Jim Murphy, project scientist at NASA Ames Research Center, will address the club on the Center's current Martian Missions, and on-going studies of the planet's weather systems.
Ames is NASA's Center of Excellence in Information Systems technologies, encompassing research in super computing, networking, numerical computing software, artificial intelligence, and human factors, as they relate to advances in aeronautics and space.
In aeronautics Ames is the agency's lead center in airspace operations systems, including air traffic control and human factors; and it is the lead center for rotorcraft technology. Ames also has major resonsibilities in the creation of design and development process tools, and in wind tunnel testing.
In space activities, Ames projects work toward a higher understanding of the effects of gravity on living things, and play a major national role in understanding the origin, evolution, and distribution of stars, planets, and life in the universe.
Unless you know the road very well, it is safest to plan your driving for daylight hours. In at least three places, run-off water regularly crosses Mines Road all winter. But following a series of storms like the last one, the water may become axle-deep in unexpected areas. If you are uncertain about conditions at or on the way to the Sky Shack, log on to the Web site http://www.hooked net/~tvs/ and look for information posted by other club members.
Downed trees, heards of deer and black ice during freezing weather are other hazards to expect this time of year. If you have difficulty reaching the observatory, please notify club vice president and observatory director Chuck Grant at (510) 449-1500, so that he may alert others via the Web site.
The Ultimas and the club's four telescopes are available at each general meeting, on the third Friday of the month at the church. Rental costs $15 per month ($5 for students under age 18), and requires a $50 deposit that will be refunded to you, undeposited, when the scope or binoculars are returned. If you share your rented gear at a school presentation or public star party, the rental fee will be waived and returned to you when the equipment is checked in at the following meeting.
Secretary Earl Mack (510 ) 828-1414
Vice President Chuck Grant (510) 449-1500
Treasurer Gene Nassar (510) 462-7843
Observatory Director Chuck Grant (510) 449-1500
Eyes on the Skies BBS Mike Rushford (510) 443-6146
Web Site http://www.hooked. net/~tvs/
Editor Alane Alchorn (510) 455-9464 (510 ) 455-9466 fax firstname.lastname@example.org
Meeting Location Unitarian Universalist Church in Livermore 1893 N. Vasco Rd. 3/4 mile north of I-580
Board Alane Alchorn, Dennis Beckley, Rich Combs, Rich Green, Russ Kirk, Dave Rodrigues, Debbie Scherrer, Al Smith, Dave Sworin, Jim Zumstein
Using a 35-mm camera with a standard lens (about 50-mm focal length), you can create an impressive set of teaching slides showing Mars' dramatic changes in brightness and its to-and-fro motion past stars in eastern Leo and western Virgo in 1997.
Mars overtakes Spica on the evening of August 3, 1997. That's because Mars will go retrograde, or westward, by 19 degrees, from February 5 until April 27, 1997.
This 81-day "backward" motion of Mars is only apparent, resulting from our faster-moving Earth slipping between the Sun and Mars in mid-March 1997 and overtaking it. Seen from Sun instead of our moving Earth, mars always goes east (left) against the stellar backdrop. As Mars goes back and forth in Leo and Virgo, it performs a few close triple conjunctions with faint unaided- eye stars. After pausing in early February, Mars, moving west, passes Beta in Virgo on March 16, 1997. After another "stationary point" in late April, Mars resumes eastward motion and passes Beta again on June 11, 1997.
Mars changes its brightness in accordance with its varying distance from Earth. In 1997, Mars increases in brilliance to match zero-magnitude Arct urus in late January, then is nearly the equal of Sirius, the brightest star, around the planet's closest approach in mid-March. Thereafter, Mars fades, matching Arcturus again in late May and Spica in late August.
Astrophotography tips Use a tripod to steady the camera, and fast film such as Ektachrome 400. Take a 20- or 30-second exposure with a wide-open fast lens such as a 50-mm, f/1.2 to 2.8. Include at least the following 11 stars: In Leo - Beta, Delta, Theta, Iota, and Sigma; in Virgo - Gamma, Delta, Beta, Eta, Nu, and Omicron. Optional is Epsilon in Virgo.
|6 Mon||Algol at minimum 9:47 PM|
|7 Tue||Venus 5° south of Moon. (Look shortly before sunrise at 7:23 AM)|
|8 Wed||New Moon 8:26 PM|
|9 Thu||Young Moon less than 21 hours old at sunset (5:07 PM).|
|10 Fri||First day of Ramad\342n.|
|11 Sat||Excellent weekend for observing: Moon sets at 8:37 PM|
|12 Sun||Space Shuttle Atlantis (STS-81) launch scheduled 1:17 AM (Mir docking mission.)|
|Mercury 3° north of Venus.|
|13 Mon||Saturn 2° south of Moon.|
|Asteroid 211 Isolda 8' (mag 11.7 ) from Crab Nebula (M1). (See January Astronomy , p. 70.)|
|15 Wed||First Quarter Moon 12:02 PM|
|17 Fri||Tri-Valley Stargazers meeting 7:30 PM Unitarian Universalist Church of Livermore, 1893 N. Vasco Road, Livermore. (3/4 mile north of I-580).|
|18 Sat||Aldebaran 0.7° south of Moon (occulted in Alaska).|
|20 Mon||TVS Planning Meeting 7:00 PM Round Table Pizza, 1540 First St., Livermore (in Orchard Supply/Longs/Safeway shopping center).|
|Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.|
|23 Thu||Full Moon 7:11 AM|
|Mercury at greatest western elongation (25 ° ) in morning sky.|
|26 Sun||Algol at minimum 11:32 PM|
|28 Tue||Mars 3° north of Moon.|
|29 Wed||Algol at minimum 8:21 PM|
|31 Fri||Last Quarter Moon 11:40 AM|
|4 Tue||Soyuz TM-25 launch scheduled. (Russian Mir docking mission.)|
|6 Thu||Venus 0.3° south of Jupiter. (Look shortly before sunrise at 7:07 AM PST.)|
|Mercury 5° south of Moon.|
|Comet Hale-Bopp (mag 2) (C/1995 O1) 0.5° from mag 8.3 globular cluster M71.|
|7 Fri||New Moon 7:06 AM|
|Excellent weekend for observing. Moon is also at closest perigee of year (25 6,847 km) 1 PM; expect high tides|
|Chinese New Year (Ting-chau "the Ox", 14th year of 78th cycle) and Japanese New Year 2656.|
|MUSES-B launch scheduled. (Japan: 8-meter radio telescope is first satellite in VSOP (VLBI (Very Long Baseline Interferometry) Space Observatory Programme) mission.) 10 Mon Saturn 1.8° south of Moon.|
|Mira (Omicron Ceti) at max. brightness (about 3.4, up from about 9 over an irregular period of about 332 days).|
C/1995 O1 (Hale-Bopp)
C/1996 Q1 (Tabur)
81P/ Wild 2
Comet Hale-Bopp passes north of the sun and into the morning sky on Dec. 31. Observers with a low eastern horizon should be able to pick it up again by the third week of January.
In the past few weeks stories of "mysterious" objects in the vicinity of the comet have circulated. The most popular - a Saturn- like Object (SLO) imaged on Nov. 14 by an amateur astronomer - turned out to be nothing other than an 8.5-magnitude star. Other similar objects that I've seen on Internet images appear to be out-of-focus images of bright stars. In all respects, Comet Hale-Bopp is behaving as an average comet. It is bigger than perhaps any comet we have seen, but its variable brightness, tails, and jets are normal. If anything mysterious truly appears, you will find it reported in the mainstream press, and in most cases be able to go outside and see it yourself through your telescope.
Mean while, Comet Tabur dims in our morning sky. Its magnitude has been unpredictable lately. Periodic Comet Wirtanen is returning. The Hubble Space Telescope imaged it in August 1996 and "measured" the nucleus' diameter to be 1.16 km. Finally, Periodic Comet Wild 2 should be visible for several months.
|Peri. Date||1997 04 01.13453||1996 11 03.52688||1997 03 14.14299||1997 05 06.62789|
|Peri. Dist (AU)||0.9141030||0.8398272 ||1.0637469||1.5826156|
|Asc. Node (2000):||282.47069°||31.40177°||82.20387°||136.15458°|
|Orbital Period:||~4700 years||Long period||5.46 years||6.39 years|
|Ref:||MPC 28052||MPC 28052||MPC 27080||MPC 28272|
|Epoch:||1997 03 13||1996 11 13||1997 03 13||1997 04 22|
How did you learn about the club?_________________
Why did you join?________________________________
Are we meeting your expectations ?____Yes_____No
How long have you been interested in astronomy? __________years.
How long have you been a member?
____<1 year ____1-3 years ____3-5 years ____over 5 years
How often do you attend the monthly meetings?
Almost always____ About half the time____ Occasionally____ Never____
How often do you go to The Dark Site?
Several times a month_____ Once a month_____ Every 2-3 months____ 1-3 times a year______ Never______
Rate the following activities for their importance to you (1=very important, 5=no interest)
_____Star parties at The Dark Site
_____Public star parties
_____Field trips to Yosemite, White Mtns, etc.
_____Using the 30" telescope at Fremont Peak
_____Deep-sky observing (faint objects)
_____Computer programs, Internet, bulletin boards
What kind of instrument do you use most for observing?
What program topics would you like us to cover at the meetings?
Do you have a computer? ____Yes ____No
Type:_____Macintosh _____IBM or Clone
Does your computer have a modem?___Yes ___No
Have you ever logged on to the TVS Bulletin Board?____Yes ____No
Do you have access to the Internet?_____Yes _____No
e-mail? _____Yes _____No
Have you visited the TVS web page? _____Yes _____No
Do you use your computer for astronomy related purposes?_____Yes_____No
If so, what?_________________________________________
Have you ever borrowed books from the TVS library?
Books you would like us to have:___________________________ ____________________________________
Are you interested in helping with a school program? ____Yes ____No
How is the newsletter format?____________________
How is the newsletter content ?___________________
Are there any activities that you would like us to provide?
Can you suggest any improvements to the club? ____________________________________________________