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November 1999 Issue

Astronomy Digest

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News Throughout the Net Updated Weekly


Leonids Rain in Spain - An outburst of over 1500 Leonid meteors per hour dazzled observers in Europe and the Middle East. - Space Science News, November 18, 1999.


Methane Asteroid Explosion Theory - May have caused the extinction of the dinosaur. - ABC News, November 17, 1999.


Where did Jupiter Come From? - Questions from data collected by the Galileo spacecraft's . - BBC News, November 17, 1999.


Hubble Looks at Trifid Nebula - Star nursery is being torn apart by massive star. - BBC, November 10, 1999.


Farthest Object in Solar System Detected - Object observed orbiting the Sun that is more distant than any other known object. - BBC, November 9, 1999.


A surprise November meteor shower? - On November 11, 1999 Earth will pass close to the orbit of newly-discovered Comet LINEAR C/1999J3. The result could be a new meteor shower -- the Linearids.- Space Science News, November 5, 1999.


Hubble Looks at Passing Galaxies - Photographs taken of the larger galaxy, NGC 2207, passing IC 2163. - BBC, November 5, 1999.


Volcano on Io Have Lava Flows Just Like Earth - Io's volcano looks just like Kilauea volcano in Hawaii. - CNN, November 5, 1999.


Planet Found Orbiting Star Pair - This suggests that there may be hugh numbers of planets since more than 65 percent of the stars are paired.- ABC News, November 3, 1999.


Hubble looks at M87 - Astronomers study region near the black hole.- BBC, October 28, 1999.


Leonids in the Crystal Ball - Most experts agree that 1999 is a likely year for a Leonids meteor storm.- Space Science News, October 27, 1999.


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.




What's Up
by Steve Coe

CASSIOPEIA

So far all the deep sky objects I have discussed in What's up have generally had either Messier or NGC (New General Catalog) numbers associated with them. This month I wish to introduce you to some of the other designations you will bump into as you find your way around the sky beyond our Solar System. Many different surveys of the sky have been conducted over the years and therefore there are lots of names associated with deep sky objects. I will use the constellation of Cassiopeia to demonstrate a variety of objects with different designations.

Let's start with the (IC) Index Catalog. The IC was a continuation of the NGC, also complied by J.L.E. Dreyer. These two listings where published to catch up with findings made after the NGC was published. One of the things it proved what that the observers who had contributed to the NGC had done a good job of finding the brightest objects in the sky. All my observations are with my 13" f/5.6 Newtonian.

IC 10 is extremely faint, pretty large, elongated 2X1 in PA 90 with a somewhat brighter middle. At 100X it grows with averted vision. It is in a very rich field, including an 11th mag star on the western tip of this galaxy, it is located at 00 20.4 +59 18.

IC 166 displays 47 stars counted at 135X. I see it as bright, pretty large, compressed and pretty rich. This nice cluster has a wide dark lane that splits the cluster into 1/3 and 2/3 portions. There are many lovely delicate pairs. This much-ignored cluster is one of the best IC objects I have ever observed. It is at 01 52.5 +61 50.

IC 1795 is pretty faint, pretty large, irregular in shape and the west side is brightest at 135X. There is a dark lane through this nebula which almost cuts it in half. There are six stars involved within the nebulosity. It was just seen at 100X without the UHC, but going to a little more power with the filter makes it much more noticeable. This nebula is at 02 26.5 +62 04, it is the brightest part of the huge nebulosity IC 1805.

IC 1848 is pretty faint, pretty large, pretty compressed, 18 stars counted at 135X. Two stars are 11th mag and 16 others of mags 13 and dimmer make up the cluster. There is a nebula associated with this cluster, it was just seen at 100X without the UHC filter. It is more contrasty with the UHC and consists of two faint, very large streamers of nebulosity that pass north and south of the cluster. This combination cluster and nebula is at 02 51.2 +60 26.

Harvard 21 is an open cluster that was discovered on the patrol plates shot at Harvard University around the turn of the century, I mean when the century went from 1900 to 1901, that century. I counted 12 stars and a fuzzy background at 100X. About 5' in size and pretty compressed with two stars of 10th mag. H 21 is located at 23 54.1 +61 46.

Melotte 15 is an open cluster which I saw as bright, pretty large, pretty rich and pretty compressed. I counted 20 stars at 135X, some form a circular ring. Some of the nebulosity IC 1805 forms an arc on the south side. This cluster is also Collinder 26 at 02 32.6 +61 27.

PK 114-4.1 is one of the many planetary nebulae spectroscopically discovered by Perek and Kohoutek in the 1950's. It is faint, pretty small, round, not brighter in the middle at 135X with the UHC filter. It is only suspected without the filter. The size from the P-K list is 94" and I am only seeing about 10" of this object. The outer layers that showed up on the survey photos must not be prominent visually. It is at 23 45.8 +57 04.

PK 136+4.1 is also Abell 6. In the 13" I saw it as extremely faint, pretty small, round, just a faint blob with averted vision at 135X. Higher powers make it almost disappear. Only seen with UHC filter and dark hood covering my head. This is from a site 50 miles from Phoenix, on a night I rated 5/10 for seeing and 6/10 for transparency. This tough object is at 02 58.9 +64 30.

Stock 2 is on a list of open clusters published in the 1930's. I counted 88 stars in this cluster at 60X. It is very bright, very large, not compressed and very rich. This cluster takes up the entire one degree field of the 38mm Giant Erfle eyepiece. There are many beautiful chains of stars and dark lanes across the face of this group. In the 11X80 finder or binoculars there are 18 stars involved with a very grainy Milky Way background at 02 15.0 +59 16.

Stock 12 is pretty bright, pretty large, pretty rich and little compressed. This cluster is just seen in the 11X80 finder. There are 22 stars resolved at 100X, including a lovely blue and gold double star on the south side. This nice grouping is at 23 37.2 +52 26.

Trumpler 1 is the first on a list of open clusters published by one of the leading experts on clusters, Robert Trumpler. I see Tr 1 as containing 12 stars at 135X. It is pretty faint, pretty small, somewhat compressed and pretty rich. 4 stars form a straight line across the center of the cluster. Lots of unresolved stars are in the background at 01 35.7 +61 17.

Trumpler 3 has 31 stars counted at 100X. Bright, pretty large, not compressed and pretty rich. It could be seen in the 11X80, this is one of the best Trumpler or Harvard clusters I remember seeing. It is at 03 11.8 +63 15.




The Ring Nebula


M57, the Ring Nebula, is one of my favorite objects to show at a star party. I like to ask children to describe what they are looking at. They most often say it looks like a cheero, or a donut. Adults will sometimes say a smoke ring. The picture above shows the ring nebula as being red. This is because the camera shutter is left open long enough to collect the red color spectrum. When you view the object in a telescope it will appear white.
Full Story


Photograph 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.

November Skies


Current Phase
of the Moon


November 08 - New Moon
November 16 - First Quarter
November 23 - Full Moon
November 29 - Last Quarter


November's Meteor Showers

Leonids
November 14-20
Possible Meteor Storm Maximum November 17-18


Skywatching Center - Current Month's Skies.

Astronomy Magazine - The Sky Show in November 1999.

Sky & Telescope - November 1999 Skies.



Definition of the Month

Astronomer - Someone who sits alone in the dark, bent over his instrument, cursing at the moon.

How to turn a 10 inch telescope in to a 4 inch telescope.
by Stuart Lolly

Sounds crazy. After all, you just spent all that money for a large light bucket. But, there are times when you may want to collect less light. When I turned my 10 inch telescope toward the planet Jupiter, all I saw was two red bands on a white disk. I was collecting too much light. The fine detail of the planet was washed out. I could not even see the great red spot.

To bring out the detail make a mask for your telescope. The mask will have a 4 inch hole. This will allow less light to enter your telescope reducing your telescope from a 10 inch telescope to a 4 inch telescope.

To make the mask take the end of your telescope and place it on a piece of cardboard. Trace a circle around your telescope on the cardboard. Cut out the circle you just traced. On the circle draw two lines like the cross hairs in a rifle scope. This will divide the circle in four sections. In one of the four sections draw a 4 inch circle. Cut out that circle. Cut a strip of card board 2 inches wide. Make the strip long enough to go around the 10 inch circle. Using duct tape, tape the strip around the 10 inch piece of cardboard. The mask you just made should fit around the end of your telescope.

Try making a 3 1/2, 4, and 4 1/2 inch masks. Try each of them out and see which one works best. Watch the details of Jupiter come out.

Clear Skies







Pioneer 10.

Pioneer 10 was launched on March 2, 1972. It was the first spacecraft to travel through the Asteroid belt, and the first spacecraft to make direct observations and obtain close-up images of Jupiter. After passing by Jupiter the spacecraft headed towards the constellation of Taurus (The Bull). It was to take Pioneer over 2 million years to pass by one of the stars in the constellation. Pioneer 10 is moving in the opposite direction than the suns orbit around the galaxy.

Currently, Pioneer 10 is the farthest man made object from earth. The spacecraft is now over 6.8 billion miles away. Pioneer 10 has been given an extended mission to search for the "Heliospheric Boundary". The sun expels gases at a rate of 1,000,000 miles per hour. These gases consist of protons, electrons, and other subatomic particles. These gases create a solar wind. The wind originates from the sun and moves outward. The "Heliospheric Boundary" is where the effects from the sun end and interstellar space begins.

In tracking the Pioneer 10 a tiny unexplained acceleration in motion toward the sun was detected. One of the possible answers is Pioneer 10 could be feeling the gravitational pull from an uncharted planet or smaller bodies in the solar system. In 1846 the planet Neptune was discovered due to the gravitational pull on the planet Uranus.

27 years after the Pioneer 10 was launched, information is still being collected by this spacecraft that is challenging our knowledge of the solar system we live in.

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Astronomy Throughout the Net


Astronomy & Photography Mikkel Steine presents an astronomy web site worth a look. This is a good reference site. Includes Messier, Herschel 400, Bright Edge-On Galaxies of the Spring Sky lists.

International Astronomical Union Circulars For the latest news on comets, supernovas, and more.






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