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August 1999 Issue

Astronomy Digest

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Front Desk

News Throughout the Net Updated Weekly

1 Million People Join the Search For ET. - You can join SETI@Home project and join in the search. - August 21, 1999.

Small Satellite is made Bright so it Can be Easily Seen on Earth. - Satellite will shine as bright as the North Star. - Fox News, August 20, 1999.

Spacecraft May Get a Push by Solar Winds - Using solar wind a new propulsion system may increase the speed of a spacecraft ten times faster than the speed of current spacecrafts. - MSNBC News, August 19, 1999.

Mysterious Unexplained Object - A point of light was found three years ago in the northern sky, and scientists still can not explain it. - CNN, August 18, 1999.

Matter's Final Plunge in to Black Hole - First evidence of matter actually falling into a black hole detected. - August 16, 1999.

Ready for Perseid Meteor Shower - Meteor shower will last between 1:00am and dawn. They will peak Thursday and Friday morning. - ABC News, August 12, 1999.

Stars Swallow Planets - Hubble Space Telescope gathers evidence that some stars have swallowed up giant planets. - BBC News, August 12, 1999.

New View of Eclipse - Mir space station gets the first view of the moon's shadow from space. - CNN News, August 12, 1999.

World Watches Eclipse - All eyes turn to the heavens. - MSNBC News, August 11, 1999.

How to View a Solar Eclipse - Sun light can cook the tissue behind your retina causing blindness and you would not feel any pain. - ABC News, August 6, 1999.

August Skies

Current Phase
of the Moon

August 04 - Last Quarter
August 11 - New Moon
August 19 - First Quarter
August 26 - Full Moon

August's Meteor Shower

Alpha Capricornids (CAP)
Maximum Aug. 1/2

Southern Iota Aquarids (SIA)
Maximum Aug. 6/7

Perseids (PER)
Maximum Aug. 12
Max 50-150 per hour
From Comet Swift-Tuttle
For Northern Hemisphere Observers
From Constellation Perseus
White Streaks, Few Fireballs

Northern Iota Aquarids (NIA)
Maximum Aug. 25/26

Skywatching Center - Current Month's Skies.

Astronomy Magazine - The Sky Show in August 1999.

Sky & Telescope - August 1999 Skies.

What's Up
By Steve Coe


I am going to discuss some deep sky goodies in the first constellation I definitely remember learning as a Boy Scout. That is the obvious "star picture" of Scorpius. This beautiful curved chain of stars does remind me of a scorpion and signals the beginning of Summer each time I see the red star Antares snaking its' way above the southeastern horizon. I am obviously not alone in this mental image, the ancient Chinese installed the Azure Dragon at this location in the sky as a wise and benevolent reminder of the whole of Creation. This certainly is an excellent place to start reviewing what can be seen in the night sky.
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Multiple Star Systems
By Stuart Lolly

More than sixty five percent of the stars you see in the sky are multiple stars. That is, you are looking at two or more stars. Stars that orbit each other and are bound by gravity are called multiple star systems. There are also optical multiples. This is where two or more stars appear to be close to each other. However, when you measure the distance of the stars, the stars are very far apart. There is no gravitational relation.

Our solar system orbits only one star. Solar systems with only one star are called, "Single Star Systems". Scientist feel that we were very close to being a multiple star system. Jupiter is a very large gasses planet. It is over 11 times the diameter of earth. If it would have become twice its current size, it may have become a star.

Amateur Astronomers try to split stars. They focus their telescope on what appears to be a single star. Then, change lenses and increase power until two stars are revealed.

Albireo is one of the most beautiful double stars in the sky. In the constellation Cygnus, meaning swan, Albireo is the star in the bill of the swan. Use your telescope at a low power and find Albireo. Increase the power by changing lenses. You will find that Albireo is actually made up of two stars. One of the stars will be blue, and the other yellow. The two stars bright contrast in colors make for a great example of multiple stars.

Photographs by Naoyuki Kurita, publisher of Stellar Scenes . Stop by his web site for other great astrophotographs. His work is copyrighted, so please do not copy them without his permission.

Quote of the Month

And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood; And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth... - Revelations 6:12-13.


Asteroids, also known as Minor Planets, is debris that did not form a star or a major planet. Asteroids can range from the size of a grain of sand, to 540 miles in diameter. Debris continues to gravitate and collide with other celestial objects. The Earth, and other planets, are frequently pelted by asteroids. Using a telescope, or binoculars, you can see the effect asteroids have had when they impacted the moon. When large asteroids hit the moon they left behind large impact craters. Tycho, being one of the largest impact craters, can easily be seen in the moon's southern hemisphere.
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Before You Go To
A Dark Sky Site

Before you go to a dark sky site you have to check out these web sites.

The Discovery of Comet Lee Steven Lee describes what it was like to discover his comet at a star party on April 16, 1999 in Mudgee, Australia.

CEA - The Comet's Tale Learn all about comets. This web site includes information on what makes up a comet, where they come from, and how to make a comet.

The Peoria Astronomical Society Great web site for Astronomy. Information on constellations, star maps, our solar system, and much more.

Lens Power

After I bought my first telescope the next thing I wanted to do is get additional lenses. Lenses allow you to view celestial object at different magnifications. More Power. Lenses range from 2.5mm to 55mm. The 2.5mm would be the highest magnification to get close up viewing. And, the 55mm would have the lowest magnification. The more you magnify an object the less bright and less sharp the object becomes. Since each lens range in cost from $30 to $430, it is best to borrow a lens from a friend before you buy. By the way, this is one of the best advantages of joining an astronomy club. You get to try other people's equipment before you buy it.

To get the magnification, take the Telescope Focal Length and divide it by the Eyepiece Focal Length. You can get the Telescope Focal Length, for you telescope, from the telescope's user manual. I have a Orion, Dobsonian, 10 inch DSE, with a focal length of 1140mm. And, I recently purchased a Nagler Type 2, 20mm lens. My magnification would be 1140/20 = 57x. Objects are magnified in the telescope 57 times more than if you were just looking at the object.

In comparison, I also have a Vixen, 10mm lens. My magnification would be 1140/10 = 114x. Objects are magnified in the telescope 114 times. With this lens I lose a lot of brightness and clarity. In general avoid using magnifications greater than 50 times your telescope diameter in inches. So for my telescope I should not use more than 10x50 = 500x.

Now compare the 20mm lens on the Celestron, Celestar 8 Schmidt-Cassegrain. On the 10 inch Dobsonian the 20mm had a power of 57x. The 8 inch Celestar has a focal length of 2032mm. The magnification of the lens would be 2032/20 = 102x. A big difference.

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