archive: SETI S&T's News Bulletin for May 21, 1999

SETI S&T's News Bulletin for May 21, 1999

Larry Klaes ( )
Mon, 24 May 1999 08:10:07 -0400

>Date: Sat, 22 May 1999 01:08:59 EDT
>Subject: S&T's News Bulletin for May 21, 1999
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>To: undisclosed-recipients:;
> For images and Web links for these items, visit
>Astronomers monitoring Mars with the Hubble Space Telescope detected a
>giant storm in the northern hemisphere. The hurricane-like spiral --
>complete with a central "eye" -- was seen on two pictures taken on April
>27th by a team of astronomers led by Jim Bell (Cornell University) using
>Hubble's Wide Field Planetary Camera 2. The storm is more than 1,600 km
>across with an eye about 300 km wide. It is not a swirl of dust but a
>water-ice cloud that is three times larger than any previously observed
>spiral storm system on the planet. The storm was located near 65 deg. north
>latitude and 85 deg. west longitude, but Hubble did not view the that
>region of the planet further.
>As of Wednesday, Uranus has an additional moon, bringing its total to 18.
>Erich Karkoschka (University of Arizona) discovered the latest satellite by
>studying Voyager 2 images taken in 1986 and more recent images taken by the
>Hubble Space Telescope. He found an object -- now designated S/1986 U 10 --
>on seven Voyager frames. Karkoschka determined that the new satellite is
>about 40 kilometers in diameter and orbits Uranus every 15 hours 18 minutes
>at an altitude 51,000 km above the planet's clouds. This orbit is very
>close to that of neighboring satellite Belinda, such that the pair pass
>each other every month.
>Looking elsewhere in the outer solar system, astronomers have found cousins
>to a planetary "missing link" first discovered three years ago. A minor
>planet designated 1996 TL66 was found to have such a large orbit --
>extending more than four times farther away than Neptune -- that
>astronomers surmised it could be something left over from the formation of
>Neptune that didn't quite make it out of the Kuiper Belt and into the Oort
>Cloud. On May 14th three more were announced on Minor Planet Electronic
>Circulars: 1999 CV118, 1999 CY118, and 1999 CF119. The trio were found
>using the 2.2-meter University of Hawaii reflector atop Mauna Kea, Hawaii.
>The last of these has an orbit that takes it 193.9 astronomical units (29
>billion km) from the Sun, with one solar orbit taking more than 1,200
>years. Studies suggest that there could be several hundred million of these
>objects in a "scattered disk" beyond Neptune.
>British officials have announced plans to remove roads and fences
>surrounding Stonehenge, returning the impressive stone monument and its
>5,000-year-old site to a more natural setting. Located near the town of
>Amesbury, 130 kilometers west of London, Stonehenge remains a very popular
>tourist attraction. The $200-million makeover, sponsored by the National
>Trust and English Heritage, includes a new visitor's center. By 2008 one
>nearby road (A344) will be closed, and a second (A303) will be rerouted
>through a tunnel. Also disappearing are fences that have been used in
>recent years to prevent large groups from staging festivals in and near the
>circle of standing stones, though public access will still be restricted.
>On each summer solstice, modern-day Druids reenact an ancient ceremony to
>witness the stones' celebrated alignment at sunrise. In the past local
>police have maintained a 4-mile exclusion zone along the monument's
>adjoining roadways during the solstice ceremony. However, a recent court
>ruling held that the exclusion zone unfairly infringed on rights of
>peaceful assembly. Access to the stone circle itself during the solstice
>ceremony will remain limited to 100 onlookers with prearranged
>Comet Lee (C/1999 H1) is heading due north through western Hydra and is
>gradually becoming easier to see from midnorthern latitudes, where it is 15
>to 25 deg. above the west-southwest horizon at the end of twilight. It
>remains well up in the west-northwest after sunset for Southern Hemisphere
>comet watchers. Observers report that the comet is about magnitude 7.0 and
>has a coma about 8 arcminutes in diameter. Here are positions (2000.0
>coordinates) at 0 hours Universal Time for the coming week:
> Date R.A. Dec.
>May 22 8h 48.0m -8.8 deg.
>May 24 8h 44.6m -5.8 deg.
>May 26 8h 41.6m -3.1 deg.
>May 28 8h 38.9m -0.6 deg.
>The first-quarter Moon occults (covers) Regulus on the night of May 21-22
>for essentially all of North and Central America. To find the time and
>other observing circumstances for your location, see the May SKY &
>TELESCOPE, page 109, or check
>Saturday, May 22nd is Astronomy Day. If you don't belong to an astronomy
>club and want to find a local club or planetarium that might be hosting an
>Astronomy Day celebration, check out SKY & TELESCOPE's Events Calendar
>( and Astronomical Directory
> Some daily events in the changing sky, from the editors of SKY &
> * Venus is the bright light shining in the west-northwest after dusk. The
>two stars above it (by roughly a fist-width at arm's length) are Pollux and
>Castor. (Pollux is the brighter one, on the left.) Watch them shift
>position with respect to Venus during the week.
> * Venus is also a good starting point for finding Procyon, about 2 1/2
>fist-widths to its left or lower left, and Capella, about 3 1/2 fists to
>Venus's right or lower right.
> * The waxing gibbous Moon stands above Mars and Spica this evening.
> * Mars and Spica shine to the Moon's right this evening.
> * The red long-period variable star R Hydrae should be at its maximum
>brightness -- 4th or 5th magnitude -- around this date.
> * Arcturus and Vega are the two brightest true stars in the evening sky
>around this time of year. Arcturus is the pale yellow-orange point very
>high in the southeast after dusk; it's well to the upper left of Mars and
>Spica. Vega is the brightest star in the east-northeast, pale blue-white.
> * Look to the lower right of the nearly full moon this evening (by
>roughly a fist-width at arm's length) for the orange-red sparkle of the
>supergiant star Antares.
> ============================
> ============================
>MERCURY is hidden in the glare of the Sun.
>VENUS is the brilliant "Evening Star" (magnitude -4.2) high in the
>west-northwest during and after dusk.
>MARS (magnitude -1.3) blazes bright orange in the south during evening. The
>fainter star just to its lower right is blue-white Spica. In a telescope
>Mars is still about 15 arcseconds in apparent diameter, the biggest we'll
>see it for another two years. It will shrink and fade in coming weeks as it
>recedes from Earth.
>JUPITER is low in the east at dawn.
>SATURN is barely emerging from the glow of sunrise. Using binoculars, scan
>for it well to the lower left of Jupiter about 30 minutes before sunrise.
>URANUS and NEPTUNE, dim at magnitudes 6 and 8, respectively, are in the
>southeast during early morning hours. See the finder chart in the May Sky &
>Telescope, page 108, or at
> .
>PLUTO, extremely dim at magnitude 14, is in Ophiuchus in the south after
>midnight. See the finder chart in the March Sky & Telescope, page 103, or
>at .
>(All descriptions that relate to the horizon or zenith are written for the
>world's midnorthern latitudes. Descriptions that also depend on longitude
>are for North America. Eastern Daylight Time, EDT, equals Universal Time
>minus 4 hours.)
>More details, sky maps, and news of other celestial events appear each
>month in SKY & TELESCOPE, the essential magazine of astronomy. See our
>enormous Web site at Clear skies!
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>Copyright 1999 Sky Publishing Corporation. S&T's Weekly News Bulletin and
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