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October 1999 Issue

Astronomy Digest

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Front Desk

News Throughout the Net Updated Weekly

Best Pictures of IO Ever - Galileo took the best pictures of IO during its flyby. Pictures show lava flows.- BBC, October 23, 1999.

A close encounter with Jupiter - This weekend the Solar System's largest planet will be brighter and nearer to Earth than at any time in the past 12 years.- Space Science News, October 22, 1999.

Aurora Alert - A blast of solar wind from the sun on October 21 is creating strong geomagnetic storm conditions a day later.- Space Science News, October 22, 1999.

Moon Shows Signs of Volcanic Activity - Astronomers claim to have seen volcanic activity on moon's surface.- BBC, October 21, 1999.

Clouds on Neptune - Clouds on Neptune were discovered using an infrared camera on Palomar Observatory's Hale telescope. - CNN, October 18, 1999.

Solar Déjà Vu - SOHO records a dazzling series of rapid-fire coronal mass ejections on the Sun. - Space Sience News, October 15, 1999.

Life of Carl Sagan - A look at the life of Carl Sagan. - October 15, 1999.

New images of Eta Carinae - New Chandra X-ray Observatory Images Reveal Shocking Details Of Mysterious Superstar's Activity. - October 08, 1999.

Galileo Spacecraft Has Hot Date With Volcanic Moon - NASA's Galileo spacecraft is heading for Jupiter's moon Io. - October 08, 1999.

Mars Lander May be OK - NASA says that the Mars Lander will not have the same problem as Mars Orbiter. - MSNBC, October 08, 1999.

Planet, Star, or Brown Dwarf? - Comet paths indicate that there may be something out there. - ABC News, October 07, 1999.

Astronomers Discover Moon Orbiting Asteroid - New technology promises to revolutionize our understanding of asteroid makeup. - October 06, 1999.

Missing Mater Found - Trillions of Dark Stars may explain what makes the universe go around. - BBC, October 05, 1999.

Mars Climate Orbiter Does Not Add Up - Mars Climate Orbiter may have crashed because data was not converted from English measurements to metrics. - ABC, September 30, 1999.

Solar Systems Found to Evolve in Same Way - Nearby stars display a distinct timeline in the evolution of their solar systems. - CNN, September 30, 1999.

Another Planet Found? - Pioneer 10 spaceprobe pulled off course by the gravitation from a mysteriously object. - BBC, September 28, 1999.

October Skies

Current Phase
of the Moon

October 02 - Last Quarter
October 09 - New Moon
October 17 - First Quarter
October 24 - Full Moon
October 31 - Last Quarter

October's Meteor Showers

Orionids (ORI)
October 15-29
Maximum October 21

Skywatching Center - Current Month's Skies.

Astronomy Magazine - The Sky Show in October 1999.

Sky & Telescope - October 1999 Skies.

What's Up
by Steve Coe


Pegasus is a large constellation in the Autumn sky and being far away from the plane of the Milky Way, it contains lots of galaxies. Many are faint and small, but several are easy in any scope in the club. So, let's see what shows up in the Flying Horse.

NGC 7331 is at 22hr 37 min RA and +34 25 Dec (all my positions will be given for the year 2000). It is bright, large, very elongated, much brighter in the middle with a stellar nucleus at 135X in my 13" f/5.6 Newtonian. It is an elongated shape even in the 11 X 80 finder and is surrounded by companion galaxies.

NGC 7479 is at 23 05 hr and +12 19 Dec. This galaxy is pretty bright, large and elongated 4 X 1. It has a much brighter core about 20" across at 165X. This object is a very nice barred spiral and that structure can be seen on good evenings. The bar is about 5' in length and each end has a curved glow attached. It looks like a two-armed garden sprinkler in action. Averted vision makes the galaxy grow in size. The better the evening, the better this object seems to get; I have always seen lots of detail in NGC 7479 on a sharp night at a spot that is 50 miles out of town at 4000 ft. altitude, I have never seen much detail down on the desert floor.

NGC 7619 is at 23 20 hr and +8 12 Dec. In the 13" it is pretty faint, pretty small, round and not brighter in the middle. This object is the center of the Pegasus I cluster and there are 5 other galaxies in a 30' field at 100X. All of the other galaxies are dimmer than NGC 7619 and are also round dots. There are another 6 galaxies within one degree of the central portion of the galaxy cluster. Several of them can only be seen with averted vision.

NGC 7741 is located at 23 44 and +26 05. It is pretty faint, very elongated, round, somewhat brighter in the middle, there is a double star on the NW side at 135X. This is the type of object that shows itself best on a clear, sharp evening. On a fuzzy night it is just a dim grainy object. On a night I rated 8/10 the central bar structure was immediately seen and averted vision showed some faint outer arm structure at 165X.

NGC 7814 is at 00 03 and +16 09. This lovely galaxy is bright, large, elongated and brighter in the middle. The arms are very mottled at 135X.

57 PEG is a double star at 23 09 and +8 41. This wide pair is 33 arc seconds apart and so it easily split in any telescope above 50X. I see the colors of this pair as yellow and blue at 100X. What is most fascinating about 57 Peg is the "pendulum effect". This means that if you move your head or tap the tube of the scope, the secondary star seems to revolve about the primary, a fun illusion, give it a try.

Will this be the year of the Storm
by Stuart Lolly

Last year I woke up at 1:00 am, got my 3 year old son out of bed, and woke up my pregnant wife. We drove 70 miles to Palomar mountain, my favorite dark sky site. Everyone all bundled up standing in a field in 20 degree weather waiting for a once in a life time chance to see a meteor storm.

What we saw was an impressive meteor shower. Meteor sightings were grouped in twos and threes. The glow of the meteors where much brighter than I expected, with the appearance of an occasional fireball. Some of the fireballs were bright enough to cast our shadows on the ground. It wasn't a meteor storm. But, it was well worth the effort.

The Leonids meteor shower occurs when earth crosses the path of Comet Tempel-Tuttle. This comet has a 33 year elliptical orbit. Most of the time the comet is in the outer solar system, between the orbits of Saturn and Uranus. Every 33 years the comet obits the sun. As the comet approaches the sun it crosses the path of earth's orbit around the sun.

As the comet moves through space it leaves a trail of ice and dust particles. When earth crosses comet Tempel-Tuttle trail the ice and dust particles get caught in earth's gravitation. The ice and dust particles pick up speed as they enter earth's atmosphere. The particles reach speeds of 158,000 mph producing streaks in the sky. Particles entering earth's atmosphere are called meteors. Most of the particles are very small. About the size of a grain of sand. Some particles are larger. These particles can create a larger streak called a fireball.

The 1998 Leonid shower had as many as 400 meteors per hour in some locations. The meteor shower had many fireballs and long lasting colorful meteor trails. Many experts are comparing the 1998 Leonid shower to the 1965 Leonid shower. This is important because the 1999 Leonid shower could be just like the historic 1966 Leonid storm. The 1966 Leonid storm had up to 10,000 meteors per hour.

Tempel-Tuttle trail is 35,000 km wide. Last year Earth may not have gone through the densest part of the particle trail. There is a possibility that we could be on track this year. It has been predicted that November 18th is the best chance for a meteor storm.

The best location should be Asia and Europe. All Northern Hemisphere observers should see a pretty good meteor shower, or storm. The meteor shower/storm is called Leonids because the shower/storm comes from the constellation leo. The shower/storm should start at about 12:30 am, making the early hours the best time for viewing.

It looks like once again my family will be making a trip up the mountain. This year my son will be 4 years old, and my daughter will be almost one. I will wake up my wife and kids around midnight, and head up the mountain to stand in a field in hopes of seeing an actual meteor storm.

Quote of the Month

"It suddenly struck me that that tiny pea, pretty and blue, was the Earth. I put up my thumb and shut one eye, and my thumb blotted out the planet Earth. I didn't feel like a giant. I felt very, very small." - Neil Armstrong


With summer coming to an end I recently took some time to enjoy some incredible sunsets at the beach. This time of year San Diego's sunsets are beautiful. While I was surfing the web I found a few sunsets that are out of this world. Full Story

Advanced Skywatching.

This is a great book for amateur astronomers, and space enthusiast. "The Nature Company Guides" has taken a team of writers to produce a book with current information about the universe that surrounds us.

The book begins with a brief history and current national space accomplishments that have brought about tools to aid us in viewing and understanding outerspace. The book then goes on and presents tools that can aid the individual observer, such as binoculars, telescopes, CCD imaging, and much more.

"Advanced Skywatching" takes a look at the sun and moon. Moon maps are presented to help the reader become familiar with different parts of the moon. Each planet is examined starting with the closest planet to the sun, Mercury, and moving outward. Other objects with in our solar system, such as Comets, asteroids, and meteors, are covered.

The book moves on to the different types of stars: Double stars, variable stars, novas, and super novas. Some basic star maps are presented that focus on deep sky objects that lie with in the constellations.

I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in outerspace.

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Astronomy Throughout the Net

Abrams Planetarium Skywatcher's Diary Month by month look at what is in the sky that night. A good resource for sky observers.

Chandra X-ray Observatory Center Take a look at what the Chandra X-ray telescope has accomplished. You can get the most recent images and latest news.

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