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April 2000 Issue

Astronomy Digest

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Front Desk

News Throughout the Net Updated Weekly

Area 51 Will Remain Top Secret - Real TV Video Feed. - Channel Zero.

NASA May Crash Galileo - Effort to save possible life on Europa. - BBC, March 3, 2000.

Update on NEAR - NEAR gets closer. - CNN, March 3, 2000.

Signal Received from Pioneer 10 - Pioneer is twice as far from the Sun as Pluto and is speeding toward the constellation Taurus. - SSN, March 2, 2000.

SETIcam - If ET calls, now you can watch. - ABC, February 29, 2000.

Legal Battle Over Meteorite - Native American group has made claim to meteorite. New York's Rose Center for Earth and Space American Museum of Natural History sues to block claim. - MSNBC, February 28, 2000.

NEARer to Eros - NEAR began a gradual descent into a tighter orbit around the asteroid Eros. - SSN, February 25, 2000.

Search for Alien Life in Antarctica - NASA looks at Meteorites. - MSNBC, February 25, 2000.

SETI Researchers Return for More Data - World watches. - MSNBC, February 24, 2000.

Summer on Mars - Photographs show that summer in the south of Mars has started melting icy polar cap. - CNN, February 23, 2000.

Solar Flare Spotted - Coronal mass ejection appears to be headed almost directly for Earth. - SSN, February 18, 2000.

Update on NEAR - Eros may have broken off from a planet. - CNN, February 17, 2000.

Mexico Gets a New Telescope - Construction has started on top of La Negra. - MSNBC, February 17, 2000.

Moon's Origin - Tilt may give clues. - BBC, February 16, 2000.

Galileo Galilei - Astronomer Remembered. - Fox, February 15, 2000.

Space Shuttle Starts Mapping Earth - Endeavour will collect images for 9 days. - FOX, February 12, 2000.

With Love from Mars - Mars has a Heart. - BBC, February 12, 2000.

Space Probe to Orbit Asteroid - Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous (NEAR) will reach Eros on February 14th. - ABC, February 11, 2000.

SOHO Has Found 102 Comets - Ninety-two sungrazing comets discovered by SOHO appear to have come from the breakup of a single gigantic comet more than 2000 years ago. - SSN, February 11, 2000.

Jupiter Causes Own Storms - New research on storms on Jupiter. - ABC, February 10, 2000.

Earth is Saved - New data says asteroid will not hit earth in 2022. - BBC, February 9, 2000.

Deep Space Webcams - May happen as early as 2001. - MSNBC, February 8, 2000.

2nd Mars Rock Found in US - Hiker picked up two dark stones in the California's Mojave Desert 20 years ago. - CNN, February 4, 2000.

Hubble Looks at Carina Nebula - Hubble taking some great pictures. - BBC, February 4, 2000.

Astronomers Listen for Signals from Mars - Astronomers in three countries use Radio Telescopes to listen for Polar Lander. - MSNBC, February 4, 2000.

Video Clip of asteroid Spinning in Space - Pictures of near earth asteroid Rendezvous. - MSNBC, February 3, 2000.

Solar Smoke Rings - The Sun put on a dynamic show this week with a series of swirling coronal mass ejections.. - SSN, February 3, 2000.

New Hayden Planetarium Opens in New York. - So good, researchers are using it. - MSNBC, February 1, 2000.

March Skies

March 06 - New Moon
March 13 - First Quarter
March 20 - Full Moon
March 28 - Last Quarter

Skywatching Center - Current Month's Skies.

Astronomy Magazine - The Sky Show in March 2000.

Sky & Telescope - March 2000 Skies.

What's Up
by Steve Coe


Leo is another of those constellations that seems to be a bottomless pit. Several of the Spring constellations are so full of galaxies that even after several good nights in Leo, Virgo or Ursa Major, there are still plenty of objects to observe. The same is true of open clusters in Cassiopeia, Sagittarius or Puppis. But these constellations do contain lots of great objects and it is fun to keep looking. I noticed as I looked through my notes for Leo that lots of my observations are with a 12.5" f/6 on several nights.

NGC 2903 is one of the best non-Messier galaxies. It is easy in my 10x50 binocs or a large finder scope. At 175X in the 12.5" f/6 this galaxy is bright and is mottled across the face with a much brighter core. There is a bright spot about 4 arc minutes from the core. It is at 9 hr 32.2 min and +21 30.

NGC 3041 is pretty faint, large, irregularly round, very gradually little brighter in the middle at 150X. This very mottled galaxy has an 11th mag star involved on the south side and two other 13th mag stars involved in the galaxy. Look for this galaxy at 9 hr 53.1 min and +16 41.

NGC 3379 (M 105) is bright, large, elongated and has a much brighter, almost stellar, core in the 12.5" f/6 at 120X. It has two companions, which are the next two objects. This nice object is at 10 hr 47.8 min and +12 35.

NGC 3384 is pretty faint, large, somewhat elongated and does not have a brighter middle in the 12.5". It is at 10 hr 48.3 min and +12 38.

NGC 3389 is pretty bright, Large, has a brighter middle and is elongated in the same PA as M 105 in the 12.5" f/6 at 120X. It is at 10 hr 48.5 and +12 32.

NGC 3593 is pretty bright, pretty large, elongated and has a much brighter middle. What is bizarre about this galaxy is that at 200X in the 12.5", the core is elongated 2X1. I don't remember seeing an elongated nucleus in a galaxy before. Look for yourself at 11 hr 14.6 min and +12 49.

NGC 3666 Pretty faint, large, much elongated 2.5 X 1 in PA 90, bright middle at 150X. This is a nice edge-on galaxy at 11 hr 24.4 min and +11 21.

NGC 3681 has several companion galaxies, one of which is 3686. I see four galaxies in a 35' field at 100X in the 12.5". One is pretty bright, pretty large, round and has a much brighter core. I have assumed that is 3681 and centered a drawing on it. The other three in the field are faint, small and do not have a brighter core. See if you can pick out the whole bunch at 11 hr 26.5 and +16 52.

Abell 1367 is one of the galaxy clusters noted by George Abell's landmark work with the Palomar Sky Survey. Many of these clusters of galaxies are very faint and distant but some can be picked out with an amateur scope at a dark site. Turn your instrument to 11 hr 44 min and +20 00, to see a dense batch of galaxies, small and faint, but thick.

In the 12.5" at 135X, with a 30' field, I can pick out one pretty faint galaxy with 4 very faint companions. They are so dim that turning on the red light to draw them makes them disappear for about 30 seconds until my night vision returns. There are 10 other galaxies within one degree of this field. These are some of the toughest objects I have ever managed to pick out of the sky. If you are looking for a challenge, Abell 1367 will provide one.

Planetary Roundup

This is a great month to easily see six planets in our solar system with your naked eyes. On April 6th about 30 minutes after sunset you will be able to see Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. These three planets are farther away from the sun than earth. To see these planets look for the crescent moon in the west. Saturn will be just off to the upper right of the moon. To find Jupiter from Saturn look down and to the right. Jupiter is always brighter than the surrounding stars. Mars will be a faint red color planet just to the upper right of Jupiter.

On April 28 about 30 minutes before sunrise you will be able to see Venus and Mercury. These two planets are closer to the sun than earth. Look to the east. Venus is another bright planet. Mercury will be slightly lower and to the left.

To find that elusive 6th planet go to an open field. This planet is actually the 3rd planet from the sun. In that open field look straight down. You found it, planet earth.

Clear Skies.

If you have an astronomy related article you would like to have published, email it to Astronomy Digest.

Dew Shields
By Richard Just

Dew. The ruination of many amateurís observing sessions. Especially if you live in an area of medium to high humidity. Dew is caused by the condensation of humidity (water) on various exteriors. Because metal and glass radiate heat faster than the ambient air temperature, these surfaces will get colder than the air. If that temperature gets down to the dew point, water will fog and/or condense.

There are many devices to help extend your time at the eyepiece. From the simplest brown paper grocery bag to exotic electrical apparatus. About 5 years ago, I came across a material that would prevent dew from forming for hours longer than any other passive dew shield.

At one of my clubís star parties, there were two other members with identical telescopes as mine, Celestron C-8. One of the guys did not have any dew protection and the other one had a plastic dew shield. I had one of my Insulated Dew Shields. Within a half an hour, the "shield-less" telescope fogged up and was useless. After about two hours, the plastic dew shield stopped working and the guy had to use his blow dryer to clean up the corrector plate. Meanwhile, after four and a half hours, my telescope was still giving clear images.

The insulation material is called Reflectix. A layer of black felt is sewn on the inside to absorb any stray light. Reflectix has an insulation value of R-9.8.

Some advantages to passive dew shields are that they do not require electricity to function. You donít need a power source out in the middle of nowhere. And they do not induce heat currents to distort images. Somewhat important to visual observing but more so to long exposure photography.

This article was written by Richard Just. He has been manufacturing dew shields for the past 5 years. For more information about the advantages of dew shields, stop by his web site

Space Watch

Pseudo is a new company that is bringing television to the web. One of their projects is SpaceWatch. SpaceWatch is made up of three weekly space exploration internet TV shows. You can watch these shows live. Or, after each show airs live, they are available to view at the web site.

DEEP SKY airs live every Thursday at 8:00PM EDT. This web TV talk show focuses on the world of astronomy. They have discussions on current space news and issues that concern astronomy. This show is worth a look.

MISSION CONTROL, airs live every Tuesday at 2:00PM EDT from Houston Space Center. This program focuses on the people who are involved in the space program. Meet the astronauts and flight controllers.

COSMIC VISIONS puts the space program in to perspective. From space history to the role space plays in our culture. This is a monthly web TV magazine.

I recommend these web TV shows. This is where the entire web is heading. Today there are Thousands of astronomy web sites. Tomorrow there may be Thousands of astronomy web sites with web TV. If you are a proponent of Free Speech, you ain't seen nothing yet.


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The Story of
Ursa Major

This story comes from ancient Greek Mythology. There once was a beautiful woman named Callisto. She had a son named Arcas. Callisto caught the eye of Jupiter, King of Ilympus. Juno, goddess queen and wife of Jupiter, became jealous and changed Callisto into a bear. Callisto being changed into a bear was bad enough, but being changed into a bear she had to leave behind her son Arcas. Years went by and Arcas grew up. One day Arcas was hunting near his home when he came across a docile bear. Callisto recognized her son, but could not communicate with him. Arcas did not know the tame bear was his mother. He drew his arrow and took aim at the bear. Just before Arcas let the arrow fly, Jupiter changed Arcas into a bear. To show the world his humanitarian character, Jupiter also proclaimed that Mother Bear, Callisto, and Son Bear Arcas, be changed into stars and placed in the northern sky. Jupiter lifted the bears by their tails. The bears were heavy and it was a long distance from the earth to the sky. Their tails stretched from stubby to long ones.

Photograph was provided by Naoyuki Kurita. You can see more of his astrophotographs at Stellar Scenes web site.

Free Email

Now you can get Free Email that shows you enjoy astronomy. You can use your name, (yourname) . Or, you can use an astronomy name like . Right now there are many names available. I only ask that if you get an account that you plan to use it. And, if you no longer plan to use it, you simply delete it. This will help keep the astronomy names available for others to use. I am very pleased to offer this service for Free.

To get your Free Email account use the Free Email box located at the top right column on this ezine.

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