Bringing Astronomy to the Public
|Events||Newsletter||Sky Chart||Astro Images||Star Parties||About us||Members||Links||Contact|
This month we have a special presentation:
Meteorites and other extra-terrestrial invasions!
Happy November All,
We are rapidly running out of 2018, and the club needs to elect a slate of officers for 2019. You may be aware that the current officers have been serving for several years. Even the most dedicated people will burn out eventually, and some of us are wearing down. I would truly like to see some different people step up and give us a rest. The offices aren’t difficult, and the current officers will be happy to assist or to answer questions. Please consider being an officer. I will remind you at the meeting.
There has been some excitement in the space news recently.
First, the Chandra X-ray observatory and the Hubble space telescope both went into safe mode due to gyro failures. Happily, the engineers were able to get both satellites back on line, probably through a combination of voo-doo, bad language, and re-booting.
The Kepler exoplanet hunter went to sleep, likely due to low maneuvering fuel. As yet, there has been no determination made whether the satellite can be re-started or not. If not, a fitting epitaph for Kepler will be the recent announcement that, in concert with Hubble, the two satellites have seen the most compelling evidence for a moon around an exoplanet to date. Not bad, since we have only had confirmation of exoplanets since the 1990s.
On October 11th, a Soyuz crew capsule launch had difficulty with a stage separation, and the astronauts aboard got to experience the escape mechanism. Fortunately, the equipment worked as designed, and the astronauts escaped shaken, but not stirred.
The BepiColombo satellite to explore Mercury launched on October 20th. It is planned to arrive in orbit around Mercury in 2025. The circuitous route is due to the difficulty of placing an object in orbit around a small planet very close to a large star. Apparently, the star’s gravity wants to drag the satellite in and it’s a juggling act to get it to orbit the nearby planet instead.
Finally, this week, the Parker solar probe, launched on August 12th, achieved the twin distinctions of being the closest spacecraft to the sun, and the fastest spacecraft. Both records were previously set by a German-American satellite, Helios 2, in 1976.
Now, for something a little older, come to the meeting on Wednesday November 7th to hear Larry Harrison discuss meteorites and exhibit his and Dave Buchla’s collections. Meteorite hunting has to be the ultimate in rock-hounding. The collector is only interested in rocks that arrived after the Earth had formed!
Lest I forget, Happy Thanksgiving. See you at the meeting and keep looking up.
Update: NASA has retired Kepler. It will trail Earth at approximately 94 million miles for many years. The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) will take up the hunt for exoplanets.
The DAWN satellite in the asteroid belt has missed it’s last two scheduled communications and is likely also out of fuel.
Outreach - David Buchla
All is quiet on the Outeach front. We have had no requests for anything in the near future. Have a great Thanksgiving!
Astronomy on Tap
NC Astronomer members continue to enjoy the beer and 'blather' at the Ol' Republic Brewery. Their beer selection is quite comprehensive and they seem to enjoy naming beers after astronomical topics.
Each month we choose several current topics in Astronomy and share our ignorance.
We will meet on
The THIRD wednesday of each month at 5pm
Come and join the conversation at
Ol' Republic Brewery below SPD in Nevada City!
Secretary/Treasurer - Paul Bacon
Our Mission is:
'Bringing' Astronomy to the Public'
a BIG Thank You
to all our members who join and make our programs possible!
I will be collecting membership contributions
($20/year for member or family)
at our Monthly Meetings,
If you can't make the meeting, send your check to:
NC Astronomers, %Paul Bacon,
This article is distributed by NASA Night Sky Network
The Night Sky Network program supports astronomy clubs across the USA dedicated to astronomy outreach. Visit nightsky.jpl.nasa.org to find local clubs, events, and more!
November’s Dance of the Planets
By Jane Houston Jones and David Prosper
November’s crisp autumn skies bring great views of our planetary neighbors. The Moon pairs up with Saturn and Mars in the evenings, and mornings feature eye-catching arrangements with dazzling Venus. Stargazers wanting a challenge can observe a notable opposition by asteroid 3 Juno on the 17th and watch for a few bright Leonid meteors.
Red Mars gleams high in the southern sky after sunset. Saturn sits westward in the constellation Sagittarius. A young crescent Moon passes near Saturn on the 10th and 11th. On the 15th a first quarter Moon skims by Mars, coming within 1 degree of the planet. The red planet receives a new visitor on November 26th, when NASA’s InSight mission lands and begins its investigation of the planet’s interior. News briefings and commentary will be streamed live at: bit.ly/landsafe
Two bright planets hang low over the western horizon after sunset as November begins: Jupiter and Mercury. They may be hard to see, but binoculars and an unobstructed western horizon will help determined observers spot them right after sunset. Both disappear into the Sun’s glare by mid-month.
Early risers are treated to brilliant Venus sparkling in the eastern sky before dawn, easily outshining everything except the Sun and Moon. On November 6th, find a location with clear view of the eastern horizon to spot Venus next to a thin crescent Moon, making a triangle with the bright star Spica. The following mornings watch Venus move up towards Spica, coming within two degrees of the star by the second full week of November. Venus will be up three hours before sunrise by month’s end – a huge change in just weeks! Telescopic observers are treated to a large, 61” wide, yet razor-thin crescent at November’s beginning, shrinking to 41” across by the end of the month as its crescent waxes.
Observers looking for a challenge can hunt asteroid 3 Juno, so named because it was the third asteroid discovered. Juno travels through the constellation Eridanus and rises in the east after sunset. On November 17th, Juno is at opposition and shines at magnitude 7.4, its brightest showing since 1983! Look for Juno near the 4.7 magnitude double star 32 Eridani in the nights leading up to opposition. It is bright enough to spot through binoculars, but still appears as a star-like point of light. If you aren’t sure if you have identified Juno, try sketching or photographing its star field, then return to the same area over the next several days to spot its movement.
The Leonids are expected to peak on the night of the 17th through the morning of the 18th. This meteor shower has brought “meteor storms” as recently as 2002, but a storm is not expected this year. All but the brightest meteors will be drowned out by a waxing gibbous Moon.
Stay warm and enjoy this month’s dance of the planets!
You can catch up on all of NASA’s current and future missions at nasa.gov
With articles, activities and games NASA Space Place encourages everyone to get excited about science and technology. Visit spaceplace.nasa.gov to explore space and Earth science!
This finder chart shows the path of the asteroid 3 Juno as it glides past 32 Eridani in November 2018. The asteroid’s position is highlighted for selected dates, including its opposition on the 17th. Image created in Stellarium for NASA Night Sky Network.
© 2007 - 2018 NC Astronomers
In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, copyright material on this site is displayed solely for non-profit research and educational purposes