IN THI S ISSUE May general meeting
Club news and notes
Comet Comme nts
JPL epheme rides
Has the tiny low-budget spacecraft Lunar Prospector really found water-ice at the Moon's poles? "Would I bet my house? The answer is, \221yes! ' We are certain that water is there. The uncerta inty we have is how much." Alan Binder, speaker at the TVS May general meeting, is positi ve that somewhere between 10 and 300 million tons of water-ice ri me craters of the lunar poles.
At this early point in the mission and its data analysis, this range may be in error by as much as an order of magnitude, because Luna r Prospector is the first interplanetary mission to employ a neutron spectroscopy tool to measure water. No previous precis e models exis t to describe exactly how neutrons behave on the lunar surface. Binder believes that, "the answer is in the data... it's just a matter of finding out what it is."
Lunar Prospector's overall mission places scientific exploration of the Moon as its highest priority. Researchers expect that the mission will contribute major new understandings of the origin, evolution, and current state of the Moon. Join us at the May meeting to hear the latest from the project's pri ncipal investigator.
The Lunar Prospect or "footprint," or mapping area at each pole is out lined in white. The footp rint is roughly 150 km by 175 km. Scatt ered water-ice has been ident ifie d insid e the craters at bot h poles. (Lunar Prospect or, NASA)
Fremont Pea k appeal
In the April issue of
SJAA Ep hemeris
the San Jose
Astronomical Association revealed that damage to Frmont Peak's 30-inch Challenger Telescope is estimated to be approximately $10,000. This estimate was made by the Fremont Peak Observatory Association (FPOA), following a series of winter storms. FPOA has opened a repair fund and seeks donations from local amateur astronomers. Contact
TVS webmaster Chuck Grant announces that the club has recently acquired access to an Internet server with about a gigabyte of dis k space and no bandwidth limits. He believes that astrophotos taken by club members can be posted to the page.
Photos of other club activities, such as star parties at White Mountains or Glacier Point, public service astronomy at schools and parks, and snapshots taken at meetings, can also be put on the Web.
If you are interested in putting astrophotos or club pictures on the site, contact Chuck at 925 /449-1500.
If you are holding delinquent books, tapes, or videos, please return them to the May general meeting. Those who
cannot attend the May meeting are asked to call Chris at (707) 747-6550.
In his role as TVS loaner scope czar,
Chuck Grant matches members with telescopes.
Our array of light buckets
is available for rent from one general meeting to the next. For only $15 per month ($5/ month for student members), you can enjoy big aperature at a small pri ce.
In fact, your scope rental can be free if you share your loaner gear at an public or school star party. Remember that the club collects a refundable $50 deposit for each scope rented. Your check will be returned uncashed when the scope comes back.
President Dave Anderson 510 /661-4249 Vice President Chuck Grant (925) 449-1500 Secretary Bill Burnap (925) 449-4552 Treasurer Gene Nassar (925) 462-7843
Board Alane Alchorn Dennis Beckley Rich Combs Rich Green Kathleen Kelley Russ Kirk Dave Rodrigu es Debbie Scherrer Jim Zum stein
Observatory Director Chuck Grant grant@ hooked.net
Meeting Location Unitarian Universalist Church in Livermore
1893 N. Vasco Rd. 3/4 mil e north of I-580
E-mai l tvs@hook ed.net
Phil Waide, our school star party coordinator, has received requests for May star parties. Members interested in public service atronomy in the schools should contact Phil at (510) 455-6039.
Public star parties are coordinated by Jim McIntire, who announc es the following events:
The White Mountains club star party is set for
Club News and Notes Star Parties
What's Up in May Dave Anderson
The Hubble Space Telescope has determined that the nucleus of Comet Tempel-Tuttle is only about two miles across. This comet is responsible for the Leonid Meteor Shower each November.
Comet activity remains low this month. Comet Hale-Bopp rides deep in the southern sky, about 450 million miles from Earth. Comet Meunier-Dupouy, a bit closer, is in our morning sky.
COMET HUNTING NOTES: The SOHO satellite, which is in solar orbit and monitors the sun, has discovered 44 comets. Forty-two of these are sungrazers; they go very close to the sun. SOHO generally images them for only about a day or two, and then the comets merge into the sun, never to be seen again. They have not been observed from Earth. This satellite is presently our most active comet discoverer, finding about 20 new comets per year.
Ephemerides Orbital Elemen ts
Peri. Date: 1997 04 01.1 347
Peri. Dist (AU): 0.9140 08 AU
Arg/Peri (2000): 130.57 87 deg.
Asc. Node (2000): 282.46 53 deg.
Incl (2000): 089.42 68 deg.
Eccen: 0.9950 85
Orbital Period: ~2500 years
Ref: MPC 3073 8
Epoch: 1997 120 18
Absol. Mag/"n": -1.0/4.0
Object: Meunier-Du pouy
Peri. Date: 1998 03 10.4 365
Peri. Dist (AU): 3.0510 15 AU
Arg/Peri (2000): 122.67 55 deg.
Asc. Node (2000): 148.84 29 deg.
Incl (2000): 091.27 31 deg.
Eccen: 1.0007 60
Orbital Period: Long Period
Ref: MPC 3073 8
Epoch: 1998 03 08
Absol. Mag/"n": 4.0/4.0
Don Mac hhol z
Sky Shack name change delayed one month
Due to the early deadline of this month's
the new name for our dark sky site
and observatory will be announced in next month's newsletter. We apologize for the timing; however, this edition was prepared before the April planning meeting was held.
Likewis e, members who joined TVS between the March and April general meetings will be introduced to you in our next edition. Please remember that the June newsletter also carries an early deadline. Submissions must be received no later than May 9, 5:00 PM You may send e-mail or faxes per the information in the box on page 2. Typed copy must be delivered to Circle Wing, 184 Airway Blvd., Livermore, CA 945 50.
Fremont Pea k appea l
Work parties to restore the observatory are also planned once the rains stop. Donat ions of your cash or time and energy are equ ally appreciated.
More club news and notes (Continued from page 2) remains essentially unchange d from last month. Club funds are divi ded between the checking account and three certificates of deposit as follows.
Checking account: $4,279.33
CD #1: $3,276.27
CD #2: $2,519.67
CD #3: $2,023.53
At the May general meeting, club officers will present potential investment plans for the balance of this year.
Rich Combs, our Amate ur Telescope Makers Workshop wi zard, sends the following announcem ent regarding funds available to encourage public service astronomy.
The V.M. Slipher Committee offers up to $4,500 as an award for projects that enhance public understanding of astronomy. Grants will fund projects that:
1. request seed money for programs that will continue beyond the funding period; or,
2. provide programs/service to more than a single group (no requests for equipment to serve a single classroom or school building, please).
Applications must be post marked by May 22, 1998. Notifi cation of grants will be made around July 31.
For full guideli nes contact: Dennis Scha tz, chairman, V.M. Slipher Committee Pacifi c Science Center, 200 Second Ave. North Seattle, WA 9810 9, or call 206 /443-2001.
What's up in May (Continued from page 3)
Astro events calen dar In addition to the scheduled TVS events, you may enjoy particip ating in these other stellar happenings.
ASP and Proje ct ASTRO News and Notes The Astronomical Society of the Pacifi c is an international scientific and educational membership society for astronomers, educators and the public. ASP publishes a scientific journal, a popular magaz ine, and newsletter for teachers, holds meetings and workshops, runs a mail-order catalog service for educational materials in astronomy, develops educational materials, and works with the media and the public. The Society is headquartered in its own building in San Francisco, near San Francisco State University, and has a staff of approximately 20.
The week-long meeting will feature experts on astronomy and astronomy education, a workshop for teachers of students in grades 3-12, symposi a for educators and scientists, a keynote lecture by astronaut and educator Dr. Story Musgrave, and a tour of the Very Large Array Telescope (VLA).
The scientific sympos ium will discuss "Adapt ive Optics and Interferometry in the 21st Century." The educational synposi um topic is, "Teach ing Astronomy to Non-Science Majors." Both symposi a will consis t of invited presentations, contributed posters, and panel discussions.
"Universe \22198: An Astronomy Exposition," co-sponsored by
consists of two days of talks on
new developments in astronomy, histori cal subjects, hands-on activiti es for children, an exhibi t hall, book signings, a raffle, a si lent auction, and door prizes.
New this year, a "Me et the Astronomers" section, is an informal gathering of the speakers on Sunday afternoon. They will meet in the exhibi t hall to answer general questions on astronomy and their current projects.
Registration fees depend on the number of meeting events you wish to attend. You may download a registration form and fee schedule from the ASP website at http://www.aspsky.org. For questions regarding the annual meeting, call ASP at (415) 337-1100, ext. 109, between 9:00 AM and 4:00 PM PDT.
Bay Area Project ASTRO Coor dinator
ASP seeks a full-time Bay Area coordinator for Project ASTRO, an innovative project funded by a three-yea r grant from the National Science Foundation and NASA. Project ASTRO links amateur and professional astronomers with educat ors and students in grades 4-9. After being trained with their partner educators, astronomers visit schools and community organizations as volunteers to help improve science education.
Started as a pilot project in California, Project ASTRO is now growing in the Bay Area and has expanded to ten sites nationally.
The Bay Area Project ASTRO coordinator, in collaboration with the Bay Area Project ASTRO director, manages Project ASTRO in the Bay Area and assists with the educational activities of the national Project ASTRO expansion. Posi tion resonsibilities include a variety of collaborative, management, and editori al tasks dedicated to promoting Project ASTRO. Fund raising managemen t is also an assigned responsibility.
Minimum requirements: Bachelor's degree and at least two year's experience in science education or other educat ional project or program; excellent research, writing, and oral communication ski lls; enthusiastic, outgoing, positi ve, and collaborative interpersonal style; organizational skills and strong motivations to work without extensive supervision; Macintosh experience and knowledge of Filemaker Pro and MS Word; and some educat ional background in astronomy (such as a college-le vel astronomy class, weekend extension course, a long-term personal interest, etc.) preferred.
The salary is $27-32,000/ year, plus benefi ts. To apply, send a letter explaining your interests and qua lif ications, a resume and three work references (supervis ors) to:
Shannon Lalor National Project ASTRO coordinator Astronomical Society of the Pacific 390 Ashton Avenue, San Francisco, CA 9411 2
Applications should be postmarked by May 15, 199 8.
NASA'a Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) offers an on-line solar system ephemeris service (HORIZONS) for the benefit of anyone who wishes to know the physical characte ri stics and positions of the solar system bodies. Physical data and position prediction data are available for the 9 planets, 61 natural satellites, and more than 15,00 0 small bodies (comets and asteroids ). Planetary, lunar and small-body positional information (ephemerides) are computed over the interval AD 160 0 through AD 2200. Ephemerides of the natural satellites are available over shorter intervals (from 2 to 50 years) that vary in length in accordance with their orbital accu racy. Recently the JPL planetary and lunar ephemeris files have been extended to the six- millennium interval -300 0 through +300 0, making this HORIZONS system of potential interest to histori ans of astronomy.
The HORIZONS system can conduct parametric searches of the comet/asteroid database, matching combinations of up to 40 different parameters. Ris e, transit, and set can be identified to the nearest minute. More than 70 different observational and physical aspect qua ntities can be output at requested intervals for both geocentric and topocentric observing sites. Over 600 Earth stations are on fi le, and users can input their own topocentric coordinates.
Three basic types of ephemerides can be requested: 1. observables (geometric, astrometric and apparent RA/DEC, AZ/EL, physical aspect, angles, illuminati on, etc.); 2. osculating orbital elements; and, 3. Cartesian state vectors (centered at sun or any planet's center). Output is returned to the user via e-mail, FTP, or Kermit protocols and ephemerides can be produced in a format suitable for import into spreadsheets.
Three different techniques allow access the HORIZONS system.
Alth ough the HORIZONS system has been designed with on-line document ation, users guides can be requested by anonymous FTP, e-mail, or a download from the Web.
Comments and suggestions for improving the HORIZONS system are welcome, and should be addressed to the HORIZONS creator and system engineer, Jon D. Giorgi ni (jdg@tycho. jpl.nasa.gov). Simi lar comments and suggestions for the Web page should be addressed to Alan B. Chamberlin (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Need dependa ble ephemerides? JPL can help!
Prime Focus Tri-Valley Stargazers Newsletter P.O. Box 2476 Livermore, CA 945 51
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harmle ss from all claims
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