and planets departing
into the west at nightfall. To Jupiter's left is Orion, tilting now with his
Belt horizontal. A similar distance left of Orion is bright Sirius.

APRIL 18 -- WEDNESDAY

* As dawn begins to brighten Thursday morning, look very low in the
east-southeast for the waning crescent Moon. Look well to its left, due east,
for Venus.

APRIL 19 -- THURSDAY

* Find bright Jupiter in the west in early evening and look far to its upper
right to spot Capella. Equally far to Capella's upper left are Castor and
Pollux.

APRIL 20 -- FRIDAY

* Very high in the south right after dark is the Sickle pattern of the
constellation Leo. It looks like a backward question mark. Its brightest star
is its bottom one, Regulus.

APRIL 21 -- SATURDAY

* The brightest star on the eastern side of the sky at this time of year is
the Spring Star, Arcturus. As evening grows late, look low in the northeast
for the Summer Star, Vega, already risen into good view.


============================
THIS WEEK'S PLANET ROUNDUP
============================

MERCURY is hidden in the glare of the Sun.

VENUS is low in the glow of sunrise. Look for it just above the horizon due
east about 45 minutes before sunup.

MARS (magnitude -0.6) rises in the southeast around 11:30 p.m. and shines
yellow-orange in the south before and during dawn. Well to its right is
similarly-colored but much dimmer Antares. In a telescope Mars is 12
arcseconds wide and growing; it will reach 21 arcseconds when nearest to Earth
in June. See the observing guide to Mars in the May Sky & Telescope, page 102.

JUPITER and SATURN (magnitudes -2.1 and -0.2, respectively) shine rather low
in the west during and after dusk. Jupiter is the brightest "star" there; look
for yellowish Saturn well to its lower right. Closer to Jupiter's lower left
is orange Aldebaran. To the upper right of Saturn are the Pleiades.

URANUS and NEPTUNE (6th and 8th magnitude, respectively, in Capricornus) are
very low in the southeast before dawn.

PLUTO (magnitude 14; invisible without a large telescope) is in Ophiuchus in
the south before the first light of dawn.

(All descriptions that relate to the horizon or zenith -- including the words
up, down, right, and left -- are written for the world's midnorthern
latitudes. Descriptions that also depend on longitude are for North America.
Eastern Daylight Time, EDT, equals Universal Time [GMT] minus 4 hours.)

More celestial events, sky maps, observing projects, and news of the world's
astronomy research appear each month in SKY & TELESCOPE, the essential
magazine of astronomy. See our enormous Web site and astronomy bookstore at
http://www.skypub.com/ . Clear skies!

SKY & TELESCOPE, 49 Bay State Rd., Cambridge, MA 02138 * 617-864-7360

===========================================================
Copyright 2001 Sky Publishing Corporation. S&T's Weekly News Bulletin and Sky
at a Glance stargazing calendar are provided as a service to the astronomical
community by the editors of SKY & TELESCOPE magazine. Widespread electronic
distribution is encouraged as long as these paragraphs are included. But the
text of the bulletin and calendar may not be published in any other form
without permission from Sky Publishing (contact permissions@skypub.com or
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related Internet resources, are available via SKY & TELESCOPE's site on the
World Wide Web at http://www.skypub.com/.

In cooperation with the American Association of Amateur Astronomers (http://www.corvus.com/), S&T's Weekly News Bulletin and Sky at a Glance
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WWW: http://www.skypub.com/. Clear skies!
===========================================================



 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 437 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Mon, Apr 23, 2001 (05:22) * 244 lines 
 
===========================================================
SKY & TELESCOPE'S NEWS BULLETIN - APRIL 20, 2001
===========================================================
For images and Web links for these items, visit http://www.skypub.com
===========================================================
Advance token to Mauna Kea Observatory. If you pass GO, collect $200.

Brings the wonders of the universe to your living room with the
astronomy edition of Monopoly. Each game comes with six custom pewter
tokens, descriptions of the properties, and tips on getting started
in astronomy. To order, call 800-253-0245 or visit Sky Publishing's
online store - http://store.skypub.com/skypub/default.asp?links=01504
===========================================================

EARTHSHINE SHEDDING LIGHT ON EARTH'S CLIMATE

Reviving an observing technique performed during the early 20th
century, astronomers will be watching the Moon in the hopes of better
monitoring Earth's climate. In the May 1st Geophysical Research
Letters, Philip R. Goode (New Jersey Institute of Technology) and his
colleagues explain how monitoring earthshine -- the faint glow of the
Moon's dark side at crescent phase -- can characterize Earth's
reflectance, also called albedo. The amount of sunlight our planet
bounces back into space is an important element of the atmosphere's
energy content. Clouds, atmospheric dust and aerosols, and snow cover
all reflect most of the sunlight that falls on them. Any radiation
that isn't reflected is absorbed; thus when the Earth isn't as
reflective, it must be getting warmer.

In the late 1920s, French astronomer Andre Danjon did much the same
observations. For more than two decades, he and his colleagues
monitored earthshine using a photometer. The modern observations are
being taken with a 6-inch refractor and CCD camera at Big Bear Solar
Observatory in California. The astronomers image a pair of regions of
the Moon during the crescent phase and then incorporate other
terrestrial data such as cloud cover and how much of the surface is
layered with snow and ice. By seeing how brightly the dark side of the
Moon is illuminated, researchers can determine the albedo of the
entire planet.

Goode's team reports that on average the Earth reflects 30 percent of
the sunlight impinging on it and that the planet's albedo can vary by
5 percent throughout a day. Furthermore, albedo differences due to
seasonal changes vary much more than computer models predicted it
would, and that the Earth seems to be a bit brighter than indicated by
data collected during 1994-95. However, it is too early to make any
conclusions on any trends in reflectance changes. Earthshine
measurements will have to continue for many years -- to average out
daily and seasonal changes -- before any climatological conclusions
can be made.

A DISTANT DOUBLE IN THE KUIPER BELT

The swarm of objects beyond Neptune known as the Kuiper Belt just
keeps getting curiouser and curiouser. Last December, while checking
up on 1998 WW31, an object that had been discovered out there two
years earlier, Christian Veillet and two colleagues realized that it
sometimes appeared elongated while other times as a double blip. News
of the binary's discovery was announced this week on IAU Circular
7610.

Veillet's team recorded 1998 WW31 with the 3.6-meter
Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope in Hawaii and the facility's new
100-megapixel camera. Even so, at 23rd magnitude and 6.9 billion
kilometers away, 1998 WW31 did not divulge much about itself.
Fortunately, a series of observations taken nearly a year earlier also
showed doubling and elongation, clinching its status as a binary.
Veillet says the two components orbit at least 40,000 km apart, and
that one is about 0.4 magnitude brighter than the other. This would
make the bodies roughly 150 and 200 km across.

LYRID METEORS TO PEAK

The Lyrid meteor shower has been observed for more than 2,600 years;
Chinese records say "stars fell like rain" in the shower of 687 B.C.
But in recent times the Lyrids have generally been weak. They have a
brief maximum that lasts for less than a day, and even then only 10 to
20 Lyrids per hour may appear.

In 1982, however, the hourly rate unexpectedly reached 90 for a single
hour, and 180 to 300 for a few minutes. A brief outburst of 100 per
hour was also seen in 1922. "This unpredictability always makes the
Lyrids a shower to watch, since we cannot say when the next unusual
return may occur,"note Alistair McBeath and Rainer Arlt of the
International Meteor Organization.

The radiant point of this shower lies between Vega and the keystone
pattern of Hercules. This year's peak activity is due around 4h UT on
April 22nd (midnight Eastern Daylight Time on the night of April
21st), with the radiant high overhead in western Europe and well up
for observers in eastern North America. The waning crescent Moon won't
interfere.

COMET LINEAR'S EXTENDED OUTBURST

Comet LINEAR (C/2001 A2) remains an easy evening-sky target in a small
telescope at about magnitude 7.5 following its outburst at the end of
March. However, for Northern Hemisphere observers it is sinking fast
toward the southwest horizon as twilight ends. This coming week, it
continues to move due south through Lepus. The farther south you live,
the higher the comet appears in your sky. Southern Hemisphere
observers will find it about halfway to the zenith in the
west-northwest. If the comet doesn't fizzle, it could attain naked-eye
visibility by the time it rounds perihelion in late May and early
June. Here are coordinates for Comet LINEAR at 0 hours Universal Time
for the coming week:

R.A. Dec.

Apr 21 5h 56m -12.7 deg.
Apr 23 5 56 -13.4
Apr 25 5 55 -14.1
Apr 27 5 55 -14.8


THIS WEEK'S "SKY AT A GLANCE"

Some daily events in the changing sky, by the editors of Sky &
Telescope.

APRIL 22 -- SUNDAY

* Some doorstep astronomy: Face northeast and look very high during
evening this month to spot the Big Dipper. It's almost upside down,
with its handle to the lower right. The middle star of the bent handle
is Mizar. Examine Mizar carefully for its little companion star Alcor,
barely below it. Binoculars show Alcor easily.

APRIL 23 -- MONDAY

* New Moon (exact at 11:26 a.m. EDT).

APRIL 24 -- TUESDAY

* About 30 to 40 minutes after sunset, try looking for the hairline
crescent Moon very low in the west-northwest, far below Jupiter and
perhaps a bit right. Binoculars will help.

* The red long-period variable stars V Coronae Borealis and RS
Scorpii should be at their maximum brightness (7th or 8th magnitude)
this week.

APRIL 25 -- WEDNESDAY

* During twilight, look west for the waxing crescent Moon poised
between bright Jupiter above it, Aldebaran to its upper left, and
Saturn to the Moon's lower right.

APRIL 26 -- THURSDAY

* Jupiter shines to the lower right of the crescent Moon this
evening.

APRIL 27 -- FRIDAY

* The Moon is inside a huge, flattened pentagon formed by
(counterclockwise from lower right) bright Jupiter, Capella, Castor
and Pollux, Procyon, and Betelgeuse.

APRIL 28 -- SATURDAY

* Above the Moon are Pollux and Castor. To the Moon's left is
Procyon. Nearly twice as far to the Moon's right is Capella.

* Jupiter's moons Europa and Callisto are in conjunction 24
arcseconds apart at 8:03 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time. The smallest
telescope will show them paired this evening.


============================
THIS WEEK'S PLANET ROUNDUP
============================

MERCURY is hidden in the glow of sunset.

VENUS is low in the sunrise. Look for it quite low due east about 45
minutes before sunup.

MARS (magnitude -1) rises in the southeast around midnight daylight
saving time and shines yellow-orange in the south before and during
dawn. Well off to its right is similarly-colored but much dimmer
Antares. In a telescope Mars is 13 arcseconds wide and growing; it
will reach 21 arcseconds when nearest to Earth in June. See the
observing guide to Mars in the May Sky & Telescope, page 102.

JUPITER (magnitude -2.0) shines in the west during and after dusk.
It's the brightest "star" there. The much fainter orange star to its
lower left is Aldebaran.

SATURN is far to Jupiter' lower right during twilight and sets around
twilight's end.

URANUS and NEPTUNE (6th and 8th magnitude, respectively) are in
Capricornus, low in the southeast just before dawn.

PLUTO (magnitude 14; invisible without a large telescope) is in
Ophiuchus in the south before dawn.

(All descriptions that relate to the horizon or zenith -- including
the words up, down, right, and left -- are written for the world's
midnorthern latitudes. Descriptions that also depend on longitude are
for North America. Eastern Daylight Time, EDT, equals Universal Time
[GMT] minus 4 hours.)

More celestial events, sky maps, observing projects, and news of the
world's astronomy research appear each month in SKY & TELESCOPE, the
essential magazine of astronomy. See our enormous Web site and
astronomy bookstore at http://www.skypub.com/ . Clear skies!

SKY & TELESCOPE, 49 Bay State Rd., Cambridge, MA 02138 *
617-864-7360

===========================================================
Copyright 2001 Sky Publishing Corporation. S&T's Weekly News Bulletin
and Sky at a Glance stargazing calendar are provided as a service to
the astronomical community by the editors of SKY & TELESCOPE magazine.
Widespread electronic distribution is encouraged as long as these
paragraphs are included. But the text of the bulletin and calendar may
not be published in any other form without permission from Sky
Publishing (contact permissions@skypub.com or phone 617-864-7360).
Updates of astronomical news, including active links to related
Internet resources, are available via SKY & TELESCOPE's site on the
World Wide Web at http://www.skypub.com/.

In cooperation with the American Association of Amateur
Astronomers (http://www.corvus.com/), S&T's Weekly News Bulletin and
Sky at a Glance are available via electronic mailing list. For a free
subscription, send e-mail to join@astromax.com and put the word "join"
on the first line of the body of the message. To unsubscribe, send
e-mail to unjoin@astromax.com and put the word "unjoin" on the first
line of the body of the message. If you should have any problems
either subscribing to or unsubscribing from the list, send a message
to list administrator John Wagoner at stargate@gte.net for assistance.
---------------------------------------------------------------------
SKY & TELESCOPE, the Essential Magazine of Astronomy, is read by more
than 200,000 enthusiasts each month. It is available on newsstands
worldwide. For subscription information, or for a free copy of our
catalog of fine astronomy books and products, please contact Sky
Publishing Corp., 49 Bay State Rd., Cambridge, MA 02138-1200, U.S.A.
Phone: 800-253-0245 (U.S. and Canada); 617-864-7360 (International).
Fax: 617-864-6117. E-mail: custserv@skypub.com. WWW:
http://www.skypub.com/. Clear skies!
===========================================================



 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 438 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Sat, Apr 28, 2001 (11:14) * 243 lines 
 
===========================================================
SKY & TELESCOPE'S NEWS BULLETIN - APRIL 27, 2001
===========================================================
For images and Web links for these items, visit http://www.skypub.com
===========================================================
Advance token to Mauna Kea Observatory. If you pass GO, collect $200.

Brings the wonders of the universe to your living room with the
astronomy edition of Monopoly. Each game comes with six custom pewter
tokens, descriptions of the properties, and tips on getting started
in astronomy. To order, call 800-253-0245 or visit Sky Publishing's
online store - http://store.skypub.com/skypub/default.asp?links=01504
===========================================================

ASTRONOMY DAY IS HERE

Saturday April 28th is Astronomy Day -- a great way for astronomy
clubs to gain visibility in the community by having the public look
through telescopes and at displays. If you don't belong to an
astronomy club and want to find a local club or planetarium that might
be hosting an Astronomy Day celebration, check out SKY & TELESCOPE's
Events Calendar (http://www.skypub.com/resources/calendar.shtml) or
the Astronomical Directory
(http://www.skypub.com/resources/directory/directory.html). The
Astronomical League, a nonprofit federation of amateur astronomical
societies and individuals, will select the group that best exemplifies
the concept of Astronomy Day, "Bringing Astronomy to the People,"
through its special event program. The League will present the group
the S&T Astronomy Day Award. Last year's winners were the Boston
Museum of Science's Charles Hayden Planetarium (Boston, MA) and the
Oglethorpe Astronomical Association (Savannah, GA).

USING GRAVITY TO PROBE A DISTANT STAR

An international team of astronomers have studied the atmosphere of a
star 25,000 light-years away. This feat was accomplished thanks in
large part to two smaller stars that happened to be in the way.

For several years, teams of astronomers have monitored fields of stars
looking for gradual brightenings. The sought magnitude changes aren't
due to any variable nature in the stars themselves, but because of
gravitational lensing. When a massive, but dim, object crosses our
line of sight to a background star, the gravity of the intervening
star distorts the light from the more-distant object. The effect is a
focusing of the starlight. The cycle of brightening and dimming of
this so-called microlensing can last several weeks. Astronomers hope
that such microlensing searches will help estimate the amount of dark
matter in the galaxy by finding evidence for dwarf stars and other
bodies we can't detect through other means.

On May 5, 2000, astronomers of the EROS program found a microlensing
candidate and soon other observing programs were monitoring the event,
designated EROS-BLG-2000-5. After about a month, the star brightened
significantly, indicating that the event was in fact a pair of dwarf
stars passing in front of a red giant in the central bulge of the
Milky Way. Furthermore, researchers predicted that the star would have
another brightening a few weeks later. Astronomers at the European
Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope geared up for the event,
and when the star did indeed brighten again, they took spectra
throughout several nights in early July 2000. The lensing effect
enhanced emission from different parts of the giant star as the
foreground dwarfs moved across the disk, in effect peering into the
structure of the star. The ESO astronomers traced changes in hydrogen
emission from different atmospheric depths, which were consistent with
stellar models.

GROWING PLANETS IN A BAD NEIGHBORHOOD

It seems that the three most important factors in forming planetary
systems in nebulae just may be: location, location, location.
According to a study conducted by Henry Throop (Southwest Research
Institute) and his colleagues, the environment surrounding a
protoplanetary disk dramatically effects the type of system that will
form.

Using the Hubble Space Telescope, Throop looked at various
million-year-old disks within the Orion Nebula. In the disks, he found
dust grains as large as 5 microns in size, about the one-tenth the
width of a human hair. For comparison, normal interstellar dust grains
are only 0.1 to 0.2 micron. The apparent grain growth implies that
they are in the early stages of planetary growth.

However, the Orion Nebula is also home to more than two dozen O-type
stars. These stellar giants cause an extreme ruckus in any neighboring
disk within 0.3 light-year or so. The star's tremendous energy outflow
blows away the gas in the system, and the giant star's intense
ultraviolet radiation bakes away any ice. According to models
calculated by Throop and others, the resulting system is quite
strange: there is no gas to form Jupiterlike gas giant planets, nor is
there ice to form a Kuiper Belt or any comets. Instead, all that
remains is a group of atmosphereless rocky bodies, similar in many
respects to Mercury.

But, if the disk is fortunate to reside in a "shady spot," says
Throop, then gas giants and normal planetary formation can proceed.
Because O-type stars have such short life spans (up to 100 million
years), disks could easily form after the stars had wreaked their
havoc. Details of the study appear in this week's Science.

COMET LINEAR BRIGHTENS MORE

Comet LINEAR (C/2001 A2) has had another unexpected boost in
brightness. To the surprise of astronomers -- who presumed the comet
would have faded a bit since its outburst nearly a month ago -- the
comet now shines at about magnitude 6.5. Although it's an easy
evening-sky target in binoculars and a small telescope, it will soon
become a Southern Hemisphere only object. By the end of twilight,
Comet LINEAR is less than 10 degrees above the west-southwest horizon
in Lepus for observers at midnorthern latitudes. Skywatchers south of
the equator can find the comet about 40 degrees above the western
horizon as darkness falls. Here are coordinates for Comet LINEAR at 0
hours Universal Time for the coming week:

R.A. Dec.

Apr 28 5h 54m -15.2 deg.
Apr 30 5 54 -15.9
May 2 5 53 -16.7
May 4 5 52 -17.4


THIS WEEK'S "SKY AT A GLANCE"

Some daily events in the changing sky, by the editors of Sky &
Telescope.

APRIL 29 -- SUNDAY

* Look to the right of the Moon this evening for Pollux and Castor.
Farther below the Moon and perhaps a bit left is Procyon.

APRIL 30 -- MONDAY

* First-quarter Moon (exact at 1:08 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time).

MAY 1 -- TUESDAY

* The star just below the Moon tonight is Regulus in Leo.

MAY 2 -- WEDNESDAY

* Face north after dark and look very high after dark in May to spot
the Big Dipper. It's floating upside down, with its handle to the
right. To identify constellations all around your sky, use the
printable evening star map and instructions at
http://www.skypub.com/sights/northern/0105skyn.shtml (if you're in the
mid-latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere. Southern Hemisphere
skywatchers: use the map at
http://www.skypub.com/sights/southern/0105skys.html .)

MAY 3 -- THURSDAY

* Skywatchers in the tropics and the Southern Hemisphere should find
the Eta Aquarid meteor shower active just before the first light of
dawn for the next couple of days (before moonlight interferes).

MAY 4 -- FRIDAY

* Venus is at its greatest brilliancy in the morning sky.

MAY 5 -- SATURDAY

* Look for Spica to the right of the Moon this evening. Three or
four times farther to the Moon's upper left is brighter Arcturus.

* The red long-period variable stars S Hydrae and T Ursae Majoris
should be at maximum brightness (about 8th magnitude) this week.


============================
THIS WEEK'S PLANET ROUNDUP
============================

MERCURY emerges into evening twilight view late in the week; it's just
above the west-northwest horizon, to the right or lower right of
Saturn. Look about 45 minutes after sunset.

VENUS is low in the dawn. Look for it due east about 60 to 40 minutes
before sunrise.

MARS (magnitude -1.1) rises in the southeast around midnight daylight
saving time and shines yellow-orange in the south before and during
dawn. In a telescope Mars is already 14 arcseconds wide and growing;
it will reach 21 arcseconds when nearest to Earth in June. See the
observing guide to Mars in the May Sky & Telescope, page 102.

JUPITER (magnitude -2.0) shines low in the west at dusk. It's the
brightest "star" there.

SATURN is far to Jupiter' lower right during twilight; binoculars will
help. (Look for brighter Mercury to Saturn's right late in the week.)

URANUS and NEPTUNE (6th and 8th magnitude, respectively) are in
Capricornus, low in the southeast before dawn.

PLUTO (magnitude 14) is in Ophiuchus in the south before dawn.

(All descriptions that relate to the horizon or zenith -- including
the words up, down, right, and left -- are written for the world's
midnorthern latitudes. Descriptions that also depend on longitude are
for North America. Eastern Daylight Time, EDT, equals Universal Time
[GMT] minus 4 hours.)

More celestial events, sky maps, observing projects, and news of the
world's astronomy research appear each month in SKY & TELESCOPE, the
essential magazine of astronomy. See our enormous Web site and
astronomy bookstore at http://www.skypub.com/ . Clear skies!

SKY & TELESCOPE, 49 Bay State Rd., Cambridge, MA 02138 *
617-864-7360

===========================================================
Copyright 2001 Sky Publishing Corporation. S&T's Weekly News Bulletin
and Sky at a Glance stargazing calendar are provided as a service to
the astronomical community by the editors of SKY & TELESCOPE magazine.
Widespread electronic distribution is encouraged as long as these
paragraphs are included. But the text of the bulletin and calendar may
not be published in any other form without permission from Sky
Publishing (contact permissions@skypub.com or phone 617-864-7360).
Updates of astronomical news, including active links to related
Internet resources, are available via SKY & TELESCOPE's site on the
World Wide Web at http://www.skypub.com/.

In cooperation with the American Association of Amateur
Astronomers (http://www.corvus.com/), S&T's Weekly News Bulletin and
Sky at a Glance are available via electronic mailing list. For a free
subscription, send e-mail to join@astromax.com and put the word "join"
on the first line of the body of the message. To unsubscribe, send
e-mail to unjoin@astromax.com and put the word "unjoin" on the first
line of the body of the message. If you should have any problems
either subscribing to or unsubscribing from the list, send a message
to list administrator John Wagoner at stargate@gte.net for assistance.
---------------------------------------------------------------------
SKY & TELESCOPE, the Essential Magazine of Astronomy, is read by more
than 200,000 enthusiasts each month. It is available on newsstands
worldwide. For subscription information, or for a free copy of our
catalog of fine astronomy books and products, please contact Sky
Publishing Corp., 49 Bay State Rd., Cambridge, MA 02138-1200, U.S.A.
Phone: 800-253-0245 (U.S. and Canada); 617-864-7360 (International).
Fax: 617-864-6117. E-mail: custserv@skypub.com. WWW:
http://www.skypub.com/. Clear skies!
===========================================================



 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 439 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Mon, Apr 30, 2001 (11:21) * 69 lines 
 
Keep Galileo's Eyes Open, Say Petitioning Scientists

Leavenworth, KS - NASA recently extended the successful Galileo
spacecraft's mission until January 2003 to continue study of Jupiter's
fascinating moons, particularly the extremely volcanic moon Io. Io - the
most active world yet discovered - features modes of eruption not seen on
Earth for billions of years, mountains taller than Mt. Everest, and a
unique and poorly understood surface chemistry based on sulfur. But
scientists say that a planned powerdown of Galileo's imaging suite at the
end of this year will hamstring efforts to solve Io's many mysteries.

NASA has funded Galileo's instrument package through 2001 to include two
further flybys of Io. NASA has also planned another Io flyby, during
Galileo's thirty-third orbit (I33), on January 17, 2002. Dipping to within
100 km (62 miles) of Io's surface - lower than any previous Jupiter-system
flyby - Galileo will fly over Io's sub-jovian hemisphere, which has never
been imaged before at high resolution.

Unfortunately, funding for all imaging during the I33 flyby has recently
been withdrawn, and the only chance to image the mysterious features on
this hemisphere of Io at high resolution will be lost unless the decision
is reversed.

The only images of this hemisphere returned from Galileo so far have been
at low resolution, taken at very long range during the orbital tour - show
several gigantic volcanoes and still-hot lava fields of varying
composition. If funds are reinstated, Galileo will image the mountains
Hi'iaka, Gish Bar, and Pan, a pair of enigmatic lava domes named Apis and
Inachus Tholi, and the volcanoes Kanehekili and Mbali. Galileo will also
measure the temperature of the volcanoes Kanehekili, Prometheus, Marduk,
and Pillan and search for hot spots, which provide clues to the way Io
dissipates its tidal heat.

"Every time we look at Io we see something unexpected and amazing. I33
gives Io one more chance to blow our socks off! The fact that we will be
looking at a hemisphere not seen close-up since Voyager increases the
chances of new and surprising discoveries," commented John Spencer of the
Lowell Observatory.

"This is an exceptional opportunity to view Io's Jupiter facing hemisphere
at high-resolution using Galileo's remote sensing capabilities. We have
already done a lot of the necessary work. The observations are already
planned and designed. Nobody wants to miss this unique chance," says Rosaly
Lopes of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.

Jason Perry, a high school junior from Leavenworth, Kansas, has created a
petition to persuade NASA to reverse its decision. The petition - "Pennies
for Pele" - was started on March 30, 2001 and has already been signed by 79
Io scientists and others from around the world.

The cost of performing remote sensing during the January 2002 flyby is only
$1.5 million dollars. This represents 0.1% of the funds spent to send
Galileo to Jupiter, and a ten-thousandth of NASA's annual budget.

"The funding/science ratio for imaging at the January 2002 flyby is
ridiculously cheap. Considering the amount of money it took us to get
there, not funding I33 imaging makes absolutely no sense," commented Joseph
Plassmann of the Planetary Image Research Laboratory in Tucson, Arizona.

It is hoped that 1000 signatures can be obtained before August 6, the date
of the next Io flyby. Copies of the petition will then be passed to the
NASA's Office of Space Science.

The petition can be signed online at:- http://fullspeed.to/Io

(Note- Although this website has commercial sponsors that open advertising
windows as you browse, it is the only place available to sign the petition.)




 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 440 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Sat, May  5, 2001 (13:03) * 337 lines 
 
===========================================================
SKY & TELESCOPE'S NEWS BULLETIN - MAY 4, 2001
===========================================================
For images and Web links for these items, visit http://www.skypub.com
===========================================================
Advance token to Mauna Kea Observatory. If you pass GO, collect $200.

Brings the wonders of the universe to your living room with the
astronomy edition of Monopoly. Each game comes with six custom pewter
tokens, descriptions of the properties, and tips on getting started
in astronomy. To order, call 800-253-0245 or visit Sky Publishing's
online store - http://store.skypub.com/skypub/default.asp?links=01504
===========================================================

COMET LINEAR SPLITS IN TWO

About a month ago, amateur astronomers around the world noticed that
Comet LINEAR (C/2001 A2) brightened significantly and somewhat
prematurely. In fact, during the last week of March the comet went
from magnitude 13 to 8 in a matter of days -- a hundredfold increase
in brightness. By April 25th, Mike Begbie of Harare, Zimbabwe, could
even see the comet with his naked eye.

Early predictions suggested that the comet was never going to be
brighter than 9th, even then not until a month after it reached
perihelion (its closest point to the Sun) on May 24th. Professional
and amateur astronomers alike were perplexed as to what could have
caused the sudden outburst. Now they believe they have their answer.

Observations taken April 30th with the Catalina 1.54-meter telescope
on Mount Bigelow, Arizona, by C. W. Hergenrother, M. Chamberlin, and
Y. Chamberlain (University of Arizona) clearly show that Comet LINEAR
has broken into two pieces. Currently, the fragments are separated by
some 3.5 arcseconds and together are as bright as magnitude 6.3. It
seems likely that the sudden brightening resulted from the initial
split, says Charles Morris (Jet Propulsion Laboratory).

This certainly isn't the first time a naked-eye comet has broken up on
its approach to the inner solar system. Last year the crumbling of
Comet LINEAR (C/1999 S4) was chronicled by amateur and professional
astronomers using instruments ranging from backyard telescopes to the
Hubble Space Telescope.

See the Special Sky Events page
(http://www.skypub.com/sights/skyevents/0105skyevents.shtml ) for
LINEAR's predicted location and brightness throughout the month of
May. Currently, the comet is visible only from the Southern
Hemisphere, high in the west after sunset. Here are coordinates for
Comet LINEAR at 0 hours Universal Time for the coming week:

R.A. Dec.

May 5 5h 51m -17.8 deg.
May 7 5 50 -18.6
May 9 5 48 -19.4
May 11 5 46 -20.2

PIONEER 10 LIVES ON

After 8.5 months of silence, Pioneer 10 is once again in touch with
its handlers here on Earth. Ground controllers heard from the
spacecraft for about 90 minutes on April 28th while tracking it with
NASA's 70-meter receiving dish in Spain. The long-distance call came
down "sweet as could be -- a nice, strong signal," says Lawrence
Lasher, Pioneer project manager at the Ames Research Center in
California.

The breakthrough came after weeks of failing to pick up Pioneer's
feeble signal by merely listening for it. Lasher now believes that the
spacecraft can no longer maintain a stable transmission frequency. To
sidestep this malfunction, the Spanish station beamed a
single-frequency carrier signal to the spacecraft, which then echoed
it back to Earth (after a round-trip travel time of 21.8 hours).
Ground controllers used this same two-way communication scheme when
they last heard from Pioneer 10 on August 6, 2000. Keeping in touch
with the 29-year-old craft has become very difficult because it is now
11.7 billion kilometers from Earth and because onboard power is barely
adequate to run the 8-watt transmitter. Although its mission
officially ended in 1997, Pioneer 10 has avoided a complete shutdown
because Ames engineers are using the weakening radio beacon to test a
new tracking method based on chaos theory.

Lasher plans other communication sessions in the coming weeks to
assess Pioneer 10's condition and to beam up some housekeeping
instructions. Commanding the spacecraft came a halt last year when the
last of the project's decades-old PDP computers failed, complicating
efforts to keep Pioneer's antenna pointed toward Earth. But since then
critical command sequences have been transferred to a modern desktop
system. "We're in business again," Lasher says. According to James A.
Van Allen, whose Geiger-tube telescope is the sole experiment still
sending back data, Pioneer 10 could reach the boundary marking true
interstellar space within a few years. Even though the odds are long,
he and Lasher hope the spacecraft will still be functioning well
enough to announce its arrival there.

MORE EVIDENCE FOR SPINNING BLACK HOLES

Using the Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer satellite, astronomers have
found the best evidence yet for black holes that spin. While analyzing
X-ray emission from the microquasar GRO J1655-40, Tod E. Strohmayer
found a "quasiperiodic oscillation," or QPO, in the black hole with a
frequency of 450 cycles per second -- the fastest signal ever seen
from a black hole. The only way something could orbit that fast would
be to circle extremely close to the black hole's event horizon (edge)
with the hole itself spinning, dragging the surrounding space along
with it.

QPOs are often caused by blobs of hot gas spinning tightly around
neutron stars. The frequency of the oscillation depends on the orbital
radius and the mass of the neutron star. However, the QPOs in J1655-40
have a frequency greater than what should be physically allowed. To
explain the phenomenon, Strohmayer concludes the rotation of the black
hole is speeding up the QPOs. Strohmayer suspects that the QPOs occur
no more than about 30 kilometers of the hole's event horizon -- a
number that seems more minute given that the event horizon itself is
only some 20 km in radius.

Interestingly, spinning black holes have been known for some time. As
reported in the December 1997 issue of Sky & Telescope, Andrew C.
Fabian (Cambridge University) found that the Seyfert galaxy
MCG-6-30-15 has a black hole with spectra showing redshifts that
require fast rotation and "frame dragging" of the surrounding space.
Also in 1997, Shuang N. Zhang (NASA/Marshall Space Flight Center) and
his colleagues measured J1655-40 and found circumstantial evidence for
black-hole rotation in the form of superluminal jets. Scientists
believe only spinning black holes can produce such superfast jets.

THE NEW COSMOLOGY GETS FIRMED UP

Cosmology, the study of the whole universe and its origin, is looking
in mighty good shape these days. Last weekend three research teams
announced new results that dramatically strengthen the new
"concordance model" of the universe -- in which the cosmos contains
exactly enough matter and energy to render space flat. Only 4 or 5
percent of this stuff is ordinary matter, a larger amount is some kind
of exotic dark matter, and the rest is the newly discovered,
mysterious "dark energy" causing space to expand at an accelerating
rate. The new findings are also a powerful vindication of the
21-year-old inflation theory of how the Big Bang was powered into
being during its first 10^-32 second of existence.

The new studies measured tiny temperature fluctuations in the cosmic
background radiation. This weak radio glow, which covers the whole
sky, dates from 300,000 to 500,000 years after the Big Bang, when the
hot gas of the universe first became transparent to its own radiation.
The minute irregularities in its temperature (measured in parts per
million) reveal very slight density ripples in the otherwise smooth
substance of the universe that emerged from the inflationary moment.
According to the mind-boggling theory, these irregularities began as
microscopic, random quantum fluctuations on the scale of elementary
particles, then ballooned so vastly during inflation that they became
the clusters of galaxies populating the universe on the largest scales
today.

The exact sizes and strengths of the irregularities should tell
volumes. Many astronomers are busily seeking to measure their
intensities at different angular sizes on the sky. The full
inflationary-universe theory predicts that the resulting graph of
their strength should be complex, showing several peaks at certain
angular sizes -- "like overtones in a musical instrument," describes
cosmologist Wayne Hu (University of Chicago). From the exact sizes and
shapes of these overtones, cosmologists should be able to read much
about the origin of the universe, its shape, its history, and its
contents.

The first peak was discovered last year. Its size and placement (at an
angular size of just under 1ø) proved that space is flat -- in other
words, that the early cosmos had exactly the right matter-and-energy
budget to balance perfectly between recollapsing and expanding. Last
weekend, researchers from three experiments in Antarctica -- the
balloon-borne BOOMERANG and MAXIMA instruments and the ground-based
Degree Angular Scale Interferometer (DASI) -- jointly announced that
they had found the much-anticipated second peak as well as signs of a
third. These and subsequent peaks were predicted to arise from blobs
of early material falling together under the action of gravity,
rebounding outward because of radiation pressure, and falling together
yet again.

Cosmologists heaved a sigh of relief at the discovery of the second
peak. Last year, preliminary analysis of the BOOMERANG and MAXIMA data
hinted that the second peak was weak or missing. This would have
implied that as much as 7 percent of the stuff of the universe
consists of baryons -- protons and neutrons, the main building blocks
of atoms and therefore all the ordinary matter we know. The nuclear
physics of the early Big Bang predicts that baryonic matter should
instead add up to only 4 or 5 percent of creation. The second peak
announced last weekend squarely matches that prediction. It was a
triumphant convergence of two totally different ways of measuring the
amount of ordinary matter that emerged from the Big Bang.

EARTH FROM MARS ODYSSEY

Looking backward 12 days after its April 7th launch, NASA's 2001 Mars
Odyssey spacecraft took a pair of images of its home planet from a
distance of more than 3 million kilometers. The infrared view, by
Odyssey's Thermal Emission Imaging System (THEMIS), shows the night
side of Earth glowing with surface temperatures ranging from -50 deg.
Celsius in Antarctica to +9 deg. C in northeastern Australia, agreeing
well with temperature readings made on the ground.

Odyssey will arrive at Mars on October 24th, spend several months
aerobraking into a low orbit, and begin its 29-month science mission
in January 2002. If all goes well it will make high-resolution maps of
Martian mineralogy, including any signs of shallow subsurface water,
study the Martian atmosphere and climate, and investigate the
radiation environment that might someday affect human explorers.


THIS WEEK'S "SKY AT A GLANCE"

Some daily events in the changing sky, by the editors of Sky &
Telescope.

MAY 6 -- SUNDAY

* The brightest star very high in the southwest after dark is
Regulus in Leo the Lion. The brightest star far below it is Alphard,
the orange-red giant heart of Hydra, the Sea Serpent.

MAY 7 -- MONDAY

* Full Moon (exact at 9:52 a.m.)

* Late this evening, the faint asteroid 337 Devosa occults (covers)
an 8th-magnitude star in the tail of Hydra for observers along a
narrow track from approximately Georgia to Montana. The star may
disappear for up to 5 seconds within a few minutes of 4:44 Universal
Time May 8th. See the finder chart in the May Sky & Telescope, page
110, or at http://www.skypub.com/sights/skyevents/0105skyevents.shtml
. For any late updates to the prediction, check
http://www.lunar-occultations.com/iota/iotandx.htm , or call the
recording at 301-474-4945, shortly beforehand.

MAY 8 -- TUESDAY

* Before and during dawn Wednesday morning, the waning Moon shines
above orange-red Antares and far to the right of brighter orange-red
Mars.

MAY 9 -- WEDNESDAY

* Mars shines to the lower left of the Moon after midnight tonight,
and left of the Moon before and during dawn Thursday morning.

MAY 10 -- THURSDAY

* Mars shines to the upper right of the Moon after midnight tonight,
and right of the Moon before and during dawn Friday morning.

MAY 11 -- FRIDAY

* The brightest star very high in the southeast after dark this
month is Arcturus. The brightest low in the northeast is Vega.

MAY 12 -- SATURDAY

* Find Arcturus (see yesterday) and look far to its lower right for
Spica, moderately high in the south. Farther on to Spica's lower right
is the little four-star pattern of Corvus, the Crow.


============================
THIS WEEK'S PLANET ROUNDUP
============================

MERCURY is just above the west-northwest horizon in evening twilight,
to the lower right of bright Jupiter. Fainter Saturn is close to
Mercury (to its left or below). Look about 45 minutes after sunset;
binoculars help.

VENUS (magnitude -4.5) is low in the east during dawn.

MARS (magnitude -1.3) rises in the southeast around 11:30 p.m.
daylight saving time. It shines bright yellow-orange in the south
before and during dawn. In a telescope Mars is already 15 arcseconds
wide and growing; it will reach 21 arcseconds when nearest to Earth in
late June. See the observing guide to Mars in the May Sky & Telescope,
page 102.

JUPITER (magnitude -2.0) is low in the west-northwest at dusk. It's
the brightest "star" there.

SATURN is far to Jupiter's lower right, near brighter Mercury, during
early twilight early in the week.

URANUS and NEPTUNE (6th and 8th magnitude, respectively) are in
Capricornus in the southeast before dawn.

PLUTO (magnitude 14) is in Ophiuchus in the south in the early-morning
hours.

(All descriptions that relate to the horizon or zenith -- including
the words up, down, right, and left -- are written for the world's
midnorthern latitudes. Descriptions that also depend on longitude are
for North America. Eastern Daylight Time, EDT, equals Universal Time
[GMT] minus 4 hours.)

More celestial events, sky maps, observing projects, and news of the
world's astronomy research appear each month in SKY & TELESCOPE, the
essential magazine of astronomy. See our enormous Web site and
astronomy bookstore at http://www.skypub.com/ . Clear skies!

SKY & TELESCOPE, 49 Bay State Rd., Cambridge, MA 02138 *
617-864-7360

===========================================================
Copyright 2001 Sky Publishing Corporation. S&T's Weekly News Bulletin
and Sky at a Glance stargazing calendar are provided as a service to
the astronomical community by the editors of SKY & TELESCOPE magazine.
Widespread electronic distribution is encouraged as long as these
paragraphs are included. But the text of the bulletin and calendar may
not be published in any other form without permission from Sky
Publishing (contact permissions@skypub.com or phone 617-864-7360).
Updates of astronomical news, including active links to related
Internet resources, are available via SKY & TELESCOPE's site on the
World Wide Web at http://www.skypub.com/.

In cooperation with the American Association of Amateur
Astronomers (http://www.corvus.com/), S&T's Weekly News Bulletin and
Sky at a Glance are available via electronic mailing list. For a free
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---------------------------------------------------------------------
SKY & TELESCOPE, the Essential Magazine of Astronomy, is read by more
than 200,000 enthusiasts each month. It is available on newsstands
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catalog of fine astronomy books and products, please contact Sky
Publishing Corp., 49 Bay State Rd., Cambridge, MA 02138-1200, U.S.A.
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Fax: 617-864-6117. E-mail: custserv@skypub.com. WWW:
http://www.skypub.com/. Clear skies!
===========================================================



 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 441 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Mon, May  7, 2001 (12:43) * 146 lines 
 
SPACEDAILY EXPRESS - May 7, 2001
- sponsored by -
MSU TechLink - Your Partner For Tech Transfer
http://techlink.msu.montana.edu/aero.html
---------------------------------------------

-----------
QUICK SPACE

- The Perils of Pauline
http://www.spacedaily.com/news/outerplanets-01d.html

- Us Space Tourist Tito Lands Back On Earth After Trip To "Paradise"
http://www.spacedaily.com/news/010506080446.jco526wy.html

- Us Officials Absent As Space Tourist Arrives In Moscow
http://spacedaily.com/news/010506152748.glu50yti.html

- Climate shift linked to rise of Himalayas, Tibetan Plateau
http://www.spacedaily.com/news/climate-01d.html

- Space Elevators Get A Lift
http://www.spacedaily.com/news/future-01f.html

- Second Boeing-built XM Satellite at Sea, Ready for Launch
http://www.spacedaily.com/news/xm-radio-01c.html

- Mars: A World Riven By H2O or CO2
http://www.spacedaily.com/news/lunarplanet-2001-01a4.html

- Space Odyssey Just Beginning, Says Space Commander In Chief
http://www.spacedaily.com/news/milspace-01n.html

- Bush Administration Defends Missile Defense Shield
http://spacedaily.com/news/010506172309.lgf3yq78.html

------------------
HEADLINES IN BRIEF
May 7, 2001

-------------
SPACE SCIENCE

- The Perils of Pauline
http://www.spacedaily.com/news/outerplanets-01d.html

Cameron Park - May 7, 2001 - The extraordinary "Perils of Pauline" saga of the proposed Pluto-Kuiper flyby probe -- which would be the first mission to the last unexplored planet in the Solar System, and then continue optional flybys of one or more smaller Kuiper Belt objects -- continues with one final effort now underway to save the mission from what could be centuries of delay.

------------
SPACE TRAVEL

- US Space Tourist Tito Lands Back On Earth After Trip To "Paradise"
http://www.spacedaily.com/news/010506080446.jco526wy.html

Near Arkalyk (AFP) May 6, 2001 - Space tourist Dennis Tito landed back on Earth early Sunday, when a Soyuz TM-31 vessel carrying the US millionaire and two Russian cosmonauts touched down in the desert of Kazakhstan. The touchdown, which occurred at 0535 GMT, six minutes ahead of schedule, went without hitches, ending Tito's historic eight-day holiday in space, Russian space officials told AFP

- US Officials Absent As Space Tourist Arrives In Moscow
http://spacedaily.com/news/010506152748.glu50yti.html

----------
TERRADAILY

- Climate shift linked to rise of Himalayas, Tibetan Plateau
http://www.spacedaily.com/news/climate-01d.html

Madison - May 7, 2001 - By probing ancient dust deposits in China and deep ocean sediments from the North Pacific and Indian Oceans, scientists have constructed the most detailed portrait to date of the effects on climate of the Himalaya Mountains and the great Tibetan Plateau.

---------------- Space Transportation Summit ---------------
The 2001 World Summit on the Space Transportation Business
brings together the key players of the space launch industry
to focus on the principal strategic issues of the business
-- http://www.euroconsult-ec.com/web/space/space_h_ws.htm --
Hotel Inter-Continental
Thursday 17 & Friday 18 May 2001 Paris
------------------------------------------------------------

---------
SPACEMART

- Space Elevators Get A Lift
http://www.spacedaily.com/news/future-01f.html

London - May 2, 2001 - They say the first 100 kilometres are the best. Moments after the door slides shut with a reassuring "ker-chunk", the acceleration takes hold, pushing you gently but firmly into your seat. Terra firma drops precipitously from view, and your internal organs groan in sympathy as the "elevator" lifts high into the clouds and beyond.

- Second Boeing-built XM Satellite at Sea, Ready for Launch
http://www.spacedaily.com/news/xm-radio-01c.html

Los Angeles - May 7, 2001 - The second of two GEO birds that will make up an initial pair of "radio broadcast" satellites is set for launch Tuesday aboard a Sea Launch Zenit rocket. A 45-minute window opens for the equatorial launch platform at 2210 GMT May 8.

---------
MARSDAILY

- Mars: A World Riven By H2O or CO2
http://www.spacedaily.com/news/lunarplanet-2001-01a4.html

Cameron Park - May 1, 2001 - There are now so many puzzles and contradictions in the most popular interpretation of a watery Martian history that a radical new alternative -- proposed by Nick Hoffman of Latrobe University in Australia -- is starting to catch on among a growing number of planetary geologists.

------------------- TECH TRANSFER ---------------------
The Door Is Open To Cutting Edge Technologies

MSU TechLink can help your company develop strategic
partnerships between Department of Defense laboratories
and aerospace companies in the Northwest. Partnering
with DoD will help leverage R&D investments and enhance
commercialization opportunities.

Visit Techlink Today
-- http://techlink.msu.montana.edu/aero.html --
-------------------------------------------------------

--------
SPACEWAR

- Space Odyssey Just Beginning, Says Space Commander In Chief
http://www.spacedaily.com/news/milspace-01n.html

Cape Canaveral - May 7, 2001 - The future of America's military space program has never been brighter. But, America needs to rededicate itself to space. So said Gen. Ralph "Ed" Eberhart when he opened Space Congress 2001 in Cape Canaveral last Monday.

- Bush Administration Defends Missile Defense Shield
http://spacedaily.com/news/010506172309.lgf3yq78.html

------- "SMALLER SATELLITES: BIGGER BUSINESS?" ------
Strasbourg will be the setting for the International
Space University's 6th Annual Symposium. This year's
theme will be small satellites with an emphasis on
concepts, applications and markets. Join some of the
world's leading experts, manufacturers and users in
interdisciplinary presentations and discussions on a
wide variety of issues pertaining to small satellites
Strasbourg - May 21-23 - 2001
--------- http://www.isunet.edu/Symposium/ ----------

---------
AD MARKET

- Advertise here for only $375 a week.
http://www.spacedaily.com/ad-deals-to-go.html
email: advertise@spacer.com

-----------------------------
SPACEDAILY EXPRESS LIST NOTES

--------------------------------------------
SpaceDaily Express is issued daily and lists
all new postings to www.SpaceDaily.com
Subscription is free: subscribe@spacer.com


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 442 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Tue, May  8, 2001 (06:55) * 138 lines 
 
---------------------------------------------
SPACEDAILY EXPRESS - May 8, 2001
- sponsored by -
The London Satellite Exchange
http://www.e-sax.com
---------------------------------------------

QUICK SPACE

- Congressional Bill Will Strengthen U.S. Satellite Exports
http://www.spacedaily.com/news/satellite-biz-01g.html

- WildBlue Contracts For Internet Satellite Dishes
http://www.spacedaily.com/news/internet-01h.html

- A World Of Mystery and Paradoxes
http://www.spacedaily.com/news/lunarplanet-2001-01a5.html

- Carbon Dioxide Levels Key To Global Warming Predictions
http://www.spacedaily.com/news/greenhouse-01n.html

- Discovery Of A Satellite Around The Transneptunian Object 1998 WW31
http://www.spacedaily.com/news/kuiper-01c.html

- U. Chicago To Lead National Space Materials Research Center
http://www.spacedaily.com/news/materials-01k.html

- Northrop Grumman's Fire Scout VTUAV Enters Initial Production
http://www.spacedaily.com/news/uav-01e.html

- Russian Space Agency "not a tourist agency": official
http://www.spacedaily.com/news/010507155507.tgz1smvc.html

- Rumsfeld to reorganize military space programs
http://www.spacedaily.com/news/010507225826.f4ty1pe2.html

------------------
HEADLINES IN BRIEF
May 8, 2001

---------
SPACEMART

- Congressional Bill Will Strengthen U.S. Satellite Exports
http://www.spacedaily.com/news/satellite-biz-01g.html

Alexandria - May 7, 2001 - The Satellite Industry Association (SIA) and the Space Foundation today announced their support of legislation introduced by Representatives Howard Berman (D-Calif.) and Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) which would return export licensing authority for commercial communication satellites to the U.S. Department of Commerce.

- WildBlue Contracts For Internet Satellite Dishes
http://www.spacedaily.com/news/internet-01h.html

Denver - May 7, 2001 - WildBlue has selected Channel Master to build the satellite mini-dish antennas that consumers will use to access WildBlue's affordable 2-way wireless broadband service. These mini-dishes can also receive the DBS signals for digital satellite TV.

- World's largest freighter flies again after seven years grounded
http://www.spacedaily.com/news/010507180955.lkw5728p.html

- Russian Space Agency "not a tourist agency": official
http://www.spacedaily.com/news/010507155507.tgz1smvc.html

---------
MARSDAILY

- A World Of Mystery and Paradoxes
http://www.spacedaily.com/news/lunarplanet-2001-01a5.html

Cameron Park - May 8, 2001 - The similarities between the valley networks of Mars and our own river networks here on Earth are biggest single element in the White Mars Theory that its leading proponents acknowledge as being the most uncertain. Nonetheless, several possible explanations for the valley networks have been proposed that don't require water.

----------
TERRADAILY

- Carbon Dioxide Levels Key To Global Warming Predictions
http://www.spacedaily.com/news/greenhouse-01n.html

College Station - May 8, 2001 - It's never a good idea to throw the baby out with the bathwater, even if the baby is millions of years old -- with an uncertain future. That's Thomas Crowley's message on global climate modeling, published in last week's May 3 issue of Science.

-------------
SPACE SCIENCE

- Discovery Of A Satellite Around The Transneptunian Object 1998 WW31
http://www.spacedaily.com/news/kuiper-01c.html

Paris - May 8, 2001 - Alain Doressoundiram from the Observatoire de Paris and Christian Veillet from the CFH Institute have confirmed the discovery of the second transneptunian (Kuiper Belt) object 1998 WW31 is a double object.

--------------------------
----------
TECH SPACE

- U. Chicago To Lead National Space Materials Research Center
http://www.spacedaily.com/news/materials-01k.html

Chicago - May 8, 2001 - The University of Chicago will become headquarters for a new national center devoted to investigating the long-term performance of high-tech materials in space with a $5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Defense.

--------
SPACEWAR

- Northrop Grumman's Fire Scout VTUAV Enters Initial Production
http://www.spacedaily.com/news/uav-01e.html

San Diego, May 7, 2001 - Northrop Grumman's Fire Scout Vertical Takeoff and Landing Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (VTUAV) system moves into low-rate initial production (LRIP) with a $14.2 million contract from the U.S. Navy's Naval Air Systems Command.

- Greenpeace protesters arrested on missile defense test range in Pacific: army
http://www.spacedaily.com/news/010507233856.ickhjuds.html

- Rumsfeld to reorganize military space programs
http://www.spacedaily.com/news/010507225826.f4ty1pe2.html

- Germany asks for delay on MEADS missile system development
http://www.spacedaily.com/news/010507082146.5cvbhfps.html

-----------
SPACE DIARY

---------------- Space Transportation Summit ---------------
The 2001 World Summit on the Space Transportation Business
brings together the key players of the space launch industry
to focus on the principal strategic issues of the business
-- http://www.euroconsult-ec.com/web/space/space_h_ws.htm --
Hotel Inter-Continental
Thursday 17 & Friday 18 May 2001 Paris
------------------------------------------------------------

------- "SMALLER SATELLITES: BIGGER BUSINESS?" ------
Strasbourg will be the setting for the International
Space University's 6th Annual Symposium. This year's
theme will be small satellites with an emphasis on
concepts, applications and markets. Join some of the
world's leading experts, manufacturers and users in
interdisciplinary presentations and discussions on a
wide variety of issues pertaining to small satellites
Strasbourg - May 21-23 - 2001
-------- http://www.isunet.edu/Symposium/ ----------
-----------------------------
SPACEDAILY EXPRESS LIST NOTES
--------------------------------------------
SpaceDaily Express is issued daily and lists
all new postings to www.SpaceDaily.com
Subscription is free: subscribe@spacer.com



 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 443 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Sat, May 12, 2001 (05:55) * 227 lines 
 
===========================================================
SKY & TELESCOPE'S NEWS BULLETIN - MAY 11, 2001
===========================================================
For images and Web links for these items, visit http://www.skypub.com
===========================================================
Advance token to Mauna Kea Observatory. If you pass GO, collect $200.

Brings the wonders of the universe to your living room with the
astronomy edition of Monopoly. Each game comes with six custom pewter
tokens, descriptions of the properties, and tips on getting started
in astronomy. To order, call 800-253-0245 or visit Sky Publishing's
online store - http://store.skypub.com/skypub/default.asp?links=01504
===========================================================

GREEN BANK TELESCOPE SHOOTS VENUS

On Thursday, astronomers released the first scientific images from the world's
largest fully steerable dish antenna. The team led by Donald Campbell (Cornell
University) used the 100-meter Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope (GBT) in
West Virginia to make radar observations of Venus and a 150-meter-wide
near-Earth asteroid in March. The studies began by transmitting radio pulses
toward the two objects using the 305-meter reflector in Arecibo, Puerto Rico.
Both telescopes then listened for the returning echoes after the pulses
bounced off Venus and asteroid 2001 EC16. The received signals from both
telescopes were then combined to produce images with greater detail than could
be produced by the individual instruments.

The images resolved details as small as 1 kilometer across on Venus's surface.
This capability may allow astronomers to detect future changes on the surface
due to volcanism, should the planet still be active. The radar data revealed
that minor planet 2001 EC16 is irregularly shaped and rotates once every 200
hours -- a very slow pace for an asteroid. The views of 2001 EC16 demonstrate
the power the Arecibo-GBT combination will have in studying other near-Earth
objects.

With an unobstructed aperture 100 by 110 meters, the $75 million GBT stands
148 meters (485 feet) tall and boasts almost two acres of reflecting surface
made up of 2,004 aluminum panels. Despite its size, the telescope will
maintain a surface accuracy of 0.25 millimeter thanks to a feedback system
that adjusts the panels to compensate for minute structural flexing of the
dish. Such an accurate surface will allow observations at up to 80 gigahertz
and a pointing accuracy of 1 arcsecond. The GBT is a vastly improved
replacement for the old 91-meter Green Bank Telescope that collapsed in
November 1988.

A STAR THAT SWALLOWED A PLANET

Using two of astronomy's most powerful new instruments, European researchers
have found telltale evidence that an innocent-looking Sun-like star in Hydra
swallowed a planet sometime in the past. The evidence is the rare isotope
lithium-6, which the astronomers detected in the star's atmosphere. Normally
this form of lithium is quickly consumed by nuclear reactions during a star's
youth. The only plausible way it could show up in this star's surface, write
Garik Israelian (Astrophysics Institute of the Canary Islands) and three
colleagues in this week's issue of Nature, is if planetary-type material fell
in after the star was fully formed and its internal layers had settled into
their final configuration. One or more giant planets totaling about two
Jupiter masses would do the job. So would a terrestrial planet having three
Earth masses or most likely, three Earths' worth of asteroids and comets.

This is the first time lithium-6 has been definitely found in a star with a
composition similar to the Sun's. The astronomers used the high-resolution
UVES spectrograph on the 8.2-meter Kueyen telescope at the European Southern
Observatory's Very Large Telescope to tease the spectral signature of
lithium-6 from that of the more common lithium-7. Lithium-7 is generally
destroyed in a star's interior as well, but less easily; the evidence it
presents is open to interpretation. By contrast, lithium-6 is a smoking gun.

The star is HD 82943, a 6th-magnitude G0 star older than the Sun and located
90 light-years away. It was already known to have at least one giant planet
orbiting it, and just last month a second (still disputed) body was announced.

The possibility that HD 82943 swallowed a third planet, or pieces of one,
comes as no great surprise. Theorists modeling the formation of planetary
systems find that planets tend to spiral inward while they are still embedded
in the massive disk of gas and dust that gave them birth. However, that
process may occur too soon for any lithium-6 to survive the star's unsettled
early life. A different inward route is suggested by the fact that the
system's planets have eccentric (elliptical) orbits. This may be a sign that
they went through chaotic interactions with other planets in ages past.
According to Alessandro Morbidelli (Observatoire de la Cote d'Azur), planets
with such eccentric orbits could toss lingering asteroids into the star. In
fact, some 25 percent of the primordial asteroid belt was thrown into the Sun.
This latter scenario could happen late enough for lithium-6 to survive in the
star's atmosphere.

COMET LINEAR IN SOUTHERN HEMIPSHERE

Observers report that Comet LINEAR (C/2001 A2) remains at 6th magnitude, high
in the west for Southern Hemisphere observers. The nucleus of the comet split
at the end of last month, making the comet exceed brightness predictions. It
is unknown how long the comet will remain bright. It will not be visible from
the Northern Hemipshere until late June. Here are coordinates for Comet LINEAR
at 0 hours Universal Time for the coming week:

R.A. Dec.

May 12 5h 45m -20.6 deg.
May 14 5 43 -21.4
May 16 5 40 -22.2
May 18 5 37 -23.0


THIS WEEK'S "SKY AT A GLANCE"

Some daily events in the changing sky, by the editors of Sky & Telescope.

MAY 13 -- SUNDAY

* Some doorstep astronomy: the Big Dipper is at its highest in the northern
sky soon after dark at this time of year. Face north and look almost straight
up. The Dipper is floating there upside down, with its handle to the right.
Examine the middle star of the handle, Mizar, for its faint companion Alcor
barely to its lower right. A line from Mizar through Alcor points to bright
Vega, currently low in the northeast.

MAY 14 -- MONDAY

* More doorstep astronomy: The two brightest stars on the eastern side of
the sky after dark are Vega low in the northeast and Arcturus very high in the
southeast. One third of the way from Arcturus down to Vega is the little arc
of Corona Borealis, the Northern Crown. Two-thirds of the way is the Keystone
of Hercules.

MAY 15 -- TUESDAY

* Last-quarter Moon (exact at 6:11 a.m. EDT).

MAY 16 -- WEDNESDAY

* Mercury appears 2 3/4 degrees to the upper right of Jupiter this evening.

MAY 17 -- THURSDAY

* The 9.2-magnitude asteroid 532 Herculina is 10 arcminutes south of the
5.5-magnitude star 14 Bootis this evening for North Americans. A
10.5-magnitude star is also in the same vicinity; using a telescope, watch
Herculina change position with respect to the star in the course of an hour or
so.

* During dawn Friday morning, the waning crescent Moon stands to the right
of Venus low in the east.

MAY 18 -- FRIDAY

* During dawn Saturday morning, Venus shines to the upper left of the
crescent Moon.

* The red long-period variable stars T Hydrae and T Herculis should be at
their maximum brightnesses (about 8th magnitude) this week.

MAY 19 -- SATURDAY

* For European observers, the 9.2-magnitude asteroid 2 Pallas passes just 1
arcminute south of 57 Herculis tonight.


============================
THIS WEEK'S PLANET ROUNDUP
============================

MERCURY, fading fast, is very low in the west-northwest during twilight, in
the vicinity of brighter Jupiter. Mercury is to the right of Jupiter early in
the week, and above Jupiter late in the week. Look for them far to the lower
left of Capella.

VENUS (magnitude -4.5) is low in the east during dawn.

MARS (magnitude -1.5) rises in the southeast around 11 p.m. daylight saving
time, and by midnight it's shining bright yellow-orange low in the southeast.
Mars is highest in the south before the first light of dawn. In a telescope,
Mars is already an unusually large 16 arcseconds in diameter and growing as it
approaches Earth. It will reach 21 arcseconds when nearest Earth in mid- to
late June. See the observing guide to Mars in the May Sky & Telescope, page
102.

JUPITER (magnitude -2.0) is low in the west-northwest during evening twilight,
with fainter Mercury nearby.

SATURN is lost in the glow of sunset.

URANUS and NEPTUNE (6th and 8th magnitude, respectively) are in Capricornus in
the southeast before dawn.

PLUTO (magnitude 14) is in Ophiuchus in the south in the early-morning hours.

(All descriptions that relate to the horizon or zenith -- including the words
up, down, right, and left -- are written for the world's midnorthern
latitudes. Descriptions that also depend on longitude are for North America.
Eastern Daylight Time, EDT, equals Universal Time [GMT] minus 4 hours.)

More celestial events, sky maps, observing projects, and news of the world's
astronomy research appear each month in SKY & TELESCOPE, the essential
magazine of astronomy. See our enormous Web site and astronomy bookstore at
http://www.skypub.com/ . Clear skies!

SKY & TELESCOPE, 49 Bay State Rd., Cambridge, MA 02138 * 617-864-7360

===========================================================
Copyright 2001 Sky Publishing Corporation. S&T's Weekly News Bulletin and Sky
at a Glance stargazing calendar are provided as a service to the astronomical
community by the editors of SKY & TELESCOPE magazine. Widespread electronic
distribution is encouraged as long as these paragraphs are included. But the
text of the bulletin and calendar may not be published in any other form
without permission from Sky Publishing (contact permissions@skypub.com or
phone 617-864-7360). Updates of astronomical news, including active links to
related Internet resources, are available via SKY & TELESCOPE's site on the
World Wide Web at http://www.skypub.com/.

In cooperation with the American Association of Amateur Astronomers,
S&T's Weekly News Bulletin and Sky at a Glance are available via electronic
mailing list. For a free subscription, send e-mail to join@astromax.com and
put the word "join" on the first line of the body of the message. To
unsubscribe, send e-mail to unjoin@astromax.com and put the word "unjoin" on
the first line of the body of the message. If you should have any problems
either subscribing to or unsubscribing from the list, send a message to list
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---------------------------------------------------------------------
SKY & TELESCOPE, the Essential Magazine of Astronomy, is read by more than
200,000 enthusiasts each month. It is available on newsstands worldwide. For
subscription information, or for a free copy of our catalog of fine astronomy
books and products, please contact Sky Publishing Corp., 49 Bay State Rd.,
Cambridge, MA 02138-1200, U.S.A. Phone: 800-253-0245 (U.S. and Canada);
617-864-7360 (International). Fax: 617-864-6117. E-mail: custserv@skypub.com.
WWW: http://www.skypub.com/. Clear skies!
===========================================================



 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 444 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Sun, May 20, 2001 (23:20) * 28 lines 
 
More on Comet Linear

----------------------------------------------------------
/ PHYSICSWEB: E-mail alert
\ (http://PhysicsWeb.org)
==========================================================

Win #100 or a case of wine when you complete the
PhysicsWeb survey
(http://physicsweb.org/html/survey2001/survey.cfm). Your
opinion will help us improve our services to you.

----------------------------------------------------------
| News
==========================================================
* Comet collapse opens a window on the past: (18 May)
Astronomers got more than they bargained for last summer
when comet C/LINEAR unexpectedly disintegrated while at
its most visible from Earth. Routine observations of the
passing comet gleaned valuable information from the
surprise fragmentation, and analysis has now shed light
on the origin, composition and motion of the ancient
body. Insights into the formation of comets are
fundamental to our understanding of how planets coalesce,
a process thought to be closely related.
[ http://PhysicsWeb.org/article/news/5/5/11 ]
----------------------------------------------------------



 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 445 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Sat, May 26, 2001 (20:51) * 280 lines 
 
===========================================================
SKY & TELESCOPE'S NEWS BULLETIN - MAY 25, 2001
===========================================================
For images and Web links for these items, visit http://www.skypub.com
===========================================================
Advance token to Mauna Kea Observatory. If you pass GO, collect $200.

Bring the wonders of the universe to your living room with the
astronomy edition of Monopoly. Each game comes with six custom pewter
tokens, descriptions of the properties, and tips on getting started
in astronomy. To order, call 800-253-0245 or visit Sky Publishing's
online store - http://store.skypub.com/skypub/default.asp?links=01504
===========================================================

A BINARY ASTEROID, CLOSE TO HOME

A small asteroid now passing near Earth has revealed one of its secrets:
it's actually two asteroids. A team of six radar astronomers led by Lance
A. M. Benner and Steven J. Ostro (JPL) has found that 1999 KW4 is a double
body whose components are separated by at least 2 km. Based on their
observations from May 21-23, announced yesterday on IAU Circular 7632, one
half is at least three times the size of the other. But neither piece is
thought to be more than 2 or 3 km across.

Observers have suspected that 1999 KW4 might be double since last June.
That's when Petr Pravec and Lenka Sarounova (Ondrejov Observatory, Czech
Republic) recorded a very peculiar light curve with brightness fluctuations
of 0.1 to 0.2 magnitude, suggesting that the little asteroid rotates in
about three hours. But, as detailed in the June 2001 issue of Sky &
Telescope, Pravec couldn't get the data from individual nights to fit
together in a simple way. Further high-quality photometry by Italian
amateur Vittorio Goretti did not solve the mystery either.

The radar team plans to continue its probing of the interloper through May
29th using the Deep Space Network's 70-meter tracking antenna at Goldstone,
California. Benner adds that for the run's last four days they will attempt
a series of interferometric observations, using the 305-meter Arecibo radio
antenna in Puerto Rico to transmit pulses of radio energy and both dishes
to receive the asteroid's reflected echoes. These studies should yield some
clue as to the makeup of this object, which comes within 30 million
kilometers (0.2 astronomical unit) of the Sun at perihelion.

Backyard observers have a chance to spot 1999 KW4 this weekend, as it will
come as close as 4.8 million kilometers to Earth (and it won't be in our
vicinity again for another 18 years). At its brightest the asteroid will be
near 11th magnitude, putting it within the grasp of 4-inch or larger
telescopes. For details on where and when to see it, go to
http://www.skypub.com/sights/skyevents/0105skyevents.shtml

AMATEURS HELP WITH EXTRASOLAR-PLANET WATCH

In 1928 Frank E. Ross noted that a star in Aquarius he'd catalogued as Ross
780 had a large proper motion, taking 1,500 years to cross a stretch of sky
equal to the Moon's width. Now better known as Gliese 876, this
10th-magnitude red dwarf made headlines in June 1998 and again in January
2001 when astronomers announced it is accompanied by at least two large
planets. Gliese 876b, with at least 1.9 Jupiter masses, orbits 0.21
astronomical unit from the star, while 876c has at least 0.6 Jupiter mass
and orbits even closer at 0.13 a.u.

The companions' orbits are sufficiently edge-on to our line of sight that
transits of one or both bodies across the face of their star are likely.
Should that happen, models predict that Gliese 876 should dim by 0.2
magnitude during a 3.5-hour transit by the larger planet. A similar drop in
brightness during a 2.2-hour passage of the smaller body is also expected,
while a simultaneous transit could dim the star by as much as 0.45 magnitude.

Such changes in brightness are easily measured by backyard setups, so
researchers have contacted the American Association of Variable Star
Observers to enlist the help of amateur astronomers. It's hoped that
records of the transits made with CCD cameras or photoelectric photometers
will help refine the mass, density, diameters, and orbital elements of
Gliese 876 and its attendants.

Due to present uncertainties in the planets' orbits, the transit
predictions may be in error by several days, so a series of 10-day
"opportunity windows" have been established. The first of these, for Gliese
876c, is drawing to a close this weekend, though more opportunities occur
in June. Elizabeth O. Waagen of the AAVSO reports that no positive
observations have been made to date, but she encourages suitably equipped
observers to maintain their vigilance. About 15.3 light-years away, Gliese
876 is located 1.6 deg north of Delta Aquarii (Scheat). The AAVSO's "Alert
Notice" describing how to make useful observations is found at
http://www.aavso.org/alerts/alert281/alert281text.stm.

SAHARAN SANDS YIELD MORE EXOTIC METEORITES

The desolate sands of the western Sahara have yielded yet another bumper
crop of unusual meteorites. As detailed in July's Meteoritical Bulletin and
announced on May 23rd, within the last few months six new samples from the
Moon and Mars have come into the possession of African meteorite hunters.
The half-dozen finds range in size from 104 to 633 grams. According to Ron
Baalke, a veteran collector, the Martian meteorite Northwest Africa 817 is
significant because it is the fourth example of a nakhlite (a basaltic
subtype) ever found -- and the first since 1958.

In recent years the Sahara has proven a fertile hunting ground for
meteorites of all types, raising the number of recognized lunar finds to 23
and Martians to 18. Many of these are "paired" multiples, a situation where
fragments of a single fall are found close together (but not necessarily at
the same time). Even though teams of meteorite-hunting scientists from the
U.S. and Japan still trek to Antarctica every year, the plains of western
Africa seem to be yielding more than their share of exotic finds. Part of
the reason, says Jeffrey N. Grossman, who edits the Meteoritical Bulletin,
may be that the Antarctic teams bring back every meteorite they spot,
whereas private dealers can be more selective when they want to have their
Saharan stones analyzed and certified. "Nobody will classify hundreds of
boring ordinary chondrites," Grossman notes, "so the dealers pick out the
ones that can make them money and get scientists to look just at those."

A PUZZLING SPHERICAL STELLAR OUTBURST

As a star forms from a surrounding nebula, conservation of angular momentum
makes the protostar spin faster and faster. Astronomers have believed that
the star avoids spinning too fast (and disrupting itself) by ejecting some
gas back into space. Material jets away from the star's poles to carry away
the excess angular momentum.

However, recently an international team of researchers found an example
apparetnly at odds with this scenario. In May 17th's issue of Nature, Jose
M. Torrelles (Institute of Space Sciences, Spain) and his colleagues report
about a seemingly spherical outburst by a young star in Cepheus. The
researchers used the Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA) to study microwave
emission from water around a star designated Cepheus A HW2, one of many in
a star-forming region 2,000 light-years from Earth. The observations
resolved knots lined up along an arc.

By measuring the proper motions of the blobs as well as determining their
line-of-sight motions from the radio emission's Doppler shifts, Torrelles
and his team found that the pockets of gas lie on a nearly perfect circle
around the central star, implying that the material was ejected as a
spherical shell a few decades ago and is traveling outward at 30,000
kilometers per hour. Moreover, it appears to be overtaking another shell of
gas from an earlier ejection.

Thus, the puzzle. As Guillem Anglada (Institute of Astrophysics of
Andalucia, Spain) explains, "In light of our current understanding of star
formation, we don't yet understand how this can happen, so we have an
exciting new scientific challenge." For details, see the online press release.

COMET LINEAR (C/2001 A2)

Despite having broken into two, then three pieces, Comet LINEAR remains
brighter than 6th magnitude -- though only visible from Southern Hemisphere
skies. It's about 20 deg. above the west-southwest horizon after evening
twilight, and observers report that it has a striking tail at least 3
degrees long. Unfortunately, this comet will not be visible from the
Northern Hemisphere until late June. It reached its closest point to the
Sun, at a distance of 117,000,000 kiloemters, on May 24th. Here are
coordinates for Comet LINEAR (C/2001 A2) at 0 hours Universal Time for the
coming week:

R.A. Dec.

May 25 5h 21m -25.5 deg.
May 27 5 15 -26.0
May 29 5 8 -26.5
May 31 5 1 -27.0



THIS WEEK'S "SKY AT A GLANCE"

Some daily events in the changing sky, by the editors of Sky & Telescope.

MAY 27 -- SUNDAY

* The nearly first-quarter Moon shines in the west this evening a little
more than halfway between Pollux (far to the Moon's lower right) and
Regulus (to the Moon's upper left).

MAY 28 -- MONDAY

* The star to the left of the Moon tonight is Regulus in Leo.

MAY 29 -- TUESDAY

* First-quarter Moon (exact at 6:09 p.m. EDT).

MAY 30 -- WEDNESDAY

* The Moon shines about equidistant from Regulus (which is to its right
and a bit below) and Spica (to the Moon's left). Both stars are roughly
three fist-widths at arm's length from the Moon. They are almost equally
bright (magnitudes 1.4 and 1.0, respectively) and are both pale blue-white.

MAY 31 -- THURSDAY

* The brightest star in the eastern sky these evenings is Vega. The
brightest to its lower left is Deneb, the head of the big Northern Cross --
which is lying horizontally, with its foot to the right. The cross is about
as long as the distance from Deneb to Vega.

To identify stars and constellations all around your sky, use the printable
evening star map and instructions at
http://www.skypub.com/sights/northern/0105skyn.shtml (if you're in the
mid-latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere. Southern Hemisphere skywatchers:
use the map at http://www.skypub.com/sights/southern/0105skys.html .)

JUNE 1 -- FRIDAY

* The star below the Moon tonight is Spica.

JUNE 2 -- SATURDAY

* The red long-period variable star R Aquilae should be at its peak
brightness (6th magnitude) around this date.


============================
THIS WEEK'S PLANET ROUNDUP
============================

MERCURY and JUPITER are disappearing into the glow of sunset.

VENUS (magnitude -4.4) blazes low in the east during dawn.

MARS (magnitude -2.0, between Scorpius and Sagittarius) rises in the
southeast during twilight. By midnight daylight saving time it dominates
the low southeast, shining bright yellow-orange. Mars is highest in the
south around 2 a.m. Don't miss any chance to observe Mars in a telescope!
It's now 19 arcseconds in diameter, larger than at any time since 1988, and
almost at its maximum apparent diameter of 21 arcseconds, which it will
reach on June 21st. See the observing guide and Mars maps in the May Sky &
Telescope, page 102.

Telescopic observers can download Mars Previewer (3 megs), which displays
observing data and a customized map of Mars's apparent disk for any date
and time. Go to
http://www.skypub.com/resources/software/basic/basic.html#mars .

SATURN is hidden in the glare of the Sun.

URANUS and NEPTUNE (6th and 8th magnitude, respectively) are in Capricornus
in the southeast before dawn.

PLUTO (magnitude 14) is in Ophiuchus in the south after midnight.

(All descriptions that relate to the horizon or zenith -- including the
words up, down, right, and left -- are written for the world's midnorthern
latitudes. Descriptions that also depend on longitude are for North
America. Eastern Daylight Time, EDT, equals Universal Time [GMT] minus 4
hours.)

More celestial events, sky maps, observing projects, and news of the
world's astronomy research appear each month in SKY & TELESCOPE, the
essential magazine of astronomy. See our enormous Web site and astronomy
bookstore at http://www.skypub.com/ . Clear skies!

===========================================================
Copyright 2001 Sky Publishing Corporation. S&T's Weekly News Bulletin
and Sky at a Glance stargazing calendar are provided as a service to
the astronomical community by the editors of SKY & TELESCOPE magazine.
Widespread electronic distribution is encouraged as long as these
paragraphs are included. But the text of the bulletin and calendar may
not be published in any other form without permission from Sky
Publishing (contact permissions@skypub.com or phone 617-864-7360).
Updates of astronomical news, including active links to related
Internet resources, are available via SKY & TELESCOPE's site on the
World Wide Web at http://www.skypub.com/.

S&T's Weekly News Bulletin and
Sky at a Glance are available via electronic mailing list. For a free
subscription, send e-mail to join@astromax.com and put the word "join"
on the first line of the body of the message. To unsubscribe, send
e-mail to unjoin@astromax.com and put the word "unjoin" on the first
line of the body of the message. If you should have any problems
either subscribing to or unsubscribing from the list, send a message
to list administrator John Wagoner at stargate@gte.net for assistance.
---------------------------------------------------------------------
SKY & TELESCOPE, the Essential Magazine of Astronomy, is read by more
than 200,000 enthusiasts each month. It is available on newsstands
worldwide. For subscription information, or for a free copy of our
catalog of fine astronomy books and products, please contact Sky
Publishing Corp., 49 Bay State Rd., Cambridge, MA 02138-1200, U.S.A.
Phone: 800-253-0245 (U.S. and Canada); 617-864-7360 (International).
Fax: 617-864-6117. E-mail: custserv@skypub.com. WWW:
http://www.skypub.com/. Clear skies!
===========================================================



 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 446 of 1087: Rob Glennie  (AotearoaKiwi) * Sun, Jun  3, 2001 (03:27) * 10 lines 
 
Hi

Has anyone ever tried to estimate the magnitude or amount of energy released in the "Big Bang"? I would love to know how puny the nuclear weapons of mankind are to the ultimate explosion. I am thankful that the supreme justiciar of the galaxy is not a homosapien but something way beyond our control and who is unable to be bested or matched in any way. It is a great thing to live, even if for only 100 years and contribute something to the natural life of the Universe.
Mankind has only been around for 1 million years and it is not recognised well enough just how hard Mother Nature works for the Earth maintaining all that she has put on the planet for our survival. People are unforgiving at times in the extreme toward nature and it is so sad to see the beautiful world that has sustained life for possibly as long as the planet has existed in a livable state, being exploited for the corporate dollar. Sometimes I wonder if Nature is actually justified in her periodic rages and whether mankind is deserving of all she has done.
I look at the destruction of the Amazonian rainforest as a prime example. The corporations that unsustainably loot the forest for it's wood without the slightest thought for the possibly irreparable damage being done, or for the many exotic and magnificent creatures that inhabit that ecosystem, have no conscience and as John Denver sings in "You say the battle is over", "with perfumes, fur coats and trophies on walls, what a hell of a race to call men". He is right. I look at the Republican decision to open the Arctic wildlife refuge with all it's splendour and grandeur to oil prospectors with disgust and utter contempt. The frequent earthquakes and volcanic activity of the Pacific Plate and elsewhere is just the release of pressure from deep within.

I look at Mars and think: is it possible that in a few billion years time we will be just like it (magma reservoir has frozen over, thus locking the tectonic plates in place and silencing the volcanoes and faultlines along which the eruptions and seismicity occurred)? Will that be the end of mankind and the end of life on earth, or will the end come in the form of meteorite strike that
succeeds in doing what the two most infamous ones tried but failed to do? Or will there be a magnetic reversal of the poles? Who knows.

Rob


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 447 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Sun, Jun  3, 2001 (16:23) * 6 lines 
 
There has been much theoretical discussion of that energy in Evolving Thought on Yahoo clubs.(I will email you about my difficulites there if you wish. It is an unhappy story.) Math tends to make my brain rebel and my eyes glaze over, so I don't remember what the conclusion was. I will check on it for you via the net. I have no desire to relive the pain of ET again.

Nature is just that. We abuse it, we lose it and it recovers again. We are not the all mighty epitome of creation some of us think we are. Horace is using biocontrol of his gardening. I recycle religionsly (where are we going to dump our rubbish on a finite island?!) Wildfires and eruptions are nature's way of replenishing the soil of its nutrients. I have huge dieffenbachias growing in nothing bur raw volcanic cinders. As it rains, it leaches out elements from the cinders to feed the roots. Some are several feet high and have been growing for years in sterile-looking volcanic debris. It is only a few months after a flow cools before sword ferns and other little plants begin to take root.

It is inconvenient for us, but in the great scheme of things, we are just passing though, much like the dinosaurs, geologically speaking. Reveral of poles is also a very real possibility. It has happened numerous times in the past. Stray asteroids, too. Stay tuned, we are just beginning to understand how small we are and where the evolution of the solar system will take us.



 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 448 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Sun, Jun  3, 2001 (16:27) * 231 lines 
 
===========================================================
SKY & TELESCOPE'S NEWS BULLETIN - JUNE 1, 2001
===========================================================
For images and Web links for these items, visit http://www.skypub.com
===========================================================
Advance token to Mauna Kea Observatory. If you pass GO, collect $200.
Bring the wonders of the universe to your living room with the
astronomy edition of Monopoly. Each game comes with six custom pewter
tokens, descriptions of the properties, and tips on getting started
in astronomy. To order, call 800-253-0245 or visit Sky Publishing's
online store - http://store.skypub.com/skypub/default.asp?links=01504
===========================================================

SPACE STATION MARATHON UNDER WAY
During the coming week, many skywatchers in the Northern Hemisphere will be
doing a double take (or even a triple take) because the International Space
Station will be visible frequently throughout the night. In many locations
Alpha will appear both before dawn and after sunset. Those living at
latitudes above +40 deg. might even glimpse it on four or five successive
orbits, every 95 minutes or so, even near local midnight.
Why such a sighting bonanza? The space station's orbit is inclined 51.6
deg. to Earth's equator, and each June and December, near the solstices,
the orbit tracks rather closely to the day-night terminator. When that
happens, the spacecraft is in sunlight almost continuously at its altitude
of nearly 400 km, even though the ground below might be in deep twilight.
This year the "marathon" dates are May 31st to June 5th, notes veteran
satellite watcher Dale Ireland. "It often appears reddish because it is
being illuminated by a low Sun," Ireland notes. "It's something to look out
for while you are out observing with your telescope on these warm nights."
Sky & Telescope provides customized ISS viewing predictions for 500 cities
worldwide (http://www.skypub.com/sights/satellites/iss.shtml). Predictions
for the Hubble Space Telescope, which can be seen from locations within
about 40 deg. of the equator (for example, as far north as San Francisco,
New York, and Rome) can be found at
http://www.skypub.com/sights/satellites/hst.shtml.

A RETURN TO "THE FACE"
Ever since a Viking orbiter snapped its picture in 1976, an oddly shaped
mile-wide feature in the Cydonia region of Mars has been suspected by some
of being something other than an eroded mesa. Instead, they suggest, an
alien race fashioned it to look like a human face as part of a series of
pyramids and other constructs in its vicinity. The subject of intense
reanalysis over the years, this "Face on Mars" has been a source of
friction between NASA scientists and proponents of its alien-artifact
origin. But a lack of quality imagery prevented an unambiguous
identification. Then, in April 1998, Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) was
commanded to take close-ups of the feature. Although the lighting geometry
was nearly opposite that present in 1976, those views showed a heavily
eroded tabletop mountain.
Recently, MGS was able to turn its gaze to the landform in Cydonia for the
first time since 1998, this time with the illumination more like the
original image's. The result shows how the eroded knobs and gullies create
the facelike suggestion seen by Viking. Michael Malin, whose Mars Observer
Camera took the image, notes that this landform is "one of thousands of
buttes, mesas, ridges, and knobs in the transition zone between the
cratered uplands of western Arabia Terra and the low, northern plains of
Mars."
Apparently, the "Face" proponents remain unconvinced, though they no longer
believe it to be a purely humanoid visage. In 1992 Richard C. Hoagland, who
has been at odds with NASA officials and scientists for decades over this
issue, proposed that the eastern half of the Face represents some kind of
feline -- likely a lion. Ever defiant, Hoagland also accuses NASA officials
of conducting "a carefully orchestrated smear campaign" to discredit his
views.

WORLD'S LARGEST COSMIC-RAY DETECTOR
A remote mountain valley in Tibet at an altitude of 14,000 feet has become
the home of the world's largest detector for cosmic rays. Named ARGO-YBJ
(for Astrophysical Radiation with Ground-based Observatory at Yangbajing),
the new facility is scheduled to make its first observations this month. It
is a collaboration involving Chinese and Italian researchers from 14
different institutions, with the Italian contingent having provided about
two-thirds of the $13 million construction cost.
Powerful yet elusive, cosmic rays are atomic nuclei moving at relativistic
speeds, the most energetic particles known. Yet they cannot be detected
directly from the ground, because they first slam into gas molecules in the
upper atmosphere -- high-energy collisions that trigger momentary "showers"
of secondary particles and light flashes. Traditionally, cosmic-ray
detectors have relied on expensive arrays of light-sensitive telescopes
(dubbed "Fly's Eyes") to record the high-altitude flashes of faint, blue
light. But the technique is very inefficient, and only the arrival of the
most potent cosmic rays (having 1 trillion electron volts or more) are
likely to be recorded.
The ARGO-YBJ facility is fundamentally different. Under its floor is a
blanket of resistive plate counters, or RPCs, that detect the secondary
subatomic particles that cascade to Earth during each air-shower event.
Because ARGO-YBJ facility utilizes nearly 200,000 RPCs, covering over an
area the size of a football field, it should be able to register the
arrival of cosmic rays packing only a 100-billion-eV punch, one-tenth the
energy previously possible. This should lead to major improvements in
understanding of where and why cosmic rays are created.

"TRITON WATCH" NOW UNDER WAY
Joel W. Parker and S. Alan Stern (Southwest Research Institute) have
initiated a "Triton Watch" to study Neptune's large moon over at least the
next two years. The effort will focus on detecting changes in the
brightness and color of the moon's surface using CCD observations. Although
professional astronomers will lead the Triton Watch, Parker is encouraging
qualified amateurs to contribute as well. The effort will involve frequent
observations taken by CCD cameras through a set of standard (UBVR) filters.
Once a variation in brightness or color has been spotted, the Triton Watch
staff will alert major observatories to make follow-up observations.
In the 12 years since Voyager 2's brief visit to Neptune, some curious
changes have occurred on both the planet and its big moon. During the late
1990s astronomers found that the temperature of Triton's tenuous atmosphere
had climbed a couple of degrees to 40° Kelvin, probably because the
southern hemisphere is now enjoying its warmest summer in more than 350
years. This mild warming trend appears to be changing the character and
distribution of bright frosts on Triton's surface, making it darker in
ultraviolet/blue light and brighter in red light. Its current color closely
matches a previous episode of "anomalous reddening" seen in 1977.
Parker notes that getting good measurements will be moderately challenging:
Triton gets no brighter than 13.5 in magnitude, and it never strays more
than about 17 arcseconds from Neptune. Even so, this should be well within
the capability of observers with 8-inch or larger telescopes and CCD
imagers -- especially during the weeks surrounding Neptune's opposition on
July 30th. For more details, see the Triton Watch web site at
http://surtsey.boulder.swri.edu/TritonWatch/

COMET LINEAR (C/2001 A2)
Defying predictions that it would fizzle after bvreaking apart, Comet
LINEAR has now brightened to nearly magnitude 4.5. Observers from the
Southern Hemisphere report that it's easy to spot, though moonlight is
becoming a problem. Unfortunately, this comet will not be visible from the
Northern Hemisphere until late June -- let's hope it remains bright until
then. The comet came its closest to the Sun, at a distance of 117,000,000
kiloemters, on May 24th. Here are coordinates for Comet LINEAR (C/2001 A2)
at 0 hours Universal Time for the coming week:
R.A. Dec.
June 3 4h 47m -27.4 deg.
5 4 37 -27.5
7 4 26 -27.5

THIS WEEK'S "SKY AT A GLANCE"
Some daily events in the changing sky, by the editors of Sky & Telescope.
JUNE 3 -- SUNDAY
* Some doorstep astronomy: This month the Big Dipper hangs bowl-down very
high in the northwest after dark. Its bottom two stars are the Pointers;
they point toward the rather dim North Star, Polaris, about three
fist-widths at arm's length to their lower right.
To identify constellations all around your sky, use the printable evening
star map and instructions at
http://www.skypub.com/sights/northern/0106skyn.shtml (if you're in the
mid-latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere. Southern Hemisphere skywatchers:
use the map at http://www.skypub.com/sights/southern/0106skys.html .)
JUNE 4 -- MONDAY
* Look for the orange star Antares below the Moon this evening. Farther
to their lower left is much brighter orange Mars.
JUNE 5 -- TUESDAY
* Full Moon (exact at 9:39 p.m. EDT).
JUNE 6 -- WEDNESDAY
* The Moon tonight appears roughly equidistant from Mars on its lower
left and much fainter Antares on its right.
JUNE 7 -- THURSDAY
* Bright Mars shines to the right of the bright Moon low in the southeast
tonight -- an impressive sight.
JUNE 8 -- FRIDAY
* Venus reaches greatest elongation in the morning sky, 46 degrees west
of the Sun.
JUNE 9 -- SATURDAY
* More doorstep astronomy: The two brightest stars of the evening this
time of year are Arcturus, very high toward the south, and Vega, midway up
the eastern sky. They're 37 and 25 light-years away, respectively. Right
now, however, they are quite upstaged by the planet Mars glaring low in the
southeast from a distance of only 4 light-minutes.
============================
THIS WEEK'S PLANET ROUNDUP
============================
MERCURY and JUPITER are lost in the glow of sunset.
VENUS (magnitude -4.4) blazes in the east during dawn.
MARS (magnitude -2.2, between Scorpius and Sagittarius) rises in the
southeast during twilight. By 11 or midnight daylight saving time it
dominates the low southeast, shining brilliant yellow-orange. Mars is at
its highest in the south by about 1 a.m. Don't miss any chance to observe
Mars in a telescope! It's now 20 arcseconds in diameter, larger than at any
time since 1988, and practically at the maximum apparent diameter of 21
arcseconds that it will reach on June 21st. See the observing guide and
Mars maps in the May Sky & Telescope, page 102, and the guide to finding
Mars's two tiny moons in the June issue, page 102.
Telescopic observers can download Mars Previewer (3 megs), which displays
observing data and a customized map of Mars's apparent disk for any date
and time. Go to
http://www.skypub.com/resources/software/basic/basic.html#mars .
SATURN is hidden in the glare of the Sun.
URANUS and NEPTUNE (6th and 8th magnitude, respectively) are in Capricornus
in the southeast in the hours before dawn.
PLUTO (magnitude 14) is in Ophiuchus in the southeast during evening.
Finder charts for Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto are in the April Sky &
Telescope, page 104, and at
http://www.skypub.com/sights/moonplanets/outerplanets01.html .
(All descriptions that relate to the horizon or zenith -- including the
words up, down, right, and left -- are written for the world's midnorthern
latitudes. Descriptions that also depend on longitude are for North
America. Eastern Daylight Time, EDT, equals Universal Time [GMT] minus 4
hours.)

More celestial events, sky maps, observing projects, and news of the
world's astronomy research appear each month in SKY & TELESCOPE, the
essential magazine of astronomy. See our enormous Web site and astronomy
bookstore at http://www.skypub.com/ . Clear skies!
===========================================================
Copyright 2001 Sky Publishing Corporation. S&T's Weekly News Bulletin
and Sky at a Glance stargazing calendar are provided as a service to
the astronomical community by the editors of SKY & TELESCOPE magazine.
Widespread electronic distribution is encouraged as long as these
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not be published in any other form without permission from Sky
Publishing (contact permissions@skypub.com or phone 617-864-7360).
Updates of astronomical news, including active links to related
Internet resources, are available via SKY & TELESCOPE's site on the
World Wide Web at http://www.skypub.com/.

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===========================================================



 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 449 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Sun, Jun  3, 2001 (16:38) * 1 lines 
 
Rob, have you seen the ISS? Did you see any of MIR's demise? I have seen both Mir and the ISS. And the shuttle passing overhead. It is truly worth looking up and realizing there is the future of our imaginations and strivings. And, there are real people in there!


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 450 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Sun, Jun  3, 2001 (16:44) * 38 lines 
 
Since you asked... here are a few theories about the amount of energy released by the Big Bang...

http://imagine.gsfc.nasa.gov/docs/ask_astro/answers/980211b.html
The Question

What is the amount of energy released in the Big Bang. Expressed in tons of dynamite or
H-bombs, etc.

The Answer
Energy wasn't "released" per se - it's still contained within the event horizon, presumably.
Notation:
** is an exponent - ie x**2 means x squared.
* is a multiplication symbol
/ is a division symbol

The total mass-energy content of the universe today is of the order of the critical density,
3 x H0**2/(8*pi*G) = 5 x 10**(-30) g/cm**3,
times the volume contained within the present event horizon,
(4/3)*pi*R**3,
where R = the event horizon = c * T (speed of light * age of Universe ) = 3 x 10**10 cm/s x
(2/3)*(c/H0). Here H0 is the Hubble constant, assumed to be around 50 km/s/Mpc and
Omega = 1 (critical deceleration). For this value of H0, 1/H0 = (app) 20 billion years, making
the current age of the Universe about 2/(3*H0) = 13 billion years, so that
R = (app.) 1.3 x 10**28 cm,

which should be equivalent to 13 billion light-years (1.3 x 10**10 y x 10**13 km/y x 10**5
cm/km).
This gives a total mass-energy mass of about 4.4 x 10**55 grams, equivalent to about
2.6*10**79 protons. The energy equivalent (E = m*c**2) of these protons is about
2.5x10**79 GeV or 2.5x10**88 eV * 1.6x10**-19 J/eV = 4x10**69 Joules.
One ton of TNT releases 4.2 x 10**9 Joules. Thus the energy equivalent of the mass=energy of
the universe is about 9.5 x 10**53 Megatons of TNT. This is greater than the mass-energy of
the universe, but only because the chemical process involved in exploding TNT is vastly less
efficient that E = m*c**2.

Jim Lochner
for Ask a High-Energy Astronomer (with help from Mark Kowitt, Mike Corcoran, and
Leonard Garcia)


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 451 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Sun, Jun  3, 2001 (17:02) * 15 lines 
 
For really good stuff to answer questions on the Big Bang and what existed before it, http://itss.raytheon.com/cafe/qadir/acosmbb.html


From the CERN - the source of the Internet:
http://www.exploratorium.edu/origins/cern/ideas/bang.html

The Big Bang was like no explosion you might
witness on earth today. For instance, a hydrogen bomb explosion, whose center
registers approximately 100 million degrees Celsius, moves through the air at
about 300 meters per second. In contrast, cosmologists believe the Big Bang flung
energy in all directions at the speed of light (300,000,000 meters per second, a
hundred thousand times faster than the H-bomb) and estimate that the
temperature of the entire universe was 1000 trillion degrees Celsius at just a tiny
fraction of a second after the explosion. Even the cores of the hottest stars in
today's universe are much cooler than that.


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 452 of 1087: Rob Glennie  (AotearoaKiwi) * Sun, Jun  3, 2001 (21:18) * 11 lines 
 
Hi

Mankind is pathetically puny in stark contrast to the power of the Big Bang - and just as well too. Someone would have hold the world to ransom by now to extract an insane demand. It happens.

I actually did see MIR die. New Zealand was at the western end of the big triangle in the Pacific where the space station was expected to die. Dad Craig and I watched from the roof of our house realising it could be decades before this happens again. The papers and the television were all counting down and an Australian bar offered free beer for the duration of the day it was expected to touch down. Tacos put a 12 x 12 metre target in the area where it was thought to touch down and told their customers: If Mir hits the target, every American gets a free Tacos pack.

For obvious reasons they took out huge insurance against it.

Prime Minister Helen Clark had a direct link installed by the SIS to her office and that the of the defence minister so they could talk to the Russians if things got iffy and butty.

Rob


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 453 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Mon, Jun  4, 2001 (01:22) * 1 lines 
 
OH WOW!!! How great!!! There is a lovely eulogy to Mir which has music so lovely it made tears. I am so delighted you got to see it! Will try to find the bit and post it tomorrow!


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 454 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Mon, Jun  4, 2001 (01:31) * 1 lines 
 
G'night Rob! *Hugs*


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 455 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Wed, Jun  6, 2001 (19:28) * 14 lines 
 
I may have to send it to you as a file - I cannot find it online anymore.

Young Stars Bathe in Hot Gas at Milky Way's Heart
Hot young stars bathe in a caldron of seething gas at the Milky Way galaxy's crowded heart, emitting X-rays seen by an observatory orbiting Earth, researchers reported on Wednesday.
http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/nm/20010606/sc/space_stars_dc_1.html
____________________________________________
Space Mapmakers Detect Two Faraway Quasars
Astronomers have detected the most distant objects ever observed -- two quasars billions of light-years from Earth -- as part of a five-year international plan to make a digital map of the universe.
http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/nm/20010605/sc/space_map_dc_1.html
__________________________________
Dozens of Middleweight Black Holes Detected Nearby
Earth's cosmic neighborhood may be teeming with suspected middleweight black holes, and some nearby galaxies may have more than one apiece, astronomers reported on Tuesday.
http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/nm/20010605/sc/space_holes_dc_1.html



 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 456 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Wed, Jun  6, 2001 (21:55) * 5 lines 
 
ROB!!! Here it is - MIR's re-entry footage http://www.space.com/missionlaunches/missions/mir_fiery_finale_page.html

go there and hit the button called re-entry footage. Go to the settings button below the box where the video will show up in a pop-ub box. Set it as you wish and push the play button. The footage is the best I have seen and the music touches me deeply. I hope you enjoy it!

I'd love to know how you felt watching and what you saw...!


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 457 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Fri, Jun  8, 2001 (14:14) * 16 lines 
 
From Horace the Horrible http://www.eso.org/outreach/press-rel/pr-2001/phot-21-01.html
Fascinating pictures at this site. It is worth a look

Aurorae and Volcanic Eruptions

Thermal-IR Observations of Jupiter and Io with ISAAC at the VLT
Summary
Impressive thermal-infrared images have been obtained of the giant planet Jupiter during tests of a new
detector in the ISAAC instrument on the ESO Very Large Telescope (VLT) at the Paranal Observatory
(Chile)..
They show in particular the full extent of the northern auroral ring and part of the southern aurora.
A volcanic eruption was also imaged on Io, the very active inner Jovian moon.
Although these observations are of an experimental nature, they demonstrate a great potential for regular
monitoring of the Jovian magnetosphere by ground-based telescopes together with space-based facilities. They
also provide the added benefit of direct comparison with the terrestrial magnetosphere.



 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 458 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Sat, Jun  9, 2001 (18:19) * 582 lines 
 
===========================================================
SKY & TELESCOPE'S NEWS BULLETIN - JUNE 8, 2001
===========================================================
For images and Web links for these items, visit http://www.skypub.com
===========================================================
Advance token to Mauna Kea Observatory. If you pass GO, collect $200.

Bring the wonders of the universe to your living room with the
astronomy edition of Monopoly. Each game comes with six custom pewter
tokens, descriptions of the properties, and tips on getting started
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===========================================================

ASTRONOMERS MASS IN PASADENA

This past week many of the world's research astronomers turned their
attention to Pasadena, California, for the 198th meeting of the
American Astronomical Society. This twice-yearly convention drew some
1,300 professional astronomers, educators, and astronomy hobbyists to
the Pasadena Civic Auditorium to hear front-line research reports on
topics ranging from signs of asteroids in other planetary systems to
developments in galactic black holes to the frontiers of cosmic
evolution. Over 800 papers were presented, according to AAS press
officer Stephen P. Maran. Sky & Telescope editors were there and filed
the following reports.

BROWN DWARFS WITH CIRCUM"STELLAR" DISKS

Are brown dwarfs more like stars or planets? They can't shine by
nuclear fusion as stars do, because they have less than 7 percent of
the Sun's mass (less than 75 Jupiters' worth). But they're usually
found drifting alone in interstellar space, unlike what's usually
called a planet. A key distinction is how they form. A star condenses
directly from an interstellar gas cloud, from the "top down." A planet
begins by accretion of small rocky bodies inside another star's
protoplanetary disk, from the "bottom up."

A team of astronomers led by Charles Lada (Harvard-Smithsonian Center
for Astrophysics) and August Muench (University of Florida) have added
another piece to the puzzle. They have discovered that like young
stars, young brown dwarfs are often surrounded by dust disks -- and
may end up with planets of their own.

Using an infrared camera on the European Southern Observatory's
3.5-meter New Technology Telescope in Chile, Lada's team looked at the
rich cluster of more than 1,000 newborn stars in the Great Orion
Nebula. Brown dwarfs are easiest to find when they're young (they cool
off with age), and those in the Orion Nebula are only about a million
years old. The astronomers identified more than 100 candidates. Of
these, 63 percent show the telltale infrared sign of having a warm
circumstellar disk.

Disks are a near-universal byproduct of star formation. The team
expects that with further investigation, the percentage of brown
dwarfs showing disks will rise to the proportion of young stars having
them: around 80 percent.

But classifying things isn't so simple. Merely possessing a disk in
its youth clearly can't distinguish a star from a planet. Jupiter,
Saturn, and Uranus are surrounded by rich "planetary" systems of their
own that must have condensed out of orbiting disks. We call a planet's
planets moons, but the distinction is probably otherwise meaningless.

MIRA'S COMPANION

Ever since 1918 astronomers have known that Mira, the brightest of the
red long-period variable stars, has a hot, faint companion. The
companion was long called a peculiar intermediate object somewhere
between a white dwarf and a blue main-sequence star.

Now two astronomers say they have got the companion all figured out.
By matching its ultraviolet spectrum to model systems, Edward M. Sion
and John J. Bochanski (Villanova University) determined that it is a
relatively cool white dwarf (10,000 deg. K) surrounded by a hotter
accretion disk of gas that is being collected from Mira's outflowing
stellar wind at a rate of a billionth of a solar mass per year.

This result establishes that an accretion disk can form merely by
stellar-wind capture. It was not previously clear that a stellar wind
could carry enough angular momentum to allow this to happen. The
process may be an important source of disks around other white dwarfs,
neutron stars, and black holes.

A TRUE BINARY QUASAR

The Sloan Digital Sky Survey (see three stories below) isn't the only
gigantic sky-mapping project showing off its stuff at this week's AAS
meeting in Pasadena. Astronomers from 2MASS, the recently completed
Two Micron All Sky Survey (featured in the July Sky & Telescope)
unveiled many new infrared findings, from the Sun's interstellar
backyard to the far reaches of the cosmos.

One unexpected discovery came from a search of the 2MASS data for
active galactic nuclei. In the course of identifying 200 new ones, a
team headed by Brant Nelsen and Roc Cutri (Infrared Processing and
Analysis Center) turned up a pair of quasars only 4 arcseconds apart.
Follow-up spectra taken at the Keck Observatory revealed that both
have the same high redshift of 1.8. These are not, however, two
gravitationally lensed images of the same object. They seem to be a
genuine couplet, says Nelson, as indicated by their undistorted,
pointlike shapes as well as their distinct radio and optical
signatures.

They join a select club. "There are only about 20 true quasar pairs,"
says Nelson. Their apparent separation of 4 arcseconds implies that
they are at least 130,000 light-years apart -- too far apart to be
interacting but close enough to be gravitationally bound together.

A STAR CLUSTER OVERFLOWING WITH X-RAYS

Deep in the rich inner region of our Milky Way, only about 100
light-years from the galaxy's central black hole, lies a compact
cluster of infant stars whose combined outflow of stellar winds rival
the winds seen in distant starburst galaxies. This is the first
discovery of such energetic X-ray gas in a young star cluster in the
Milky Way. Astronomers may be able to use it to better understand the
dynamics of the richest star-forming regions elsewhere -- and in our
own galaxy's earliest history.

Using the Chandra X-ray Observatory, Farhad Yusef-Zadeh (Northwestern
University) and his colleagues took a 14-hour exposure the Arches
Cluster, a tight group of 150 O-type stars just 1 light-year across
near the Milky Way's core some 25,000 light-years from the Sun. The
cluster is very young, less than 2 million years old. It is unique in
that despite containing so many short-lived massive stars, it shows no
evidence that a supernova has yet occurred within it. The cluster's
high-energy gas seems to consist of pristine stellar winds.

According to Yusef-Zadeh, the Chandra observations indicate hot winds
flowing from cluster stars at speeds of 1,000 kilometers per second.
Where the winds collide, they heat to 60 million degrees K and produce
brilliant X-ray emission. Collaborator Casey Law (Harvard-Smithsonian
Center for Astrophysics) goes a step further and says the gas is so
hot that it is likely to leave the cluster and heat up much larger
surrounding environs. If so, this effect would help to explain the
heated gas regions long observed in the center of the Milky Way.

Because of its remarkable energy, astronomers hope to use the cluster
as a relatively nearby laboratory to study processes that happen in
X-ray-bright starburst galaxies. Future research will include looking
for more such hot, compact clusters in the inner Milky Way.

STUFF OF LIFE FROM IRRADIATED ICE

Deep inside dark, cold interstellar clouds where starlight never
penetrates, a surprising amount of chemistry is going on. Astronomers
using millimeter-wave and submillimeter spectroscopy have identified
about 120 compounds in such clouds, including many of the building
blocks of life. At the AAS meeting in Pasadena, a large group
astronomers from NASA's Ames Research Center and elsewhere described
their efforts to study the chemistry of organic (carbon-based)
compounds under the weird conditions inside these clouds -- the places
where stars and planets are born.

The interior of a dense molecular cloud can chill to as cold as 10
deg. K (-263 deg. C). At such temperatures many atoms and molecules
that are normally gases condense to form icy coatings on dust grains.
Molecules this cold shouldn't react much with each other, especially
when embedded in ice. So how do they perform so much organic
chemistry?

The key ingredient seems to be high-energy cosmic radiation.
Ultraviolet light can also do the job where starlight manages to
penetrate. Any ionizing radiation can break apart molecules inside the
ice, creating highly reactive ions that recombine to form larger, more
complex molecules.

Several researchers from NASA/Ames described using supercold vacuum
chambers and ultraviolet lamps to simulate the molecular-cloud
environment. "Basically, we freeze mixed gases onto an extremely cold
window and then give the ices the equivalent of a good suntanning,"
says Louis Allamandola. The resulting residues contain hundreds of
complex compounds, some of which play roles in the metabolism of life
on Earth. Comments Scott Sandford, "It appears that the universe is,
in some sense, hard-wired to produce relatively complex organics."

Perhaps, then, we're being too self-centered when we say interstellar
clouds created the special substances needed for life on Earth. A
truer perspective might be that when life processes got started, they
simply took advantage of whatever compounds happened to be lying
around.

SLOAN SURVEY SHOWS ITS STUFF

The most ambitious astronomical survey program ever undertaken, the
Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS), yesterday released to the public its
first year's worth of observations. Although the data spans only 5
percent of the sky area the project will eventually cover, Sloan
astronomers have already been mining it to produce a wealth of studies
about everything from brown dwarfs to dark-matter clumps to quasars.
In a press conference at the AAS meeting in Pasadena, they proudly
showcased a few of their flashier results.

* Sloan astronomers announced that they have turned up the two
farthest quasars yet detected, with redshifts of 6.0 and 6.2. The
farther of these dates back to when the universe was just 800 million
years old. The discoveries were nothing new for SDSS; according to
Penn State astronomer Donald Schneider, the Sloan team has uncovered
26 of the 30 farthest known quasars and more than half of all known
quasars beyond a redshift of 4.

* One interesting finding involved something SDSS hasn't seen.
Gravitational lensing of extremely distant quasars ought to be fairly
common; mass concentrations along our line of sight should sometimes
distort and split the most distant images. The amount of lensing can
be a good diagnostic of mass distribution in the universe. But lensed
double images are lacking among Sloan's quasars. Gordon Richards (Penn
State) suspects that the reason is merely inadequate resolution. Dual
quasar images should typically appear 0.6 to 0.8 arcsecond apart, says
Richards, "but most of the Sloan data is at 1.5 arcseconds
[resolution]." The database does contain suspiciously elongated
quasars; many of these are scheduled to be observed more closely with
the higher-resolution Gemini and Magellan telescopes.

* Measurements of ever more galaxies and farther quasars are putting
tighter constraints on events in the early universe. Large scale
galaxy-distribution results support the current model of the cosmos in
which there is much more dark matter than visible matter (and an even
larger amount of "dark energy"). Michael Turner (University of
Chicago) says we are also closer to dating a key cosmic turning point
that's presently just beyond reach: when the intergalactic gas
throughout the universe first became ionized by radiation from the
earliest stars.

* The origins of different galaxy types should also become clearer.
"Our data show that different types of galaxies cluster differently,
indicating that galaxies are influenced by their environment," says
David Weinberg (Ohio State University).

* Closer to home, Sloan has been recording vast numbers of asteroids
almost by accident. The survey's five-color photometry confirms the
chemical segregation of the asteroid belt; rocky bodies tend to be in
the inner part of the belt and carbonaceous bodies in the outer parts.
Sloan has also found fewer than expected main-belt asteroids smaller
than 4 kilometers.

The Sloan survey is imaging one fourth of the celestial sphere to
magnitude 23 using a specialized 2.5-meter telescope at Apache Point,
New Mexico. Precise brightnesses will be measured in five colors for
100 million celestial objects. The survey will also measure the
redshifts of more than 1 million galaxies and 100,000 quasars.
Observations began in 1998 and should last for five years; astronomers
will surely mine the SDSS data for decades thereafter. Says Turner,
"We have broken new ground in the way we are doing astronomy."

SWARMS OF MIDDLEWEIGHT BLACK HOLES

They're so new that astronomers still have trouble deciding what to
call them. But there's a growing belief that a puzzling new class of
X-ray sources represents "middleweight" black holes -- holes seemingly
too heavy to originate from a collapsing star, but too light to
represent the core of a galaxy.

These "Intermediate-luminosity X-ray Objects," or IXOs for short, were
first identified two years ago in data from the German Rosat
satellite. According to codiscoverer Edward Colbert (Johns Hopkins
University), they are too luminous to be normal X-ray binary stars,
which would blow apart if they produced so much energy. But they're
offset by hundreds of light-years from the centers of their host
galaxies, so they can't be supermassive black holes either. (If they
were, they would pull the galaxy's core right onto them.) The best
explanation so far is that they are middleweight black holes, with
tens to thousands of times the mass of our Sun. But how such objects
form is a mystery.

Using the Chandra X-ray Observatory, various groups of astronomers
have found that the middleweights usually show up in starburst
galaxies where vigorous star formation is under way. Andrew Zezas and
Giuseppina Fabbiano (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics) and
colleagues found dozens of them in the Antennae (NGC 4038/4039), the
famous merging pair of galaxies in Corvus. Others have shown up in
other starburst galaxies such as M82 and NGC 253. "There is a strong
correlation between IXOs and starburst activity," says Fabbiano, "so
we're probably talking about a young population of black holes."

Kimberly Weaver (NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center) says it might be
possible to form 100-solar-mass stars in a very dense young star
cluster. "If they collapse, they would form very massive black holes,
which could subsequently merge into a black hole of a few hundred
solar masses," she explains. However, she admits there's hardly any
clue to the middleweights' origin. And Colbert says there are other
cases, such as in NGC 1313 and IC 342, where IXOs occur outside of
star-forming regions. "There are probably a couple of different types
of these objects," he says.

Or maybe IXOs aren't middleweight black holes at all. Andrew King
(University of Leicester, England) points out that if an object
happens to be beaming X-rays narrowly in our direction, we will
overestimate its energy output based on the false assumption that it
is sending the same energy in all other directions too. "This is
definitely a possibility," admits Fabbiano. "To find out, we need
larger and more sensitive surveys."

"Beaming solves the problem," agrees Richard Mushotzky (NASA/Goddard),
one of the original discoverers of IXOs. "But right now, I don't know
if it's really probable. This is very much new ground."

A PRE-SUPERNOVA TAKES SHAPE

Why is the Crab Nebula shaped like a crab? What prevented it from
expanding as a uniform, spherical shell? Astronomers have long debated
why supernova remnants take the shapes they do. Irregularities in the
surrounding gas and asymmetry in the explosion itself have been the
prime contenders. Now Michael Jura (University of California, Los
Angeles) and his colleagues at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory have
identified what they believe is a pre-supernova star, and its gassy
outpourings may provide a firmer understanding of what caused the
nonuniform shapes of the Crab and other supernova remnants.

The ticking time bomb is HD 179281, a massive G-type star in Lyra.
Until about 1,600 years ago it was a red hypergiant -- a highly
evolved star that shed its outer layers at the fantastic rate of one
solar mass per 3,000 years. Jura and colleagues used one of the
10-meter Keck telescopes and the Owens Valley Submillimeter Array to
map its surrounding gas and dust. They found that much of the material
has piled up in a semicircular arc to one side of the star. The group
predicts that when the star explodes sometime in the next 100,000
years, it will form a "clumpy" remnant like the one from Kepler's
supernova, which appeared in Ophiuchus in 1604.

TWO TYPES OF SPIRALS

Spiral galaxies have not just one but two entirely different kinds of
spiral arms, and they form by entirely different means. This
surprising announcement comes from three astronomers presenting their
work this week at the AAS meeting in Pasadena.

The big, main arms that shape a spiral galaxy's disk have been
familiar for more than a century. Astronomers long ago concluded that
they are "density waves" of stars and gas piling up under the
influence of their own gravity as they orbit around a galaxy. These
arms tend to fade away as they approach a galaxy's center.

When the Hubble Space Telescope began providing very sharp galaxy
pictures, they often showed many intricate spiral lanes of dust and
gas continuing right down into a galaxy's bright, innermost core.
Debra Elmegreen and Kate Eberwein (Vassar College) and Bruce Elmegreen
(IBM Watson Research Center) say these delicate structures are shaped
not by gravity but by acoustic pressure waves -- in other words, by
sound.

Theorists have predicted that "acoustic spirals" indeed ought to form
in a galaxy's nuclear regions if the speed of sound in the
interstellar medium approaches the orbital speed. Under these
conditions, the tightly curving orbits of gas masses should amplify
random pressure waves and herd them toward the center in a jumble of
spiral swirls. The three astronomers found that the detailed
predictions for acoustic waves closely match the characteristics of
the delicate traceries seen by Hubble in the centers of two galaxies,
NGC 4736 and NGC 4450.

This realization may help solve an old puzzle. Astronomers have long
wondered how the black hole powering an active galactic nucleus
collects gas from the rest of the galaxy. Somehow, the orbiting gas
has to get rid of angular momentum and orbital energy and fall to the
center. This often happens where two galaxies collide or suffer a
close flyby; the resulting turmoil sends gas everywhere. But what
about normal spiral galaxies? The two that the astronomers studied are
cases in point. Both are LINERs, so called because their centers show
strong emission lines from gas possibly heated by a supermassive black
hole.

The acoustic-wave model may fill the bill. As Bruce Elmegreen
explains, "Random sonic turbulence, starting like common noise, grows
into long spiral arms that are most easily seen as dust features. The
strongest of these arms probably contain shock fronts -- sonic booms.
As a result, large pressure forces and energy dissipation in the gas
[and loss of angular momentum] lead to its steady accretion to the
center, where it can feed a black hole."

AN ASTEROID BELT LIKE OUR OWN?

Astronomers have known for nearly two decades that some youngish
stars, such as Vega, Fomalhaut, and Beta Pictoris, are surrounded by
large disks of gas-free dust. The dust particles are warmed by the
star's light and reradiate this telltale energy in the far infrared.
Most such disks found so far are much larger than our solar system.
Yesterday, however, at the American Astronomical Society meeting in
Pasadena, researchers announced finding a dust disk circling within a
mere 6 astronomical units (900 million km) of its star.

The disk orbits Zeta Leporis, a hot, white A3 star with about twice
the Sun's mass and 15 times the Sun's brilliance. The star has an
estimated age of between 50 and 400 million years, roughly how old the
Sun was when our asteroid belt took shape. UCLA graduate student
Christine Chen and her advisor Michael Jura measured the temperature
of the dust belt (first discovered in 1991) by observing at two
infrared wavelengths with one of the 10-meter Keck telescopes. They
found that the tiny particles are heated on average to a toasty 350
deg. K (150 deg. F), which in turn reveals their distance from the
star. Chen and Jura estimate that the disk contains about 1,000 times
more material than our asteroid belt -- a mass comparable to Earth's.

The exciting aspect of this discovery is that the dust really
shouldn't be there. Micron-size particles orbiting so close to the
star would take a mere 20,000 years to spiral into the star due to
interaction with its brilliant flood of light. (In our own solar
system, collisions between asteroids continually replenish the
zodiacal dust band, which is dimly visible to Earthly skywatchers as
the zodiacal light.) The fact that the dust is seen at all means it
must be continuously resupplied. "There must be objects larger than
dust around Zeta Leporis," says Jura, "which may resemble asteroids in
our own solar system, that are creating the infrared-emitting dust by
violently colliding with each other."

Given the star's age, "maybe planets have already formed, or maybe
they are forming," Chen says. If they are still forming, the dust
might be a byproduct of planetary accretion, with rocks spewing fine
rubble as they collide and stick together to begin growing into
planets. Alternatively, if planet formation is over, the dust may be
coming from colliding bodies that are breaking up rather than
coalescing. Mark Sykes (University of Arizona) proposes that if a
Jupiter-mass body orbits the star not far from the disk, it would pump
up the orbital eccentricities of the rocks, randomizing their orbits
and increasing collisions. "This system may be quite analogous to what
things were like in the first 100 million years of our solar system,"
says Sykes.

A LOOK AT GLOBULAR CLUSTER FORMATION

Globular clusters are among the oldest structures found in any galaxy.
Most of them date from as far back as 9 to 13 billion years ago, when
galaxies and the universe itself were young. But at the AAS meeting in
Pasadena, astronomers described their ongoing research into one
globular that's in its earliest stage of life. A team led by Jean
Turner (UCLA) has been studying a small but very bright infrared and
radio source in the nearby dwarf galaxy NGC 5253 in Centaurus. The
object is a massive "super nebula" that has given birth to an
enormously rich star cluster.

Only 6 to 10 light-years across, the nebula is estimated to contain a
million young stars that together emit a billion times the energy of
the Sun. This object dominates NGC 5253, says Turner; "It's one-fourth
the total energy output of the galaxy."

So many hot stars gathered in such a small space are bound to reshape
their surroundings. "This thing is beginning to blast its way out,"
Turner says; the combined radiation pressure from the young stars is
blowing the remaining nebula away. The expanding gas has created a
shock wave -- a wind bubble clearing out the region around the cluster
and thus preventing future star formation.

At the current outflow rate, this stage of the globular cluster's life
would only last some 15,000 years. The astronomers say, however, that
the gravity of the massive cluster should hold the gas and dust back
to some extent, slowing the shock wave and extending its existence. A
few other infant globulars have been found in other galaxies, but the
one in NGC 5253 is near enough that it offers the best opportunity for
studying them in action.

COMET LINEAR MOVING NORTH

Comet LINEAR (C/2001 A2) is gradually moving north, but it remains
only visible from the Southern Hemisphere. Observers report that it is
a naked-eye 5th magnitude and can be found moving from Eridanus into
Fornax over the coming week. The comet will be 20 to 30 deg. above the
eastern horizon before dawn. LINEAR will not be visible from the
Northern Hemisphere until late June. Here are coordinates for Comet
LINEAR for 0 hours Universal Time for the coming week:

R.A. Dec.

Jun 9 4h 14m -27.3 deg.
Jun 11 4 01 -26.8
Jun 13 3 46 -26.1
Jun 15 3 30 -25.1


THIS WEEK'S "SKY AT A GLANCE"

Some daily events in the changing sky, by the editors of Sky &
Telescope.

JUNE 10 -- SUNDAY

* Brilliant Mars is certainly the main attraction in the
southeastern sky these evenings, but there's more going on here too.
Look for Antares, the orange "Rival of Mars," to the planet's upper
right during evening, and directly to its right after midnight.
They're separated by about 1 1/2 fist-width's held at arm's length.
Fainter stars of Scorpius are scattered around Antares.

JUNE 11 -- MONDAY

* One of those fainter stars near Antares (see yesterday) is
especially newsworthy. Delta Scorpii has been shining at about
magnitude 1.7 for months now, some 75 percent brighter than its normal
magnitude 2.3. It's the middle star of the nearly vertical line of
three twinkling less than a fist-width to the right of Antares. Delta
is now very clearly the brightest of these three. Keep an eye on it
for further changes likely in the coming months!

JUNE 12 -- TUESDAY

* The two brightest stars in the evening sky this month are pale
yellow-orange Arcturus, nearly overhead in the south during and after
dusk, and pale blue-white Vega, climbing high in the eastern sky.
Brilliant Mars, however, far outshines them both.

JUNE 13 -- WEDNESDAY

* Last-quarter Moon (exact at 11:28 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time).

* Mars is at opposition tonight (though it won't be quite at its
closest to Earth until the 21st).

JUNE 14 -- THURSDAY

* Earliest sunrise of the year, if you live near 40 degrees north
latitude.

* Jupiter is in conjunction with the Sun.

JUNE 15 -- FRIDAY

* Venus should be at dichotomy sometime around now, appearing
exactly half-lit in a telescope. The best time to view Venus
telescopically will be in a blue sky around breakfast time, when it's
still much higher than the Sun. To find Venus in the daytime sky,
you'll probably need a polar-aligned telescope with setting circles to
measure its offset from the Sun. (Look 3h 06m west of the Sun and 11.4
degrees south. Be sure not to blind yourself by accidentally looking
at the Sun through the telescope!)

JUNE 16 -- SATURDAY

* The red long-period variable star R Aquilae should be nearing its
maximum brightness (6th magnitude) around now.


============================
THIS WEEK'S PLANET ROUNDUP
============================

MERCURY is lost in the glare of the Sun.

VENUS (magnitude -4.3) blazes in the east during dawn.

MARS (magnitude -2.3, between Scorpius and Sagittarius) is at
opposition this week! It rises in the southeast around sunset, and by
dark it dominates the low southeast, shining brilliant yellow-orange.
Mars is at its highest in the south shortly after midnight. Don't miss
any chance to observe Mars in a telescope! It's now 20 arcseconds in
diameter, larger than at any time since 1988, and practically at the
maximum apparent diameter of 21 arcseconds that it will reach on June
21st. See the observing guide and Mars maps in the May Sky &
Telescope, page 102, and the guide to finding Mars's two tiny moons in
the June issue, page 102.

Telescopic observers can download Mars Previewer (3 megs), which
displays observing data and a customized map of Mars's apparent disk
for any date and time. Go to
http://www.skypub.com/resources/software/basic/basic.html#mars .

JUPITER is lost in the glare of the Sun.

SATURN is hidden low in the glow of dawn.

URANUS and NEPTUNE (6th and 8th magnitude, respectively) are in
Capricornus in the southeast in the early morning hours.

PLUTO (magnitude 14) is in Ophiuchus in the southeast during evening.
Finder charts for Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto are in the April Sky &
Telescope, page 104, and at
http://www.skypub.com/sights/moonplanets/outerplanets01.html .

(All descriptions that relate to the horizon or zenith -- including
the words up, down, right, and left -- are written for the world's
midnorthern latitudes. Descriptions that also depend on longitude are
for North America. Eastern Daylight Time, EDT, equals Universal Time
[GMT] minus 4 hours.)

More celestial events, sky maps, observing projects, and news of the
world's astronomy research appear each month in SKY & TELESCOPE, the
essential magazine of astronomy. See our enormous Web site and
astronomy bookstore at http://www.skypub.com/ . Clear skies!

SKY & TELESCOPE, 49 Bay State Rd., Cambridge, MA 02138 *
617-864-7360
===========================================================
Copyright 2001 Sky Publishing Corporation. S&T's Weekly News


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 459 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Wed, Jun 13, 2001 (22:19) * 20 lines 
 
----------------------------------------------------------
/ PHYSICSWEB: E-mail alert
\ (http://PhysicsWeb.org)
==========================================================
----------------------------------------------------------
| News
==========================================================
* Doctoring the spin on Venus: (13 Jun)
Astronomers have long thought that Venus acquired its
unusual 'retrograde' spin when internal friction and
turbulence in its atmosphere flipped the planet's
rotation axis in the distant past. Now French astronomers
argue that chaotic effects could have reversed the
planet's spin while its rotation axis stayed put.
Alexandre Correia and Jacques Laskar of CNRS simulated
the rotation of Venus over thousands of millions of years
and conclude that it must have followed one of two paths
to reach its current state (A Correia and J Laskar 2001
Nature 411 767).
[ http://PhysicsWeb.org/article/news/5/6/6 ]


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 460 of 1087: Maggie  (sociolingo) * Thu, Jun 14, 2001 (11:41) * 1 lines 
 
Last night we heard on the news that Mars was at its most visible .. so we two oldies went and looked at the stars ...very sweet really. Yes we had a really good view of Mars ...for once there wasn't a cloud covering over our little corner of Britain.


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 461 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Thu, Jun 14, 2001 (15:23) * 1 lines 
 
Yup, it is perigee for Mars (see news items in Geo 24. Tonight I will try again to see, providing no one sets fire to the roof again as he did last night.


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 462 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Fri, Jun 15, 2001 (20:26) * 23 lines 
 
----------------------------------------------------------
/ PHYSICSWEB: E-mail alert
\ (http://PhysicsWeb.org)
==========================================================
----------------------------------------------------------
| News
==========================================================
* Exotic quasars may be commonplace: (15 Jun)
The violent bursts of radiowaves that stream across the
Universe from remote objects known as blazars - which are
related to quasars - may be much more common than
astronomers previously thought. Quasars are the extremely
luminous cores of active galaxies. The observations made
by Feng Ma and Beverley Wills of the University of Texas
in the US support a recent proposal suggesting that most
quasars have blazar traits - but that they are only
visible from certain angles (F Ma and B Wills 2001
Science 292 2050). Meanwhile, the Sloan
Digital Sky Survey based in California has detected two
quasars that are the most distant objects ever observed.
[ http://PhysicsWeb.org/article/news/5/6/8 ]
----------------------------------------------------------



 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 463 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Sat, Jun 16, 2001 (00:08) * 0 lines 
 


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 464 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Sat, Jun 16, 2001 (00:09) * 24 lines 
 
Astronomers, Tourists Flock to Zambia for Eclipse

LUSAKA (Reuters) - Astronomers and tourists are flocking to Zambia for
the first solar eclipse of the millennium and police are tightening security
ahead of the June 21 spectacle, officials said on Friday.

Zambia expects to play host to up to 20,000 eclipse tourists and
astronomers, and hopes they will spend up to $15 million, boosting the
economy and the flagging tourism industry, said Zambia National Tourist
Board head Agnes Seenka.

"The eclipse will help with polishing Zambia's image and will bring the
feel-good factor to our country," she told Reuters.

Police will be on hand to ensure viewing of the eclipse remains peaceful.
Police spokesman Lemmy Kajoba said hundreds of officers had been
deployed around Lusaka, Kafue National Park and Luangwa game
reserve, where most of the eclipse visitors are expected to stay.

The eclipse will also be seen in Mozambique, Namibia, Angola and
Madagascar, but instability and a lack of infrastructure in some countries
mean Zambia will grab the bulk of the visitors.

more... http://my.aol.com/news/news_story.psp?type=1&cat=0200&id=0106151139200877


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 465 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Sat, Jun 16, 2001 (19:04) * 252 lines 
 
===========================================================
SKY & TELESCOPE'S NEWS BULLETIN - JUNE 15, 2001
===========================================================
For images and Web links for these items, visit http://www.skypub.com
===========================================================
Quantities limited! Our 16-inch scale model of Venus is the remainder
of a custom order for NASA. The globe, based on radar data from the
Magellan spacecraft, contains all the major landforms and is color
coded for elevation. Produced in collaboration with NASA and the U.S.
Geological Survey. Comes with a hand-made wooden base. To order the
16-inch Venus Globe for $119.95, call 800-253-0245 and ask for
product "Ven16." The item is not available from our online store.
===========================================================

MARTIAN FLARES SIGHTED

In the May 2001 issue of SKY & TELESCOPE, Thomas Dobbins and William
Sheehan discussed rare historical observations of bright, star-like
flares from certain regions on the planet Mars. They suggested that
the brightenings might be caused by specular reflections of sunlight
off water-ice crystals in surface frosts or atmospheric clouds,
specifically at times when the sub-Sun and sub-Earth points were
nearly coincident and close to the planet's central meridian (the
imaginary line running down the center of the visible disk from pole
to pole). Based on their analysis, Dobbins and Sheehan predicted that
flares like those last reported in 1958 might erupt this week in Edom
Promontorium, near the Martian equator at longitude 345 deg. They were
right.

Dobbins organized an expedition to the Florida Keys, where Mars would
climb high in the south under exceptionally steady skies. Team members
from SKY & TELESCOPE and the Association of Lunar and Planetary
Observers (ALPO) scrutinized the planet using a variety of telescopes
nightly beginning June 5th. No flares were seen for the first two
nights. But on June 7th, beginning around 06:35 Universal Time (2:35
a.m. Eastern daylight time), about 85 minutes before Edom crossed the
central meridian, Dobbins and his colleagues observed a series of
brightenings. Each lasted 3 to 5 seconds; they occurred once or twice
a minute over the next hour and a half, until clouds ended the
observations. The flares were seen visually at 300x to 366x through
two 6-inch (15-centimeter) Newtonian reflectors and were recorded on
videotape at 1,400x through a Meade 12-inch (30-cm) Schmidt-Cassegrain
telescope. Visually, the flares seemed to cut the dark linear feature
Sinus Sabaeus nearly in two. More brightenings of Edom were observed
on June 8th; these were as bright as the ones the night before but not
as frequent.

PUSHING FOR A PLUTO PROBE

The off and on again saga of sending a spacecraft to Pluto took
another positive step last week as NASA authorized further study of
two proposed concepts for a Pluto-Kuiper Belt mission. Although the
agency's fiscal 2002 budget does not include money for a Pluto probe,
NASA nevertheless judged these two proposals best of the five
submitted and will award the teams $450,000 to produce fleshed-out
plans due in three months.

One possible probe is the Outer Solar System Explorer (POSSE), which
would be built by Lockheed Martin, commanded from the Jet Propulsion
Laboratory (JPL), and have Larry Esposito (University of Colorado) as
principal investigator. Esposito notes that the craft will be based on
the Stardust spacecraft, but will be altered for a longer lifespan --
the camera and other instruments will have no moving parts. After
flying by Pluto and Charon, plans are for it to visit one or more
Kuiper-Belt Objects.

The other mission has the book-title name of New Horizons: Shedding
Light on Frontier Worlds. The spacecraft would be built by Ball
Aerospace Corp., operated by Johns Hopkins University's Applied
Physics Laboratory (APL), and have S. Alan Stern (Southwest Research
Institute) as principal investigator. Like POSSE, New Horizons will
include a range of cameras and spectrometers, and perform radio
science experiments. Should one of these missions be approved and
receive full funding, it would be ready for launch as early as 2004
and arrive at Pluto by 2020.

COMET LINEAR BRIGHTENS EVEN MORE

To the surprise and delight of astronomers, Comet LINEAR (C/2001 A2)
has once again surged in magnitude. Observers in the Southern
Hemisphere have watched the comet gradually brighten to naked-eye
visibility since the comet's initial outburst two months ago when its
nucleus split. As of this week, comet watchers reporting to Charles
Morris's Comet Observation Home Page note that LINEAR is now 3rd
magnitude -- readily visible above the eastern horizon before dawn.
The comet can't be seen from the Northern Hemisphere yet, but as it
moves north, it should become visible from midnorthern latitudes by
the end of June in the morning sky. This coming week, the comet moves
from Fornax, to Eridanus, to Cetus. Here are coordinates in 2000.0
coordinates for Comet LINEAR for 0 hours Universal Time for the coming
week:

R.A. Dec.

Jun 16 3h 21m -24.5 deg.
Jun 18 3 03 -23.1
Jun 20 2 44 -21.3
Jun 22 2 23 -19.0


THIS WEEK'S "SKY AT A GLANCE"

Some daily events in the changing sky, by the editors of Sky &
Telescope.

JUNE 17 -- SUNDAY

* The earliest first light of dawn for the year (if you live near 40
degrees north latitude).

JUNE 18 -- MONDAY

* Tomorrow morning, the asteroid 51 Nemausa passes almost directly
in front of an 11th-magnitude star in Aquarius. For up to 25 seconds
the combined light of the asteroid and star could drop by 1.1
magnitudes for observers in a path across Florida. The occultation is
due to happen around 4:42 a.m. EDT (8:42 Universal Time). See the
finder chart and prediction-update link near the bottom of
http://www.skypub.com/sights/skyevents/0106skyevents.shtml .

JUNE 19 -- TUESDAY

* Some doorstep astronomy: The brightest star high in the eastern
sky these evenings is Vega. The brightest star to Vega's lower left,
by about 2 1/2 fist-widths at arm's length, is Deneb. The brightest
about 3 1/2 fists to Vega's lower right is Altair. These three stars
form the big Summer Triangle.

JUNE 20 -- WEDNESDAY

* More doorstep astronomy: The Big Dipper hangs straight down from
its handle high in the northwest after dark this month. Its bottom two
stars, the Pointers, point to the right or lower right toward rather
dim Polaris, the North Star (about three fist-widths away).

JUNE 21 -- THURSDAY

* MARS IS CLOSEST TO EARTH (42 million miles; 67 million kilometers)
and appears 20.8 arcseconds wide! It remains nearly this close and
large for another couple weeks.

* The solstice occurs at 3:38 a.m. EDT, when the Sun is farthest
north for the year and begins its six-month return south. This moment
marks the beginning of summer in the Northern Hemisphere, and winter
in the Southern Hemisphere.

* New Moon (exact at 7:58 a.m. EDT).

* TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE SUN for parts of Angola, Zambia, Zimbabwe,
Mozambique, and Madagascar. A partial eclipse is visible from most of
sub-Saharan Africa and (around sunrise) parts of South America. For
full information see
http://www.skypub.com/sights/eclipses/solar/0009africapreview.html .

* Early Friday morning, the faint asteroid 564 Dudu occults an
8th-magnitude star in Corona Australis at about 10:26 Universal Time.
The event's nominal path of visibility crosses Texas and Mexico. See
the finder chart and prediction-update link near the bottom of
http://www.skypub.com/sights/skyevents/0106skyevents.shtml .

JUNE 22 -- FRIDAY

* Look for a hairline crescent Moon very low in the west-northwest
as twilight fades (about an hour after sunset). To its upper right are
Pollux and Castor. Try binoculars.

JUNE 23 -- SATURDAY

* The red long-period variable star R Aquilae should be at its
brightest (6th magnitude) this week.


============================
THIS WEEK'S PLANET ROUNDUP
============================

MERCURY is hidden in the glare of the Sun.

VENUS (magnitude -4.2) blazes in the east during dawn.

MARS IS AT ITS CLOSEST THIS WEEK! The red planet dominates the low
southeast after dark, shining brilliant orange at magnitude -2.3.
Located in southern Ophiuchus between Scorpius and Sagittarius, Mars
attains its highest altitude in the southern sky shortly after
midnight. Now is the time to observe Mars in a telescope! It's 21
arcseconds in apparent diameter, larger than at any time since 1988.

See the observing guide and Mars maps in the May Sky & Telescope, page
102. A guide to finding Mars's tiny moons with a large amateur
telescope is in the June issue, page 102. Telescopic observers can
download Mars Previewer (3 megs), which displays observing data and a
customized map of Mars's apparent disk for any date and time; go to
http://www.skypub.com/resources/software/basic/basic.html#mars .

JUPITER is hidden in the glare of the Sun.

SATURN is barely above the east-northeast horizon in the brightening
light of dawn, far to the lower left of Venus. Binoculars help.

URANUS and NEPTUNE (6th and 8th magnitude, respectively) are in
Capricornus in the southeast in the early morning hours.

PLUTO (magnitude 14) is in Ophiuchus in the southeast during evening,
in the same constellation as Mars. Finder charts for Uranus, Neptune,
and Pluto are in the April Sky & Telescope, page 104, and at
http://www.skypub.com/sights/moonplanets/outerplanets01.html .

(All descriptions that relate to the horizon or zenith -- including
the words up, down, right, and left -- are written for the world's
midnorthern latitudes. Descriptions that also depend on longitude are
for North America. Eastern Daylight Time, EDT, equals Universal Time
[GMT] minus 4 hours.)

More celestial events, sky maps, observing projects, and news of the
world's astronomy research appear each month in SKY & TELESCOPE, the
essential magazine of astronomy. See our enormous Web site and
astronomy bookstore at http://www.skypub.com/ . Clear skies!

SKY & TELESCOPE, 49 Bay State Rd., Cambridge, MA 02138 *
617-864-7360

===========================================================
Copyright 2001 Sky Publishing Corporation. S&T's Weekly News Bulletin
and Sky at a Glance stargazing calendar are provided as a service to
the astronomical community by the editors of SKY & TELESCOPE magazine.
Widespread electronic distribution is encouraged as long as these
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Publishing (contact permissions@skypub.com or phone 617-864-7360).
Updates of astronomical news, including active links to related
Internet resources, are available via SKY & TELESCOPE's site on the
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===========================================================


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 466 of 1087: _cosmo_  (aa9il) * Sat, Jun 16, 2001 (22:02) * 25 lines 
 
Hi Marcia and Geoites

Well back again amongst the masses. Grad skool is finished
for the summer so I get a break (with the exception of a
physics placement test to take...)
Happy belated Birthday Marcia! I saw some archived posts and
saw there were plenty of HB messages. Regretfully, I was sequestered
at the time with misc and sundry things which made me very net
infrequent. Been busy with some serious Feng Shui around the
house dumping old stuff that just has been in the way. In the
tech-know department, have been working on some microwave projects
including some micro surgery on a microwave down converter so
I can copy AO40 signals on 2.4 ghz. Also, eagerly waiting for
my DSP-10 kit to come in (see www.tapr.org which has links to
the DSP-10 site). This is a software configured radio that uses
DSP for signal demodulation and other neat thingies. About the
most ambitious project I ever looked at in a long while. Anyway,
its nice to be back among the living.

73 de AA9IL
Mike
radio cosmo international

p.s. only a couple of more days til the solstice!



 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 467 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Sun, Jun 17, 2001 (00:31) * 3 lines 
 
Happy me! Mike is back! *BIG HUGS* Brain intact, too!

Sounds great with the AO40 signals. Have not tried it since antenna setup not conducive to those frequencies. In any case, Hugs and welcome back to the realm of the living!


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 468 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Mon, Jun 18, 2001 (19:13) * 22 lines 
 
----------------------------------------------------------
/ PHYSICSWEB: E-mail alert
\ (http://PhysicsWeb.org)
==========================================================
----------------------------------------------------------
| News
==========================================================
* Solar neutrinos change their tune: (18 Jun)
Neutrinos created deep inside the Sun can change from one
type to another as they stream towards Earth, according
to the first results from the Sudbury Neutrino
Observatory in Canada. The shortfall in the number of
solar neutrinos observed in the last 30 years had cast
doubt on the so-called standard solar model. But the new
results confirm instead that electron neutrinos can
'oscillate' into muon and tau neutrinos and vice versa.
Such oscillations can only occur if neutrinos have mass.
Scientists from the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory
presented their findings today at the Canadian
Association of Physicists Annual Conference in Victoria
and at seminars in the UK and US.
[ http://PhysicsWeb.org/article/news/5/6/9 ]


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 469 of 1087: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Wed, Jun 20, 2001 (14:56) * 98 lines 
 

Web broadcast of total eclipse:


RELEASE: 01-125

NASA SHOWS FIRST TOTAL SOLAR ECLIPSE OF THE NEW MILLENNIUM

Our Sun is about to take a break for the summer, albeit
a brief repose noticeable only by people in Southern and
Central Africa.

However, while the first total eclipse of the new millennium
will not be visible from the United States, it will be made
available live, from the Southern African nation of Zambia,
to the rest of the world through NASA Television. The June
21st astral performance also is available to internet users
who have high-speed internet connections.

Watching a total eclipse means different things to different
people. Daylight fades in the middle of the day as the Moon
slowly covers the face of the Sun, creating an eerie dusk as
a shadow is cast on the Earth's surface.

Our ancient ancestors considered an eclipse to be a bad omen,
and often carried out various rituals in an effort to scare
away suspected evil forces that devoured the Sun. Today,
scientists travel around the world to study this rare event
and millions of people are satisfied to simply watch this
celestial display of nature.

A science team will be in Zambia to capture video images of
the eclipse using specially equipped telescopes. Besides
being streamed live to the rest of the world, these images
will be broadcast to about 110 participating museums and
other venues.

This year, the event will focus on the themes of solar
maximum, habitability of space and living with the Sun. "A
total solar eclipse provides great opportunities to engage
and inform the public about NASA's Sun -Earth Connection
science and the effects of the active Sun in space and on
Earth, " said Dr. George Withbroe, Science Director of the
Sun-Earth Connection theme at NASA Headquarters, Washington,
DC.

A message from the Expedition Two crew on board International
Space Station is part of the webcast, which includes a
conversation with American astronauts Jim Voss, Susan Helms
and Russian Commander Yury Usachev.

NASA also will take viewers one million miles into space to
see how scientists use artificially generated eclipses to
study enormous solar eruptions. Scientific teams going to
Africa for the eclipse will rely on the ESA-NASA Solar and
Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) spacecraft to show them the
Sun's weather during the event.

Several NASA centers plan events associated and some of its
Centers are planning comprehensive solar eclipse events:

* Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD - Dr. Paal
Brekke, European Space Agency, will present a multimedia
summary from SOHO's observations in the Albert Einstein
Planetarium at Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum,
Washington, DC, from 12:20 p.m. to 12:50 p.m. EDT. More
information is available on the Internet at:
http://www.gsfc.nasa.gov/

* Jet Propulsion Laboratory Pasadena, CA - Students from
the Los Angeles area can watch the webcast, look through
solar telescopes and hear African-American Scientists and
members of the National Society of Black Physicists discuss
how the Sun effects the Earth and how minority students can
get more involved in science. For additional internet
information, go to: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/

* Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, AL - Reporters
and other media representatives are invited to interview NASA
astronomer Mitzi Adams, who will be in Zambia to witness the
eclipse. Telephone interviews are available by contacting
Steve Roy at 256/544-6535. More information is available on
the Internet at: http://www.msfc.nasa.gov/newsroom

To view the eclipse from a high-speed internet connection,
visit the World Wide Web at:
http://www.exploratorium.edu/eclipse

A complete list of participating museums can be found on the
web at:
http://www.exploratorium.edu/eclipse/zambia/participants.html

NASA TV will carry the eclipse from 8:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.
EDT. Stations carrying this feed are requested to super
"Courtesy: NASA/Exploratorium." NASA TV can be found on GE-2,
Transponder 9C, at 85 degrees West longitude, vertical
polarization, with a frequency of 3880 MHz and audio of 6.8
MHz.


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 470 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Wed, Jun 20, 2001 (17:18) * 1 lines 
 
Thanks TERRY!!!


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 471 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Wed, Jun 20, 2001 (17:23) * 1 lines 
 
This means I get to watch real time from 2:30 to 3:30 AM my time on the 21st. I may just catch the reruns!!! NASA TV is my viewer of choice but it is often clogged. Try the other too and log in early!


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 472 of 1087: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Thu, Jun 21, 2001 (07:07) * 1 lines 
 
I'm trying to get on the live webcast right now to see it. It should be happening right now.


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 473 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Thu, Jun 21, 2001 (16:35) * 1 lines 
 
*sigh* I guess by your other post, you did not manage to see it. Did anyone catch the live netcast ??? I was sleeping...


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 474 of 1087: horrible horace  (horrible) * Thu, Jun 21, 2001 (17:16) * 1 lines 
 
It was on Sky over here and Nick has watched it over and over on their inter-active thingie.The "diamond ring" was perfect much better than in the last eclipse over these islands


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 475 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Thu, Jun 21, 2001 (19:42) * 1 lines 
 
HOW neat! I was hoping he got to see it. How special for a little guy. He may become and archaeo-astromomer yet!


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 476 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Fri, Jun 22, 2001 (18:58) * 26 lines 
 
From his daddy - thanks for this. Some really remarkable statistics in here!

Will this darkness shed some light?

ONCE more, scientists will be waiting below to wring data from the few, brief minutes of umbral shadow. And this time the excitement is high - they may be close to solving one of the great mysteries of astrophysics.

The mystery, which has perplexed astronomers for 50 years, can be put absurdly simply. The Sun, at its fiery core, is a thermonuclear furnace of 15,000,000C. Its surface - the photosphere - is much cooler, at 6,000C. But travel another 2,000 miles out, through the Sun's tenuous atmosphere, to the wispy white corona that makes eclipses so spectacular, and the temperature soars to 2,000,000C.
Every physicist puts it differently - the solar corona is like a kettle boiling on a cold stove; it's an espresso that never cools; it's like walking away from a campfire, growing cool, then warming up further away.

An explanation is less easily conjured up. In trying to find it, scientists have discovered the Sun is vastly more interesting than once thought. "Many people thought the main problems of the Sun had been solved - the subject was in decline," says Prof Eric Priest, head of a research team studying the corona at St Andrews University. "Now solar physics is in a new golden age (and we find) most of our explanations for fundamental questions were mistaken."
As part of this golden age, several artificial eyes now peer at the Sun from the depths of space, trying to understand what fires the corona. Soho (the European Space Agency's Solar and Heliospheric Observatory) carries an instrument that views the Sun from behind a black disc, like an artificial eclipse. Yohkoh (a Japanese craft whose name means "sunbeam") carries an X-ray telescope that images the Sun's corona. In 1998 they were joined by Trace (the US space agency Nasa's Transition Region and Coronal Explorer), whose ultraviolet telescope has produced images of stunning resolution.
Between them, the craft have revealed that, up close, the corona is nothing like the serene haze glimpsed during an eclipse. Instead, it is a seething, unpredictable plasma of hot, ionised gas. Its structure is always changing and seems to be a mixture of three elements: fantastic loops, dark holes and small bright patches known as X-ray bright spots.
These instruments have brought us close to understanding the corona but, says Prof Jay Pasachoff, director of the Hopkins Observatory at Williams College in Massachusetts, "the problem is far from solved - we're still trying to provide the basic data".

The source of that heat must ultimately be below the Sun's surface. Somehow it journeys across the expanse of cool and tenuous atmosphere in a form of energy other than heat. Some scientists have suggested that perhaps this energy takes the form of sound waves that roll across the heat desert and crash, as if on a sea-shore, at the other end. But sound waves, it turns out, would crumble to nothing long before reaching the corona.
Now the coronal detectives believe the answer lies in magnetic fields that loop and arch from the Sun's surface, like a loosely woven carpet. Lesser loops just reach the corona's edge; the large ones soar into the corona, which extends into space for millions of miles. Magnetic fields can store and transport energy - but how such energy enters the loops and, in particular, how it transforms itself into heat at the other end is not known.
Some scientists support the microflare theory, others the magnetic wave theory. Down at the base of the carpet, the boiling, churning Sun repeatedly pulls at the loops. This pumps in energy, in much the same way that pulling on a rubber band stretches it taut with stored "potential" energy. Suddenly, it all gets too much for the magnetic loop and, way up in the corona, it snaps, then immediately links up again with other snapped arches to form a new loop. This, say some, is what releases the energy in the corona.
If you could see a magnetic loop snapping, it would look like a tiny version of a solar flare, it is argued. Solar flares themselves are well documented - there are arresting photographs of them blasting into space. Flares may have younger and even baby brothers - microflares and nanoflares - which, in sufficient quantity, could heat the corona. Yohkoh and Soho have both revealed microflares in the corona, each with about a millionth of the energy of a solar flare. Dr Clare Parnell, who works with Prof Priest, has shown they are probably responsible for heating one of the three main structures found in the corona, X-ray bright spots.
But the theorists still disagree over whether they could release sufficient energy to heat the rest of the corona, says Philippa Browning, senior lecturer at the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology.
Less glamorous, perhaps, are magnetic waves. Again these are thought to be caused by the jostling surface layers of the Sun which, in this case, set the loops vibrating. Energy travels along them as it does along a long and violently cracked whip. Each crack deposits energy in the corona. There is evidence from Trace that the whip, or magnetic wave, mechanism may be heating the lower corona.
For magnetic waves to be dumping sufficient energy in the corona, scientists know that the carpet loops should be vibrating at a speed of once a second or more. Spotting such fast vibrations is beyond the capacities of the Sun-watching instruments in the sky. This is partly because of a bottleneck in their transmission of data back to Earth - and partly because they cannot create artificial eclipses sufficiently dark for a really detailed look at the corona.

Back on the ground - or, rather, on the roof of the Intercontinental Hotel in Lusaka, Zambia - Prof Pasachoff hopes, tomorrow, to muster just such data. Up the road, at the University of Zambia, Prof Ken Phillips, of the CLRC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in Didcot, Oxfordshire, will be doing the same thing. The Moon is the perfect block for the Sun's light, so that Nature's eclipse is far superior to anything which humans can create. Pointing CCD cameras capable of photographing the corona at up to 44 frames a second, the teams hope to detect oscillations which betray the presence of magnetic waves.
But the Sun does not give up her mysteries easily. The scientists have only three minutes and 17 seconds to make their observations. Then they must wait another 18 months, until the next total solar eclipse, before they can grab a few more minutes of evidence.




 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 477 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Fri, Jun 22, 2001 (23:37) * 20 lines 
 
----------------------------------------------------------
/ PHYSICSWEB: E-mail alert
\ (http://PhysicsWeb.org)
==========================================================
----------------------------------------------------------
| News
==========================================================
* Nucleus sheds light on neutron stars: (22 Jun)
A neutron star may be around 10 kilometres in diameter,
but it is governed by the same forces that arrange the
neutrons in an atomic nucleus just femtometres across.
This means that studies of neutron-rich nuclei could
provide insights into their astrophysical counterparts.
Now Charles Horowitz and Jorge Piekarewicz of Indiana
University in the US have measured a lead nucleus and
related its properties to the interior of a neutron star
(C Horowitz and J Piekarewicz 2001 Phys. Rev.
Lett. 86 5647).
[ http://PhysicsWeb.org/article/news/5/6/11 ]
----------------------------------------------------------


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 478 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Sat, Jun 23, 2001 (01:19) * 39 lines 
 
NEWSALERT: Friday, June 22, 2001 @ 0421 GMT
---------------------------------------------------------------------
The latest news from Astronomy Now and Spaceflight Now

GROUNDED MILITARY WEATHER SATELLITE FINALLY REPAIRED
----------------------------------------------------
You could say fate was with the U.S. Air Force back in January when, after two scrubbed countdowns, a catastrophic problem that would have likely doomed the launch of a military weather satellite was detected while the craft was still on the pad.
http://spaceflightnow.com/titan/g9/010621fixed.html

SPACE SHUTTLE ATLANTIS MAKES TREK TO LAUNCH PAD
-----------------------------------------------
The space shuttle Atlantis made its slow trek from the Kennedy Space Center's cavernous Vehicle Assembly Building to launch pad 39B on Thursday in preparation for blastoff July 12 to deliver a $164 million airlock to the international space station. A rollout attempt Wednesday was aborted due to lightning.
http://spaceflightnow.com/station/stage7a/010620rollout/

EXPEDITION TWO SCIENCE OPERATIONS STATUS REPORT
-----------------------------------------------
The past week saw the Expedition Two crew and supporting controllers and scientists on the ground celebrate the team's 100th day of science operations onboard the orbiting research facility.
http://spaceflightnow.com/news/n0106/22isssci/

NASA'S TERRA CAPTURES A WORLD OF SUNLIGHT AND HEAT
--------------------------------------------------
The beginning of summer is an annual reminder that our world is driven by sunlight, and new Terra satellite measurements show just how much the Sun influences the Earth's climate system.
http://spaceflightnow.com/news/n0106/22terra/

SATELLITE SHOWS NO EL NINO IN PACIFIC YET, BUT ONE DUE
------------------------------------------------------
While change may be on the way, the Pacific is still dominated by the strong, larger-than-El Nino/La Nina pattern called the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, according to the latest data from the U.S.-French TOPEX/Poseidon satellite mission.
http://spaceflightnow.com/news/n0106/22elnino/

ULYSSES ENCOUNTERS MASSIVE CORONAL EJECTION
-------------------------------------------
Most of the instruments on board Ulysses recently recorded their highest readings during the 10 years that the spacecraft has been in orbit. The cause was a spectacular coronal mass ejection which had left the Sun three days previously, heading towards the position in space that Ulysses was occupying.
http://spaceflightnow.com/news/n0106/21ulysses/

MARS TEAM TAKES BAIKONUR RECONNAISSANCE MISSION
-----------------------------------------------
Members of the Mars Express project and industrial teams travelled to the steppes of Kazakhstan last month to inspect the Baikonur cosmodrome where Mars Express will be launched on board a Soyuz-Fregat rocket in June 2003.
http://spaceflightnow.com/news/n0106/21marsexpress/



 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 479 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Mon, Jun 25, 2001 (00:20) * 64 lines 
 

NEWSALERT: Monday, June 25, 2001 @ 0130 GMT
---------------------------------------------------------------------
The latest news from Astronomy Now and Spaceflight Now


TEMPERATURE MAP OF IO PRESENTS A PUZZLE
---------------------------------------
Earth's tropics are hotter than the polar regions for a good reason, so scientists are puzzled that the same pattern doesn't show on Jupiter's moon Io. Powerful volcanoes and the previous day's sunshine warm the nighttime surface of Jupiter's moon Io, as seen in this image from NASA's Galileo spacecraft.

http://spaceflightnow.com/news/n0106/24iomap/


EUROPA'S FROZEN SURFACE
-----------------------
Europa, a moon of Jupiter, appears as a thick crescent in this enhanced-color image from NASA's Galileo spacecraft. Reddish linear features are some of the cracks and ridges, thousands of kilometers long, which are caused by the tides raised by the gravitational pull of Jupiter. Also visible are a few circular features, which are small impact craters.

http://spaceflightnow.com/news/n0106/24europa/


COMPANIES USE AIR SHOW TO ANNOUNCE LAUNCH DEALS
-----------------------------------------------
Arianespace, Boeing and International Launch Services announced a batch of new contracts last week at the Paris Air Show. Here are the three respective corporate releases describing the deals.

ARIANE SIGNS 8 NEW LAUNCH CONTRACTS:
http://spaceflightnow.com/news/n0106/25ariane/

BOEING/MELCO DEAL WORTH UP TO 6 DELTA 4s:
http://spaceflightnow.com/news/n0106/25boeing/

ILS ATLAS 5 APPROVED BY INMARSAT VENTURES:
http://spaceflightnow.com/news/n0106/25ils/

ROSETTA - A SPACECRAFT IN SEARCH OF PRISTINE MATTER
---------------------------------------------------
In January 2003 the European spacecraft Rosetta is to launch on atop an Ariane 5 to comet "Wirtanen" in search of pristine matter. For a year, it will orbit this tailed star at a distance of one kilometer and explore it in detail. At the same time, a probe will land on the comet's surface for surface-science investigations and analysis.
http://spaceflightnow.com/news/n0106/23rosetta/

UNIQUE LINK FOUND BETWEEN STELLAR DEATH AND BIRTH
-------------------------------------------------
Astronomers from the University of Colorado at Boulder and the University of California at Berkeley have discovered a key building block for new stars in the rapidly expanding remains of an ancient stellar explosion.
http://spaceflightnow.com/news/n0106/23fuse/

ADOLESCENT INTERSTELLAR CLOUD SET FOR STAR FORMING
--------------------------------------------------
Astronomers have discovered a highly unusual, massive interstellar cloud that appears poised to begin a burst of star formation. The cloud may be the first ever to be detected in the transition between atomic and molecular states.
http://spaceflightnow.com/news/n0106/25cloud/

X-RAY VIEW OF A YOUNG PLANETARY NEBULA
--------------------------------------
Chandra's image of NGC 7027 represents the first detection of X-rays from this young planetary nebula that is about 3,000 light years from Earth. A bubble of 3 million degree Celsius gas with a length about a hundred times that of our solar system is shown in the image.
http://spaceflightnow.com/news/n0106/25chandra/

CELLULAR, MACROMOLECULAR BIOTECHNOLOGY RESEARCH PROPOSALS PICKED
----------------------------------------------------------------
NASA has selected 43 researchers to receive grants totaling approximately $27 million over four years to conduct biotechnology research on Earth and in space. This research will create knowledge in important areas of biotechnology such as tissue engineering, gene expression and biosensor technology.
http://spaceflightnow.com/news/n0106/24biotech/

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE: IT'S MORE THAN A MOVIE
-----------------------------------------------
Engineers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory will talk about the real artificial intelligence work that takes place at NASA in a live webcast, scheduled for June 29, at 11 a.m. Pacific Time.
http://spaceflightnow.com/news/n0106/23artintell/




 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 480 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Tue, Jun 26, 2001 (15:04) * 17 lines 
 
Another Gem fro Liam, whose source I do not know:

Two new planets claimed by Indian astronomers

A team of Indian scientists who say there are two more planets beyond the edge of the solar system have had their claims rubbished.
The team of astrophysicists at Hubli say they noticed the unseen planets pulling on nearby Pluto.

The scientists calculated the two bodies are about the size of Jupiter and Saturn.
Navin Shaw and Pankaj Shaw told The Times of India: "There are two giant planets beyond Pluto.

"At the moment, it's not possible to detect them through optical and radio telescopes due to the great distances and planetary constitution."
However, UK astronomer Heather Couper told Ananova: "Everybody has been looking for planets beyond Pluto for ages but this is codswallop."

Story filed: 13:21 Tuesday 26th June 2001





 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 481 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Tue, Jun 26, 2001 (15:52) * 0 lines 
 


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 482 of 1087: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Tue, Jun 26, 2001 (18:02) * 1 lines 
 
codswallop.


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 483 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Tue, Jun 26, 2001 (19:10) * 1 lines 
 
Codswallop! I like that, but it sounds like stuff you get on your shoes if you are traipsing about a meadow looking for a dolmen or long barrow. Been there and done that!


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 484 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Thu, Jun 28, 2001 (16:03) * 19 lines 
 
Naked-Eye Comet

Space Weather News for June 28, 2001
http://www.spaceweather.com

NAKED-EYE COMET: Comet C/2001 A2 (better known as "Comet LINEAR") makes
its closest approach to Earth on Saturday, June 30th. Glowing at visual
magnitude 4, Comet LINEAR is not spectacular like, e.g., Comet Hale-Bopp
of 1997, but it will be easy to spot with the unaided eye. Astronomers
have watched this comet intently in recent months as it repeatedly
crumbled and brightened. The capricious snowball from the outer solar
system could yet hold surprises for observers in the days and weeks ahead.
Visit SpaceWeather.com for finder charts and more information.

ASTEROID MOVIE: Near-Earth Asteroid 2001 ME1 will glide past Earth on
Friday, June 29th, 38 times farther from our planet than the Moon. Earlier
this week astronomer John Rogers captured a beautiful video of the
incoming space rock gliding among the stars. See it at SpaceWeather.com.



 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 485 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Fri, Jun 29, 2001 (13:37) * 1 lines 
 
Wolfie and other comet hunters including me (this will be my 14th comet) check the charts in the link above. Happy hunting. I'll report my findings as soon as cloud cover permits.


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 486 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Fri, Jun 29, 2001 (13:39) * 13 lines 
 
Look for it in the morning near Venus:

NAKED-EYE COMET: Comet LINEAR
(C/2001 A2), which crumbled and brightened
as it neared the Sun on May 24th, is about
to have a close encounter with Earth. On
June 30th the evaporating snowball from the
outer solar system will pass 0.24 AU from our planet. Glowing with
a visual magnitude of 4, the comet is easy to spot without the aid
of a telescope. Northern hemisphere stargazers can find it ~30
degrees above the eastern horizon before dawn -- not too far from
brilliant Venus. Will this comet flare again as it has in months
past? Watch it and see! [3D orbit] [ephemeris] [finder chart]


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 487 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Sat, Jun 30, 2001 (15:34) * 269 lines 
 
===========================================================
SKY & TELESCOPE'S NEWS BULLETIN - JUNE 29, 2001
===========================================================
For images and Web links for these items, visit http://www.skypub.com
===========================================================

MAP-PING THE COSMIC BACKGROUND RADIATION
Cosmologists are eagerly awaiting the launch of NASA's Microwave Anisotropy
Probe (MAP), set to rocket away from Cape Canaveral on June 30th, between 3:46
and 3:56 p.m. EDT. The telescope aims to map minute fluctuations in the
temperature of the cosmic microwave background radiation, the faint afterglow
of the Big Bang. Discovered in 1965, this diffuse energy has a temperature of
2.73 deg. K, and it represents the state of the universe when it was less than
500,000 years old.
In 1989, however, the Cosmic Background Explorer (COBE) spacecraft discovered
variations in the feeble glow of one part in 100,000 -- evidence of the
structure of the early universe. Based on the strength and spacing of these
temperature fluctuations, scientists could refine key values such as the
Hubble constant, which describes the expansion rate of the universe, and the
cosmological density parameter, which quantifies how much matter and energy
the universe contains.
COBE's angular resolution was a poor 7 deg., a swath 14 times wider than the
Moon, leading astronomers to build a series of more sensitive ground-based and
balloon-flown telescopes. These instruments mapped details as small as 1/6
deg., but only covered a fraction of the sky. "Once we flew COBE, it was very
obvious that the next step was to fly MAP," says science-team member Gary F.
Hinshaw (NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center). Able to see fluctuations down to
one millionth of a degree over regions of sky as small as 20 arcminutes
(smaller than the Moon), MAP will scan the entire sky four times -- an order
of magnitude better performance than COBE.
MAP gains this precision not only by using newer detectors and a pair of
reflectors to focus the radiation, but also by observing from the L2
Lagrangian point, 1,500,000 kilometers from the Earth opposite the Sun. "L2 is
a very good place for MAP because it is far from the Sun's and Earth's
microwave emissions, which are a billion times stronger than the signal we are
measuring," explains project manager Elizabeth Citrin (NASA/Goddard). Closer
to the Earth, says Hinshaw, "is like trying to do a sensitive experiment with
a sensitive thermometer next to a blast furnace."
As science-team member David Spergel (Princeton) concludes, "One of the things
that MAP I think will do extremely well is to make sure those measurements are
very reliable."
MICROLENSING GLOBULAR CLUSTERS
Astronomers using the Hubble Space Telescope have found indirect evidence that
globular clusters are teeming with free-roaming planets, some of which could
be as small as 1/4 of Jupiter's mass. The study, conducted by Kailash Sahu
(Space Telescope Science Institute) and colleagues implies that planets could
make up some 10 percent of a globular cluster's mass.
As predicted by Albert Einstein in the early 20th century, a massive object
has the ability to bend light that passes around it. If something massive
enough (such as a galaxy, black hole, or even a star), comes directly between
Earth and an even more distant object, the light of the more-distant object
can actually become focused and thus brighter. The massive intervening body
literally acts as magnifying glass, bending light around it just as a lens
does. In this case, HST peered through the globular cluster M22, staring at a
field of background stars behind the cluster. Any brightening of a background
star would signal a microlensing event.
From February 22 through June 15, 1999, the team monitored 83,000 stars behind
M22. From their observations, they report seeing one confirmed lensing event:
a background star brightened 10-fold for 18 days. Based on the brightening and
duration, Sahu concluded that the intervening "lens" was a dwarf star about 10
percent of the Sun's mass.
But much more intriguing were six separate events in which a background star
doubled in brightness for less than 20 hours. Sahu finds that the mass of
these intervening bodies could be as small as 80 Earth masses. For now, these
detections remain somewhat uncertain. Observations were made over three-day
intervals -- too short to confirm that an entire lensing event had been
recorded. Future work will revolve around a proposed seven-day HST exposure.
With a longer exposure, "we estimate we should see as many as 15 of these,"
says Nino Panagia (STScI), some of which may be smaller objects. "There may be
surprises."
The study is published in the June 28th issue of Nature.
SAN DIEGO'S STREETLIGHT CONTROVERSY
The future of astronomy in Southern California just got brighter -- and that's
bad. On June 20th, a San Diego City Council committee decided to replace the
city's existing low-pressure-sodium (LPS) streetlights with brighter,
high-pressure-sodium (HPS) ones. Moreover, the committee wants to replace the
current "cobrahead" fixtures, which direct light down toward the ground, with
ornamental "acorn" lights, which shine in all directions -- including the sky.
The astronomers at the nearby Palomar Mountain and Mount Laguna observatories
are not pleased. "The use of these proposed acorn fixtures is a travesty,"
bemoaned Paul B. Etzel (San Diego State University). While the extra ambient
light won't end the science atop Mount Laguna, Etzel says it will place limits
on the number of faint, extended objects such as galaxies and nebulae that
they can image. The situation is even worse for Palomar Observatory, whose
legendary 5-meter telescope is more fully dedicated to imaging faint objects.
Astronomers prefer LPS streetlights because they emit at only one wavelength,
making it easier to filter out during spectroscopic observations. The HPS
ones, on the other hand, emit a wider, more continuous spectrum.
Based on reactions so far, San Diegans oppose the council's decision for more
than astronomical reasons. According to the City Manager's report on
streetlights prepared for the council, the HPS lights would consume more
energy and the acorn-style fixtures would illuminate the street only half as
well as the old cobrahead models. The report states that the new fixtures will
cost taxpayers $2.8 million to install, and add approximately $500,000 per
year in energy costs.
San Diego's officials have been debating streetlighting for the past two
decades. In 1982, Palomar astronomers convinced the city council to switch all
streetlights to the monochromatic LPS variety. That vote was overturned, then
reinstated the following year. In 1992 local merchants successfully lobbied
the council to switch to HPS in high-crime areas and in those needing
revitilization. The current mayor, Dick Murphy, argues that HPS lights will
allow better color rendition during crimes and will be more asthetically
pleasing. Etzel counters that the council is not really striving for
functionality. "They're taking this asthetics issue to justify their
decision." A June 28th editorial in the San Diego Union-Tribune concluded,
"The City Council committee's recommendation to switch the lights is a
decision in search of a reason."
Ironically, the International Lighting Commission will meet in San Diego in
2003, with the conference theme of "Light, Dark Skies, and Space." The city
council expects a final vote in mid-July.
A GROUNDBREAKING LIGHT-POLLUTION LAW
Connecticut has become the first state to require nearly all new and
replacement streetlights within its borders to have "full-cutoff" fixtures
that keep light from glaring sideways or up into the sky. The sweeping new law
applies not just to state-owned highways but to every road and street in
Connecticut's 169 cities and towns -- where roughly 98 percent of the state's
189,000 streetlights are located.
Roadway lighting is estimated to cause 35 to 50 percent of the artificial
skyglow that hangs over populated regions. As existing fixtures wear out they
will gradually be replaced with full-cutoff ones, a process that will take 15
or 20 years but was designed to cost essentially nothing. Full-cutoff
streetlights are now available at the same prices as older designs.
The law is intended to conserve electricity and to reduce visibility-hindering
sideways glare as well as to save the stars. It passed both houses of the
state legislature unanimously after six years of work by a few light-pollution
activists. "It was a perfect illustration of overcoming skepticism and lack of
awareness by educating, educating, educating," says Bob Crelin of Branford.
"Once you explain to people what this is about, they say, 'Oh yeah, of course,
that makes total sense.'"
Activist Cliff Haas of Rocky Hill adds, "The beauty of it is that we get the
glare out of the community. Any light that is eye-friendly will also be
sky-friendly." The text of the law, which could become a model for other
states, is available here. Four other states have passed pollution regulations
for lights that are state-owned, and action is pending in 11, but Connecticut
is the first to address the much larger issue of municipally owned lights in
one package at the state level.

COMET LINEAR NOW VISIBLE WORLDWIDE
After hiding out in the far-southern sky while at its brightest, Comet LINEAR
(2001 A2) is now visible before dawn to skywatchers everywhere. According to
many observers, LINEAR has been as bright as about magnitude 4.2 in the last
few days -- and dimly visible to the naked eye as a tailless fuzzball.
On Saturday morning, June 30th, Northern Hemisphere observers will find the
comet moderately well up in the southeastern sky before the first light of
dawn, in the constellation Cetus. Binoculars will help in locating the comet,
especially through light pollution. Here are coordinates for Comet LINEAR for
0 hours Universal Time (in 2000.0 coordinates) for the coming week:
R.A. Dec.
June 30 0h 52m -6.7 deg.
July 2 0 29 -3.1
4 0 06 +0.4
6 23 44 +3.7
In the next 10 days the comet climbs much higher in the early morning sky,
crossing Pisces and entering Pegasus. By July 11th it is well up in the east
as early as midnight or 1 a.m. local daylight saving time and very high before
dawn -- though by this time it may have faded to roughly magnitude 5.0. It
remains in Pegasus for most of the rest of July as it fades into the distance,
possibly losing 1 magnitude every 10 days.

THIS WEEK'S "SKY AT A GLANCE"
Some daily events in the changing sky, by the editors of Sky & Telescope.

JULY 1 -- SUNDAY
* The Moon, Antares, and bright Mars form a curving line in the southern sky
this evening. The fainter star below the Moon is Delta Scorpii.

JULY 2 -- MONDAY
* The Moon forms a triangle with bright orange Mars and fainter orange
Antares tonight.

JULY 3 -- TUESDAY
* The Moon, Mars, Antares, and Delta Scorpii are about equally spaced in a
curving line tonight, in that order from the brightest on the left to the
faintest on the right.
* Have you been keeping an eye on Delta Scorpii? It's the middle star in the
nearly vertical row of three (the "Head of Scorpius") to the upper right of
Antares. Delta, a hot blue star, has been unusually bright for most of the
last year. Compare it to Beta Scorpii just above it, magnitude 2.6, and
Antares, magnitude 1.1. Delta is currently about magnitude 1.7. It's the
brightest star in the huge range of sky between Antares and Spica.

JULY 4 -- WEDNESDAY
* Earth is at aphelion, its farthest from the Sun for the year -- 3.3
percent farther than at perihelion in January.

JULY 5 -- THURSDAY
* Full Moon (exact at 11:04 a.m. EDT).
* Partial eclipse of the Moon for the Far East, from 13:35 to 16:15
Universal Time. For full details see the July Sky & Telescope, page 103.

JULY 6 -- FRIDAY
* The Big Dipper is easy to spot hanging bowl-down high in the northwestern
sky after dark this month. To identify constellations all around your sky, use
the printable evening star map and instructions at
http://www.skypub.com/sights/northern/0107skyn.shtml (if you're in the
mid-latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere. Southern Hemisphere skywatchers: use
the map at http://www.skypub.com/sights/southern/0107skys.html .)

JULY 7 -- SATURDAY
* The largest asteroid, 1 Ceres, is at opposition. With binoculars or a
small telescope, you can find it this week shining at magnitude 7.3 close to
the Sagittarius Teapot. Use the finder chart in the July Sky & Telescope, page
106, or at http://www.skypub.com/sights/skyevents/0107skyevents.shtml .

============================
THIS WEEK'S PLANET ROUNDUP
============================
MERCURY is deep in the glow of sunrise, to the right of brighter Jupiter and
far to the lower left of Venus and Saturn.
VENUS (magnitude -4.2) blazes in the east before and during dawn.
MARS dominates the southeast after dark, shining brilliant orange at magnitude
-2.1. Located in southern Ophiuchus between Scorpius and Sagittarius, Mars
attains its highest altitude in the south by late evening. Now is the time to
observe it in a telescope! Mars appears 20 arcseconds in diameter, practically
the same as when it was at its very closest two weeks ago.
See the Mars observing guide and maps in the May Sky & Telescope, page 102. A
guide to finding Mars's tiny moons with a large amateur telescope is in the
June issue, page 102. Telescopic observers can download Mars Previewer (3
megs), which displays observing data and a customized map of Mars's apparent
disk for any date and time; go to
http://www.skypub.com/resources/software/basic/basic.html#mars .
JUPITER is deep in the glow of sunrise, far to the lower left of Venus and
Saturn.
SATURN glimmers to the lower left of brilliant Venus during dawn. Below Saturn
twinkles fainter orange Aldebaran.
URANUS and NEPTUNE (6th and 8th magnitude, respectively) are in Capricornus in
the southeast to south during the early morning hours.
PLUTO (magnitude 14) is in Ophiuchus in south during evening, well above Mars.
Finder charts for Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto are in the April Sky & Telescope,
page 104, and at lower resolution at
http://www.skypub.com/sights/moonplanets/outerplanets01.html .

(All descriptions that relate to the horizon or zenith -- including the words
up, down, right, and left -- are written for the world's midnorthern
latitudes. Descriptions that also depend on longitude are for North America.
Eastern Daylight Time, EDT, equals Universal Time [GMT] minus 4 hours.)
More celestial events, sky maps, observing projects, and news of the world's
astronomy research appear each month in SKY & TELESCOPE, the essential
magazine of astronomy. See our enormous Web site and astronomy bookstore at
http://www.skypub.com/ . Clear skies!
SKY & TELESCOPE, 49 Bay State Rd., Cambridge, MA 02138 * 617-864-7360
===========================================================
Copyright 2001 Sky Publishing Corporation. S&T's Weekly News Bulletin and Sky
at a Glance stargazing calendar are provided as a service to the astronomical
community by the editors of SKY & TELESCOPE magazine. Widespread electronic
distribution is encouraged as long as these paragraphs are included. But the
text of the bulletin and calendar may not be published in any other form
without permission from Sky Publishing (contact permissions@skypub.com or
phone 617-864-7360). Updates of astronomical news, including active links to
related Internet resources, are available via SKY & TELESCOPE's site on the
World Wide Web at http://www.skypub.com/.

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WWW: http://www.skypub.com/. Clear skies!
===========================================================



 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 488 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Mon, Jul  2, 2001 (17:43) * 21 lines 
 
From the ever-vigilant Liam with thanks,

SCOPING OUT SOFIA

While many early Boeing aircraft are being quietly retired from service or
pensioned off to dubious airlines in Africa, engineers are ripping a giant
hole in the fuselage of one old Pan Am jet, giving it a second chance at useful
service. Besides the gaping orifice, the portly 747-SP passenger plane, which
first flew in 1977, is undergoing several other modifications of
astronomical proportions.
The belly of the ageing jumbo will be home to NASA's new
Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA). Billed as
the largest airborne telescope ever built, SOFIA will be more powerful
than many ground-based telescopes and larger even than Hubble.
The instrument will allow astronomers to fondly gaze deep into
immense dust clouds and witness the birth of stars, observe galaxies
and quasars billions of light-years away, and study the very early
universe. (The reason for the infrared bit in SOFIA's catchy acronym
is because these interstellar dust clouds are often difficult if not impossible to see in visible light.)

more... http://www.beyond2000.com/news/Nov_00/story_862.html


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 489 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Mon, Jul  2, 2001 (17:50) * 24 lines 
 
Mahalo to Liam again for this one - you have to see this picture!

EYE SITE

Covering the Australian landscape with thousands of Russian balls will be the
key to building the world's next 'mega telescope'. The first of many of those
balls; a satellite receiver that works like a giant eye, has just arrived in
Sydney. Testing this 'eyeball' will help Australia's CSIRO refine the
mathematics and software for designing its own spherical contributions for the future giant receiver.
The 1-m white sphere in question has basically the same function as
a satellite dish —collecting and concentrating radio waves. It's
actually a lens that focuses radio waves to a point, just as the lens in
your eyeball focuses light to a point on your retina. And more
importantly, just like your eye, the magic white ball can 'see' many
radio sources in the sky at once. That's a big contrast to conventional
radio telescopes or communications antennas.

The real name for this big white ball is a "Luneburg lens". The version
the CSIRO has in Sydney is a commercial one built in Russia.
Luneburgs are not readily available in western countries, but the
Aussie engineers realised they offered unique advantages for the
technically challenging mega-telescope.

more... http://www.beyond2000.com/news/Jun_01/story_1205.html


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 490 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Thu, Jul  5, 2001 (14:26) * 23 lines 
 
From the Vigilant and most worthy Liam:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/connected?ac=005437911839182&rtmo=qKttKMx9&atmo=rrrrrrrq&pg=/et/01/7/5/ecnnep05.html

Ice 'planet' is discovered near Neptune

By Robert Uhlig

AN icy object large enough to qualify as a planet has been
discovered orbiting the Sun in the far reaches of the solar
system between Neptune and Pluto.

At 788 miles across, 2001 KX76 is wider than the largest
known asteroid and many of the moons orbiting planets
such as Pluto. It is more than four billion miles from the sun.

Lawrence Wasserman, of the Lowell Observatory in
Arizona, said: "When we spotted it, we just wrote 'wow' on
the image. We knew right away it was a big one. What we
have seen may be only the tip of the iceberg."

Robert Millis, the observatory's director, said: "We have
every reason to believe that objects ranging up to planets as
large or larger than Pluto are out there waiting to be found."


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 491 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Fri, Jul  6, 2001 (16:05) * 74 lines 
 
Today in Science/Astronomy:

* Giant Radio 'Eyeball' Readied for Mega-Telescope
http://www.space.com/businesstechnology/technology/radio_eyeball_010706.html

A Russian radio receiver that looks and works like a giant white eyeball could help astronomers search far back enough into the early Universe to see the first galaxies forming.

* Hubble Views Mars at its Closest to Earth
http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/solarsystem/mars_hubble_010705.html

The powerful Hubble Space Telescope has snapped the best images of Mars ever taken from Earth. Sharp-eyed optics on the orbiting facility resolved features on the red planet as small as 10 miles (15 kilometers) across.

* New Image Gallery: Chandra's First Two Years
http://www.space.com/php/multimedia/imagegallery/

The Chandra X-Ray Observatory stunned scientists in its first two years of exploring deep space, revealing sights and cosmological insights few had even dared to anticipate.

-----------------------------------

Today in Missions/Launches:

* With Full Shuttle Launch Pads NASA Watches for Tropical Threats
http://www.space.com/missionlaunches/missions/shuttlecane_010706-1.html

A pair of winged spaceships now are perched on twin beachfront launch pads here at Kennedy Space Center, exposing half of NASA's $8 billion space shuttle fleet to potential catastrophe amid the annual Atlantic hurricane season.

* Voyager to Reach Distant Milestone Sooner Than You Think
http://www.space.com/missionlaunches/missions/heliosphere_shock_010706.html

Turn the water on slowly in your kitchen sink, and watch as a small rippling ring of water forms. That is how Voyager project scientist Ed Stone pictures the influence of our Sun on nearby space.

* Mars Odyssey Makes First Course Correction, Detects Gamma Ray Bursts
http://www.space.com/missionlaunches/missions/mars_odyssey_updates-1.html

The Mars Odyssey spacecraft fine-tuned its flight path for arrival at Mars in October as it performed its second trajectory correction maneuver on July 2.

------------------------------------

Today in Business/Industry:

* NASDA Schedules First H-2A Launch Date
http://www.space.com/spacenews/launchindustry/japan_070501.html

The government decided Wednesday that Japan's first H-2A rocket will be launched Aug. 25 from the Tanegashima Space Center in Kagoshima Prefecture, southwestern Japan, officials with the National Space Development Agency of Japan (NASDA) said.

------------------------------------

* SpaceTV:
http://www.space.com/spacetv/index.php3

* Space Age Gear:
http://www.space.com/businesstechnology/technology/space_gear-1.html

* SpaceWatch:
http://www.space.com/spacewatch/index.html

* Uplink: Share your opinion!
http://uplink.space.com/index.html

-------------------------------------

SOLAR and SPACE WEATHER (July 6, 2001)

3-Day Solar Forecast
Solar activity is expected to low to very low.

3-Day Aurora Forecast
Earth's geomagnetic field is expected to be quiet to unsettled through Sunday. .

Solar Data
The current sunspot number is 101, and the solar wind speed recently clocked in at 444 kilometers per second (990,960 mph). The solar wind density was 3.2 protons per cubic centimeter. (Speed and density values are snapshots in time and change during the day.)
http://www.space.com/spacewatch/space_weather.html

-------------------------------------


 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 492 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Sat, Jul  7, 2001 (13:54) * 356 lines 
 
===========================================================
SKY & TELESCOPE'S NEWS BULLETIN - JULY 6, 2001
===========================================================
For images and Web links for these items, visit http://www.skypub.com
===========================================================
Quantities limited! Our 16-inch scale model of Venus is the remainder
of a custom order for NASA. The globe, based on radar data from the
Magellan spacecraft, contains all the major landforms and is color
coded for elevation. Produced in collaboration with NASA and the U.S.
Geological Survey. Comes with a hand-made wooden base. To order the
16-inch Venus Globe for $119.95, call 800-253-0245 and ask for
product "Ven16." The item is not available from our online store.
===========================================================

HISTORIC TELESCOPE ARRIVES IN U.S.

One of the "crown jewels" of astronomy, the 20-foot telescope used by
William and John Herschel, has landed on American shores for the first
time. Having traveled by ship from the National Maritime Museum in
London, the 217-year-old telescope arrived at the Smithsonian
Institution's National Air & Space Museum in Washington, D.C., on June
29th. There David H. DeVorkin, curator for the forthcoming "Explore
the Universe" exhibit, supervised a team of workmen who gingerly
maneuvered the legendary mahogany tube into its display stand.

With this telescope the elder Herschel discovered the Uranian moons
Titania and Oberon (1787) and Saturn's moons Mimas and Enceladus
(1789). John, his son, transported it to South Africa for his famous
1834-38 exploration of the southern sky and used it to discover more
than 9,000 nebulae, star clusters, and double stars. Also on loan is
the telescope's 18.7-inch mirror, one of four cast by the Herschels
for this telescope (made of speculum, a copper-tin alloy, the mirrors
tarnished easily and needed frequent repolishing).

For the exhibit DeVorkin has assembled an array of artifacts
representing 400 years of astronomical observations. Its five main
sections will showcase the exploration of the night sky with the naked
eye, telescopes, photography, spectroscopy, and digital detectors. The
exhibit opens to the public on September 21st.

ANOTHER GIANT IN THE KUIPER BELT?

Astronomers using the 4-meter Blanco reflector at Cerro Tololo
Inter-American Observatory (Chile) have found a remote object, located
near the Head of Scorpius, that seems to rival the main-belt asteroid
Ceres in size. Designated 2001 KX76, the discovery comes close on the
heels of a similar find made last November with the University of
Arizona's 0.9-meter Spacewatch telescope and since dubbed 20000
Varuna. Both objects, along with Pluto and its moon, Charon, are
denizens of the so-called Kuiper Belt and lie at the very fringe of
the known solar system, some 40 astronomical units out from the Sun.

"We believe that 2001 KX76 is likely to be larger than Varuna," says
Robert L. Millis (Lowell Observatory), leader of the NASA-funded Deep
Ecliptic Survey team that made the find in late May. But the actual
ranking must await a better determination of the new object's orbit
(hence current distance) and the reflectivity of its surface. Both
2001 KX76 and Varuna shine at visual magnitude 20, making them among
the brightest of more than 400 Kuiper Belt members discovered since
1992.

Pluto and Charon are much brighter, but they are currently nearer the
Sun (at 30.4 a.u.) and are known to have highly reflective,
frost-covered surfaces. Based on a combination of visible-light and
submillimeter thermal observations made in late 2000, David Jewitt
(University of Hawaii) and two colleagues determined that Varuna has a
dark surface, free of fresh ice, and is about 900 kilometers across
(40 percent as large as Pluto). If 2001 KX76 is also dark, it must be
large as well.

"2001 KX76 is so exciting because it demonstrates that significant
bodies remain to be discovered," says Millis. Only about half of the
40-odd Kuiper Belt candidates his team detected in May have been
followed up so far. "Our next opportunity to follow up the remaining
objects will be August, when we again have time at CTIO."

HUBBLE'S BEST OF MARS

Last month the planet Mars came 67 million kilometers (42 million
miles) from the Earth, its closest since 1988. Amateur astronomers
around the world capitalized on this proximity to peer at the red
planet, and so did the Hubble Space Telescope. The orbiting
observatory took several exposures on June 26th that were combined
into a color view, Hubble's best-ever picture of Mars. Released
Thursday as part of the Hubble Heritage Project, it reveals details as
small as 16 km across and displays dust storms -- two in the northern
hemisphere and one in the southern.

There's still plenty of time to see Mars on your own. It dominates the
southern sky after dark, shining brilliant orange at magnitude -2.0.
Fainter Antares, also orangish, is to its right. Although Earth is now
receding from Mars, the red planet is still 19 or 20 arcseconds in
diameter, nearly as large as when it was at its very closest three
weeks ago. For details about this apparition of Mars, see the
observing guide online
(http://www.skypub.com/sights/moonplanets/0105marsreturn.shtml ) or in
the May Sky & Telescope, page 102. A telescope may reveal hints of the
polar caps and dusky markings. A guide to finding Mars's tiny moons --
Phobos and Deimos -- with a large amateur telescope is in S&T's June
issue, page 102.

IDENTIFYING A NEARBY CANNIBAL

The Milky Way's nearest galactic neighbor, the Andromeda Galaxy (M31),
doesn't seem to play well with others. Recent findings show evidence
that it has collided with two other galaxies, M110 and M32, and in the
process, stripped the smaller two of stars.

Observations by Rodrigo Ibata and his colleagues (Strasbourg
Observatory), published in the July 5th issue of the journal Nature,
reveal a giant stream of metal-rich stars (having elements heavier
than helium) within the sparse outer halo of the Andromeda Galaxy.
Ibata believes the stars came from M110 and M32.

These results add to the growing picture of galaxy formation. It
appears that all large galaxies (the Milky Way included) grow from
mergers and interactions with smaller galaxies. Thus it isn't quite
fair to single out M31 as a cannibal. Our own galaxy has engulfed its
share of neighbors. One such victim is a dwarf galaxy Ibata and his
colleagues found in the constellation Sagittarius in 1994.

But even the Milky Way isn't safe from cannibalism. In about 3 billion
years, we will collide with M31, ultimately forming one, even larger
galaxy.

REVISED TITAN PLAN FOR CASSINI-HUYGENS

Last year must have been disturbing for engineers involved with the
Cassini-Huygens mission. That's when they discovered a glitch that
threatened Huygens's one-chance-only descent through the atmosphere of
Titan. Somehow they had failed to allow fully for Doppler shifts due
to the probe's velocity, meaning that Cassini's radio receiver would
not have enough bandwidth to receive all the precious data radioed to
it by Huygens. And since the spacecraft have been en route to Saturn
since 1997, no hardware fix was possible.

After studying the problem for six months, mission managers for NASA
and the European Space Agency yesterday unveiled a new strategy that
should salvage virtually all of the Huygens data. To reduce the
Doppler shift in the probe's transmission frequency, Cassini will fly
past Titan at a much greater distance -- 65,000 kilometers instead of
the previously planned 1,200. Adjustments to the communications system
are planned as well. Some uncertainties, such as picking the probe's
exact landing site, await resolution, but managers for both Cassini
and Huygens seem pleased with the outcome. As Jean-Pierre Lebreton,
ESA's Huygens project scientist, emphasizes, "What is important is
that we have found the solution. It is now time for fine-tuning."

One consequence of the new scheme is that Cassini's complicated
orbital tour must be revised. Now the spacecraft will make three close
passes by Titan, rather than two, in order to set up the new flyby
geometry. Huygens will now be released on December 25, 2004, and
plunge into Titan's atmosphere the following January 14th, seven weeks
later than planned.

TITAN'S WINDS MEASURED

Titan has teased astronomers for decades with its featureless,
pale-orange disk. Not only does the largest moon of Saturn have a
thick atmosphere, it rotates very slowly -- only once every 16 days.
Curious to know whether its atmosphere behaves similarly, observers
have now established the elusive wind's direction and speed.

A team of astronomers led by Theodor Kostiuk (NASA/Goddard Space
Flight Center) used an ultrasensitive spectrometer on Mauna Kea's
3-meter Infrared Telescope Facility to measure Doppler shifts in the
atmospheric spectrum. The observers found that Titan's stratosphere
sweeps along at roughly 210 meters per second (470 miles per hour),
though the actual velocity is still rather uncertain. Moreover, says
Kostiuk, "Our results are unique in that they retrieve the direction
of the wind," which is the same as Titan's rotation. The team's
results appear in the June 15th issue of Geophysical Research Letters.

These results agree with indirect measurements made 12 years ago, when
Titan occulted the star 28 Sagittarii. During that event astronomers
found that the atmosphere had a distended shape, which allowed them to
crudely estimate wind speed -- but not which way it blew.

Kostiuk believes there is still much to learn about Titan, whose
nitrogen-rich, oxygen-poor environment may resemble a frigid
primordial Earth. "I would expect winds to decrease at the lower
altitudes, but would not be surprised if they do not," he says. These
questions may be answered in just a few years, when the Cassini
mission reaches Saturn and drops its Huygens probe into Titan's murky
atmosphere. Kostiuk's data should help optimize the probe's scientific
return, since mission engineers will now know where to point Cassini's
receiving antenna as the probe drifts toward the surface.

COMET LINEAR HANGS IN THERE

After hiding out in the far-southern sky while at its brightest, Comet
LINEAR (2001 A2) is now visible before dawn to skywatchers everywhere.
According to many observers, LINEAR remains dimly visible to the naked
eye as a tailless fuzzball, somewhere between magnitude 4.5 and 5.5.
Binoculars will help in locating the comet. The comet continues to
climb higher in the early morning sky in the Northern Hemisphere,
crossing Pisces and entering Pegasus. By July 11th it is well up in
the east as early as midnight or 1 a.m. local daylight saving time and
very high before dawn. It's sinking lower for Southern Hemisphere
observers, but LINEAR is still well up, passing due north a few hours
before dawn. Here are coordinates for Comet LINEAR for 0 hours
Universal Time (in 2000.0 coordinates) for the coming week:

R.A. Dec.

July 7 23h 34m +5.3 deg.
9 23 13 8.2
11 22 54 10.8
13 22 37 13.0


THIS WEEK'S "SKY AT A GLANCE"

Some daily events in the changing sky, by the editors of Sky &
Telescope.

JULY 8 -- SUNDAY

* Some doorstep astronomy: The Big Dipper hangs in the northwestern
sky after dark, with its bowl to the lower right and its handle to the
upper left. The curve of its handle points around left toward
Arcturus, the bright, pale yellow-orange star very high in the west.

To identify constellations all around your sky, use the printable
evening star map and instructions at
http://www.skypub.com/sights/northern/0107skyn.shtml (if you're in the
mid-latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere. Southern Hemisphere
skywatchers: use the map at
http://www.skypub.com/sights/southern/0107skys.html .)

JULY 9 -- MONDAY

* Mercury reaches greatest elongation low in the dawn, 21 degrees
west of the Sun.

JULY 10 -- TUESDAY

* Have you been keeping an eye on Delta Scorpii? It's the middle
star in the nearly vertical row of three (the "head of Scorpius")
located to the upper right of Antares (which itself is to the right of
bright Mars in the evening). Delta, a hot blue star, has been having
an unusual outburst for the last year. Compare it to Beta Scorpii just
above it, magnitude 2.6, and Antares, magnitude 1.1. Delta is
currently about magnitude 1.7 instead of its usual 2.3, making it the
brightest star in the huge range of sky between Antares and Spica.

JULY 11 -- WEDNESDAY

* The largest asteroid, 1 Ceres, is just past opposition. With
binoculars or a small telescope, you can find it this week shining at
magnitude 7.4 just under the handle of the Sagittarius Teapot. Use the
finder chart in the July Sky & Telescope, page 106, or at
http://www.skypub.com/sights/skyevents/0107skyevents.shtml .

* This evening telescope users in Texas and southern Louisiana may
see the faint asteroid 702 Alauda occult (cover) an 8.7-magnitude star
in Sagittarius. The star may vanish for up to 14 seconds around 10:12
p.m. Central Daylight Time. See the finder chart in the July Sky &
Telescope, page 107, or at the bottom of
http://www.skypub.com/sights/skyevents/0107skyevents.shtml .

JULY 12 -- THURSDAY

* Mercury is 2 degrees to the lower right of brighter Jupiter before
sunrise tomorrow. Look just above the east-northeast horizon (far to
the lower left of bright Venus and dimmer Saturn) about 50 minutes
before sunrise.

* Also at dawn tomorrow, Venus, Saturn, and Aldebaran form a nearly
equilateral triangle 4 degrees on a side. Moreover, binoculars will
show the 3.5-magnitude star Epsilon Tauri passing just 0.1 degree
south (lower right) of Venus.

JULY 13 -- FRIDAY

* Last-quarter Moon (exact at 2:45 p.m. EDT).

JULY 14 -- SATURDAY

* Before and during dawn tomorrow, Saturn appears just 3/4 degree to
the upper left of brilliant Venus. That's less than a finger's-breadth
held at arm's length. The two shine at magnitudes +0.2 and -4.1,
respectively, which means Venus is 50 times brighter than Saturn. Take
a look in a telescope. Despite their great brightness difference, both
planets appear 17 arcseconds in diameter.


============================
THIS WEEK'S PLANET ROUNDUP
============================

MERCURY is deep in the glow of sunrise, to the right of brighter
Jupiter early in the week and just below Jupiter late in the week.
Look for them just above the east-northeast horizon (far to the lower
left of Venus and Saturn) about 50 minutes before sunrise. Binoculars
help.

VENUS (magnitude -4.2) blazes in the east before and during dawn. It's
closing in on much fainter Saturn each day. Venus and Saturn are in
conjunction (closest) on the morning of July 15th, separated by just
3/4 degree. Below them or to their lower right is the fainter orange
star Aldebaran, making it a threesome.

MARS dominates the southern sky after dark, shining brilliant orange
at magnitude -2.0. Fainter orange Antares is to its right. Now is
still an extraordinary time to observe Mars in a telescope! It appears
19 or 20 arcseconds in diameter, nearly as large as when it was at its
very closest three weeks ago.

See the Mars observing guide and maps in the May Sky & Telescope, page
102. A guide to finding Mars's tiny moons with a large amateur
telescope is in the June issue, page 102. Telescopic observers can
download Mars Previewer (3 megs), which displays observing data and a
customized map of the planet's apparent disk for any date and time; go
to http://www.skypub.com/resources/software/basic/basic.html#mars .

JUPITER is very low in the east-northeast as dawn brightens; see
Mercury above.

SATURN glimmers near brilliant Venus before and during dawn; see Venus
above.

URANUS and NEPTUNE (6th and 8th magnitude, respectively) are in
Capricornus in the southeast to south during the early morning hours.

PLUTO (magnitude 14) is in Ophiuchus in south during evening, above
Mars. Finder charts for Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto are in the April
Sky & Telescope, page 104, and at lower resolution at
http://www.skypub.com/sights/moonplanets/outerplanets01.html .

(All descriptions that relate to the horizon or zenith -- including
the words up, down, right, and left -- are written for the world's
midnorthern latitudes. Descriptions that also depend on longitude are
for North America. Eastern Daylight Time, EDT, equals Universal Time
[GMT] minus 4 hours.)

More celestial events, sky maps, observing projects, and news of the
world's astronomy research appear each month in SKY & TELESCOPE, the
essential magazine of astronomy. See our enormous Web site and
astronomy bookstore at http://www.skypub.com/ . Clear skies!

SKY & TELESCOPE, 49 Bay State Rd., Cambridge, MA 02138 *
617-864-7360

===========================================================
Copyright 2001 Sky Publishing Corporation. S&T's Weekly News Bulletin
and Sky at a Glance stargazing calendar are provided as a service to
the astronomical community by the editors of SKY & TELESCOPE magazine.
Widespread electronic distribution is encouraged as long as these
paragraphs are included. But the text of the bulletin and calendar may
not be published in any other form without permission from Sky
Publishing (contact permissions@skypub.com or phone 617-864-7360).
Updates of astronomical news, including active links to related
Internet resources, are available via SKY & TELESCOPE's site on the
World Wide Web at http://www.skypub.com/.



 Topic 24 of 99 [Geo]: Beyond Planet Earth
 Response 493 of 1087: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Thu, Jul 12, 2001 (00:11) * 71 lines 
 
Today in Science/Astronomy:

* Dust Storm Swallows Half of Mars
http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/solarsystem/mars_dust_010710.html

A gigantic dust storm has enveloped about half of Mars, recent NASA spacecraft images show.

* Download New Hubble Wallpaper Images for your Desktop
http://www.space.com/php/multimedia/downloads/wallpapers/

Back by popular demand, check out our new Hubble wallpaper images!

-----------------------------------

Today in Missions/Launches:

* Complete Coverage: STS-104 Atlantis Mission to Station Alpha
http://www.space.com/shuttlemissions/

Shuttle Atlantis and five astronauts are poised to blast off this week on a mission to deliver an airlock to the International Space Station, capping the first full phase of a $60 billion orbital construction project.

Check out our mission preview, live video, countdown clock and more!

* Station Construction to Resume With New Gateway to Space
http://www.space.com/missionlaunches/missions/sts104_airlock_010711-1.html

The $60 billion International Space Station construction project is scheduled to resume high above Earth this week as astronauts set out to equip the outpost with an orbital doorway that will double as a locker room for spacewalkers.

* X-38 'Lifeboat' Undergoes Sixth Flight Test